[Market-farming] Dealing with baby grasshoppers; long
KAKerby at aol.com
KAKerby at aol.com
Sat Sep 8 23:00:15 EDT 2012
Richard, I'd be curious to know if Bourbon Reds happen to be the turkeys
you have, so that's what you use, versus you've tried other turkey breeds and
they didn't work out as well. We have Narragansets and I'd like to find
them "other" employment besides growing up to become Thanksgiving meals.
It would be nice if they worked for a living while eating, THEN their sale
would be a bonus. Love to double-layer things like that.
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
In a message dated 9/8/2012 3:59:17 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
ramoyer at gmail.com writes:
When we had two acres, we put out Nolo bait, by spreading bran infested
with the grasshopper parasite 'Nosema'. Semaspore appears to be another
brand of same.
Worked very well, beginning the next year, for multiple years. From a
single treatment. Am still impressed by the level of control.
Now with 70 acres, our flock of bourbon red turkeys are the best
grasshopper hunters of our various poultry.
When very young, we have hens who will take their poults each morning
(10-15 or so each) and patrol those areas with higher infestations. Some hens
can handle 20 or more, adopting from delinquent mothers. We tend to herd
them to those areas with the most grasshoppers. Grasshoppers tend to come
from grassy field (pasture, hayfield) edges into row crops, so one
management strategy is to keep grass strips of sufficient width very short that
surround row crops, and allow taller grass farther away, which is grasshopper
preferred habitat. But if the only moist soil and tender young plants is
your baby fall veggies, they can migrate over. May make sense then to
irrigate where you want them to stay, if rains are lacking. Also, mowing, haying
and/or rotational grazing in the preferred grasshopper habitat and poultry
feeding area keeps young foliage coming on, hence attractive to multiple
critters in the farm ecosystem.
Not by design, but by sheer dumb luck our set up has the most turkeys
patrolling in the grassy strips and taller pasture/hayfield beside the row crop
areas, separated by a good fence that keeps turkeys out of crops once they
are juveniles. We still need to train the turkeys to stay out of crop
areas once older, which requires someone on the farm all the time, during that
transition, someone with sharp ears and eyes. (Yes, heritage turkeys can
be trained, at least in our flock.)
When and how we feed commercial mix also needs to be timed to maximize
grasshopper feeding. That is, train turkeys to forage before filling up on
purchased feed. We often feed just before they roost. Esp. as days get
shorter and nights longer and cooler.
In our breeding program, my daughter selects for those hens who stay with
their poults the longest, and are the best teachers of foraging for
grasshoppers, green matter and grass seed. This helps entrain positive behaviors
and means if we steer the mothers in the right area, their young follow.
Once the young leave their mothers, they become unruly teenagers with a
social order all their own. (Stay out late, refuse to be seen with parents,
have no regard for their messes, trash the best vehicles, play in the road,
etc.) But by this phase (closer to Thanksgiving), we've often had a good
killing frost, the crops are more established, so the grasshoppers not so
During critical points of grasshopper control, you could possibly import
some turkeys or other birds, to set grasshopper numbers back. Helps to have
their owner around, or a turkey whisperer onsite to know how to manage
Peacocks also work well as insect hunters; but they are so light as
juveniles and adults they tend to fly over any fence, any time and can be a
problem with tomatoes.
Don't know how well guineas would work, but they also are very mobile.
In summary, Nosema bait if no poultry, possibly both, or just poultry if
you are trying to raise poultry food onsite.
Where the rains mean fall crop germination and many stunted weeds now
going to seed.
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