Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moving the chickens.

Yesterday lunchtime we skipped lunch and moved the first of our three chicken sheds into their new field. It had taken us ten days to build the fence, thanks largely to a team of five dedicated wwoofers. The chickens had been in the same field for two years and three months, so needed fresh pasture to reduce the risk of parasites; and also to allow us to plant crops in their old field to make use of the chicken manure they leave behind. Moving the shed from one field to the next was a struggle, taking 2 tractors and 3 hours to complete, with hiccups.
Where the shed came from.
The chickens had to be coralled in their old field, a hole cut in the old fence, the water-butt disconnected, the shed dragged through the gap, through the gateway in the Cornish hedge, through the gateway into the new field, then uphill across wet loose soil to its current position. But of course those three gateways were not in perfect alignment, so it required plenty of skilful tractor manoeuvring by Morley and David to get it through, plus taking our newly-hung gate off its hinges. We'd never seen a skid-mounted 100-bird chicken-shed being seven-point turned before, or two tractors chained together trying to tow it across a ploughed field!
Where the shed went to.
But eventually it got to where it needed to be, and we managed to lead most of the birds through, carrying the stragglers. They've settled in well, enjoying the fresh green grass, and laid over 90 eggs today to prove it. Now we need to drag the other two sheds through, which will be easier because they are empty (but not for long!). And then plough the field where they came from, mend the fence to make it rabbit-proof, and plant our potatoes....

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