Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2012 national drought and rising grain costs


During this early planning part of the year, we have been taking a hard look at all the pieces of the farm.  We’ve been crunching numbers and planning to ensure that we can grow the best possible product while keeping prices as affordable as possible and ensure that we can earn a living from the hard work of farming.

Bluebird Farm hogs and broilers will continue to be raised with certified organic grains, outside rotating through pastures, forests, and garden.  The layer hens will also live free range and on pasture; however, the layer hens will no longer receive organic grain.  We will use a non-medicated, all-grain feed that we’ve used in previous years to feed our pastured laying hens.

The 2012 drought in most of the United States caused a poor national crop of grains that are important to raise chickens and pigs. All grains prices, organic and non- organic, went up in price by 30%, and left farmers across the nation without a way to afford to feed their animals.  While many farmers and farms across the nation are still reeling from the devastating effects from the 2012 drought, we at Bluebird Farm are optimistically finding creative ways to make 2013 successful.

As we make our plans for the 2013 growing season, we’ve found that the high grain prices affected our various livestock in different ways.   Some areas of the farm have fared better than others.  The pigs look good (and taste good too!) and we are excited for another great year of vegetables.  But chickens proved to be a sticky issue.

Broilers- Tasty Pastured Chicken

Broilers are fast growing meat chickens that need very specific conditions to grow well.  We have made a variety of changes to our system to help them grow more efficiently.  However, no matter how efficiently the birds grow there is no escaping the fact that they eat lots of food!  We continue to strive to use organic feed for the broilers to ensure a pure product.  Certified organic feed is 100% chemical free and GMO-free.  We use this feed for both the hogs and broilers.  Unfortunately, upon close examination of all the costs to produce organic broilers we have had to raise our price.  The new price of $6/lb will ensure that we can continue to produce organic broilers while earning a modest income for ourselves (we discovered that in the past we were volunteering our time to raise the broilers).
We are confident that you will love our organic fed, pasture raised, free range broilers!

Layers- Fresh Pastured Eggs

We have decided to come to a compromise on the layer hens.  After looking at the numbers for the layer hens we found that in order to cover all of our costs, including organic grains, our organic eggs would cost $6.90/dozen.  While we want to use organic grains for all of our livestock we felt that almost $7/dozen is not affordable for eggs.

In order to keep our eggs at their current price we have made the difficult choice of switching to non-organic feed for our hens only.  The other option was to not raise any hens on our farm.  We will continue to use top quality, non-medicated, vegetarian feed for the pastured hens.  And of course all Bluebird Farm hens live on fresh green pasture rotated with sheep and pigs.  These hens live outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air with plenty to scratch and peck.  Our chicken wagon coop provides the hens with a mobile house around the pastures and fields of the farm. 

Bluebird Farm hogs and broilers will continue to be raised with certified organic grains, outside rotating through pastures, forests, and garden.  The layer hens will also live free range and on pasture; however, the layer hens will no longer receive organic grain. 

Each season we work hard to continue to raise the highest quality animals and vegetables at affordable prices that will ensure that Bluebird Farm continues into the future.  Above all we want to work with you, our customers, to build an open and honest food system that produces healthy food for us all.

We’re growing for you,
William and Marie