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chicken walapini??

 
pollinator
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chicken walapini.  I see one mention of this term on this forum, and it's for avoiding HOA predators rather than for making all-year-round feed.  I am looking for an even easier lazier did I mention easier alternative to indoor mealworms.  (If I can't find one then I"ll go with indoor mealworms, but just wanting to look at options.  I prefer digging something once to maintaining something daily).

WWSHD?  Does Sepp put chickens in a pen like pigs dug into the side of the hill with earth sheltering it that keeps the temperature even?

What if you don’t have a hill—can you just dig a big pit, put glass over one half or whatever Mike Oehler would put, shade the other half, and give chickens an option to be in the shade or sun depending on their preferences?  They might not lay, just get through winter and have an environment where bugs, worms, and larvae can grow.  A non-stratifying, unfortunately, but still sort of temperature regulated environment.

Kitchen scraps can go in and leaves and create some earthworm population for protein.  

By the way, I know Ben Falk had some zero-energy heat escape valve on his greenhouse that was a better alternative to a fan, but I can't remember what it was.  I wanna say it was just a flap that the hot air could push open when it got to a certain temperature, or a wax something-or-other.  Apropos of the chickenpini and the greenhouse kickstarter project.

Thoughts? experiences? reading suggestions?
 
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Knowing what I know about chickens:
1. they'll dig at the base of the walls if you don't have some sort of edging to prevent that.
2. you'd need a series of 5-7 of them so that you could rotate the chickens while the bugs moved up and multiplied to eat the shit left behind
3. are you thinking of digging down in your climate for cool, heat or predator protection? (I'm not so good with US climate extremes) What wouldn't work with just 5-7 above-ground runs that the chickens would rotate through?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Thanks Jay.

The intention is to have live bugs for feed for the chickens available in winter (mimic a jungle climate sort of for the chickens, since they're from jungle fowl, as Paul pointed out in a podcast with Pantry Paratus.  I think it's #83).  

I see a video of someone with a compost heap above ground in a cold frame at 21 Fahrenheit, getting some steam off it, that might be warm enough but it didn't explain what the purpose of it was or whether the chickens could get at bugs in it.
 
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For the zero-energy heat release, use a "greenhouse vent opener".  There are many sizes and they're a cheap assembly with a wax piston to open and close a vent based on temperature.

A chickapini would be interesting.  Doing a walapini in Massachusetts for growing would be hard.  Low sun angles won't let much light in plus snow on top would need to be removed.

But for chickens it might work.  If it snows and then is extra cold, leave the snow on for a day to insulate them (some light would still get through).  If it's deep enough in the ground, the glazing is a high enough R value, and it's insulated against frost on the four sides, it might very well stay above freezing all winter for you.    So you may not be able to grow plants in it but you might very well be able to grow bugs in it.

Adding compost is tricky.  It may give you heat but it will also give you mold/spores/odors and a management chore.
 
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I would be very concerned about humidity. The only chickens I ever lost in winter were years ago before I realized how important dry air and lots of ventilation are for chickens. Dampness and cold = respiratory issues for chickens. No temperature seems to be too cold for chickens if they have lots of fresh air and they are kept very dry.  Lack of sunshine may be an issue as well. As Mike said,  walapini don't work well except near the equator, due to really extreme lack of sunlight in the winter.
 
Mike Haasl
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Good point Trace!
 
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I think this could be really good.
If the hole had different levels like an inverted step pyramid that could be used to separate the chickens from any growing thing.
Build a 4' tall fence out of  pallets.
Lay poly out around the perimeter of the fence,  secure with stones
Inside that dig a two foot deep pit with a second one foot deep pit in the center of that.
Deposit the soil right outside the fence,atop the poly  as a berm.
Fill in the deepest pit with wood chips or autumn leaves as a very deep bedding and source of bugs.
With the lowest pit filled in, put  a 4' foot fence around this mulch pit and plant   Austrian Winter peas and/or Fava  beans around the perimeter.
I think these would be good fodder and should grow during winter in a warm enough greenhouse.
Cap this pit with double layer poly with a curved or peaked shape, to shed snow.
Continue the poly out over the berm,  to keep the soil dry.


I like to let my hens rest during the short days of winter, but a solar  powered light might  keep them laying.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Jay Angler wrote:Knowing what I know about chickens:
1. they'll dig at the base of the walls if you don't have some sort of edging to prevent that.
2. you'd need a series of 5-7 of them so that you could rotate the chickens while the bugs moved up and multiplied to eat the shit left behind
3. are you thinking of digging down in your climate for cool, heat or predator protection? (I'm not so good with US climate extremes) What wouldn't work with just 5-7 above-ground runs that the chickens would rotate through?



I'm thinking that the digging at the edge can be a solution, not a problem,  especially if they get started in summer and dig their walapini wider by winter.  If some of the wall collapses on them, a few pounds of soil, it wouldn't hurt, they're pretty tough and can dodge a predator from above usually, yes?  The roof glass would simply need to overhang by a good margin.  Then you also have a bit of thermal umbrella over the whole walapini.

I imagine the whole structure could be donut shaped, and then paddock shift around the donut till you get back to the beginning. (If they eat (dig) tge center of the donut that would be a problem, but it just needs to be one strut supporting the roof there, not a lot of edging.  

A hole in this plan is that over time the digging may accumulate too much. Maybe they can be incentivized to dig less if their food stays in the middle and they dig down more not across?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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William Bronson wrote:I think this could be really good.
If the hole had different levels like an inverted step pyramid that could be used to separate the chickens from any growing thing.
Build a 4' tall fence out of  pallets.
Lay poly out around the perimeter of the fence,  secure with stones
Inside that dig a two foot deep pit with a second one foot deep pit in the center of that.
Deposit the soil right outside the fence,atop the poly  as a berm.
Fill in the deepest pit with wood chips or autumn leaves as a very deep bedding and source of bugs.
With the lowest pit filled in, put  a 4' foot fence around this mulch pit and plant   Austrian Winter peas and/or Fava  beans around the perimeter.
I think these would be good fodder and should grow during winter in a warm enough greenhouse.
Cap this pit with double layer poly with a curved or peaked shape, to shed snow.
Continue the poly out over the berm,  to keep the soil dry.


I like to let my hens rest during the short days of winter, but a solar  powered light might  keep them laying.



Thanks William! Just catching up on others' posts, I didn't realize anyone had responded.  

This seems like a good system.  In terms of Trace's point about air circulation, I'm thinking the chickens shouldn't be housed in the walapini-ish thing, but just get their bugs there and then get out.  Maybe they can have 24-hour access to it while doing a pie-slice-shaped paddock shift rotation around the walapini? Or maybe just use it as a bug farm and shovel a few shovels of bugs out of it into the chickens' pen each day.  It could be better than having to roof over a whole area.  (I don't know enough about chickens yet to know of other cold-climate winter solutions for chicken housing, I've only heard of them huddling together in their coop for warmth and making a lot of their own heat.)

The idea of having the compost area open to the air seems better over all.  Textured Earth Worms All year.
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