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Farm Updates

August 15, 2023

Many customers have asked how the animals are doing in this heat!

Really, I think they do better than humans. After all, they are outside in the elements regardless what the conditions happen to be. We work in the heat, but live in the air conditioning.... makes a difference.

That said, we certainly take the heat affects seriously. Some of the extra things we are doing include:

Broilers - we have set up extra water containers inside their pens and will refill them 3 to 4 times daily with cool well water
Hens - their shelter is in the afternoon shade from a large oak tree. Their water lines are also in the shade vs. direct sunshine so they have cool vs. hot water
Cows - our new ground pasture is ready to graze. However, there is very little shade for them to spend the day under. So, we are saving that grass and focusing on pastures with plenty of shade available.
Pigs - we make sure they have shade and a wallow'er for them.

Fortunately, we have not had any heat related death - even with the broiler chickens. As you may or may not know, a chicken must have suitable water to drink or they don't eat as much as they normally would. And, without the full intake of food they will be smaller at harvest time.

Not only has it been hot, but very dry. After several years of adequate rain I knew we were due a dry period. When you check the Climate Prediction Center's Drought Monitor our area does not show up on the scale for drought. My observation though is our grass is crunchy when you step on it and we have several large oak trees that are at least stressed if not near dying.

A friend of mind in East TX sent me a picture of his ranch and said, "the brown stuff on the ground is what we are grazing." So, we are counting our blessings as it could be much worse!

Beef Market Report Update: while I was waiting on a customer to pickup up feed Monday afternoon I listened to a podcast regarding Superior Auctions from August 4th. For the first time ever a herd of 135 steers weighing an average of 450 pounds each sold for $4.00 per pound LIVE WEIGHT. That is $1800 each. Several contributing factors for the high price was weaned and certified natural grown. There were two other factors that I did not catch.

The calves finished weight would be in the 12-1300 pound range or about 3-times the weaned weight on sale day.

Feeder calf futures are up 18.5% since April 21, 2023 (less than 4-months). Two take-aways are: 1) what goes up does come down. To me, there is a lot of risk along the supply chain meaning folks are spending big money for feeder calves now that will not be finished for sale until 12-15 months out. If the market drops (like it can do) then someone along the supply chain will go broke. 2) High beef prices will push consumers to other proteins like chicken as they try to stretch food dollars.

That reminds me what Ethan who owns Homestead Farm & Packing told me - his business is down because many of the smaller direct marketers were now opting to sell at the stockyard vs. taking care of their customers because of the higher prices and they did not have to worry about customer sales. Frankly, this seems short-sided and shows a lack of commitment from the farmer to service their customers.

After using a "used" chicken plucker the past 7 years it was time to replace it. So, I took delivery on a new Poultry Man 27" plucker just before our last chicken processing. It certainly does a good job tumbling the chickens so the fingers can remove the feathers and the fingers are placed so the chicken cannot get hung.

We also harvested beef & pork this week. Our team is Amazing - all seven beef were completed in 3-hours time from start to finish. They work very good together and make every move count. Yet, enjoying catching up with each other since last month.

Last Monday we worked our breeding herd. Every cow was preg-checked. If they did not have a calf and were open then they were culled. Unfortunately, we had 24 open cows that have a calf. The issue is the new bull we purchased in April has an injury that prevents him from breeding. And, our other two bulls have about breed their limit for the year. We are looking for a replacement bull now!

At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems.

** Product Availability Update **

Chicken - Restocked August 1st. Next process is August 15th with restock the following day. By mid August we should be fully stocked on chicken. Processing will continue for twice per month for the balance of the year.

Turkey - We have a few on pasture now and received a batch of 25 poults July 29th. They are doing great.

Eggs - Will add eggs each Wednesday at 6pm along with any other items processed (like chicken)

Beef - Restocked July 20th. Next restock will be about August 25th..

Pork - Restocked July 13th. We plan to restock fresh cuts August 16th and cured cuts about August 25th

Lamb - Restocked July 24th. We expect to have a few lamb in September and about 12 in November

Ben Simmons

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