Sunday, January 03, 2016

Expansion Plans

I'm getting closer to retirement, so I'm planning to expand the farm a bit.

Second feed bin
Even if I wasn't expanding, I would be having a second feed bin installed on my farm. I have to purchase all of my feed. Hay is very expensive. Much more expensive than grain. It seems as if every year is a bad year for growing hay. It's either too wet or too dry. This past year, it was both. I plan to replace some of the hay in the diet (of my sheep) with soyhull pellets.

I've done the calculations. Soyhulls are a more economical source of energy than hay, and bulk soyhulls are much cheaper than bagged hulls.  Soyhulls are easier to store and handle than hay. There is less waste. One pound of soyhull pellets is equal to approximately 1.4  lbs. of hay. The new bin will be used to store soyhulls.  If soyhulls become too expensive, I can store another type of feed in the bin, including more barley.

I use the current bin to store whole barley.

Second building

Last year, I used the back bay of my three bay garage to lamb my yearlings. I would like to use the garage to raise rabbits (eventually). The lot that connects to the back bay gets too wet.  I need to put in a 16 x 16 ft. concrete pad if I want to continue to use it for the yearlings. This year, I have 10 yearlings to lamb. It's probably not big enough for all of them.

So, I'm going to put in another building, in the pasture behind the house. I'm going to start with a carport and have wooden sides put on it. I don't plan to use it in the winter time, so it doesn't need to be completely enclosed. It will be approximately 20 x 30 ft. in size. The roof will extend down two feet.  I will have water and electricity installed. In addition, to lambing out the yearlings (and others), it can be used to feed lambs and/or kids.

Current facility for yearlings (garage).

Handling system

For years, I've needed a handling system. A handling system would make it much easier to vaccinate and sort my animals. I haven't weighed my lambs in a few years; a handling system would make me more likely to do so. I want to enroll my flock in NSIP. This requires that I weigh lambs at 60 and 120 days of age. I would also like to get a pre-breeding weight of my ewes, so I can calculate efficiency (lbs. lamb weaned/pre-breeding weight) of ewes.

I already have the components of a handling system. I  have a work platform and scale. All I need to do is design my system, decide where to place it, and order the additional pieces I need. I plan to put a cover over it, maybe another carport.

Automatic milk feeder
Because I push my ewes, I'm always bound to have some orphan lambs. An automatic milk feeder would make it so much easier to feed orphan lambs. No more leaving work early or getting up late at night to spread out the feedings. The feeder would also mix the milk. I can easily justify the expensive when you consider the number of years and lambs that a feeder would feed. I am also interested in buying day-old lambs (or kids) to feed (as another farm enterprise).  Not sure yet which model of feeder I plan to buy.

Automatic milk feeder

Not sure when I will start my rabbit enterprise. For years, I've wanted to raise commercial meat rabbits. I'd like to use the style of cages that I saw in France a few years ago. I'm hoping that I can get them from a distributor in Ontario. With the new building for the sheep, I'll be able to use the back bay of the garage for my rabbit enterprise.

Besides liking rabbits, I am attracted to rabbit production because it is much easier to market rabbit meat, as compared to lamb (or goat). They are also easy to handle. I may use the hydroponic fodder system my dad created to replace some of their pelleted diet with sprouted barley. I've also read where soyhulls can replace approximately 25 percent of their diet.

Clerici rabbit cages in France

No comments: