Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PPPP Report Week 8

The boys in the box.
It's Wednesday!  Time again for your Promised Pastured Poultry Progress Report. Only another month before the broilers are "done" and, let me tell you, the boys are BIG now.  Full sized chickens in their own right, if not quite as large as the broiler ideal yet.  All they need now is a little more time (and a lot more feed) and they'll be the plump broiler/roasters of my dreams.

The tail end of Week 7 saw us through to a total of 500 lbs. (10 bags) of feed and as of 8/19 we are on bag 14.  100 lbs a week may seem like a lot, but we're also talking about over 100 lbs. of poultry "on the hoof" now that they are so big. (continued)

Seeing "reds".
Shortly after last week's update the broiler boat was finished and everyone got some much needed elbow room. We're still moving every day and we're still going to need another structure but I have some time before space becomes a dire need again. Originally, I expected the broilers to be the ones leaving the brooder pen, but the layers like to flap out and go exploring which could not be ignored any longer. I had to "rescue" at least 10 last Wednesday alone.  Now, the layers (23), the turkeys (8) and the broilers we think might be hens (3) are in the now un-aptly dubbed broiler boat completely enclosed.  Zero escapees, more space, and happy chirping all around.
With a tarp skin and completely enclosed structure I was unsure of what conditions in the BB would be like, but I am happy to report they are good, very good for the birds.  In the afternoon it does get a little warm but not unbearably so and the birds have good shade all the rest of the day.  With the backside also open a lot of ventilation takes place and any breezes will move through all on their own. So far, looking like a success.  It is heavier than the brooder box, which was expected. Since it cannot simply be picked up and shuffled by two people I made a pair of rollers from some 2" junk PVC pipe. You can see where I have stuck them above the door for safekeeping in the photos.  Simply lift a corner, slide in a roller and move the structure.  So simple.  We actually have had to be super careful not to move it TOO fast, so the birds have time to get out of the way of the oncoming wall.

Luckily even the first time, when I'm sure we were moving it a bit too fast, everyone came through the experience unscathed. With a month left for the broilers the turkeys are going to be ready to go before I know it.  Technically week 16 is only 2 months away, but I suspect they'll be granted an extension until closer to Thanksgiving itself.  I, for one, have no problem with my turkeys being on the larger side, and as long as they are happy and healthy feeding them is well worth the extra grown. These guys won't get as big as the 50 lbs. monsters I've grown before with just another few weeks under their belt but the difference is an appreciable one.
The "big" turkey is still a bit bigger than the others, if only a little bit.  He is also certainly a tom.  While the displays of feather puffing and strutting are infrequent and a little uncertain still he is definitely exhibiting signs of wanting to be in charge and protect his girls. He even nipped at Mrs. Farmer the other day just for reaching in to check the feeder.

She has more problems with aggressive turkeys than I do (though I'm not sure why) every year.  A turkey who will ignore me or show me a wide berth will harass her by invading her space and sometimes nipping.  She accepts it because in the end the joke is on the turkey, but I know she doesn't like it.  I like being able to to fill the freezer with turkey, but if we can't do it without aggressive birds and bruised hands there are other ways to fill a freezer.

The hen turkeys are nicer. Much nicer really but also smaller.  Perhaps the solution will lie in a move to a heritage variety of turkey.  I think it's likely I'll turn to other animals instead (perhaps those pigs I keep talking about)   Time will tell.

For now, the prospect of gracing the Thanksgiving table for another year with a home raised turkey of considerable size and superlative flavor has a lot of merit.

Hmm, now I'm hungry too. Time for a snack.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. They birds all look so happy. Doing happy bird things! It makes my heart all warm and happy.

    1. Birdy things, sigh. I had to get out of bed at 6 AM to help a broiler back into the box. He's lucky I was more tired than hungry.