Almost to 4 weeks and the chicks have finally moved to the barn. Dain built a wonderful addition, or rather partition in the barn to safely brood and house the chicks. This has become the challenge, to keep them safe from predators untill butcher time. I have a lot invested in them already, 3 weeks and 100 ponds of organic non GMO feed. This months order will include another 200 pounds to ensure I have enough to get me through to butcher time.
Because of the amount of time I have with these chicks, I feel as though I can't get them on pasture long enough. 6 weeks seems like a lot of time but they are just barely feathered out at 4 weeks, and that gives me 2 weeks to be on pasture? Seems like a joke to me. There has to be a middle ground somewhere that allows the hens to do the raising, bringing them out when she feels it necessary instead of when i think its ok. Cause ya know that I could be coddling them a little too much. Somehow all this just feels wrong, or just not sustainable. The upside is that no matter how you look at it this is better than anything I can buy in the store for my family, organic or otherwise. It's fast, I don't have to care for or keep the fox away from these chickens all summer long. I may be under estimating the amount of time too, 8 weeks may be the target....
I wanna say that free range pastured poultry is a problem free method of chicken propagation. Using electric fencing protects from surrounding terrain but leaves the sky open to intruders. It doesn't cover the chickens in case of hawk attack. The field I have the chickens in is in a "holler" surrounded by trees, sounds great you say? It's like running the gauntlet says the chickens. Since the begining of my chicken raising career I have lost chickens to a host of things all with their tell tale kill methods. The Hawk though seems the most magical in it's method- they just disappear. I haven't ever seen a hawk attack, those hawk eyes know when I'm lookin'. But Gramma saw one taking a dive off a tree day before yesterday, headed behind the garage where the chickens hide out. That evening when we went to put up chickens for the night good ole' blackfoot was missing. She was mean as hell and i'm sure got in a few licks before going down. Or up as the case seems to be. After several of these disappearances during the daylight hours I must admit defeat. In my situation I'm afraid that the chicken tractor is going to be the only way to raise chickens without keeping a good many for hawk feed. Don't get me wrong, I love those things, but is there anyone who knows of a chicken protecting dog or donkey/dog mix that will allow the pasture raising of chickens?
Born in New Hampshire and raised in Maine, Eva's passion for living self sustainably began with Helen and Scott Nearing. Both were homesteaders who carved their lives from the land. Eva now lives in Eastern West Virginia, with her husband Dain and daughter Shayna, carving out her own life.