Oh well, here goes...

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8 years 1 month ago #37580 by Icarus
Oh well, here goes... was created by Icarus
Hi all
On the verge of redundancy but also on the verge of launching into full scale (for this newbie) chooks. I have been able to convince my wonderful North Cantabrian olive/lavander growing inlaws, to let me usurp there land to raise pasture fed, free range chickens/eggs. They will get free grass cropping and fertiliser services as well as eggs, so hopefully win-win!
I am certain to be mining all the knowledge I can so bear with me.

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8 years 1 month ago #486845 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic Oh well, here goes...
Hi and welcome Icarus,
Hope you've done your homework for your new venture!

Just remember hens are not grazing animals (pasture fed?) In winter they will need good nutrition to perform as well as keep warm!

Ask away!

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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8 years 1 month ago #486851 by Andrea1
Replied by Andrea1 on topic Oh well, here goes...
I knew plenty of people doing 'pastured poultry' (might be an American term?) when we lived in the US. One model, which we quite liked, and would still like to try, some friends of ours used, on a commercial (supplying farmers markets and local healthy food shops) scale, housed 250 hens. It was a rectangular house, wish I could remember the dimensions. It was a walk-in height, roosts on 2 walls, 2-tiered nest boxes on 2 walls. There was quite a wide, open area between the walls (I'm guessing it was probably 8m wide by 12m long. One door led to the barn, from which the people entered and where the feed was stored. The other 3 walls each had several pop-holes for the hens to enter and exit. Each side of the barn opened onto a different pasture. The winter 'pasture' was planted in all kinds of evergreen shrubs, so the chooks had shelter from the elements when (if!) they ventured out. This was in upstate New York, PROPER winter, snow on the ground for around 12 weeks of the year. They did usually do a partial cull at the end of each autumn, so they weren't carrying as many hens through the winter, and they didn't use lights (they were a certified Demeter farm), so there was a brief down time in winter. That's when they mostly sold stewing hens for meat (legal in the US to process up to 1000 birds for meat annually and not have to jump through any hoops, at least that was 10+ years ago). They bought in new chicks as well as pullets each year, so not all the birds were the same age and had to be culled at once. And they provide extra feed in winter, of course. But chooks DO graze (sort of), as do turkeys and geese, or at least it appears as if they are grazing when on large, grassy areas. They eat grass and bugs whilst moving across the grass. And if you have enough birds in an area, they will keep the grass cropped short. You just have to figure out how many birds will suit each area. There's lots of info on the 'net, search for pastured poultry.

Good luck to you, and welcome to the forum.

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8 years 1 month ago #486864 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic Oh well, here goes...
Sounds like a great set up in US Andrea.
I was just concerned about the 'fed' part of pasture, thinking that pasture would supply the feed! There are several what is more commonly referred to in NZ as Free Range commercial farms on similar small units, I even know of a couple in the Canterbury region.
I was just making the passing comment that pasture fed is more a term used for grazing animals, and maybe ducks and geese, but actual grass should only be about 10% of a hens diet as its nutritional benefits are minimal for much of the year and it is what insect and invertebrate life they find around the grass and the fallen seeds which are more beneficial!

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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8 years 1 month ago #486867 by eelcat
Replied by eelcat on topic Oh well, here goes...
I recently read several recipes where I thought the eggs were pasteurized. I couldn't understand how you would pasteurize an egg - (Spec savers and all that) - I realized it was pastured egg that the recipes were calling for. Our hens (and ducks and geese) "graze" our orchard and at this time of year do keep the grass under control(ish) but they do get fed as if they don't eat grass. It does make for the best colour eggs though!

1 Border collie, 1 Huntaway, 2 Lhasa Apsos, Suffolk and arapawa ewe crosses, an Arapawa ram,an East Friesian ewe , 5 cats, 42 ducks , 1 rooster and 30 hens, 5 geese, 12 goats, 2 donkeys, 2 house cows, one heifer calf, one bull calf, 3 rabbits and lots and lots and lots of fruit trees...

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8 years 1 month ago #486868 by Icarus
Replied by Icarus on topic Oh well, here goes...
Hi all
Yep pasture fed is just a term meaning they are on grass all day, probably not a good expression either :-)
Anyway, the chooks will get layer pellets, grit etc so rest assured folks.
Thanks for the warm welcome.
Ta

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8 years 1 month ago #486870 by Andrea1
Replied by Andrea1 on topic Oh well, here goes...
Good thing to clarify, Sue - I think some people do get the wrong idea about chooks being able to thrive and have all their needs met by JUST being free-ranging. I see examples of it every year here, in fact. There's always a hen or two who hatch chickens which we are not able to catch (we catch about 90% of them, feed and house for 8 weeks, then release again). Their chicks, while they go grow, grow at a much slower rate than the birds which have their diets supplemented with the chick and grower feed.

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8 years 1 month ago #486871 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Oh well, here goes...
My son has just been filming an australian organic farm where they run chicken caravans. These are towable and moved to provide fresh pasture.
They no doubt come in many shapes and forms and it means you can move the chickens to wherever you want them to 'graze' next

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8 years 1 month ago #486878 by Icarus
Replied by Icarus on topic Oh well, here goes...
Thanks Muri
I actually looked into those brilliant caravans and was all set to go for one. But the costs to get them here were just out of my budget. I am getting a great house from Outpost here in NZ so all's well. I seem to be struggling to get non electric netting that is movable anyone got any ideas? I have found some plastic non shock net online but nothing else.
ta

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8 years 1 month ago #486879 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Oh well, here goes...
Actually, the name of the farm was Savannah farms and they looked to be home made so not necessarily such a huge investment. You may be able to google them, I dont think they were too far out of Adelaide

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8 years 1 month ago #486880 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic Oh well, here goes...
Icarus have you seen these sheds? They are based down your way, look pretty neat sheds, and towable too!
www.heslipshatcheries.co.nz/good2go.aspx

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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8 years 1 month ago #487034 by Icarus
Replied by Icarus on topic Oh well, here goes...
Hi Sue

Many thanks for this, will investigate further. I am getting my Pullets from heslips so could be an easy solution.

ta
Ray

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8 years 3 weeks ago #487895 by Icarus
Replied by Icarus on topic Oh well, here goes...
Hi Sue
Thanks for your comments. I am getting some pretty conflicting info about how much food (Chooks choice) from Weston to feed my 80 shaver pullets per day. Would you say 10kg per day is excessive? The birds will be out free ranging on an olive grove (approx 20 Hectares) from noon ish each day. The idea is to leave the food in the chookhouse so we can get them to come back into the house for closing time and to keep the sparrows, starlings and other unwanted feeders away.
Any toughts?

Thanks
Ray

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