Sometime in April/May of this year, the thieves came and stole most of our good producing layer chickens (500-600). This happened quickly, yet so insidiously, we are still in half shock and half denial.
"How could we not have seen this?" Apparently, we were not the only farm that was targeted, but "free range" chickens with no closed gates and padlocks were obviously easy targets for an experienced group of thieves to come in the middle of the night, and grab them 50-100 at a time. By the time we realized that our egg production was down drastically (systematically in increments of 50-100 eggs), the damage was done. In all 20 years of raising chickens, this has never happened. We are used to losing some to eagles or coyotes, but this one, done by humans, was stealthy and lethal. We talked to one other farmer, whose 200 broilers got stolen right out of his field. He thinks they come in a group with large garbage cans in a truck, grab them in a matter of minutes (they are defenseless at night on the perch) and are killed quickly and sold at an underground soup chicken market. He thinks he even saw a post of his chickens on Craig's list! The police have a suspect (yes even the name), but so far he is still at large for lack of evidence. With so many other problems in the area, I doubt our egg thief is high on their list.
Of course they stole the young ones that just started to lay eggs, which took us 6 months of feed to get to that stage. My book keeper estimates the loss of revenue through October is anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000 without including what it took to raise them.
This hit us in the busiest hay season, working from dawn to dark, we really didn't have time to re-act, or even feel angry; we just felt defeated and heart broken Now at the end of August, we are finally slowing down enough to analyze the damage and re-group our chicken program. The loss was big, and we seriously thought about quitting eggs all together. Then we thought about all of our customers who came faithfully to buy our eggs and stand in line to do so. Right. We can't quit.
So here is our plan: We are moving 2 of our houses closer to our store, building/repairing parameter fences, installing motion sensor lights, putting pad locks on the gates, and looking into installing a security camera system. We have purchased 500 chicks to replace the stolen ones, which will hopefully begin laying in late October, early November.
It's difficult to come up with funds to rebuild the flock and put in security system when we are already experiencing a large loss of revenue. So, encouraged by many customers' suggestions, we are asking for some financial assistance to come up with the funds needed to rebuild our flock. We have never done this, so we really don't know what to expect, but we will be grateful with whatever the amount you can help us with.
Est. Replacement Cost (does not include the actual revenue loss)
Chicks (500) $ 1,400
Feed (until laying-6 months) $18,000
Security system $ 1,500
Labor (feeding only) $ 6,000
Total cost until production $27,900
Now an Empty chicken house
1 of 2 houses moving closer to the house
Close to houses (dogs). Now repairing fences, put in fence post for new padlocks, leveling the ground.
What do we need to keep you girls safe??