It’s been an interesting spring with the birds. The chickens, which are getting a little long in the tooth, haven’t minded the rain at all, and are laying eggs at a record pace. The quail, on the other hand, act like they have never laid an egg in their life. I have to assume it is the weird weather that is affecting all of this. Nothing else has changed on our farm to explain it. We need those quail eggs for the farmers markets, so I’m hoping the upcoming good weather will encourage our little ladies to start laying daily like nature intended them to do.
I wrote that paragraph about a month ago. Since then the weather has warmed up, and the quail are laying in a productive fashion, about five dozen eggs each day, so all is well.
We did have one of our original chickens die. No reason for it that I could see; she just got sick and died. Such is life on an urban farm. Buttercup will be missed, and now that she has passed, a new pecking order has been established.
A little information about chicken feed you may or may not know. A chicken needs the following for good health: corn for energy; soybean meal for protein; and a variety of vitamins and supplements.
Most people who raise chickens use pellets for the main staple. Pellets, comprised of the right amount of corn, soybean, and vitamins, are available at all feed stores. Pellets are preferred because they pack the most punch for your buck. Chickens eat little amounts often, and they expend a lot of energy in the process, so pellets meet their requirements and match their lifestyle.
Chickens also love mealworms and red wigglers, both of which I grow here at home in plastic bins. Let me repeat: chickens love mealworms and red wigglers. As in LOVE them! If you want your chickens to love you, provide them with mealworms. Be forewarned, though: mealworms are expensive, so I highly recommend that you raise your own. It is easy to do and inexpensive . . . in fact, once you purchase your initial 1000, they just keep reproducing at no cost to you, and if you have little kids, the biology lesson, as the worms go through their transformation into beetles, is fascinating.
We are in the process of determining whether it is profitable to be raising quail. We’ve been doing this for two years now, going on three, and we should see a profit this year. If we don’t we may have to say goodbye to that experiment and move on to the next. If it fails it won’t be a loss. Farming is never a loss. The aviaries can be enclosed and used as greenhouses at very little expense, which is what we might do. Then we can grow herbs because we have this idea of dried herbs used in food dips….so we’ll see which way we go once the summer ends and we tally up the dollars and cents.
We are selling our quail eggs in three markets this summer. Sales have been consistent. Quail eggs are a tough sell in the United States. Asian countries love them, and the French have baked with them for centuries, but here in the States, size matters more than health. Still, we are selling everything our girls can produce, so no complaints.
We have a new idea for the markets next year….dips made from herbs, as I mentioned earlier….we’ll spend this coming winter preparing for the new products.
THAT’S ABOUT IT FOR THIS WEEK
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