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Fact or Fiction? Barnyard Myths Exposed

| 9/25/2012 10:56:28 PM

Just when you think you’ve heard just about every farm myth imaginable, someone goes and gets creative. Between our own farm and those of our parents, we have just about every “common” barnyard critter imaginable, and a few not so common ones. We love getting inquiries from those on the brink of starting a farm, those with an incredible desire to get back to a more self sufficient lifestyle but without the knowledge and confidence level to take that first leap. Through the years we have helped people interested in chickens, pigs, sheep, alpacas, and turkeys begin their own operations. Our philosophy has always been to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The good, bad, ugly, stinky, and totally disgusting truth. Anything less would not be fair to these people depending on us for “real” knowledge. Not the prettied up, well dressed, rose scented version of the truth that may guarantee us a sale. The great side of this is we sleep well each night with a clear conscious. The down side is we do occasionally walk away without a sale. Even then we manage to leave those we have talked to with more knowledge and skill than they came with.

It should be the goal of every person involved in an agricultural practice (or any industry for that matter) to do the same. Occasionally however, bad information gets thrown into the mix. This isn’t always done purposely or with malicious intent, but the effects are no less devastating. We have heard some good ones lately, and I’d just like to share a few now.

Poultry There are several things I commonly hear or get asked about poultry that just aren’t true.

You have to have a rooster to get eggs. We recently had a woman tell us how badly she wished she could keep some backyard chickens. I asked her if they were not allowed in her area, and she said that roosters were restricted. She had been told that meant her family could not keep chickens for eggs because hens had to have a rooster. This is simply not true! Hens will lay eggs regardless of a roosters presence. However without a rooster they will not be fertile, meaning no baby chicks. But by all means folks, buy you a few hens! Everyone should have at least a few hens in their back yard to eat their kitchen scrapes and make nutritional eggs for the family. Why buy nutritionally lacking grocery store eggs when you could raise your own nutrient packed eggs from a beautiful backyard flock instead?

   Americauna Rooster

If you raise turkeys with chickens they will all die. We raise turkeys, chickens, guineas, ducks, and are starting with geese. It amazes our visitors that our turkeys, chickens, and guineas are all raised together. And it simply blows their minds that they are all raised in a pasture, scratching and scavenging amongst sheep. Why is this so shocking? This is how it used to be done! Over the last 50 years though we have migrated away from integrated livestock and entered a world of monoculture agriculture. This is true for fruits, vegetables, and livestock. When we first got started with turkeys we were told be several seasoned farmers to absolutely NOT let our turkeys get near our chickens or they would all die. I was terrified! Apparently it is a common belief that mingling turkeys with chickens will lead to an almost immediate outbreak of disease quickly followed by death. I am well aware of the Black Head disease. And I do not doubt that it is a deadly disease that strikes turkeys. However, it is possible to successfully raise healthy chickens and turkeys together. I don’t think this, I know this. We have proven it, and others like us have done so as well. We have never had a single turkey drop dead after a rendezvous with a chicken. On the contrary, we have had the most success with our young turkeys when they are hatched and raised with several chicken friends. Chicks are smarter than turkey poults, plain and simple. While chicks figure out the feed, water, heating, and bedding system rather quickly turkey poults will still be cocking their heads from side to side trying to figure out what these things are. As the chicks go about their normal chicky business, the poults will observe and copy their behavior. The result is fewer dead poults from stupidity. We always leave these few chicks in with our poults as they mature. The result is adult 40 lb. turkeys roaming around the barnyard with their little 6 lb chicken friends side by side in harmony. Fighting or picking on the chickens does not occur to our turkeys, because they see them as buddy’s instead of intruders.

11/21/2018 9:52:46 PM

Are people getting Alpacas confused with Llamas for "protectors"? Llamas, from what I've heard, are more aggressive than Alpacas, but if you really want a good protector, you really need a good Livestock Guardian Dog.

Suzanne Cox
11/8/2012 4:08:32 AM

Oh I love those dogs! Thankfully we have never seen a bear nearby. I have heard rumors though that they have been spotted close to my parents, and they have pyrenees with their alpacas. So hopefully that won't be a future issue!

Lisa - Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl
10/1/2012 7:03:04 PM

The alpacas next door are protected by two Burmese Mountain Dogs I think our neighbors told us. We have coyotes and foxes roaming and the occasional bear sighting.

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