Jeremey Weeks wrote:Jocelyn, I have 200 dual purpose chicks on order to arrive this April. They're going to follow my pigs, which will be in paddocks.
I'm going to use tractors. The biggest issue with non-layers in my admittedly small experience is that they have no reason to stay where you want them. Cornish X might stay stay in a four foot high portable fence, but every chicken I've dealt with can get over six foot fencing if they want. I suppose you could clip wings, but that's added labor and there isn't a lot of room for that if you want to be profitable.
When "food forest" is mentioned, I think of shrubs, trees, etc. All of which make great roosts for chickens. The problem is getting the chickens out of the trees, brambles, etc. This is more labor. I have personal experience trying to flush chickens out of a ponderosa pine.
I think you can keep layers profitably in a food forest, and I plan on doing so. But probably not broilers.
Adam Klaus wrote:Check out this thread for some solid numbers indicating the profitability of my system-
Obviously, the easy answer is raise a different breed, but does anyone have any other ideas or rebuttal to this, because a lot of people will ONLY raise Cornish Crosses.
Jeremey Weeks wrote:Awesome summary, Nathan. What breed of bird?
Shane Gorter wrote:To avoid some of the issues Nathan P. had with electronet I would recommend having your fencer in a centeralized location and buy one of those cheap quarter mile spools of fencing wire and some step-in insulated fense posts and run the power out to your nets vs moving the fencer and ground posts each time. As far as moving the electronet goes I do not pick up the entire thing and move it all at once, I spent way to much time chasing loose chickens. Instead what I do is I move my mobile coop each day and then shift the electronet onto new ground about 1/3rd of a paddock shift a day and I have a large paddock. I do this by moving a few posts at a time so that the net is always standing and there is no openings for the birds to escape out of.
Matu Collins wrote:I have had full grown hens carried off by hawks and eagles. I've been hesitant to try the paddock shift system because of the many predators that come from above, in particular the birds of prey, raccoons and fishers. The other is the cost of the fencing. I've been toying with a design that includes a chicken moat which I'm excited about but it's going to take some capital.
I want someone to design an easy way to put netting around yes that will keep predators out but allow the chickens to have access to lower branches and fallen fruit and shade and other benefits of trees. Has anyone accomplished this?
Shane Gorter wrote:another problem your going to run into is that of the market. People have grown to expect that chicken will look and taste like a Cornish X. Even the hybrid red birds I have raised such as the Freedom Ranger and Red Ranger people given the choice preferred the large breasted Cornish X.
We have to produce unique, artisan products, and charge premium prices for them. That much I am sure.
Shane Gorter wrote:
I am a full time farmer and I know I can sell probably 2000 Cornish X a year and make about $4-$5 a bird. With the Red Birds I could probably sell 300 a year and make probably $3 a bird.
Shane Gorter wrote: With the heritage birds requiring 5 months to get up to an average weight of 4lbs I can not make money at all.
Shane Gorter wrote: Also in my experience, not to my pleasure, I find that the average consumer wants boneless skinless chicken breast. I loose probably half my market because I only sell full birds not parted out. When someone takes home a Red bird and finds barely any chicken breasts compared to the Cornish X, I have gotten complaints.
Shane Gorter wrote: I really want to drive the point home that I am in no way advocating for Cornish X at all. The reason why I raise them is that is that first I am trying to create a non industrial farm business model that others can duplicate and thrive on. Second, I want to make food available that is not poisonous and has greater nutrition than industrial organics.
Adam Klaus wrote:Lets get it back to topic! Chickens in the forest!
Lots of places to discuss marketing, genetics, predation. Lets focus on the beauty and simplicity of 'doin it right'. On this topic!
So, "rasiing broiilers or meat birds in a food forest". What do you got?
Shane Gorter wrote:Nathan, it helps if you have more than one net for navigating around obstacles since you can usually line them up where two nets meet and open them around the tree. If I was to run my birds through my orchard I would probably reduce the paddock down to two nets and use the third net to set up the enclosed fresh ground and then open up the existing paddock into the new one and remove a net from the back. There are a lot of tricks to working with the electronet, but once you get the hand of it you wouldn't want anything else.
Jay Angler wrote:Re: net fencing
1. I was under the impression that long sections of net fencing can be cut into pieces. You just have to add electric leads to them. We've used large alligator clips soldered to suitable wire to connect net fencing to the electric fence wire that's on the outside of our moveable shelters, so the same technique should work to join fence sections, although I am in *no* way an expert in this area.
2. I know that the official rules call for very long grounding spikes, but we use a couple of foot-long galvanized spikes with a 20 foot wire attached near the top just with a stainless hose clamp and one of those alligator clips on the other end to clip it to the grounding wire on the net fence. Two techniques we use are to pour water on the ground (usually dirty chicken water - re-use!) around the spikes as wet ground will "ground" better, and adding extra grounding spikes around the circumference of the netted area. We try to position the grounds so they just get unclipped before a move and clipped back on after a move for at least a move or three.
Maybe someone who knows more can comment on this....