Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Healthy eggs

Healthy eggs don't just happen by accident, they have to start with healthy chickens. My idea of confinement starts with what is know as a chicken tractor. There are a lot of different ideas for the perfect chicken tractor and there is probably a good argument for reasons why, I'm not even sure such a thing exists. When I started down the chicken road I looked at a lot of different ideas and then came up with something that I figured would work for me. Now I truck farm so I wanted something that wasn't much wider than my beds so that if I have to confine my chickens for a few months over the summer so they wouldn't wreak havoc with my plants I could keep them on the beds that I want extra fertilizer on. The pictures included are of my first design but I have a second design started that I think will be a big improvement. My tractors are 4ft x8ft with a second level that is cantilevered over the frame in the rear to make the front end lighter to lift to put the wheels on and take them back off when I want to move it. It also has nest boxes that extend further out the back with a separate lid to collect eggs from. The roof is hinged so the whole thing flips up to make it easier to clean. It's a total of 48sq ft, 32 of it to open ground and 16sq ft inside not counting the nest boxes. For the bigest part of the year all it is is a place for them to be in overnight and a few hours in the morning until they are done laying eggs. I mentioned my second design and it's going to be pretty similar except with a wire floor inside and a droppings board underneath that will emtpy into a tray under the nestbox to make it easy to get the waste from there to the compost pile. I'm also going to put a pitched roof on it that extends over the yard a couple feet to give them more shade in summer, the roof will still open from one side for cleaning.Hopefully the new model will be a bit lighter, I'm building it out of lighter materials and I'm also going to put sliding windows on the sides and on the ends of the roof so I can open and close them as the wind changes direction and the windows will leave in more light. I think as confinement goes these do ok, they're small enough inside that the chickens can stay pretty warm even on the coldest winter nights but even in the summer when they are cooped up in them they have 4-5sq ft of space per bird. The biggest drawback so far is keeping water open on the coldest days of winter, I usually check water every couple of hours on days when the temps are below freezing. I started this off by talking about healthy eggs and it's easy to keep your chickens healthy with a place to stay dry and good feed and the other ingredient I have for healthy eggs is to clean out the nestboxes and rebed them first thing in the morning if needed so the eggs are always clean when I collect them and that leaves me confident that I can sell the freshest healthiest eggs possible.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! I found you on The Chicken Chick's blog hop. I am hosting Mostly Homemade Mondays, and want to invite you over to link up! I think you would fit in with us perfectly :) Join us: