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Epinette design - dimensions, considerations, etc.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We're raising American Bresse for the first time this year. I'm now in love with the breed, and want to try emulating the French methods of raising and finishing.

 

I've read all that I can get my hands on regarding the French standards but am having a hard time coming by some details when it comes to the housing they use to finish the birds, called "épinettes". I've found good pictures here: http://blog.women-on-the-road.com/bresse-chicken/ and you can see construction and use of them in this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKj8vj8rFHo (which is a great video, although entirely in french)

 

There are so many ways a small cage can be constructed... but French producers all seem to use the same style/construction. My questions are:

 

  1. What approximate dimensions should these cages be? How many birds per cage while finishing?
  2. Why have they all chosen this design? Do the slatted wood sides make the birds feel more secure? Would wire mesh sides be the same?

 

About the epinettes at those links above - I like the feeder trough being on the outside so as not to be fouled up and spanning the whole front to allow all birds access to food. That makes sense. Are there any other design considerations when it comes to these, or will any small box like this do?

 

I've got some wood to build some épinettes but I want to make sure I'm building the right thing. I've learned too many times: trial and error construction is expensive 

 

Thanks much!!

post #2 of 7

"Epinettes, the wooden cages that replace the free range – not as roomy but nothing like the cramped quarters of factory farming"

 

Those cages don't look much roomier(if at all)than 'factory farms'...and they certainly were handled like a factory.

 

I'd say the slatted wood (tho some in the vid were metal bars) are spaced to allow them to reach the feed trough.

Cage sections looked to be about 12" high x maybe 18" deep x about 36" long.

 

Why put them in those cages?

What are they feeding at finish?

Why do they cut off their toenails?

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #3 of 7

The idea that the way Bresse are raised is better than factory farming is nonsense - the last couple of weeks is essentially how veal calves are raised - their movement is heavily restricted and they're fed a high fat diet - the goal being to soften the muscle and add fat.

 

The high milk and corn diet and the movement restrictions are what make any taste difference - almost everything else in their preparation is window dressing, IMO.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

So you're saying that any small box should work equally well? 

 

That's kind of what I thought, but I'm always learning new things on these boards. I considered maybe there was a reason they all use the same style of cage, but I think you're right. The purpose is to keep the bird calm and confined, so as long as the cage I build does that it should work well.

 

I'll post some pics once the build is finished. Thanks for the feedback!

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by modernsettlers View Post
 

So you're saying that any small box should work equally well? 

 

That's kind of what I thought, but I'm always learning new things on these boards. I considered maybe there was a reason they all use the same style of cage, but I think you're right. The purpose is to keep the bird calm and confined, so as long as the cage I build does that it should work well.

 

I'll post some pics once the build is finished. Thanks for the feedback!

 Not calm, but so they can't/don't use their muscles.

 

It's kind of the opposite of what most folks here are aiming for.....which would be a bird with lots of room to move around freely and forage.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

The french method of raising these birds actually requires that they be raised on pasture from a young age, where they move around and freely forage. They grow slower, and seem to live pretty wonderful lives, as far as chickens go. I'm all about this.

 

The last couple weeks of quiet confinement allows the bird to put on extra fat, since it would probably be very lean from foraging and being so active. My aim is to have a tasty bird for the table, but I know not everyone raises their chooks for meat. Our "pet" birds have spacious runs, and get supervised time roaming our 1/2 acre "pasture"... which is why I'm so curious about design considerations for these epinettes. I've never built such a small cage to (even temporarily) house a chicken. I want to construct it in a way that's best for the bird, while obviously, still being a cage.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

With the help of some posts here and some youtube videos, I made our version of an epinette. Just finished testing out the feed trough placement. Looks like this will work! And truly, the birds do seem calm and relaxed. Not at all stressed out about the new digs. I want to post more pics of construction and such. Should I start a new thread or post them here?
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