Meat birds on DE and sand What if?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by joebryant, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Not that I ever want to raise meat birds since I can buy one raised by the Amish for $10 (best I've ever eaten) at the organic food store, but when I read posts here from people who do raise them there's always the complaint about piles of poo with an awful odor that have to be cleaned up on a daily basis.
    I have a question for those who raise them. What do you think would happen if you placed them on a floor with three inches of sand and an inch or two of diatomaceous earth ($21 for 50#). Seems to me that all you'd have to do is occasionally rake it for eight weeks. From what I've seen of sand and DE, the poo and all odor disappear. I think that that's what I will do if I ever do decide to raise them myself unless there's a reason not to.

    Also, why couldn't they be raised in an inexpensive reusable, shaded, outdoor, covered pen protected from sun/rain totally wrapped in 1/2-inch hardware cloth, even the floor that would be covered with sand/DE.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008
  2. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Crowing

    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    Most folks call those things... chicken tractors. Lots of people who raise meaties use them. Meaties don't go in my coops. Coops are for layers. Birds staying. Birds going can have temporary housing.

    They're only here for awhile. Though I'm going to a colored ranger/cross not doing cornishx.

    Slower but easier to live with.
  3. Swamp Roo

    Swamp Roo Songster

    Apr 22, 2008
    SW FL
    Thought about the sand thing myself. I expect the DE would be pretty useless after the first rain. If you wait till the ground dries up you could rake and sift out the chicken poo and compost it pretty easy sort of like kitty litter. Never done it. The poo might crumble too much to be able to sift it out, no idea. You could always dig out the sand poo mix once a year and replace with fresh sand. Mix with mulch and have some seriously good dirt after aging. Probably sell it to gardeners at $1-$2/gal.

  4. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Quote:I wasn't trying to describe a tractor. What I had in mind was a permanent, reuseable, stationary rain/sun/predator proof coop totally enclosed with hardware cloth, even for the floor that would be covered with sand and DE.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I think you are underestimating the stench of broiler poo. Truly it has to be smelled to be believed. I am not talking about 'after it has been lying on the ground fermenting for a week', I mean 'fresh out of the bird'. It has a penetrating sharp smell like the poo of a large dog gone terribly, terribly wrong. Really. It is a weird thing. But enormously stenchy. I can't see how anything would stop it, although obviously some management styles minimize it more than others.

    I've got 10 broilers in a pen right now -- were meant to be in a tractor, but long story involving fence charger problems -- but I am quite convinced that a tractor is the solution for next year. And I suspect a tractor would be better than a stationary sand-bedded pen, although this is just theory not experience.


  6. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Quote:I meant for it to be totally rainproof and shaded with walls on the east, south, and west sides, but open to the north. My thinking from what I've seen so far is that if ALL of their feed were scattered on the sand/DE, they'd HAVE to scratch to get their feed starting when they were chicks. The scratching would help cover all their poo that had been dried out by sand and DE.
  7. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Quote:That sounds pretty bad for odor. Wonder what sand/DE would do for it. My coop with pellets/DE and run with sand/DE has no smell to them whatsoever; otherwise, my wife would do me in because the coops and run are on the side and back of the attached garage, and I never do anything except scatter some bird seed mix for them to start scratching. Also, every couple of weeks I clean out the dried dropping from the box holding pelets/DE under their roost area.
  8. HidingInTheHenHouse

    HidingInTheHenHouse Songster

    Jun 21, 2008
    Hey, Joe - where do you live in Indiana?

    I have my meat birds in a pen outside that I move twice a day. It is on the grass. I spray the ground down good after I move the pen, and sprinkle DE after the water drains down some. The DE helps a lot with the smell. Moving the pen keeps the birds from getting poop caked on them.
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I don't think you could make them scratch for their feed. Once they are a few weeks old, they scoop food into their faces regardless of what else is in the food container, including rocks, and even bits of fecal matter that they may have left behind and hadn't yet been cleaned up... [​IMG]

    I let mine free range after a few weeks and they do go wandering, but will come home to eat their fill of grower like a shovel on their faces. When young, mine also live in tractors that are moved, in addition to how I only raise 4-8 at a time.

    Thing about their poo, is figure that they are eating and pooing the same feed as a layer, but instead of the 6 months it takes the layer to eat it up and turn it into waste, it takes 6 weeks. So maintaining the ground for broilers for the first week is like one month worth of poo for a layer. The humidity these guys give off is enormus too. I had 8 broilers drain a gallon of water in just a single day for their last week of life. Granted it was a warm week, but where did all that water go? Onto the ground.

    I mean, if you like to test it you could, but I'm not personally too optimistic. But can't hurt to try, it just might work! It's too damp and drizzly in western WA to try and keep things dry most of the time.
  10. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Quote:I'm 13 miles south of Indianapolis straight out Meridian Street (Rd. 135) to Stones Crossing Road. Then 1 1/2 west, just east of Center Grove High School. Where do you get your food-grade DE?

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