Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chicken prep

We're expanding our operation this year to include livestock. In mid-March we have 30 1-day-old laying chicks being delivered. Learning about how to properly brood chicks has been keeping us busy; we've got to feed and water them appropriately, keep them warm until they "feather out" and protect them from predators.

So after reading a reliable book and speaking with a few local farmers, we've sourced our organic feed, built our brooder, ordered our electric fencing and have nearly completed our mobile chicken coop. The mobile chicken coop (pictured here) will protect our laying hens in their early life until we have our growers (i.e., meat birds) delivered in mid-May. This coop will be covered with tarp or plastic to keep the birds dry; and it has already been fitted with chicken and contractor wire to try to keep predators out at night.

Our plans are to construct a more permanent or sturdy chicken coop for the laying hens, complete with laying boxes and roosts, so we can keep them over the winter into their second and third years when they produce the majority of their eggs. The growers, well, they'll lead shorter lives... but happy ones! Because they'll be up in our red pine field foraging around like they are meant to be, rather than being cooped up their entire lives. And since our coop is light enough to be moved, we can rotate them to fresh pasture as often as we need to.

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