Well, we had the worst flooding of the season last night. In what felt like a gentle rain (yes, I was up at 4:30 checking on it, but determined it to be safe and so went back to bed), all but 14 of my 115 broilers were killed.
I know what you’re thinking, “How stupid are you, to let this happen again?” The quick answer is, “I’m not sure.” The longer answer is more complex. I only have so much room, and our whole field is quite low compared to the surroundings. In this flooding, well over half (maybe as much as two thirds) of it is under water. Keep in mind that even just a couple inches is enough to kill young birds like mine.
It appears then, that I should just get the chickens to that bit of ground that is highest. The problem is, I’ve already used about half of it for chickens earlier this year, and cannot yet use it again without risk of the chickens getting sick and dying…or worse, getting sick and living (when that happens, they eat all the way to processing day, and then when I open them up, I find out they are not edible – the most costly failure of all). The other high land is all the way in a corner and when the weather threatens, I cannot just move the pens to the high ground and then back out. Chickens typically aren’t willing to walk that much, and I would probably damage them along the way. Complicating this is the fact that the high ground at the back is exceptionally uneven; I would likely lose many to predators getting underneath the pen’s edge.
The third issue is past performance. Last year we never had any flooding during poultry season, and so I keep thinking that we can’t go from no flooding to multiple floods in a year. And maybe this will hold true in the future…but this is no typical year. According to Tom Skilling, this is the third wettest July in the last 140 years, and I believe him.
Anyway, all of that to say that this has been a rough year. In order to make up for this loss, I’m going to have to charge $24/lb for the 14 broilers that remain. That shouldn’t be hard, these are premium birds, after all:)