L&A Family Farms
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Oops, We Ran Out of EGGS

Posted 3/5/2014 4:30pm by Brian Lau.

    

I would like to catch you up on where we are currently with the egg side of the business. The egg business was filled with many struggles in 2013 and I want to first apologize for not being able to supply the normal amount of eggs to our customers and vendors. Poor management on my part is to blame, but before I take 100% responsibility, let me remind you that a lot of the managing decisions I make have financial constraints. As you recall, in 2012 we had a major drought in our area. This affected us in many ways, but most importantly we had to pull up our bootstraps and make personal sacrifices. We had limited money to work with and we had to decide how to divide it up. Which enterprise needed it the worst to keep the business moving forward? The egg enterprise was continuing to grow, as more and more people were experiencing the benefits of our eggs. We were outgrowing our infrastructure and we knew we needed a new building to raise replacement pullets. Also one of our brooder houses needed major repairs, but there was not enough money in the budget. Pullets were not started in the fall of 2012 like I had planned. What I didn’t realize at the time was how bad it was going to get before I could start a new batch and stop the bleeding.    In March 2013 we were getting over 8000 eggs; by August we were down to 6000 eggs and by November, we were down to 3000. That is a pretty significant drop in production. The main culprit was that the hens went through a molt. A molt is when a chicken loses its old feathers, which are replaced with new ones. During a molt, egg laying declines or stops completely. All of the hen’s nutrition is used to grow new feathers, not produce eggs. Also as the hens aged, we had an increase in death loss, especially when combined with the summer heat, plus declining day lengths in the fall; these all led to lower production. To further complicate the situation, we didn’t get the brooder house repaired by March so we couldn’t get pullets started in the spring like we normally do. These factors all helped with the perfect storm of bad management and financial decline. If there was a positive note, it was the great lessons learned from my mistakes.   By July we had the brooder house repaired and new pullet chicks started. They started laying eggs in December, so we are finally starting to get an increase in our daily egg numbers again. This will not get us back to full production yet, but it will help. In October we started another batch of 400 pullet chicks.      Even with this last batch of pullets we had to go to plan B. Remember I said we needed a new building. In September, a new 30X72 ft hoop house was purchased and the goal was to start construction ASAP. Do you recall the two weather events we had during the 2013 growing season? One was an excessively wet spring which caused late planting, which in turn led to a late wet harvest; the other was a dry late summer and fall. Both of these events delayed the construction of our building. The harvest extended into November and the dry hard ground did not allow us to drive the ground posts for the building until we received some rains. Those chicks we started in October were forced to stay in the brooder houses longer than normal. Conditions were far from perfect, but they survived remarkably well. By the end of November we started construction and with a few weather delays (snow, temps, and wind) we finished by the end of December. On December 31 we moved the pullets into their new winter home and they have now started laying. Our egg numbers will improve significantly each and every day.

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