We made some significant changes to the way we handled our breeders and our breeder pens at the end of this year’s laying cycle. Historically when our hens quit laying eggs in late July each year, we would move the “spent” hens to another one of our farms during the month of August. As the spent hens were moved, the empty breeder pens were rotovated and planted in a week or two. August can often be a dry month here, so the newly planted pens often had limited vegetative growth due to lack of rain and once we had our first freeze we commonly lost the cover in the breeder pens.
Our breeder selection crew usually starts selection of the next year’s breeders in November. Many of the groups of birds that were to be sorted through for breeders were bypassed by our catching crews and only once the breeder crew went through those groups were the rejected birds shipped out as hunting birds.
This year all our spent breeders were moved off the breeder farm aggressively, the whole process took only two weeks. Within hours of the time an individual breeder pen was emptied of birds the pen was rotovated and planted. Our breeder farm neighbor installed an irrigation well this spring and we made an agreement to be able to get water one day a week and the breeder pens were irrigated repeatedly during August.
The result of this new management plan was that our breeder farm has fantastic cover. Additionally our breeder selection crew started selecting breeders in late August (with over 10,000 hens already selected and placed at the breeder farm). Since the selection crew has been going through groups of birds, the rejected as breeder hens are already gone (shipped to hunt customers). With the rejects gone and 2012 selected breeders moved to the breeder farm, a substantial amount of space has been opened up on our farm for July and August hatch chicks to go into 2nd use pens.
This new procedure has been a very good thing for our farm and reflects the new attitude we have here about efficiency and a sense of urgency is accomplishing our tasks. Kudos to our staff!