Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category
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.
Austin had the day off yesterday so he helped me finish up a bunch of little chores that needed to get done as snow is in the forecast for the weekend. Wet heavy snow and about 6+ inches of it. WOOHOO!!!!
Anyway, first on my list was the clean out the chicken brooder house which is to serve as a coup for the winter for my laying hens. I cleaned while Austin took wheelbarrows full of manure to the compost pile. It wasn’t too bad cleaning it out since we haven’t had chickens in there for over a month. The manure was fairly dry. All we have left to do is put down a heavy layer of bedding, put the waterer and feeders in place and add the hens . I will also be insulating the walls with straw when I add the bedding.
Next, was cleaning rabbit cages which went quickly. Austin once again was my “runner” adding more manure to the compost pile. I’m happy to say we got that job done and even worked on trying to get some of my cages to stack so we have more room under the loft. Rich needs to clean barn before it freezes so I need to make room for the skidloader to be able to move through the barn.
By this time, Chas arrived home and Austin went to tend to her. Rich returned home from dropping off the “rent-a-bull” who had been here for 4 months “servicing our cows. We fed the goats and sheep with a new round bale. They were complaining quite a bit at Austin and I all morning. Looks like they are going through a bale every 2 days. Rich isn’t sure we have enough round bales to make it to spring. We also have a corn stock bale available to them but my finicky goats love their grass and figure the “lower” animals a.k.a the sheep, steer and horse can eat that “stuff.” Big babies!
It looks like Crocked Horn is starting to bag up and she’s past her mucus plug so another kid(s) are on their way. I have a Nubian due as well sometime after Dec 9th. Kids in the fall is really kind of nice. The other 5 kids are doing great. I will be moving them soon into the main pen but want to make sure they are big enough to get out of the way so they don’t get squished. That is something we had a problem with last year.
Well, I better get moving. Chas seizured this morning so I need to take her into work once she recovers. Have a great day!
Oscar arrived at 10:15 am yesterday. Mama Jessica is doing just fine. I was really expecting twins but we got one big boy! He is just as big as Marge’s girls who are 2 weeks old. He did get a bit hung up and Jessica needed just a bit of assistance from me to delivery him.
Madison was disappointed to see that he had arrived while she was at school. She had told Jessica that she was to wait and kid after school. Kids… they are so funny sometimes.
While Jessica was in labor I busied myself in the barn moving rabbits and repaired a couple of cages that needs new locks. I will be so glad once I’ve got all the cages ready for winter and the rabbits situated for the season.
Rich finished the corn stock baling. So the harvest for the 2010 season is complete. All he has left is to bring the bales out of the field. Our weather has been perfect to finish up the harvest.
I have 8 chickens ready for processing this morning. Since I have to process alone and get it done before Chas arrives back home, I can only do 6-8 a day. I think I have about 10 or so more to do which I hope to do tomorrow, then my fryers will be completed for the year. Then its on to the stewing birds. Those I can process inside the milk house as I skin them so it can be cold and it won’t bother me too much.
Well, I better get moving, those chickens need to be in the freezer by 2:30 pm.
The last couple days have been busy. On Tuesday, I canned 10 pints of chicken. I still have over a gallon of broth to can so I decided to cook up some more chicken. Madison and I also butchered 9 chickens. All my roaster chickens are all processed. That’s a nice feeling. Now, I move on to the fryers. I think we have about 40 to do. Some are already sold. I’m happy for that as I don’t have to find room in the freezer for all of them.
Speaking of processing chickens; on Tuesday, Madison and I were on chicken number 3 when Kristine showed up to use Rich’s new fence for a backdrop for her daughter’s senior pictures. While we were chatting a bit, we heard some cat like screaming from the barn. Madison headed down to make sure Candle didn’t have a cat/kitten trapped. Kristine looked at me and said, “I don’t think it’s Candle, she’s standing right there” and Madison walked past her. So we said our goodbyes and I headed for the barn.
Madison and I headed to the barnyard trying to decide if it was just Tim (boar buck) making his “I need a doe” noises or if something else was in distress. Suddenly Madison says, “Mom, Piper’s giving birth in the ‘L’ paddock.” “WHAT?,” was my reply as I scanned the “L” for Piper and seeing her with 2 hooves and a nose on it’s way out.
You see, Piper is only 8 months old and shouldn’t even be bred. After a quick call to Rich, who was out with the cattle, we managed to get Piper into the barn and in a birthing pen. With a bit a help from Madison, Piper delivered this little guy:
We are questioning Piper’s mothering skills and have supplemented him with a bottle and also nursing in the evening from Cupcake. Piper has been giving him a toss when he tries to nurse sometimes. She’s still dependent on her own mom but she really is still a baby herself. I’d rather not have bottle baby but its OK if we do.
I didn’t get to my beef and barley soup on Tuesday so I’m hoping to can it today. We were int he twin cities yesterday. Chas had her VNS adjusted. I sure hope it helps with her seizures. The dr. said it may take up to 16 months for us to see a big enough change. UGH!
Anyway, Rich and I stopped at a homebrewing warehouse on the way home. Oh that was fun. Rich picked up some stuff to try to brew his own beer and I restocked my cheesemaking supplies. Then we were off to visit an apple orchard. I picked up 4 varieties of apples and wil be processing them over the next few weeks if we don’t eat them all first!
Anyway, I hear my chickens so I best get out and feed them. Have a great day!
The winds finally quit overnight and it was a fairly nice day out. Here are my broiler chickens enjoying the weather.
It’so nice to have them out of the coop and enjoying the grass and bugs. There’s almost 60 of them. These will be ready for processing mid June. I hope I can get them done before it gets so terribly hot here. I believe we will raise one more batch later on as Farmer Mike says they need a few for their freezer.
Today when I dropped off a litter of bunnnies at the farm store after Chas’ doctor’s appt, I had a long chat with Ron about chickens. I’m trying to decide if we are going to raise the fast growing broiler chickens this year or go with the slower growing ones. After our talk, I think I’m going to order a mix and compare them. I was very pleased with the cornish cross last year but all they do is sit and eat. Plus, I have ppl asking for "colored" broiler chickens so I think it would be to my advantage to grow a few.
It’s really messy outside as the snow we got yesterday is melting. The dogs are a mess and right now, I wish they were permanent outside dogs! But mud is a sign of spring… oh yeah!
Nothing much happened around the homestead today… just the same old stuff. So I’m going to call it a night. GoodNight!
Since we were so busy yesterday, today we headed to the local farm store intown to find some chicks and ducklings for Madison’s 4H poultry projects. The first thing Madison spotted was quail, Japanese Quail to be exact. These tiny birds are awfully cute and Madison made a quick call the Dad to see if she could buy a few. Of course, he said, she could try a few so we bought 5.
Next, were the brown egg layers. Madison loves Barred Rocks so we bought 10 of those. 4 americanas, a Production Red and Gold Star also joined the box. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any ducklings yet so we’ll be "shopping" over the next few weeks for waterfowl.
The big news in the barn today was the milking of Lacey. If you follow my blog, you may remember me mentioning her about a month ago. She is a 15 year old toggenburg goat. Actually, she has a birthday coming up so she’s going on 16. She was part of the package deal we made with John when we purchased Lucy and Annie. We were to take her as well.
Anyway, John had told me that Lacey is a heavy milker and never really dries up. He said his kids milked her every 4-6 months just to relieve some pressure in her utter. Lacey last kidded 3 years ago.
So Madison decided to milk Lacey this am. Between Madison and Rich, they managed to milk 10 cups of milk from the old gal. That was quite impressive. I wonder what she’s like when she has kidded???
Well, I think that covers today. GoodNight!