Welcome!

Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Hammond, Louisiana. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food.

Please follow the links in the top bar for more information on our products and their availability. Continue reading below for our blog where we detail the adventures of raisin' animals and whatnot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Underwater Chicken Chasing

I hear people say it all the time. "My dog hates getting wet." "My dog won't step in the mud." "My puppy just can't go out when it's raining." Those dogs wouldn't last five minutes around here!

It ain't pretty, and it ain't clean, but that's life around here these days.

On my weekly trip to the feed store today they were talking about the weather. About how it was going to storm and hail, and we might even have some tornadoes. I rushed home to put away the few hundreds of pounds of feed I'd picked up and start doing evening chores a little early.

Sure enough, I'd just gotten started tucking away the silkies and calling in the guineas when the sky opened up. The ducks started running around like fools, and the chickens ran for covered anywhere they could find it which for a lot of them was not a safe place to spend the night.

Thankfully, I'd brought my right-hand dog out to help with chores.

Tonight, with a lot of encouragement from me, Luna finally figured out how to move chickens. It finally clicked for her that she can really herd them if she is careful and slow and doesn't take her eyes off them for a second. One call of "Luna, get that chicken!" and she was off chasing wayward fowl back into their pens with almost no direction from me.

I swear she and I must have personally escorted each individual chicken into its pen. It took us a good 30 minutes to do what is normally a five minute job. Without Luna's help tonight I'd still be out there chasing chickens in the mud!



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Turkey is back on the menu!

A while ago we lost our last two turkey hens to predators. Not long after we decided to process our last big tom. He had gotten so big (over 40lbs!!) that he was starting to have trouble walking. He had also started getting aggressive with the dogs and with us. To top it all off, we are pretty sure that in the absence of female turkeys, he had taken to trying to mate with the guineas. This did not go so well for the guineas. 

This left us with a turkey free farm. No turkeys flying on buildings or running across the pastures to greet us everyday or sticking their big ugly beaks in our business. The guineas were left without a leader to follow around and spent many a day wandering around making all their wonderful guinea sounds.

 About a month ago, the lovely lady over at Happy Acres gave us a number of her Bourbon Red turkey eggs for hatching. After a month of very careful incubation, we ended up with 5 little poults.

The first couple days were a little nerve wracking. This little guy had what looked like wry neck. He just could not lift his head.

Another of the babies couldn't tell up from down and kept flopping onto her side and back over and over. It was hard to tell if it was a balance or a leg issue because she would lean to one side if set upright and pedal her legs in the air when tipped over.

We checked on the babies every few hours, righted the upside down poult, and started dripping diluted Nutri-Drench into their beaks. It took about a day and a half, but both little ones are much, much better now. A few days later and it's hard to tell who had the problems in the first place.

  Nova got to meet the new arrivals. She was being a very good farm dog and giving each one a good check up before laying down to just stare at them.

  We are keeping our fingers crossed that we get a good male to female ratio since we plan on keeping a small flock of this heritage breed for breeding. Apparently, it's almost impossible to vent sex young turkeys. Even the hatcheries don't seem to do it. 
  
  Maybe it's wishful thinking, but going by looks, I think we got one male and 4 females. This little guy was the only one born with a little lump just above his beak that will some day grow into a snood. He also has a little squarer head and darker coloring than all the others. If he turns out to be a tom, I've told the Big Onion that we should call him Butternut since Bourbon Reds were originally called Bourbon Butternuts, and I think that's just hilarious. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rabbit-topia

 The last litter of bunnies is getting bigger by the minute. Our two does, Clover and Zinny, finally have this mothering thing down. We ended up with litters of 8 and 9 from the two girls. Our rabbit tractors (mobile cages) just weren't built with those numbers in mind, so we decided to circle them with a bunch of x-pens and set up what I like to call Rabbit-topia. It's a big open fenced in area where the bunnies can run around and nibble at grass all day. They get tucked safely back into their tractors every night.

 It's so nice to watch the bunnies getting a chance to act like bunnies instead of being confined to a tiny cage with a wire floor for the entirety of their 12 week existence. They run around and bounce and play with each other all day. They are much calmer and more curious about the world around them as well.

  With so many rabbits in one area, the fencing gets moved just about every day. As you can see in this pic, the chickens are very helpful in scratching at any piled up dropping to spread them and help fertilize the pasture.

  The only problem we've run into with this system is the goats. Of course they are curious about this new thing in their field. I've actually gone out more than once to find Josie IN the enclosure. Once she had bent the fencing, and there were escaped bunnies everywhere. I'm sure the neighbors got a chuckle out of watching me round up 10+ bunnies on the loose, but I managed it somehow.

 The most recent time Josie pushed her way into the bunny area, she was so mad that she couldn't get back out that I found her flipping bunnies with her horns. Not trying to hurt them, just venting her frustrations in some bizarro retelling of Little Bunny Foo Foo by scooping each bunny with her horns and tossing it onto it's back.

  Every morning the rabbits get a buffet style breakfast of pellets and alfalfa. From this group, we will probably pick out one more breeder doe, bringing out total to four.

  Right now we are doing some research on keeping our breeding females in a colony style setup on the group that would look similar to the setup above. The only big difference is that does like to dig burrows, so we will have to find a way to keep them from digging into the ground. With the high water table in this area, bunnies born underground would surely drown with the slightest rain.

Until then, we'll keep doing what we can to make sure our bunnies lead a happy life.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The search for the Holy Grail ... of meat chickens


Last year we blogged about an experiment in raising our own meat chickens. The results were good, but not great. Our plans, however, came to halt when our lovely rooster, Fernando, met an untimely end to a predator. I'd like to discuss this some more, and outline some of our plans for the near future.