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Feeding Chickens for Free!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by edibleacres, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. edibleacres

    edibleacres New Egg

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    Dec 24, 2016
    We've been working on developing systems for our 25 bird flock to have them play a more integrated role in our overall homestead. We grow a ton of food and want our chickens to help create compost while having a great quality of life. I've been documenting our experiments and progress and thought I'd share some videos with the community here in case any aspects of it feel helpful / interesting to other members. Also very happy to have feedback on what seems good / could use work, etc. Thanks!

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    1 person likes this.
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Looks very good. Are you getting a handle on the ratio of chickens to volume of compost in process?
     
  3. edibleacres

    edibleacres New Egg

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    We haven't gotten that deep into it. If anything, the compost is WAY overkill for how many birds we have. I have goals to scale up our flock by 2-3 times for next season, have about 20-30 birds for meat that we raise this way (I know they won't be super meaty, but we like stock more than meat anyway) and see if we can't get enough birds to keep up with the volume. It's a good problem to have... needing more birds to eat the free food!
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    How many acres are involved? I can raise birds without importing feed of any sort but it takes acreage to support the insects birds need to eat as they are exhausted before plant biomass. Importing just a little detritus (leaves) and grains can really help but there are limits and many of those are seasonal. Main bottle neck in terms of what I can support without inputs is in late winter when you have a combination of exhausted forage, increased need for nutrients because of low temperature and egg production promoted by increasing day light, and remaining forage is largely locked up in frozen ground.


    Looks like most of your birds are Black Javas?
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Awesome video, EA. I love your addition of grains to your compost. I have been doing similar, though not to that extent. I simply toss scratch into the DL in my run. My run is set up so that I put the materials (most of them) in at the higher elevation on the East end, and gravity and chicken work eventually move things down to the West end. It's a very gentle grade, but I do have to work at keeping bedding at E end. You have inspired me to set up a hay bale containment bin in the chicken's sun room. I have yet to close in the north side of their sun room, so setting up some hay bales on this end will cut most of the wind from that direction. I collect bagged leaves every year due to my property not dumping any on the lawn. 130 bags this year! Never enough!
     
  6. edibleacres

    edibleacres New Egg

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    We are on .6 acres in total with this project, the chickens being in an area of about .15 acres (the front yard). They get external inputs from 2 other farms I work on as in rotten cabbage, leaves, weeds, etc. We also pick up buckets of organic fermented greens and kimchi, etc. from a local place and we do offer them a whole lot of the bartered grain. I need to explore making exclusion areas to have insect populations be able to rebound and increase and move that exclusion area around. I found having a ton of logs around that can be flipped once a week makes for an incredible amount of bugs and worms that can maintain a good population. We'll also be exploring black soldier fly next season...
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You might also be able to capitalize on insect drift during growing season as an additional quality protein source. Drift for me is very important when local insect forage is depleted. Daytime drift is better when adjacent lands are meadow or overgrown pasture. Nighttime drift comes ground that is neither manicured lawn, monoculture row crops nor pavement.
     
  8. edibleacres

    edibleacres New Egg

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    I'm not sure I fully understand the idea of drift... This means coming in for a while during part of a day and available for the birds to eat? Or like a seasonal pulse? Interesting concept.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Drift in context I am using means insects moving laterally from one area to another. Movement can be by air or land. Source areas can be terrestrial or aquatic.
     

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