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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happy Chickens, Curious Calf

You've possibly seen photos of our fowl yard before but there are some particular features that we find are working well. For instance, the foliar spread from two elder trees at the rear of the fowl shed. In summer this provides relief from a fierce western sun belting on the back of the tin shed. In winter it looses its leaves and allows that same sun to warm instead. The shed itself can be divided at times to create two separate areas, particularly useful for the injured or the brooding hens and their chicks in the first few weeks.

Similarly, the yard can also be penned off into two. At this time the mothers are taking their young chicks into the greater yard and we have three new pullets of a new blood line in the smaller yard till they are assimilated into the flock.

The curious calf was very interested in what I was doing as I photographed and he and the chooks were delighted with a couple of dropped elderberry bunches.

Key to the flocks comfort and safety is the quince thicket, providing shade in the summer and overhead shelter from predators winter and summer. 

We have trimmed the area to enable us to move around for maintenance but there are lots of quiet nooks and tunnels. In the background here can be seen the trap door in the outer fence that allows access to the paddock. Most of the time the girls are free to come and go but there are times when they need to be penned so this also gives us greater control.

Curious calf again! At nearly four months he is becoming a very big baby. Naturally attached to us as we got him as a say old but not so enamoured of the hens who are basically food competitors in his patch. They are very happy to scratch and spread his manure though. It's a very good relationship.

The trees provide an easy spot to tie the hanging greens of silverbeet and kale. Should we need to restrict their access to the paddock at anytime, their yard environment still provides lots of mental stimulation and comfort. Most trees will not like the high acidity that arise from fowl droppings so an application of lime every six months may be needed to keep the trees happy. Planting a food tree ensures not only a crop for you but also windfall for the hens and the associated insect population that goes with it.

Curious calf again. He is enjoying windfall apples and crab-apples at the moment and the last leaves of the brassicas gone to seed. Unfortunately he is also trimming anything close to the fence which happens to be a pear tree and my pumpkin vines!

Happy Neil

Happy chickens.

1 comment:

  1. I love your setup. Having only two acres, and changing livestock, I'm in a constant state of fencing, re-fencing, adding gates, etc.
    Is curious calf a steer or bull? I haven't been able to get anywhere near mine since I banded him. Soon he'll discover the joy of carrots and then we'll be friends, I'm sure.


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