Good Morning and hello from your farmer,
This has been a tough year to raise chickens. As many of you know, we have been raising pastured chickens since 2012 following our visit to Polyface Farms to witness first hand how Joel Salatin writes about how to raise pastured chickens. And, we have raised a lot of chickens that matured into nice 5 & 6 pound dressed chickens.
This year has been different. Losses per batch has been extremely high and many chicks look more like a week old when they are three weeks old.
For the past ten or so weeks we have checked and double checked our activities. Is the temperature right, do they have fresh water, how about bedding and ventilation? We have even had the feed tested to make sure it did not have micro-toxins that would cause the problem.
As late spring and summer progressed the problem has only worsened. For example, the last batch we put to pasture had 25% loss between shipping and our 3-week brooder period. As we loaded them into the crates to transport them to pasture we separated over 30 that were runty - my experience is that these also will not survive.
Yep, we had been in discussion with our hatchery about this. While I was not satisfied with the urgency to help solve the problem, I did not push to hard as the owner had recently lost her husband to cancer. So, she had some personnel issues she was dealing with to include what to do with the hatchery business. Sometimes you never know the burdens others are caring!
The good news is the problem has been solved!!! The root of the problem was the eggs she purchased to incubate were from a flock of hens that were much older than what should have been used. Basically, the eggs were out of date.
About 11 days ago we received our latest batch of chicks from eggs that came from a different farmer. I could tell the difference when we took them out of the shipping box - they were very active, drinking, and eating right away. And, they were not droopy. After 11 days we have not lost any chicks and they are very uniform in size.
While solving the issue is good news, the problem has put us about 300 plus chickens behind for customer orders and negatively impacted our cash flow.
Transparency is a principle our farm practices. People should know who, what, how, and why their food is raised so customers can make informed choices.
Speaking of chicken - the BIG news on the American Pastured Poultry Producers email list this week was the recent approval for lab-cultured chicken by the USDA. There are now two companies in the U.S.A. that are cleared to manufacture and sell lab grown chicken. The rollout is confined to a couple of restaurants, but that will change.
Comments from farmers include: pretty gross, not natural, expect a very small market IF it becomes viable, this obscures the origin of food, and science long ago stopped asking the question whether they should do something and instead only ask if they can do it. And, one of my favorite from Spence reads; last year an executive from that beyond meat junk got arrested near our farm for trying to bite the nose off another guy at a Razorback football game. You have to wonder what's in (or not) that stuff to make a person do something like that!
I really have to ask (again) what the world is coming to - and how are we meant to manage and function in this increasingly bizarre use of science stuff.
At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that will evolve 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 June 28th. Next harvest date is July 11th with restock the following day. Processing will continue for twice per month for the balance of the year.
Eggs - Eggs are tight again. Will add eggs each Wednesday at 6pm along with any other items processed (like chicken)
Beef - Restocked June 22nd. Next restock will be about July 20th. Tallow (rendered) will be added 7/01
Pork - Restocked April 28th. Bacon was added Monday, May 8th. We plan to restock pork again in July
Lamb - Restocked April 28th. Next restock will not be until July timeframe.