I so love chooks. We have several chook houses on our farm, each one houses a maximum of 25 hens and a rooster. So everybody knows each other, and everyone's happy. Im told that 80 % of a chook's daily manure output is deposited at night from the perch, so I an really happy as by putting copius amounts of dry hardwood sawdust and shavings in the house once or twice a year, I can easily collect deep litter for making compost any time I want to. YEs it takes time to collect the eggs and to let out the chooks at mid day after they have laid most of their eggs ,and to lock them back up at night, and to set up and maintain the vast array of "paddocks " we make of birdnet for them to graze in. It is especially terrible to find them in the garden uninvited. This does happen with monotonous regularity I'm afraid. Its like you put some compost, mulch and seedlings out and water them and woe, the fowls must smell the earthworms and make a super effort to break out. They lay really nice eggs though.
Our system for the chooks is hard to photograph. I 'll post a photo now of the chooks in a bird net room, but its hard to see the lay out unless I get up a big tree. It is like 2 long pens coming off a central house, we alternate from the "humungus pen" ( 50 m long and 4.5 meters wide, built from recycled barn) to the pergola which goes off at right angles to the Humungus. There are little doors for chooks all along each side of the pen so they can be rotated through at least 20 "paddocks" . These paddocks are made of bird net and there in lies the weakness. They can make their own exit if they try hard enough. I bought some recycled ex vineyard Black birdnet and it is so much stronger than new white we bought, plus visually more appealing.Also, you have to look the little door at night as only the pen and house are fox proof. If you have daytime foxes I would suggest the proper thing but expensive , the electrified poultry netting and solar panel you can buy through Allsun in NSW. Or a good Marema dog, again expensive. Or an Alapaca wether. Or all of the above in bad fox area. Once it is all set up the theory goes that you grow veges in the vacated pens which are all weeded,clear of slaters, slugs and snails, and fertilised a little. The chooks certainly won't deal with kike as they tend to eat out all the comfrey and alfalfa and leave the kike, which they eat only when desperate.
Anyway , know that our animals all live on pasture , some recieve biodynamic grain too, but obviously the bare minimum cause it is expensive. Check out the well protected goslings, 5 out of 5 surviving crow and fox so far. Spring on the farm is so lovely. Keep the rain coming for just a while longer Patchimama.
|I know the pigs are in here somewhere|