Saturday, February 24, 2007

Poultry


Continuing with the weekend series of ways to enter an ag business, or what ever I called a couple weeks ago...

Poultry farming is for lack of a better word, a very odd duck of an occupation. Most will immediately think chickens, but also think about ducks, geese and turkeys.

In my opinion ducks and geese have little agricultural virtues other than they love to eat slugs. They just have little commercial value. Most people who want to eat goose or duck will go hunting for them.

Chickens and turkeys are excellent tasting when they come from a small farm and are allowed to free range and eat things other than what comes in a feed bag.

If you’ve ever cracked a free-range egg next to a store bought egg you will immediately see the difference. The store bought egg has a pale yellow yolk and the free range egg yolk is very bright orange and it almost has a hint of green in it. You won’t make a fortune with an egg stand but it could pay some of the bills.

White chickens lay white eggs and chickens of color lay brown eggs and Aricondas lay blue eggs. You don’t need a rooster for egg production unless you want fertile eggs.

I’ve found that the nicest hens are Barred Rock and RI Reds. Bantams are cute and small and colorful, but they love to fly. They produce small eggs, but they are great brooders. They will sit on any egg until it hatches.

Local free range turkeys can draw some good funds, but you need to decide if you are of the temperament that will allow you to slaughter and dress an animal

Store bought roasters are very inexpensive, but since your chickens are well cared for and are not confined to cages or buildings filled with thousands of chickens your price can be higher for the value added aspect. Same goes for turkeys. It is becoming more to people that they know where their food comes from.

Do keep in mind that on the brain power scale for poultry, ducks and geese are the smartest, chicken are in the mid range and turkeys barely have any brains at all. I have heard stories that turkeys have been caught in a rain storm and look up with their mouths open and have drowned.

Fenced yards are required for poultry. Predation is high from raccoons, coyotes and hawks. Some people with poultry have cages that roll. This way you can roll your birds to a new location every couple of days so they can have fresh greens to eat.

All poultry needs shelter. When building a shelter make it easy to clean. Their manure needs to be composted before it can be used on a garden.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy,

Geese are by far the smartest. Ours know several commands. When we yell, "Go to bed" they all head towards the barn; if the gate is left open and they wander out I can yell, "get back in the fence" and they run toward the gate. They are funny creatures but loud and messy. Right now our geese are just popping out the eggs. We sell a lot of these at Easter time because it is fun to color the huge eggs.

We also have problems with Mink as predators. They are native to this area and also escape from the local mink farm. We can always tell when a duck or chicken has been attacked by a mink. The back of the neck is chewed up. The mink suck the blood and leave the body; like a little vampire.

Love,
Anon

8:03 AM  
Blogger LeLo in NoPo said...

Chickens of color. You are very good, Guy.
And as for anon's comment about mink? I never knew!

8:21 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Weassels, too. Raccoons, too. Back when I had chickens and ducks, coyotes would try to dig under the fencing.

There are a lot of mink farms no longer in operation in the county. I think there are only three left.

Releasing mink has been as bad as when the pelt farmers released all the nutera years ago. When kayaking I probably see 10 nutrea to every beaver. They look nearly the same from the front, but they have rattish looking tails. Some are really big, too.

Lelo, it's true about chickens of color, glad I could make you laugh though. In this world everything is realted.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

When I proposed to Liz nearly 30 years ago, she said yes, with one stipulation: NO CHICKENS!
No joke, that was her answer.
Her folks always had chickens and poorly cared for them. This led to chicken ailments and problems that are far to gross to talk about here.
Guy is sure right about the fine taste of free range eggs.
I have a friend in Blogett that gave us a carton of natural eggs.
Yummy!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

When Slave Hubby was growing up, he would summer with his Grandma, who was a subsistence farmer. Grandma had an enormous goose named Mork, and hubby still recalls the many times that mean goose chased him up a tree while trying to peck him to death.

Mork loved Grandma, though.

6:30 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Which reminds me, I have eggs one day a week and that is today, and I do have some free range eggs here.

Mo3, the only advantage to scrapping with a goose is that when they come in to peck you can grab them by the neck. They are pretty loyal to who ever feeds them.

4:51 AM  

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