Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thinking ahead of the storms

Prevention is the best policy from weather related farm failures

With all the recent weather, I am reminded that we should always think ahead of the storm and be prepared to act. This means that now with all the snow, we should be able to clear our farm roads and remove snow from animal housing to prevent roof collapse under the weight of the storms. Some suggestions include:
  1. Open the Attic doors of the barn to allow warm air rise to the roof line and help melt the ice.
  2. Rake off the roof (see illustration, right) to help remove the snow. A rope system tied to a 2x6 four foot long can remove snow off a gabled barn without getting up on the roof.
  3. Lower feeding equipment and any other suspended equipment for temporary relief of weight on the truss systems.
As with all snow events, water is your next concern. Be sure all water collection and handling systems are operational to handle the snow melt. Snow removal equipment and backup generation also helps protect the farm from road blockages and power outages. Be sure all emergency equipment is checked and ran periodically so that it will work when you need it.

No matter what the most common threat is to a farm a farmer needs to be prepared for those challenges.

The Future of Agriculture

Where are the New Farmers Coming From?

Like many who wonder where the next generation of labor to help us is coming from, should really ask "Where is my next meal coming from?". Like the rest of the labor force the average age of a farmer is rising. Further, when you count encroachment from cities, tax burdens, zoning of land, and the lack of allied industry support for some commodities, it is daunting to think that anyone is heeding the call to work in agriculture.

But there are shining examples out there. 4-H programs show kids how to raise animals with proper care. They also teach leadership skills and responsibility that will serve them well both on and off the farm. We should support 4-H and FFA programs to help kids, no matter from what background learn more about the world they will soon enter to work.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Remove the Animal From the Flu

Did you Just Sneeze?

We have heard in the media over again about how the swine flu has spread through the world. Because of this consumers have moved away from pork products for the wrong reasons. Let's face it, from a virus standpoint there has to be enough human genetic code in the virus to infect a human. Since most human flu we see is multi-species (avian/human/swine) lets just use the classification of H&N (e.g. H1N1) to describe this and give the animal producers a chance. Since this is NOT a food borne issue we should be able to enjoy fully cooked pork and pork products without scare.

To protect ourselves from human transmission, be sure to use good hygiene and cough control, especially as we head into the holiday season. Wash your hands including the backs of your hands with warm water and soap. Rub your hands with soap for at least 20-30 seconds before rinsing. Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or elbow if you must to keep your hands from being contaminated.

Lastly, stay home if you are sick. I was sick for two days and stayed home until fever was normal for 24 hours. By doing so, I was able to recover quickly and without lasting effects.

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.