We had double our income from last year! We sold $925 worth of sheep and $384 worth of eggs. Our egg income was down 35% due to no one laying in the spring. I started enough babies staggered out over months to keep this problem away hopefully this year.
I have several categories so I will give a brief overview of each one and then my rounded expenses. I am not going to add them all up so the numbers may not add up to my real total but it will be close enough for record keeping purposes.
ANIMALS: This covers the baby chickens, medicine for the sheep and chickens, salt and supplements. $527
FEED: This covers all the chicken food, sheep grain and hay but last year we did not purchase any hay (animals $106, chickens $403). $509
GENERAL: This covers the fencing supplies, gloves, safety gear, nails, clips, hardware for gates, locks for gates, hinges (labor $ 450). $1532
EQUIPMENT: This covers pickup repair and upkeep. $2094
VET: This covers Zeke only, a laceration repair to his right foreleg. $330
TRACTOR/SPRAYER: This covers the tractor maintenance and fuel, mule fuel and sprayer repair and upkeep and herbicide (tractor fuel $100, spray $254). $419
BUSINESS EXPENSE: This is for a license renewal,some advertising of lambs for sale and our farm insurance we are required to keep now due to number of animals. $1147
BARN IMPROVEMENTS: This is for repairing the barn. We repaired the old external northern milking extension wall. I added two horse stalls, mostly finished siding on southern end, added one of two cupolas to the barn roof and started adding tin to the hay roof portion of the barn. (labor cost of $1200) Total $3637
Expense total: $10,195 for the entire year.
GRAND TOTAL: A loss of $8888.
That is a pretty accurate number as I was very good about keeping reciepts this year for everything.
We ate several sheep for personal consumption. We are now feeding seven cows and will be getting three more babies in 3-4 months. In the fall we will be butchering cows. I did not get as much done on the barn as I wanted. Everything you do on the roof takes twice as long. I will most likely need another three years to get the barn totally done. Fencing has again become a priority. I would like to get three more fences up, two new sections and a repair of an old existing fence. I am starting to learn to not plan so extravagantly. Concentrate on the items that make our life easier. A true sorting pen for the cows would be nice but it is going to cost about $3500 so it will have to wait. The fencing improvements will allow the cows to have more roaming space in winter and allow us to break the herd into a breeding herd and yearling herd. So fencing improvements first.
So here is the 2013 annual chicken production summary: I only lost $96 for the year (not positive but if we purchased eggs at the market we would have spent more than that) My annual income was $384 (almost $250 less than last year, all due to predators and me not starting chicks in the fall.), My annual expenses $480. I purchased 1350# of chicken feed for the year (200 more than last year all due to freeloaders). My average laying hens for the year were 18.6 hens (currently only have 17 hens). I collected on average 5.9 eggs/day (3 eggs/day less than last year) for a hen productivity of 31% for the year (9% less than last year). The hens consumed 0.63 lbs of feed/egg produced (1/4 lb/egg more than last year!). It cost me $0.20/egg in feed only (or $2.40/doz). My actual cost per dozen with all expenses added is $3.30. I charged $3/doz for eggs all year long.
I had to purchase another 2 batches of pullets, one in spring and another in fall. I think I will use that model for a while, just buy fewer chicks at a time. If I could just keep the automatic chicken door working all year I could virtually stem all the chicken killing by predators I had to send the door for repair once. The chicken door guy sent me some spare parts so I am ready for another motor failure now. I have 17 producing hens and 5 pullets that will be laying by April, and one rooster. I will only get 8 babies this spring. I will have to cull my two leghorns by fall. The sheep got trapped in the chicken enclosure a couple of times last year. They leap at the fence and bounce off. I have a couple of sheep sized holes to repair. Annmarie is still not a fan of the chickens but she has become a fresh egg snob when it comes to eating them and cooking with them! She still won’t eat a fried egg. Everyone always asks if the eggs are safe. I tell them my wife eats one raw every morning in her fruit/yogurt smoothie and she has never been ill. She is in charge of quality control.
It’s a new year but I am still going to be plagued by last years assumptions. I didn’t sit down and calculate the amount of hay needed to get through the winter. I just assumed we had enough. I especially did not account for three extra cows and another 20 sheep. There is a nice formula 3% of animal body weight per day per cow and five sheep count as one cow. I did this a couple of years ago and it works great. I did not do it last year and we are going to run out. To further complicate things no one is selling their hay. I have been asking around but it is hard to find.
On the plus side I noticed our bred heifers were getting skinny in the hips. The bull and calves look great. While talking with my neighbor about hay, he didn’t have any, I mentioned the skinny heifers and he said our calves might still be nursing. They are 6-8 months old now but I was not sure if they were still nursing. I had seen the heifers pushing them off last month. This morning I watched one nurse! So now we are going to have to separate the weanlings. Now we just need to decide who gets to live in the orchard and who out by vehicles? I would like the bull and heifers to live in orchard. The heifers should give birth in April.
So after getting off a long night shift yesterday I hunted for hay. I talked to a few more people and started searching Craigslist. I found hay from $165-$225/ton depending on type and quantity purchased. We need 5 ton and fuel costs to pull the trailer are going to run around $150 plus another $50 to get help unloading. I found some barn stored grass hay that will be delivered and help stacked for $210/ton. This allows us to not have to add in the other costs which saves us money. The hay comes tomorrow afternoon. I have spent a couple of hours restacking all the hay in the barn to make room for the new.
I had already planned on installing one more fence just past the old hand dug well so the sheep and cows can use part of the upper pasture. I need to fix a quarter mile of external fence that is falling over also. But a thought just occurred to me, if I fenced off a portion of the lower pasture we could let the cows have access to it in the winter also. This would give us three cow pastures that the sheep can be locked out. I would install a connecting gate that would let us mix cows and sheep during summer. The fence would be easy to install, all metal posts except for a single gate. I will have to think about it.