Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Changes are in the Works

It has been much longer then I thought since I last blogged. We have been pretty busy on this end as the weather has finally improved and our production is off an running. We have a schedule up on our website, broilers are in the brooder, and cattle and sheep are grazing again.

Cattle Grazing Again

There are some significant changes in the works. We have a close friend who is working on our new website, to help us update our look and streamline our messaging. We are looking at reusable bags for our customers with our logo and website on them. This is a minor change, but we think it might be worthwhile over our current reused plastic bags. Janice conducted a customer survey and is taking a very close look at sales data. The results of our survey have us investigating two major changes.

We are looking at liquidating our sheep breeding stock and getting out of sheep after we process our remaining lambs. Based on the survey, we have very few people who purchase lamb from us and managing the herd is quite labor intensive. The meat still in our freezers from last year is almost entirely lamb. It is possible that we could do lamb again in the future, but that would likely be a result of customer demand. We might also look at a model where we just buy lambs in the spring and finish them on grass. These are all options we are weighing right now.

The last and largest change we are looking at is changing our poultry ration. Currently our ration has corn in that is open pollinated and non-GMO. Unfortunately the soy part of our ration is made from conventional GMO soy meal. The problem with soybeans is you can't just throw them into a grinder and grind them, like you can corn. You have to heat them in some way to break down enzymes in the soybean that make it challenging for monogastric stomachs to process the proteins in the soybean. This is usually done in larger commercial facilities and creates a system where farmers sell beans on the open market and buy back processed beans of the same open market. It is not an easy task to source non-GMO soymeal and we have seen prices that are more then double our current GMO soybean meal. Our customers have indicated that it is important to them that we cut the GMO soymeal, so we are working on it. It will inevitably lead to a price increase for our customers, but we are trying to limit what that increase would look like. If you are a customer and you have any additional feedback you want to offer, we would greatly appreciate that right now.

In other farm news, we had an offer that came in last week on our farm, but it has not been finalized yet. I am hopeful that we can work the wrinkles out of it and create a binding contract out of it. We have chickens in the brooder that should be ready to go to be processed in mid June. I started planting 200 trees at the new farm. It is slow going, but I would like to have most of it done this week. Lastly, I am trying to get things sold on this farm (sheep, some cattle breeding stock, tractor, etc.). Things are pretty hectic right now, but I think we are at least moving in the right direction.

Brooder Black Board

Chicks in the Brooder

Tree Planting Moves Forward in Ernest