Goats: A Trio of Boys
Adi finally had her kids! Technically they were born in April (2nd), but I'm putting them in this update anyway. According to my calculations, Adi should have been due no later than March 15th. I waited and waited. Our trip to the DR for my SIL's wedding was fast approaching, and no sign of kids. I started to panic. What if she had the kids while we were gone?!? Who would take care of them? I felt bad asking the neighbors or friends to babysit my pregnant goat, let alone handle labor and delivery on their own.
In the end, I asked my parents to come and do chores, checking on her twice a day and possibly taking care of the kids if they decided to show up. I printed out a list of bare-bones instructions and crossed my fingers that all would go well. And yes, I prayed for my goats. That seems like such a silly thing to bother God with, but it was weighing heavy on my mind and I needed to focus on other things beside worry.
The kids were born a day before we got back, and my parents did a fantastic job keeping them warm and dry and healthy. My mom has dealt with quite a few sheep births (and some bad ones, at that), so I knew she would be the best person to take care of the babies. Plus she loves me... only someone who really loves you is willing to spend the night and check on your goat at 3:00 am. I was so thankful that my parents could step in during my desperate situation.
Adi surprised us with THREE babies! There were actually four, but one was a runt (weighed less than half of the others) and most likely stillborn. That number was a shock for me, because in previous years Adi has only had two kids. All four babies were bucks. I was a little dissappointed at first, but now I don't have to worry about registration, tattooing, keeping them separate from Barry (my buck) or selling them for a high price.
To be honest, now I'm excited about my little passel of bucks. Three of them means I will get more experience in dehorning, "fixing" and giving shots, without the worry of ruining their sale value. I am going to try and wean them as quickly as possible, then sell them as pets first. If they don't sell as pets, an easy solution will be to raise them as meat goats and butcher in the fall. I won't make as much money this year (probably $50.00/goat max, IF I can sell them), but it will be a nice rest from the registration and hassle that came with girls last year.
Chickens: Roosters are Not a Good Deal
Well, we finally did it: butchered some roosters! We actually ended up doing four roosters and a spent hen. After doing a little bit of math on the cost of poultry, I discovered that I have been losing major money on my non-laying birds. $1.24 per month does not sound like a lot, but when you have ten birds that aren't laying eggs, it adds up over the course of a year. More birds create more work in addition to more expense.
One discovery I made is that roosters are a terrible deal. About half of the ones we butcher have less meat than a stewing hen, even though they cost the same amount to raise. If you get a free rooster and butcher it right away, it might be a good deal. But if you keep them around like I do, they are just a giant money pit. In addition, when you have too many roosters they just pick on the hens, make noise and become a general nuisance. I figured out that if we factor in a meat/bones value of $5.00 per bird, I would be loosing $2.48 on every rooster that I raise to butcher at 6 months (and let's be realistic- most laying breeds would not be ready to butcher in that time). That being said, it's TOTALLY not worth my money to be raising roosters for meat. They are also more difficult to butcher because of small hips, and with no meat on them anyway, even a free adult rooster is a toss-up if you value your time.
Over winter, the chickens really dug up their pasture. My goal this year is to get their numbers down enough (and possibly reseed the pasture) so my chicken grass can be sustainable. I want them as free range as possible, not just in a "run" of dirt yard. According to my spreadsheet, I only need five young (1-3 years) laying hens per person in order to get free eggs by selling 50% of all that I collect. So my goal this year is to get as close to that ideal as possible without spending a lot of money or wasting the birds I already have. I am hoping to butcher several birds per month over the summer in order to meet this goal. Another pasture-conserving idea I had was to slowly replace 50% of my chicken flock with ducks. Ducks seem to be more consistent layers, plus they don't scratch up the grass like my chickens do. If I have to replace the water every day for two ducks, I might as well do it for five ducks. They only eat a little more than a chicken, plus the eggs are much larger and male pekin ducks (the kind we have) actually store enough meat and fat to be worth butchering. However, I have not done the exact math on raising male ducks; maybe that is a project for next month.
Profit & Loss
Total Income: $20.64
Layer Mash- $44.00
Goat feed- $21.03
Total expenses- $85.03
Net profit: -$121.69
Year-to-date Net Profit: -$186.08
I am very excited about the month of April. I have more energy now to put into my hobby farm (read why in my next newsletter!) as far as cutting costs and increasing value are concerned. I'll be able to start milking Adi in a few weeks, which means fresh milk for us, plus the weather is getting warmer with more foraging and gardening opportunities. Now that our poultry flock has been cut significantly, feed consumption will be lower even though egg production will remain the same. It's also time to start signing up for farmers markets, which is super exciting!
Next month I expect to double income and have very few feed expenses, if any. That means I can work on getting my year-to-date net profit back to zero. Yay!!
Til next time,