New Layer House Prototype

I like the cow panel hoop chicken tractors so much I thought I would try my hand at making a layer house out of them.  This will solve several problems for me.  Primarily, I don’t want to clean out bedding in a layer house on pasture.  Also, I don’t want to use a tractor to move my layers.  This design has several drawbacks though.  First, it’s open on both sides.  An owl could fly right in and ruin my day.  Second, I have some concerns about the weather.  We’ll certainly keep them in a greenhouse over the winter.  Anyway, here it is.

The crossed 2x4s support the hoop and prevent it from swaying.  Then there are roost bars across the span.  I may need to put in two more 2x4s to prevent the roost bars from drooping.  I also may need to lower the roost bars a bit as the pullets grow.

Overall though, I really like it.  I plan to hang nest boxes off of one side or both.  For now these birds follow immediately after the chicken tractors and I move their house daily.

We had a bit of a circus rounding up the pullets in the greenhouse to move them out to pasture.  Everybody helped and after a little while, all birds were caught, their wing feathers were clipped and they were packed into crates for the big move to the alfalfa field.  Once there, we had a good time convincing these birds they needed to roost in the structure.  Oh well.  Keeps things interesting.

Now, it just so happens that I have a few Americauna pullets to spare.  If you know anyone interested in them, please let us know.

I’ll keep you posted on how the house works out.  We’re two days in.  So far…so good.

What do you Feed your Layers?

A friend said, “Chris, my wife wants to know what you feed those birds.  She doesn’t want to eat any eggs other than yours.”

That’s always nice to hear.

We grind the Fertrell rations on the farm.  In short it’s corn, oats and roasted soybean mixed with aragonite and Fertrell Poultry Nutri-Balancer.   Fertrell Poultry Nutri-balancer is mostly soft-rock phosphate and includes kelp, vitamins and probiotics.  Our layers get the layer ration free-choice along with whole kernel corn and oats.  They also get oyster shell free choice (makes the egg shell harder).  Finally, they get a new patch of pasture every third day so there are always fresh greens and bugs available to them.

This all changes in the winter.  We winter the birds (and rabbits) in our greenhouse on deep bedding offering them the same feed along with several flakes up to a bale of hay daily.  The deep bedding provides most of their protein requirements, prevents odors, generates warmth and makes great fertilizer for our gardens.  The hay gives them a source of greens and seeds in winter and helps build up the bedding further.

That’s the plan anyway.  Who knows what will really happen.  Might be even better once I get the other greenhouse built.