Lets face it… Infrastructure is not glamorous. It my opinion, it is not fun (my Dad would say otherwise) Yet it is a necessary component of this thing we call homesteading. Outbuildings, electric, water, compost piles, animal pastures and garden space must be utilized to make working your homestead easier. It is hard enough with a good infrastructure, a bad one… well… it is quite near impossible. The following are ideas that we have come up with along the way, and hopefully they can aide you in your own homesteading journey. Raising poultry is a fun and rewarding experience, but at times can be challenging.
Lets start small.. with chicks. Chicks need to be kept warm, dry, and fed. Our brood boxes are set up so they can be sectioned off into 3 parts. These sections can be opened up as the chicks get older and need more space, until eventually they going into a floor brooder after they are feathered out. But, while they are small, all that space could be deadly. Turkey pullets, for example, don’t realize they should go under the lamp if they are cold, they must be forced to stay under it. I have had turkeys freeze to death just feet away from their lights. They are not the brightest of God’s creatures. The heat lamps that we use are made up of string hung from the ceiling on pulleys. One end attached to the heat lamp, the other anchored to the wall so the pulley can then raise the lamp to decrease temperature for the chicks as they age. The food dishes that we use are the standard metal ones that attach to a mason jar, water dishes are the same. A word of advice though, when putting your chicks in their new brooder, wait a few minutes until they have calmed down before adding waterers. Excited chicks don’t look where they are going any many can end up in the water dishes. This can be fatal for day-old chicks on a cold day. Again, I say this because I have learned the hard way. Temperature I’m not to much of a stickler on, I’d rather watch behavior. All huddled up, literally trying to stand on one other,too cold. Panting trying to get away from light, too hot. As a general rule, start around 95 and reduce heat by 5 degrees a week. If its hot summer day, I keep the lights off, and just put them on at night….basically a common sense approach rather than a rule set.
Fast forward to adult birds, and the wintertime, uggh. I hate the winter. My main problem has been the frozen water, however this past year we did purchase an electric heater that the water sets on top of. Much nicer to have the heater, but if you don’t have one, I would suggest to have 2 waterers. Then they can be switched out a few times a day as they thaw out in a mudroom or garage. Also it is nice to have a light on a timer system to encourage your birds to lay year round. These can be purchased online, or you can sometimes get a deal on them after christmas as stores use them for christmas lights. We have our set to come on BEFORE sun up that way we can collect a few eggs when it is time to let them out when the people get up in the real morning. Otherwise, the eggs may freeze and bust if they are left out too long, and thats just annoying.
I hope these tips help you in your own poultry raising adventure! Please message with your own tips!