Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Question about Bedding for the Meat Birds

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 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! Sphere: Related Content


Linda Foley said...

Thanks for the information Annie. I have thought about meat birds before. I may consider it again because 8 weeks is not a long time.

Tanya Murray said...

Great post and very helpful. I am of much the same method and opinion as you for their bedding and mucking out etc but it's still good to know what others are doing. Sounds mundane but it's important all this basic stuff. I think regular cleaning out keeps everything relatively clean and discourages pests and diseases. The end product justifies the process entirely. I also believe in a form of bestowing honour and respect to animals that are going to become our food. I think it's only fair we treat them well and comfortably raise them.

Jonni said...

Thank Annie for the information. Although I am not raising meat birds, I do have laying hens. I spent last evening raking out the old hay and letting the hens do the rest, (spreading out more hay). It kept them busy before dusk, and I am sure they slept well last night. My hens are too young to let out, but will be glad when their area is ready, and I can air out the pen for them. I agree with Tanya, they are working hard for me, and I will keep them as happy as I can. I love your writing style and all the info you share. I wish I could get the courage to raise meat birds, but I don't think I could follow through whole process.... (smile)

Annie said...

Linda you should try it, even with just a few chickens. After you eat one, you will be amazed at the difference between wonderful home grown chicken and store bought watery bleh chicken!

Tanya, thanks for the comments and nice to know you and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to our animals!

Jonni, thanks for your comments, I am sure your hens are glad of the work you do to keep them healthy!

And I have to tell you, your avatar gives me my George fix every single day, lol!!!

Linda Foley said...

Oh I have eaten many home grown chicken Annie. I want some again...

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