Shane Gorter

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since Feb 11, 2014
I am an organic livestock farmer in NW Washington State. I raise pastured broilers, turkeys, hens, muscovy ducks, and I have a rabbitry. We also have Saanen dairy goats for our own personal milk consumption.
Everson, WA
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Recent posts by Shane Gorter

Kim Arnold wrote:Fair enough. I enjoy dandelion root tea. Hope you enjoy it as a "coffee." Looking forward to your report!

I finished roasting my first batch of dandelion roots last night/early am. I went a bit overboard apparently as I filled a 5 gallon bucket with roots and it took a long time to finish the roast. The coffee has a bit of a bite to it and wouldn't replace my daily coffee, but if the health benefits are anything near what is being talked about online I will keep drinking it. I have tried it with both diary butter and coconut butter so far, but I feel I need to play around with it a bit before actually coming up with an opinion. I personally can not drink it as dark as recommended on a few youtube videos, and my coffee ground limit is the point of over flowing the filter. Thanks for the idea!
4 years ago

Kim Arnold wrote: " Unfortunately I can not grow my own coffee otherwise I would be set." Quote from Shane

Two thoughts about that. First, I've seen some mini coffee plants that are supposed to produce well. They may fit in a greenhouse or something like that.

My other thought was that you can probably grow chicory and dandelions. Their roots can be dried, roasted, and used as a coffee substitute. I've heard different things from people about whether or not they are GOOD substitutes. But you can still fix the brew with butter like people are doing with real coffee. I tried it today with burdock root and, for the first time ever, enjoyed the burdock root tea!

I hadn't made the connection between this kind of diet making it possible to pretty much provide everything you need, but you're right. That's really cool!

I would probably need to fill a few greenhouses full of coffee plants to keep up with my consumption.

I have read about chicory in the past, but what really got my attention is the dandelion because I have fields full of them. The dandelion does not have caffeine so it wont be a replacement, but listed under benefits is increased bile production which helps digest fat. I am going to have to blend up a bunch of fat with some dandelions coffee and report back.
4 years ago
I picked up a couple American Guinea Hogs (AGH) last year and will slaughter them probably in the next month or so. I have noticed a lot of variation in the AGH lines and when I talked to the breeder I bought mine from she said many lines have been crossed with larger hogs to increase their size. I can typically spot it in the snout, AGH have really short snouts and some of the hogs being marketed as AGH do not. The two hogs I purchased did not root up the soil at all, except in the middle of winter when the pasture was gone. These hogs graze on grass like sheep! I was highly sceptical about the claims which is why I bought two barrows to start with, but sure enough they graze on grass all day. All I have to do to fatten them up is give them some skim or soured goat milk each day and they convert it nearly straight to lard. I have raised market hogs in the past and these guys are like an entirely different species of animal. There temperament is extremely calm and docile.

Also in my opinion those Idaho Pasture Pigs are a cross of Kune Kune and AGH. I can see the colouring of the Kune Kune in almost every example I have seen, but with a lot more black. I saw a few pictured from the front that looked just like an AGH in the face. Crossing two lines of pasture pigs might make a really excellent breed. I am not a purest myself when it comes to genetic lines as they commonly get wore out from excessive inbreeding.
4 years ago

Cj Sloane wrote:
I didn't give up sugar till I explored Permaculture, Peak oil, Paleo diets and so on.

I personally gave up sugar and grains as they were making sick, tired, and fat. The keto diet opened my eyes to the fact that I can produce nearly all my families food on our small farmstead. The key is grass based dairy animals for the fat and protein and a garden of greens for the carbs. Unfortunately I can not grow my own coffee otherwise I would be set.
4 years ago
Hi Jace, Many of us who drink bulletproof coffee do so to keep our blood glucose levels down so that our bodies will stay in fat burning mode "ketosis" and adding sugar to the coffee defeats that purpose. If you are looking for a quick breakfast and health is not a concern I think you have a good recipe. I would highly recommend not drinking sugar as it is a quick way to type 2 diabetes and/or obesity. I personally do not feel that the sugar is necessary as the egg does not impact the flavor much and with a little butter if makes a nice smooth breakfast coffee. I really appreciate the your suggestion as I would have never considered putting an egg in my coffee otherwise.
4 years ago
I have been drinking butter coffee for many years now and I doubt I will ever go back to milk or cream. I had never heard of egg coffee so I just threw a raw egg into a mason jar of coffee and blended it up with two tablespoons of butter. It does not alter the flavour in my dark coffee very much and does mellow out the bite. I am going to have to experiment if adding the egg makes me hungry earlier in the day. With just fat in my coffee I usually can go until 1-2pm with out food and not feel the least bit hungry. Thanks for the idea Jace!
4 years ago
Hi Tyler,
Sorry for the slow reply on this one. I do not know who came up with the one egg per chicken per day rule, but it is not a good rule. If you get the hybrid birds you might get 5-6 eggs a week, but only if you are feeding them a lot of grain. In my experience the hybrids are bred to convert grain to eggs and are lousy on pasture. The heritage breed I run is the black austerlorp. They consistently give me 4 eggs on average a week and require much less grain per egg than the hybrids. If your going to try and have forage based chickens I would not expect more than 3-4 eggs a week on average, the birds cycle so you will have peaks and valleys. I would aim high on the egg product and then you can always sell the eggs/layer or use the eggs to feed another livestock.

I do not use the sqft model for chickens at all. The organic inspectors talley those numbers, but for me they are near useless outside of a confined feeding operation. You will be able to tell if your birds have enough room by their temperament and condition. I always give them way more room than necessary because I can, but smaller area moved frequently will work as well. If you do not have enough space the birds will start pecking each other, but if your trying to have them forage your space will need to be as large as you can protect from predators.

I do not own any of the 100' sections, but those 165' stretches sure are heavy and awkward to deal with. If you do not have enough land to put away winter forage plan on a sacrifice lot. I live in the Pacific NW with fairly mild winters so I can get away with move my 3x165' electronet padock once every three weeks with out damaging the pasture. If your confined to smaller area I would sacrifice a lot to be left dormant during the growing season and protect the rest of your pasture from over scratching and excessive nitrogen.

I like the idea of the coop, here is a link to pictures of my coup which works excellent, except that it is very heavy to move by hand. These pictures are a couple years old and there are turkeys in the coop and you can see my austerlorps in the tractors before they matured. You can also see a picture of a winter lot and a spring paddock:

I would not do anything permanent with the paddock system until you have had it operational for at least one full season.

If portability is the reason for the solar charger then I would recommend solar charging a marine battery and going with a battery operated fense charger. I have cheap to very expensive solar fencers and they are all disappointing. A marine battery can last from a few weeks to a couple months on a charge from what I have been told. You can always charge them up at a solar charging station and you will also develop off grid redundancies this way. I buy the step in fence posts with the insulated orange pig tail tops to run a hot wire to my paddocks from a centeral fencer. I used to move the fencer with the netting, but now I have stuck grounding rods out in my fields and it was a pain. I think of my wires as high voltage power lines going to the netting, but if you have a fencer good for half a mile, then a few hundred feet with no shorts wont take much zap out of it.

You wont regret building a nice tractor. Being able to move the birds daily with ease will be the best practice for your soil and the complete enclosure will be the safest for them. I do not like using standard tractors for the layers however, but I do have an enclosed mobile aviary for my ducks which functions like a tractor but you can walk into and 20'x15'.
5 years ago
Hi Tyler, This is my forth year farming poultry and other critters full time, however, I do lean more towards the Joel Salatin methods than Paul's. I wont go into the other birds I raise as your question seems to be specifically on laying hens. I only loose about half a dozen hens a year to predators with my current flock being 125 layers. With only one exception all these losses are from hens escaping the electronet. Once you get the hens up to laying age they take care of themselves for the most part, but getting them there can be extremely challenging. A couple years back I lost 140 layer chicks in a single night to a single rat packing off about 14 an hour. It just killed them and packed them in the walls, so now I use brooding tables with lids and heavy duty welded hardware clothe on top. This has eliminated 100% or the predation from the birds while they are in the brooding stage.

Once the birds out grow the brooders I put them into chicken tractors Salatin style, however, mine are ultralight welded conduit tractors. I have seen eagles fly away with hens as old as 5 months, so I would suggest what ever you do make sure that you have cover. I do not like the idea of tractoring layers once they start laying, but while they are growing I find chicken tractors to have the highest survival rate. In my experience ground predators hate electronet so running the electronet around your tractors would be an extra layer of protection to keep coyotes and coons out. Make sure you invest in a good fencer in the ball park of $200. When you first start out I would recommend scything or mowing a path for your electronet as the shorts add up and you can watch your voltage drop rappidly if the grass is growing through it. Extra ground rods ensure that your fence has a good ground to optimize the charger, but a lot of shorts will still drop the voltage. Buy a volt meter to test your fence and get a feel for what your conditions require. One thing I consider a must for pastured hens is roosters to watch the skies as the hens forage. I have ten roosters to my 125 hens and they are adequate to prevent any sneak attacks from eagles or hawks. Once your birds get up to laying age make sure they have a mobile coop that they can run under and probably some portable shade roofs so that the birds can run for cover when the roosters sound the alarm.

Once you train your hens and the local predators to the electronet you probably wont need much of a charge. I have not had power on my hens electronet since late last summer and then hens know to stay with in it and the predators stay clear. The key is to train them well when they are young otherwise you wont even have them trained to the electronet and you will be chasing chickens every day. I personally have the 165' rolls of electronet, but they are heavy and difficult to move so I would suggest going with 100' rolls instead. I wouldn't put up anything perminant for the first few years of farming until you get to know your land and the local predators well. I have not used cattle panels so I can not speak to those and the coop I use is a former chasy to a camper trailer with a coop built on top. I took the bottom out so that the poop drops right on the ground and the birds have easy access in and out. I of course do not have any ground predators going through the electronet so I do not worry about locking them up. Hope I answered your questions, back to farming.
5 years ago
They did raise the shipping rate this year on chicks being shipped alive "although not always arriving alive." I would not fear this to much as there is no threat against hatching eggs being shipped. If you do not want to fork out the cash for an incubator you can most likely find someone to hatch them for you. This could even be a good thing as it may open the door for some small hatcheries to start up supplying the local feed and hardware stores with chicks as well as selling them on craigslist. The threat on mailing live chicks is real, but the dangers of small farmers not being able to acquire birds is not, worst case scenario is the price may go up per bird supporting local, but in my experience the opposite is true local chicks are about $.50 less per bird. Also if you have ever gotten a box of dead birds you might be willing to pay an extra quarter for guaranteed live chicks. Also if you get the birds fresh out of the hatcher you have a few days to get them on their feed and water, where as, if you get them in the mail 2 days after hatch if you don't get them on their feed and water soon they die. Also picking your chicks can help eliminate splayed leg and other defects which is also worth a bit more money per bird.
6 years ago
I raise organic pastured poultry commercially and will run 2500 broilers this season. I do not like to eliminate predators so I have built brooder tables that are rat proof with 2"x12" walls 4'wx6'l and a lid with 30" of 16 guage .5"x1" hardware cloth. I put 100 chicks into each brooder and one 250w lamp is enough to keep them plenty warm, I do not have any crowding losses. The brooders are located inside a greenhouse with shade cloth over the top which keeps it a bit warmer during the day, but I have the doors on each side of the greenhouse open 24x7 and I live in NW Washington State. Our power is $0.11 a kw hour and I run the 250w light for three weeks so the power consumption equals $13.86 per 100 chicks. During the day the chicks will all be avoiding the lamp so I could potentially add a thermostat to turn it off for day temps, but I would rather pay out the money than have another point of failure. With larger batches like 100 chicks if you do not have a draft in their brooder they can go through a night with out a heat lamp just huddled together. If you want to see how warm they can stay stick your hand in the huddle and it is toasty.
I would not advocate trying to go with out a heat lamp and if we are looking at a scenario that heat lamps are no longer possible, most likely neither are incubators and we will just have to go back to the broody hens. Brooding chicks commercially off grid would probably be done best with wood heated brooding room that was kept at a temperature appropriate for the chicks. One of Paul's rocket mass heaters would probably work really well for this to prevent rapid temperature swings that would stress out the birds.
6 years ago