new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by paul wheaton, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    For years I've tried to tell people about stuff that I think is a bit of a better way to raise chickens. But it all comes out sounding like crazy talk. So for the last few weeks I've been trying to write it as one gob that gets the point across. I think this now gets the point across!

    https://www.richsoil.com/chickens.jsp

    Please tell me what you think!
     
  2. derekh

    derekh Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Paul

    I haven't yet read the whole article yet but let me say that i do like various articles on your website. Keep up the good work by researching and presenting this type of information.

    cheers
    Derek
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Paul, that is an excellent article. I shall certainly be forwarding it to people I know with chooks. It's well written, everything is well explained. I liked the mix of photos and diagrams (the diagrams I found particularly useful). And I'm so happy that the wellbeing of the chooks is central to your system! I agree, keep up the good work.

    Can you put in something about building the micro coop and what it should be like?

    Do you have an estimated ratio of number of birds to temporary paddock size? I know that will depend on what's in the paddock, but I'm thinking a ball-park figure would be useful especially for beginners. Or maybe you could write more about what is involved in experimenting to see if you have too may chooks per space eg how long before you can tell?

    How easy, or hard, is it to get to 10 for the food factor?

    I think the work factor and the poop cleaning factor in truly free range could be higher ;-) My friends who had completely free range chooks always had an ongoing battle with the chooks pooping in places that humans needed to sit, lie, walk etc that required daily cleaning and/or putting up with chicken shit.


    Most of the people I know with chooks would love to have them free range instead of in a coop and run situation. I think the big stumbling block is the initial set up costs and work. I'm not sure that the people I know will want to use electric fencing (I don't know anyone that uses that here). Depends on cost and issues of maintance and replacement. Can you write something about that? And about non-electric systems? How much time is involved in setting up and taking down the fences?


    thanks,
    pebble.
     
  4. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Hi Paul
    My place in the city is too small to raise chooks, but my mum lives in the country and has passed on her chicken obsession to me. She has a system which is a hybrid of coop-and-run and paddock: the (approx 30) birds have a permanent coop and massive run full of fruiting/forage trees/plants. They can be shut in the chookhouse if the harrier hawks are about, or in the run if people bring round over-enthusiastic dogs; but generally the gate's left open into the feijoa paddock
    (BTW, have you eaten feijoas? opinion is divided between 'divine' and 'repulsively perfumy'. I'm in camp 'divine'.)
    Anyhoo, between the paddock and the run, there's so much room that the chooks have never managed the 'scorched earth' look.
    I have Salatin-style fantasies, but my mum's chuck-in-some-food-and-collect-the-eggs system works great!
     
  5. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Thanks! I had some angry folks write to tell me I'm an idiot, so it's nice to hear some words of support!

    I'm gonna be working on the article for the next week or two. Soooooo much to say on the subject!
     
  6. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot!

    Well, yes, I hope to write about that, but I think that would be a separate article.

    An excellent suggestion. I put a note in my local copy of the article to expand on that.

    Just real quick: I would probably start with about 1/4 of an acre for 25 birds. This might seem like a lot, but with any good polyculture system, this paddock would serve many needs - not just chicken forage.


    What a truly excellent question. Clearly you deeply understand my article.

    How long does it take a buddhist to achieve enlightenment? :)

    I think this is something where if you have "real winter", the closest you can possibly get is something like 9.6.

    I think that for a permie to get to a 7 would take three years. And then maybe three more years to get to a 9. But, as with anything like this, "it depends ...."

    An excellent point. With a fixed coop, at least all of the poop is in one place.

    I had truly free range with a poop factor of 3 to 4. Maybe I should change it to 0 to 4?

    I think you mean to say "paddock system" instead of "free range"?

    I made a note to push that sort of info into the article.
     
  7. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    So, if I understand correctly, there are two run/paddock areas and a coop, right?

    So there is a huge chicken run loaded with yummy stuff. And there is an even huger paddock with "feijoa" - yes?

    Usually, the chickens get to go into all three as much as they want, but sometimes they are penned into just one for a few hours.

    If this is right, then I would call that a hybrid between coop-and-run and free-ish-range.

    To be a paddock, the paddock would need at least four weeks of rest between visits.

    Never even heard of them!

    It sounds like an excellent system.

    Do you have an estimate on how much your feed costs might be cut by using this system instead of the animals being locked in the coop full time?
     
  8. urbanus

    urbanus Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    My grandmother's chooks had a permanent house (coop) and yard (run) with access to free range and garden and hardly involved any work as such. They were let out of the pen for most of the day into either the garden or, on washing days, the paddock. There were no issues with poop around the farmhouse, which overlooked the garden. The lemon and lime trees below the chook yard thrived. Rounding the chooks up from the paddock was never an issue as they always rushed back to the coop in the evenings for vegie scraps; never had to buy chook food. There were some bare areas in the yard but also areas with vegetation and old hay from the chook house, which was changed each week. There were also plenty of old fashioned herbs and stuff growing through the wire that the chooks would eat. I don't recall ever seeing a sick hen and we had plenty of eggs, which is a good thing on a dairy farm. As far as I know this system continued unchanged for more than 50 years.
     
  9. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Hi again.
    Because my mum's way of raising chooks is my only close-up experience, I can't really compare. Unfortunately I'm pretty confident the inputs outway the outputs. It could be much more economical, but my mother's sentimental and keeps 'retired' chooks till they fall off the perch, as it were. And there's always a gang of young roosters that eat everything in sight but look emaciated.
     
  10. mintcake

    mintcake Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Great article Paul but I think you need to add one more criterion - the carnage factor. I would love to let my chooks roam a bit more free but our area has a very active fox population (I've even had chooks taken in broad daylight). So any pasture system would require massive infrastructure.

    I go with the rotating dome system a la Linda Woodrow and let them out when I'm actually working in the veggie patch (weeding is such fun with chooks vying for every exposed worm).

    Moving the domes is a bit of a pain as I have to attach skirts of chicken wire to stop the foxes digging them out overnight. I am looking at creating slightly raised beds with metal sides that fit quite snugly to the size of the dome and extend at least a meter into the ground. Hopefully, that should keep the foxes out but allow me to pick up and shift the dome easily from one station to the next.
     
  11. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    Yup - I definitely need to add some stuff about predators. I'm working on it.
     
  12. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    I have added a lot to my article "concerns about the way most people raise chickens". I've polished a lot of the article and I've added a significant section on predators.

    I have received a LOT of feedback on the article. Including some rather harsh words! I think I struck a nerve!

    You can find the latest version, along with the harsh words at
    https://www.richsoil.com/chickens.jsp

    I could still use some pictures for the article! Details at
    https://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1958_0

    Thanks!
     
  13. donnadid

    donnadid New Member

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    Re: new article: concerns about the way most people raise chicke

    I found the article very interesting and in fact have incorporated some of the ideas. I have a 800sq block with the house, garage and driveway taking up a good 350sq. The north facing side of the house is filled with raised beds split into two gardens with a third area with fruit trees. So section 1 has four raised beds and lots of grass and plants, section 2 has two raised beds and lots of plants etc, section 3 is full of young fruit trees. We use an A-Frame coop that sits on the top of the raised bed in section 1 & 2 and just sits on the ground in section 3. So they free range in that a set area for 3/4 of the day and the chooks sleep/roost in the coop at night. Then after a month or two they will be moved to a new section and will rotate like that permanently.
    I look forward to reading more of your articles.
     
  14. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Well Done Paul... You have managed to do all of this brilliantly..... I totally agree with you mate....I been doing the same as you...Only difference is I havent done all the paperwork and figures and put it all in a blog etc like you have....

    Ive visited your site a few times over the years,and have been inspired by your loyalty to your causes....
    If ALL we ever did was to listen to doubters,we still be swinging in the trees with the other monkeys still.....

    Some humans just cant see past their noses...For various reasons,people will knock our ideas,mostly thru jelously,or the old "what would you know" syndrome..
    Ive just recently gained a paddock to our house,and am enjoying all the extra space for my chooks to roam free range all day...
    In a paddock setting with self opening doorways etc,is a thing for the future,as i have to be home to let em out in the morn,then lockem up at night.
    Id strongly suggest running chooks etc should be run under trees,eg fruit,nuts,or even fodder and decidious trees....all these trees will contribute some or most (except water) to the daily requirements of the average chook,without ant costly feed(s)....
    When i run on these areas i find that eggs can be layed over allmost a 12 month period....Having mixed ages,will mean a staggering of chooks going off their laying....Chooks dont allways moult and stiop laying in autum..I hear of people in hot countries loosing egg production during hot or cold times..Chooks sitting under a nice shady tree will be more happy content and able to lay eggs,then a hot chookpen,run,tractor etc... without doubt...
    I live in west aussie,and i may not get the weather extremes of other countries eg SNOW, ICE, etc.. but HOT in summer and COLD in winter (without snow but plenty of frosts)..

    I had some chook Experts here few months ago... They laughed out loud at my 3 foot fences around my chook paddocks......In their minds 3 foot at least and some burryed below ground..
    They laughed think 3 foot wasnt going to stop foxes..... well technicly they right.....Im not stopping foxes from getting in to the paddock.just stopping the chooks to get outa the paddock....
    I dont want 6 foot high fencing around400 mtrs of fence line..... it not a prison camp here,its a chook farm lol.....a safe secure shed is the paramount idea.....

    Attached photos show my paddock,in early stages of forest growth...Lawn mower for mowing largeish areas of weeds,NO SPRAYS IN HERE... Too many to pull by hand...I do pull weeds by hand usually,but not by the square meterages lol
    chooks in back garden also.to eat n remove grasses
     

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