Monday, March 10, 2014

Most food is a GMO…

There is more to this than a Label...

There has been a lot of debate regarding genetically modified organisms in the world.  I
Source: Wilson's Page
would suggest that unless you catch it wild that what you are eating is genetically modified.  So technically (in my opinion), in essence you can put a GMO tag on just about any food you can think of…

If we use corn for example, wild corn looks nothing like the corn we eat today.  Ever since Gregor Mendel, Luther Burbank and Barbara McClintock (a corn geneticist) we have been manipulating animal and plant genomes for years.  This has allowed man to keep producing more food on the same footprint of land.  It also has allowed more people to work elsewhere and spend a smaller portion of their time and money on food.

Well, what about buying “vintage” breeds of chicken?  Yes, unless kept in a random bred flock they too are modified in some way, and look nothing like their ancestors.  Poultry breeding companies adopted the same genetic tools to poultry breeding and selection and made todays birds more productive in the same environment of old.  Even organic raised birds are using the identical genetics of conventional birds.

And, for that matter, man is also a genetically manipulated species as well.  While we could argue that we are randomly selected, I would suggest that environmental influences and social customs, taste & preferences are still at play in forming the next generation.   I would also suggest that we look at the good that science has given to man, even in the food we eat.  I believe it does outweigh the bad.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dropping Weight in a Storm

Rake to reduce roof weight

Source: http://www.avalanche-snow.com
Snow, Ice and wind loads can cause roof system failures in older poultry housing.  To combat heavy snows, the use of a roof rake to pull down snow off a roof can be employed.  In my Feb. 11, 2010 post, I discussed the use of a home-made rake.  While watching one of my favorite home improvement shows, I saw another design that cuts the snow making it easier to move than a plowing rake.  For examples take a look at:

http://www.minnsnowta.com/index.html

http://www.avalanche-snow.com/index.asp

After a heavy snow, you should check roofing systems for any breaks in support bracing and rafters.  Why you may have survived this storm the next one may finish off your your roof.  Be Safe and check your housing.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by the author & Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Staying Dry in Cold Weather



It is all in the air.

Picture: allaboutdamp.com
One of the myths I run into is that is it is very hard to keep a poultry house dry in cold weather.  What could be said is that is it is hard to keep a house dry and warm in the winter.  The core problem is that you fight water all winter long if you do not understand what is in the air.

As air cools, it loses its ability to hold water.  Hot air on the other hand, will hold a large volume of water as vapor or if it gets hot enough - steam.  This is why a dehumidifier will collect water as it removes water from the air by cooling.  Knowing this, a farmer can dry his litter enough to control wet spots and therefore insect levels during the winter before they become a problem in the spring.

Water is being created in a poultry house every day.  For each pound of feed, two pounds of water is consumed.  Some of this will pass as liquid water in the manure, but other is given off as vapor from the respiratory system. Therefore, to best use this principle, the farmer should vent his house to remove the hot moist air and bring in cool air to mix with the hotter room air.  Circulation fans within the house can help with mixing the air, as well as attic ventilators and inlet baffles that helps pre-heat the air before dumping into the room.  As the outside air warms up it will remove water out of the surrounding area and begin to dry the manure.  A constant amount of room air needs to be vented in order to help dry the house.  If condensation is seen in the house, it is under ventilated or the air is not mixing properly.  The use of hand held wind meters, surveyors tape and other aids could help determine where air is flowing in the house.

Smaller flocks also need to ventilate in winter to keep bedding dry.  If necessary, a heat lamp will provide the additional heat to help the cool air absorb the needed moisture that is to be removed from the house.  Watch the litter conditions to determine if further venting is needed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Home Egg Quality

Keeping fresh eggs safe at home

Source: Wikipedia

I do from time to time scan other sites regarding the home flock.  One of the biggest debates is whether to wash eggs at home or not.  The USDA does not recommend washing eggs at home because they make the assumption that US consumers are buying eggs from grocery stores that sell farm washed eggs.  Eggs washed once should not have to be washed again.  But, what about local farm eggs?  Eggs do have natural defenses against bacterial intrusion, but that is only for a short period of time.  Heavy soiling of eggs can contribute to bacterial contamination, and this is why washing is done.  Sanding eggs to remove dried manure and urates actually breaks down the outer bloom of the egg and could lead to contamination.  Improper washing can also lead to contamination of eggs through thermal checking and osmotic pressures.  So, if you have to wash eggs, be sure that the room temperature eggs are washed quickly in soapy water that is 10 degrees hotter than the egg temperature.  Rinse water should be 10 degrees hotter than the wash water.  Short durations in each bath should do the trick without a drop in egg quality.  Use a cool blow drier to remove any excess rinse water.

In any case, eggs should always be refrigerated.  Refrigeration  is the best method for keeping any bacteria from growing too fast.  If you eat home raised eggs on a regular basis you should do so to keep the supply in the refrigerator fresh.  The lowest portion of the refrigerator is the coldest, so store eggs there in a covered egg carton or bowl for protection from food spills and bumping.

More info at:
USDA Food Safety - Eggs




Friday, August 2, 2013

Cooling Equipment Checks in time of Heat

To keep Your Cool, Maintain what keeps you Cool...

Photo:thelifeofafarmerswife.blogspot.com

For the most part the equipment on most poultry buildings is well designed and is sized for the flock you housed.  But, just like your vehicle, these houses require normal maintenance checks to ensure optimal efficiency and long useful life.  Cooling pads need to be examined for proper distribution of water.  Reservoirs should be checked for proper fluid levels and condition of water.  Pump screens should be checked for algae or other obstructions that would limit flow.  Drain reservoirs that contain heavy sand / dirt that may accumulate near farm lanes.  Follow manufacture's recommendations for cleaning pads if you are in areas of hard water or notice residues forming on the pads.  During peak use, observe the pads to see that all areas are saturated to prevent hot air by-pass through the cell.  A small piece of wire or pipe cleaner is handy for unclogging cell water distribution pipes.  Be sure to have a few extra cells on site in case they are needed for replacement of cells damaged during load-out or de-lamination of the cell itself.  On the other side, be sure to power down and brush / blow off fan blades for proper operation.  Check belts and pulleys as you do this for proper adjustment and wear.  Proper weekly checks of the systems will ensure proper cooling when you need it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Importance of Shade in Hot Weather

Something That Casts Shade Can Be Vital

Source: www.travelingbaby.com
 When you think of it refrigeration cooling became popular during the 1950's when equipment could be sized to cool a house.  Even today, not all houses are air conditioned.  So even with large scale housing, some cooling effect can be made with plantings of trees near the houses.  By casting shadows on the houses, intake air temps are reduced and could mean the difference between life and death for a flock in high temp summer heat.

With smaller flocks, shade is a logical choice to cool the flock as it is cost effective and simple to set up.  a 4x8 sheet of plywood on sawhorses can offer ranging birds a place to get away from the radiational heating of direct sun.

If trees are not applicable, considering awnings and other roof extensions that will shade the inlets to the house.  Each of these structural changes will enhance cooling without undue higher cost.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Measuring Correctly

Getting the Correct Data the First Time!

Source:radwag.com
  
When taking measurements in the field it is always important to check the calibration of your equipment to make sure you are being accurate.  Scales, thermometers, and other equipment over time may stray out of acceptable limits of accuracy.  I see this often as folks weigh chickens on a dairy scale that they adjust to read zero.  What is more important?  What the scale reads when loaded or empty.  Keep a standard object to weigh to check your scales before walking into that house.  Any object that will neither loose nor gain weight will work.  Check your object at either at the post office or at the weights and measures office in your locality.  An ice water slurry will work for most thermometers that can be calibrated.  Also, just because the instrument is digital, doesn't always mean it is accurate.  Check the manufactures manual for more information on your instrument.