Friday, January 25, 2013

Stalking breeders.

This is one of the more fun parts of building a farm, choosing and adding new stock.  Our search is on for a couple of good dairy goat does and in just a few days of looking I have a line on a couple.  One's a 5 year old who should freshen very soon, the other will be a yearling who is dry and could be bred to our boy, Sonny.  The hard choice will be whether to jump on what I find now or to hold off until March when there will be a much broader selection.  It might be a split decision, one now and one later.

So what do you look for when you buy a goat?  I know what I look for: good feet, strong legs, level back, roman nose (nubian only), good mouth, long ears (again, nubian), wide in the rear with a nice udder, easy to milk teats, milk with good flavor and good quantity.  I'm only looking at breeders who test for CAE and in general I look for well bred, show herds.  I don't know that we'll ever show our own goats other than with 4H for our kids. There's a saying that it costs just as much to feed a well bred goat as it does a poorly bred one, so we'll make the initial investment in quality and hope it means healthier goats in the long run. Obviously, after our experience with Kissee, we know that even with the best quality, stuff happens.

Of course, I say I look for all these things and I do....but once I'm there at the breeder a lot flies out the window.  I fall in love easily. Knowing this, I do as much homework as I can ahead of time.  I look up pedigrees on ADGAgenetics, photos of sires and dams, appraisal data, DHIR results (milk testing)....anything I can find.

I cannot wait to have real, fresh milk again.  I'm ready to start making some cheese again.  I'll keep y'alls posted as to what we find.  I still want to get some rabbits too.  It's going to be a very busy spring.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Years Inventory and Statistics

Our 2012 tallies

We have: 
23-24 hens, 2 roosters
3 female ducks, 2 drake ducks
1 African gander, 2 African geese 
1 Slate turkey tom, 2 slate hens
1 nubian buck, 1 saanen wether

Culls (for meat):
12 roosters
2 turkeys (hens)
3 ducks

1 nubian doe + babies
2 cockerels, 1 hen
2 turkey poults
1 duckling, 1 female duck

Yearly totals:
26 bags of corn = 1300 lbs = $304
78 bags chicks starter= 3900 lbs = $1325
12 boxes baking soda= $7.08
1 bag of goat minerals= $15
1 bag of oyster shell 
1 bag of chick grit (when we brood babies, they get grit and greens)
hay $100 (our field, we pay for cutting)

What's the point of all this?  Reflection.  Reflecting on the year, using that information to make decisions, hopefully wise ones.  I'm blown away by the sheer quantities of feed we use.  I was telling my husband we should consider buying by the ton, as you see, we use about 2.5 tons of feed to raise all those birds.  It also forces me to think of ways to get those birds to offset their feed costs more. 

This also is the reality of keeping animals.  This doesn't include medications or wormers.  I think I spent somewhere around $150 to build up my vet box after Kissee died so we would be more prepared when we brought on more goats and some things for the birds too.  

I haven't been tracking how many eggs we get but we averaged last year about 10 a day for hen's eggs and 1 a day for duck.  So approximately 3600-3700 eggs.  Since we use the same feed for all of our birds it's hard to get a real cost for a carton of eggs but when we had those first 7 hens, we yielded around 9 dozen/per 50lbs of feed.  Right now, our feed mix is about $14.50 for 50lbs.  So our cost before considering any physical efforts is around $1.60 - 1.80 a dozen.  That's not bad really. 

One of the problems with a mixed flock that free ranges is that I can't tell how much it cost to raise these heritage turkeys.  No idea.  I don't have a clue how much they eat.  I can only estimate.

If you have any questions, just ask in the comments or email me.