Chickens emerging at 6:30 this morning
Even though making mistakes, mistakes that result in a lot of dead chickens, is one of the downsides of farming, you can least have the satisfaction of taking what you learn from those mistakes and make changes that suit your particular farm.
I gave a sneak peak at our new broiler shed last week. So I guess this is the grand unveiling. This building is based on a design found in Free-Range Poultry Production & Marketing by Herman Beck-Chenoweth.
Our old setup had several problems. One, the building was not well ventilated. In hot weather we had to go out and kick all of the chickens out of the building, and shut them out for the day.
Two, the building had a small entry/exit door. Broilers are lazy birds. They walk in the door and plop down just as soon as possible. Pretty soon you’ve got a blockage at the door end, the opposite end of the building still empty, and a whole lot of birds stuck outside for the night.
Three, in order to provide shade we had to set up tarp with tent stakes. And as we’ve seen, that’s not a good situation.
The picture doesn’t really show it, but the birds’ range area is surrounded by electric poultry netting.
This 12′ x 16′ shed has entrances the width of the building at both ends. They flip down to provide a ramp up/down for the birds. Both ramps are covered with hardware “cloth”, and one ramp also has plywood inserts. These can be used if we need to cut wind or cold, or taken out in hot weather for additional airflow.
The sides are also covered with hardware cloth. They can also be covered with 8-foot steel panels to cut wind or cold. Matt covered just the back half of the building this time (because that’s all the panels he had on hand) and it worked well. It was cold, rainy and very windy when we moved the birds out to pasture Saturday. So for the first couple of days we fed and watered them right in the shed. Monday afternoon the weather straightened out and I let them out and started feeding them outside.
The eaves are extra long to provide shade under the overhang. And they should also be able to sit inside the shed, rather than us kicking them out, since it will have adequate airflow with the steel panels removed.
The whole thing sits on skids so it can be moved with the tractor as needed. We usually don’t have to move it until the second week, but after that we usually move it weekly.