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Gulliver travels

The “rooster group” at 14 weeks – their view and access to the hens blocked from this side
Our 26 May chicks turned out the be mostly roosters – though we do have 9 pullets. Now  4 months old, they are separated into 2 groups – the mixed group, consisting of: 2 buttercup roos, 3 buttercup hens, 4 blue Andalusian hens, 2 Egyptian fayoumi hens and 1 rooster, 4 golden polish roosters. In the last few days, there has been a bit more chasing going on. Then there is the rooster group, which leaves the coop through a pop door in the back into the orchard part of the garden, and so far, not a single  roo has flown across the fences. However, if you walk all around the greenhouses, you get to see the mixed group through a wire fence.
Gulliver – then 4 month old, Egyptian fayoumi

Meet Gulliver – Gulliver travels

He likes the ladies – and if he were not chasing them so much, I’d let him be with the mixed group. This young rooster lad figured  out the lay of the land …he saw me walk it and followed me, I assume, one of those days a few weeks ago. Gulliver is the Egyptian fayoumi roo who was the very first of all to crow. Every morning and evening, Gulliver makes his rounds and  travels to the other side

Gulliver travels

of the greenhouse, and even to the garden entrance, looking for stuff & crowing everywhere. He is well behaved towards me at all times.

 

I called him over on WEEAC day to a special spot by the outside fence bed, then he finished his rounds. He takes treats from me, tells me when I need to turn the water on, checks out the greenhouse if I leave the door open, and – he hopes to get lucky with the hens – which occasionally he does when for some reason they err into the outside of their area. Gulliver has not shown any sign of territorial display towards me – unlike a few of the orchard roos. I call him Gully for short.

Here Gulliver is literally telling me to open the gate – or something to the effect that his path is blocked….
… then he walked off towards the rooster hangout ….

He was so used to walk to the front  of the garden, that he did so when we had 2 new 4 month old puppies running in there last week. He has to get through a dog safe fence to get there, but then didn’t find his way through back again fast enough. They caught him, but only by the wing tip before I lead them away …he walked off unscathed, but has not gone into that part of the garden since then ….but is still trying his luck with the ladies ….

This is Gulliver at 5 weeks:

HELP – I think I spoiled my chickens!!!!

Hahaha – I conclude after this afternoon’s little experiment: They seem to consider me a treat and food dispenser – much easier than to forage. Did I spoil them for good? Will they ever work by “working the soil”? They SEEMED to forage …..

Hey, I’m ready for the treats ….

My goal is:

  • Happy healthy free range and predator safe chickens who work for a living by composting, fertilizing and tilling.
  • Chickens providing eggs for the family and some friends
  • A beautiful bountiful all organic and no till (no commercial till that is) garden, both flower and food, with areas where chickens can meet humans 🙂 with it being a positive experience for both.

I am working on solving this: how to get them to be well fed AND work the ground, eliminating the need to weed and buy fertilizer come planting season next year – without having a chicken tractor or raised beds available?

Ok, these are my first ever chickens, a straight run of 26 light assorted chicks, now almost 4 months old. Since yesterday, the chicken coop is separated into 2 pens with a separate exit/entrance for the rooster group, which stays in the orchard area. That leaves the 9 hens (or pullets at this age) and 7 other cockerels in the compost run and garden field. That garden field yielded very little produce this year — I used no fertilizer at all and barely weeded. So I found out: this does NOT work AT ALL to get any vegetables worth mentioning, thought the beans did ok. But then, I kinda suspected it. Looking at the overgrown garden I wonder HOW ON EARTH is that gonna get chicken-tilled? Sure, the chicks pretty much got rid of all the compost run vegetation, but giving them access to the garden field has barely lefty a mark so far.

Ok, it really has been TOO HOT so far to do much foraging out there, and it is also much more open, and they definitely prefer protected areas.

The little experiment:

Today, at 4 pm, I went out there to check on them:

They came running, their crops were empty and they wanted food. Since after some consideration I know that there will neither be time nor resources for a proper chicken tractor this year, I did an experiment: I took  a couple of hand-fulls of my night-time feed mix and threw it onto an area of about 1 square yard, right next to their current feeding area, where they get the kitchen scraps. They all eagerly went for it ….so I sat down in their old feed area, compost run 1, which I cleaned out yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it: they soon come over to where I was sitting and then – started gently pecking me – peck peck peck – the kind of peck that they know usually miraculously produces a delicious treat – only this time I didn’t have anything.

I went back to where I had thrown the grain/crumble mix and checked, just in case they had eaten it all – but NO — just a little “scratching with my fingers revealed PLENTY of grains still on the ground.

Did I spoil them for good?

That is expensive grain – not really an option chickies!!! I played mother chick (something I maybe should have done better and earlier ?) and showed them a couple of times that “scratching” does reveal food on the ground – BELOW the grasses – and some sure got it and were busy for a bit – there’s hope! Maybe????

Considering the garden weeding needs,  an absence of a chicken tractor, I am now thinking to “till” without a chicken tractor by doing this:

just giving them their food in a new area each week – progressing at about a 1 x 4 foot area every couple of days, at least until the rain starts, after which they will do their compost work in a covered heavily mulched area.

I’ll let you know how it goes with the tilling by moving the feed area.

Here is the current chicken feeding schedule;

Chickens will get fed kitchen scraps in the morning after having been left out. The feeding will be in a designated square footage. This would be easier if one had raised beds, but as it is, we’ll do the best we can.

Chickens can free range forage ALL day, weather permitting.

They will get kitchen scraps (provided by the householders of this property) again in the late afternoon  plus commercial soy free organic feed.

The feed is also available at night in the coop, just so they have something to do in the morning while they wait to be let out.

The goals again:

  • Happy healthy free range and predator safe chickens who work for a living by composting, fertilizing and tilling.
  • Chickens providing eggs for the family and some friends.
  • A beautiful bountiful all organic and no till (no commercial till that is) garden, both flower and food, with areas where chickens can meet humans 🙂 and it being a good experience for all.

I am working on solving this: how to get them to be well fed AND work the ground, eliminating the need to weed and buy fertilizer come planting season next year – without having a chicken tractor or raised beds.

Will keep you posted.

 

…oh – 4 months – I better get some kind of a nest box soon …..