Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pastured Poultry


This was our very first batch of chicks....aren't they adorable!

I'm not sure who coined the phase "grass fed poultry", It is also referred to "as pastured poultry". The first time I heard the term was from a farmer named Joel Salatin. Chuck and I have most, if not all of his books. We have learned a lot from him. We highly recommend any of his books. We refer back to them often.

When I say that are chickens are grass-fed, that does not mean that grass is the only thing they eat. They also eat feed, kitchen scraps, and bugs. We encourage them to express their "chickeness".

We have been doing this for a long time, and I can't honestly recall how many birds we initially started with, but if it is your first time I think starting out with 50-100 is a good start. This first batch is your learning curve, go into this knowing there will be be mistakes/problems and we learn by our mistakes. With this thought in mind you will not be setting yourself up for failure.

Other things to consider is the purpose for your poultry, will they be for egg laying or for meat.
Regardless of what breed you chose, you will either pick them up directly from the hatchery or they will arrive via the post office. Our post office will often call us early in the day to see if we want to pick them up. You may also want to call them and make them aware that you got a batch coming in.

The start-up cost for chicks is fairly inexpensive compared to other farm animals. Our first brooder was just a plastic bin, but I know people who have used bath-tubs, old boxes, or whatever they had on hand.

This is how we constructed our very first brooder. We purchased a plastic bin, toped it with metal mesh (I think it was called hardware cloth). We than put some legs on the heat-lamps set it on top. This worked well. We were very pleased with it.

This was our cat Cole. He died a few years ago. He's thinking Yum! Snack-time!

Other items you will need will be a heat lamp, newspapers for the floor, feed, starter grit, food/water dishes.

We are  getting ready for some new egg layer chicks. A friend of mine has placed some eggs in an incubator for me. They are expected to hatch around the 21st of this month. So I will walk you through this as I get ready for our little arrivals. My friend put 40 eggs in the incubator, she says the success rate is about half.

After the chicks are ready to put out, you will require electric fencing and movable pens. I'll discuss this in more detail in future post.

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