Chicken pasture experiment

Chickens on pasture

Chickens in a coopIt’s
been a busy couple of weeks for our chickens.  First, Mark
completed their new pasture on the sunny side of the yard, and
moved them over
rattling of
.  The
flock was thrilled with dry soil to dustbathe in, tender chickweed to
nibble on, and with their new and improved
.  Egg
production seemed to increase nearly immediately, and our white
cochin’s case of diarrhea disappeared.

Meanwhile, I’ve been
putting a lot of thought into this year’s chicken game plan.  You
can read the long version over on our homestead blog by following the
links below, but here’s the summary:

  • We’re going to try to develop the perfect
    pastured chicken breed
    for our neck of the woods.  We’ve
    whittled down our flock to our best foragers and layers and are
    breeding them to expand our flock this year.
  • We plan to raise several small sets of chicks either using a broody
    (if she’ll cooperate) or the new, high-tech
    incubator and brooder
    we bought.  We’ll keep some of the
    pullets as layers and eat the cockerels and any spare pullets as
    old-fashioned broilers.
  • Grazing chickensWe’re expanding
    our pastures
    to end up with seven (I hope!), giving us a total of a
    tenth of an acre of grazing space.  I’m playing rotation speed by
  • We’ll be improving
    our pastures with chickens
    in mind.  We’ll keep last year’s
    two pastures as grain and legume growing space, but will treat the
    other pastures more traditionally (although I plan to add in some very
    untraditional plants.)

As usual, my forest
pasture plans are extremely experimental, so don’t emulate them
blindly.  But I hope you’ll play along at home and let me know how
your own pasture experiments pan out.

After their move, our flock
ran straight for their
chicken waterer.

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