Robert Plamondon's Poultry Newsletter, March 28, 2006
Hooray! Spring is here! Hey, wait a minute ... why isn't my list of "things to do this winter" done?
Or even started?
As always, if you're tired of this newsletter, please scroll down to the bottom of the message
for easy instructions to make your subscription go away.
New Pastured Poultry Book!
If you have any interest in poultry, you need to buy a copy of
Raising Poultry on Pasture
by APPPA (the American Pastured Poultry Producers' Association), edited by Jody Padgham.
This 246-page book is a compilation of over 100 of the best articles from APPPA Grit, the
invaluable APPPA newsletter. APPPA Grit is written by and for small egg and poultry producers --
specifically, those raising pastured or free-range chickens.
We've been members of APPPA for years, and we've gotten enormous value from our membership.
This book captures a lot of that value.
Chapter 1 Overview of Pastured Poultry
Chapter 2 Brooding
Chapter 3 Pastured Poultry Genetics
Chapter 4 Shelter Design
Chapter 5 Day-Range Systems
Chapter 6 Equipment
Chapter 7 Eggs on Pasture
Chapter 8 Turkeys, Ducks, and other Poultry
Chapter 9 Poultry Nutrition and Health
Chapter 10 Processing
Chapter 11 Marketing
Chapter 12 Record-Keeping and Insurance
Chapter 13 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Chapter 14 Resources
Chapter 15 Index
This is not a book to be missed! Even if you have only a couple of chickens in the backyard,
you'll be glad you bought it.
Where to Buy Your Copy
You can buy the book from me.
I offer a low price and flat-rate shipping, so if you buy one of my other books, you save even more!
I'm also auctioning copies off on eBay.
You can also buy the book
directly from APPPA.
APPPA offers $5 off for member, or $10 off with a new membership or renewal, so what are you waiting for?
Finally, you can buy the book from
or any other online or brick-and-mortar reseller.
I'm sick of hearing about avian flu. It's sooooo Seventies! If pigs had wings, avian flu and
the swine flu non-epidemic of the Seventies would be the same.
I'm now to the point of telling my customers this:
"Chicken farmers are much more at risk
than you are. So if we die of flu, you should stop buying from us."
I think that just about covers it, other than to repeat my advice that you should stop
watching the news, which is the worst kind of reality show; badly written, poorly acted,
and you can't even vote for which characters you never want to see again!
I rank avian flu right up there with killer bees, the coming ice age, and the
inevitable triumph of Communism. Thus, I recommend ignoring the issue entirely unless the
government makes you pay attention. I don't advise breaking the law, so if the government loses its
marbles and insists on killing my chickens, bye-bye chickens. Chickens are quickly and easily replaced,
but money spent on lawyers is gone forever.
Looking back at what I've just written, I realize that what I've said is kinda short on facts. Well,
in a nutshell, there's always avian flu around somewhere, but right now there's one strain that runs through domestic poultry
like wildfire. If you're very sloppy, can infect you, too. How sloppy am I talking about?
If you stop drinking chicken
blood, you've done a lot to reduce your risk. That's how sloppy.
And it hasn't even shown up in the U.S. yet.
Why this is a bigger news story than, say, exploding gerbils or man-eating cattle, I can't imagine.
News From the Farm
Spring is late this year. I haven't had to mow the grass yet, and some of the trees that
are generally in full flower in early March haven't bloomed yet. Still, the rain is slackening and
the weather is getting better.
I made a point of starting the tractor and running it for a while at least once a month, and this
seems to be all it takes to make it start reliably. The same is true for the lawn mower and other
devices. It's so simple. Why did it take me ten years to try it?
Several years ago, a refrigeration technician told us about the trick of using a window air conditioner
as a replacement unit for dead commercial or retail refrigerators, which you can get more or less
for free if their cooling units are shot. Instead of repairing the ancient compressors, you
cut a hole in the side of the refrigerator and mount a window air conditioner in it, using
the refrigerator's original thermostat in place of the air conditioner's (which doesn't go low
enough). Total cost: less than $200, and the unit is a lot more efficient than the one
it replaces. I have a writeup of this
Anyway, the air conditioner died last fall. Now that egg production is on the rise and we need both
our old refrigerators, Karen took a look at the unit and discovered the problem was a dead overload
switch. $10 later, it's running again!
Karen also discovered last week that, of her 100 broiler chicks, 101 had survived the brooding
period and are doing fine up on our broiler pasture. Not bad for winter brooding! (The miracle of "negative mortality" is
possible because hatcheries routinely add extra chicks to your order so they don't
owe you any chicks if a couple die in transit.) Our early pullets are also out on pasture and doing
very well, and the batch before that should start laying any day now.
We took a micro-vacation over the weekend, going up to Seattle on the Amtrak Cascades, which
are great trains. Karl (who is 11) loves train trips and is very fond of Seattle as a destination.
Dan (14), Karen and I wanted to attend
Sakuracon, the big regional anime convention.
(I probably don't have to explain what anime is anymore. There were 6,000 attendees -- lots more
than when we attended regional science fiction conventions way back when.)
It's good to get away once in a while, but our busy
season is about to start, and we probably won't get away as a family for more than a day
until after Thanksgiving. Our neighbors did a wonderful job
of taking care of the farm in our absence. It's great when you can find neighbors who
can fill in for you once in a while!
I used to commute
by train to Camas, Washington twice a week. If you have to spend almost five hours a day on a train,
the Cascades are certainly the trains to choose. You can
read a writeup of my commuting experiences.
Finally, Karen has accepted the post of Executive Director of APPPA,
which is going to keep her about
as busy as it is possible to be. She's having fun, though.
April To-Do List
Inspired by a similar list in Jull's Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
- Brood chicks.
- Allow no poultry manure piles until frost (spread poultry manure on garden or fields)
- Replace winter litter.
- Give growing birds more room.
- Stop using lights on hens.
- Provide more ventilation for comfort.
- Hatch baby chicks.
- Gather eggs more frequently in warm weather.
- Remove wet or soiled litter.