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At long last, the nights are warmer, we have gotten some spring showers, and it is time to move the birds out on pasture. With the night time temperatures still in the 30s until recently, I was hesitant to move them out. Over the last week, I have been turning off their brooder light in “Cluckingham Palace” (chick house) and they have been hardening off to get ready for life outdoors.

They are plenty feathered out by now, and are looking quite hardy. They handled the move alright. It is a little shock for them to go from the chicken brooder house to the chicken tractors out on hay pasture, but they are doing just fine. It feels like a while since I began work on the chicken tractors and I sigh at the fact that I have four more to build. It is the project that never ends.

Rain, oh how I have missed you!

My herbs are looking good. Some of them have died with the cold nights, which really bums me out. But that is farming. The birds and the herbs both had a tough time with the cold nights. I have prepared my herb and vegetable beds for planting and seeding and I will be doing more and more of that as the weather warms. If we get a late frost, I may cry.

The rain is great for the pasture as well. It will help the ground absorb the chicken manure better as the chickens start to do their thing. The combo of the rain and the pastured chickens will do wonders for the hay fields. Because the chicken tractors are moved twice a day, the manure never builds up. Without any build-up, the pastures can recover quicker and absorb the nitrogen, and the chickens stay cleaner and healthier.

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After they were fed and watered this morning, I let them have some time to relax and say goodbye to their old home. So many good memories. While they were digesting breakfast, I hauled four chicken tractors over to the hay field. When they were ready, I put one last tractor on my trailer to use as transport. The fields are a little less than a mile from the brooder, so there was a little travel involved. The birds did really well and seemed very calm. Note: they’re all laying down and not freaking out.

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I will not run out of fresh pasture anytime soon. The pastured chickens get daily moves. They have to stay inside the tractors because of the number of predators around. To compensate, I move the chicken tractors twice a day. Everyone wins in this scenario. This breed of birds are also not really known for walking much. They eat, they sleep, they….you know, then they eat some more.

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You can see they have plenty of room. There are 30 birds per tractor, which might sound like a lot, but you can see they have plenty of space. The orange bucket has chicken waterers on the bottom. It works like a hamster waterer. The feed in the trough is certified organic. The birds will need to have the mixture of pasture, bugs, and grain to survive. That mix of food options makes them awesome.

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I am serious about predator protection. I still might lose some, but it is not for lack of trying. In addition to the Fort Knox of chicken tractors, I have electric wire to discourage any small predators that might want to dig. There is a fox that lives nearby, they love digging. The wire goes all the way around the tractors and packs a 5,000 volt wallop powered by solar. You cannot even see the wire in this picture. Catching the unsuspecting predators by surprise. Leave my birds alone!

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This is only four of the chicken tractors. “One batch”. Strange to think I will have 12 total when in full swing. 3 batches of birds out on pasture and 1 in the brooder. 480 birds on the farm at any given time. So far I have 1200 ordered for the whole season.

For your viewing pleasure, I put together a quick video of the chicken’s first day on pasture. It is a little farm update from FoodCyclist Farm.

I live for these days

There are so many things I love about farming. The fact that I get to call the shots, grow amazing food, and enjoy being outside makes this a life I was meant to live. To see the birds get into their new homes today and start eating grass and scratching the ground is my version of a thrill ride (I need to get out more).

I have seen how industrial chicken is produced. It’s awful. And I have read countless articles and studies about GMOs and how uncertain scientists are about how healthy they are for humans. My birds live a happy life out on pasture, and they are eating supplemental grain that is 100% free of GMOs. What is better than that?

Will it be really tough when it comes to processing time? Absolutely. I don’t enjoy it. But, it is a necessary part of the business. I am a meat eater after all.

Remember also, not all “farm raised chicken” or “pastured poultry” is the same. Also look out for “chemical free”. If the farmer is feeding conventional grain to his/her chickens, they are eating GMOs and probably getting a little of any of those pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on those crops. If they are eating them, you can be assured they are passing them to you. That goes for beef, pork, turkey, and any other animal eating conventional grain. Organic grain costs me a fortune, but I feel it is worth it.

My Farm = Your Farm

I will say it any chance I get. FoodCyclist Farm is as much yours as it is mine. Whether you are a CSA member, a random buyer of poultry, or just someone who found me on Google. It is you who makes my farm happen, and I am thankful for that every day.

Cheers to you!