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*


Wendy said...

That sucks! I hate losing any of our broilers. We lost two to the heat this year, and that's saying something about how incredibly vulnerable they are to the heat - given that our "hot" day is your night time temperature.

Here's hoping they last another three weeks (or however long you "grow" your birds). Our last batch has another week 'til they're large enough to harvest, and then, we're done with meat chickens for the year (ahhh! sigh of relief ;).

Ed said...

Sorry about the birds. It has been a brutal summer for all of us, you the heat and us the rain. Hopefully it all gets better soon.

Ron said...

"Bring out yur dead" - LOL... my quirky high-school friends and I must have watched that 100 times. :)

You handled that with far more grace and patience than I would've mustered. :)

Thanks again, man, really appreciated hanging out with you guys. Had a blast. Best food I've eaten since Mel went to visit in the northland. :)


Ron said...

If that sounded inappropriately jovial, be assured that I really am sorry about the losses, my friends.

I really, really hope this weather is not going to become the new norm.


Homesteading Mommy said...

In Florida we didn't dare raise cornish crosses in the summer. They start dropping like flies in May. But then we found Their birds can handle anything. They don't get quite as big but taste much better and are just a more natural chicken. We can raise them anytime of year. They look hot but don't die. They're the only meat birds we raise now, even in cooler weather.

karl said...

wendy, we have two more weeks.

ed, there seems to be a break in the weather.

ron, lol i spent too many hours watching monte when i should have been studying. as you know, we had a blast during your visit.

homesteading mommy, we have been researching "rangers" and really like the freedom-rangers but they never get above 5 pounds and never ever are double breasted. our customers wouldn't abide. maybe after "the change"

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