Pastured Poultry Poop question

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Bluff Country Chicken, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. Bluff Country Chicken

    Bluff Country Chicken In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2011
    SE MN
    As mentioned in another post, I moved my Cornish Xs to pasture a couple days ago. The pen allows for 1.5 sq. ft./bird. The poop build-up is more than I thought it would be. Do I need to worry about this? So far I've moved the pen once per day. I'll aim to move it twice per day - should help. However, they seem to be overly concentrating (pooping) in the covered part of the pen. Thoughts?

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Same problem I saw with Salatin's pastured poultry setup....too many birds in too small a space, especially for CX, who shoot poo like salad shooters...often and liquidy. He claimed they were eating the pasture but I observed grass that was far too soiled to be palatable under his bird's foraging area. I doubt any were getting greens enough to make a difference but at least he got to market them as "pastured".

    I would say that fewer birds per tractor and more frequent moves if you want your birds to actually consume any of the grass underneath them. Another option is to switch to poultry netting enclosures that are larger so your birds can truly free range out of their own mess. Again you would have the issue of them congregating under the shaded areas provided unless you can pasture them under a grove of trees or just decide that the space under shelter was to be a sacrificed area.
  3. two_horses

    two_horses Hatching

    Jul 16, 2011
    We had the same problem with the liquid manure. Basically the birds passed undigested feed out one end as they ate on the other end. Although we've alleviated the issue somewhat by only feeding them once a day and moving them twice, these birds don't work to forage any more than they have to. Compared to our Barred Rocks, who are in an identical mobile coop, the Cornish X are completely different, ten times as lazy and very dirty. Our grass, rather than being candy green as Salatin describes with his Cornish, turns brown and takes a lot longer to recover from the Cornish than the Barred Rocks. This grass is indeed candy, but the Barreds by comparison have manure of normal consistency and stop eating when they're full. The Cornish will eat grain continually if left unchecked. Our blue heeler is very adept at herding poultry, but the Cornish fail to respond to her and we joke that it's like herding toads. Even when we left the Cornish to roam as they would, no chicken wire or electronet in sight, they didn't make any effort to get out of their own waste. But, if this is the type of bird the consumer wants, its what we'll raise. They just seem to take A LOT more management than "normal" chickens and the grazier can't expect this highly genetically modified bird to act like a chicken should. We're waiting until butcher time to decide if we'll repeat the experiment with these toads. :p
  4. Chuck Dickens

    Chuck Dickens Hatching

    Jul 13, 2011
    When raising cornish x, you have selected a bird that does not- by and large- forage.
    We are currently raising the cornish X next to the silver cross grey broiler. While we raise thousands of birds a year on pasture, we still move each and every one of them three times a day. I would suggest that there is no use in trying to make them forage, and that they prefer to lay in their own feces... there is no way to fix that. Here are a few ways we have allowed them to lay in their feces less: have a feeder on each side of the pen. Distance between waters & feeders is good. Cover the whole pen so that shade prevails. That is crucial. Our meat birds are always under shade, and it is definitely preferred by the birds. I have to disagree with other comments and say that the space you have is adequate, and not only adequate but space efficient. Give them space, and they will not use it.

    I suggest raising the silver cross grey broiler as an alternative. They move a lot, they act like chickens, and they don't take 12 weeks to slaughter... only about 9.

  5. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    Wow what a great post about the toad parallel. Really makes me think if folks who have small flocks and give a rip about the cleanliness and quality of life can't get their cornish x to move, can you imagine what the commercial "pasture" & "free range" birds that end up in the store look like. Yuck!

    DH and I had been thinking about getting some meaties, but based on this may stick with our big girl layers. Might be slower and not as "breastie" but they really are free roaming foragers.
  6. Denninmi

    Denninmi Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    I never got my "tractor" built. So, mine are still in cages on wire. I've been giving them grass and greens, they pick at it to some extent, but not the way a "normal" chicken will. They spend most of their time either with their heads in the feeder or panting

    But, I do have to say, I feel a little bit guilty that they didn't get to experience being "real" chickens on grass. However, I honestly don't think they would care that much. And frankly, this way is MUCH cleaner -- they are pristine because all of the poo falls through to catch bins below. Even their feet are pristine looking, no poo to scrub off before cooking them for stock.
  7. Bluff Country Chicken

    Bluff Country Chicken In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2011
    SE MN
    Well...I moved the pen twice yesterday. It helped some, but they still congregate at one end even though shade covers 80% of the area. Needless to say I am moving them further away from the yard. I may move them 3 or 4 times a day to expedite the gap between them and our kid space - baseball, soccer, races, etc.

  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    My experience with the foraging of meaties was entirely different. I guess maybe because mine were taught to forage by their surrogate mom, they foraged just as well and often as the dual purpose layers in my flock. I only fed once in the evenings, so foraging was pretty much a necessity if they wanted to eat nonstop as is their nature. I remember watching in amusement as they followed my tiller diligently as I plowed my layers didn't bother but the little meaties were right there getting the easy meal.

    As they got bigger, they tended to forage mainly in the morning and evenings when it was cooler and would rest in the shade of my orchard in the heat of the day. I didn't see any of them congregating where they pooped....actually, it seemed they saved all their pooping for right before they left the coop in the morning.... [​IMG]
  9. itsy

    itsy Songster

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Thus far I'm pleased with the forage ability and cleanliness of my Red Broiler birds from Ideal. I do agree that they make more poop - but just because they're eating/growing faster than the other chickens we have - not because they're immobile slugs.

    My birds get around - they're at 4 weeks old. We move their tractor daily.

  10. mama2many

    mama2many Chirping

    Jun 20, 2010
    I raise my meaties with all the other birds (80 or so), so they are forced to forage. Feed is a finate thing and they are often at the low end of the food chain. They all went into the yard on grass to fend for themselves as soon as was possible. I have considered keeping this latest bunch in a tractor but they are only a week old. I would rather have a slightly tougher bird (from exercise) and a lower feed bill.

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