I spent the day yesterday busily completing odd jobs around the farm. I put some bookcases together that arrived a few days ago and took one step closer to organizing the house. I also assembled a park bench for the front deck to sit opposite the bistro set and provide a “landing zone” for visitors. I mowed for a few hours, helped Mike with a sick calf (one of the new ones), and generally kept busy and trying to keep my mind off of TURKEYS. Then I collapsed from fatigue onto the couch. I think my bottom grew roots there, because it was kind of like pulling up a dandelion to get up when Nature called last night.
We lost another of the Bronzes yesterday. I expected it. I don’t think it is a good then when you go to their brooder and find one in a gymnast’s “Chinese Splits” position, beak down in the shavings. I snatched him up and held him close to my chest and his peeping of a constant SOS seemed to calm. He drank, if only a tiny bit, as I held him close to the water trough, then snuggled in to the dark confines of my hands as though quietly content to remain there. I knew if I put him down, he would not survive, but I could not carry him around with me either. To hold that tiny life so close and know there is nothing you can do to save him is difficult, but as Mike frequently reminds me: we give the animals the best home we can and the most food, comfort, and attention we are able until we cannot do that any more. That is the same for dogs, cats, calves or turkeys. Sadly, it is better than a lot of people provide their own offspring.
So we are down to fifteen of the original twenty birds. A loss of 25 percent. That too was expected, although it brings the basis for their purchase up a bit and decreases our profit when they are sold (well, it would if they weren’t a gift).
Time for a little early morning math here…before coffee, so pardon any errors. If our giver paid $10 each for the chicks (just a nice round figure), or $200, we lost $50 worth of chicks already. That increases the overall cost of the remaining birds and they now “cost” $13.33 each. If we add in the cost of brooder (scrap wood), lights, water trough, feeder, feed, grit, etc. we can now add in an additional $30 or so (as a guess). So $200+$30= $230/15 birds (instead of twenty) our costs are now $15.33 per bird– and this is just the first week or so. There will be additional feed costs, building a pen for their ranging, and (when the time comes) processing to add in to that. My guess it will average over $20 per bird total, making that basis $16.67 per bird based on the original 15 birds.
If we sell the birds by the pound (rather than by the head) and after dressing they end up weighing 30 lbs each, we’ve already spent about 56 cents per pound (without further losses, unsold birds, or medical expenses) and we have not paid ourselves a nickel. Since we have to restock the following year’s birds out of any money received for this year’s, that must also be added into their “cost.” Restocking costs can be less, based on new hatchlings, but it is a wash since there is the outgo for an incubator to offset any initial savings.
I think with this you can see why turkeys run in excess of $1.00 per pound, unless sold as a loss leader at your local grocery. Certainly, the more birds that are raised and for longer periods reduces the farms costs, although shipping adds to that cost, which is precisely why “corporate” farms do business the way they do. As a simple start- up operation, any profit this year is probable solely because the Bronzes were gifts. (I did not add in the Royal Palms to these calculations, which will change all the figures all down the line.)
If you noticed, in rehashing yesterday, I did not mention the Royal Palms. That is because we still don’t have them. But don’t despair! The post office called me at 6:30 this morning to tell me of their arrival. It was a bad night for trying to sleep last night, the house animals were restless, but the call left me WIDE awake. I wanted to pop up right then and go to the Post Office! Mike is getting ready right now…he will feed the smaller calves then head to town for the birds, place them and feed the Bronzes, then go to the other farm and feed the larger herd. I can’t wait!
It is another beautiful day here today and we are getting white TURKEYS!!! Isn’t life grand?!
I hope you have a great day, too.