Lessons Learned in Pasture Raised Chickens
Six years of producing pasture raised chicken for sale and we are still learning.
Raising all classes of livestock on pasture is great. Whether it's beef, lamb, turkey, goats, or pigs, all receive great health benefits from taking in green grass and sunshine. However we still need to remain flexible and be able to find solutions to less than desireable situations.
This is our final week of pature poultry production. It also happens to be a week for the record books as far as rainfall. Dry ground has been more difficult to find each day. The portable chicken pens have been getting moved to high spots in the pasture and hay has been used to keep the birds dry. It was a good effort but when I woke this morning to more pounding rain, I knew it was time too make a change for the welfare of the animals.
First thing to do was hook up the stock trailer and spread out fresh bedding on the floor, then go out to rescue the chickens. We scooped them up by the armful, sloshed to the trailer, and went back for more. Whew, who needs a gym membership!
Within an hour we hopped into the pickup with soaked clothes and brought the load back to the farmstead. The new home for these guys is an old log barn that is open to the south with high ceilings that allow for plenty of fresh air. This barn is also a hay feeding shelter for our grass fed beef bulls in the winter. The floor has a nice layer of dried organic material where the chickens immediately put to use their scatch and peck instincts to look for a treat. Others began to give themselves a dust bath and some just layed out and stretched. They were very happy to be back on dry ground.
Raising chickens indoors is not the most ideal situation under normal cicumstances, but we are not dealing with normal circumstances. All that matters now is the hens are happy, roosters are relaxed, and I can sleep better knowing that.