One factor that seems to be fairly typical for the locality is the great
hatred that the people in general have for farms and farmers, organic or
otherwise. Until fairly recently the majority of the population lived a
rural life, scraped the soil some bit to grow potatoes or managed some life
The pendulum has swung the other way with a vengeance here. And I know of no
other people that has removed itself so far from basic ecological knowledge.
Very few 18 year olds are able to see the connection between potatoes and
French fries or between cows, milk, cheese and butter.
There are some stranger aspects to this. A good while ago I met a teacher in
an elementary school. The man was complaining about the price of goats milk
in brick packs from the supermarket that he had to get for a skin problem of
his little son. I told him that he could have fresh goats milk from our farm
at half the price. We only saw him once. The man was so disgusted when he
noticed that female goats actually have "beards" that he gave up goats milk
Or the two female visitors who had heard that our sow had farrowed and who
wanted to have a look at the piglets. The piglets were cute enough at first.
But then their 400 kg mother threw herself on her side with a grunt.
Wriggled a bit to expose her swollen breast even more. (looks of horror at
this stage) When the twelve squealing porkers dived in for a feed, the
visitors screamed as well and departed soonest without saying goodbye.
I could give a hundred more examples but you probably get the drift.
It is not so much that people are vegetarians, but locally, naturally,
organically produced are often counter sales arguments.
There is a local cook who buys some of our animals but he can not look at
meat until the butcher has chopped it up into bits that are unrecognizable
as anatomical parts.
Even farmers suffer from selective blindness. A few years ago the market
price for lamb was way below cost. This farmer sold 50kg lambs in the local
mart for £16 per head. Then he walked into the local butcher and spent £17
on a small leg of lamb. He knew he was being done in the mart but he found
the butchers price quite reasonable.
Also all the laws and regulations are aimed at keeping a distance between
primary producer and final consumer.
It's an uphill struggle.
----- Original Message -----
From: David Stanley <email@example.com>
To: John D'hondt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2000 12:17 PM
Subject: RE: sanet-mg-digest V1 #1760
> Are the economics of organic meat production also affected by the
> of your pool of customers who do eat meat. Most organic customers in my
> neck of the woods seem to be at least ovo/dairy vegetarians. Is the
> proportion of meat buying organic customers significantly lower than the
> meat buying proportion of non-organic customers? Can you get non-organic
> seeking customers looking for better flavor or some other noticeable
> quality? If so, it must be extra difficult to market meat as opposed to
> living-animal biproducts like eggs, cheese and wool. Perhaps in most cases
> it would be prohibitive for the enterprise to provide anything more than
> meat for the household, partially or entirely offset by outside sales.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: email@example.com
> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of John D'hondt
> Sent: Wednesday, May 03, 2000 8:02 PM
> To: sanet
> Subject: Fw: sanet-mg-digest V1 #1760
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: John D'hondt <email@example.com>
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 3:54 AM
> Subject: Re: sanet-mg-digest V1 #1760
> > Hi Tom,
> > My figures are all around me. A near neighbor of ours weans his lambs at
> > days. His ewes are sponged so the lambing is concentrated in about one
> > in mid January.
> > After four days his lambs go in a shed and are further fed on creep feed
> > later silage.
> > More than half his lambs have already been send to the Mart, weighing 45
> > or over.
> > It would make sense to look at food conversion rates here ( although I
> > have any figures for this at hand ) but it would not be useful in a
> > system like ours. Our ewes lamb over a period of about a month and a
> > And they rear their lambs for as long as it takes outside on grass with
> > little extra ration thrown in by us. If the weather is bad they don't
> > much weight at all.They need everything they get just to keep warm And
> > the weather is good you can see them holding races for hours, around and
> > around the field, from time to time practicing the high jump and holding
> > mock fights. That must cost a lot of food energy as well.
> > Compare that with the behavior of my neighbors lambs : those stand up to
> > and lie down to chew the cud. They are packed close enough together to
> > the temperature in the stable high and they can't move much, no space.
> > Prices at the moment are up to £28 with the kilo. Meaning that a 40 kg
> > will make £68 and a 50 kg lamb £78.
> > My lambs reach slaughter weight around August. When conventional prices
> > typically drop to at least £5 below the £/kg. A conventional lamb of 40
> > then making £35. With my organic mark up I should get about £42 but then
> > they have to be send to an abattoir about ten hours traveling away. They
> > not arrive there in best condition. I quite often end up by selling my
> > certified organic lamb as conventional.
> > There is an other aspect to this story. From August onward the ewes come
> > naturally back in season. After they have had an encounter with the ram
> > seem not to miss the loss of their lambs that much. And we never sell
> > last one. We always keep our own replacements. From this it is obvious
> > sheep know one another very well. They know who their grand mothers and
> > aunts are. I respect their feelings as much as I can.
> > The same goes for fowl. Only here the legal aspects are often
> > insurmountable.
> > I can't go explaining all of this in detail. But legally a free-range
> > has to have a personal space in the barn of about 2 feet square. There
> > should not be more than 2000 in the barn together and there needs to be
> > hole in the side of the barn through which the birds can reach the "wild
> > outdoors", usually a plot of fenced in waste land. In practice the vast
> > majority of free range birds never make it outside before their time is
> > I may be a bit out with the exact figures but I know that in organic
> > range the numbers in the house are limited to 500.
> > I know one quite big organic producer near us who is actually giving
> > away for free because he found it impossible to have them killed
> > There is a shortage of certified organic factories. There is one more
> > days traveling away and there they are not interested in small numbers
> > few hundred only.
> > Our situation is much crazier. We lock our birds up at night (foxes,
> > mink,etc.) but further they are really living outside. They can travel
> > at least a mile if they so wish. And they are supposed to provide the
> > majority of their own food. We use no incubator. Hens and ducks hatch
> > their own eggs. We feed them twice a day with a freshly made mixture of
> > grains , tubers, with milk or whatever. We have never actually weighed
> > food we give them or calculated the calories. If the weather is bad they
> > more, if they look very hungry they get more. We keep an eye on laying,
> > condition and behavior to adjust the amount of food.
> > Again, the time factor is important. One of our hens hatched out 8
> > days ago(which makes her a borderline case for the pot, we like to see
> > come out) and they have now some difficulty of getting under their
> > They have a life expectancy of at least another 280 days or so.
> > And that is not so different from other organic producers who keep
> > mostly outdoors.
> > One problem is that our birds do not seem to fit into any legal
> > problem since my family would not eat any other type bird. We sell only
> > few and then only to people who know what they are doing and we barter a
> > more.
> > There is more demand for our eggs than we are prepared to produce. For
> > thing it is always a living creature that is involved in producing the
> > and if we were to maximize our output there would be times in the year
> > we would have to start thinking of the hens as commodities, laying
> > to be dumped after use. A hen that does well can look forward to a few
> > in our place.
> > This will have to do for now,
> > John
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: tom abeles <email@example.com>
> > To: John D'hondt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Sent: Monday, May 01, 2000 3:24 PM
> > Subject: Re: sanet-mg-digest V1 #1760
> > > hi John
> > >
> > > these are very nice figures that I have not seen before. Do you have a
> > source?
> > > What also interests me is the conversion ratio on the eggs and meat.
> > they
> > > the same in organic, non-organic- eg pounds of feed/pound of gain. I
> > not
> > > seen this type of analysis because most of my experience is with the
> > production
> > > of crops which don't have the time advantage you define.
> > >
> > > thank you
> > >
> > > tom abeles
> > >
> > > John D'hondt wrote:
> > >
> > > > Just a few remarks,
> > > >
> > > > I see just about everybody taking it for granted that organic
> > make
> > > > more money/profit. What is happening around me however does not
> > this
> > > > way.
> > > > How many eggs does a battery hen produce in a day with a two hours
> > /
> > > > two hours dark cycle + chemical stimulation? 5 or more on average?
> > Against
> > > > less than one for mine.
> > > > An industrial broiler reaches slaughter weight 41 days after
> > my
> > > > system it takes at least 8 times as long to reach the same weight.
> > > > Forced lambs of less than three months old and weighing 50 kg+ are
> > making
> > > > very good money in our local sales today. By the time that my
> > lamb
> > > > reaches slaughter weight in another four months or so, prices
> > drop
> > > > by half.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
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