Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

I have made some progress recently, getting the last batch of chickens outside, and getting the surviving older turkeys set-up for ranging, despite not having any free weekends in August to stay caught up with.

The Last Batch of Chickens for 2010

Older Turkeys Ranging and Resting in Portable Roost

Unfortunately, this morning I had to bury one of my best ewes. I just found her dead in the middle of the herd this morning with no visible cause of death. The number of dead animals on the farm this year has been disheartening. We have to my tally lost 4 ewes, 6 lambs, 26 layers to predators, a handful of broiler chickens, and over 200 turkeys. Losing the lambs hurts, but the loss of so many turkeys is really hard on morale and our bottom line. Normally, I have always enjoyed turkeys, but this year I just want to wash my hands of that side of the business. Turkeys usually have a high mortality rate of 10 to 20 percent, but this year it is close to 80 percent. I have been on some list serves and have found that many others have struggled with turkeys this year. The wet weather is the direct culprit of about 25% of the turkey deaths, with smothering making up most of the remaining 75% of losses. Since we are on pace to finish only 60 turkeys this year (we finished 125 last year), I have made arrangements for an additional batch of birds yet this year. I have 50 birds purchased and are currently being brooded on another farm before they come to me. This last batch will be ready in mid-December. Too late for Thanksgiving, but in time for Christmas. I am not looking forward to this batch of birds because they will represent numerous challenges to raise during the colder months. I am hoping that we do not get heavy snow on December 6th like in 2009 or I will be in real trouble.

Digging a Sheep Grave

Fencing has been making little progress, but I got back to it today for the first time in weeks. This weekend, I hope to make much more progress. I picked Hazel up from the babysitters this afternoon and we spent some time out on the pasture; she slept while I ran some fence wire. The fact that it is cool enough to take Hazel out to the pasture during the day is one of the things that I have been looking forward to this fall.

Hazel Accompanying Me Out To Pasture

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