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.