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...

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

 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!
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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Importance of Being Counted


Why it is important to Participate in Ag Census every time ! 

Every five years the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a national census of agriculture.  Every farmer I meet at times feels that this is an imposition and sees this as an intrusion.  At the same time they will use farming trends seen in census data for their farming operations and use the data to help with local governments they communicate with.

Census data collected helps us understand the changing landscape of agriculture over time.  Some of these measures are hard to extrapolate without conducting the census.  Many of those in government at all levels rely on census data from both agriculture and other industries when they consider appropriations for the farm bill, and other local issues.  It is important then for all farms to participate and be counted so that an accurate picture of the current state of agriculture can be made.  For more information on the Ag census go to the USDA website.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The aftermath looking forward

Take a moment to survey your housing!          

We have just gone through some of the worst weather this fall.  When these events pop up, it is always a good practice to check your poultry housing over carefully for unseen damage that may have occurred.  Look up into attics to see if any rafters or bracing has broken or come loose.  Look at power poles for splitting.  Open electrical boxes for water accumulation indicating a compromised water seal on the supply weatherhead.  On housing that is over ten years old, things may have worked loose in the wind.  The last thing you wish to see is a weakened roof that would collapse under the next storm.

Look closely at the boots on feed bins for leakage.  Clumping feed is a good indicator that water got into the tank somehow.  If possible, allow the tank to empty and then check the tank with a droplight at night.  This may be able to show spots that may be leaking.

With small flock housing, consider "pinning" temporary housing to the ground using spikes made of re-bar or other suitable materials.  Store summer shade fixtures until needed in the spring.

Clear all drainage culverts around poultry housing of any debris before the next storm event.  With proper precaution, a few minutes will help save hours of repair when you really don't wish to make repairs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Be Ready for Foul Weather

Take an active role in preparation

With the possibility of storms from the south, farmers should check that:

  1. They have adequate levels of fuel in their backup generators, trucks and farm implements.
  2. Spouting and gutters are clear.
  3. Culverts and other road crossings are clear of debris and free flowing.
  4. Drainage and containment structures are clear of any refuse and debris.
  5. Review/check emergency call phone lists, fire extinguishers, flashlights and smoke detectors.

For more information and checklists see:

Please pass this around to those you know.