Farm Facts and Furrows

Organizational Capacity Building

The Organizational Capacity Building e-learning courses that OMAFRA rural economic development (RED) has been working on are now complete and live on the web! These modules are new RED offerings and were undertaken to keep pace with demands to offer an electronic, easy way to access learning opportunities. There are four online modules that can effectively and efficiently provide client groups and individuals with the convenience of learning at their own pace. Each course is approximately 30 minutes in length. They are:  board governance, volunteer, management, policies and procedures and conflict management. The website link is:  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/rural/edr/index.html

Raising poultry

Raising chickens, turkeys, ducks and other poultry can be a rewarding experience. There are numerous hatcheries in Ontario supplying chicks and they are usually ordered through your local feed store. Typically, you can order in day old chicks but sometimes, as is the case with laying pullets, you can order larger ready to lay birds as well. It can take up to five months to raise pullets (young hens) so the time savings is considerable. While every chicken coop or hen house might be different, some of the key features for healthy, profitable birds are the same:

1. Dry, draft free – birds like all livestock, do best with adequate ventilation and fresh air. Premises should keep birds dry and draft free.

2. Heat – Day old chicks need a warm environment, normally a 250 watt heat lamp hung about 18 inches above the floor will do. As chicks get older, less heat is required. If chicks are cold they’ll tend to bunch under the lamp, too hot, they’ll be scattered away from the brooder lamp. Adjust temperature by either raising or lowering the lamp.

3. Bedding – Well bedded with straw, shavings or some similar bedding material.

4. Secure – rodents and wildlife such as weasels and raccoons can ruin a good flock. Make sure buildings are tight enough to protect flock. Be watchful of windows; consider heavy mesh instead of home window screening.

5. Feeding and Watering – adequate space for all birds to feed and get access to fresh water. Purchased feeders and waterers work well but homemade feeders and waterers can also do the job. Generally birds perform best on prepared feeds usually available in pellets or crumbles. Make sure all chicks are started on feeds with medication for the control of coccidiosis. Young chicks are particularly susceptible.

6. Adequate Space – Young chicks don’t need much space as they’ll stay close to the brooding area to stay warm. As birds grow however, make sure the facilities provide a minimum of 2 – 4 sq. ft. / bird depending on type. The larger the bird, allow more space. While every farm is different, it’s reasonable to expect to raise 4 lb. meat birds in about 6 weeks and heavier 9-10 lbs roasters in 10-12 weeks. For layers, if all goes well, expect a flock of 10 to lay 8-10 eggs per day, declining as birds get older to 6-7 eggs /day by the end of 13 months production.