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chicken watch update #1

May 01, 2009 -

They did it!  They stayed out all night with a little help from a make shift house made from a large cardboard box, a 40 watt bulb in a plastic drop light, and a couple of sticks forced through it.  Just like a kitten in a litter box they knew just what to do once I shoved them all in there after dark. This is always so amazing to me how every little critter acts just like it’s suppose to with almost no help at all. This morning they were all roosting on the sticks toasty and warm. Now the real fun begins.

It’s time to plant the chicken pasture. Here at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply we have this amazing stuff called Omega Chicken forage blend, (item # SPI800). With the new chicken tractor almost finished,( a true work of art if I do say so myself, see pics below) and about three weeks before my last frost date and the same amount of time before these little guys are too big for the cold-frame, the real work begins. The old chicken pen is about to come down and become chicken fodder for the next generation.

First I have to fall a 20 ft. apple tree that has the worst apples I’ve ever tasted.  We inherited it with the property.  After 5 years of trying to find the right time to pick these little darlings I decided to plant varieties I love and get rid of the monstrosity.  I could have been picking good ones by now!  Then till and plant.  I’ve got just enough time to get all that done before the nice weather hits.  Because this has been the chicken yard for two years I’m adding pine shavings and saw dust to cool it off and marble white lime to balance the PH.  It works faster than our less expensive oystershell lime.  We’ll see what happens and I’ll keep you posted.  The soil might still be too hot for this but you never know if you never try.  If it works we may plant some corn down there as well.  I’m planting another stand of it in a separate section of the yard as a backup/rotation pasture.  It’s a pretty mix as well.  If nothing happens I’ll try again next year and in the mean time it gets rid of the flies and the smell.  That’s worth the effort by itself.

So back to this deluxe chicken tractor.  My guy is a genius when it comes to making something out of scrap.  We spent some money on the nesting boxes because I have some egg eaters so I found these roll out floors online that you put in wooden boxes (ours are removable for cleaning purposes).

The door in a door was a clever touch I thought.  The floor is made from a classifier screen from a local rock plant.

The metal sheeting I found used for $1.00 a sheet.  The plywood was free from a construction site.  The axle was given to him, the frame he welded up from purchased and scrap angle iron.  We had to purchase Metal studs, screws, screen, roll out nesting box floors, and odds and ends which we estimate to total about $350.00 by the time he’s done.  Not bad for a 4X7 rolling shed.  If I ever have time it might get a paint job but that’s not likely.  It will be accompanied by a movable yard, quardened off by 4 ft. tall poly poultry wire secured by conduit posts, ground staples, and game foul netting on top as we have hawks in our yard.  At last these guys will truly be free range.  Something impossible before now because between the neighbor dogs, coyotes, hawks, lions, and the cost of destroyed landscape, we just couldn’t allow them out.

I’ll share our automatic watering system next time.


Grama Pam

In case you don’t know PVFS has a vast array of organic livestock feed and amendments. You can find it on page 46 of the Spring catalog as well as online.

kemccreary Says:
May 2nd, 2009 at 4:32 am

I love your portable coop. We have gutted an old chicken house and are putting in a cement floor to keep the rats out. I’m not sure about the roosts; I see folks have wire mesh under the roosts but that seems too messy for me. Why not just let the manure fall to the floor to be cleaned out for the compost with everything else? I can’t wait to start eating real eggs again.

Grama Pam Says:
May 4th, 2009 at 7:42 am

My old coop had a box with a wire floor under the roosts and it was handy.  There was a door to it from the outside that I could just scoop it out from and into my compost.  Cement is nice if you have leave a way to hose it out easily.  This one moves so easily that I can just move it every week or so and leave the waste behind to fertilize the yard/field as we go.  We have them all set up now and it works great however I have the new hens screened off from the old ones to protect them until they get accustomed to each other so It isn’t going anywhere for a while.  Our last rain was great for cleaning up the mess!

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