Poultry owners in Southern California have been an edge since Mid-May of last year when a case of the deadly Newcastle Disease was confirmed. Newcastle is highly contagious and spreads through bodily fluids of infected birds and can be carried on clothes and shoes. Since the outbreak started more than 60,000 birds, mostly chickens, have been euthanized in an attempt to control the disease. The good news is the disease is not a food-safety problem according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s December 15 news release following the infection of a commercial flock.
The truth is it’s impossible to implement perfect bio-security measures on a pasture raised farm. Wild birds come and go as they please which we have no control over. One thing we can do is limit all human activity on the pasture. Which means no free or private farm tours this year.
We will reevaluate the situation at the end of this year for the 2020 farm tour season. If you have backyard chickens of your own or know anyone that does we encourage to keep up to date with information from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
This website has resources on current quarantined areas in Southern California as well as news regarding the locates of the most recent areas where the disease has been found.
This website has information regarding keeping your backyard flock safe and what bio-security measures needed to be implemented ASAP.
It’s been about 10 months now using this new grain, and there are some major problems. The corn and soy free grain is of the highest quality, but with no soy it lacks some essential amino acids which the chickens need to produce eggs of size and quantity for a farmer to be financially sustainable. Their production is down 15-20%. And the worst part is how many small eggs I collect. Most people don’t like small eggs, so I have to sell them cheap if I don’t want them sitting around. I was also loosing money with my wholesale accounts who couldn’t afford to pay more money when I switched over to corn and soy free. They were already paying top dollar and like most customers surveyed they didn’t care enough about the new feed to pay more.
To break it down, I’m loosing $1,000 a month in revenue with the smaller eggs and lower production, while at the same time paying almost $2,000 more a month on grain. Until a better alternative can be used, I will be switching back to the regular organic grain with corn and soy. I’m still a long way off from growing enough insects for the chickens to provide the amino acids they need when no soy is used.
I decided to try the corn and soy free grain last August after the farm became landlocked. With no access for a bulk grain delivery by truck, I had to start purchasing it by the bag. This cost 30% more for the same grain. After some research, I discovered I could purchase the corn and soy free grain from a different mill by the pallet for the same price as the old feed by the bag. I took the opportunity to try it out. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out, and with only 5% of my customers asking for a soy free product, it’s just not time to go that route. Most customers surveyed want humanely raised, transparent, organic and local eggs. I will still be providing that, and someday down the road I will have developed the skills and set up the infrastructure to grow insects to scale for the chickens to go soy free again.