Over a period of about 10 days my phone started ringing or not-ringing when it wanted to. As a result my voicemail filled up, and then the phone died. I’ve gotten a new phone and am back to answering it. I’m very sorry and apologize to all those who got the “voice mail full message.”
In the process of getting the new phone, the 20+ voice mail messages were lost. So if you need to talk to me, please call again.
Looks like the end of the season for chicks is approaching.
As chick sales have tapered off the last several weeks, I’ve turned my eye toward setting eggs for my own flocks for next year. After I finish setting my breeder flocks for next year, I’ll be setting up a couple of pens to try some special breeding. Then I will reduce my breeder flock to the birds that I plan to keep through the fall and winter. This will essentially be a trio from each family, plus a few spares.
Sales this year were lower than I expected, so our flock size next year will be smaller – we can’t feed so many birds with lower sales.
If you want birds this year, now would be the time to order. The Rhode Island Reds, Delawares and New Hampshires are laying well, the Black Australorps and the Buff Orpingtons are trying to go broody, so this has reduced the number of hens actually laying. Last week, the New Hampshire fertility was down – I have a spare rooster than I’m swapping in. I won’t be selling any more Barred Rocks this year – the last eggs are mine for the flock next year, then I’m setting up a trio to carry over.
Guineas are starting to lay and hatch well.
The Bronze turkeys are also laying and hatching well. The sales of the Beltsville White turkeys went to zero, so I let the 4 broody hens start setting on the eggs. I’ll have Bronze Turkey poults available for a bit longer. Once I get my flock for next year hatched, I’m parting ways with the one Tom that I have left.
Maybe you can help me.
I’m trying to figure out what I can do to increase sales. Please send me any ideas you have.
One idea that has been floated around and that I get requests for from time-to-time is to sell older pullets from our true dual-purpose flocks. Would you be interested? And if so, how much would you be willing to pay? When I hatch and raise pullets, I end up with an approximately equal number of cockerels. Would you consider buying the processed cockerels for meat?
More On Barred Rock Egg Laying
One of our customers, Tate, wrote in:
I’m not sure if you remember, but I bought one of your laying flocks of Barred Plymouth Rocks back in October of last year I believe. I also just read your farm update and about the lay rate you have been experiencing with your laying flock. I just want to let you know that I am not seeing the same thing with the birds I bought from you. I added the 6 hens and rooster I purchased from you to the 4 old granny hens I already had here. I am getting 7-8 eggs a day for about the last 3 weeks”.
That is great to hear!!
The Question of the Week – Mites
I’ve answered questions about mites several times this week. I think the spring weather brings them out more.
Most of what I’ve seen and what people have described has been red mites. (There is another kind of mite – the Northern Fowl Mite – but I suspect they are true to their name and stay up north.)
Mites feed on blood, and a heavy infestation can cause a serious amount of blood loss. A rooster infested with mites will lose weight and energy, both of which affect his ability to service the hens.
An infected hen will lose weight and become depressed, leading to reduced egg production. So a mite-free flock is a worthy goal. In Texas, chiggers are a problem, too, and our pastures are full of them from early May until August. Many of the mite issues and treatments apply to chiggers as well.
I never had a problem with mites until I bought a Speckled Sussex trio. The rooster was blind in one eye and heavily infested. The mites quickly spread to adjacent pens. Fortunately the sulfur treatment that I describe below worked on the adjacent pens. Culling worked on him. Now, before I buy any birds, I check them over. I suggest you do too.
How bad is a mite problem? I read in Countryside Magazine that if you blow the feathers and count how many mites you immediately see, if you see 6 or more then you have an infestation that needs to be dealt with. If you count 5 or less, then you might consider some of the less drastic treatments.
WHEN APPLYING TREATMENTS READ AND FOLLOW ALL TREATMENT INSTRUCTIONS, INCLUDING MASKS AND GLOVES.
Read that again – I mean it 🙂
I treat mites in stages. Just about every time I handle a bird, I look for mites. For example, I’ve scheduled to send birds for processing this Friday. Thursday night I’ll be going through the flocks collecting the non-layers for Friday’s trip. As I look at the birds, I’ll be looking for mites as well.
Stage 1. A sulfur dusting. I purchase wettable sulfur and Diatomacous Earth (DE) from our general store. I hold the bird in a stable position – that is, with her legs between my fingers and her head facing my elbow. This gives me excellent control over her. Then I apply a liberal amount of sulfur to the vent area. The vent area seems to be a favorite spot for mites. I also check the area around the neck and under the wings and treat if needed. If one bird has a mite issue, I treat the entire pen. If the entire pen is bad – then I treat the wood also – see below.
Stage 2. After the initial sulfur dusting, I mix 1 part sulfur with 4 parts DE and give them a dusting bath. I try to position this bath so it is out of the rain.
Stage 3. After a week I check the birds again and repeat the sulfur treatment as needed. Most of the time, one treatment is enough.
If I still have an issue after 2 sulfur treatments, then we bring out the heavy weapon – Permethrin spray.
If the whole pen is heavily infested then I spray the wood with Permethrin at full strength. Then I very lightly spray the vent area with Permethrin and – with a gloved hand – rub it into the feathers.
I’ve never had Permethrin fail, but I’ve only had to use it on one pen of birds.
Whenever I empty a wooden pen, I treat the wood with Permethrin before I bring in a new flock.
For further reading, see the article:
A note on vaccinations
We do not vaccinate the chicks that we hatch out, which includes all the chicks from our true dual-purpose flocks. These birds are appropriate for someone who is looking for better genetics and who understands the risk/reward of not vaccinating.
We have only rarely seen Mareks (1-3 cases per year out of hundreds that we grow out). Some people who have bought our hatched chicks have had some Mareks. I think it depends a lot on the individual grow-out situation. Plus, in our breeder flock we practice rigorous improvement, so we could be working the weaker, more susceptible birds out of the flock.
The day-old chicks that we purchase from other sources and raise up and sell as started pullets are vaccinated for Mareks. These birds are appropriate for the flock owner who does not intend to breed and for whom an outbreak of Mareks would be traumatizing. In the past we have also had these birds vaccinated for Cocci, but in the last 12 months, the Cocci vaccine has been less effective, so we have discontinued the Cocci vaccination.