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It’s not chicken feed

April 8, 2008

My meat chicks are scheduled to arrive April 29th, so I had to order their food today.  The feed mill that makes our chicken mash wanted 2 weeks notice.  He is hanging on by a thread, with the current grain prices.   Last year, our old feedmill went out of business, and sent us scrambling to find someone who would make the feed the way we wanted.  Our new supplier was able to hold his price all last season, but this season he won’t be able to promise a price for more than a month.  The price for the same feed, with no change in ingredients has went up 33% since November.  When we started raising chickens, there weren’t any mills interested in making small amounts of chicken feed, so we learned to grind and mix it ourselves.  About the time we couldn’t keep up, we found a mill that would make the feed using our recipe.

The actual cost we had into our birds last year worked out to be $9.00 per bird.  This included:  chick cost, feed, electricity for the first two weeks, labor for 8 weeks, and bartering chickens for butchering help.  This year it will be considerably more. The chickens are still a good value though.  I can get several meals, enough chicken for my hubby’s lunch all week, and at a minimum 3 qts of gelatinous broth out of each one.  A friend of mine sells pastured poultry and has a nice processing set-up.  He processes 5 batches a season, so the butchering area  is rested (read clean).  The state “approved” facility that is closer to our house is in awful shape.  The people that run it, rent it out at night and work the facility almost 7 days a week.  I would rather haul my birds a few more miles to a clean place, and if I butcher them myself, I know that I’m getting mine back.  We never did invest in buying our own equipment, so this has worked out well for us.  

This may sound strange to the uninitiated, but we have a great time, every time we process chickens or turkeys at our friends house.  They employ teenagers from their church, to work on butchering day, and everyone is working towards a common goal.  They usually are doing 400 chickens, and we fit our meager 75 in, and usually we can be done by 2:30 or so.  Customers start coming by that time, and have a chance to see where their food comes from and if they are so inclined they can watch the compost piles being built with the offal.

So, in the next two weeks I will get their brooder ready.  It has been cleaned out since the turkeys were brooded last summer, allowing for a good cleansing rest.  A neighboring horse stable brings us all their used bedding.  They use sawdust, which is very expensive and they are fastidious about the stalls.  They deliver a large dump trailer load a week during the dry season.  We can stockpile this free carbon and use it for bedding. 
To get ready, I need to:
* check heat lamps, buy new if needed.
* bed entire brooder with sawdust.
* wash and sanitize feeders and waterers.
* pick-up feed.
* wait for post office to call.


Red hot poker!

I don’t know how she heated those horns up, but that looks like hot metal to me.

Just kidding, there is an extension cord between her and the lens, this is how the camera saw it.  She did well this morning, but she is still nervous, I noticed she is pooping in the stall each morning.  I’m glad I’m not that nervous! 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2008 9:59 am

    Love the horn photo! That is just so cool!
    Isn’t the feed situation frightening. If people think food prices are bad now, I fear that they are going to get an awful shock this fall. We have heard prices being discussed of nine hundred dollars a ton for triple 19 fertilizer. I know you are more in the organic line, but if the folks who grow the crops have to pay that and the folks who feed cattle and make corn flakes get the costs passed along, wow! It is going to be ugly.

  2. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    April 8, 2008 2:25 pm

    Threecollie, I’m just glad that hot looking horn isn’t real.
    The Stockman Grass Farmer was predicting last fall, that the ethanol project wouldn’t be scrapped until 2010. Until, then the grain prices would be exorbitant. I’m glad that we cut way back on our usage – these chickens will be a luxury item for sure.
    Another downside to the ethanol production, is that they are feeding those distillers grains to cattle. The rumen ph in feedlot cattle is already too acidic, and now this. Expect more e coli outbreaks. Kansas State University has determined cattle, fed distillers grain have twice the e coli 0157 as regular feed lot cattle. This is rarely found in cattle fed solely on grass.

    A dairy friend from Eastern Washington called yesterday, and they just passed their final inspection on their own in-house bottling plant. If they hadn’t followed this route to value-add, they would be out of business with these prices. They are not organic, they are just selling raw milk. It’s going to be a tough few years.

  3. Trapper_Creek_Daughter permalink
    April 9, 2008 7:44 am

    Red Hot poker, lol. Did this go in the spam?

  4. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    April 9, 2008 7:48 am


    You grab it! No, it didn’t.

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