Friday, September 1, 2017

Poultry On Pasture

When breeding poultry probably the most difficult part is transition time, switching over from the old breeders and moving in the new breeders.  We're at that point with many of our breeds, they're coming up on 3 years of age and at that time egg production has dropped and it's time to bring in the new girls.  While we're waiting for pens to be prepared and ready for them to move in we very quickly run out of space for everyone, so we came up with the bright idea to put them in the stock trailer and put them out to pasture for a couple of weeks while living quarters are prepared.  It sounded like a great idea at the time...

Two weeks on fresh grass did do the birds a world of good, they grew very quickly foraging on bugs and grass.  However stock trailers really aren't designed with poultry in mind... Our first problem we encountered, the first night they all decided they would just roost under the trailer and it was a one hour ordeal of pulling them out and putting them in the trailer.  So next day Larry installed wire around the trailer so that they couldn't get under it.  Next hurdle was keeping out the rain, we don't often get a lot of rain this time of the year but it decided to come a down pour and it soaked them all. Next day, Larry covered the trailer with a tarp, no more wet chickens.

They truly loved the wide open pasture but each evening they never noticed the owl that stocked them beginning right at dusk.  The pasture is surrounded by hot wire but that would not stop a hawk or owl.  Pasture raised poultry are at more of a risk from predictors.
The best part of the poultry on pasture for me was that I could see them right from the kitchen window and it was a pretty sight, all of those little fat hens running around.
After the birds had two weeks on pasture we finally had their space set up in the barn and it was time to load them up and move them.  It just so happens that it came a quick rain shower that morning and all the birds stayed inside the trailer so we shut the trailer door, removed all the wire, hooked the trailer up to the truck and started the process of pulling the trailer through a pretty tight squeeze through the gate. I was the nagigator (yes I  mean nagigator) you know the person who yells whoa while giving wild hand signals!  I was so focused on my nagigating and getting the trailer through the gate making sure he wasn't ripping anything important off, that neither of us noticed that the trailer door had wiggled open and all the birds had escaped out the back.  What a fiasco!!  Needless to say our work had just begun, we had to net every bird one at a time....

Once we chased down each and everyone we put them back into the trailer,  backed them right up to the barn door, opened the trailer and unloaded them into the barn.  Did you know that herding chickens is about as easy as herding cats....

Just one of those crazy days in the life of a chicken farmer. Needless to say, I don't recommend pasture raising poultry in a stock trailer!

All is well that ends well.

The lovely ladies to your right are Lavender Wyandottes, a little pasture time did them well.  Hope to share this breed next spring.

God bless and have a great day!