We are trying to move towards a “Closed Loop” farming system where we are not purchasing organic manures and fertilizers so that our farming system is a little “greener” and we have better control over the quality of our inputs.
We have done pastured poultry in the past and are once again raising a crop of chickens in our fall field. We like to have them eat our spent crops such as broccoli and lettuce because they will eat the weeds, the plants that are no longer producing, all the while adding the much needed phosphorous to our soil. (Their poop.) In future years we hope to scale our pastured poultry so that we can cover approximately 3/4 acre with chickens during our fall season.
Our meat birds are 5 weeks of age so now that they are all feathered out, we are moving them from the warmth of their brooding pen, outside to their pasture. Our plan was that our first couple successions of broccoli would have been harvested by now so the chickens could enjoy what remains of the broccoli plants. However, we have not yet harvested all of our broccoli so we made the decision to sacrifice our last succession of lettuce, which we think wouldn’t mature anyway, so the chickens can begin grazing on weeds and laying phosphorous (poop) on our soil.
Our layers are 6 weeks of age and still in their brooding pen. We keep them in the brooding pen until the majority of them are roosting on the roosting poles in the pen. Even though they are in a pretty decently built coop, they are especially tasty to critters such as raccoons, opossums, and snakes who all seem to find a crevice for entry into the coop only to discover a very tasty dinner. They are much more likely to survive on roosting poles than if they were just sleeping on the ground. Our hope is to let them out of their brooding pen later in the week.