Management practices to improve livestock food production~meat, eggs, milk, etc.

PatriciaPNW

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Free bales? Should I be looking on CL or elsewhere? I do get close-to-free but really rough wood chips (a lot of branches etc) from the ChipDrop website. $40 goes half to the commercial arborists or landscapers that bring it after tree work, half to website.
 

CrealCritter

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Egg shape for gender selection protocol - what shape are you looking for to have more pullets? I agree about free ranging being beneficial but I think it’s often a matter of time until there’s a mass casualties incident or hens are swiped one by one, unfortunately. Mine get leftovers - sometimes from work, produce store, or cooking for homeless (too ripe donations and stale bread). They also forage in pasture, garden, and huge run. But that’s not “free range” as people without chickens have let me know
We call our chickens yard hussies ain't that right bee?
 

Lazy Gardener

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I've had my name on chip drop for several years now, offering to pay, have not yet had a call. Used to be able to stand on the mountain of chips at the town recycle/compost area and fill my truck. Now, I'm lucky to see a single pile that is maybe 3' tall. Have called local arborists, offering to pay. No such luck here. Hay, even old moldy hay with rotten strings is still $3/bale.
 

Beekissed

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Free bales? Should I be looking on CL or elsewhere? I do get close-to-free but really rough wood chips (a lot of branches etc) from the ChipDrop website. $40 goes half to the commercial arborists or landscapers that bring it after tree work, half to website.
We have a publication locally where you can advertise things for free and that's where I find most of my free stuff, along with Facebook Marketplace.

Mostly, though, I find that when God wants me to have something, He sees that I get it, so I often come into free things in a roundabout and mysterious way. :D

We call our chickens yard hussies ain't that right bee?
Exactly right! :cool: You've got a whole yard full of 'em, CC! :D
 

farmerjan

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@Beekissed I will respond to your response to my comments. I was referring to the "know it all" people in my particular neighborhood, not to people here on this site. You were not a target.

Maybe your bald eagles do not bother your birds and for that I am glad. The ones here have become not only a pain to the small chicken owners, but are actually becoming a problem at the truck stop right off the interstate a couple of miles away.
The only way I could stop the predation by the eagle was to keep them locked in. Shooting the eagle was not an alternative, or he would have been long since disposed of. There are several farmers in the county west of me that call them bald headed vultures due to the problems they have with eagles and their newborn calves. They will attack cows having newborn calves, and attack and kill the calves. SEEN IT. Had a conservation officer that actually did dispose of an eagle that had targeted a farm that was calving their cows out within an acre of the barn and such to try to prevent it.

My birds that are in "chicken tractors" are not in a dirty pen that is overcrowded and never moved. They were moved around the garden, with plenty of soil to dig in, and added their manure to the garden. Or on the lawn and moved daily so they always had fresh grass and did not kill the soil or the organisms. They are not being overcrowded and baked under a tin roof with no more than a 10x10 space to move in. I do not keep the meat birds in a chicken tractor. Only my individual purebred show birds that I mate for egg saving. I have some of the "old breeds" New Hamps and different colors of Large Langshans. Also have had many other breeds over the years.

The trailers that the layers were in were out in the pasture but were not that far from the edge of the woods. I never had more than an occasional lost bird, except for the pack of dogs, until the eagle moved into the area. The birds would go out and spend the better part of the day outside, except to come back in to lay and get water. The cows liked to play with the 5 gal waterers, so they were kept inside. The chickens spent a good part of their time scratching through all the cow patties in the field. Yes they had free choice feed in the coops, but I fed less than half of what they were "supposed to eat" because they were free ranging.

The birds got so they were scared of any and every shadow that crossed the sky because of the eagle. I had conservation people, the extension office, you name it, they were there.... to try to come up with an alternative to the miserable eagle. I sat there and used the shotgun to scare the stupid bird off, trying to convince it that this was not his private free meal smorgasboard. I would not let them out til late afternoon when I could stay there "babysitting". My birds are pretty savvy, even the ones in the chicken tractors, to any shadows flying overhead and will duck right into the house part. Implying that I did not care about the birds was really uncalled for. Chicken tractors are good alternatives if they are used in the manner they are designed. The worms would have little mounds of soil where they had come up and taken down some of what the chickens leave behind so it is not a barren or smelly or poopy ground.

We've had a couple of guardian dogs. Had some of these know it all neighbors actually call the dog warden saying we were being cruel by making the poor dog stay out there with the animals. They took to feeding the dogs across the fence. I wish they had been Anatolians, to be more "protective" of their own space, maybe they would have bitten the dam neighbors....
I was in and out of there 2-4 times a day. The dogs were not neglected. Caught the one neighbor enticing the dog out through a spot in the fence to their house with canned food, which I did not feed them with. Had the law involved and actually filed charges against this neighbor. So I can speak with some experience.

The donkey used to run the eagle when it landed, even though I don't think he cared so much about the chickens, but about the calves. We also are having major problems with the black vultures during calving, and I have had them go after a just fresh cow and her calf as she is trying to clean it off. The eagle was hanging with that group sometimes too.

So I am glad that your birds are in an environment that they are safe from most all predators. I hope that you never do have to deal with what we have dealt with. There were no untruths in my response to your post, and the bitter bile was because there were no alternatives to the situation we were dealing with.

I have successfully free ranged hundreds of birds over the years. But there are areas/times that it just doesn't work.
My current situation has my cornish x free ranging on some mostly brushy wooded ground and they are 8 weeks when I get them and been raised inside up until then. They need about 3 days to get with the program and learn about going out to scratch and run and grab bugs. I nearly fell over laughing at 2 that wanted the same bug and they were chasing each other trying to get the bug and one was trying to stop to eat it and the other would grab it and run in the other direction. These birds are not near where the eagle was the problem. The only fence they have is to keep them away from the road on one side, because there is alot of traffic and I don't need them out there.
 

Beekissed

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Implying that I did not care about the birds was really uncalled for.
So the next time someone starts in on the "free range" thing, explain that you will not subject your chickens to that form of lack of care and concern for their well being.
I do believe that was you, wasn't it? :idunno I agree....it's totally uncalled for. I apologize for the implication as I know it doesn't feel good to have someone accuse a complete stranger of not caring for their animals simply because they choose to free range.

So I am glad that your birds are in an environment that they are safe from most all predators.
Sorry, but my birds aren't in an environment where they are safe from most of all predators. We have black bear foraging not a hundred yards from the coop, coyote that regularly troop right through the front yard and sing all around us each night, a hawk just buzzed the meadow yesterday...as they do most days, bobcat, foxes, stray dogs, feral cats and black snakes. We have the only chickens for a mile or more and we are smack dab in the middle of wildlife central. My flock isn't safe from all predators no more than yours are....but our system works to insure safety from them most of the time.

I've heard that from a lot of people when they hear someone free ranges with few losses, they automatically assume that we don't get the predator pressure that they do. That couldn't be further from the truth and without the dogs I wouldn't keep~no, couldn't keep~chickens here, even inside of a coop and run.

The trick to free ranging is to have your own fanged predators and they need to be the kind that will pursue aerial preds as well as the four footed. I've had dogs that didn't care about aerial onslaughts and I paid money for a dog that does. I've also had free dogs that were death on raptors. It's all about the right dogs and the right setup to get the right results.

Right now I have a dog that's great on larger predators and aerial preds, but really worthless on smaller predators like possum. So, I had to try to get another dog to work with him...if this new one doesn't turn out to be a small critter gitter, he doesn't get to stay.

Blessedly, I've not had to deal with neighbors like yours...or any neighbors at all, as we all live a good distance from one another and leave each other alone.
 
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Beekissed

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Here's a really good one! Love his last statement...been saying the same thing for some years now.

 

Beekissed

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I agree! After watching his vids I can see a good path ahead where I can feed the sheep while developing better grasses for them and for the chickens, so all animals benefit while I spend less money to feed them all. This could be the turning point of the whole place and the culmination of all I've been trying to do here and in other places I've lived.

Getting Eli on board by showing him the game plot quality pasture Mr. Judy is getting from grazing his herds like this and spreading hay on the ground all winter for them to eat and trample.

Now, the hay I have spread is not edible for the sheep, but as soon as I get a paddock up and functioning, I'll move them through on top of all that hay just like it was their winter penning, moving a portable feeder/waterer and mineral dispenser along with each move and keeping them on each place long enough to get plenty of manure, pee and wasted hay on the land and all the while I'll be training them to moving with this single strand polywire so that, by spring, they should be familiar with moving each day or so and will be easy to move.

I'd like to get at least one paddock up and running by the end of Nov/beginning of Dec.
 

Lazy Gardener

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The winter rye/red clover that I sowed on the cement hard sheet compost area has sprouted. (unfortunately, a friend scalped the layer of sheet compost off with his Kubota, b/c he was "doing a favor" by moving all the rocks out of that area!) The rye is coming up spotty, but the red clover is putting on a strong show. I should be able to continually work that area to provide good eats for the flock, as well as high quality hay/mulch for garden, coop, and run. It's only about 30' x 30'. But, hey... that's ok. Using that area in that way will keep it from being invaded with poison ivy, and other noxious perennial weeds. Next spring, I'll sow some BOSS, and ?field or dent corn, maybe even some milo and millet, there.
 
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