Articles

Livestock Challenges

The Coppell Farmers Market ranchers and farmers bring meats or products from six different livestock animals: cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, and goats. The growers described similar and unique difficulties to overcome in growing the varied livestock.

After acquisition of an appropriately sized area of land for the breed, the pasture, paddock, or pen must furnish safety against predators. Coyotes are a problem for all of these species, including the young of the larger animals, but those receive protection from the larger members of the herd. Goats, however, must have additional protection. Latte Da Dairy uses livestock guardian dogs to keep coyotes away. These canines are also successful in deterring theft of baby goats by humans.

Venomous snakes are another threat mentioned by the Dairy. Commonly found snakes like copperheads are usually killed. Endangered species like the pygmy rattler must be caught and relocated.

Chickens must have coop protection for roosting at night without attack from ground animals like coyotes, foxes, or raccoons, or air threats like owls. Two ranchers use portable coops to give chickens continual new pasturage during the day with inside night protection. Another lets them roam free all day across acreage under the trees, but a small amount of chicken scratch thrown out in the evening brings them home from afar to be penned in a coop house. If the coop house door isn’t opened, they will roost in trees and be susceptible to owls. Chicken snakes can get past all of these barriers and must be caught or dispatched when found in the coop as they will eat chicks or eggs.

A more recent issue has been feral hogs. These large animals can quickly destroy a pasture, tear down fencing, and may even cross breed with the pigs a rancher is raising. They are dangerous to contend with but must be removed for the safety of the livestock.

All of these animals need access to shade during the heat of a summer day, so pastures and paddocks have scattered trees across the acreage of prairie grasses and wildflowers. One more challenge mentioned by one of our producers is government regulations. These must be strictly followed. Dairies are inspected. Foods must be produced in a USDA inspected facility. Meats other than chicken must be commercially processed. Chickens must be processed following careful procedures and immediately refrigerated or frozen. Current laws do not allow raw milk to be sold away from the farm where it is produced. Arrangements may be made with a farmer for farm pickup of raw milk.

All meats and eggs brought to the market are kept in freezers or refrigeration run on electricity and approved and inspected by the City of Coppell to meet temperature requirements.

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