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Chickens moved to pasture

Chickens with the portable pen on spring pasture

Chickens with a portable pen on spring pasture

With the arrival of Spring, we moved the chickens to the pasture in Salem. If you compare eggs from pasture raised chickens with other eggs you might buy in the store, you will notice that the yolks from the eggs of the pasture raised chickens are a darker yellow, almost orange and the whites can be firmer. This is from the bugs and greens they are eating on the pasture and from the fact that most of the time eggs from pasture raised chickens can be fresher than those bought in the store.  (Just a note, the eggs we sell are usually under a week old and never two weeks old.) There is a debate on whether pasture raised eggs taste better (maybe one of the best ‘experiments’ in this area was carried out by Food Lab—spoiler alert: in blind tests, they taste the same, but taste can be influenced by appearance, smell, and cognitive things like knowing where your eggs come from and how the chickens live).

The pasture continues to improve.  The areas where the chickens were last year came back nice and green from the fertilizer from both the chickens and the turkeys and the variety of plants on the pasture continues to increase, which is a good thing.  Interestingly, although it may just be circumstantial, as soon as the tailgate of the truck opened, most of the chickens jumped out and headed for their old house.  It was a fairly easy move, either we’re getting better at it or the chickens are getting used to it, or both.

Hoop House Tunnel

According to the Weather Channel the weather today (January 4) hit the mid to high 30’s, but in the hoop house when the sun shines, the temperature can really climb. We use a thermometer that shows the high and low temperatures for a 24 hour period. As you can see, it get pretty hot in the hoop house even in early January.

To cool off, the hens try different things like the dust bath (the two hens in the lower left, that look kind of dirty, are enjoying a nice dust bath). 

But with this beautiful weather, we thought they also might enjoy getting out in the fresh air, so we created a ‘tunnel’ under the plastic covering the hoop house.  It has a door that we’ll close at night to keep the drafts out and also any predators. 

Here’s a view from the outside end of the ‘tunnel’. 

These last two pictures show the hens ‘frolicking’ in the winter sunshine, trust us they are frolicking. 

 

All Are Gathered In

We got our first big snow fall the other day. It was beautiful and amazing, but the best part was the feeling that the chickens had a home. We built a ‘hoop house’ which is kind of a greenhouse design with ‘hoops’ made from PVC over a frame of two by fours and covered with plastic sheeting. The result is pretty cozy, the chickens seem to enjoy it. And it keeps them warm during the day and a little warmer at night. The other part is that we gathered leaves from yards in the neighborhood and are using those to cover give the chickens something to scratch in and as a carbon base to offset the droppings. It seems to be working fairly well because our egg production hasn’t dropped off as sharply as it did last year. Here are some pictures:brooder

feed

inside hoop house

inside hoop house 2