we're kind of focused on other projects at the moment... so our own setup has been reduced down to a more temporary setup utilizing a tractor.
but I thought I'd mention one of my friends' solution for nighttime predators; a method she calls da do run (ron) run (ron) -- she has an extra run around her chickens -- initially she had guineas but she didn't get along with them and would rather her pasture dogs stay near the goats and cattle than run back to towards the house to see whatever mouse fart set them off. So, she then set a couple barn cats in it -they come to feed at night, so she pens them up like her other dogs now, the cas mostly live in it now - but she did have to create some shelters and a couple 'trees' to encourage them to explore and stay along the parameter a bit more. And outside of that a run for the house dogs (well, really it's just more of a fenced in space of the house's yard.. the cats seem to do better with a narrower space and it is enclosed at the top. the dog's fence does have an outer gate but all the runs attached to a large shed (small barn) - two doors to the cats, two doors to the dogs, one door to the chicken yard (she rotates within their access to different parts of the yard and they've got a house in the center) one door to the outside and a sliding door blocking the dogs & cats door from her chicken room (incubation, medical, storage) and the chicken's yard door.
the costs are impractical when she primarily uses the chickens just for her family's needs. It became her 'mission' .. honestly, for a while I thought she was going to open up a squirrel farm as every few weeks she'd gift me with a package of squirrel meat. She wasn't much of a hunting person, nor a cat person, but that changed pretty quick. The squirrels had no fear, she calls them furry cockroaches. While most of the other predators were more of a seasonal... which a floodlight was enough to drive most of them off. she also pitches up a picnic umbrella in the summer. She didnt seem to have problems with hawks or owls, but if nothing else they get a little extra shade.
I'm thinking I might try a more budget friendly version when we get our shit together... but out here, this season, we've had more problems with armadillos than anything...
How to have fresh eggs without the following problems with our Chicken Sanctuary System:
Never clean the chicken Dome\Cube coop – if one person moves the Dome weekly
Healthiest eggs by providing the chicken a Free Range Diet – if one person moves the Dome weekly
Day time protection from Chicken Hawks, Eagles, and the neighbor’s dog
No waste or no rodent problems with our special feeders
Do not have to feed chickens everyday with our large capacity (100 lbs) and rain proof feeder
Automatic chicken watering system – from our rain harvesting system
No having to open the chicken door in the mornings
Likewise, no closing the chicken door at night
Night time protection from raccoons, coyotes, weasels and other predators
Design the chicken roosting area (cube) to look like a Favorite Barn, Rubik’s Cube, Chicken Hotel etc.
The Chicken Sanctuary Package consist of following:
No Waste Rodent Free Chicken Feeder - Fifteen Gallon (15) Feed Storage Barrel–it can feed chickens for 4 weeks
Rain Proof Roll Away Eggs Nests
Automatic Opener and Closer for Chicken Cube Door - 110 volts – Solar
It is 9.5 feet wide and 5 feet high with 71 square feet of run and free range natural diet area. The dome is light and can be moved comfortably by one person because is made out of pvc pipe and covered with deer netting. It can house up to six (6) chickens.
The Dome is composed of long, curving struts which crisscross and are anchored to a base. The Dome with its deer netting covering is not meant to protect the chickens from night time predators: like raccoons, coyotes or weasels, but from chicken hawks, eagles or the neighbor’s dog. At night the chickens roost in the Cube, with its solid plastic walls, it protects the chickens from night time predators
Moving the Dome
By moving the Dome, the chicken run area never has to be cleaned and the chickens have a Free Range Diet. The chicken poop just fertilizer the ground under the Dome.
The Cube contains all the feeding, roosting, and egg laying systems.
It is a 4’ X 4’ X 4’ solid plastic walled cube. The plastic bottom floor is replaced with a wire floor. This is in order that the chickens waste will fall on the ground instead the cube’s floor.
There is a bucket inserted sidewise into the Cube for eggs laying with a black rain proof screw off lid.
The cube has a opening in the top for ventilation.
The Chicken Feeder
A No Waste Chicken Feeder is placed outside at end of the Cube. It is elevated to a comfortable height for the chickens to eat. This feeder completely eliminates mess, waste, and provide clean and poop free feed for the chickens.
It can hold up to a 100lbs of Chicken Feed and it is rain proof and rodent proof.
As the Dome and Cube are moved, the Feeder can be moved by sliding it on its rails.
So This is where one would post a response to your article comparing various ways of raising chickens?
This is nit-picky... but you say that Salatin's broiler pens as described in his book (Presumably _Pastured Poultry Profits) are 10x20 and they are actually 10x12.
I don't think it's fair to say that Cornish cross aren't interested in bugs. They are less intelligent and have more trouble catching them, and they are also very interested in the feed trough, but they definitely catch bugs.
I got a 100% survival rate with a batch of 53 Cornish X one year. I *think* that what happened is this... I got the chicks from a different hatchery than I usually did and they were just listed as "cornish cross" not "jumbo cornish cross" which is what I normally get, so I think the genetics vary significantly from one hatchery to another. They took forever to gain weight though, and I was experimenting with using squash as part of their fermented feed. I used a third hatchery this spring and just slaughtered birds that dressed out in the 6-8lb range. No heart attacks or leg problems, but lots of chicks that just keeled over during the first 10 days or so.
The big birds appeal to me because you get a lot more meat per bird slaughtered, and slaughtering yourself is a lot of work and I'm doing it with an infant on my back now... so... BUT I've noticed that the big birds get really dirty, which is not what Salatin describes, and your article made me think I probably need to move them more often and/or not grow them out as big.
Which leads me to another point... You don't distinguish between vegetation eaten and vegetation killed. I'm not trying to clear ground with my Salatin-style broiler pens, but I do notice that the birds trample or burry what they don't eat, and I'm not sure why they would eat toxic plants if their feeders were kept full?
I hope this doesn't put me in the "bashing" category for feedback. I really appreciated your ability to weigh pros and cons, and thought it was over-all a great article. I'm working on establishing a paddock system for my pullets, and establishing lots of food plants for them
I sometimes like to say that "Architecture is where building meets consciousness."
The great Roman Architect Vitruvious speaks of Architecture comprising 'Firmness, Commodity and Delight".
We look at this delightful little Chicken Coop/ Rabbit Hutch combination at Pebblespring farm and share the very real and universal architectural design principles that guided its construction and can be applied to small projects like this and much bigger ones.
I went to see it and was very impressed how the place incorporates the needs of all 3 species. A combination of permanent and temporary fences are a critical element of the design, to avoid the chickens trashing the wrong plants at the wrong time, and to avoid the poop on the doorste dilemma Paul mentions in the second post.
If you go to the Diploma tab on the website you find a much more detailed document about the forage system
Forest Gardening in Practice: The first comprehensive review of temperate forest gardens. Case studies of private, community and commercial sites. Order from https://reallifeforestgardens.com/book
We have a project which consists in raising hens for eggs in a cool temperate ocean climate (9b USDA) with the paddock shift system in an area which associate market farming and agroforestry. We are looking for some information about the number of hens we have to raise to be able to remunerate one person, paddocks size to provide enough food, …
We have 2,5 acres available for raising hens.
We would like to know if it is possible to remunerate one person with the paddock shift system.
This system can also works if the hens aren’t following cattle or there is not enough food in this case ?
What is the animal days per acre for a hen ?
It looks like this thread is 11 years old at the time of my reply, but why not revisit a great discussion? I considered most of the options, 1 thru 5, and settled on a modified #5 using the rather-expensive electrified poultry netting with a mobile coop. Using Justin Rhoades's "Chickshaw 2.0" plans, I built my own chickshaw. It gets moved daily to new pasture, sometimes in the trees or orchard. Chicks are about 7-8 weeks old in the picture, and there are x42+1 Goose. (Her name is Lucy Goosy;-) It takes me less than 30 minutes to move the whole setup and fill feeders, which have since changed to a larger, buffet-style type. We also have a Dexter dairy cow named Clementine, who rotates once per day. My hope is to get the chickens scratching at the cow patties, eating fly larvae, similar to what the Salatins do at Polyface.
"The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness", so steward it well!
Looks like it's been 2 years since anyone's posted on this thread, so I'd like to re-ignite the discussion with my own experience trying to raise a small flock of 5 chickens for the first time this spring and utterly failing.
At first, this seemed to work like a dream. We even raised the chicks from day-old to teens inside a box inside the chickshaw, with a lamp hung over them. Since the chickshaw's lid pops up, this worked fine. We're in an older, inner-ring suburb of a larger city on just 1/4-acre and have no garage or outbuilding and a cat inside we were afraid would mess with the chicks. One very adventurous chick did catapult herself out of the box, but a wire lid solved that problem.
Once they were out of the brooder box, they took to the chickshaw/paddock wonderfully. We used a 6-foot poultry net barrier around the chickshaw, keeping the chickens in an area where I wanted them to eat down the plants and till the soil for my future warm-season vegetable plot. But that one adventurous chicken kept getting out of the enclosure, even at 6 feet in height, though we never saw her actually fly over the netting. At 6 weeks, several of them would fly up to the top of the chickshaw, so it's possible. However, I think she was actually slipping UNDER the netting. We thought we solved this by folding the bottom under, secured by bricks.
When it came time to move the paddock, it went easy-peasy, as we only moved two of the fenceposts, basically rotating the paddock one square over. As you can see in the photo below, the warm-season veg is in the front in the former paddock, and the chickshaw is now moved behind it, where the chicks had a brand new paddock full of loads of fresh green plants to eat. We broadforked the area where the chickens had been, and they did their job admirably, as that bed is growing veg like gangbusters. It's awesome.
BUT, this is when tragedy struck. That one adventurous chicken was the first to go: She slipped out of the enclosure, again, underneath it despite the bricks. When we rotated it, there was a lot of vegetation in the new paddock spot, and the poultry netting gapped over some areas that we missed with the bricks. A hawk took her in the middle of the day out in the open, in a path between the garlic rows. I came home to find her still warm, her sisters gathered together in a pile right outside the opening in the poultry netting, as if in shock.
Not a week later, we had a really hard, overnight rain that saturated the ground. A predator (mink?) was able to push the poultry netting down enough to scale it, the posts bending over in the sodden ground. Then it slipped into the coop through the egg door in the back, which in Justin Rhodes' Chickshaw Mini-Me design is open. It slaughtered the other 4. We'd only made it to 8 weeks with this flock of 5.
So now we have no chickens after all that work and expense. It's demoralizing, and my more conventional chicken-raising friends look at me like I'm a clueless noob who should have known better than to try something so "different."
I think the main problem here was that egg door on the back of the Chickshaw. As I mentioned in this thread on the subject, the Chickshaw design is flawed; that egg opening is an invitation for predators to do what they did to our flock. So if we try this again, the first thing we do is close up the hole. Since the top "lid" lifts up anyway, it doesn't make sense to have a hole in the back.
I'm not sure what to do about the fencing. We had a flock of speckled Sussex, and maybe it's the breed, but I just shake my head at folks who say that chickens aren't going to roam. I'm with Paul and the others who don't want to dig into the ground to partially bury a more permanent fence. I still think the paddock system works, and yeah, that one chicken was a problem, but it might have been OK for the rest of the flock. So maybe we try it again? I actually wish someone would make me a rollup fence that's weighted on one side so we don't have to weight it down with bricks over vegetation.
The other thing my conventional chicken-raising friends have pointed out is that the Chickshaw won't be enough of a shelter for overwintering the chickens. It's construction mesh on about 1/3rd of the sides. Do the chickens need more shelter from the elements in the winter? We're in Missouri, and last year was mild, but we can get below-zero temps F.
Curious to know what the community here can suggest. I was also very attached to these chickens--that durn roamer wanted to follow me around the garden, in fact--so I'm also still getting over the heart loss here. I think when you raise livestock you enter into a pact with the animals to provide for them so they will provide for you, and they held up their end of the bargain, but I failed them.
Besides covering the Chickshaw egg door, what changes should we make to our system?
Is the Chickshaw enough of a shelter in winter?
Any suggestions for how to keep the chickens inside the paddock?