The pregnancy results have returned.....and we are 10 for 11. One heifer is still open, but the rest are safely with calf. Not bad for the first year, on the new program. We bred each animal on the first try (with the exception of our heifers). We should have our first AI calf crop coming this September to November. As we have said before, this should be a great calving year for us. We are excited to see these lowline genetics go to work.
Happy Leap Day....every four years we have one. My question is if you are born today, when is your birthday every non-leap year. Is it in February as normal or March?
On Thursday, we took the delivery of 100 new (day old) laying hens. Our hens have been performing very well for us. They are laying some nice sized brown eggs with rich yolks and firm whites. They have performed so well, that we decided to expand. One hundred (day old) chicks arrived on Thursday morning. They are now safely unpacked in the brooder. We keep our baby chicks in the chicken coop under heat lamps. They need to be kept at about 100 degrees for the first week or two. Then we can slowly drop the temperature. In about 4 months they will begin laying small "pullet eggs" and a month after that we will have large to extra large eggs from them. Each chicken typically lays about 6 eggs a week. These new layers should produce a total of about 7 dozen a day. We pick up the eggs daily, wash them, and pack them in cartons. This spring, we will have the egg-mobile constructed to move our layers around our pastures. We range the birds. They get fresh grass and bugs at their convenience. It makes for some healthy, happy birds. By letting the birds range, they expend tremendous amounts of energy foraging. This reduces the bird's cannibalistic behaviors. Many factory farms have the beaks trimmed to reduce the behavior as they are locked in a building for life. We do not trim beaks or lock them up and have not had a problem with cannibalism.
Today we will be drawing a little blood from our bred cows to be sure they are all with calf. The blood is drawn from the tail and then sent into a lab to be analyzed. They check for a protein that shows the cow is carrying a calf. This process is very much like human checks. I believe we have all 15 cows bred. As we have been discussing, our cows were bred artificially. We use a Lowline Angus bull in order to reduce the frame score of our upcoming animals. This will help us to maximize our production on our land. We graze everything, so more efficient animals make easier keepers.
I had the opportunity to speak at the Defrees Center's Women are Wonderful event on Saturday the 11 of Feb. I had a good turn-out of visitors who were interested in how we raise our animals. I would like to say thank you again to all involved. I had the chance to answer some questions that participants had and hopefully cleared up some inconsistencies that people have. The biggest one being that fancy label that the USDA came up with to separate some foods from others: "ORGANIC". I, for one, am not a fan of the word. I think it is commonly misunderstood. Organic only separates what is put into an animal. To be organic, animals can receive no hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. Organic does not necessarily mean meat that is naturally raised. Organic certification refers only to what an animal has or has not consumed. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients. Notice the word most. Organic does not necessarily mean you are getting the healthiest foods possible. A chicken can live in a large, cramped barn its entire life with no fresh grass, no natural sunlight, poor ventilation, and still be considered Organic. Simply because it ate a grain that was organic certified. The term that I would be searching for is "naturally raised." Naturally raised animals receive all the ammenities that their confined counterparts are withheld. But, most natural producers feel it unnecessary to jump through USDA hoops to put the label on their meats. Most natural producers can prove their operation is in the best interest of all involved (animals, producer, consumer, and mother nature) by inviting you to their operation. If you buy local, I would advise you to tour the farm you buy from. See how they operate. See what they feed, where they feed, and how the animals are housed. This will tell a lot about the food you are buying. We invite patrons to visit whenever. Just call to be sure we are around. Most natural producers have nothing to hide. They actually invite guests to learn about their operations.
I would also like to restate my stance on buying local. Please support your local porducers. There are many of us operating with the same goal: Provide the best food for our communities in the healthiest way possible. You may have to do some searching and questioning, but you can find us. You will be very satisfied when you do. For the most part we (producers) are not in competition with each other. We help each other and share a common thread.