Thursday, October 8, 2009

To Compost Well - prepare and observe

When composting mortality having the right conditions will ensure a good result. Remember to start with a good base of carbon bearing materials in the bottom of the bin. Wet birds to help hasten the process and then cover completely to keep other animals out of the composter. Monitor composting using a composting thermometer in order to tell when compost needs further attention or to pull and spread. For best results compost at 45-50% moisture with temps over 110o F.

Be sure to have adequate materials at hand to compost, so to be at the ready for when its necessary to handle mortality on the farm.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fact Checking in Poultry Production

You may see commercials in the media stating one thing or another regarding their birds. While factually true, it does cast doubts about their competitors. What consumers should know is that the food laws in the US prohibit antibiotic residues in poultry. Birds need to be in good health prior to processing and are checked at the plant prior to processing. You are more likely to come in contact with antibiotics through direct contact (prescriptions, topical ointments / preparations) Than through your food.

Fall Manure Spreading is soon here

Hey! Watch where you put that!

With fall harvest comes fall spreading of poultry manure before cover crops or winter fallow of fields. Poultry farmers and manure haulers need to look at these loads as far as their house fly status to determine if further actions are needed. Heavy fly infested manure should be piled and covered for 14 days in order to kill any further fly larvae. By paying attention to these simple steps, fly levels on the farm can be kept to a minimum.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Scales are Tipping

On Balanced Reporting....

I guess I am a little hardened to what we have seen in Time Magazine lately. Time has not been a good friend to food groups or farming for that matter for many years. You may remember the frowning plate cover years back?

The cover story Bryan Walsh wrote was extremely unbalanced in covering anything to do with conventional agricultural production. This got me so steamed, that I did something I usually do not do. I wrote a letter to the editor. Since I don't think it will be published I am reprinting what I submitted below.

Email Subjet Line: Let's Get Real About Food in General

I found your story regarding cheap food [Aug 21, 2009] an unbalanced folly on what U.S. consumers have but fail to realize – A Choice! Conventional agricultural production (sustained now for decades) has allowed U.S. consumers to have more disposable income than any other culture in the world. Enough so to even allow us the luxury to demand greener, designer foods, and dictate what is to be produced. Two points we need to consider: If it is ok to buy a car, refrigerator, toothpaste, shoes, lumber, and ketchup made in a large factory why is it a crime to buy foods that were produced with the same economies of scale or organization? Secondly, if your kid were sick with a bacterial infection would you withhold antibiotic treatment? Even the range cattle need medication from time to time and there are laws that prohibit antibiotic residues from reaching the consuming public (all meat sources, always). It is disappointing to see the hard work of the American Farmer being dragged through the mud in biased articles such as this. Considering the time and risk to family livelihoods farmers take, few others are willing to follow them in the hard work they do to feed the rest of us (including you too Mr. Walsh).

Gregory P. Martin, Ph.D., PAS

Poultry Scientist
Just an aside here I let my subscription to Time Lapse a long while ago.... Looks like I'm not missing much.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cage or No Cages - You Decide !

Going Back in Time

Much of the rhetoric surrounding the push for for enriched and cage free layer systems surrounds the idea of supporting repressed common poultry behavior. The question that should be asked is "Do we really have to support every behavior that the birds possess? Humans used to be hunter gatherers that would move in groups to hunt, kill and maintain territorial bounds by force. We obviously no longer do all that, but are we frustrating ourselves as other groups feel we are imposing on chickens in cages?

If we are placing birds on wire, not in dirt do they really need to bathe in dust? In my years of work I have seen most behaviors exhibited in both cage and cage free systems. Yes, layers will simulate dust bathing, wing & leg stretching and so forth. I have also seen gang picking in larger aviary and range situations as well.

The answer to housing poultry is to look to bird behavior that we wish to support, and more importantly pay to support. If US consumers wish to have cage free production, they will need to support all the requirements of such production. If humane caged (e.g. UEP) systems are important then consumers should financially support those activities as well. There is no free lunch and each system has both positive and negative aspects. What is needed is choice; pushing for markets without choice in the US is against the tenets of capitalism itself. The market will ultimately tell the consumers choice of what is important to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Sweating Feed Bin

During the heat of late summer and rain, be sure to inspect feed bins for feed that may hang near seams and at the top. Be sure to look up every now and then to make sure feed tank fill doors are securely closed to keep out the rain. Your feed mill does everything it can to eliminate mold; you should not be the source of new contamination. Considering the price of feed these days, you don't want to see spoiled expenses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Not the Heat but the Humidity

As we run downhill into fall and some of the hottest weather, be sure to compensate for humidity. As % relative humidity (RH) rises the efforts that the bird needs to make in order to cool itselfself also rises. The holding capacity of the air for water decreases so increases in ventilation rates must be made in help keep heat in check.