Thursday, May 12, 2016

Check Watering and Feeding Equipment as Your Birds Age

How you make a presentation counts

The birds we commonly use for meat and eggs do not have valves in their throats as we do.  Because of this, chickens, ducks and turkeys (to name a few) have to swallow food and water upright or throw the food to the back of the throat in a jerking motion like a woodpecker at a log.  To aid in feed conversion and water spillage, positon trough waterers and feeders lip height at the base of the bird’s neck or slightly higher so that the bird doesn’t waste feed and water standing up.

Nipple drinkers are a special case.  They should be set at the eye of the bird so that the birds jaw is below the level of the pin of the nipple drinker.  This will aid in controlling water spillage from this type of watering system.  Bell type watering systems should be adequately weighted to keep from swinging too much.

Feeders should no more that 1/3 full, and placed with the lip of the feeder even with the base of the neck of the bird.  If using a trough raise the feeder on blocks or similar structure to bring the food up to make it easier for the birds to eat.  Pasture should be long enough for the birds to easily pull on young blades of forage. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking to the future by looking at our past...

'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' 
George Santayana 
source: USDA

It has been quite a year.  I am reminded of the fact that many of our current trends of systems for producing eggs are directly tied to production systems developed prior to the First World War.  Many of the problems that we saw in those times are being experienced now by producers.  In order to feed nine billion people by the middle of the century, we will need to develop improvements in all poultry production systems to become more efficient.  Nutrition, genetics, housing, healthcare and flock management should all be reviewed and improved upon where needed in order to make the production of food as efficient as possible.  This will need to take some investment and some support by producers and consumers alike if we are to be successful.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Making the Margin

Knowing where you are at will help you know where you are going....
 Many folks question me regarding commercial poultry production and its true sustainability.  Many of the farms I work with are family owned yet have grown over the course of 60-100 years of operation.  At the same time I work with folks with smaller flocks, who sell directly to their customers.  In each case for me to be economically sustainable is where a farm pushes past break-even for a sustained period of time.  Enough so to reach the goals of the farm.  So, each farm can make it if they: 1) understand their cost structures 2) prices their products properly for the market they are trying for, and 3) never invests more than what they are getting out of the system unless they wish to.  This point of diminishing return (MR=MC) at times hurts many farms regardless of size.  So, by buying inputs in bulk, trucking only with full loads, and moving high volumes of product works for some.  Keeping costs to a minimum, producing a product that will sell in certain markets works with others.  Each system fulfills the needs of the market, and brings a return to the farm.  Whichever system employed, it takes keeping great production & financial records to know where you are at all times.  And in a highly diversified market each system is needed to fulfill the demand of their customers.