Moving poultry in the orchardRSS feed

Posted: Wednesday 17 November, 2010

by Rosemary at 3:13pm in Poultry No comments Add your own

Today, Dan and John have been preparing a new pen for the laying hens. We have just under forty birds. Soil Association standards limit stocking density to a maximum of 1000 / hectare or 10 square metres per bird, but the standard also says that land should be rested for 9 months between batches. Our birds have been on about 400 plus square metres for about 4 1/2 months, so it's time to move them.

John put up some new fencing this morning and Dan strimmed and raked up the grass. Although there are sheep on it, they haven't been there long enough to make much impression. Tomorrow, we'll tow the house round and finish the fence, giving them nice fresh grass, that should do them until spring.

Dan and I have been working on a longer term plan for the acre that will be the orchard and poultry pens. The orchard is virtually rectangular and 80m x 50m, so 4000 square metres. We plan to run three 40 bird laying flocks, each on 1/3 of the orchard.

Plan A involved each house in a fixed location in the middle of the area with three smaller pens accessed from each of the three popholes, round which the hens would be rotated every 20 weeks, thus meeting the SA standards for space and resting pasture. However, when we marked this out on an aerial photograph, it was apparent that this would make managing the orchard difficult.

So plan B is to divide the orchard into 1/3s along its length - 80m x 16.5m - then move each henhouse up and down the strip every quarter. For the winter months of December, January and February, the hen houses would be in the quarter nearest the steading, moving down the strip as the year progressed.

It looks much better on paper, but we'll probably kick it around a bit and modify it again once Dan's been on his orchard planning course in December. That's the beauty of doing it on paper first!


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