So since winter is coming we need to make preparations for a freeze proof watering system. The options here are endless almost and I am leaving them up to Brian for the most part. He is the mechanical, electrical Mr. Fix-it guy so I will let him figure it out and teach me how to use whatever crazy system he works out. We are also trying to figure out what to do about our fodder system. We have very limited space for such a thing and I need to be growing about 100 pounds of fodder each day, 700 pounds per week! I kinda can't wait until we have our system up and running with everything debunked and all so I can provide a definitive post on all this. The answers I am looking for are hard to find. I am sure someone else out there is looking for the same things. In a few months I hope to be able to answer these questions and a few others:
How many pounds of fodder grows from 1 pound of seed? Judging by our last experiment I would say about 5lbs but it could be more, could be less depending on how thin or thick you spread the grains. I will experiment with that and see if it changes the results much.
How many square feet grow how many pounds of fodder?
How much fodder will I need?
We have also been worrying about hay. The government shutdown ended and Brian is back to work (with overtime to boot!) so we are ready to stockpile hay! But how much hay and where does one store all this hay! Well according to research a full grown cow (Luna is maybe a 3rd of what she will be someday) will need about 1.5- nearly 3 pounds of dry matter per every 100 pounds of body weight each day. So a 1,000 pound cow would consume 15-30 pounds of dry matter per day. What is dry matter though? Is hay 100% dry matter? Dry matter is what is left after after all the moisture has been taken out of a feed item. You can calculate the amount of dry matter in your own grasses by taking 3.5oz (100g) of fresh cut grass and weighing it. Then microwave it or bake it or dehydrate it in some way and weight it again. Try to dehydrate it a little more and re weigh it. If it weighs less after the second time then keep going until it doesn't drop in weight. When your sample is fully dry the weight in grams will be equal to the percentage of dry matter. Hay is not 100% dry matter... depending on the grass it is between 80 and mid 90%. Meaning a 40 pound bale of hay will be about 32-36 pound of dry matter. Thomasina will need about 2lbs dry matter per day and the ewes (breeding, pregnant, lactating all around 100lbs) will need 3-nearly 5lbs per day each! So that is around 27 pounds dry matter per day for them and around 20 pounds for Luna each day for a total of 47 pounds of dry matter needed. Multiply that by 20% (assuming the hay we buy only has a dry matter content of 80%) and add that to the 42 to get the total of hay needed at 56.4 pounds per day. Average bale of hay is about 30 to 50 pounds. So about 2 bales per day after you factor in any waste. How many days should you plan to feed hay? It varies obviously but a general rule I have seen a lot is 100 days. So we need to stockpile about 200 bales of hay. Brian's co-worker has horses and she has given us a few of her less desirable bales in the past and she told Brian the other day that she has 50 bales for us for free! Yesterday Brian cleared out the left side room of the barn for us to start storing.
In other news: it is cold! Down to the 30's! I am freezing during our morning chores and our bed time head count! Broody is still feather-less so a few days ago I made her a new winter coat
I have been giving a little grain to the sheep because I haven't seen them eat much hay and I worry there isn't much in the ways of pasture for them now. I was letting them in the yard but Luna found a spot in the fence that she could push under and get to the front yard to snack in peace. Luckily she is great with people and is easy to halter so I would just lead her back to the yard and she would escape again (there is something both terrifying and hilarious about a three year old saying, "Mom! The cow is in the front yard again!") So Luna is no longer allowed in the yard. Everyone but Honey and her baby August has been sheared. We will not be shearing August and Brian started Honey but the scissors just would not cut any more so I had to get new scissors so maybe today I will finish her up. We had all these stupid seed pods getting stuck in everyone and sadly the only real usable fleece came from Timmy. Next year we will avoid this by shearing no later than mid September!
We had three out of three buff orpington cheepies hatch! I took an egg from Stubby, Big-un and Broody so it is cute that I know who their mom's are. Doing all the old wives tales for gender guessing we would have 3 girls. Each bird has the double row of wing feathers but feather sexing only works on birds who have been chosen specifically for feather sexing. I guess we will find out in a few weeks! They are precious and we set them up in the bathroom because it seemed the safest with an 18 month old running around! At least we can shut the bathroom door!
Brian and I have been talking about trying a couple meat birds. We are in general against them because they live for a short time and really how good of a life can they live in such a short time but I want to see how it is. I wonder if we really can let them live a good life even if it is only for a small time. Turns out someone close by had a dozen Cornish Rock cross she wanted to sell. They hatched the same day as our orpingtons so we are going to have a blast comparing the two during the next 6 weeks. A little background on "meat birds" in case you were unaware. These are your typical grocery store birds. They live for 5-10 weeks from hatch til slaughter and in that time they will have consumed an average of about 10-15 pounds (a buff orpington cheepie will have consumed under 3 pounds in the same time period) EACH! Because they grow at such an alarming rate they are prone to heart problems and leg issues and other just completely unknown deaths. Most people experience a loss of 30%. They very rarely make it to breeding age and because they are a hybrid anyway thier offspring would not bring the same meaty and speedy results. At slaughter these birds will give an average of 7lbs meat! My home mixed feed costs $.15 a pound x 15 pounds of feed + $1.25 (cost of bird) = $3.50 per bird = about $.50 a pound Everything about these birds happen fast. They grow feathers fast (though they will appear to be missing many of them) and if by some miracle they do live to laying age they lay around 4 months. This will likely be the only time we do this... it is more for the experience. This IS the chicken that any of my readers will find at any local grocery store. Anyone interested in knowing what it's life could be like if it lived on an actual farm and not inside a giant chicken house where is does nothing but eat and poop... here is what it is like! Because they are the exact same age as our orpington babies I will be talking daily (if not weekly) comparison pictures. They should be ready to go outside around 3-4 weeks which will give them 2-3 weeks of range time. We will "home port" them in the grow up coop by the house instead of the big coop in the pasture. By the time they are ready to process our buff orpingtons will be ready to go outside! Seems crazy to me!
|they seriously lay in and eat their food all day long|
|Only difference right now is color and very slight size: orpington up front, cornish x in back|
In general everyone is doing well. Cow is fat, ram is VERY interested in his ladies... there is a lot of baby dancing going on right now!
Oh and one of our white leghorns is molting and she looks like a zombie:
But yesterday morning I woke to find Honey had "scours" aka runny poop. Last month I was not consistent on their vermx but everyone was doing well anyway. Today is day 4 of their treatment and yesterday I brought a sample from Honey to my sister. Honey will now be getting a double dose of vermx and also some pumpkin. I am going to bring her and August into the yard away from the rest of the flock so I can baby her a bit. She will be getting some extra feed and we just might also pick up some red cell to get her back up in color. I have not caught August in a while so I am not sure how his color or body condition is but I am worried enough about his mama to want to baby him too just in case. This was Honey's fecal: