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Tiny paddocks and chickens

 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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I am in Central Kansas, temps between 0-105, lots of wind, and a fertile area. (winters have been tame in recent years, only a few days below 10 degrees)

I am building a paddock system, seven of them each being 16x32 feet surrounding the barn/roosting area. I think I have decided on White Rock as the breed, and will be planting lots of goodies in these areas, plus utilizing a chicken tractor for the paths in the garden areas.

My questions:

1 - How many chickens might I be able to handle comfortably?

2 - What does one do during the winter season for food? Must I buy food, or what is good to grow in the summer for winter eating?

3 - Will the chickens ruin the paddocks if used in winter? or should I plan an area specifically for the winter that they can tear up?

4 - Any other advice? I will be ready in a month or so... Exciting!

Thanks in advance!
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
4
bee chicken forest garden
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Nice post... I am interested to hear the responses as I am planning the same. I am converting a corner of my old barn to house a ~8x10 chicken coop that will have 3 doors to exit into three individual paddocks. I originally wanted 7 paddocks for each day of the week, but since my coop is not centrally located the practicality was not there. Instead, the 3 paddocks will do and they are each approx 30'x100'. I don't plan on introducing the chickens until later this fall, as I wish to get the paddocks planted as chickens in newly planted area can cause some damage to new plants / roots. I am designing a Food Forest environment with nut & fruit trees, shrubs, plants and root edibles. The planted area will give the chickens some protection from raptors above (I will also be placing a covered shading element in each paddock for opportunity to access a safe place other than the coop in case they feel threatened. The coop and paddock size will be able to accommodate a healthy number of layers, and initial thoughts will have us starting with 8-10 birds. There are five in our family, so if they are laying 1 or 2 eggs every two days, then that is more than enough. Excess will be taken to neighbors to build relationships and develop opportunity down the line. Type of Chicken is yet determined, but plenty of time. I don't know if they will do any more damage in the paddock during winter over summer. My hope is that with a diversity of plantings with staggered fruit bearing times, there will be food dropping most of the year (at least 9 months long). Some organic corn or other feed will be available to scatter through the paddock to get them out and exercising over the cold months (you can also look to certain food scraps as well as).

If you have your coop and runs sketched up, try to post them for a quick understanding how you are laying it out.

Good luck
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
4
bee chicken forest garden
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You might want to check out this book, 'Free Range Chickens, How to create a beautiful chicken friendly yard', by Bloom. It is well put together, going through breeds, coop design, how many and what to feed, beneficial plantings for feeding, health and security, etc. Also, I am taking a Poultry Production course through Cornell's online Beginning Farmers program. I have some interesting PDF's I could share with you... like these...

Good luck...

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Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Tim, you bring up some excellent points. I may have to hold back on a few paddocks while they are being established... But I'm bringing in chickens this spring no matter. I can work my way into it.

I did draw up the plans, and attached them to this post. Hopefully it is readable.

What it details is a 15x18 barn with nesting and roosting area inside. Seven paddocks, five of them having a door directly to the barn, and a covered night area. This plan is thinking forward with the hope of adding a pair of goats (might not happen). Chickens first either way.

The area is completely surrounded by cedar trees and the house, but I intend on diversifying that to great a extent, including more trees inside the paddocks. Right now a giant Pin Oak covers two and a half of the paddocks.

Each paddock either has quick access to the barn, or a separate shelter within. Hawks and Owls will be a problem.

If you are in line with the right number of birds for your plan, I will only have enough for 4 birds at 900sqft per. Sure sounds low considering bag fed operations I've seen, but obviously we are trying to be sufficient , so hopefully others will chime in soon on how many chickens they have and how much room they are using to sustain them.

Scraps will indeed be used, but I won't feed them corn. How about Sunflower for storage?

Peace,
IMG_5098.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_5098.JPG]
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Thank you so much! Pure generosity at work!

And by the way, Sour Kraut has made its way to the neighbors already, they are tough cookies though. I will keep trying...
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Found this on you tube tonight, and it fits pretty well with my thoughts on a permanent paddock operation, though even smaller than my own. Wish he would have mentioned how many chickens and what size the paddocks are... but makes me think I am headed in the right direction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06H9Z-ri3E4
 
joseph wittenberg
Posts: 57
Location: aguanga, california
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Francis Oublieux wrote:Found this on you tube tonight, and it fits pretty well with my thoughts on a permanent paddock operation, though even smaller than my own. Wish he would have mentioned how many chickens and what size the paddocks are... but makes me think I am headed in the right direction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06H9Z-ri3E4


Judging by the timber they look 8 by 16.
It's a good idea, may try to experiment with something like this but use bigger paddocks.
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
4
bee chicken forest garden
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Perhaps determine how many eggs you need and work backwards to determine chicken numbers...

I mentioned somewhere around 10 chickens, as we (5) could consume 25-35 eggs a week. If your layer lays an egg every two days, that is 3.5 eggs a week, or 35 with 10 chickens. I believe my paddocks size, as well as yours, based on rotation intention could handle a good number. Start small and build your flock if you feel your egg supply is not meeting standards. As a fall back, know that you are developing an edible food forest alongside the chickens, so you have that as a source for food.

 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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It appears that I have double posted, is that the right term? http://www.permies.com/t/8067/chickens/Paddock-size-chicken#174267

Looks like others are saying (depending on varying factors) that I should be looking at about 1000sqft per bird. Great information!

For me, this means 3 maybe four birds on my area. Which is way less than I hoped for (neighbors) but enough for me and the kiddos for sure.

I will start with five, and a bag of franken feed in case, and work from there to an actual base on my property. If I can't handle that many, and early chicken dinner it will be. If I can handle more, I will post my own realities. I will also be gorilla gardening sunflowers for winter feed, not to mention protein from fly larvae. And whatever else I can conceive or learn of including tractoring.

Still have questions in my initial post, please ad your comments if you can.

Thanks everyone!
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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This podcast on The Survival Podcast answers many of my questions, it is beautiful! http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/

The system I am trying is called a 'wheel' system, and has some downfalls including disease build up as mentioned in the podcast. Not going to stop me, but something I will be wary of.

By the way Mr. Wheaton, I learned of TSP from you... Just saying.

If you stumble upon this post looking into paddock shift chickens, the above link answers a great deal.
 
                
Posts: 2
Location: Central Gulf coast Florida
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Tim Southwell wrote:You might want to check out this book, 'Free Range Chickens, How to create a beautiful chicken friendly yard', by Bloom. It is well put together, going through breeds, coop design, how many and what to feed, beneficial plantings for feeding, health and security, etc. Also, I am taking a Poultry Production course through Cornell's online Beginning Farmers program. I have some interesting PDF's I could share with you... like these...

Good luck...

Thanks from a new member! Though I cannot currently have chickens (motel property, health regulations blah blah blah) I have my eyes on the near future, wherein I will be able to do it all! Huge organic garden, flock of hens, maybe even a couple nanny goats.
FWIW I tried to set up my profile - I don't know if it 'took', and won't until I actually post (this is my first). So Hi all!
 
Jeff Wesolowski
Posts: 35
Location: nw ohio
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I've had chickens, ducks and recently geese for about 7 years or so. I use moveable pens so I have no experience in paddocks. I like to get by with few as animals as possible. I only keep three layers and get new girls every spring because they lay all winter w/o lights. The less animals you keep, the less your land will get tore up, plain and simple. If your girls tear up land, you can always hold them in a area and feed em sprouts and scraps. Weather will also play a factor on well on how well greens grow too.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I have 8 layers, and just set up a lockdown area that's predator proof... a deep litter yard that is 180 sf plus 50sf of coop -- so I can leave for several days. Paddocks are just getting set up. one is around 1200 square feet, old pasture with some brush piles for future tree planting sites. They are not getting anything off the pasture, and it has been around 1 month. I am letting them linger on the first paddocks, and will move them when spring hits, and then sow annuals into the damaged paddocks with my woody plantings. (I figure I will just flatten the brush piles to provide protection for young roots and mulch for seedlings). I am expecting to have around 6000 sf of paddock in 4 units and am planning on a full rotation once a year, and am nervous about keeping them green... AND I bag feed. I see the paddocks as supplemental, and for my tree crops as much as the chickens. We bulk order organic grain with supplement from In Season Farms in British Columbia. The site is adjacent to another 2000 sf of annual row crop. It takes a large area of pasture cuttings to keep the deep litter looking civil. I look at my chicken grain import as my primary nutrient input, and through the deep litter, and my roost catcher, the manure is my primary fertilizer over an acre.
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Hey Permies, I just wanted to post an update to this project, what I have learned, and where I am at.

Thanks to all of those who chimed in with their thoughts.

Same plan: seven paddocks surrounding a six door barn.

I was able to see sunflower, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, and clover grow in the paddocks with only hand seeding this season (though minimal compared to untouched gardens), and that is with the chickens going in and scratching after only a month of growth. This is in addition to all the wild goodies like polk weed, black nightshade, buffalo grass, chick weed, fox tail, prickly lettuce, yellow wood sorel, and many others. Next year I will plant super heavy in spring, and gradually let the chickens in each paddock for a longer period of time until the gardens are grown enough to allow a full day in each paddock. If the chickens eat up all of one species and its gone, then it doesn't matter, because my chicken paddock gardens will be full of all the same plants as my main garden anyway. Its just good green food for the chicks, and a bunch of it survived to produce fruit all the while having chickens in the paddock as long as a week at a time.

I raised 15 White Rock Chicks till the 5 month point. I had to buy that many and it worked good for the meat. At this point the garden is slowing down, and not as many goodies to bring the chicks from the garden, so 7 were slaughtered bringing stock, hearts and liver, meat, and fly larvae using the rest. This leaves eight full grown chickens for eggs and future chicks, one being a noisy ass rooster. This is twice the number of 4, that I had come to feel was right early this year. Given what the full flock was eating as far as bag food, I have judged at this point that in my +3000 sqft system, I will need no bagged food from June through October for sure. This will improve as I grow and save more crops for the winter months. I filled the one gallon feeder that is accessible all day when I slaughtered Monday, and the eight chickens have barley touched it since. Even as the gardens fade, bugs, late season berries, and grass seeds are keeping them full.

The chicken tractor is 4x6 and with 8 chickens they can mow a patch that size in 20-30 minutes. I only use this when I myself am working in the yard and able to move it with regularity. The point is gone if it sits in one place to long. It also worked great as a way to separate the scarlet letters for slaughtering. So the tractor is used through the summer for clearing paths and eating what they can get along the edges of the beds, but starting in early September I have let the chickens start roaming free in the 1/10 acre garden to clean up the bugs and misc. goodies.

Airflow is important in hot areas for the barn area, it is here anyway. This is a problem when you only want one door open to the paddock of choice. So I built an open frame chicken wire door as a way to keep the N/S winds coming through no matter what paddock is open to the chickens. It is setup like a screen door so the main door can still be closed on winter nights.

These paddocks are 4ft chainlink fence! Like it or not, I tried it and the birds have no desire to leave their yummy and comfy paddocks. The most I have seen is once a single bird got to the outside of the paddock, and was going nuts to get back with the group. The other time was a few days ago when two girls were in a neighboring paddock, they are now in my freezer. Genetics... I am not saying this fence will work for everyone, but my instinct told me it would be okay, I tried, and it is okay. Part of my success with this fence I attribute to a species that is not all that flighty to begin with. In addition, there is a six foot fence around the front of the barn as a winter day area that is secure from winter hungry predators. Summer predators have not been a problem, but I still intend on growing more small trees in the paddcks for sky hunters, and as for the rest, all we can do stay alert and learn as time goes on.

I hope this information can be of value to those trying similar.

Until I update again, I will continue trying to get this system to a zero outside-nutrients-needed state.

 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Did you get to plant sunflowers as winter feed? The 'hoppers got most of mine

This year I hope to try a fodder system. Feed is EXPENSIVE and green food is so much better. I hoped to get to it last year, but I am running way behind on projects...
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Yes R Scott, I have approximately 24 8-12" sunflower heads from this season. Not enough, but a start! I was attacked by many critters as well, but I simply kept putting seed in the ground.

I posted some pictures and a similar description plus some views of my chicken tractor and how it used in conjunction with the paddock system.

Feel free to check it out at my Wordpress blog, catalystcoop.com.
 
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