To say that the weather has been particularly unforgiving to farms in the past few years would be an understatement. Though some rain has brought relief to Texas, national conditions, by all accounts, are at their worst in about 50 years. In mid July, The National Climatic Data Center reported that 55 percent of the continental United States was experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions.
After several long hot summers, most of the nation’s farmers are also facing a feed shortage. This translates to higher feed and production costs. These conditions are less than ideal, and their effects can be felt all the way to the grocery store checkout line.
The girls at Onion Creek farm in Austin, Texas also feel the effects of the drought. Extreme heat can be stressful for a chicken, which has a negative impact on their health and productivity. An overheated hen will see a reduced feed to egg ratio, and some will stop laying all together. Our farmers are doing everything possible to create a comfortable lifestyle for the girls. The two most important things for their safety are shade and plenty of water.
At our Texas farms, the girls enjoy the natural shelter of the mesquite trees that grow on their pasture. We supplement this with several man-made roosts, protected from the sun by shade cloth strung from above. Most of their water is delivered on demand through an automatic dispenser. Farmers at Onion Creek work hard to supplement their daily water supply by hand filling many extra water dishes throughout the day. (Chickens don’t have sweat glands, so they can be seen panting, open-beaked, in the pastures). All of this, combined with the extra feeding and attention the girls need through the heat has made for a busy summer.
With the climbing costs of feed, and the weather’s continuing lack of cooperation, overall food costs are being driven up across the nation. Inevitably, consumers will soon see price increases. The price of corn especially will continue to increase and in turn will bring our total feed cost through the roof. We have already received increases throughout the year and we just had another bump in price last week. Rest assured, we are doing everything possible to keep prices reasonable, while continuing to delivery quality produce. Thanks for your understanding and support through this long hot summer!