We decided to go ahead and move the broiler chicks out to pasture last night. The low temp was supposed to be a little warmer, at 30 degrees, and today is supposed to be sunny and 65. It would be a shame if they weren’t out there today.
So about 8:00 last night we started. My theory is that if we take them out at dusk and shut them in for the night, they’ll learn more quickly to put themselves back in at night. We’ll see how that plays out.
Matt and the girls caught them out of the brooder, handed each one to me, and I set them in the trailer. Rafe’s job was keeping the cats away while we were working. We’ve lost only 3 broilers so far – one to injury, one was a “flip”, and one unknown cause – and took 99 out to pasture. And no leg problems so far! It’s been our best batch yet.
Then out to the pasture and repeat in reverse. The girls caught the birds in the trailer, handed them to Matt and me, and we carried them over and set them in the shed. Shut them in for the night and we were done.
This morning I went out shortly after 6:00 to let them out and feed them. As fast as these birds grow it’s hard to remember that they’re just babies yet – 4 weeks old today. They have to be taught to go outside for their food, and come back inside at night. So I had to toss every single one of these 99 birds out of the shed this morning – some of them more than once! They huddled against the side of the shed in the sun and wouldn’t eat until I stuck the feeders right in amongst them.
Once the warmth from their feet had melted the frost off the grass they got interested in that. My first favorite thing about raising broilers is bringing them home from the hatchery. But my next favorite thing is the first day they’re on pasture. It makes me smile to watch them run about, scratch for bugs, eat grass, breathe fresh air, and sun themselves. Their instincts kick in. They become themselves. They do what chickens were born to do. If only it were that easy for us humans.
The top photo is my favorite. Great lighting. It’s fun to watch the chicks as they grow…thanks for sharing these photos. At this stage they look kind of gawky, like teenagers I suppose. I cannot imaging wrangling 99 birds. WOW.
Wow these are heavy looking birds. I love how excited they get jumping and running around in the grass!