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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Work'n Hard?? or Hardly Work'n??

Ever hear the old men saying this at the coffee shop? Daily life on the farm often feels like this... 2 steps forward, 3 steps back... its really no wonder we appear to be easy going in nature. If we didn't have a sense of humour, we'd all be in the loony bin.

I began my chicken farming career after graduating in 1998. My papa-in-law had bought a corporate broiler breeder operation in desperate need of some help. I tried my hand at an off-farm job... lasted a whoppin 2 months before offering my services to the family. Dave, Deanna and Jamie had just survived their first 10 months of absolute hell in this business. They had taken on 10 barns housing around 12-13,000 birds average age of these barns was around 20 years old. At the time, I think there were more mice, labour and problems than there were chickens.

Out of the 10 barns we operated, 8 of them had an immune deficiency called J-Virus or Leucosis. It was a disease that infected only this breed, and as fate would have it, our hatchery had ordered this particular breed over the majority of our farm. It was devistating. Most of our flocks had anywhere from 25% mortality to 45% mortality. We were in a big, dark hole. Bankers, hatchery personel and feed companies met with the family weekly, basically trying to protect their investment. A humbling, and exhausting experience for the family.

Slowly, our clan persevered and we started treading water again. Only to have a flock go down with salmonella a few months later. Safe to say we were beginning to wonder just who put this curse on us.

Just to warn you... this is a long story, and blogs are not to be... so this will be chapter one.

Words to live by... What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger...

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