The first run chick order has been placed and will arrive in early April. There are still a few available so place your orders soon if you would like some from this batch (firstname.lastname@example.org). The meat birds should be ready for processing in the first and second week of June.
We have a mixed order of meat birds coming as well as yard birds. I have to say, I had no idea how much I would enjoy raising chickens. It all started with one abandoned bantam rooster that someone dumped at the farm. He never let us get too close but he didn’t go too far either. He was completely self sufficient. He ate spilled grain around the bins and foraged all day. He drank from the cat’s dish or found standing water after a rain. He did a beautiful job of keeping the entire bin area clean.
We now keep a small yard flock for eggs and enjoy delicious meat, knowing that our chicken is raised humanely and processed with great care in a safe environment.
After much research and experimenting, we have settled on a feeding system that seems to work best for us and our birds. Besides free-range foraging, they are also given a diet of fermented grains and greens. We like to grow our own feed for the chickens so we know what we are eating in both our meat and our eggs.
Their diet includes popcorn and Indian corn, which are still non-gmo products at this time. Popcorn is higher in protein than other corns, but it is a very hard kernel and needs to be soaked to soften it for a few days before it can be mixed into the fermenting batch of feed. We also use other grains and greens from the garden and yard. We raise our garden without unnecessary chemicals, so I am comfortable knowing that my birds are fed the best diet possible.
In our first year of raising the Cornish Rock Cross, we decided to build four portable chicken tractors that could be moved every day. I saw several options online and finally settled on modifying one to create a design of our own. By having four of them, we started 100 chicks in one coop and divided them into two when they outgrew it. In another week or so we had to divide them into the third and then the fourth. Each tractor comfortably accommodates 25 full grown birds with room to run outside as well.
Our yard birds (egg layers/pets) have been a fun barnyard mix. We have hatched our own eggs a few times and developed a nice little flock. We were looking for a little more consistency and new varieties to share with our customers when we are open for pumpkin sales in the fall, so we have three breeds of chicks on order – Silver Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, and ISA Browns. We are building them a new hen house in the grainery. I am looking forward to the new birds I ordered (but I won’t be surprised if I find I can’t resist a few more from the local feed store)