Our pen manager, Brian Klein, needs to be the best weather forecaster on our farm. Every week from April thru early October – Brian has a group of pheasants to move out from our brooder barns into the pens. If Brian doesn’t move out a group one week, then we get backed up in our brooder barns (i.e. there are scheduled hatches of chicks arriving from our hatchery that need to go into the barn where Brian was to have moved out the birds). There is a little wiggle room in the schedule – but not much. Remember that we only use our brooder barns just over ½ of the year – and therefore for us to remain efficient, we need to schedule the groups of chicks going into the barns as closely together as is reasonable.
So Brian’s responsibility is to move out the birds and to make sure that there is a window of good weather for the first few days the birds are out in the pens. Up until the day the birds are moved out, the birds have never been outside. So if Brian moves out a group of birds, and we get cold or wet, or the worst would be cold and wet – the first night or two the birds are out – Brian could lose a lot of birds.
So it’s in Brian’s interest to be cautious about moving out birds. If there is bad weather predicted, Brian logically would not move out the birds. But if Brian is too cautious, eventually he can begin having limited options – and at some point a day is reached where regardless of the weather – he might have to move out birds.
A few years ago, Brian followed the weather – and if there was a chance of rain – he didn’t move out the birds. And I can distinctly remember times where he chose not to move out birds and it didn’t rain and the next day our brooder manager was questioning Brian – “why didn’t you move out birds”.
These days – Brian has become the best weatherman on the farm. He uses multiple sources, and not only looks at the chance of precipitation, but he looks at the temperatures that are expected. A warm rain is not nearly as threatening to birds just moved out as a cold rain.
This week Brian had two barns on the schedule to move out – a barn of 13,000 ringnecks and another barn of 7000 whites. Even though the forecast was for rain, Brian moved out the ringnecks on Wednesday and the whites on Thursday. Brian’s crew started at 5 am Wednesday moving out the ringnecks – and they finished before noon – so in a sense he gained an entire day – as the birds had that afternoon to adjust to the pen.
Yesterday afternoon and evening we got 1.2 inches of rain. Brian came in this morning and reported to me that there was no loss whatsoever with the birds. We have excellent cover in the pens and it did not get cold with the rain and that helped.
I am pleased that I have such a competent manager as Brian, a manager that can analytically look at the data and arrive at a thought though decision, and a manager that is not afraid to make a decision that might turn out to be wrong. Brian is on my bus and he is aligned with the cultural values I am establishing on our farm.