The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Ready to say goodbye

Chickens eating greensDo you have a favorite age?  I definitely do --- 6 to 10 weeks old.  Mature enough that I can stop worrying about heat and predators and frisky enough to find a lot of their own food.

(You know we're talking about broiler chickens here, right?)

After 10 weeks, I start stressing again.  I've yet to plan ahead well enough that I have sufficient pasture for these rapidly growing birds, so I start hunting down treats to keep their diet well-rounded.  The pullets and cockerels have to be shut out of the garden at that age because they start to scratch mulch on top of my young garlic plants, and 11 week old broilers are so long-legged that they're willing to walk the long way round to get to those garden beds.

Chickens pecking logAnd then there's the deep bedding.  I always seem to let the last few weeks get away from me, and the increased volume of manure mats on the surface of the leaves or straw.  Our final batch of Light Sussex have been the worst in that respect since they still want to roost in a huddle in the corner, which means they concentrate their manure in one spot and then sit in it.  Yuck.  I was beyond thrilled when Mom brought me some more leaves to alleviate the manure pileup, but next year I've got to plan ahead so I have enough high carbon bedding to top off the coop floor every other day for the last two weeks of broiler time.

Which is all a long way of saying that even though the Light Sussex have been my favorite flock of the year, I am totally ready to slit their throats and put them in the freezer.  We processed the first four Monday --- six more to go!

Our chicken waterer turns clean water into the easy part of raising broilers.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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