Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PPPP Report Week 13

You'd look mad too if I photographed your morning bath.
Last week marked the forecast end of the Promised Pastured Poultry Progress Reports, but there is always more to the story.  On Monday I alluded to the fact that there was a broiler in the pot and that we graduated several birds over the weekend but didn't go into much detail. From the beginning I've been looking forward to this year's chicken and dinner Sunday night was everything I had been looking forward to.

Mrs. Farmer gets full credit for the preparation and cooking, and that was the best chicken I've had in a long time. A sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done is part of that, but good food, good air, and sunshine for the chickens accounts for much more.  (continued)

Today's dose of fresh grass is at the far end.
These guys are just checking this side to be thorough.
Through week 12 tight paddock control, set meal time and measured feed were the rule. Morning and evening the boys got their ration of feed and for the rest of the day they could have the fresh grass they were standing on but nothing else.

It is a delicate balance to not overfeed.  Too much grower feed would mean too much protein and the birds bulk up too fast.  With Red Rangers the problem is not as pronounced as with other varieties but too much too fast could still lead to leg problems and putting on meat faster than the bones can grow to support it.  Birds that are full are less likely to chase that cricket or forage so a bit hungry is about right.
Knowing as last weekend's graduating ceremonies drew to a close that there were still 40 birds who would be waiting for next weekend we switched to a different approach.  The electronet came back out of the shed giving them much more room (and bugs, and grass) to cover. This, they like a lot. Because they are full grown now concerns about carrying extra weight are less of a problem too, so the feeder gets filled to the top and they have access to cracked corn all day. This is the first they have had corn (but of course all chickens love it) and it is much less satisfying nutritionally than the grower feed. This abundance of course removes all food pressure, each of them can get all they want to eat all the time, but the corn leaves them wanting more of the good stuff, the bugs and grass they can also get in abundance from all the new space they have to roam in.

Full, happy, roosters fight less, though they do have their share of scuffles it's nothing like what you'd expect from 40 roosters kept together.  This week of strutting their stuff with ample food and extra space will put extra weight on them when we resume processing this weekend, which will free up more room still for those left until the weekend following.

Two rabbits now, you can see Silver Doe here.
When the broilers are done the turkeys will move into the electronet, just in time to give the layers the space they will need in the hoop coop.  Compared to a full size hen these are still only just over halfway there and they are both cute and well behaved compared to the turkeys.

The barrier turns the turkeys into monsters. Fingers, or anything really within reach will get bitten. Open the door, walk inside and you are fine. They will watch you but keep their separation.  Try to adjust a bit of wire, or retie that ribbon, even just touching the tarp and you have to be quick, sneaky, and sometimes both to escape unscathed. This is the kind of thing that always makes me happy to see November.  Well, that and turkey sandwiches.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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