Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pastured Broilers

Our pastured broilers are growing nicely! Cornish Crosses are not a heritage breed and do grow quite fast. If you give them hormones or feed them too much,they will likely be unable to walk around after 6 or 7 weeks old. However, we feel growing them on pasture and giving a clean area of grass to pick around each day, is much better than packing thousands of birds in an enclosed building. In the shelters they have room to move and are able to eat grass and bugs. A chickens natural diet. We don't feed them GMO-free feed this year (nobody's perfect), but we hope to be in a position where we can do that next Spring. The chickens grow pretty quickly, but we do not give them antibiotics or any growth hormones. Just fresh air, clean grass, and lots of sunshine! Each morning we move the shelters, feed the chickens, and give them fresh water. They love moving time! They rush over to the new patch of grass and start searching for bugs and grass. Pastured poultry is not necessarily the most sustainable thing on the farm, yet it's very rewarding and quite easy and a cheap way to get into farming! We are enjoying giving these chickens a great life and soon we look forward to having fresh tasty chicken to eat for dinner! (Don't tell the chickens that yet, we don't need them unionizing on us ;)

March 27, baby chicks arrive in the mail!
A few things we have learned so far:

  • These chickens drink a lot more than our egg layers. Next year we hope to get an automatic waterer.

  • We need a new board on top of our current shelter. We used a cheap piece of siding to put on the top because it was light weight, however it warped right away and anytime it rains or the sprinklers come on water sits on the top and we have to push it off. 

  • We need some sort of handle on one side to help us move the shelters around. They are heavy and the rope we are using always has chicken poop on it and is hard to hold. 

  • We need a better quality food for the chickens. They eat a lot, I think part of the problem is the food we give them. 

  • You're going to have lots of flies and your lawn is not going to be beautiful anymore. Watering will help with both of these problems and help the poop disintegrate faster. We try not to water the lawn here in California too much as we have limited water. 
Have you raised pastured poultry before? What do you feed them and what kind of waterer and shelters do you use? What breed do you raise? We'd love to learn more about your set up! 
Checking out their new home until they are big enough to go outside

Good morning! Enjoying a new patch of grass!