Bob Blackmer

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since Jul 15, 2013
Currently managing livestock on a pastured farm. 11'000 broilers for the season, 2,000 layers, 250 hogs for the season, 200 laying ducks, 300 turkeys for the season. Anxiously waiting on cows.
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
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Recent posts by Bob Blackmer



Ensuring proper feeder height is always our first concern when dealing with feed waste, Next is ensuring quality of feed( ie; poor mixture, old and stale, contaminated?) But I agree, they get bored...
1 year ago
Flat on the back. Absolutely heart attack. If I see it happen or rigor hasn't set in it's absolutely dog/cat/pig food. I've never eaten one but mostly because chicken isn't hard to come by with the numbers I've raised. I've harvested injured birds and eaten the breast and given the rest to pigs, those that don't bleed well in that case, the meat can be soaked to work out the blood. And I swear offal from processing and losses in the field is what makes our compost so good
2 years ago
Mycoplasma hyosynoviae from the Pigsite link above is quite common in the environment. Many pigs are resistant. If treated with antibiotics quickly those pigs will finish just fine. If not, it will kill around 20% of those infected. All of our growers that we buy locally don't get it. Litters we have gotten two years in a row from out of state have been affected after we received them. Its too bad because they are such nice looking pigs, but the vet bill and cost of antibiotics the last two years really cuts into profitability.
2 years ago


This is Michael from Polyface Farm in Virginia. He is an Anatolian/Akbash cross. We have one of his brothers here in Rhode Island. Shepard. I've also met Michael and can say they both have much lighter coats than Pyrenees, which is what all of our other dogs are. We really don't have to brush Shepard out in the spring like we do the other dogs. We still do because he seems to enjoy it. Also he personally eats quite a bit less than the other dogs, but this may just be him. Shepard kind of loses it over thunderstorms and I know Michael will spend the whole night during a storm running around and barking. Shepard seems more scared by them, and Michael, challenging of the big noises. This all may just be individual to the dog though and not a trait of the cross.
2 years ago
Just a few questions. How many? What type? and why?

Things to consider.(with making an income in mind)

Generally very different nutritional needs. Standard broilers for example are VERY different from egg layers.

Putting chicks out from the brooder with fully grown layers could be a disaster.

Electric poultry netting works well, but a livestock guarding dog INSIDE that net is worth its weight in gold
2 years ago
I think growers should always have access to feed. Any bulk feeder you can come by. Something you can pretty easily keep track of their feed intake. As soon as you notice an increase in feed consumption(checking daily), it's time to move. They have eaten all the good stuff.(this will change as they grow) And generally haven't rooted too much yet. The only time this doesn't make sense is if you've made the paddocks too big and they are spending more than 3 weeks in one paddock. You want to try and stay ahead of most common parasite life cycles which is about 3 weeks. When its time to move, open the gate that you have already installed between the two adjoining paddocks and move the feeder, water, and shelter (if they have any). If they don't follow, leave the gate open and check on them later. They will most likely have moved. 10 pigs eat a lot. Even on pasture. They will grow slower and on less feed if you ration them, but it is something to consider.

As for fence. Double strand at pig height (nose and knee?) is the way to go. Galvanized steel is cheap, easy enough to bend by hand if you have to make a repair on the fly, and carries a good spark. Here's a list of links for products we use. Some you can probably find locally. I think the energizer is a must. They are simple and durable. If you go with a solar and battery set up it can be in the field up to 4 weeks without having to charge the battery. It also comes with an A/C plug.
Solar
posts
insulators
energizer
insulators
tester
gates

Other things to consider.

10 Hogs will lead to a pretty large processing bill unless you are doing them yourself. Keep that in mind.

If you are running this as a business, consider the difference in labor and even infrastructure of managing 30 egg layers as opposed to 100 or even more. Not too different. Your'e already there feeding them and collecting eggs. Whats a few more minutes?
2 years ago
In my opinion, it's not good that you have already had to back down from one of the dogs, but it sounds like you did it in the best way you could. That being said, being safe is very important, and I don't think this will be a long term problem. We have 5 LGDs. Mostly Great Pyrenees and a few crosses. All new workers on the farm are told not to approach the dogs without someone else who can confirm that they themselves are comfortable with that particular dog. (Each dog is contained with different groups of poultry and not free ranging on the farm) When we introduce new people to the dogs we always have those people feed them, which we do twice a day,(The people with the food are the good guys) and always have and experienced person with them. <~ read that as "respected dominant human". We never hit the dogs but all bad behavior (ie. growling/barking at farm employees, chasing chickens, eating chickens dead or alive) is met with a stern "No! Bad dog!" and we approach the dog and make them lay down. The people receive training as well. They are reminded that how you feel and act around animals affects them greatly. We tell them to stay calm and remain aware of the dogs at first but essentially just carry on with chores. If the dog approaches them we remind them to greet the dog (They all know there names) and allow themselves to be sniffed and even pet the dogs briefly to make a positive interaction. I feel this all works well within just a few days, depending on how often the person and the individual dog see each other. (We have a lot of part time help so this can take a few weeks) Remember that every dog is different. I personally had to have a few standoffs with our largest male when I first started the job. It was a little nerve racking but we worked it out. I made him lay down every time I fed him for quite a while. I wasn't comfortable reaching down to place his bowl on the ground if he was standing next to me.(Food guy = Good guy) Mostly our standoffs were a result of me having to correct bad behavior. Things like him guarding a single egg and chasing chickens. Another example is with our female. For a short while even after introduction, I tell new employees to try not to walk between her and myself while we are in the enclosure. I'm not sure whether she tries to protect me or just sees the opportunity to act up without me near by. But these are just examples of learning about individual dogs.

For yourself I recommend this.

Voice your concerns and don't let anyone brush them off as you over reacting.
Have the owner/dominant human with you at least once a day for feeding in order to correct bad behavior towards you.
You feed each dog.
Talk to each dog positively. Use their names. Do make eye contact.
Let them check you out/sniff you each day. Maybe give a quick pet on the head and then carry on with your work.
In a short while be ready to correct bad behavior, even towards you. They should react appropriately.

I hope this helps. If I think of anything else I will edit. Good luck. Don't get eaten
3 years ago
First, brooder problems happen. Determining the problem and fixing it is important to success. The Cornish are essentially race cars, fill them with what ever gas, park them on the lawn and don't change the oil and they will fail. Plain as that.

Second, they don't have many feathers to begin with. If your birds are gashing each other I would recommend increasing feeder space. 4" per bird. They're little fatties and they need some space.

As for feeding scarred birds to the dogs, I say Why!?! I'm sure you've put a lot of time and effort, not to mention money into those birds. That's some expensive $$ dog food! Learn how to bone out a chicken, and do that when you process. A scarred back doesn't look nice, but those breasts, (boneless, skinless or bone in) are still good. Not to mention wings, legs and thighs, necks, backs, and giblets for making stock! Then feed the rest to the dogs.

If you've got a dog that goes after chickens, you have a dog that goes after chickens...not a guard dog. Electric fence helps. Harsh maybe... but my dog knows it and stays away. That being said, the presence of any dog deters predators.

Grind up the carcasses and feed a raw chicken mush. This really isn't necessary, but my dog for example is far less inclined to bury the mush in my garden for a later snack, than she is to bury a carcass. The only concern I'd say is if you've never fed raw food before it may cause an upset stomach. Just feed sparingly I guess. Also, the raw bones are safe. Cooked, not so much unless you cook them till soft in which case I'd make sure the dog gets the broth too. Don't want to waste all the good nutrients. I've seen the ground carcasses baked into chicken cookies for dogs too.

If you take your birds to a USDA plant rather than processing them yourself, the inspector will make the call on weather its good to eat. You may get some birds back with one wing, no wings, legs missing, whatever. The rest is good. I assure you.

I have spent the last 5 years involved with and currently in charge of raising, processing, packaging, marketing, and selling anywhere between 9,000 and 14,000 broilers, with live stock guarding dogs fed solely a raw diet of mostly chicken(parts, organs, carcasses, and ground).

To sum it up, process and save what you can, feed the scraps to the dog. I realize I'm a bit late on this post. I work a lot and don't get on here much. :-/ I hope this helps.
3 years ago
Its not the cheapest option but we use nipple waterers. The ducks figure it out just fine. They still make a wet spot but not nearly as much. This guarantees fresh clean water to help prevent disease. And we occasionally give them a pool so they can clean their nasal passages and the rest of them selves.
3 years ago
Natasha, Any babies yet?
4 years ago