Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Selling at Market

I headed back to the farm for the weekend to help sell at the market.  I spent the entire summer raising 100 broilers and now it was time to sell the 400 lbs of chicken at the farmers market.  We decided to sell the chickens in cut up sections since no other farmer at the market sold chicken this way.  Many people were surprised that we now offered chicken cuts because we were know as the "beef people"  Overall it was an exciting weekend.  People at the market talked to me about my internship and college and what my future plans were after graduating.   We had gotten back feedback from one person so far and they loved the chicken, and they are looking forward to trying other cuts.

The egg layers
My first chicken sale

400 lbs of chicken

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Week 9

This is my last week at the farm and I am very sad to leave.  I learned so much this summer and it has been of the greatest summers I'd ever had.  This will be a picture heavy post because I spent almost  two weeks in a row here. A lot of exciting things happened this week.  I got to visit Purely Farms located in Pipersville, Pennsylvania.  They pasture raise chicken, turkey lamb and pork and process there own birds.  I wanted to learn more about poultry processing so I visited the farm on a processing day.  It was a great experience, and it is something I need more practice in to get the hang of it.  Especially if you are processing 100 birds in one day.
Learning to process a chicken
Moving onto the cow side of the farm, we finally moved the cows onto the Sorghum- Sudan grass field.  The field can only be grazed once the Sorghum-Sudan grass has reached a height of 18-24 inches.  The reason for this is because this particular plant contains dhurrin which breaks down and releases prussic acid which is toxic to the cows.

On the chicken side of the farm the Cornish cross chicks where moved outside and they are doing fine.  The chickens will be processed Sept.  19th.  The red broilers will be 12 weeks and the Cornish will be 8 weeks. I hope to return to the farm to sell the chickens at the farmers market which means I will be writing one more post about my experience at the market.

My last night at the farm Jeanmarie cooked us all a great dinner with the farms own beef.  Jeanmarie and Greg are amazing positive people.  I learned a lot from them, not just about farming but about life in general.

Before Grazing

After Grazing
Group photo of Jeanmarie, Greg and I

Cornish chicks moved outside at approx 3 weeks old

Moving the Cornish chicks outside

Reeling up the temporary fencing 

Cows moved to new pasture

Red Broilers at 7 weeks

The nine calves all hang out together

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 8

This week I worked a double shift, which means I worked 8 days in a row. I normally work four days a week. By doing this, it gave me the full time farm experience.    This was a crazy week with lots of things going on. 

For starters, the first day I got back the two herds (breeders and yearlings) where accidentally combined into one herd, thanks to a gate being left open.  We had to separate the cattle, which wasn't difficult because the cows cooperated.  On a separate day, one of the yearlings escaped outside of the fence.  A section of the electric fence was disconnected so we think that is how the cow got out.  The funny thing about the situation was that the ear tag on the cow read #007.  I quickly opened a gate and herded the cow back inside the fenced area. 
We ordered and picked up 50 Cornish cross chicks this week.  Unfortunately 25 of them died the next day due to an animal getting inside the brooder, most likely it was a cat.  I had to go back to the hatchery again to pick up another batch of chicks.  This time we did some more improvements to the brooder and now nothing can get inside of it. I am still working on the second chicken tractor, so that when the Cornish chicks are of age they can be moved outside.

I learned some vet skills this week.  A few of the cows are being sold to another farm so we had to give booster shots for De worming and a nasal spray to help protect against shipping fever.  I got to do the nasal spray for one of the yearlings.  Also this week, one of the cows had difficulty with delivering her calf.  After going into labor for 2 hours we tried moving the cow out of the pasture and into the squeeze chute.  A strong thunderstorm with heavy rain moved in and we had to get out of the pasture to avoid the lightning.  After the storm quickly passed we managed to get the cow out of the pasture and into the squeeze chute.  Jeanmarie had called two vets both of which where unavailable to help deliver the calf.  Greg and I had to use  obstetrical chains to help deliver the calf.
     After this eventful week I finished the week out doing a lot of weed whacking along fence lines.
Both herds accidentally combined into one

Cornish Cross Broilers
Newest Calf

Moving the chicken tractor

Nasal spray to protect against shipping fever

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week Seven.. Chicken Move Out

Wow time is flying by, it is week seven already of my internship. We started out by moving the broiler birds out of the barn and onto the pasture.  We found these chickens running to the new patch of pasture and it makes moving them more enjoyable because they have such a positive reaction.  This breed of broilers is a very aggressive forager and we find ourselves moving the chicken tractor multiple times a day.  We ordered another 50 meat birds and should be picking them up this week.  This time we ordered Cornish giants.  I placed another set of eggs (41 to be exact) in the incubator on 7/19. Hopefully we have a better success rate with this batch.  Greg and I built a permanent brooder so that no predators can go after the newly hatched chicks and we started building the second chicken tractor for the Cornish giants.
      When I returned this week, two more calves had a slight fever due to a naval infection.  This week Greg taught me how to draw medicine with a syringe and how to properly inject the calf by checking to make sure you don't pierce a vein before injecting the medication.  On one of the days we where giving the calves shots I had to hold one calve by myself as Greg ran to the medicine cabinet to grab something he had forgotten.  As Greg came back the calf was startled and tried to ran away as I was holding it.  The calf managed to knock me onto the ground causing me to land in a pile of cow manure, but I didn't let go and held onto it until Greg finished giving it a needle. All we could do was laugh.  I showed him who was boss.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week 6

This is week six of my internship and the weather was a little cooler this week. The meat birds are ready to be moved out of their brooder and onto the pasture but because of the rain storm, we have to delay this until next week. 18 of the eggs in the incubator hatched and 15 of them were moved into the brooder. With this batch we had a bad hatch rate. This could have happened due to the fluctuating temperatures inside the incubator and the number of eggs that were fertile. Unfortunately I received a phone call last night with bad news that an animal had found it's way into the brooder area and ate all 15 baby chicks. Luckily, the 51 broilers where unharmed. I guess this is something you need to be prepared for while living on a farm.

     On the bright side, the few calves that had the infection are doing better and we are now up to a total of 7 calves. We are still waiting on 3 more heifers to calve. I was able to help bottle feed a calf this week that was looking a little "runt-like" and what a challenge that was. First I had to help Jeanmarie catch the calf as she bottle fed it. Two week old calves are a lot stronger then you think. After multiple tries I finally was able to catch and hold on to it.

Greg and I unloaded 2 hay wagons and 1 straw wagon this week and I finished the rest of the week out visiting the Stockton farmers market.

 Meat Birds at 3 weeks

New Chicks