Guest Post: Our Fearless Chicken Farmer #2

We have finally settled in as chicken farmers.  Our little ladies are now quite spoiled.  They get scratch in the morning as soon as they are all out of the coop.  The get greens (kudzu) sometime in the afternoon when I check the mail.  In the evening after supper they get the table scraps and veggies out of the garden that aren’t edible.

I guess in the winter they will feel neglected when there is no Kudzu growing and no garden veggies.  We could always hook up with the local stores and get their discarded veggies.

We added a roof over their yard to give them more shade.  They can go under the shed also but they were feeling crowded.  Not really, we just wanted an area that was covered where we could put the dust bath (that they don’t use) where it wouldn’t get rained on.

I built them a dust bath using landscaping timber and filled it with a mix of sand and Diatomaceous Earth.  Well, they do like to scratch around in it but that’s about it.  I guess they aren’t used to sand so it’s strange to them.  I have noticed that their legs look a lot cleaner since putting it there so maybe the Diatomaceous Earth is doing them some good.

We finally solved the flat/round roost question.  At least for our birds we did.  We visited the farm where they came from as the sun was setting the other day.  The owners let us look at their coop.  Their coop is a barn and in part of that barn is 5 dog pens that open to five dog runs.  The top of the dog pens is flat and about 4 feet deep and 4 feet high.

On one wall of the barn is a laddered roost that is stepped 1 foot up for every foot deep and it’s about 6 feet wide and has 5 roosting poles on it making it about 7 feet high.   It’s never been used.

All 30 birds where perched on top of the dog pens.  Go figure.

We changed the area under the roost.  We did use straw and when it got too dirty we changed it out to wood shavings.  About once a week I turn it all over like a compost pile and once a month 1 add a new layer of shavings.  It seems to be working quite well.  Wood shavings will make better garden mulch than the straw.  We get all our wood shavings from a local saw mill and it only costs $5 for all we can haul away in trash bags.  So it’s also a little cheaper than a bail of straw.

We actually made $5 from our eggs in August.  Not that we’ve been selling them.  Our next door neighbor insisted I take his $5 after his 3rd dozen eggs we gave them.  No we didn’t frame it.  I gave it to Beth like I do with any money I ever get.  Though I did set it on the kitchen table and admired it all day till she got home.

We got 3 bags of potato chips for free that where past their Exp date.  We give them a handful every evening with the table scraps.  It sounds like a bunch of 5 year olds at a birthday party eating chips with the mouth open with all the clucking and crunching going on.

_____________________

Dan Shaw, chicken farmer and entrepreneur.  http://www.diyyardandhome.com 

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7 Responses to Guest Post: Our Fearless Chicken Farmer #2

  1. So interesting to know about this aspect of life… so different from where i live…

    • Dan Shaw says:

      Shanghai – China is a long way from here that’s for sure. Being in a big city I guess you don’t get to see much of rural life. I guess you coming here and taking pictures of my chickens is not an option.

  2. Glory Lennon says:

    Oh, how I miss the old saw mill we had in town. How cool that you actually made a bit of money even if you never intended to. The ladies are earning their keep I guess. Have you thought of growing some plants indoor for winter? Herbs like mint or chives or dandelions and even regular grass seed will usually grow in a pot on a sunny windowsill and you can snip off a bit every once in a while for the Chickens. I grow catnip for the cats that way.

    • Dan Shaw says:

      No, I haven’t thought of growing anything inside for them. It seems everything we try to grow inside dries up and dies. Not sure whose job it is to water the stuff but it never gets done. LOLOL I know, your really gonna hate me now.

  3. Common seed oats, clover or other seeds like barley, wheat etc. make fine winter sprouts for chickens. You can wait until the sprouts are 8″ tall and clip them, or just pull the whole mat of growth and feed it as is. The chickens will love it. Give them watermelon rinds, pumpkin and squash , any of that stuff will make your chickens happy. Great pic of the chicken pen too!

  4. Jan Morrison says:

    Hi – thanks for visiting The Complicated Simple Life! Just a few things from my past three years with chickens (and a few earlier in my life). We liked the old branch roosts but it gets cold here and the flat boards work better – they can fluff their feathers over their toes and keep toasty. Our chickens roam all day – this flock hasn’t started laying just yet – any day now – so we’ve been keeping them in their yard in the mornings until I have to go to work (10 sometimes). We just give them chicken feed and scraps. We don’t feed them scratch until it is cold – the corn heats them up too much. Our garden sucked this year (bad wet year) but we get a CSA from a farm in the valley and it is ALOT of food, so they get lots that way. We put all scraps that we don’t think will be an automatic treat for them, in the compost and they can dig away in there if they like. In the winter I make up a big bunch of oatmeal on cold mornings. I put bacon fat in it, and greens, and seeds, and any old thing and get it all nice and warm – they go mad for it! Wee Scottish hennies they are!
    OK – more later. Isn’t it so nice to have birds around??

    • Dan Shaw says:

      Hi Jan. I thought that way up there in Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada you would have little snow suits for your ladies? They have their own built in skis after all.

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