Help! chicken pasture shift system

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by gabe22, Jul 8, 2012.

  1. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    I think the point everyone has been trying to make is that you can't expect to raise chickens only on grass, it won't work. But if you're wanting to make sure they don't denude the place by digging up the grass, you're going to have to move them before they do that. How many paddocks and how often you move to the next one is entirely dependent on your locale, how fast the grass grows back after being scratched and pecked. Paul Wheaton suggests four paddocks with the chickens in a paddock for 7-10 days, and each paddock gets rested for at least 28 days: https://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp
     
  2. gabe22

    gabe22 Junior Member

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    Well noone said there's only grass in there. Ofc there will be bugs and fallen fruit (tons of plums actually). I was just asking a hypothetical question.

    Thanks though
     
  3. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Well, I hope I gave an appropriate hypothetical answer. :)
     
  4. chook-in-eire

    chook-in-eire Junior Member

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    Ludi, I could also have said 45 kg of grains, seeds, pulses or whatever. Of course it doesn't mean it has to be purchased, pelleted feed. What I was trying to impress on gabe22 is that they do eat quite a bit and some grass, a plum here and there and a few seeds, bugs and slugs are not enough to maintain them and make them lay eggs to their potential. Consider that each egg contains about 12g of protein, 10g of fat, several g of calcium in the shell and so on. All that has to come from somewhere.

    Agree. It is perfectly possible to mix your own. But when it comes to amounts and constituents much depends on what is available on your land, on what your local climate is, and on what type of bird you keep. There are smaller thrifty breeds that forage well; there are also commercial hybrids that are bred to eat what's put in front of them in a climate-controlled house and push out 300 eggs a year. If they don't get the nutrition to do that they quickly start drawing on their own bodymass and perish rather quickly, basically lay themselves to death. So as usual: "it depends".

    Romania has a temperate to continental climate with cold winters. Bugs only start building up in spring, fruit only falls of the trees in mid-late summer and while I'm sure with the right breed, a good paddock rotation and a low bird density a good bit of their feed need can be met I seriously doubt one can get away with not supplementing their diet, at least from September to May inclusive, with full out feeding in the winter months.

    From my own experience I'd say you need at least 20m2 per bird to ensure they don't scratch it bare but that kind of area will not keep them fed and laying under the best of circumstances. I would ask: "What breed? Bantams or large fowl? Define spring. Define autumn. No feeding at all? Or do they get table scraps, access to dung heaps, compost heaps etc.? How well do they lay? How long do they live? Do they reproduce?" There are so many variables. Maybe it works with a few bantams, in your climate, from late spring to early autumn.
    Take Ludi's advice and start small. Altsteirer are a good breed for this sort of set-up. They seem to be more self-reliant than most.
     
  5. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Completely agree with a lot of what you're saying, chook. I wouldn't advise someone wanting to raise chickens on forage to try with a breed which doesn't do well on forage. There are many breeds to choose from. Mine certainly prefer to forage rather than eat grain, given a choice. When let out in the morning they just run off to get their own breakfast.
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    c-i-e = chook-in-eire (as I don't know your name ) ;-)

    Where I was going with the fat thing was looking at paleo type human diet theory and practice that replaces carbs with fats to get calories. Generally on a very low carb diet a person won't get fat from eating fat. I hear alot of people wanting to find ways of raising chooks without commercial grain feed, for financial reasons and because of peak oil/powerdown, so I was wondering how well chooks do eating fat. eg if you dumped a lump of mutton fat in front of them would they eat it and would they be ok?


    Ludi, what kinds of things do your chooks eat apart from what you give them direct? eg what are they foraging?
     
  7. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    I think mostly various bugs, I saw one eat a scorpion yesterday. And this is an important point - here in a hot climate we have just TONS of bugs, way more than we want which is one reason I like the chickens foraging around the house, that was one scorpion who won't show up in our bedroom! But other climates might not have as many little critters for the chickens to eat. I feel I'm not providing them an optimum diet because we lack fruit and soft greens. But they still seem to dig around and get enough food every day.

    The chickens I currently have foraging are Bantam Cochins, Partridge Rock/Mystery Bantam (could be Rhode Island Red or some kind of Game Cock), and Barred Rock/Cochin cross. I wish I knew for certain what my Mystery Bantam Rooster is, but I don't! I certainly recommend the Cochin Bantams as excellent mothers, we never had as many chicks as we've had since I got them, but they are so small the eggs are tiny and the meat negligible. I'm quite happy with both Rock varieties, they have been very successful. But most of those are in a pen and get regular grain. They are very eager to eat any kinds of kitchen or garden scraps and would probably be good foragers. They are also interested in setting and raising chicks.
     
  8. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Pebble my chooks certainly go nuts over a nice bit of bacon rind. As long as it is small enough to them to eat it (i.e. not a solid lump of lard the size of your leg!) I think they'd get tucked in.
     
  9. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Now, I'm sure in all my investigations on chicken care I came across the mention of a little bit of rancid fat for the chooks for some reason. It seemed reasonable at the time...
     
  10. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Warning, OT fat talk:p
    In my experience, chooks love fat. I've melted down huge amounts on an outside burner (that's important: it stinks the house out for weeks), tipped all the melted fat and 'bits' into roasting dishes, let it set and stacked it in the freezer. Tip: it'll slide easily out of a wet roasting dish...
    They'll devour fresh fat too.
     
  11. chook-in-eire

    chook-in-eire Junior Member

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    Ah. Not Córas Iompair Éireann so. :p

    I can second what the others have been saying. They love fat.
    Would they be ok? It certainly helps with their energy needs, especially in cold climates of course. But obviously it's no good for their protein needs, minerals, vits etc.
    They certainly eat a huge range of things including meat and fish. In an 100 year old poultry book (Wrights Book of Poultry, 1910 edition) I read an account of a very large poultry breeder in England. They went through 2 horses a week for their chickens, bought from the knackers yard, butchered and boiled!!! That was primarily to meet the protein needs, with grains also fed and large grass ranges for greens.
     
  12. gabe22

    gabe22 Junior Member

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    Well, the breed is the traditional one, no particular name, people just call them gray chooks. According to the neighbours, they forage well, and are more resistant to diseases, even if it takes longer to fatten them up and they only lay 100 eggs a year.
    The spring would be march, the autumn will end in mid november. There's grass and bugs available from that time. Yes I will include dung heaps, piles of leaves and weeds aswell, and ofc table scraps, but that's a minute quantity as there's only me living in there at the moment.

    But I'm just wondering, would you go for low density and a lot of time in the area, and visit it a more time in the year, or higher density, alot of time, visit it less, or higher density, little time and visit it more or what? How do you figure that out?
    I'd happily keep it simple and split the orchard into some paddocks and just move them when i feel like but i'm trying to understand the logic behind this :)
     
  13. chook-in-eire

    chook-in-eire Junior Member

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    Very hard to say as growing conditions and growing speed change through the seasons with the highest productivity probably in the 2 months around the summer solstice (longest days), while cold spring nights or late summer draughts will slow things down. You'll have to adjust rotation speed to that.
    Should you, by any chance, have German, take a look at https://permakultur.net/?&mdoc_id=1000733#7 (Poultry in Permaculture / self-foraging systems). There is also a species list (Artenliste - Hühnerfutterpflanzen zur Selbstversorgung) with Latin plant names.
     
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I don't know if it works for chickens and I guess it also depends on whether you are wanting to get rid of the undergrowth in the orchard or encourage it - but if you look at Joel Salatin's methods or Voisin grazing they rotate animals very frequently - like daily and keep them in a tight space. That way the plants bounce back quickly and there are lush greens ready for the next time the animals are back on that bit of ground.
     
  15. gabe22

    gabe22 Junior Member

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    Yea I'm getting a couple of Salatin's books in a week, hopefully gonna finish reading them till the eggs hatch :D
     
  16. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Lol, no not that CIE.

    I was meaning fat as an alternate source of calories than grains (needing other foods for a range of nutrients is a given). If people want to stop using commercial grains and it's impractical to grow their own, then fat seems a useful thing to explore as it's an easy way to get calories.
     
  17. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    hmmmm, roadkill and pest control... finally something to do with all those dead possums ;-) (not sure the fat content of a possum though). Does meat need to be cooked (for protein)? Am wondering why people use maggot breeding systems instead of feeding the dead animal direct to the chook. Is it just a way of making the roadkill into bite sized pieces, or is there something about uncooked meat from larger animals that's not the best for chooks?
     
  18. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    An NZ possum would be nicely fat bro.... Meat doesn't need to be cooked. You should see chooks demolishing a rat that the cat didn't finish! I think you are right about the maggot farms. A whole possum would get pretty rotten before my chooks finished it off. By converting it to maggots the protein source would stay fresh.
     
  19. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    I found a dead rat in the chook house the other day. The chooks had obviously killed it and it had it's guts eaten out. The rest of the rat was intact. They obviously don't like skin and hair.
     
  20. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    There's a limit to how strong their beaks are, since they aren't raptors or big scavengers like Vultures, so they might have trouble eating large dead animals.
     

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