We finished chicken tractor #2 yesterday and put the chickens out in the yard. It’s great to watch them happily foraging. They were looking a little cramped in the garage.
Chickens are out foraging!
The chicken tractor is simply a frame covered with one-inch chicken wire. We put a tarp over two thirds of the structure so they have plenty of shade. We also laid out chicken wire on the ground around the outside of the chicken tractor so burrowing predators can’t get in to the chickens.
Skunk the cat is very curious about the chickens. She likes to sit on top of the chicken tractor and guard them.
Prison guard for the chickens
We hope that by giving the chickens access to fresh pasture (we’ll frequently move the chicken tractor), they’ll be healthier, happier and tastier. Hopefully they’ll eat less grain as well.
The call came at 7:30 this morning. “This is the post office calling. We’ve got some chicks for you.” We immediately drove the mile to the post office and picked them up. On the box the packing slip read, 51 chicks hatched the day of the postmark. They were mailed two days ago.
Once we got them home, we dipped each chick’s beak in water, which we had prepared ahead of time with a vitamin powder. We arranged plates of food and water containers in the cardboard circle we had prepared inside the chicken tractor, which is inside the garage. Their bedding is a layer of shavings with paper towels on top so they don’t eat the shavings. All the details of how to prepare for them we learned from my parents, who have been raising chickens for years. My mom writes a blog about raising chickens.
Baby chickens, just arrived in the mail from Pennsylvania
The chicks almost immediately began eating and drinking. Their instincts are strong.
These chicks are meant for dinner. We won’t keep them long enough to get eggs out of them. They are a variety called Freedom Rangers, which are supposed to forage well and produce delicious meat. They don’t grow as fast as the Cornish Cross broilers. It makes me a little sad to know that we’re raising them only to kill them. But I hope they’ll live a happy and safe 11 weeks, with fresh grass and bugs once they get a little older.
We plan to keep them in the garage for three to four weeks under a heat lamp (they like to be at 90 degrees in the beginning). Then we’ll move them out to pasture. We’ll move their cages every couple of days so they have fresh pasture.
We will roast the chickens whole for our wedding dinner, then carve them and serve. Yum! I can’t wait.