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Not sure I am thrilled with the hoop house/tractor model

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I just finished my 3rd batch of meat birds.  They are at the processor and will be back tomorrow.  Whew...It will be nice to just have the layers for the winter.


I had 3 batches this summer--my first.  I had 30, 20 and 30.  They were processed in July, Aug and now Oct.  Next year we want to start in March/April and do a batch every 2-3 weeks--fewer birds but more batches.  We are building a customer base and have sold most of the birds each time (leaving me with fewer than I have wanted for myself lol).


My plan was to  hoop house them and move them several times per day and ended up with the HH and propping it up to let them free range most of the day.  I have 10 mostly wooded acres and about 1-1.5 acres of grass around the house.  I did fence in a large area in front of the house (supposedly for the dogs...) and the 1st 2 batches were homed there.  I moved the HH 2x/day--once at night so they had clean grass to sleep on and once in the morning so they had clean grass.  They basically killed my grass--there was a dense poop slick where they slept that even a power wash with the hose couldnt easily get through!  The 3rd batch were housed in the back yard, where you can see exactly where they slept each night.


I did end up free ranging them entirely during the day except for times when I was not going to be home for 4-5 hrs at a time.  I do have a fenced front yard, but the back is not. I have dogs who are out at various times during the day and I work from home, so I think that has kept the predators at bay.


I would like to find a way to keep the poop from being so bad...It is really the night sleeping area that is the problem.  I am trying to think of a way where I can lock them up at night and then allow them out during the day.  My thought is having a solid but movable box with doors that I keep shavings in.  I would move it similarly to how I moved the HH since when they are larger they do not range very far from 'home'. I do feed 12 on-12 off.  I would want their waterer to be with them day and night as it is with the HH.


Since I have to build something for next year, I am trying to find a design I like and then reproduce it.  The HH is fine, but somewhat too heavy to move.  I would try a tractor next, or a HH type structure but maybe lower and welded wire rather than the cattle panels I used.


Any ideas?

post #2 of 20
People keep quail on wire though mine are on sand or glass/carpet in brooders. Perhaps you could do wiring with a tray beneath to easily clean poop? Even hay might be a good idea
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks...that is sort of what I am trying to figure out--can I have a basic HH or tractor design with one end more enclosed and then have shavings.  Not sure if it would be worth the effort  or it I should kiss my grass goodbye.

post #4 of 20
You can put sand to help the chicken waste disintegrate more quickly. You can also take out some of the grass and use that for the tractor
post #5 of 20

I used a tractor with a wire mesh floor.  Poop went through, or was washed through, and moved every so often.  I do not want to use ground tractors with meat birds again.  

post #6 of 20
Well since someone with experience has given advice, I would listen to them. I have not yet had the pleasure of raising meat birds, but I hope to try soon. I now know many more things since when I started researching and am very grateful for everyone's help, especially those who are here to expand others' knowledge based and to learn more themselves. Thank you for sharing your story, I'm sure the OP will find it very helpful.
post #7 of 20
what size is the HH? It sounds like you were to overloading the HH.

I kept 23 CXs in a 10x6 HH and moved it twice a day. There was plenty of poo and occasionally a 'poo slick' like you described if I was away for a night and my wife didn't/couldn't move the HH. Despite that the grass came back and is the greenest and lushest grass in my yard. It just takes time to break down. You won't be able to tractor/HH broilers and expect the grass not to get trampled and poo covered
Edited by KlopKlop - 10/14/15 at 10:45am
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

Klop--I had a max of 30 birds in an 8x10 HH.  And 2 batches were also free ranged (side of HH propped up each day).  The 1st batch was free ranged starting at 5 weeks.  I believe I was keeping fewer birds in that sized HH than many.  I did move 2x/day.


They all slept together in the same area, so the morning poop slick was the real issue.  The day poop was a lot, but reasonably spread out.  


I did forget to say--we didnt have rain from the middle of June until I think Oct (maybe 1 or 2 heavy rains in Aug and Sept).  Still not much rain.  It was a wet spring that dried out rather suddenly.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

Sand might help somewhat....And we have clay actually might improve the soil!

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the ideas

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