How would you recommend I get started?

Mini Horses

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farmerjan said:
this is something that you can't just say, "i'm staying in the house today" cuz it's muddy or freezing or too hot or something.
And TRUST ME -- there ARE days you just want to stay in! :D
 

babsbag

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One of my biggest fears is getting sick, even with something simple. I could find a friend to come over and toss feed for a few days but there is NO ONE that can do the milking. Even though I have a husband the dairy and the farm are ALL MINE; he wouldn't even know where to start. I will be in a world of hurt if the day ever comes that I can't go out and milk.
 

ReluctantFarmer

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Since you mentioned chickens a couple of times, here is what a full time chicken operation looks like around here. You’ll most likely buy and sell to Tyson. It’s tough, dirty work in the chicken houses. From what I hear, you end up just basically working for the corporate machine and you take all the risks. There is a pretty high initial investment. Same if you run a turkey house. I’d take the advise of @farmerjan and visit one of theses places to see if it is for you. Also, yo hablo espanol?

This should give you an idea of the capital investment and some of the recommended facilities.

Northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri have a lot of farms setup similar to this. On the plus side, you get to live in the Ozark hills and be your own boss.

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Latestarter

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Latestarter

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I was born here and will probably die here. While I hate our politics I love our weather. I have looked at other states and they are either too humid, too cold, or too wet. But when CA runs out of water I might have to leave.
I know Babs :hugsJust would really love to have you as a "neighbor" and while I know there's virtually no way you'll leave CA, you know there's equally no way most of us would ever willingly move there. Waaaaay to much govt control and sheer stupidity.
 

farmerjan

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A few things about the "commercial poultry industry". Many of my dairy farmers have a house or two on their farms. Here in Va it is more common to only have one or two, rather than 4 or 6 or more. Partially in this area due to the land ( alot of rolling hills and alot of underlying rock). Many got into it for the value of the poultry litter as fertilizer. Litter sells here for about $30/ ton... and we use quite a bit of it. The thing is, there were so many built in the county north of here, that the ground is actually getting too much phosphorous; and that is what leaches out into ground water and causes algae blooms and other problems. Too much of a good thing and all that.
There are alot of them being put up right now here. There is a shortage of "hen houses", that produce the chicks for the broiler houses. And since there is this huge thing about eating chicken because it is supposed to be healthier for you, there is a great demand.
If you start from scratch, and get through all permits and such, and no opposition from neighbors, and you decide to do broilers instead of turkeys, you will have about 500,000 invested per house. Broilers turn over every 40-42 days, so about every 2 months you have a new houseful of birds. There is daily checking, walking the floors, picking up dead birds. And yes, there will always be dead birds. You will get anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 all depending to the size house you put up. It is all computer controlled and it ties into your smart phone, so if an alarm goes off, you get immediate notice. That means you will have to be available 24/7 or have someone else who is if you are gone.
If you go turkeys, they are raised to different sizes, from light hens all the way to heavy toms. That is decided by the company when you put the house up and what you sign up for. Again, about $500,000 per house. They will stay for anywhere from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.... Turkeys are much "harder on the equipment, the toms are rough and the big ones can get mean and you can get hurt....bruises are the norm for someone with toms.
There is a greater return on the toms, slower turnover, but there is alot more upkeep and maintainence on equipment. And you will be REQUIRED to do certain updates etc by the company.
Average payback time on a house is a 15 year note. The companies here are only signing a 7 year guarantee contract.... so if you have some lousy flocks that don't gain, other problems, and all that, you could lose your contract after 7 years and still have 7 years left to pay on the note. By the end of 15 years, the turkey houses will need some definite repairs/replacing of equipment.
The broilers are easier on equipment. You don't make as much, and they turnover much quicker so the less per "house" makes it up in the "more houses" you raise. So a little more work... but less to fix...
A hen house is a little different, you get ready to lay pullets, and they pick up the eggs twice a week from you for setting to hatch. You have to collect eggs at least twice daily.... and you get paid on the eggs... quality and quantity. Turnover once a year.

You don't "buy the chicks or poults" per se.... the company supplies them, and you get paid after they go out. It is a comparison thing, but it basically is rate of gain compared to feed consumed, figuring in the total death loss and all other small things; like any sickness, bad legs.... there's alot to consider. You work for the company, and as long as they hold the note, and you are under contract, you have to basically do as they say. Some people do great at it, some don't. It seems that once the house is paid for, if you have done a good job at it, and they want to keep you, they want you to "upgrade" the house.... so you are spending more money.
The good thing, if you have the land, getting a poultry contract is a good way for someone to get started because the financing is all inhouse, or they help you secure it elsewhere because they are guaranteeing there is a market for the product. But if there is anything like the "avian flu" or something, you could be wiped out and the house sits empty for months at a time.

LOTS to consider.
 

Senile_Texas_Aggie

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Well, Mr. @Doug M, has everyone scared you enough? ;) The farming profession is a high failure rate, capital intensive profession if you try to do it full-time, as the above folks made clear. But it can be a rewarding profession. You might enjoy watching some YouTube videos of some real-life farmers. One of the ones I watched extensively was Stony Ridge Farmer in North Carolina. Both he and his wife work(-ed?) full-time jobs, which is what provides the income to enable them to get their farm going and growing. But there are a bunch of others that doing full-time for a living. I would be VERY reluctant to go deeply in debt to get started in farming -- financial stress is tremendous -- and suicide among farmers is quite a bit higher than among the general population.

So the ideas of working at a farm for room and board sounds like a good plan to me. You get the experience without having to go into debt and you get to see what it is really like to be a farmer.

Good luck.

Senile Texas Aggie
 
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