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Geoff Lawton film: Chickens fed Compost, no bought grain

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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geoff lawton and Eco Films created a short film on one of my very favorite "waste to yield" sites in the US - Karl Hammer at Vermont Compost Company. This guy is an inspiration. And there is awesome footage of hens "doing their chicken thang".

I really hope to get something like this going in an urban setting, spread out across several homes in the neighborhood (already many of us have chickens). The idea is that we would gather food waste from local restaurants and other neighbors as well as receive regular deliveries of woodchips and process this mixture through the chicken system. In actuality, myself and a few other neighbors are already doing this on a small scale but none of us are quite to the point yet of being able to raise chickens without grain.

click here!
 
Amedean Messan
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Same video, just posted for convenience.

 
Burra Maluca
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You can see the full-length 12 minute video here - http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/59960-feed-chickens-without-grain
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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@Amadean - thanks for that - for some reason, I could NOT figure out how to insert the video - most frustrating.

@Burra - thanks for the longer vid!
 
R Scott
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At the neighborhood level:

What if you GIVE AWAY eggs to neighbors that supply scraps--or more accurately trade raw material for a percentage of finished goods? I am sure you could find neighbors more than willing to bring food scraps and (ORGANIC) yard waste (that they would have to PAY to get rid of) in exchange for a few eggs. The trick would be figuring out a fair exchange.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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R Scott wrote:At the neighborhood level:

What if you GIVE AWAY eggs to neighbors that supply scraps--or more accurately trade raw material for a percentage of finished goods? I am sure you could find neighbors more than willing to bring food scraps and (ORGANIC) yard waste (that they would have to PAY to get rid of) in exchange for a few eggs. The trick would be figuring out a fair exchange.


Great idea AND one that I have employed in the past. However, there are some limitations (at least for me) that I ran up against with that idea:
--fair exchange. When I had 8 hens (my entire property is only 1/6 acre) and they were young, this was more possible as there was often a surplus of eggs.
--most neighbors did not expect eggs in return, or at least didn't expect them on a regular basis. Which was great because I live on disability and often sold surplus at the farmers market as much needed income for myself.
--now that my chickens are elders, and I have fewer of them at the moment (due to my personal health, I decided against getting new chicks this fall to replace deceased birds), eggs are very sporadic and in fact, I've had to resort to buying eggs!
--I would love to engender a more of a feeling of "let's all work together to keep functional waste out of the landfills" than create an expectation of some kind of "exchange" that one may or may not be able to live up to in the future. Don't get me wrong, I love to give things to people who need them - but I don't want to tax my own extremely limited means to "compensate" folks for donating things they would have otherwise thrown out. Most people enjoy the fact that they've "done good" by keeping waste out of the waste stream. Also, I do host "tea with hens" garden parties every once in awhile and neighbors get to hang out, enjoy tea and snacks and pet a hen and snack on whatever is ripe at the time.

 
Isabelle Gendron
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Just watched the video and was coming to share but glad to see someone di

What a great video. Like I said on the site, I made a huge step in my researche to feed my flock eithout grains...got to try it and see how it will be managable in winter and if the birds will go out to scratch in the cold season. Is it really cold in Vermont in winter? I already have Chanteclers that can go out without freezing. I guess a couple of Brahmas won't hurt neither

Isabelle
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Isabelle - I think if you have a large enough pile, it generates heat that the birds are attracted too.

As for Vermont - the saying goes "Eight months of winter and four months of bad sledding".
 
Isabelle Gendron
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HAHAHAH Seriously? Here in winter it can go down near -35, -40 with the wind. This I would say during the 2 coldest weeks of january. After and before that -20 or so...then in Marsh that warmer days come back normaly after St-Patrick's day. We receive a lot of snow also.

Now I'm using a deep litter method in the Coop but I can't say that they are eating less grains though. But it is around 6 degrees warmer inside than the outside temp. But my ¨compost litter¨isn't really heating yet.

Isabelle
 
josh brill
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We've had a good stretch of warm weather the past couple of years here in VT. This one is looking to be colder though. In vermont if your a large composter taking in more than 55% of your composting material from the outside, you have to file similar as any other waste site(dump). The chickens are actually used as a way to avoid that process. If your feeding the food scrapes to chickens then technically your not using them as compost feedstock and it counts as Agriculture. From what I understand they are doing more than a million gross sales every year, and about 10,000 or less in eggs which is still pretty good since his cost for keeping them is so low.

If the chickens see him with a shovel they come running. He flips over some compost and they go crazy trying to eat all the critters that are revealed. It's pretty fun to watch.

We buy our potting soil from them and its always an interesting conversation.

He also partially heats his testing hightunnel in the winter with a compost pile jean pain style. He sells the mix by the truckload as well if anyone is interested in compost heating.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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@Josh - lucky you to be so nearby - close enough to be regularly entertained by the antics of chickens! I would love to visit their operation one day but ain't no way this desert rat is going there any time but in the heat of summer!
 
Isabelle Gendron
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@ Josh...effectively I ssaw on tehir website that in the winter the chicken are inside a tunnel...did I understood correctly? Here I think it would be difficult to use this method since we have a ¨quota¨system with the ¨big¨agriculture industry. So small farm like mine can have up to 100 egg layers, 100 broilers, and 20 turkeys (I think) without needing to by a quota to produce eggs or meat...but the idea is absolutly great. But I am really woundering if the chicken can really go without eating any grains? Here my flock free range and they always waiting for the grains.....I have a lot of pastures, flowers, trees etc but they like their grains...

Isabelle
 
josh brill
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We've only gone during the shoulder seasons to pick up compost. So I don't know what it looks like in the middle of winter.
http://goo.gl/maps/oeyhV The light colored area is where the chicken are most consentrated and that building has the roosts and egg boxes if I remember correctly. Next to that long white rectangle you can see a small square area. Food scrapes get dumped there and the chickens can go at them. You can see two tunnels that up on cement walls in the overhead shot. That is where the first bit of composting happens. And might be the tunnels they were talking about. I'm sure they had other reasons too but they had to add the tunnels to stop crows and ravens from grabing food scraps that were not composted yet and flying over to the neighbors and dropping it. The neighbor who moved in well after the composting operation was going full force has been a real headache over the years for Karl.

We try to keep our winter chicken area clear of snow then spread first cut hay out. That really helps the birds get out an about during the winter. The first cut hay tends to have a lot of seeds that they can scavange for as well. We have a mobile hoop coop, that gets pretty darn warm in the winter with the bedded pack and all the chickens heating it up. Moisture buildup and be a big problem if you don't have good ventilation.

He is in a warmer climate but http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/the_smallscale_poultry_flock:paperback has some good ideas on alternative feeds and general chicken maintenance. We met him at our winter's farmers market two years ago when he was doing some touring research and he seemed like a really nice guy.
 
Isabelle Gendron
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I will check this out.

Thank you.
 
Elissa Teal
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Geoff Lawton and Eco Films created a short film on one of my very favorite "waste to yield" sites in the US - Karl Hammer at Vermont Compost Company. This guy is an inspiration. And there is awesome footage of hens "doing their chicken thang".

I really hope to get something like this going in an urban setting, spread out across several homes in the neighborhood (already many of us have chickens). The idea is that we would gather food waste from local restaurants and other neighbors as well as receive regular deliveries of woodchips and process this mixture through the chicken system. In actuality, myself and a few other neighbors are already doing this on a small scale but none of us are quite to the point yet of being able to raise chickens without grain.

geofflawton.com


I just watched his whole series (on his site) and it was VERY informative for this PC newbie.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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