Friday, September 12, 2014

PPPP Report Week 11

Somewhat delayed, only slightly postponed, here's your Promised Pastured Poultry Progress Report. The trials and travails from Wednesday's Unexpected Arrivals have resulted in a lot of changes and more than a little work but only a few noteworthy for our PPPPR since last week.

Only a week left for the boys!  Which means we will have several weekends of processing coming up.  We'll start actually this weekend, cleaning out the freezer, making room, and retiring some of our older laying hens. (continued)
If you look closely... you'll see this is now a "racken" house.
We started raising chickens over 5 years ago, many moons ago, in a different state even, and a lot has changed since then.  It was only 6 hens purchased (expensively) at the feed store and as experiences and experiments go it went and we've always had laying hens since then.  There is still one hen left from that group, pushing 6 years old.  It's been nice having a barnyard mascot of sorts but the odds that we've seen an egg from her in the last 2 years is pretty much nil.  

There are even more (maybe 4?) hens left from the second spring, which means they are at least 4 years old... some of those are exceptional foragers too but these girls are the worst of the bullies.  It's hard to believe that my 3 year old layers are already so old (it feels like just yesterday we were brooding them) but the several Rhode Island Red hens in the run are now also long in the tooth.  Last year we didn't raise birds specifically to be layers but we did keep a number of the broiler hens to see how they would do.  While they may be surviving they are not really thriving, between the older birds bullying them and the fact that they are alive well beyond their "ideal" (at least in the industry) harvest date they look beat up and depressed, which makes me sad too.

That's the buck rabbit, alone with the poultry for now.
Every time a hen molts the egg production drops off a little bit and usually during the molt itself you won't get any eggs at all.  We went from getting a dozen (or more) eggs a day to zero pretty much overnight.  There are a couple of hens trying still, and over the last couple of days 3 or 4 eggs a day has become more of a norm but really things are not happy in the hen house.  It's past time to stop putting off retirement and just get the job done.  So you can guess what's on the schedule this weekend. The following two weekends will likely be dealing with broilers (half-ish at a time I think) and getting them into the freezer which will still give us about a month before we are back in aprons for the turkeys and Thanksgiving.

It was chilly this morning, which has me in a worried about winter sort of mood. There is always more to be done, doubly so when you're counting the days until the snow flies.

Thanks for stopping by.

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