Today is going to be a better day; I plan to make sure of that. Yesterday was just plain horrible. When I went out to milk, I first fed the poultry and while the mother duck was eating, Ted (one of the cats) was using the baby ducks as bowling pins. I managed to catch them and then ran the mother duck up into one of the poultry houses to catch her. As I came out, I caught my hair in the wire that hangs down from the roof of the structure to cover the gap when you close the door (making it predator-proof). After I untangled my hair (one handed because I was holding on to an angry, struggling mother duck) I looked around and thought to myself, AWA isn’t going to approve this farm. Sure, we are pasture-based, more pasture-based than many farms, but our structures are nothing more than tarp-covered, chain link-sided enclosures. Our only true building is the milk parlor. So, I came in and wrote the inspector and cancelled the inspection.
As always, however, Wally helped me to see the light. He said that he knew how high I was on having the AWA inspection, but, he said, what good is an inspection if you know that it’s going to happen a month in advance. A true inspection should be done with little notice. That’s when, I expect, the true welfare of the animals on the farm can be observed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can come to this farm any day and see how the animals are raised and fed. We do the very best than we can for our animals and we both feel like they are very well cared for. They are kept dry and warm and are fed the very best food we can source and afford.
Yesterday afternoon, I put another mother and kits in a tractor. I took over the tractor that the Cornish X chickens were using. They can use the other tractor in the evening until next week. I’m going to take them to the processor next week. Then, that’s it for the Cornish X for this farm! This article came up on Facebook this morning. It’s a comparison between raising Cornish X chickens vs. Freedom Rangers. The cost per pound of meat for the Cornish X was $1.47 vs. $1.73 for the Freedom Rangers. The author said that the mortality of the Cornish X was much higher than the Freedom Rangers. Plus, the Freedom Ranger chicks cost almost twice as much as the Cornish X. The conclusion was that while they liked the the Freedom Rangers (pretty, active, and hardy) and didn’t like the Cornish X (ugly, lethargic, and die easily), but they needed to consider the bottom line and and were leaning towards Cornish X.
That makes little sense to me. If they paid the same amount for the Freedom Rangers, the cost per pound would have been close. Even though this is a small farm, that damned Cornish X feed conversion and quick growing rate is what is the decision maker. Doesn’t anyone think that an animal that grows as fast as the Cornish X, has so many mortality problems and has not natural vibrancy is not a good thing to eat?
Our next group of meat birds, whatever they end up being, will not be raised in tractors. I’ll get a roll of electric poultry netting and use that instead. I’ve got a bunch of broody hens. I need to get them set up with eggs so that they can raise another group of chicks, the roosters for meat, the hens for future layers. I’ve got three large breed roosters and most of the hens are large breeds as well. This would be the very best way to raise future birds: let the hens do all the work.
Well see what happens. Wally’s not at all keen on the chicken raising thing.
Until later …