Tuesday, August 1, 2017

These are not my Grandmother's chickens!

"Let's just raise a few chickens", he said!  "It's no big deal," he said.  Well that depends on if you want a few eggs for your family, or to show and sell rare breed chickens and chicks and eggs.  These aren't my grandmother's chickens!  A lot of hard work goes into the care of the birds, and a lot of paperwork and behind the scenes work is expected as well.  Both being massively important to your success!

Those of you in the chicken business know that you have to be registered (in Texas anyway) with the Texas Animal Health Commission in order to be able to take your birds to shows or sales away from your home.  That is a once per year visit with the inspector who comes to count your birds (this registration is based on the number of birds you have).

Then we must also be PT tested once per year.  This did require an appointment with one of the few folks that travel the state and do this for A&M.  We have recently been told that the free testing stops September 1.  They are offering classes to train people to be able to travel and do this testing for a fee.  The choice for us, is do we train and test our own birds and others for a fee, or do we find someone close enough to come and test and pay them the fee?  We have made the decision for my husband to try to get into a training session and be able to do this locally for us and surrounding farms.  Most of the current training sessions are hours from our home and would require travel and hotel expenses (not a deal breaker but an additional expense).

Moving past that, once we are PT tested and all is clear, we made the decision to become members of the NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Program).  The first level of NPIP requires PT testing and $100.00 per year for membership.

We chose to add the testing for Avian Influenza to our NPIP certification.  Now twice a year, a traveling Avian vet comes to our farm and tests 30 birds(based on number in your flock) to be sure that we are Avian Influenza H5/H7 clean.  This has never been free and is quite costly but worth it.

Many of these things are necessary to be able to legally ship birds to other states.  If we choose to  ship out of state, some states require permits to import the birds. This causes more paperwork.

 We register all sales of birds from our farm with the NPIP.  We also provide a certificate stating that we have been PT Tested.  The NPIP paperwork shows that we are AI H5/H7 clean as well.

We also must have a Game Bird Breeders License renewable each year to own and raise Eastern Wild Turkeys and Lady Amherst Pheasants.  This requires that we report who we sold to, how many we raised and how many were lost (to illness or predators) ending with the number we have left on hand at the specified time.  We send this report, and application and our $27.00 fee to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  We then receive our license.

After we get past all the testing and paperwork, there is the matter of going to shows, sales and advertising our birds online to sell them.  Ads must be kept up to date with birds sold and such.  We will also begin showing some of our birds this next January.  Showing and winning is great for your farm and your reputation of raising good quality birds.

Several days a week I try to write this blog, update pictures and ads for selling the birds, and just generally keep everything straight.

We are constantly hatching chicks and improving our blood lines when possible.  We allow our birds to free range whenever possible, as this makes for healthier happier birds.  We spend a lot of time with and on the birds here.  We don't keep aggressive birds around due to the fact that our granddaughter enjoys visiting with and feeding the many varieties of birds.

We welcome folks out to our place to visit and choose the birds they want.  We want them to see the birds in action and be able to interact with them when possible.  We do take measures to keep our birds safe from outside illness as well.  We want to have a farm that people enjoy.  Give us a call and set up a time to come for a visit!

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