Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sheep Statistics

OK, fine, I am a BIG NERD when it comes to data. There are a lot of calculations behind this graph to normalize output, take into consideration lamb age at time of weight, etc. But basically, this is the chart I use to help determine who my good mamas and bad mamas are. Of course, there are also behavioral considerations, like lamb abandonment and temperament that sometimes outweight the data. Three strikes and you are out, so it might be one still born, the next season you abandon AND you like to head butt small children? DONE. So I've been looking at a lot of data over the years - average number of lambs born, average lamb weight, normalized weight based on lamb age, etc. etc. I finally put it all together, and using Shirley as our gage stick, this is what I have. Bear with me. First of all, Shirley is a superstar, and no one compares to her. Secondly, she's the oldest, has the most data and has been the best performer. Therefore she is our gage stick. This chart shows 3 things, the RED bars show the actual output of the ewes we have. This is how much lamb weight by averages, they have given out over their life. Now, comparing their age to Shirley's age, using their average output via # of lambs and weight of those lambs, the blue bars show me the POTENTIAL they have left in them, by the time they get to Shirley's age. SO, lambs showing all blue are young ewes that have no yet lambed. The yellow line is Shirley's gage stick. If their actual output PLUS their potential future output can come close to that, they are keepers. We have one who has surpassed, but I suspect another lambing's worth of data, and she'll drop down. Sharon had triplets her first time out, so her average lamb output looks like 3, when it's unlikely she'll do that every time. She also happens to be Shirley's daughter, and so is Peppermint Patty. So is Persephone. Clearly, you can see who my obvious next 2 culls will be. Clarice, ironically, is Shirley's granddaughter, Peppermint Patty's daughter. She has skipped several seasons and I'm wondering about her fertility. She might go, as I can't afford to feed a ewe who doesn't produce anything for me. Judy is relatively new, although, she is almost 4 years old and has only lambed once. It doesn't fare well for her, either. Gertrude, who isn't the worst performer, is all around a grumpypuss, she likes to head butt the dogs, and just has more attitude than sense, and doesn't perform great, either. Those might be our next three mutton potentials. Which is fine, as we may be bringing in some more Katahdin blood from a friend's farm. Getting rid of my poor performers gives me room for new genetics, and hopefully build a more fruitful flock.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spraddle Leg

We are dealing with a new adventure on the farm right now. Good news, there is a happy ending here.

For the first time, we have had an outbreak of Spraddle Leg on chicks that are over 2 weeks old.  Spraddle Leg is more common in baby chicks, typically due to slippery surfaces in their incubator when they hatch.  We see this more often in baby turkeys.


 
It does require some Physical Therapy, and they can recover. As baby chicks, you just need to stabilize their legs until they can grow into them a little.
 

 
 
A little bandaid around their feet to stabilize and they will be right as rain. I usually keep towels down in my incubator to prevent this, but some turkeys still just hatch a little wonky, and need some help straightening out their hips. I can't blame them. I, myself, was born with a dislocated hip and had to wear a special brace as a baby, until my hip could stay in alignment on its own.
 
We have a different issue here - our birds are 2 weeks old and just started showing signs of Spraddle Leg. There are 4 main causes of Spraddle Leg - slipping of the feet from being on smooth surfaces, neurological damage, vitamin deficiency, and slipped tendons.
 
 
Our guys are in our brooder with wood chips, and have been since we received them. This is not the issue. They were originally all brooded in one brooder together, and fed organic feed, until I had enough room to separate them.
 
I left a bunch in the organic brooder, and moved some out for conventional feed. Their organic friends show no issues, and as a matter of fact, all got moved outside last weekend.
 
This tells me it isn't neurological, either. Nor is it slipped tendons. It wouldn't happen to so many, and it wouldn't be isolated to the conventional feed, either.  So we have a deficiency in our feed. We buy in bulk, and have been feeding our meat birds this conventional feed for many weeks. We did recently receive a new delivery, but we butchered conventional birds just a few weeks ago, and have another batch outside, eating the same feed, and getting ready to be butchered in another couple of weeks. We can only assume that the nutrients missing in our feed are available in the bugs and grass the outdoor birds are eating.
 
We separated the immobile birds and put them into a separate brooder. I gave them the vitamin pack that typically comes with baby chick deliveries. I also tossed in some lamb kidneys and hearts. WE got a chance to head to the store, and did find a vitamin supplement to give to the birds. We switched their feed to a bagged game bird feed, super high in protein. And they all seem to be recovering fine now.   Not everyone is back to good condition, but we will be moving the very mobile birds outside this weekend, and continuing the vitamin feed to the ones that are still doing the splits.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Farm to {Picnic} Table Dinner in Berthoud


Farm to Table Picnic

July 25th Fickel Park 3:00 - 6:00

Come one come all!! You are invited to the Farm to Table Picnic Dinner July 25th at Fickel Park, Berthoud CO

We will be roasting a whole pig, accompanied by fresh greens, vegetable medley, and lots more (based on this weeks harvest!).
There will be Live Music by the Firing Line String Band, City Star Beer, Wine from Sweet Heart City Wines, Spirits from KJ Woods Distillery, and More...
You get two drinks included with the price of admission, and there will be a cash bar available as well...This is a family affair so bring everyone. Kids under 5 eat free!

Dress will be uber casual. You can even bring a blanket to lay on the grass if you would like.

Supporting events like this helps Berthoud Local sponsor other events through the year. We hope to see you there!!

Follow this link to get your Tickets!  http://berthoudlocal.org/product/fickel-park-farm-to-table/

For questions contact :
Jason Reiff
970-988-4200
jason@pixelsandpress.com

Thursday, July 9, 2015

New Additions to the Farm

Bonus points to the folks that know where these names originated from, but we are welcoming our 3 newest additions to the farm: Blutarsky, D-Day and Otter:











We have so much grass on the pasture and around that we felt we could feed these gentlemen up to a nice size in a year or more. So it won't be a quick turnaround, but probably in the fall of 2016, we will have grass-fed beef for sale as well. Since we only do this every year or so, and this year is an exception, we'll be taking deposits in advance for these guys, for halves or wholes. We won't be selling these retail from the freezer. But for now, we are enjoying bottle feeding and bonding with these goofballs.

There are actually 3 of them, it's hard to get all three in the picture together. They don't stand still much unless they are sleeping, and often they are not all sleeping in the same spot.