What is it like to raise chickens on pasture? Today I want to give brief description of what a typical morning of chores looks like on the farm.
As with any farm, it’s important for us to get up early and get started on the day’s tasks. At sunrise we open the door on the laying hen roost shelter. This allows the ladies to forage in the pasture a bit before beginning to lay their eggs. Next, we fill their feeders, clean their waterers, and check that their nest boxes have clean bedding.
Then we stop by the barn to feed the dogs and cat before heading out to the meat chicken mobile shelters. This is the main event of the morning chores. We have 5 mobile shelters with 130 chickens in each one, for a total of 650.
First we pull up all of the rebar stakes that anchor the shelters against wind gusts. Next we turn off the water supply and clean each waterer (2 in each shelter).
Then we use the truck to move each mobile shelter forward 20 ft. The mobile shelters are relatively lightweight (hence the wind stakes mentioned previously) so they slide across the grass without needing wheels. One person drives the truck while another person stands inside the shelter and makes sure that the chickens walk forward towards new grass as the shelter is moving. The shelters are 20 ft long, so moving them 20 ft gets them off of the previous day’s ground and onto fresh pasture.
We turn the water supply back on and make sure that the waterers fill up properly. We fill all of the feeders, drive the wind protection stakes into the ground, and pour probiotic or apple cider vinegar (depending upon the age of the chickens) into the waterers.
Next we take care of the young chicks in the brooder. We stir their bedding, add new bedding if necessary, fill up feeders, and clean waterers. Usually at this point in the day it’s starting to get pretty hot outside so we take a water break and wash up before heading out to the garden.
In the garden we harvest vegetables, trellis tomatos, plant successions of other vegetables, mulch, weed, prune, lay out irrigation, or do whatever else the plants are telling us that they need. We weigh and record the harvest.
Now that the morning chores are done, we start on weekly tasks (like loading freezers for market), or various other long term tasks and projects.