Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chickens in the Pasture

We (mostly Rich!) have been working away at creating a pen to allow the hens to be kept on fresh pasture which allows them to be raised in a cleaner, healthier environment. Pastured poultry is raised the old fashioned way; on fresh green pasture and wholesome grain. Most poultry was raised outdoors until the 1950s when large confinement operations became the norm. An outdoor range produces a high quality, farm-fresh, all-natural product. The hens still receive organic grains to provide a balanced diet.

The most logical house design for us was a cattle panel hoop house. It's light enough to move yet heavy enough that it won't blow away - we hope! The pasture pen has three cattle panels bent inside a wooden frame. Wheels in each corner make it portable. (The wheels might require some further engineering!) It's covered with a recycled billboard tarp.

Inside the pen there are nesting boxes for egg laying and roosting bars for perching at night. They have a fenced in front yard. Later this week there will be electrified fencing in place connected to a solar charger. That will provide a spacious range for the girls and also keep them protected from any four-legged chicken thieves. My older flock of twenty-five hens is beta testing the pen. The old coop is being converted into a brooding house for 100 chicks arriving later this week. More on that to come!