This year we decided to change the way we raise our birds. I’ve been raising meat birds since 2008 when Farmer Mike asked if I’d be willing to custom raise 25 or so meat chickens for him and his family.
In 2008, I raised 50 birds for Mike and ourselves in a coop and a fenced in area not far from the house. It worked well and I had lovely birds that year. In 2009 I raised 100 birds the same way but the birds took there toll on the ground and the fencing. By 2010, I had another 75 birds but they free ranged. Free range does not work for the hybrid Cornish cross. They just don’t gain weight at all. They taste good it just takes several more weeks for them to reach a decent butcher size.
So this year, a chicken skidder was built to house the birds in the pasture. This allows them to forage and have grain, be in the fresh air and stay put so they don’t lose all their weight looking/chasing a bug.
The chickens are raised in the chicken coop for the first few week and then moved to a Chicken Skidder (aka chicken tractor). The skidder is moved 2-3 times a day to fresh forage in the vineyard. We really need a second skidder to handle the amount of chickens and turkeys the farm raises but Rich hasn’t had a chance to put another one together.
Overall, I really like this method of raising chickens. Only thing I’d do different is start the skidder at the far end of the vineyard so it moves closer to the farm-site and my walking is less. That’s just the “lazy” in me!
Oh and if you are interested, we have chicken for sale. Drop me an email and ask about our chicken. We’ve processed 16 birds so far.