ReMARKable EggsRecently, we made a big decision regarding the chickens that we will have on the farm. For many years, we were planning to use heritage breeds of chickens. Heritage chicken breeds have slow growth rate, can mate naturally, and live long, productive lives. At first, I thought we would have Dominique chickens. Then, I got excited about Speckled Sussex. Lastly, I started learning more about "sex linking" and I decided we would want Delaware hens and Speckled Sussex roosters to produce eggs that hatched out sex linked chicks.
I got really excited about sex linked chicks. Chicken sexer's must go to school for 3 years to learn the trade. BUT if you cross a "white" Delaware hen with a "reddish" Rhode Island Red rooster, the females (pullets) are red, while the males (cockerels) are yellow at hatching so you can separate the chicks. Therefore, we could separate out the roosters and raise them up for meat.
The heritage chickens that we chose are "dual" purpose breeds. These are breeds that are good for eggs and meat. There are also certain breeds of chickens that are just raised for meat (mostly Cornish Cross) and breeds of chickens that are egg laying (like a Leghorn). The dual purpose breeds fall in the middle for egg production and meat production.
Then, as we started working with Vocational Rehabilitation, I started crunching the numbers. I spent 3 hours last week updating the business plan. I am meeting with someone from the Small Business Administration on Tuesday to review the business plan.
It's expensive to start a business from the ground up. We want our farm to be sustainable but we won't be here long if we can't pay for our start up costs. I was looking at incubators and hatchers that cost several hundred dollars each. In addition, we would need extra pens/housing to raise the roosters. Trying to find a processors is about non-existent so we would probably have to do it ourselves and you don't even want to know how much a plucker and a scalder costs...
This is an egg business and what will make us successful is selling a lot of eggs. We started looking at hybrid egg laying chickens and ducks. Delaware chickens may produce anywhere from 200-280 eggs/year. A Red Star hybrid chicken can produce 280-300 eggs/year. Can you see the difference? Egg = money. My calculations in the business plan is based on poultry producing 260 eggs/year.
|Red Star hybrid chickens|
|Golden 300 Hybrid Layer ducks|
Of course, the breed of poultry is only one part of running the egg business. We are also committed to providing high quality feed and forage opportunities to the poultry to make sure them have healthy, active lives.
Mark's graduation is 12 days away!