I'm writing this particular blog and I want to start off by saying I see light at the end of the tunnel. This last week was a bad week farm wise. I want to share this because these things happen, crops fail, animals get sick or injured, things can just go wrong, but that's life in general. You have to be smart about it, try to be positive, and be thankful of the great support you have around you.
So my awesome flock of cornish X birds, that where scheduled to be harvested this weekend, that where so vibrant and bouncing around. Well they got sick last Sunday.
I opened the grain bin door that serves as my chicken coop last Sunday morning, only to find five birds dead and the rest of the flock severely lethargic. They were not like this yesterday, yesterday they were prancing around being chickens in the pasture. I immediately recognized that they had coccidiosis. This is a parasite that is found on/in the intestinal wall of all chicks/chickens and is spread through their feces, actually there are several types of cocci and they can affect several types of animals. Goats can get their own kind of cocci, along with turkeys, cows, geese, you get the picture. All animals are exposed to this parasite, when the animal, lets say chicken is young it should slowly build up a resistance to this parasite. That is why some people start their chicks off with medicated feed, it helps control the cocci issue, but at the cost of the chick not building up resistance to the cocci.
Well this cocci LOVES wet weather, which I have had plenty of. I believe with all the rain the cocci just took off. There are still many questions as to why it was so bad. The chickens where getting raw apple cider vinegar in their water daily. Their water is changed two if not three times a day. Their ground bedding was kept clean and new shavings where always put down. They have lots of wide open space.
Well, I"ll get back to last Sunday. I started treating for cocci immediately and aggressively. I started off by putting oregano oil in their water and taking each bird and dipping it's beak in the water. Then on Monday Bob picked up corid for me, this specifically treats the cocci and is supposed to treat it quickly. It took up until Saturday for the chickens to be back at 100%. But during that whole process I lost about 3/4 of my flock....I had over 65 birds, now I have about 25. I'm still stunned, sad, frustrated, but I need to move forward and learn from my mistake.
From the communication I have been having with facebook meat bird raising groups, there seems to be a general consensus. Everyone is having issues with their meat birds this year, especially the cornish X birds. There are discussions that hatcheries are not being very careful about breeding? Maybe the chicken demand has increased so much they just cant' keep up and are sending out chicks they shouldn't? Maybe it's just a "bad year" for chickens period, we could blame it on the weather, the moon, who knows.
Well my mistake I think, is not being diverse. I love raising heritage type animals because of they are usually dual purpose, but are typically a lot more hardy, disease and parasite resistant. Where as the cornish X birds are there to grow nice and big. I am raising one more flock of cornish X birds this fall for people. But, I think next year I'll raise a variety of meat birds. I will still raise cornish X, but with them I want to raise slower growing birds. I would love for people to try the different kind of meat you can get from each bird and learn how to cook with it. That is what I really want to be doing anyway. Don't get me wrong about cornish X birds, I still think they are lovely amazing chickens. I still want to incorporate them in my farm, I just don't want to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak.
On the up side the surviving chickens are doing great, the turkeys that live with them where unaffected by the issue. My geese that are in the goat pasture and just peachy. My laying hens and doing fabulous. This is the first time I have ever, EVER had issues raising poultry. I feel I'm a very competent when it comes to raising chickens. So this is another experience to have under my belt.
There are a ton of other questions that crop up during this time, lots of ethical questions and where am I going in life questions. To add to the chaos Bob and I have had quite a few showings as our house is up for sale. In the past two weeks we will have had at least 8 showings if not more. We are hopeful for a good offer so we can keep taking those steps to the hopeful new place.
The potential of moving to a new house is overwhelming and exciting. There is not much for outbuildings at the potential new place, so we will have to build things suited to our specific needs. That in itself is really exciting! Having a 30 cow dairy barn is a bit overkill with the small scale of animal raising we have. I also plan on specifically raising just my San Clemente goats at the new place. So that means re-homing an excellent milking goat and some kids. There is so much to think about, like fencing, predation since the new place is surrounded by at least 30 acres of woods, not to mention just the regular moving stuff. This would be my first time moving farm animals to a new place. How can I make it the least stressful as possible for them? I need to think about moving and transplanting certain garden plants and flowers. Many of these plants I have gotten through the years from friends and neighbors. Like my garlic and potatoes, both of which I got when we first moved year. I have replanted these things for 5+ years and they are going strong, my garlic looks AMAZING! So much to think about, so much harvesting to take care of, along with keeping the house clean for showings! And this is why I love coffee so much.
Thank you for your support.
Born and raised in a small town, then moved back to the same small town. Jill of many trades and happy to be so.