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How To Raise Meat Chickens 10 16 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Page 1 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 2. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Table of Contents Introduction: Chickens on your small farm.....................................................................................4 Chickens fit this model................................................................................................................5 Chicken Raising Do' s and Don'ts....................................................................................................8 Getting Started...............................................................................................................................10 Planning – How many birds should you start with?..................................................................11 Chicken Raising Production Schedule...........................................................................................13 Planning subsequent batches.....................................................................................................14 Marketing – How will you sell your meat birds?...........................................................................15 Management – Where to raise your birds......................................................................................18 Production – Sources and supplies.................................................................................................20 Find a source for your day-old chicks.......................................................................................20 Get your equipment and supplies..............................................................................................21 Find a Feed Supplier..................................................................................................................23 Finding an abattoir.....................................................................................................................24 Production - Caring for your baby chicks....................................................................................25 Feeding your chicks...................................................................................................................27 Troubleshooting Your Chicks.........................................................................................................28 Getting set up in the Field..............................................................................................................30 Setting up the Movable Coop....................................................................................................30 Page 2 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 3. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Setting up your electric fence....................................................................................................33 Caution: follow the manufacturer directions for installing your fence charger and setting up your fence. The fence charger produces high voltage but little amperage, but can still be potentially dangerous. Make sure the charger is in a weather-proof location; use insulated lead-out wire to get your ...........................................................................................................33 Moving Day for the Chicks............................................................................................................38 Production - Caring for your birds in the field...............................................................................39 Managing the birds in the field..................................................................................................39 Relocating the coop and the pen................................................................................................41 Troubleshooting your birds in the field.....................................................................................44 Production – Harvesting your birds...............................................................................................47 Loading your birds....................................................................................................................48 Chicken Economics – Costs and profits.........................................................................................50 Equipment Costs (fixed costs)...................................................................................................50 Chicks, Feed and Supplies (variable costs)..............................................................................51 Calculating your profit .............................................................................................................53 What can you sell your birds for?..............................................................................................54 Conclusion......................................................................................................................................55 Annex A – Building Stuff the New Terra Farm Way.....................................................................57 Building a simple trough feeder for your birds.........................................................................58 Building the New Terra Farm Movable Coop...........................................................................60 Building the New Terra Farm Broody Boxes............................................................................71 Page 3 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 4. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Introduction: Chickens on your small farm Chickens are the perfect livestock animal for your small farm, or micro farm, or even a big back yard! Why do I say that? Well, micro-farming may be defined as 'the raising of livestock animals and plant crops on small plots of land to produce a profit'. Whether you have 5 acres, 2 acres, or a fraction of 1 acre, it is possible to raise meat chickens successfully. The scale of the enterprise may change but the principles remain the same: ● Organic production – introduce no harmful chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides ● Sustainable production – follow cultural practices that will maintain or preferably improve your plot of land ● Integrated production – apply brains before brawn (or money) and figure out the inter-relationships that benefit your garden, your livestock, and of course yourself. Page 4 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 5. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland ● Humane animal husbandry - raise animals in conditions they prefer. Chickens like to scratch, pigs like to root, and if you don't frustrate those instincts you will have happier, healthier,(and tastier!) animals. Chickens fit this model Raising meat chickens as a part of your micro-farm is completely congruent with these principles. At New Terra Farm, we have been raising meat birds for 8 years, organically on pasture. The chickens have actually improved our fields and garden, by eating bugs and weed seeds, and fertilizing the ground with their own manure. We have figured out a system to minimize loss and maximize returns, and one that also reduces work for the micro-farmer. We spend about 10 minutes twice a day looking after our birds. Once a week we move their electromesh pen to fresh ground. Raising chickens on pasture in movable pens integrates very well with my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) market garden. I deliver fresh veggies from my garden to 70 families each week. When I want to sell my chickens, I just send out an e-mail to my veggie customers, and wait for the orders to come in. Page 5 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 6. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland The New Terra Farm Movable Chicken Coop Page 6 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 7. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Last week (late September as I write this) I sent out an e-mail, and immediately got orders for 60 birds (worth about $950.) We will show you the same techniques we use on our farm to raise and sell meat chickens, easily and profitably. Once people taste how great your pasture-raised chicken tastes, you will have to run to keep up with the demand. Lets get started! Page 7 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 8. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Chicken Raising Do' s and Don'ts Here's a quick list of basic do's and don'ts for raising meat birds quickly and profitably. This list is based on our experience, and we strongly recommend you follow this advice (at least until you have a few season's experience under your belt). DON'T use 'dual purpose' birds. If you are raising chickens for the freezer (i.e. fryers or roasters), don't use the so-called dual-purpose birds OR 'alternate' meat birds. They grow more slowly and rarely get as large as actual 'meat' birds. Order the meat chick recommended by your hatchery or feed store, usually a rock-Cornish cross. DON'T hatch your own eggs. Buy day-old meat chicks from your hatchery or feed store, these birds are 'tried, tested and true' for producing good-sized birds efficiently. DO raise them on ground. This can be on pasture or in an area you will rotate your garden into. Chickens like to scratch dirt and eat bugs and if you don't frustrate that instinct you will have happier and healthier birds (tastier, too!) Page 8 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 9. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland DO raise them organically. The demand for fresh, healthy, natural food is soaring. Go after the top of the market, don't fight it out at the bottom against Tyson or Maple Leaf. Grow a better bird, get a better paycheck! These points are fundamental in our 'chicken-raising bible', don't mess with them! The Movable Coop can hold 100 Birds Page 9 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 10. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Getting Started If you have read our book about starting your own successful market garden http://www.new-terra-natural-food.com/market-garden-book.html , you know we follow a business model that says 'planning before marketing, marketing before management, and management before production'. This approach helps you avoid problems by anticipating them, and helps assure the success of your 'chicken ranch'. Here's your Getting Started Checklist: 1. Planning: decide how many birds to start with 2. Marketing: how will you sell them, and for how much? 3. Management: where and how will you care for your birds Lets look at each of these steps in detail. Page 10 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 11. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Planning – How many birds should you start with? If this is your first time raising meat birds, you have a few questions to answer: Do you plan to grow a few birds just for yourself, or to also have some for sale? One chicken a week for yourself is 52 birds in a year. Does that sound like something you could tackle? Do you think you could sell an equal number? 100 birds averaging 5-5 ½ lbs will just about fill two 14-cubic foot freezers. Do you have freezer space for that many birds, or can you deliver them all fresh? If so, you might try raising 100 birds. The New Terra Farm Movable Coop as presented in Annex A can comfortably hold 100 birds; the New Terra Farm Broody Boxes we use will each hold about 35 birds until they are ready to go into the field, so you would need 3 broody boxes to raise 100 birds at once. You also have to consider the pasture you have available; a suggested maximum density is 400 birds per acre. Note that using our method you don't need all this space at once. You move the birds with their portable electric mesh fence and coop to fresh ground weekly. Page 11 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 12. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland A batch of 100 birds will be moved 5 or 6 times, requiring between 7000-9000 square feet (1/6 to 1/5 of an acre). You can save space by rotating the chickens through pasture that will later become your garden. The chickens can also follow pigs in 'rotation', if you are raising pigs on pasture as well. Remember also that, in most locations, you can raise more than one 'batch' of birds a year. At the farm we do 2 or 3 batches of 100 birds each season; this lets us re-use the equipment, and doesn't overwhelm our available freezer space (see also the Chicken Raising Production Schedule in the next section). Running successive batches requires good planning and scheduling, particularly when ordering your chicks and later when booking them in at the abattoir. Hatcheries may not have birds available precisely when you want them, and abattoirs have busy times when it make take several weeks to get your animals in. It's important to note that we raise birds only in the snow-free months; we usually get our first batch of day-old chicks in April, and finish the last batch by October. This is not only for the comfort of the birds (and the farmer!) but also so that our electric mesh fence doesn't 'ground out' in the snow. Page 12 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 13. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Chicken Raising Production Schedule Here’s the production schedule to raise your first batch of meat birds. 1. Four weeks before chick pick up day - Contact your supplier and order the day old chicks. Find an abattoir within a reasonable distance from your farm. 2. Two weeks before pick up day - Gather your equipment and materials. Begin construction of your broody boxes and Movable Coop. 3. One week before pick up day - Order your feed. Have the feed available when the birds arrive. 4. Pick-up day - Get your birds home and in the broody boxes with chick starter feed and water as soon as possible. (But don't panic, the new-born birds can normally survive 24 hours without food or water.) 5. When birds are 3 weeks of age – The little birds should be fully feathered and don't need supplementary heat; they can go out to the Movable Coop. 6. At 6 weeks of age - Switch to chicken grower ration Page 13 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 14. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland 7. At 8-9 weeks of age - Contact the abattoir to book your birds in. 8. At 10-12 weeks of age - Your birds are ready to go; average weight should be between 5 and 6 lbs dressed. Planning subsequent batches Since the chicks spend 3 weeks in the broody boxes, and about 7-9 weeks in the Movable Coop, here on the farm we are able to do 3 batches in a season with just one set of equipment i.e. one Movable Coop and 3 broody boxes. Here is a sample schedule you can use to plan your own batches of birds. Meat Bird Batch Schedule Pick-up day Leave broody box Go to abattoir Batch 1 April 16 May 7 July 2 Batch 2 June 11 July 3 August 28 Batch 3 August 7 August 29 October 24 This sample schedule assumes your birds will reach the desired weight in Page 14 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 15. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland about 11 weeks. You will also need about 27 weeks of snow-free weather to follow this schedule and complete 3 batches. Marketing – How will you sell your meat birds? One of the most important rules for the small farmer is, 'don't grow anything you don't know how to sell!' In fact, it's better if you sell your wares before they are grown. That's the model we follow in Bootstrap Market Gardening; our customers pay us in advance for delivering fresh veggies throughout the season. These same folks buy all our chickens, too. How do I know who wants chicken? I ask them! You can do the same, even if you don't have your own Bootstrap Market Garden. Tell your friends, neighbours, co-workers, church members, hockey buddies – in short, EVERYBODY – that you will be raising delicious, organic, free-range chickens, and if they hurry they can get on the list to get some! Make sure to get them to ask around for you as well. Ask how many birds they think they might want, and then you may have to Page 15 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 16. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland adjust your numbers for growing. CAUTION; don't take on too many at once, if this is your first time. You can always put potential customers on a waiting list for your next batch. You can also ask for a small deposit when you take orders; this helps makes sure people will take the birds when they are ready, and can cover your start- up costs for equipment. Try to get folks to tell you how many chickens they might need over the season. That way you can plan subsequent batches with some confidence you can sell them. We also give chickens away as a 'bonus' to people who buy other things from our farm. For example, one lady bought a side of pork from us and I gave her a nice 6-lb. roaster. Now she is a good customer for chicken as well! Finally, if someone sends a chicken customer to you, reward them with a free bird. You want to encourage these referrals, and everybody loves chicken! Your birds are good in the freezer for at least six months, so you have some time to get them all sold. Don't forget to keep enough for your own chicken dinners! Page 16 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 17. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Shameless Plug: Of course, the best way to sell your chickens is to your own Bootstrap Market Garden customers. Copy and paste the link below into your browser, and you will be taken to our sales page for Bootstrap Market Gardening. Shameless Bribe: as our way of saying 'thanks' for buying this book, you can get our Bootstrap Market Gardening book and the free bonuses for just $33 instead of the $47 everybody else pays. That is a savings of 30% off the regular price. http://www.new-terra-natural-food.com/market-gardening-book.html Click on the 'Add to Cart' button at the bottom of the web page. then enter this discount code to get your savings: chicken30 Page 17 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 18. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Management – Where to raise your birds Now that you have some idea of how many birds you will start with, it's time to figure out where and how you will care for them. Our New Terra Farm Movable Coop will accommodate 100 birds, and that you will need 3 New Terra Farm Broody Boxes to raise that many chicks. So what else do you need? 1. A sheltered space with electricity for your broody boxes. We use a room in one of our outbuildings for our broody boxes. It has power for the heat lamps that keep the chicks warm, and is reasonably weather-proof. You can use just about any building with power, including your garage if necessary (just keep the bedding fresh!) The broody boxes are 3 feet wide by 4 feet long, so only about 36 square feet is needed to accommodate 3 boxes. 2. Pasture with access to power when the birds leave the broody boxes. We use electric mesh fencing to keep our birds where we want them, and to protect them from predators. So you need to be able to run a line from your fence charger to the bird fencing. The electric mesh fencing is about 160 feet long, and can form a pen of about 1600 square feet (i.e. 40' x 40' in a square configuration.) You will move the pen 5-6 times, so you need around 7000-9000 square feet of Page 18 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 19. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland pasture (about 1/6 to 1/5 of an acre.) 3. A water source close to your pen. Since we raise birds in non- winter months only, we just run a garden hose down to the meat bird pen. 4. Something to keep your chicken feed in. You have to make sure the feed stays dry and safe from other animals (like rats) that might like to 'chow down'. We keep bags of feed under cover in a steel bin in one of our barns. For day to day feeding, we bring a couple 25-kilo (55-lb) bags of feed to the chicken pen, and keep it in a large garbage can. The garbage can has a tight-fitting lid, and wheels to make it easily movable. Okay, you are set up. You know how many birds you will raise, where to raise 'em, and how you will sell them. Now, lets look at production – getting your birds and supplies, and caring for the birds. Page 19 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 20. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Production – Sources and supplies So, you've done your planning and preparation and you want to get started. Here's how: Find a source for your day-old chicks Your local feed store should be able to help you; they often handle orders for local hatcheries as well. Find out where your neighbour farmers order chicks from, and get their recommendation. Be aware that day-old chicks are often available only on certain delivery dates, and that you may have to order weeks in advance. And remember, order meat-bird-type chicks only, not dual-purpose or 'alternate'! The standard is usually a Ross or Cobb broiler chick. You will usually have the choice of order straight sexed chicks e.g. all males or all females, or a mix of both. The roosters get bigger, but we always order the mix. We find our customers like a range of sizes. By the way, the hatcheries we deal with usually give us a couple extra birds in Page 20 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 21. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland the order to make up for losses; we usually get 4 extra chicks for every hundred we order. If you strike out locally, you can Google 'hatcheries' and find some sources that way. But its best to start with a recommendation from a 'local' if you can. Get your equipment and supplies Now you need to buy or build the equipment to raise your birdies, and find a feed supplier. Here's the equipment list to raise a batch of 100 birds. ● Chick waterers for the broody boxes, one gallon size – qty 3 ● Chick feeders for broody boxes, two-foot size – qty 6 ● Wood shaving for chick bedding – 3 cubic foot bag – qty 2 ● Heat lamps for broody boxes, 150W – 250W size – qty 3 ● Large waterers for the birds in the field, five-gallon size – qty 3 ● Large feeders for the birds in the field – 5 gallon size – qty 4 (see also Annex A for instructions on building your own trough feeders.) Page 21 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 22. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland ● Electric mesh poultry netting – 1 length (about 165 ft). ● If you don't already have electric fence, you will need to buy a fence charger, ground rods and electric fencing wire to power up your chicken pen. See Setting up your Electric Fence for more information. One-gallon chick waterer and farm-built 8-foot trough Page 22 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 23. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland KEY POINT: try to get all this stuff the same day you order your birds. If you wait until delivery day, the feed store may be sold out as EVERYONE is looking for equipment on that day. Find a Feed Supplier You are going to need chick starter feed and chicken grower feed to raise your birds. Good quality feed is absolutely critical to raising birds quickly and profitably. Don't skimp on the feed or to try to make do with 'scratch' feed; Chick starter feed should have a protein content of 20-21%. Grower should have a protein content of 18%. If your feed mix doesn't include it, you will also need chick mineral supplement and chick grit, to help the birds digest their food. Your feed store can help you out with that. The number one choice for a feed supplier is a local organic grain farmer with his own mill (that's where I get mine). Second choice is a local organic grain mill that produces feed. The final option is certified organic feed from Page 23 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 24. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland one of the large feed companies. But be aware that under some certification rules the feed from these companies may contain 5%-10% non-organic content e.g. surplus pastry products. That's why it is my last resort. Your local organic grower's association – e.g. Canadian Organic Growers (COG) - can help you find a local organic grain grower. Finding an abattoir We strongly recommend you bring your birds to a licensed and inspected abattoir for processing, especially if you will be selling the birds. Once you have done a few 'batches', you might consider doing some of your own birds, if you are planning on selling them fresh. Ask around with your neighbours and at the feed store for an abattoir not too far from your farm. I would consider an hour's drive about the maximum distance, unless I had no choice. Contact the abattoir and make sure they are licensed to process meat birds, and that they handle small producers. You can ask about their fees as well, and if they provide cages for you to transport the birds. Find out if they provide other services, such as splitting or quartering the birds. Ask if they will weigh and freeze the birds, and how much this costs. Page 24 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 25. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland If you are REALLY committed to the idea of processing the birds yourself, there's a good set of instructions at this link: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/livestocksystems/DI0701.html Production - Caring for your baby chicks Set up your broody boxes and put in a 3-inch layer of shavings. Put a single layer of newspaper over the shavings to prevent the chicks from ingesting them. This also helps the chicks find the feed easier. After a few days just cover the newspaper with a thin layer of fresh shavings. Add fresh shavings to the boxes at least once a week. Run your heat lamp cord out through the hole in the broody box and secure the lamp using a chain or a stick through the lamp hoop (see picture next page.) Fill one small feeder with chick starter and fill a 1-gallon waterer for each broody box. Put the waterer on a small piece of board to help keep it level and clean. Important: Place the feeder and waterer where they won't be directly under the heat lamp. Page 25 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 26. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Broody box with heat lamp and screened ventilation opening Put in your chicks, 35 or so to each box. Once all the chicks are in, close the lid and plug in your heat lamp. Make sure the lamp is on and secure from falling on the chicks. Check the box in about an hour to make sure the chicks are all looking lively. They should be distributed fairly evenly around the box, Page 26 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 27. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland and not all clustered under the heat lamp or piled up in a corner. If the chicks are all clustered up, the box may be too cold. Close off part of the ventilation screen, and if necessary get a bigger heat lamp i.e. replace the 150W bulb with a 250W. The ventilation screen will usually keep the box from overheating. But be aware that on warm days the box can overheat. In that case turn the heat lamp off, and only turn it on at night if the nights are cooler. Feeding your chicks Feed your chicks with chick starter feed twice a day. Once the birds are about 2 weeks old, add a second feeder to each broody box, to make sure all the chicks get access to the feed. Keep the chicks on starter feed for about 6 weeks, even after they move out of the box and into the field. 100 chicks will consume about 300-350 lbs of chick starter in 6 weeks (see Chicken Economics.) In our experience twice a day feeding keeps the birds growing steadily, but usually doesn't cause them to experience problems associated with too rapid growth (see Troubleshooting Your Chicks.) Page 27 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 28. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Replace the chicks' water at each feeding. Rinse out the waterers and fill them with fresh water. One waterer will be sufficient for each broody box until the birds move out to the field. Troubleshooting Your Chicks If you keep your birds fed and watered consistently, and keep them warm, you shouldn't have too many problems. Here are a couple of common problems and how to deal with them. Pasty butt. This is just what it sounds like, your little chickens' butts will be covered in sticky white poop. This is not normally serious, if you detect and deal with it right away. If untreated, the birds can die. To fix 'pasty butt', get some warm water and a cloth and clean off the birds vent (butt). Use lots of warm water and soak out the feathers well. You may have to repeat this treatment a couple times if pasty butt reappears. Spraddle leg. After a few days you may see some chicks that can't seem to walk. They may flop around and be unable to stand up or walk. This is caused by over-consumption of feed or a too-rich feed mix. Page 28 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 29. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland The solution is to isolate the affected chicks for about 48 hours, and remove ALL FEED from them for that period. Make sure to provide them fresh water, but no feed. After 48 hours you should see them start to recover and be able to stand and walk normally. You can then return them to the general population. If after 48 hours they are still not walking well, start feeding them on a lower- protein ration, i.e. a mixed-grain feed with a protein content between 11%-14%. You CAN use finely-ground scratch feed for this purpose, but return the birds to their regular feed as soon as they can walk. Page 29 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 30. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Getting set up in the Field The first step is building your Movable Coop and moving it to the field where you will finish your birds. Instructions for building and using the New Terra Farm Movable Coop are in Annex A. Setting up the Movable Coop In the pictures on the following page we have just moved the coop to fresh ground and set up the t-posts to hold the tarp. Notice that the coop is aligned so that the tarp provides shade. We set the coop in place on a level spot, making sure there no gaps at ground level the little birds can get out through. We pound 6-foot steel t-posts into the ground at the two corners of the coop where the canopy will be. Bungee cords attach the tarp to the t-posts. Page 30 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 31. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Page 31 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 32. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland T-posts in place with tarp canopy down Page 32 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 33. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Setting up the New Terra Farm Movable Coop Canopy Page 33 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 34. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Setting up your electric fence Caution: follow the manufacturer directions for installing your fence charger and setting up your fence. The fence charger produces high voltage but little amperage, but can still be potentially dangerous. Make sure the charger is in a weather-proof location; use insulated lead-out wire to get your Fence charger under cover with lead-out wires Page 34 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 35. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland connection to the 'hot' wire. Pay special attention to the directions regarding grounding your fence. The fence is only as good as its ground. I use 3 ground rods on my fence, although I have not found it necessary to buy special rods for that purpose. I just use unpainted T-posts driven 5-6 feet into the ground and hooked together with electric fencing wire. Once your Movable Coop is in place, set up your electric poultry netting, and connect it to your charger. We use plastic step-in posts or steel posts with insulators to run electric fencing wire from our fence charger to the poultry netting. You can use steel or aluminum electric fencing wire, or the poly-wire available at most farm stores. The steel wire is stronger; the poly-wire is more visible. Visibility is important, both for people and for other animals in the field. We put markers on our steel electric fence wire by tyeing scraps of plastic shopping bag to it every 10 feet or so. This helps make sure our ponies don't run into it when they are in the same field as the chickens (the farm help appreciates it, too ;) You can use an AC-powered (plug-in) fence charger, a DC-powered (battery) Page 35 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 36. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland charger or a solar charger, which basically is a battery-powered charger with a solar panel to keep up the charge. Whichever model you choose, buy the most powerful charger you can afford; low-powered chargers will 'ground-out' in wet grass. You can run electric fence wire using insulators on top of your existing fence posts to bring the power to where your chickens are. Cheap plastic step-in posts are all that is needed to get the wire to the electro netting. Electromesh is a mesh made of polywire – i.e. multi-strand wire with plastic and metal threads running through it. It comes in different heights and has different mesh sizes. It usually has connectors at each end where you can hook up your powered wire from your charger. The connections also let you hook two or more lengths of fence together. The electromesh poultry netting I use is 42” high and has a finer mesh at the bottom to keep birds in (and bad guys out). It comes in a 165-foot length; the step-in posts are included and attached to the polywire mesh about every 11 feet. Electromesh fencing will stop just about any predator, provided it is installed properly. Make sure when you install the fence (basically just push Page 36 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 37. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Electromesh fencing and insulated handle to powered wire the built-in posts into the ground) that you don't leave any gaps beneath the fence that predators can crawl through. And if you leave the fence too long in Page 37 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 38. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland one area, heavy grass can grow up and short the fence out. The powered fencing wire can connect to the electromesh fencing at either end; we use an insulated handle, available at your farm store, so we can unhook the netting when we want to. Note that you only hook up one end of the fence, and do not hook the two ends of the fence together. Electric Fence Tester Page 38 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 39. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland When you set up the fence, test it with a fence tester. You want to show a minimum of 3000 volts at the electromesh fence. If you are not getting that, check your ground rods, your connections to the charger, and make sure the fencing wire and the electromesh fence are not grounded out. Moving Day for the Chicks At 3 weeks (approximately) your little birds should weigh about 1 pound and be fully feathered. They can be moved out to the field and set up in the Movable Coop. Take the lamps, waterers and feeders out of the broody boxes and move box and all to the field. Caution: the broody boxes full of damp bedding and birds will be heavy; you will need at least 2 people to lift the boxes on and off your truck. Put the boxes down one at a time, near the door of your coop. Grab the birds and put them in the coop, which should already be set up with food and water. Important: Keep the tarp down on the coop, and keep the birds in it for about a week, as they adjust to outdoor life. You can then let them out after Page 39 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 40. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland that and they will be fine. They will associate the coop with their roosting area, and will return there readily at night. Production - Caring for your birds in the field Once you are all set up and the little birds are in their new home, you have to keep them safe and steadily growing for the next 7-9 weeks. Here's how to do that. Managing the birds in the field After a week, let the little birds out of the coop in the morning and let them roam around their pen. They will be delighted to get at the fresh ground, and will start hunting and pecking around for some treats. We follow the same twice-a-day feeding schedule as when the birds were in the broody boxes. However, there are three important points of distinction about feeding the larger birds: 1. We feed the birds outside the coop in the morning, and we close the Page 40 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 41. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland door behind them when they come out. This helps keep the inside of the coop a little cleaner. The attached tarp will provide shade and rain protection for the birds. 2. In the evening, we reverse this process; we feed the birds inside the coop. They will quickly learn to go inside after the food. Close the door to keep them in at night, as extra protection against predators. Put the tarp down as well. 3. Very important: you will need to check on their water more than twice a day, especially in hot weather. We go to the coop at mid-day and replenish their waterers with fresh water. This is critical, as running out of water on a very hot day can kill your birds. Feed a good quality organic chicken grower ration. 100 birds will consume in the range of 1 ton (900 kilos) of grower in the 7-9 weeks they are in the field. See Chicken Economics for more details about the cost of raising your birds. Put down enough feed at each feeding that there is still a little left when most birds have walked away from the feeders. About once a week watch the birds at feeding time for 10 or 15 minutes, to make sure all birds get access to the feed. If there is excess fighting over the feed, or some birds aren't getting Page 41 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 42. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland any, add another feeder. The feeders and waterers will get pooped on (even chickens raised the New Terra Farm way are not that bright ;) Spray the feeders and waters clean with your hose at each feeding. Clean and disinfect the equipment between batches. We use a big tub of warm water and soap and bleach to do the job. Relocating the coop and the pen You will need to move the coop within the pen about once a week; you will need to move the entire pen and coop about every other week. You might have to move them more frequently as the birds get bigger. It's easiest to move the coop in the morning when you are feeding the birds. Set up the bird feeders and waterers out of the path of where you want to move the coop. Page 42 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 43. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Moving the coop with a hand-truck Let the birds out of the coop and they will go to the feed. Close the door, and pull out the t-posts. Move the coop to its new position using a hand-truck - Page 43 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 44. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland this is a two-wheeled dolly commonly used for moving heavy items, generally available at hardware stores Re-install the t-posts and secure the tarp. The whole process takes about 10 minutes. To clarify the timing for moving the coop and the pen . . . when the little birds first go out, they don't 'use up' the fresh ground as fast as when they are larger. So I find it sufficient to just pull the coop to a new spot within the pen for the first move (inside the coop gets 'poopy' quicker because the birds are confined at night). Next move I would relocate the entire pen and coop to new ground. So, it would go something like this: week 1 - move coop week 2 - move pen and coop week 3 - move coop week 4 - move pen and coop. As the birds get larger, say after 4-5 weeks in the field, I usually move both the pen and the coop weekly, as the larger birds will scratch up and fertilize the area pretty thoroughly in a week. To some extent you have to be guided by observation as well. Keep an eye on how much poop is accumulating and the condition of the pasture within the pen. Move the birds before they scratch it down to bare dirt, or before the Page 44 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 45. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland poop get packed down so you can't see grass. Troubleshooting your birds in the field Most problems associated with raising chickens are avoided just by raising then on pasture and making sure they have access to clean, fresh water and nutritious feed. Regularly moving them to fresh ground avoids the build-up of disease and parasites. The birds rarely peck each other because they can peck in the dirt. Pecking and scratching in the dirt provides the birds exercise and minerals, as well as extra protein from the bugs they find. We have never vaccinated our birds, or de-beaked our birds, or used a chemical de-wormer. Yet we still manage to regularly raise more than 95% of our chicks to slaughter weight. There are a couple problems you might face. Sometimes a couple birds just don't seem to grow as fast as the others, and they get 'pecked on' by the other birds, especially at feeding time. You can try to isolate them at feeding time, perhaps feeding them in the coop when all the other birds are out. They may eventually get big enough to compete with the others. Page 45 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 46. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland You may have a bird that get slightly injured, perhaps in a fall from the coop (yes, some birds will fly up on the coop). If their mobility is not too seriously impaired, you can set them up for a couple days with their own waterer close by and a handful or two of feed. Keep them under the tarp or put them in a 'hospital' – a small covered box to isolate them, and see if they will recover. And you may occasionally have a bird that gets 'spraddle leg' even in the field. Isolate the bird and give only fresh water for 48 hours. A more serious threat is very hot and humid weather. A neighbour lost 75 nearly full-grown birds one day when the temperature hit about 90F (33C) on a very humid day. The tarp on the portable chicken coop will provide shade. Make sure the coop is aligned so that the sun is kept out at the hottest part of the day. You might also have to spray the coop and the birds with water on the hottest days. Don't spray the birds directly; turn the hose into the air over the birds, with the spray nozzle set on 'mist' setting. Spray water for 5 or 10 minutes. This will bring the temperature down in the immediate area by 20F degrees or so. We also use a special 'misting' hose we bought at the feed store. This 10-foot length of hose has special misting emitters that put out a very fine spray. It Page 46 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 47. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland only uses about a gallon an hour. The misting hose attaches to a garden hose. You can then attach the misting hose to your coop to provide a continuous cooling mist for the birds in extreme weather. Here's a important lesson we have learned: the chickens really aren't all that bright, but when we do have problems with them, it's usually our fault, not theirs. For example, I was in a hurry one day and left a half-full bucket of water in the chicken pen; sure enough a little bird got in and drowned. So take your time, and take care when dealing with any of your farm animals. Page 47 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 48. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Production – Harvesting your birds Around 10-12 weeks of age, your birds should achieve an average dress weight of 5-6 lbs. Some will be bigger and some smaller; our birds usually range from 4.5 lbs to 7.5 lbs, but most will be in the middle of the range. Varying weights is okay; different customers like different sizes of birds. If you followed our production schedule you will already have contacted your abattoir to book your birds in. The abattoirs we use provide cages to transport the birds; we pick them up the night before we ship the birds. Tell the abattoir how many birds you are bringing and they will put out the right number of cages for you to pick up. If your abattoir doesn't provide cages, you can make a cage to fit the back of your pick-up. This is a LOT more work, and the birds probably will have to be put in cages at the abattoir anyway. You can occasionally buy cages at a farm auction; if you get this chance, grab them; having your own cages simplifies the transport process. The abattoir will also tell you not to feed the birds the day before transport; just give them water only. Page 48 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 49. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Loading your birds Here's the sequence to get your birds loaded and ready for transport: 1 – start early in the morning; we are usually in the field to load the birds just as dawn is breaking. The birds are quieter and easier to handle if it is still dark. It's also a good idea to start early to get to the abattoir early; there is usually a line-up on kill day. 2 – bring the cages right to the door of the coop; the birds are still locked inside from the night before. 3 – one person goes inside the coop to catch the birds, then hands them off to another person outside the coop to put them in the cages. Check the latches on the cages; sometimes the latches don't work well. Stack these cages on the bottom, to keep the chickens in. 4 – fill about 4 cages, then stack the cages in your truck one at a time 5 – keep filling cages and stacking them until done 6 – secure your cages to make sure they can' t shift around. 7 – and it's off to the abattoir! Page 49 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 50. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland At the abattoir they will ask you for your name and how many birds you are bringing. Tell them you how you want the birds prepared – e.g. as whole roasters, or split, or quartered. Tell them if you want the birds weighed, and frozen (if they offer these services.) Note there is usually a charge for each of these extra services. They tell you when to come back to pick up your birds; be courteous and be on time for the pick up, the abattoir is a very busy place and you don't want to annoy the men carrying very large knives ;) Page 50 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 51. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Chicken Economics – Costs and profits Here's a breakdown of what it will cost to raise 100 meat birds the New Terra Farm way. These are estimates only for planning purposes, and based on recent prices in my area. You may be able to reduce some of these costs by a little ingenuity and 'scrounging'. Equipment Costs (fixed costs) Movable Coop $150 Broody boxes $75 Lamps, feeders, waterers, etc $175 Electric poultry netting $150 Fence charger, wire, ground posts $250 Total equipment costs $800 The Movable Coop, the broody boxes, the fence charger and fencing and some Page 51 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 52. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland of the other equipment will last for several years if you take care of them. Assuming a 5-year amortization yields a per-year fixed cost of about $160. If you do more than one batch a year using the same equipment, your fixed cost per batch will be lower i.e. 3 batches a year yields a per-batch fixed cost of about $53. Chicks, Feed and Supplies (variable costs) This is an estimate of the cost of feed and bedding for each batch of 100 meat birds. Again these are estimates only, based on our experience in raising meat birds over the last 8 years. Your costs may vary, especially feed consumption. Feed consumption can be affected by the quality of the feed, the nutrition available from the pasture the birds are on, and even the weather e.g. when we have cool, wet summers, we notice that our birds eat more but weigh out a bit less than when the summers are warm. Page 52 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 53. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Here's the feed and supplies you will need to raise 100 meat birds to an average dress weight between 5 lbs. and 6 lbs. Variable Costs 100 meat chicks $100 Wood shavings for bedding $ 10 Organic chick starter feed 300 lbs $105 Organic chicken grower feed 2000 lbs $550 Processing at abattoir ($2.75 per bird) $262 * Total variable costs $1,027 *assumes you successfully get 95% of your birds to the abattoir. Page 53 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 54. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Calculating your profit Here's where you figure out what you will sell your birds for to make a profit. First, let's figure out a 'per-pound' cost. Assumptions: 1 - you ended up with 95 marketable birds from your batch of 100 chicks; 2 - the average weight of your birds is 5.5 lbs.; 3 – you plan on 3 batches a year, and a 5-year amortization for your equipment. Here's the math: Total fixed costs per 95 birds $ 53 Total variable costs per 95 birds $1,027 Total cost per 95 birds $1,080 Total weight of birds (95 x 5.5 lbs) 522.5 lbs Total cost per lb $2.07/lb So, 'all in' your birds cost you $2.07 a pound to raise. Page 54 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 55. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland What can you sell your birds for? I currently sell my organic free-range birds for $3.50/lb, and I easily sell all I raise (200-300 birds a year). Using the numbers above means I make a profit of around 70% on my birds. I recommend you plan on a profit margin in this range, to give you some 'cushion' if things don't go exactly as planned (see BIG Caution below.) To put it another way, my total cost per batch (amortizing the cost of equipment over 5 years) is $1,080. My gross sales on 95 birds is $1,828. So each batch of birds nets me around $748. If you look at the fixed costs to start up this business, you can see that the first batch just about pays for all your equipment! BIG Caution: the above calculation demonstrate the potential if all goes well. Sometimes it doesn't; you may lose more birds, especially in the beginning when you are learning. Your birds may not gain weight as fast. All these can affect your net profit. DO NOT bet the farm by starting out trying to raise a thousand birds! Start small, with one coop and learn as you go. After 8 years I am pretty confident I could raise and sell a thousand birds a season, with a couple more coops. But don't take on too much your first Page 55 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 56. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland time. Conclusion Raising meat chickens is a great side-line business for a small farm If you follow the basic guidelines in this book, ANYBODY can do a batch of 100 birds with pretty good success. This would be a great 'summer job' for your kids by the way, especially if they are too young to work off the farm. They can learn that caring for animals requires regular attention, and also learn where the food they eat really comes from. This enterprise can be scaled up to raise a thousand birds or even more; just add enough coops and broody boxes, and have enough land. But should you do this? I don't want to dissuade you from trying to make a living on your small farm. However, if you are contemplating this, be aware that the change in scale will give you a few challenges: 1 – Logistics. It's not hard to find storage for feed for 100 birds. Storing grain for 1,000 birds might be trickier. And transporting 1,000 birds to the Page 56 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 57. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland abattoir will be difficult to do in a pickup, even if you do batches of 200 at a time. 2 – Legislation. Most provinces in Canada place some sort of limit on the number of birds you are allowed to raise without 'quota' i.e. licensing from the provincial poultry marketing board. In Ontario, the limit is 300 birds. Buying quota is expensive, and generally has a very high 'minimum' number of birds e.g. 5,000 or more. This pretty much takes it out of the realm of the small farm. 3 – Lifestyle. Don't forget the principles we discussed in the beginning, concerning organic, sustainable, and integrated animal husbandry. How many birds can your little farm hold before you start straying into monoculture and 'factory farming'? To put it another way, how much of your life energy do you want to spend looking after chickens? One of the joys of a small farm is the variety of things you can raise. I would much rather spend an hour looking after 8 different things than 8 hours looking at chickens! - 30 - Page 57 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 58. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Annex A – Building Stuff the New Terra Farm Way This section will show you how to quickly and cheaply build the equipment we use to raise chickens the New Terra Farm way. You may have seen this little aphorism in the New Terra Farm website: I am not a fast carpenter, and I am not a slow carpenter – I am a 'half-fast' carpenter! This means I consider function before form, and I try to avoid complicated joinery and complex construction methods. I also build things in such a way that there is some 'flexibility'. Some folks might call this 'room for error'; I prefer the phrase 'allowing for creativity!' So take all these instructions with a grain of salt; the dimensions can be adjusted to suit yourself in most cases, within the limits of providing appropriate space for your birds. For example, the 8ft x12ft Movable Coop could easily be built smaller e.g. 8ft x 8ft. It would just hold fewer birds. So feel free to exercise your creativity when it comes to dimensions, or construction materials. If some aspect of the construction really matters I'll try to point it out. Page 58 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 59. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Building a simple trough feeder for your birds Its easy to build cheap trough-type feeders for the birds in the field. Allow 3-4 inches of feeder space per bird, counting both sides of the feeder. 100 birds therefore need about 16 feet of trough at a minimum (2 eight-footers, or 4 four-footers). Its better to err on the side of more rather than less feeder space. I use 3 eight-foot feeders for my batch of 100 birds. Here's how to build one. I use rough-cut 1”x10” spruce lumber in 10-foot lengths to build my troughs, because it's available locally and cheap. You can use whatever lumber you have available. CAUTION: DO NOT USE PRESSURE-TREATED WOOD, IT IS TOXIC TO YOUR BIRDS. You can also use 1”x5” lumber and skip the step of ripping the 10” boards. 1 – Mark your 1x10 at 5 ½”. Rip-cut the 1”x10”, lengthwise at the mark. You now have a 5 1/2”-wide piece and a 4 1/2”-wide piece; these will form the trough. 2 – Cut both pieces to 8 feet long Page 59 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 60. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland 3 – Cut the 5 ½ “ wide remaining 2-foot piece into two 12” pieces to make the ends of the trough 4 – Screw the two trough pieces together, screwing through the wide piece into the narrower piece to make a V-shaped trough that is 5 1/2” high on each side. 5 – Screw the 12-inch end pieces onto the trough to form the ends. 6 – Screw an 8-foot piece of 2x2 to the top of the the trough ends to form a handle, and to keep the birds from getting in the trough. Note that this trough is fairly high, make sure all your birds can reach in. You can build a lower version out of 1x8 or 1x6, following the same directions and adjusting the rip cut appropriately. Making three of these for your batch of birds will cost you about $25-$30 if you have to buy all new wood; might cost you nothing if you can 'recycle' the necessary materials. Page 60 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 61. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Building the New Terra Farm Movable Coop This coop is easy to build, strong, and easy to move by one person with a hand- truck. Again feel free to adjust the list of materials to suit what you may have on hand. If you have to buy everything new, this coop will cost around $150. List of materials for the Movable Coop Page 61 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 62. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 1 – Build the base frame. Cut each 2x6x8 to 93 inches long. Build a rectangular frame by screwing the 93” short side base frame pieces between the 12' long side pieces. Mitre cut each end of 16-inch pieces of 2 x 6 at 45 degrees to form corner braces. Assemble frame using 3” wood screws . Note that the corners will be covered by reinforcing plywood gussets in Step 5. 8ft 12 ft Page 62 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 63. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 2 – Cut plywood window-end wall. Cut a 4x8 sheet of 1/2” plywood as show to form one end wall. Cut an opening about 1 ft x 2 ft for a window. This window will be re-attached with hinges and a latch. 2' 2' CUT OUT WINDOW 6” 6” Page 63 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 64. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Movable Coop window end view Page 64 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 65. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 3 – Cut plywood door-end wall. Cut a 4x8 sheet of 1/2” plywood as show to form other end wall. Cut an opening about 3 ft x 3 ft for a door. This door will be re- attached with hinges and a latch. 2' 2' CU TO F OF FF T CU CUT OUT DOOR 6” 6” Page 65 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 66. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Movable Coop door end view showing top rails Page 66 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 67. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 4 – Attach end walls to base frame. Using the 2” wood screws, attach each end wall to the base frame. Attach the plywood about ½-inch up from the bottom edge of the frame; the plywood will last longer if it is not in direct contact with the ground. Step 5 – Cover the corner braces. Cut small plywood gussets to fit the right triangles formed by the base frame and corner braces. A 'gusset' is just a piece of the same 1/2 inch plywood that forms the end walls, You can cut a triangular piece from the scrap left after cutting the end wall shape from the 4x8 sheets. Cut it the same size and shape as the triangle formed by the base rails and the corner brace. Use 2” wood screws to secure the gussets. This helps keep the base frame square, and also prevents the little birds from getting squished by their brothers and sisters in the corners. Step 6 – Frame the end walls with 2x2 (see picture next page.) Measure each side edge and top of the end walls and cut lengths of 2x2 to match. Screw through the plywood end wall into the 2x2 to attach them securely; use the 2” wood screws. Step 7 – Frame the door opening. Measure the top and sides of your door opening and secure lengths of 2x2 by screwing through the plywood from the outside into the door framing. The framing will support the hinges and door latch. Step 8 – Attach the top rails (see graphic next page). Attach the 12-foot 2x4 Page 67 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 68. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland top rails to the end wall framing. Note that the middle rail is 'standing up' ; that is, it resting on the 2” side. This provides a slope for rainwater to run off the coop. Top rails are 12 ft 2x4's that screw f e h si flu : to the top of the 2x2 end wall framing nd g sh to h b 2x2 amin wa s a nd d e ll 's wi ach ll fr a At d w p o ot En t t This perspective shows what the inside of each end wall looks like. 2X2 framing is attached by screwing through the plywood end wall from the outside. Page 68 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 69. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 9 – attach side rails between the base frame and the top rails. Measure and cut 4 lengths of 2x2 to form side rails. Mitre the ends of the rails at about a 30- degree angle to so they sit flush when attached to the outside of the top rail and inside the base frame. Secure the rails, 2 on each side, on 4-foot centres. 2X4 TO P RA IL 12 F TL ON G TOP RAILS ARE SCREWED ON TOP OF 2X2 FRAMING AROUND THE THE END WALLS S NT LS RE CE AI FT R 4 DE 2X6 B N SI ASE 2 PLA 2X TE O 12 F TL ON G END WALLS CUT FROM 4X8 ½” PLYWOOD Page 69 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 70. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Movable Coop side rails Page 70 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 71. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 10 – Cover the frame with chicken wire. Stretch lengths of 4-foot wide chicken wire over the frame and secure them using the 1x2s. Three lengths will cover the frame, secured to end-wall framing and the side rails. Step 11 – Attach the tarp. Secure the 12-foot tarp using 1x2s screwed over and through the tarp and into the base frame on one side. Attach the tarp on the same side to the top rails, then secure it to the top rail on the other side. The remaining end of the tarp is not secured; it is used to form a canopy for the birds by securing it to T-posts. Step 12 – Finish the window. Staple chicken wire over the window opening and attached the plywood window with hinges and a latch. Step 13 – Finish the door. Hang the door using the hinges and attach the latch. Your Movable Coop is chicken-ready! Page 71 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 72. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Building the New Terra Farm Broody Boxes Our broody boxes are 3 feet wide, 4 feet long and 2 feet high; each box will accommodate about 35 birds until they are ready to move outside. The boxes are simple to build using 2x2 framing and the cheapest 4x8 sheathing you can find. I use 1/8" luan board (also known as "door skins") and it does the job,at a cost of about 8 to 10 dollars a sheet. You can also use plywood, but this might make the boxes heavier (and cost a little more.) Construction is easy if you follow this method. Just like with the Movable Coop we are going to build a base frame, attach the sides, then add the rest of the framing to pull it all together. Step 1 – Build 3 rectangular frames out of 2x2. The frames are 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, outside dimensions. Use 3” wood screws to connect the 2x2s. Cut another piece of 2x2 and secure it midway between the 4-foot long sides. One of these frames will become the bottom frame of the broody box, one will become the top frame, and one will be the cover. (see picture next page.) Step 2 – Cut top and bottom sheathing. Cut two pieces of luan board, each 3 feet by 4 feet. Page 72 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 73. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Bottom of the broody box showing framing. Step 3 – Cover the bottom frame and the cover frame with the sheathing. Use 1” wood screws to attach the sheathing to the frames. Keep the frames square by lining it up with the edges of the framing. Note the top frame is NOT covered. Page 73 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 74. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Step 4 – Cut sheathing for walls. Cut two pieces of luan board 2-feet wide and 3- feet long, and two pieces 2-feet wide and 4-feet long. Step 5 – Attach the walls to the base frame. With the 2x2 side down, screw the wall sheathing to each side of the base frame, flush with the bottom of the frame. Step 6 – Attach the top frame to the walls. Align the top frame with the top edges of the wall sheathing and attach with 1” wood screws. Step 6 – Attach wall framing. Cut 4 pieces of 2x2 to fit snugly between the top and bottom frame in each corner. Screw thorough the luan board from the outside into the wall framing. Screw through the top and bottom framing into the wall framing using 3” wood screws to tie it all together. Step 7 – Complete the broody box cover. Cut a ventilation opening in one side of your cover, about 1'x2'. This opening will be covered with hardware cloth or screening to provide ventilation. Cut a 2” hole in the other side of the cover. This is the opening for the heat lamp. (see picture next page.) Step 8 – Finishing up. Attach the cover to the top frame with hinges. Add a handle to the front of the cover, and a handle on each side of the broody box to make it easier to move. Staple a ¼-section of 6” plastic nursery pot in each corner inside the broody box so the little chicks don't get trapped in a corner and squished. Page 74 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 75. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland Broody box top with screened vent opening and hole for heat lamp. Page 75 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm
  • 76. How to Raise Meat Chickens ©2009 Scott Kelland ¼ section of a plastic pot used to round the corners Page 76 of 76 Free Stuff from New Terra Farm