Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mobil Chickens

As I mentioned in my earlier post Tall Grass Grazing, my chickens have been off rotation for a few weeks. They are still out on the pasture and have free access to well over 6000 square feet of grass. They are, however, parked. I have been moving the fence around so they can have new grass and don't do too much damage in one place, but it isn't the same as having them on rotation. They are an integral part of my pasture system. My flock of 50 birds produce and spread just shy of 4000 lbs of chicken manure over the course of a year. Great fertilizer for the pasture and I don't have to move it at all. They also shred all the dead grass and weeds the goats and cows left, eating any bits of green they find and all the bugs, flies, and larva in the grass and manure piles left by the grazers. I feed them about 30% of the diet I would feed confinement chickens and they give me about 800 dozen eggs. So, why are they parked?

Well, we are on year three with this mobile chicken house. It has been out in our rather wet pasture through three springs, two summers plus a bit, and two winters. Now the bottom frame has rotted to the point that I can't move it. So, fixing the chicken house has been added to the infinite TODO list.


Frame rot causes loss of mobility

Unfortunately, while I have been planning the repairs and upgrades (no point in doing it without making things better), other things have bumped it down the list. Today, for example, instead of fixing the chicken house (or finishing the herb boxes in the greenhouse, or weeding, or....) I worked on finishing the living room. Why? Company coming this weekend and the project we started in November and told everyone about STILL ISN'T FINISHED!!! Life sometimes gets in the way of projects. So, the chickens will have to wait for a few more days while I stain trim, fix the windows, and finish the bookcases next to the fire place we installed in November (which did a brilliant job of keeping us warm through the winter without the trim.)


Our chicken house after three years

Our chicken house is very simple. We bought a poultry house from Farm Tech and added a frame, wheels, roosts, and a nest box. It has held up very well through several feet of snow, -11 degree weather, floods, high winds, and being wheeled all over my very rough pasture. The chickens have stayed healthy and comfortable in it for the whole time. All I need to do is replace the wooden frame I added to hold the wheels, nest boxes, and winter side covering. I'll be doing it as soon as I find a free day.
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