Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PPPP Report Week 7

Happy Wednesday, welcome back to the Promised Pastured Peeper(Poultry) Progress Report. I can't really refer to them as peepers moving forward because while they still make noises that may sound like peeps they are really much to big to think of as babies anymore.

After some discussion after Week 6 about how much feed we've used Mrs. Farmer and I did a professional audit (which means counting empty bags off the floor of the shed) and determined that we had finished 7 bags of feed by Week 6 and are now into bag #10 as of Tuesday 8/12.  The "little" guys are eating a lot more now than before but soon we'll be tripling their pasture exposure which will certainly help. (continued)

As mentioned previously, the current accommodations were manufactured out of 2 pcs. 4'x16' Hog panel, cut in half, zip tied at the corners, and lined with 1/2" mesh.  This provides 64 square feet in an 8x8 square and was adequately "tight" to contain the puff-balls when they were only days old. The panels in this configuration can support decent but not obscene amounts of weight, so a few boards and some tarps/covers provide shade and keep the birds inside and well behaved.  Not a bad investment for a brooder pen, as we near the 2 month marker.

The latest addition to this is still under construction but should be ready fairly soon.  Two more panels, this time cattle panels, a bit of lumber for shape and structure and the result is impressive in its simplicity and effectiveness.  With dimensions of 8'x10' this provides 80 square feet to roam, better overhead coverage and will (when finished) prevent even the most acrobatic bird from getting up and out through the structure.  It will be heavier, but not beyond what a pair of determined farmers can move themselves and it is tall. Tall enough that Mrs. Farmer can stand upright inside comfortably and I only need to slouch a little, perhaps even tall enough to allow the birds to roost a bit, which they will love. The vast majority of the wood you see in use here comes from a former deck and is being reused. Likely a lot of our upcoming projects will be sourcing lumber that way for the foreseeable future.

When this one is finished, about half the broilers (29) will take up residence within and they will continue their dance for fresh grass.  The plan is to build a second one also, where the remaining broilers (21) and turkeys (8) will go, leaving the still much smaller layers (23) the entire brooder pen to themselves. This translates into much more room for everyone and a general increase in happiness all around.  Mrs. Farmer and I will have to relocate 3 pens each day instead of 1 but the benefits provided to the birds by eating all that fresh green and the benefits to the pasture of all that fresh manure make it worth the small time investment as far as I'm concerned.

These two new "broiler boats" will sail on until week 12 and after graduation day will house the remaining turkeys for the rest of their stay here at the farm. Come vacancy, and winter, two additional weather tight enclosures will no doubt be much loved and frequently used.  For the birds, the "roof" will be opaque tarp for shade, but this could easily be swapped for a clear poly roof by winter, turning the broiler boats into temporary greenhouses... which Mrs. Farmer would likely refuse to "give back" to the poultry project in the spring. We do definitely need a greenhouse of some kind, if only to get a leg up on the spring garden starts.  This spring every spare surface in the kitchen or dining room had trays and potting soil on it.

As decor choices go I don't mind "potting soil and garden greens"but I suspect Mrs. Farmer would prefer to keep much of the dirt outside and get the house a little more "homey" and a little less "dirty". Dirt, sand, and the like are no strangers in our house of course and will be until winter turns the garden chores into shoveling chores and interior remodeling.

Do you have chickens?  How do you protect them from predators and the elements?  Given time, a post with in depth measurements and construction details for the broiler boats may be forthcoming, if you'd be interested in that sooner rather than later let me know in comments also.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.


  1. Replies
    1. Just wait until you see tomorrow's update. Not to tease, but there are pictures of the completed BB with birds on board.