Broilers, Spring 2013

As usual, the chicken process would not be possible without the help of neighbors and friends, so THANKS! to all those that helped this year!

This was not the most successful batch due to some pretty horrible weather conditions when the chicks were small, but these were the largest birds we’ve ever raised.  The average weight was 6.1lbs and the mean weight was 6.5lbs.  We had two that weighed in at 7.75lbs and several that were 7lbs or larger.  The ration was a bit different this year, with oats being substituted for wheat, but we’re not sure whether to attribute the large sizes to the ration or the genetics.  Some of the genetics were most certainly different this year with several of the birds having a band of dark feathers along the tops of their wings and others having some dark feathers on their heads.  This is the first batch that we’ve done start to finish at our farm and the forage available to them may have had something to do with it as well.  It will be interesting to see how the next batch turns out!

There is a new page coming!

I’ve fielded questions from several folks lately about some specifics of the equipment that we use here at the farm.  I’m working on constructing a new page that will list in all the painful detail all the equipment that I can think of and where we purchase(d) it.  It’s a rainy day today and I’m worn out after all the prep for the NRCS field day that we hosted yesterday, so playing on the computer seems to be in order.  I’ll see what I can get done today, but it should be pretty complete by the end of the week of May 5.  Here’s the link to the page:

Bear with us…

Please bear with us as we re-work our website!  We were recently hacked and did not have a complete backup of the website.  All of the content is still here, but the visuals are not quite what they used to be and Jonathan is working through getting it back to where it’s easy to navigate and pretty.  We’ll be back up and normal in no time!!

Yeah! It worked!

The nest box modification on the chicken coop seems to have worked! This is a large step forward for us since now we’re getting 7-9 eggs a day from 9 hens, where before we were getting 2-3. Not only that, but the eggs are clean and not cracked! We’re really excited about it.

Beef, Did I mention…

Did I mention that our beef is USDA inspected and appropriately labeled for retail sale? If I didn’t I needed to, this represents significant cost and effort on our part, but we felt it was necessary to comply with the rules and it would give our customers more confidence in purchasing from us. Oh, our beef is also dry aged, not wet packed like the standard grocery store fare. This means that you are getting more meat per pound as compared to the grocery since our water content is much lower.

Chicken coop modification

Well, the ladies have been laying for a month or so now and we’ve transitioned from having them free around the house to being in electrified netting (from Premiere1 fencing). After a couple of weeks I realized that the construction of the nest boxes was not going to work long term. The nest box was too shallow and the chickens were scratching out the straw and sometimes the eggs into the coop. A lot of the eggs were cracked since they were laying directly onto the wood floor. Yesterday we were able to add about 4.5 inches to the bottom of the coop! We’ll see going forward how well this adjustment works.

New Layers

We now have Black Australorp chickens! We currently have 9 hens and a Barred Rock rooster (Rocky) and they have just started laying. The Black Australorps are beautiful with their feathers so black and they have a green tint to them when the sun shines off of them. We built a chicken shed that was originally planned to sit on a small trailer, but the small trailer was not stable enough, so we moved the shed to a regular wagon running gear. The setup has a slant roof that pours rainwater into a gutter that funnels it into a five gallon bucket that gravity feeds the waterer. It also has shade / hawk cover and a dog feeder attached to keep the pyrenees close by. The range feeder is on the ground behind the wagon. It can be moved by hand on relatively level ground, and the 4 wheeler helps out when it’s heading uphill. We got two little eggs yesterday!

RIP “Red”

During the moving process, our last laying hen, a Rhode Island Red, “Red”, as she was affectionately called by our neighbor, was taken by a predator. She was over three years old and was still producing an egg a week. Yes this would be considered a “welfare” chicken, not producing as much as she was consuming, but she was a lot of fun to watch!