Getting Ready For Winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Resolution, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps


    It's about time to get ready for winter. I'll try and cover a few topics that relate to maintaining your invaluable backyard flocks right through the winter and improving their health along the way.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010
  2. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Predator Proof your walls one more time.


    Get that food OFF THE GROUND

    the attributes of appropriate perching installments

    The "Poop Hammock"


    A bit of Solar Gain

    Ok- I'm running into meetings but will return to this shortly.

    Carpentry by Plymouth Colony's Cape Cote; photos and construction by Devin Lehoux Tamiym
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  3. coq au vin

    coq au vin Chillin' With My Peeps

    The dining area is awesome. So is the poop hammock, but I had already lifted that idea.

    20 Questions:
    So the larger bowls are there to catch feed spillage, yes? Is there anything inside the larger bowls, or is that just some feed spillage that's visible in the photos? Is that a forage cake in the suet basket? Is that alfalfa hay under the bowls?

    What about the nest boxes? I'm thinking of going with a solid floor and pine shavings in that area so the hens are forced to walk through the shavings, thus cleaning their feet, en route to the nest boxes.

    Lastly, are those "actual" Quechua? World Fair Quechua? Or something entirely different? I can't really see any single comb influence on those pea combs.

    I enjoy seeing these high welfare/high sanitation type housing set-ups, as I'm currently in the process of transforming my own chicken program from "farm/utility" to more "zoo quality".
  4. churchx3

    churchx3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2010
    How does the poop hammock work? It appears to cover the area entirely under the birds which would seem to make it difficult for them to get up/down on the roost...
  5. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Quote:i have never heard of using this either? [​IMG]
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Quote:Looks to me to be impossible for them to get down.
  7. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:The larger bowls are filled with sand within which smaller bowls are situated. This method ostensibly captures the majority of spilled food. That is a foragecake. Ideally, the foragecake will be in a different set up- with the wire cut out of the front giving a greater access or even laid down flat in its own sand container.
    Foragecakes prove to be more useful when you soak one end in warm water for 5 minutes before putting them out. I'm not crazy about the suet basket for chickens or pheasants because its not ergonomic for them as they tend to dig straight down with their downcurved bills rather than peck straight out with tweezer shaped beaks.
    If a suet cage is used, cut out a big square or better yet a rounded entrance for the birds to have better access to the foragecake.


    Alternatively, and this is something that works for me (during spring and summer months when birds are free-ranging and also within barns throughout the year);
    a single sand-filled enclosure is used to place all supplements including oyster shell and ameliorated suet products .
    This is another form of a foraging table but one has to make certain that the birds cannot soil the feeding station.


    This is why this ideal for situations where the birds are not using the installment to perch on all day.

    Remember, the ameliorated suet products are ideal supplements for adults and subadults all through the fall and winter.

    Moving to nest boxes and indoor substrate:

    A deep layer of lime and DE (wear a mask) is laid down on the floor of the winter holding facility.

    Rubber livestock mats are then affixed firmly over the floor. Sturdy new tarps can work just as well but don't skimp out on the limestone/DE layer.

    I prefer round nest holes to square ones. Very straight lines are masculine human dimensions and consequently counter intuitive for the psychological well-being of a herd of ground birds confined in close quarters for months (winter) at a time. Rounding out those corners and filling them with dry leaves, a bit of crushed limestone and spices like cayenne and cinnamon, black pepper and allspice ( lice and mite protection) provide privacy quarters for the hens even if they are not necessarily laying over the winter.

    I'll answer the Quechua question in a separate post as it's a bit more complex an issue and one not necessarily related to the winter housing situation.

    As for the "zoo quality" comment, I'll have to disagree with you. The set ups of the poultry cote simply take poultry farming to a different level of professionalism and ethical consideration. These models are intended to increase the sustainability of modern poultry husbandry, borrowing from some of the more ideal scenarios of the ancients of places like Japan, Easter Island and Bolivia.

    We have certainly applied a certain amount of zoo nutrition to our husbandry strategy however.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  8. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:i have never heard of using this either? [​IMG]

    In nature, wild junglefowl make use of some very creative perching spaces. This is a phenomenon ( and a hard-wired adaptation) we can appreciate on the farm and ranch with free-ranging home growns.

    The central objective of proactive maintenance protocols like the poop hammock is to help eliminate contamination of substrate from fecal material. Ostensibly, this will also decrease the incidence of plumage becoming contaminated with fecal material. Of course we all recognize that birds preen their feathers and having soiled plumage results in fecal contamination. At a certain point in time during the year we run out of time and fail to keep the dust wallows clean of manure and moulted feathers. Soon the birds are dust bathing in nonsense.

    Let's think on this for a moment. When the perches are not outfitted with poop hammocks fecal material falls to the ground where it is eventually tracked in.
    This ends up on the perches and eventually on to the plumage of the birds. True, many an old farmer never put this concept into use.
    This is why chickens have been branded with the stigma of being filthy creatures.

    Get proactive.

    Another issue regarding the fecal material- work on drying up the droppings and really think about it. If the birds are producing copious amounts of fetid droppings- heavy and wet- they are simply not digesting a high percentage of what you are feeding them. You are wasting your budget feeding the birds material that they are obliged to gorge on to consume enough nutrients to survive- and most of that is being passed right through the digestive system without being of much use to the hens at all.
    This is why your hens' droppings are so aromatic. And this is why suburbs pass laws keeping folks from keeping a small flock of hens in their ridiculously taxed backyards.

    Invest in educating yourself about avian nutrition. Utilise the best possible nutritional products on the market. The birds should be producing firm, dry droppings that one can pick up with the hand and yet do not stick to the glove. Of course this is an over-generalization and we all know that apples and kitchen trimmings will contribute towards looser droppings but this is largely water not crude protein.

    Anyway, getting back to the perch and poop shoot:


    I prefer the circular perch because
    a. it makes controlling their droppings all the easier
    b. it affords them a certain amount of autonomy from the walls of the enclosure and subsequently decreases the incidence of predation by those creatures that pull poultry through the netting or climb up walls- .

    But naturally many of our enclosures will not be appropriate for circular perches. Circular perches may not be that easy to come by or craft ourselves.

    In the instances where this is the case, of course horizontal perches are appreciated by the birds.

    One aside regarding perching- the higher the perch the better- within reason naturally- but avoid the instinct to make it possible for the birds to climb to their perches without having to use their wings at all. Even flapping wings while climbing a difficult route amounts to the flushing of glands responsible for immune function- the more the birds use their wings- their air bellows- (air sacs) use muscle -lots of it- to reach their nocturnal perches- the longer the birds should live.

    -The poop hammock does not keep the birds from reaching their nocturnal perches or leaving them.
  9. melanie01678

    melanie01678 New Egg

    Sep 25, 2010
    Hi there,

    I would just like to say thank you for sharing your knowledge and insight with the rest of us. I've read several of your posts and have found them all to be informative and inspirational, and the pictures are fantastic.

    I have a sick Silkie that is possibly suffering from Marek's and just wanted to say that I really appreciated your post regarding Marek's. I've been feeding her lots of garlic, cranberries, brazil nuts, and red pepper flakes and hoping that she might recover, although I realize chances are slim.

    Thanks again & much gratitude

    P.S. Is the circular perch the bottom part of a papazan? great idea
  10. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Cranassure GEL CAPS for Mareks

    You are most welcome!

    Yes- papazan is my favorite furniture- larger chair is the ideal perch for the big flock and the base is great for chicks or smaller flocks. They last forever and are easy to clean.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010

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