So, still trying to adjust for this year - sales dropped a lot last year. And I had to raise my prices, as the farm ran negative. We are beyond the growth phase of our business - we don't have many more adjustments to make when it comes to equipment and facilities. We should be cruising right now with known profit margins and an occasional bout of bad luck.
So last year going off the rails with cash flow, I decided to take a look.
This is chicken sales. My files actually track weight of chickens sold, so I divided by 4 to get an idea of number of chickens sold.
You can see we started really climbing in sales in 2011. We must have found our target market! I wasn't raising organic chickens then, because it just wasn't a thing. Organic chicken feed did not exist, so it was in 2013 that we started segregating the two. The dip in 2014 was due to us. That was the year we had to start over our chicken flocks due to Mycoplasma, and Larry moved to New York for the year. I intentionally raised less birds.
But the trajectory continued after that, ground was lost, but we stayed on the same growth curve.
Until 2017. And I am not sure why. We hadn't changed prices last year. I can think of a few possibilities:
1) We have spent all of those above years teaching others how to raise chickens, and how to process their own chickens. MAYBE many of them are doing just that when they used to buy from us.
2) Subsequently, maybe some of them are selling to customers who used to buy from us. That could be based on location, but if more farmers are raising chickens, and if you can buy closer to you, awesome!
3) The State of Colorado finally allowed the USDA small farm exemption last year, that allows you to sell less than 1000 chickens a year without a USDA inspector. (CSAs were the loophole around this)
Or maybe it's a combo of all three. But chicken sales did drop. To not have too many freezers full, we will be raising less meat chickens this year and focusing on lamb, turkey and increasing our duck offering.
No worries, JoJo is already keeping us on task with raising less chickens, she eliminated most of our first batch for us already. We're working on her, so we can bring in a second round later this summer. If she just can't be trusted, Katie and JoJo may need to find a new home. We certainly can't be profitable if the dogs are eating all our products! Our first, much smaller batch, is still on task to be ready in early June.