free roaming chickens2Revisiting the Original Objectives for a Chicken Husbandry Demonstration, Part 2 of 3

Contributed by Dan Schlupp.

In part one of this three part blog about our chicken husbandry demonstration, I talked about the original primary objectives for establishing our current poultry management system. I’ll do much the same for this post, but this time will focus on the original secondary objectives.

Original objective: To create and establish a synergistic animal integration plan (including a free-range forage system) in order to allow for the maximum utilization of the chickens for soil improvement and Zone II maintenance.
Update: I assume that this meant allow the chickens to roam wherever they’d like and also use their consolidated chicken powers to gently till and fertilize the bed tops using a chicken tractor contraption. The labor associated with moving around the chicken tractor, exposure to the sun, and the safety of the flock from predators all became issues, so it was decided to keep the chicken in a larger, fenced-in area. We’ve also been experimenting with different ways of improving soil fertility including crop rotation, mulching and teas. The soil in the chicken demonstration has also improved. Worm blooms in the rainy season are frequent and because of their activity, there’s literally no run off from the sloping site during heavy rain.

Original objective: To achieve these objectives in such a way that it can act as a demonstration tool for teaching chicken husbandry and to create a replicable plan for implementation,
Update: The system of management that has evolved from our collective experience with poultry raising is scalable at the village level. The site is a visual aid, allowing visiting farmers to evaluate the demo and take ideas as they see fit.

Luwayo Biswick leading a tour in the chicken yard. A repurposed chicken tracker is now functioning as protection for a compost pile.

Luwayo Biswick leading a tour in the chicken yard. A repurposed chicken tracker is now functioning as protection for a compost pile.

Original objective: To maximize the use of recycled materials in this construction and to minimize costs.
Update: Almost all of the materials used within the enclosed chicken area are recycled from various projects on our farm. Feeding trays are halved sections of 4” pvc tubing while posts for supporting the fence come from the same material. Water troughs are simply old plastic food containers. The fencing materials are grasses and bamboo from elsewhere on the farm while the bricks for the coop are made on site. Fruit trees are efficiently watered with makeshift plastic drinking bottles and leftover cooking oil jugs that have been pierced so as to create a no-tech drip irrigation scheme on the cheap. What isn’t recycled would be the 6” slivers of chicken wire that we cut and add to the base of the perimeter of the fence. That was originally installed as a way to keep monitor lizards and snakes out of the area, but as we found out, we can keep predators out by making routine visits a few times per day.

Pipe fence

Chickens being fed out of re-used pvc pipe.

Chicken feeding trays are leftover pvc pipe from the fence enclosing the yard.