The weather here this year has been much more what I would call an “old” winter. And by old I mean something from years gone by. A very typical New York winter… hard, cold and seems to last forever. We still have been using our furnace regularly. The past few winters have been markedly different, with spring coming as early as March. Not this year though. But as a life long New Yorker (no- NOT the city kind thank you very much) we cope, we adapt, we complain (a little to all our other NY friends) and we get on with life. So our youngest batch of Freedom Ranger Broilers is now 3 weeks old and they have been moved outside to the truck cap.
If you are new to following FishDogFarm, then let me introduce you to our baby chicken brooder… the truck cap. Maybe this isn’t a novel idea for any of you, but we came up with this idea a few winters ago when we lived on the farm. It was a warmer year, but we noticed that even though it was still very cold at night the truck cap held in the heat, and not only did it hold in the heat it never had frost inside and the grass grew at a remarkable rate! So we used it to raise 10 chickens and 2 ducks that year. They all lived to tell the tale. This year we had to change our approach. With the first batch of broilers we used the truck cap but only after they were fully feathered at 4 weeks old. We used straw bales around the bottom of the cap so as to raise the cap up off the ground and to insulate it. We also use a heat lamp at night. We have to secure this very well because heat lamps and straw don’t mix so well.
Above here is an idea of how it looked with the first batch. So our second batch of broilers have been outside in the truck cap for a full week now so we can prepare the basement for the next batch of birds coming in. We have quite the set up I know. Batch #3 may go directly to the truck cap, we aren’t sure yet. It all depends on the weather really. We are expecting a batch of 50 (!) birds on 5-14. Below here is a few photos of batch number 2 here at 3 weeks old.
The white birds are (6) leghorns that are 5 weeks old. Yes, quite unreal how fast these broilers grow!
Here is a good shot of the Freedom Ranger Broilers who are 3 weeks old. This is a 5 gallon feeder we made for all of our birds. We have a few of them now. One feeder feeds about 12 full size birds. We drilled 3″ holes into the 5 gallon drum and then screwed it onto the metal feed tray. The crumble flows very well from it and our birds can go through this in about 3 days right now, well the 26 young birds anyway. Our older birds can hammer through it MUCH faster.
Here is a shot of the same exact size feeder with our first batch of 9 week old broilers and 9 week old Easter Eggers. Our 9 week old Freedom Rangers will be processed next week if they are heavy enough. Now we will see how the feed did for us and if we want to try to bump them up to something with a little more protein or not. We have plans to weigh them and sort them on Friday. The Easter Eggers will be joining their friend Rudy the Easter Egger rooster who has been oh so lonely since his red sex links went on to begin a new flock and he wasn’t allowed to go for the ride. We have plans to keep our black freedom ranger rooster we call “Blackie” since he has always been handled by us and is well loved and rather easy to spot. He is a very good young rooster, and much more active than the reds. We hope to raise a batch of just black broilers sometime this summer to see how they go as well.
We have never raised meat birds before so this has been quite an adventure for us. We don’t know how these compare to the cornish cross birds that some raise, typically in a commercial market. Our birds are very happy though, and if we hit the lotto we plan to fence off all of our 2 acres and let them really range. Goodness knows we could use the tick prevention! I’ve already pulled too many ticks off of the cats and the dogs!
These are all the Easter Eggers. They all run from me when I come out and into the pen. The broilers of course all run TO me. Ah, why do the meat animals always have to be the nice ones?
These are lounging in the shade from the greenhouse/shed/coup. Our broilers have just begun to start trying to crow. It is hilarious.
Here is “Eggs” our female Tamworth pig. She got new dirt this week as we moved her to a brand new pen. We will be training her to electric tape fence so she can have more room to do what pigs love to do…
She has got to be near 200lbs now. She has also gotten friendlier since her brother isn’t with her anymore. She loves to be scratched and actually to be hosed down. She almost smiles. It’s hilarious. She’s a good pig.
And today our little Princess Roo had a dream come true. All she has been talking about for over 6 months is well princesses and wanting to ride a horse. This little girl could not stop beaming today as she giggled her way onto this pony and took him for a ride. Her smile was absolutely priceless and we got video too. This was at an agility demonstration at a local towns maple syrup festival. I ran all 4(!!!) dogs. It was interesting. The crazy man ran his first run outside with all these distractions of horses and goats and pigs right next to us. He did well. The Beauceron knocked nearly every bar on the course. Fish Dog did perfectly and so did Foofi. After all a good day was had by all.