I read about this concept in the long-running chicken housing thread started by Paul. The idea appeals to me greatly as it solves many issues we were wrestling with. We're thinking of using a system like that this summer with our meat birds.
Because we only have birds in the summer months (for now) and mostly because we are planning on building a house soon around the same area as part of the moat would be, we don't want to put in permanent fencing just yet. Any reason to think this system couldn't work with some portable poultry netting and stakes instead?
Also had an idea to make a moveable coop that one could move around the moat so the poop doesn't build up too much in one place.
What I love about this idea is it provides perimeter fencing for the part of our land where we will have our veggie gardens, keeps the deer and elk out without having to put in 8 ft fences that make the place look like a stockade, protects the birds from raptors (of which we have plenty around here) even when they are little, or just plain dumb as meat birds can be, gives them plenty of space to spread out their copious amounts of excrement, gives them room to roam rather than being cooped up in a tractor, and allows for easy removal of the poop to the garden/compost bin. What's not to love?
I've also been intrigued by the concept of a chicken moat, but it does not suit the lay of my particular land. If I were you I would not build a separate pen to move inside the moat, but would instead build the equivalent of two child safety gates that could move around the moat with the moat providing the two long walls of a pen and the safety gates providing the two short walls. Still, that's a lot of work for meat birds which wouldn't be kept year-round.
If what you are raising are the cornishX broilers, they don't move around enough to make it worth the bother. Never saw one trying to catch a bug either. I'd just keep them in tractors for now and when you do a permanent garden and have layers, put them in a moat set up. My birds will chase hoppers all day. The ducks are actually better at eating bugs though, particularly the runners.
Kim Kingbold wrote:If what you are raising are the cornishX broilers, they don't move around enough to make it worth the bother. Never saw one trying to catch a bug either. I'd just keep them in tractors for now and when you do a permanent garden and have layers, put them in a moat set up. My birds will chase hoppers all day. The ducks are actually better at eating bugs though, particularly the runners.
I have. Best and most long ranging foragers I have ever had~in 36 years of raising layers, dual purpose breeds and meat birds~ were this past spring's CX meat birds.
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
Well, we are now enjoying our somewhat free-ranging meat birds from the freezer. The experiment was a great success.
Like Jay Green, our birds were quite active. I saw them eating bugs and worms - so much fun to watch! They roamed around a lot, although they also took lots of siestas, lol. They would run around and flap their wings. We were super happy with the arrangement and will definitely do it again next year.
I will say that the moat ended up being a maze-like setup inside a roughly 35x35 ft garden enclosure. I put "walls" up inside such that there was no more than 4 or 5 feet between any two walls, and ran flagging tape over the top to discourage aerial predators. In the end I got lazy/indulgent and let them out into a larger, unprotected area. We did end up losing a few to predators - a raccoon most likely - who discovered our free buffet. It was our own fault - we had chicken wire around the outside of the setup and I had been told it was no use. Next year we will try to spring the $$ for better fencing but damn that hardware cloth is EXPENSIVE!
PS - Jay, what kind of fencing is that in your video? What would I ask for at the farm/feed store? Is it electrified? And how does it compare in price to wire mesh?
If you two don't stop this rough-housing somebody is going to end up crying. Sit down and read this tiny ad: