The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Community => Coffee Lounge => Topic started by: Rosemary on November 30, 2021, 07:33:30 am

Title: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: Rosemary on November 30, 2021, 07:33:30 am
In the light of the second year of poultry lockdown, are you reviewing your position of poultry / waterfowl on your smallholding?

We run two or three flocks of about 40 birds each (depending on the time of year), for eggs which we sell at the road end. We buy 40 pol every April. It's very likely that we won't buy any in 2022 and will run down the flocks and therefore sales. I'm sad about it because I know folk love the eggs. The lockdowns are a scunner and I can't see what the end game is or if winter lockdowns are se simply going to be the norm.
I've seen a few folk on social media rehoming chooks and just wondered if the avian flu issue is going to affect small scale poultry production generally.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: Womble on November 30, 2021, 09:21:54 am
We will certainly keep fewer in future, though I can't see us not having poultry at all. Also until we ended up rescuing a load of dumped lockdown ducks, our plan had been to only have hens.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: sabrina on November 30, 2021, 11:40:05 am
I am down to just 2 hens. i decided not to replace any as keeping them locked in over the winter is stressful for me and them. My 2 girls are old and living in the small hay barn so happy enough I suppose.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: Fleecewife on November 30, 2021, 12:35:01 pm
I think you're right Rosemary, small flocks will diminish. For all those who have increased their production of POLs to supply pandemic demand, there will be a crash.  It will suit large enterprises for there to be fewer small flocks around.
We had decided not to buy in any POLs again in the foreseeable future, although I would like to have maybe a min of 3 hens.


Meantime, I have been thinking how to provide an alternative winter housing system for the hens we do have rather than having them overwinter in the polytunnel, which is for veggies, including winter crops.
Our hens normally free range.  They cover about 4 acres of the available ground, although they never cross the road thankfully. So I'm thinking of putting in permanent tall stobs (8' or more) around their henhouse, then wrapping round mesh for the winter, with some sort of flexible roofing - that's the hard part, extreme winds round here. It would all be removed in the summer, or perhaps it would be more permanent and we'd just leave the door open in summer. Does anyone have any better-thought-out plans for dual season poultry accommodation?


For us the geese are a bigger problem, being grazers.  For their welfare, they need grass.  If you cover grass year-round then it dies off, so roofing needs to be removable, perhaps like a swimming pool cover?  Geese live a long time and ours are young, so they will not become fewer before we do!
What we need is for someone to design a good, functional system then we can all invest a bit and be set for the future.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: Q on November 30, 2021, 12:46:50 pm
I have a flock of 30 chickens at the moment and had already decided to let them fade out last year. Nothing to do with bird flu but iincreasing food costs and general upkeep.
Netting the pens last year and putting all those extra measures in place was a nuisance last year but I left it netted so no problem this year.
Shame because I enjoyed each new batch of chicks each year.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: chrismahon on November 30, 2021, 01:23:51 pm
Our flocks are dwindling quickly now as some are very old. The intention was to keep a flock of 'ornamentals' in the front garden. We chose Brahmas because we have the necessary large coops. But they are not cheap and it will take a lot of time to source and collect good stock. However we found out last year that, in the event of a local outbreak, ALL birds within a certain radius will be slaughtered, pets or not. So we are having second thoughts- a truck with a team just turning up and killing everything isn't a nice prospect!


We have a small separate flock of egg layers which were 'rescued' from slaughter at 16 weeks and we will keep those and replace as necessary (Ä5 each and they lay really well). If we lose those, well at least they had a nice life.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: doganjo on November 30, 2021, 01:40:55 pm
Quote
Meantime, I have been thinking how to provide an alternative winter housing system for the hens we do have rather than having them overwinter in the polytunnel, which is for veggies, including winter crops.
Our hens normally free range.  They cover about 4 acres of the available ground, although they never cross the road thankfully. So I'm thinking of putting in permanent tall stobs (8' or more) around their henhouse, then wrapping round mesh for the winter, with some sort of flexible roofing - that's the hard part, extreme winds round here. It would all be removed in the summer, or perhaps it would be more permanent and we'd just leave the door open in summer. Does anyone have any better-thought-out plans for dual season poultry accommodation?
Mine are in a weldmesh run (2 inch squares, originally dog kennels) with a rabbit hutch to live in, and a chicken wire roof and tarpaulin over that tied down with strong climbing rope
The tarp was blown off last Friday night but is now back on and tied down again.  I only have four Wyandotte's now and won't be getting any more.  They have a four foot high chicken wire extension run, so this will give it a chance to rewild itself
Other than a solid building with an indoor run I doubt there is anything better
EDIT - just had a thought - second hand Heras panels would do much the same job as my expensive weldmesh panels
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: lord flynn on November 30, 2021, 05:48:18 pm
The 2017 lockdown was partly why I gave up the geese but not all of it. Last year the ducks were kept in the stables but the ponies are in them this year, so the ducks are in netted pens. It will be grim if we have a very wet winter.


I converted my tool storage part of the stables into a hen run- I basically have put up aviary panels on two sides, one of which faces outwards,it has netting over the top and a henhouse with a timed door. In the summer I let them free range and let them out of the pen when I get up. I find that they generally go back in the run, perch, groom and hang out about an hour before they put themselves back in he henhouse. In the winter the door comes up, a timed light comes on at 5am and then they put themselves to bed at dusk. I still get some eggs this way, they get enough food-enrichment is by long straw, greens, pecking blocks/hay blocks and plenty of perch space. Itís useful as even in summer, if I need to be away, they are safe but still can get out early and to bed late. If we have a big storm and the horses arenít here, I can close the large roll down garage door. Works well and Iíll continue to have 10 or hens. Ducks I have and will cut back on and just keep a group of scovies.
Title: Re: Are you reconsidering poultry?
Post by: Forestlens on November 30, 2021, 08:38:20 pm
Certainly not planning any more than the 9 chickens/bantams and 3 runner ducks we have at present which we can house securely in relative comfort. The 2 rhea were the biggest headache initially but have taken to their new surroundings very well and appear as chilled as they were outside.
At our previous property we had a flock of semi feral bantams plus two rhea and there would have been no way we could have confined them, thank goodness it was before Avian flu was an issue.