Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Bring out your dead" *CLANK*

No one talks about the dark underbelly of cute little farmsteading. We have had some significant losses in our broiler chickens. Not quite industry standard losses yet but we are closing in on it. Why? Well is is the heat and all things associated with the hottest summer on record.


The chicks are at their most vulnerable state. They are five weeks old. At this stage their size gain is out racing their hearts ability to keep up. Normally they are fine but temperatures have not dipped below eighty at night and soar well into the triple digits everyday. This has been ongoing the entire month of August.

I don't have enough solar fans so that each tractor has a fan. We shuffle the two of them to the sunniest placed tractors. Additional shade *sheets* were added to our borrowed tractors. I thought I had things stabilized. Yesterday, while Ron was visiting one of my water fountains failed. The little lock-nut that locks the adjustment nuts together released. The water had only quit for an hour or so. But, it was during the heat of the day. We rescued several of them near death by dipping them into cool water--whew.

In the future I plan redundant water fountains in each tractor. This will afford a much needed security cushion.

Lessons to remember:
  • Broiler chickens won't step from the shade even to get to the water when temperatures are above 100 degrees.
  • Raise larger batches in the fall and spring. Keep the batch in the heat of the summer small because Missouri summers are too intense.
Since we feed our dogs on a raw diet they are happy for any early deaths. They are perfect guardians though. Even after getting fed whole birds with feathers they would never chase or kill any chickens.

I am alright now, knowing exactly what caused the deaths and how to mostly avoid them in the future. It is still upsetting since we have never had losses of this magnitude. We had an excellent visit with Ron. He saw me at a really vulnerable moment. He immediately got it when I yelled "bring out your dead"


On a better note. Our dehydrator is truly magic. We dehydrated all of the onions, some elderberries and a whole load of tomatoes.


It is amazing that five gallons of tomatoes could fit into two quart jars. We love our dehydrator.

I'm going to go check on the chickens for the umpteenth time today. *running with fingers crossed*
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