The Pandemic brought sweeping change for our nation, state, and farm - one of the biggest changes for us was the doubling, and on occasion, tripling of our chicken business. Not only did we increase the number of broilers we raise - we also increased the number we raise in each batch.
This week we see the realizationof that increase in production - from 100 broilers per cycle to 300. We took 195 broilers to the processor, moved 200 broilers from the brooder to pasture, and picked up 300 chicks to begin the next cycle.
Working Like a Dog
- John's Perspective -
I dont know why I waited so long - call me stubborn, but I was very apprehensive about adding livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to the farm. First off, they’re big - like 120lbs big! Which means they eat a lot. And that also means they can pose a threat. I’m very cognizant of the fact that dogs can turn on their owners, especially dogs that are bred to function independently. There is also the chance that they kill the animals. We’ve had a donkey that was a good guardian until something changed and she started killing baby lambs.
But when we lost 9 turkeys to coyotes last month, I knew I had to reassess. I’m a very practice farmer, and the numbers were telling me I needed to act. As mentioned, I have already been down the donkey path before. I think donkeys are fine animals for protection against dogs, but we also have issues with bobcats, coons, and birds of prey. There are several breeds of LGDs out there (Akbash, Great Pyrenees, Kangel, etc). Most folks have Great Pyrenees, but I wanted something with shorter hair and a little bit different - and that lead me to the Anatolian Sheppard.
We’ve told the story of how we got Bonita & Princess already, and a bit about how they work, but I just want to highlight just how amazing they are. What amazes me most is the intuition they have about their jobs. I have a low tolerance for things that don’t perform as advertised - there is no room for slackers on a farm. When we brought these dogs home, they immediately went to work. I didn’t know what to expect. I mean here we were bringing two adult dogs to a foreign location without any safeguards in place. I was worried they’d run off looking for home (we don't exactly have a place to keep them that they cant get out of). I was also worried that they’d need time to figure out what their charges were (would they attack the turkeys?) And how would they know the extent of their perimeter (would they go into neighboring ranches)? Well I don't know how they know, but these dogs KNOW. That first night you could here them working the ranch. One minute they’d be barking to the East; a few minutes later they’d be a half mile off toward the West. And in the morning, laying in the back yard - resting from a job well done.
I rest easy now, knowing the dogs are on duty. And all my fears and apprehensions were for not. Yes, they’re still big dogs, but they really don’t eat that much and they’re as gentle as can be - always wanting a good belly rub. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long. So many animals lost due to my ignorance and fear.