Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chickens

Hen and Jay

Today I picked up a half dozen eggs from my chicken pen.  I have about 13 hens and 2 roosters (Jay and Conan).  I am raising them using the Korean Natural Farming method.  No foul smell.  Delicious nutritious eggs.

I started about a two years ago, with a few chicks I ordered from a Texas hatchery.  They came via the US mail in a small cardboard box.  I put them into a small area I constructed out of chicken wire and a pvc frame.  Several key features of the Cho method is the floor is IMO soil, which allows the feces to ferment and break down without odor.  When the chicks arrived I only feed them uncooked brown rice grains for the first few days to elongate their intestines making their digestion system more efficient.

I constructed a tent area for the adults, circular centered on a tall post about 18 feet in diameter.   This is a shaded area for them, dry out of the rain, where they roost at night, get fed and where I've placed their laying house.  This tent is within a triangle open area where they free range and catch insects.  It is inclosed by chicken wire and bird netting suspended on a cable 10 feet high.  The chickens are happy in this area.

Tent for sleeping and shade

Eggs in hen house

Cho feeder trough

Hen house
PVC watering system

I feed them once per day 30% greens, 30% kitchen scrapes and fruit ( we have lots of papaya and banana), 30% store bought grains and protein pellets, and 10% IMO #4 dirt.  I am working on eliminating the store bought portion by raising black soldier flies ( the most efficient way to convert vegetable scrapes into protein, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G53-m4bVv7w ).  Later this summer I intend to dig/create a pond to raise tilapia fish to use as protein for both the chickens and my family.  This should eliminate dependance on outside inputs.

I'll explain a couple of items unique to the Cho system.  The feeder box is a long tray where the birds can line up on either side and has a wooden bar across the top which spins freely preventing chickens from standing in the feeder or standing on the bar.  This trough keeps the birds from fighting over the food at feeding time.  The laying house provides a nice secure dark area for the hens to lay their eggs while giving easy access to the human collecting the eggs.  The floor under the tent roof is dirt, and I spread IMO#4 several times per month to eliminate any oder and have the microbes breakdown the chicken feces.  The watering trough is constructed out of 3 inch PVC with 1 inch circular holes drilled along the top for the birds beaks to access the water.  I sometimes put Cho water soluble calcium in their water to strengthen their egg shells.

Mongoose are natural predators of chickens and their eggs so I have an ongoing trapping program.  I use a small cage trap setting it outside the pen and bait it with one chicken egg.  When I catch one (lately a daily occurrence), I place the trap in a cooler of water to drown it.  I bury the mongoose under my banana clumps.  They make great fertilizer.

Occasionally I'll eat a chicken. They are quite tasty.  Much better than store bought.   I catch it, hang it upside down by their feet with a thin cord slip knot, then slit their juggler vein with a sharp knife.  They bleed to death within several minutes.  I then place them in a just boiled pot of water for about two minutes to loosen their feathers.  The feathers then pull off very easily and in a few minutes work their skin looks just like the store bought chicken you buy at the store.  The next step is to gut them or remove their organs, this is very much like gutting a fish.  Now they are ready for your favorite chicken recipe, but oooh they are so fresh and you don't have to worry about anti-biotics, added hormones or any other crazy thing modern agribusiness systems do to our food supply.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing! We are wanting to give this a go in Panama. Hopefully in the next few months! Rose

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  2. Okay. We have our chicks now... So what did you feed the chicks AFTER day 3 - Day 50?
    I have seen literature on the net-- after day 3 unlimited brown rice, chopped up bamboo and then AFTER day 50 rice husks and other veggies/fruits, 30% grain, etc... THANK YOU! Looking for answers from someone who has actually done this.

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  3. 30% grain translates to how many grams for an adult hen?

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  4. Just found this by accident. Thankful for your sharing.

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