Pastured Poultry Update

It’s been a while. How are you? Sorry we haven’t posted lately, but sometimes life gets a little busy with kids, jobs, side jobs, side-side jobs, and side-farm jobs. Since our last blog post we have pretty much finished up all of our major farm tasks for the season.

We moved all of our Cornish cross chicks out to pasture in a mobile chicken tractor moved them to fresh grass every day (twice a day for the older ones). As I tend to do, I waited until the last minute to build another chicken tractor to house these birds when it was time to get them out of the brooder. I put together another simple hoop structure like the one we used for the turkeys and slapped some wheels on it for easy daily moves. One new thing we tried out is a bell waterer. These are pretty much the standard for chicken tractor use, but we had never used them. After watching a youtube video on assembly, I installed one in the tractor and connected it to a 5-gallon bucket that gravity fed water to it as needed. It’s pretty slick. I’ve read that they can get clogged, so I checked it multiple times a day and only had one issue with it not replenishing the water correctly. Not sure what the cause was, but I apparently fiddled with it enough to get it flowing again. Based on our experience with this waterer, we will be using them in our chicken tractors and egg mobiles moving forward. It doesn’t work for a winter watering solution, but we’ve just stuck to using the flexible rubber dishes and freshen water several times a day as we’ve done in winters past.

We processed around 50 cornish cross chickens the first week of November along with 12 turkeys. We sent roughly the same number to the processor along with 16 excess heritage roosters back in October as well. If you are looking for some chicken, we have whole chickens for sale for $5.49/lb (pastured and fed certified organic grain) with a discount if you purchase 10+ birds. Email us (1450farm@gmail.com) or contact Shannon through our Instagram account (@1450Farm) if you are interested. We will deliver locally! We sold all of our broad-breasted white turkeys and heritage breed turkeys (also pastured and fed organic grain) and were able to enjoy a fabulous 30-pounder for Thanksgiving. We will definitely be expanding our turkey production for 2019 and will be taking pre-orders for Thanksgiving turkeys in late summer/early fall. We’ll keep you posted!

I couldn’t believe the size of the broad-breasted whites when I picked them up from the processor. I knew they were big because I had carried them multiple times, but I didn’t expect them to be THAT big! We had a range of about 25-31 pounds! The good news is we can start our turkeys a little later next year and aim for a more manageable average size around 18 pounds or so. The turkeys were a real joy and we are keeping a breeding trio of heritage birds through the winter to try our hand at hatching some turkeys on-farm next year. The hens haven’t begun laying yet, but hopefully they’ll begin in time for us to hatch out some poults to raise for Thanksgiving processing. We’ve discovered that our biggest challenge with the turkeys is that they like to fly over the electric poultry net fencing and wander through our property. They like to check out the woods and our woodpile and can often be found impeding traffic on our driveway. Fortunately, turkeys are pretty inquisitive and social and have thus far been happy to follow us back to their paddock when it’s time to close them in for the night. Our oldest son has turned into the Pied Piper of turkey wranglers.

 

With all of the rain we had back in the Fall (and as I type this!) I joked to Shannon that perhaps we should have gone into the farm-raised Tilapia business. While we have no intention of shifting to fish-farming, we are starting to put together some ideas for product offerings in 2019. In addition to our chicken and egg sales, we’re looking at creating packages combining chicken, eggs, whole/half hogs, and a turkey as kind of a full-season meat CSA. The idea would be that you would put down a deposit to reserve your spot and then be guaranteed either a whole or half hog (your choice & delivered to you at time of processing), 1 turkey (delivered in November), and a certain number of chickens and eggs spread over the season. If this is something you would be interested in we would love to hear your feedback. We haven’t finalized package sizes, prices, or logistics, but we thought we’d see if there would be interested in this type of offering at a price discounted from our retail pricing. Let us know and we’ll keep you posted as things are finalized. We plan to also begin selling retail chicken cuts (breast, thighs, etc.), so if cooking or breaking down a whole chicken isn’t your thing, we should have some more familiar options for you this year. As we continue to expand our product offerings, we hope to also eventually add an online shopping component to our website with predetermined delivery dates.

Well, I think that’s about all of the excitement we have going on right now. We have plenty of projects on the to-do list, so stay tuned to see what’s in store for 1450 Farm! Cheers!

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