Mattias brought up a good question, which I neglected to mention in the original posts about the meat birds.
He asks: Annie, do you keep adding wood chips after moving your birds to the shed, or do you muck out and replace wood chip bedding?
I figured I would do a post about the bedding...so here's what we do...
When the chicks are in the brooder, we use wood shavings. Now, I've read all about deep litter and how you can just stir the bedding and then add to it. For whatever reason, that never works for me. Within a couple of days the litter smells too much of ammonia, which cais NOT good for the chicks.
So everyday, I add a new layer of shavings on top of the old. Then, every few days (maybe twice a week) I take out all the bedding and start anew. To get the old bedding out, I just use a dustpan and scrape it along the bottom of the brooder. easy peasy.
We just use old paper feed bags, both for the fresh bedding from the sawmill, and also for the spent bedding being taken out of the brooder. Then the bags make their way down to the manure pile, where it gets added on....
Once we move the birds down to the meat bird room at the barn, we use hay spread out on the floor. You can use straw or hay, whatever you can get for cheap or free (cheap ol me.....)
Every day I add another layer of hay to keep the top of the bedding dry. Maybe twice during the last 5 weeks, we remove the old bedding. Because we have an outside run right off this room, we can kick the chicks out (not literally!) into the run.
That gives us time to lift off the old bedding and open up the double doors to let the room air out even more.
Pick a nice day to do it and the birds can stay outside the whole time....
Two other points:
Before we lay hay down, we go to the local gravel pit and get a load of sand (it is free for us, we just have to shovel it, no heavy machinery allowed!) By doing this, it makes is SOOOO much easier when it comes time to clean out the room. The hay lifts up and separates from the sand....
Second point...once the birds go down to the barn, we feed them inside for maybe a week. Then we move the feeding outdoors in the runs.
This has a couple of benefits...the first is that the birds get used to going outside. Fresh air and sunshine are as good for the birds as they are for you and I. Another benefit of course is that they do a pretty good amount of their pooping outside, which saves work on our behalf in the actual room.
If it starts raining fairly hard, we do have to go down there and let the birds back in to the room. We have found if we leave the doors open, the majority will just sit inside, when we want them outside. But you can't leave birds out in the pouring rain...well, you shouldn't!
Does this info help Mattias? Any more questions, please anyone.... just ask....
There's work involved in having meat birds! Don't think you can just order in meat birds and leave them to their own devices. Meat birds have been bred to gain weight FAST....they poop a LOT.
But I'll take those 8 weeks of work for the wonderful benefit of knowing exactly how my meat birds have been raised....and of course they taste delicious!
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