We’ve been raising chickens for three years now and almost entirely on compost that we get some local organic sources and for grain that we barter with local organic farms
our chickens cost us about one penny per day per bird on average maybe a tiny bit more but not much we get really high quality eggs and we get about four wheelbarrow loads of compost per week.
That comes out of the system what I would love to share today.
After three years of experimenting with this, what sort of tools techniques and design considerations have gone into play, that makes this work really well for us.
I’ll admit I would say we’re still completely novice in a lot of ways but maybe there are some ideas here that are useful to you and hopefully you can get something out of it
so let’s look at this system and explore some of the design and tools that are involved in this. So one thing that you’ll notice as you look in this space is or maybe you’ll notice this is that we have basically a flow pattern.
it’s a nutrient flow pattern and what we’ve tried to do is design it where raw incoming food scraps begin in one day and you’ll notice there’s a technique here
That I’m using this incredibly low-tech really easy to replicate. I’m using locusts, you could use. don’t use pressure-treated but some sort of good hardwoods and these are boards that aren’t useful for other projects but they’ve got really nice strong feet with screws into them out exterior-grade screws
these are great for making dividers for different sections and so the raw compost comes into the first bay. it’s mixed with charcoal to soak up excess nutrient and odor and so the chickens can start breaking down the charcoal and incorporating it
charcoal and raw ingredients come in as they work on this. I use a 5-time strong Hayfork. sometimes these are called manure forks. this is my preferred tool of choice
and I get under the material. I lift it and I turn it always moving to the next section to the next section to the next section so raw gets turn turn turn so that there’s space for the new raw material to come in at a certain point
here we add some grain to it to have the grain be able to sprout and I’m going to call us here and we’ll take a closer look at that so we’ve got our main area where we’re putting in the raw food scraps turning it turning it turning it moving it closer and closer to the finished area
and again you can see each time I turn it I move it further along and it’ll be going from here into the primary finishing area and then the true finishing area is that last one . we just cleared that out recently but we have a secondary waste stream coming in.
This may or may not be interesting or useful for your situation but in this case we’re putting in all of the weeds the garden scraps things that have lots of feed load etc
you can see right now in fact I just mowed the lawn tonight with a push mower. they love getting nice fresh salad from the lawn and so these raw ingredients come in at the top of this area and you’ll notice that it’s positioned so that gravity brings the material down
so each time I turned this a little bit, I’m aiming it further and further down slope may seem that I’m being rude and just throwing it on the chicken but I’ve learned that they really hold room so I just throw it gently and they figure it out
and you can see that what’s happening here is we’ve got hay and wood chips and feeds that we’ve been collecting and then I’m also adding in whole wheat seeds corn seeds millet sunflower
that’s where our expense comes in is millet and sunflower seed the rest of these. we barter for and so the lawn clippings, the weeds from the garden the stalks the food scraps the hay and the wood chips all converge to start creating heat
This is actually pretty warm and it sprouts the seed so it’s basically a conveyor belt of tumbling organic matter going down float and each time I turn it they get nor the sprouted seeds out of it
You’ll see the last pile when I go to turn that it still has some sprout so it keeps them interested we turned it enough times that’s hopefully they finished those sprouts but then we know that when that leaves the guard leaves from here into the garden we can expect some weeds to germinate
so the first season we try to transplant it in mulch it heavily . I’ll cut away to some shots of what those garden beds look like . we get four wheelbarrow loads of it a week
we’re paying a cent a day per bird for the systems working really beautiful for us . so hopefully some of these basic work logs and ideas are interesting to you and I will cut away to the last shot here of turning the last second-to-last compost Bay
so this is the second to last day and you can see there’s still sprouts in fact that’s what they’re mainly interested in and this is basically from that last shot where you saw the raw garden weeds and lawn clippings etc to this point is about three weeks
it’s really fast and one thing you’ll notice is that when I use the hay fork or this manure fork what I never do is from up high poke it down in three years have never poked a chicken mouth on wood but what I found is that if I take it and I touched the material and once it’s on there I can then push in
I’ll never hurt a bird and I’ll just keep faking this and flipping it piling it up and letting them pick it apart once it seems like
it’s drought free it’ll go to the final day one has been here for a while it’ll go into the wheelbarrow and go up to the gardens to generate food for us and so that’s how our chickens are the part of this engine of fertility production while feeding us.