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Friday, December 28, 2012

Pastured Chickens and Snow

We recently got 18 laying hens in short noticed and we were not at all prepared other than we had some chicken food, fencing, feeders, waters and chicken tractors designed for meat birds. So we used what we had and Eugene quickly put together a mobile chicken coop out of stuff lying around the farm. We introduced the hens to their 2nd new living situation in under 2 weeks and they liked it and settled in and all was well for about 3 weeks.

The weather was mild and mostly dry with low winds but as Christmas neared rumors of a winter advisory started circulating on the weather TV stations and websites. As time marched on that advisory became a winter storm watch, than winter storm warning. Than about 24 hours before the snow hit us a Blizzard warning was issued.

A Blizzard! What to do about the chickens as we knew from past experience chickens do not like snow at all and high winds were predicted and that meant that snow would get up into the mobile coop itself as it has hardware cloth for flooring to allow the poop to fall to the soil below and fertilize the ground. A great concept in any weather but snow, especially a blizzard.

So what does a farm that specializes in season extension using simple hoop houses do when a big snow is predicted? Put up a hoophouse over the chickens and their mobile laying tractor plus two other smaller tractors, that what. And it worked. The hoophouse has kept the snow and wind off the hens who have stayed warm and dry and quite happy walking around eating grain and the greens we harvest for them out of hoophouses that have greens growing in them.

This has been an excellent and cheap solution to heavy snow conditions for us.

Cold and snowy outside

But inside we have happy birds

Eugene is checking for eggs and Nate is hunting chicken "by products"

Melon came in too much to the hens' dismay

Closing up the hoophouse

Good Bye

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