Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Little Poultry Q&A

   No matter where you go, once people realize you have poultry questions come to mind they just have to have answered. Today, let's stroll over to the pen with a glass of mint iced tea for a little chat over the chicks. From flock care, to pasture practices and even how on earth to take care of the are a few I get most often.

1. How do you deal with slime in the water fountain?
    Slime happens.. a lot. Three simple things: vinegar, a toilet brush, and location. Daily we take a splash of vinegar and swish it around the fountain with a toilet brush. Once the fountain is refilled we aim to keep it away from the brooder lights in order to slow the growth as much as possible.

2. What is cage free, range, and pasture?
     Okay, cage free is a bird not living in cramped cage conditions. This does not actually define how the bird lived and ate. Range means free range; the birds were given space to walk around possibly with sunshine and maybe grass. Often range birds diets are primarily grains but supplemental greens may be added. Pasture raised birds have housing, but are out in the sunshine nibbling on their findings in the green pasture. Grains are minimal in their diet.

3. What about the smell?
     It's no secret; chicken poop smells. Keep them clean with a hearty layer of bedding (we use pine shavings or shredded pine straw)..deep and stirred daily. The other question that goes with this is what to do with the poop. Easy answer: compost.

4. How can you kill them?
     Frame of mind. Once you have an understanding of the purpose of the animal and the peace of mind they were raised well the task is much easier. I believe in a healthy live and a clean death. The other question that goes with this..what to do with the 'leftovers'. If you pluck, compost the feathers..other parts are burned. We don't bury unless a hearty dose of lime is added and I'd rather burn it is.

5. How do you store 100 chickens once their processed?
    I don't. Some of my birds go to family and friends. The other reality is I don't process them all as whole chickens. Part of my flock is put up as 'legs-n-thighs'; makes the processing faster and takes up less space.

6. Do you mix your flocks?
    No. Turkeys are raised and processed before my broilers come in and the laying hens are shut off the broiler pasture until the broilers are gone. Every pasture gets a rest and reseed before the next flock gains access.

    Hopefully this helps some of you still considering or working through the beginnings of meat bird raising. If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email at Time for me to go talk to the chicks!

No comments: