Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting Ready & A Surprise

We are getting ready to co-host a Practical Farmers of Iowa grazing pasture walk with Terry Gompert. Terry is part of Nebraska Extension and is a holistic management expert. We are expecting around 30 to 40 fellow farmers to came and look over the farm tomorrow afternoon. Needless to say, we have been trying to spruce the place a bit. The yard is looking decent, despite the large swamps that exist in it, and some of things that have been lying around the yard have gotten picked up and put away. It is nice too, that the flood water has gone down and the roads are all open again. All that remains is a brown landscape around the river valley and a plethora of mosquitos.

The conditions within our chicken building are improving. The wet ground has receded a bit. I put tile in the north half of the building, but could not get the standing water to flow through the muck and into the tile so I dug some drainage channels that have allowed me to get much of the water out of the building. Since the tractor is living outside, because it is to wet to get the tractor into the building without getting it stuck, I have moved much of the chicken stuff into the area the tractor would normally be parked and out of the murky north end of the building.

There is no Tractor only Chickens

I have resolved to never have have this problem again with this building as I am making plans to tear it down next spring. From one of my old poultry production books from the 1940's, I have adapted plans for a 30x20 dedicated poultry building. The new building will have a concrete floor, and will have a 20x20 space for laying hens and a 10x20 space for sperate brooders. I want to insulate the building, have washable walls, and large doors so I can take a small skid loader into the building to clean it out. Janice won't let me have a skid loader to begin on the foundation until my fencing project is done; she is a smart woman. She is also working on a materials list for the building so we can use Craiglist to buy needed parts and try to keep the overall cost down to around $2500.  I hope to have the foundation pored before winter so we can work on framing over the winter. The building will allow us to have clean brooders to keep illness down, and raise the laying flock to 150 birds. The bump in laying hens translates into between six and seven thousand dollars in egg sales a year.

New Chicken Building Floor Plan

Turkeys are doing alright. I pushed the last batch outside, because an illness had set in amongst the inside birds and I wanted to get them away from it. We lost several birds due to smothering outside. I think we are currently looking at finishing around 75 birds, down from last years 120 birds. I am seriously considering moving away from the giant white turkeys and using only bronze turkeys. If we do that, we will raise our turkey price from $3.50 per pound to around $3.90 per pound. This will be something that we will survey our customers about at the end of the production year.
Second Turkey Batch out on Pasture

Our last batch of chickens have been the complete opposite of the turkeys. They came, they took off well and all 175 of them are still here. They are still inside, but will likely be moving outside next weekend, weather permitting.

Lastly, our surprise. Last night, I went out to the pasture and I came upon a new heifer calf. We had a cow that was purchased exposed, but just never calved. I presumed that she had not been bred, because I expected the calf back in July and had given up on it. I am still trying to figure out how I am going to breed the other two cows that are still nursing. I have a sire selected and can purchase straws of his semen, but I have little experience with artificial insemination so am not fully sure how to precede. Well that is it for now, but let me know if you have any questions, comments, or thoughts.

New Heifer Calf, With No Stripe

New Calf close up

No comments:

Post a Comment