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Chicken Confusion

 
Cole Taatjes
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I'm watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDbn8ahhcZ8 on Joel Salatin's chicken tractors and I don't understand why some chickens are in those low 12 x 8 boxes and others have a fenced off area and a egg-laying structure. Is it just that the chickens in the small structures aren't meant for maturity and are just slaughtered at a juvenile age? I also don't understand how the chickens purify the cow manure?
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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The chickens in the low pens are broilers bred specifically for slaughter, their size and weight isn't condusive to flying or even hopping enough to get their feet off the ground. The layers are the chickens in the mobil egg houses, they will fly and climb up to lay and roost, and being on free range increases egg quality and productivity. The hens scratching through the manure doesn't sterilize it itself but it does break it down into smaller pieces allowing the natural cycle to absorb the manure faster.
 
Cole Taatjes
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That makes sense, but just so I understand, are the broiler chickens a different breed or are they just handled differently?

Thanks for the information so far. I'm new to researching this information and most of it I understand, but sometimes the unexplained details assumed as a given, throw me for a loop.
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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Yes the broilers are a different breeding than the chickens bred specifically for egg laying, both are hybrid crosses which are bred for that particular purpose. They're both different from what you or I would buy for general purpose barnyard chickens in most cases.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Cole Taatjes wrote:That makes sense, but just so I understand, are the broiler chickens a different breed or are they just handled differently?

Thanks for the information so far. I'm new to researching this information and most of it I understand, but sometimes the unexplained details assumed as a given, throw me for a loop.


Another piece to understand: Laying hens will not start laying until they are somewhere from about 16 to 20 weeks old. The Cornish Cross (or Cornish x) Joel is raising for meat birds are being slaughtered by the time they are 12 weeks old. There are some other breeds specifically bred for meat that are somewhat slower growing, but hey will also be headed to the freezer by the time the laying hens are just about ready to start producing eggs.

Typical "dual-purpose" breeds are slow growing, but get to be pretty big eventually.

The chickens following the cattle are important in breaking the cycle of pests and parasites. One of the reasons they scratchh up the cowpies is to get at the insect larvae growing in there. The fly lays its eggs, the hens eat the hatched larvae, the next generation of flies is greatly reduced in number.
 
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