Man, I thought I’d seen everything. But this one’s weird. The life cycle of coccidiosis is interrupted if you move the chickens to a new patch of ground every day. Coccidiosis is a in intestinal protozoan parasite, and it depends on infecting and reinfecting the victims through feces. Not just any feces, either — feces that has been aged enough but not too much. The coccidia in the poop aren’t ready to reinfect the birds until they go through a life-cycle change, which takes about three days. With daily-move pasture pens, you leave yesterdays poop behind before (to get technical about it) the oocysts can sporulate.
Our local crows discovered a loose piece of hardware cloth in of our portable hoophouses and killed about a dozen young broilers. I need to update my hoophouse page to point out that we’ve made all our broiler houses burglar-proof, with chicken wire covering the whole thing, and hardware cloth over the chicken wire near the bottom to keep raccoons from reaching in and grabbing broilers.
Karen makes all the decisions on the broiler side of the farm. (Actually, she’s in charge of almost everything, these days.) Two years ago, she experimented with the “Freedom Ranger” broilers, which gave mixed results. These were supposed to be more like standard-breed chickens, which they were, with all that this implies, good and bad (which I may go into later).
A Watt Poultry article gives a pretty good rundown of the early egg industry, marred mostly by a few patches of garbled numbers.
The authors correctly identify the pioneering breeders who changed the egg industry in the first third of the 20th century (including James Dryden, whose book I need to reprint some day) and have some interesting tables of productivity per hen.
I’m dumping my accumulated store of wood ashes onto the dust-bathing sites preferred by the hens. This is supposed to be helpful in controlling mites, which always give me trouble in the warm parts of the year.
One of the problems I have with the pan-style waterers I use with the hens (Little Giant Pet Waterers)is that the hens don’t hesitate to poop in the waterer. I’m trying those conical wire tomato-cage thingies as a guard. We’ll see what happens.