Predators and the Cost of Doing Business
On Our Farm
Turkeys released out to grass for the first time are joyfully munching. "We were hatched for this!" they seem to say.
#6 of 21 Things You May Not Know About Peace Valley Poultry
Last Saturday night the great horned owl(s) killed three chickens through the net which is supposed to protect the chickens from predators.
The owls have been averaging one chicken per week, or about 1% of each batch of 500. One year, long ago, we had a US Fish and Wildlife permit to exterminate the problem owl(s). I call them a problem because like a spoiled little child (or adult) they fill their plate high and only eat a small portion. The owls eat the head and part of the craw and leave the rest.
We no longer kill owls, just consider the losses part of doing business. Which begs the question, “why is pastured poultry so expensive?” Very few if any confinement raised chickens are lost to owls, or skunks, or red tail hawks, foxes, dogs, ...you get the picture. A small part of the answer is chicken raised on pasture have a higher mortality rate than confinement poultry.
But the big answer is the amount of labor required to move birds every day to fresh pasture. We have a very streamlined pastured poultry operation, perhaps one of the least labor intensive systems in the US. It takes us about one man hour to move 1000 chickens. A modern confinement house requires about one man hour to check 34,666 chickens. Granted, the confinement operation has a much higher debt load to pay for the buildings, but they also sell 624,000 chickens per year compared to our 16,000.
If we had the opportunity 21 years ago to grow confinement chickens or turkeys for a vertical integrator, would we have made that choice? Probably not. We like growing birds on pasture for several reasons.
1. Because our birds are moved to fresh grass everyday, leaving their manure behind, they require zero medications. 2. We think the grass, legumes and occasional insect in the chicken/turkey diet improves the flavor. 3. If we grew for a vertical integrator, we would not have met so many nice and encouraging customers over the years.
When compared to confinement chicken, where computers and machines do much of the work, our chicken is expensive. When compared to other poultry grown on pasture, our chicken is very reasonable.
Rolla Chicken Sales!
Jim plans to meet customers in Rolla at the K-Mart parking lot at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday August 31. He will have fresh and frozen whole chicken and chicken parts.
West Plains Store Carries Peace Valley Chicken
International Farmers Market, 3371 N US Hwy 63, West Plains, now carries our whole chickens, and parts as well! This new store is north of town on Hwy 63, and is closed on Saturdays.
Other Fresh Chicken Sales
Our next fresh chicken sales on the farm and in Springfield will be on September 13 and 14. Until then, you may purchase them frozen at the farm, or fresh or frozen at one of the fine stores that carry our chicken products, (for a list of these stores, see the bottom of the locations tab on our website Location Link).