Apparently the beef price is about to go up by 60%. Ours is not moving.
The reason our egg price is going up is that our input costs have gone up whereas on the beef side our production costs have remained the same. First I will elaborate on the beef and then the eggs below. There are going to be lots of photos with plenty of witty comments so don’t torture yourself and try to read this on a phone screen.
We grow grasses and legumes in our multi species pastures. Inspired by Joel Salatin and Allan Savory. It is not costing us any more to grow grass this year than it has in years before. In fact we are using less water as we are upping the Carbon content of our soils. Our beef is carbon negative. Click here if you want to know what that means. We also use the free choice mineral lick system. We butcher all our beef on our farm under the supervision of 71 year old meat maestro Spencer Nicholls.
There are many folk who claim to be selling grass fed beef but their input costs are all going up and so they, like the confinement/grain fed producers, will be upping their prices soon. This happens when you feed chicken manure, molasses, sent distillers grain, urea, finish your cattle on grain and use growth hormones. There is a local laboratory that is very close to being able to test for Glyphosate. Once this is available their grass fed claims will easily be put to the test as all the foods that they feed these so called grass fed animals, even their favourite chicken manure, will contain Glyphosate which will then be in the meat. I wrote a short essay on Glyphosate here. It is a carcinogen consumed daily by all South Africans.
Above is my Limousin bull. I will be selling my first bulls later this year. His sons. The rationale for buying Limousin is that your income (the calf) will be higher whereas your expense (the cow) will stay the same.
If you want to know how to get hold of our beef products then click at the top right of the page on BUY MEAT.
The input costs that have gone up for the egg operation are both related to the 100% non GMO laying mash that supplements what they graze on the pastures. A month ago we started feeding them what I have been trying to source for 4 years. Dried maggots from the genuises at Agriprotein. These guys are taking 100 tons of Cape Town’s daily food waste and turning it into nutritious fly larvae. It will hopefully take the place of fishmeal, which is so widely used in animal feed, and hence reduce the pressure on already overfished oceans. These larvae don’t come cheap. In fact they are priced in Euros. I will no longer be needing sunflower and canola as protein sources. I have never had fishmeal in my feed rations.
The second part of the input cost increase relates to our maize. We are migrating to organic maize and the story that follows is how we will be receiving this maize next month. It is certified year 1 in conversion to organic.
Converting to organic is an expensive process. I have witnessed it first hand on Spier Home Farm where I have been helping the conversion of the vineyards since 2009. Costs initially spike but then come down every year after the third year.
The man destined to become South Africa’s first certified organic maize grower is Bertie Coetzee (they have just launched the most awesome website but to get to that link you will have to read on as once you get onto their website you will not be coming back to mine). Bertie is South Africa’s version of Dave Brandt, albeit thinner, younger and hairier. The Coetzee’s farm near Prieska which is 900kms from us in Stellenbosch.
First, we went hunting with him on their farm in August 2015. Luckily our then 9 year old shot a blesbok at 250 metres which impressed Bertie enough to take the risk on our family.
The next step was to get Bertie and Alette to come and meet the hens on our farm to understand how serious they are about eating organic maize.
I agreed to pay Bertie what he would have received had he planted conventional/chemical/NPK maize.
I also lent him some of my books. For once I am the one with neater hair…
The next step was for Bertie to apply manure and gypsum a month before rolling down the covercrop and planting the maize into the rolled down covercrop. Bertie had two reasons for this. First, manure is a slow release and second, Nitrogen can escape if spread onto bare soil. The covercrop had also been no till planted and so there were three layers, maize stubble/manure/green manure, in other words lasagne compost style.
At this stage it is worth trying to understand that this is a very different way from the normal way of planting maize. It is planted into bare soil and then fed with artificial fertilisers that burn up soil carbon and then sprayed with a range of toxic chemicals, the most common being the micro nutrient chelator and carcinogen Glyphosate.
Bertie then had equipment specifically made up to enable him to plant or drill the seed into the big green sward of covercrop.
The massive roller below crimps or crushes the covercrop and then behind the tractor is the actual planter with the blades above cutting the green sward to enable the planting trench to be made and the seed to be dropped into the trench.
Now follows a series of photos showing the planted in action, Bertie’s supervisor (his dog) and a maize kernel perfectly planted.
The actual growing of the maize went well except for the porcupines which ate, by Bertie’s reckoning, enough seed for an extra 2 tons per hectare of yield. This problem of creating good food is a common one for organic farmers as even the wild animals know that this food is tastier than the conventionally produced version. Below are photos up until recently.
Bertie is already working on the next planting and he is getting help from the best friend any farmer could have, earthworms.
I did promise you the link to the Coetzee farming enterprise which is here.
Egg price increases vary from 5% to 12% depending on what the size of the eggs are.
Tangentially you would be well served to acquaint yourself with the fraud that goes on regarding egg sizes.
Harvesting of the maize took place yesterday and today and so from next month the maize component of our laying mash will be Bertie’s mielies/maize/corn.
18 May 2016