January 11, 2011

The big move

Three things about our Ameracauna chicks: All of the Ameracauna chicks have been in the barn stall for a while now.  They will be old enough to start laying in about a month or so. My crazy girlfriend wants to free range them out in the pasture with the cattle and has been in a tizzy about moving the chicks out of the barn.  Keep these facts in mind as I explain...

I'm all for free ranging the hens and am willing to try her suggestions.  She's been doing a lot of research and is impressed with the old-time successes of Robert Plamondon's poultry farm.  He manages his flock with two houses - one strictly for roosting and one strictly for nesting.  His flock is encouraged to range because the food and water is never in the coops but placed about 50 yards from both houses.  He's had great success with his two-house strategy including increased egg production and decreased broken eggs and cannibalism.

We're not quite ready to put the flock out in the pasture but the chicks needed to be moved from the barn stall soon so they can get used to their new home in time to start laying.  I wasn't ready to move them from the stall yet, but evidently my girlfriend was.

Not a chicken!
The chicken coop is divided in half on the inside.  The front half has been used for storage and the back half houses the chickens.  From time to time, we discussed cleaning out the front half and putting the Ameracaunas in there but never really came to a decision.  I came home from quoting a job to find all the stored items had been moved out of the hen house and into the yard, ready to be moved "somewhere", not to mention a few hours worth of work waiting for me to get the coop ready.  We fussed and fumed for a bit but got down to work.  All the stuff was moved to storage, the dirt and old litter from the hens was cleaned out, her kids helped distribute new shavings on the concrete floor, she got the food and water ready, I built a roosting ladder.... and we moved the chicks into their new home.

The only thing missing?  Nesting boxes!  She says she has plans for some of the leftover cabinetry I have down in a shed.  She's been toying with the idea of "colony" nests as described in item #2 by Robert Plamondon. One four-foot nesting box for 40-50 hens sounds unbelievable but we'll see if it works or not.  There are a few cabinets down there that could be converted into conventional nesting boxes or nesting tunnels.

I'm waiting to see how she plans to free ranges the flock now that they're in the coop. There's no doubt she'll come up with something surprising that will make me ... well... smile.

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