Pastured Poultry: Introduction to ‘Factors to Consider’
Each week we move our chicken coops to a new section of pasture. At this time the Farm Worker is responsible for the following items:
- Where is the coop moving to, and what is the best way to get there? Where will the coop be moved to next time – such that the new position leads smoothly to the next placement.
- Open fence to allow access for ATV to move coop to new location. Hanging feeder inside coop should be secured to avoid wild swinging and injury to birds. Move at slow, steady rate, avoid sharp turns and steep inclines.
- Pre mow new pasture perimeter to facilitate fence set up. Fence should be set up without sagging and bottom edge of fence must be fully in contact with ground. Over uneven ground additional fence stakes may be necessary to secure bottom of fence. Be sure that all additional fence stakes are collected and move with each new pasture.
- Coop Orientation is Important! Main solar access should be to the South East (morning sunshine) to encourage laying. Windows should not be to the West as this leads to potential overheating on summer afternoons.
- Coop Placement in pasture is Important! Pasture should be assessed for best forage, worst weeds, and previous placement. The chickens will kill whatever is beneath the coop, so placement in the midst of a nasty patch of weedy growth can be beneficial. Likewise their poop is concentrated below the coop and so placement in the pasture should be rotated to allow for uniform fertilization of the area over time.
- If predation is an issue, choice of pasture location must be as close to human activity as possible, followed by within electric fence. At the very least, nearby boundaries should be mowed to reduce cover for foxes and regular monitoring is necessary.
- Mowing the pasture after chickens have moved off can be beneficial to control the seed set of undesirable plant species. Reseeding with desirable plant species can also be done after chickens have moved on.