When to stop using lights

It’s March 29, and I thought I’d mention that the traditional period for using supplemental light to keep the hens laying is September 1 through March 31. By April 1, the increasing day length makes supplemental light unnecessary.

Farmers traditionally set the day length at 14 hours when using supplemental light. The days aren’t that long on April 1, when measured from sunrise to sunset, but it doesn’t take much light to stimulate laying, so that seems to even things out.

The big boys use a different algorithm: keep the day length constant at whatever it happens to be on Midsummer’s Day at their latitude, meaning that there’s just one night a year when the lights don’t come on at all. Those of us with fewer than a thousant hens probably can’t measure the difference, and the convenience of not messing with lights until September carries some weight. read more...

Raising Chickens for Meat and Profit

It’s been twenty years since Joel Salatin created the grass-fed chicken industry by publishing Pastured Poultry Profit$ in 1993.

The book has many praiseworthy aspects, one of which is that Salatin describes in great detail the methods he was using at the time, and the thinking behind them. Lots of people have copied his methods, with varying degrees of success. (Farming is like that.)

Something unusual happened along the way, and I think it’s something Salatin didn’t expect. Because it’s the only detailed book on the topic, his single example of how to go about raising meat chickens on pasture has been accepted by many as the only way, and sometimes this gets people into jams. read more...

Come to the Indoor Farmer’s Market!

The Corvallis area is lucky to have an Indoor Winter’s Market, where year-round produce such as greens and eggs are available every Saturday, plus items that store well, like roots and bulbs and frozen meat and canned goods and honey, and also baked goods and other yummy stuff. Not for us is the notion that farmers’ markets are a summertime thing!

I’m surprised this hasn’t caught on more. Oregon has mild winters, but so do a lot of places. And it’s nice to have the market in a large, heated building when the weather is nasty out. read more...

The Flock in Winter

In addition to our usual flock of laying hens, which is doing very well this winter, we have a small flock of ducks and even some turkeys.

Here in Western Oregon, where it rains like crazy and often freezes at night, but the daytime highs are almost always above freezing, poultry don’t much care about winter weather. Getting clean eggs in spite of the additional mud is more burdensome than the cold.

In snowier climes, it’s a little different. Free-range poultrykeeping is a challenge when snow lingers for long periods on the ground, while my birds can just tough out the few days per year with snow. And watering systems that freeze and stay frozen are not useful! read more...