So often, Mother Nature dictates to farmers like us what work will need to get done regardless of what day of the week it is. This happened on Sunday, April 30. Like most families, we like to have Sundays set aside for worship, rest and family time. However, with the weather prediction for snow and rain on Monday, the decision was made to clean the turkey barn, despite the calendar showing Sunday. Why? Why not wait until later in the “work week” to clean? We do it for one very good reason. We want to grow the best turkeys possible for you.
How does raising healthy turkeys relate to cleaning barn on Sunday? Let me try to explain.
There are many links in the chain of turkey production. They all tie together in a tight schedule, one proceeding and dependent on the other. Each day of the turkey production cycle is important and often times like Sunday, schedules need to be tweaked to stay current on the planned on schedule, otherwise we take the risk of delays, back logging the scheduled production chain, and thereby risk potential negative impact to flock health.
We partner with Melvin Feldewerd and Sons, Riverbed Acres in Melrose to clean out turkey barns. Here’s a great picture of Melvin by his semi:
Notice in the photo below how clean the semi’s and equipment are when they come onto the farm. This is for biosecurity measures and we are so appreciative of the effort put into biosecurity by Riverbend Acres.
The trucks are loaded with litter and hauled to farm fields.
Notice in the photo below that the trucks are tarped as they leave the farm to prevent any feathers or litter flying out of the truck.
Tarping is important for biosecurity purposes and a respectful gesture to people on the roadways who don’t want turkey dust and litter coming out of the trucks.
Why did we clean on a Sunday? We cleaned barn on a Sunday in an effort to get ahead of the weather, to meet the needs of the litter haulers, crop farmers and to meet our turkey production schedule. If the finishing barn clean out was delayed or canceled due to weather, it would impact the entire scheduling chain, including the availability of new hulls for bedding, the availability of the hauler to deliver hulls to the farm, the time to prepare the finishing barn for moving birds, the date scheduled to move turkeys from the starter barn into the finishing barn, the availability of the moving crew to move turkeys on date already scheduled, and the time line for feed orders.
Why did we clean barn on a Sunday? When fully loaded semis arrive at the field destination, if it is snowing and raining, the fields get sloppy and soft. In these conditions, if the hauler attempts to dump the load of litter in the field, they will very likely get stuck. We cleaned on a Sunday, before the predicted snow was scheduled to arrive, to be certain the trucks could get the litter unloaded onto the designated fields. Why? Because the crop farmer receiving the fertilizer wants the litter available on site so, when the weather cooperates, they can apply it to their field before planting their crops. So, to be certain the fertilize/litter would be available to the crop farmer when the crop farmer is ready to work the fields, we cleaned on a Sunday.
Why did we clean on a Sunday? We cleaned on a Sunday because a clean barn is so important to flock health. We did not want to move birds onto recycled litter due to time and schedule constraints imposed by weather. We want the turkeys in an environment that reduces the opportunity for the introduction of anything that will create stress and or make them sick. Clean dry litter provided for each flock promotes foot pad health, which means the birds will be up walking around their environment, eating, drinking, moving around the barn. Clean dry litter keeps humidity down, odors low and an environment that promotes strong, healthy birds, less susceptible to illness.
I suppose we could cut corners. We could have decided, “We don’t want to work today,” and not cleaned the barn, despite the predicted weather conditions. However, the quality of the end product, which is every turkey that goes to the plant, is impacted by each decision that is made along the entire production process.
In the end, it was a great day of spending time with two of our grandchildren living the life of farming. Our grandson Lawrence was thrilled be apprenticed as a litter hauler with Cory Feldewerd.
After the exciting ride in the loader, Lawrence got very busy with his own farm work. The video demonstrates that he is learning the lessons of farming.
All systems ran smoothly, the job was completed efficiently and we enjoyed the majority of Sunday as we would ordinarily. When we woke up to snow on Monday morning, it reinforced that we made the right decision. It is days like Sunday, that calls us to live out the farming values we hold in our heart, which is to make decisions every day, even Sundays, in our effort to produce a premium turkey for your family to enjoy.