Yesterday, four of the males were adopted out to a good home. It is a comfort to know that the brothers were all able to be adopted by the same family. They will have each other to comfort them during this stressful time and I am confident that they will be well taken care of. I hated to let them go but there were just too many male ducks on the Ranch. I know that this was the best decision for all the ducks involved even though I don't like it.
All but one of the remaining ducks are adapting fairly well this morning. The females are all staying with the Muscovy males which is good because they are fierce protectors. It breaks my heart to watch my Baby looking for her brothers. I have to remind myself that this was in the best interest of all ducks involved and that she will soon adapt into the new flock like the other females. This is not the first time we have seen a duck looking for its lost sibling and it is always hardest the first day. Emily, one of our Pekings, lost her brother to a predator attack many months ago. She spent the first day or two looking and quacking for him before she decided to flock with the Khaki Campbell males. Now that they have been adopted she has smoothly transitioned to the Muscovy flock. I am confident that Baby will do the same. In the meantime, the rest of the flock is watching her from a distance and waiting to welcome her as the newest member of their group. I will continue to keep an eye on her throughout the day to ensure her safety until she decides to join the flock.
Our chickens arrive at the Ranch within 24 hours of hatching. Chicks are hand raised by our family from the time they arrive until the time that they are processed. Our chickens are handled daily and treated more like pets than simply a source of income. Our chicks are fed non-medicated feed and are not exposed to any chemicals or hormones. The chicks are provided extra calcium by providing ground up organic egg shells from our own laying hens. Extra protein is provided as a treat in the form of organic worms that we farm here on the ranch. Our chickens are processed under Federal “Exempt P.L.90-492”. This means that our chickens, unlike some other farms, are processed here on the ranch by our family. This means that our chickens do not endure feed withdrawal or a long and stressful transport to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Our chickens experience virtually no stress prior to processing because they are at home with handlers that have known them their entire lives. Transport and use of commercial slaughterhouses can result in higher stress levels which transfer into the meat.
Weeks and Nicol (2000) reported that: (a) The manner in which birds are raised alters their subsequent fear and stress reactions, and better enables them to cope with the stressors they will subsequently face during catching, transportation and preslaughter handling; however, neither environmental enrichment nor prior experience of gentle handling can ameliorate the shock and the sometimes extreme stressors that are encountered during commercial-type handling and transportation. (b) Transportation is an extremely stressful process for commercial poultry; birds experience new stimuli—motion, vibration and impacts (daylight, noise, overcrowding, temperature extremes)—of greater intensity and more varied than they have previously encountered. There are economic and welfare benefits for minimizing these stressors. (c) The potentially adverse consequences of transportation include physical, physiological and behavioral changes; among those are death, thermal stress, trauma, fatigue, hunger and thirst, physiology indicative of stress plus fear and aversion. (d) About 0.3% of birds die between farm and factory and there are reports of 24% of laying hens acquiring broken bones when they are removed from their cages. (e) There are estimates that one in four broilers processed in the USA have bruising of the legs, breast or wings sustained during catching and transport. (University), University), University), & Don Lay, 2004)
For the consumers, this means that our meat is nutritious and contains the least amount of stress related hormones possible. This results in the better tasting, tenderer meat for our consumers. According to Food Safety Magazine:
“Pale, soft and exudative (PSE) pork or poultry is one of the most common results of animal stress and occurs just prior to harvest. When an animal experiences anxiety or agitation, muscles become tense; muscle glycogen is utilized, resulting in the formation of lactic acid in the meat. Because the animal is harvested before the lactic acid can be eliminated, a rapid drop in muscle pH occurs post-mortem (<5.5). The meat loses water-holding capacity; the muscle bundles have an open texture and reflect light, creating meat that appears pale and watery. There is a greater drip loss associated with PSE meat, which can also provide moisture for microbial growth, and thus PSE meat can have a reduced shelf life. As well, when the meat is cooked and consumed, this “drip loss” can cause a dryer, tougher product.” (Erika L. Voogd, 2009)
Erika L. Voogd, M. ( 2009, February/March). Does Animal Welfare Affect Food Safety? Retrieved May 3, 2016, from FoodSafetyMagazine.com: http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2009/does-animal-welfare-affect-food-safety/
University), G. C., University), T. G., University), T. H., & Don Lay, J. (.-U. (2004, December). www.grandin.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.grandin.com/behaviour/effect.of.transport.html
We are making preperations to attend our very first Anderson Farmer's Market this Saturday. I am so excited about taking on this new market. We will continue to sell through Clemson Area Food Exchange and from the ranch.
These are some of the gorgeous roses that are blooming on the ranch. I had to go out and cut them before they broke the stems. The heavy rains of the past few days have really done a number on the roses and the vegetable garden. So many of the plants have been knocked over but are still alive. I have been busy staking up the tomatoes and trying to stand the pea trellis back up.
The newest rabbit litter was born last week. They are a cute Dutch/Palomino mix. They will be a smaller breed but still adorable.
The quail eggs are due to hatch any day this week and I can barely contain my excitement. I have never seen newborn quail but I have been told that they are about the size of a thumb.
I am a wife, mother, registered nurse and owner/operator of R and J Ranch. I am committed to living a sustainable lifestyle and ensuring the best nutrition for my family.