Crows, Hoophouses, Predator Control.

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.

While there’s a lot of romantic nonsense about country life being just like a petting zoo or a Little Golden Book, that hasn’t been my experience. If we don’t react to predators right away, all our chickens will soon be dead. We’ve tightened up the house. So far, so good. read more...

Privett “Slow Cornish” Broilers — So Far, So Good

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).

For many years we got our modern, hybrid broiler chicks locally, from Jenks’ Hatchery in Tangent, Oregon. This worked very well for us, and we had our operation tuned to the strengths and weaknesses of the modern hybrid broiler. These broilers grow like weeds but are lethargic and “don’t act like real chickens” after the first few weeks. read more...

Interesting Article on Early Egg Farming

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.

The numbers giving the amount of labor required per hen are garbled, but the numbers that report how many hens represent a full-time job at different technology levels are correct. The numbers tend to explain why you shied away from doubling your flock size this year! read more...

Hen Hints

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.

The earlier and oftener you collect the eggs, the cleaner they’ll be. There will be more of them, too. The hens can’t break an egg or smear dirt on it if you’ve already collected it. read more...