Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chicken at work

The neighbour's chickens have moved in and they settled in well. In past three weeks they flattened all greens in the chook pen, ate most of the slaters, inspected the raised garden beds and have done a wonderful job at tidying things up.

The big nesting box has been accepted too. The hens produce an average of 1.5 eggs per day. Enough to feed us per week. Have not bought eggs yet since the chooks moved in. But bought some laying pellets, Australian made and produced by Weston Milling, hopefully from GM free products. I bought the pellets at City Farmers, and asked them about GM content in the animal feed. They referred me to Weston Milling. Will follow this up with them. Although there is only GM canola produced in WA, they could easily import GM animal feed from overseas, especially from China and use it in their locally produced poultry pellets. One of the reasons to have my own chicks was to control the poultry feed, and wanting to exclude GM feed.

The poultry feed should include 15-18% protein in order to produce lots of eggs. Where should the protein come from? I do not want the laying pellets to come from GM fed animals from feedlots. I will report back on my journey exploring the origin of the Weston Milling Protein. My hens are old, they have had a production cycle in a battery and probably already had a year or two in my neighbour's chook pen.

During the last two days I let my five hens out of their 6x9m enclosure and allowed them to wander through the rest of our big backyard. They loved it, especially the scratching under the layer of mulch that has been rotting away for 1.5 years. Plenty of slaters and insects around. The chooks had a feast. The only victim was a basil plant in a pot that I had not moved out of the chicken's way in time.  Fortunately they don't seem to like the rocket, the parsley and the kohlrabi. they also have not touched the sweet potatoe leaves next to the old watertank.

The productive part of the garden near the second patch has been fenced off with a plastic mesh which we used before to protect the roots of the plum trees during transport before transplanting. The new fence is working well, only needs one dropper to stay in place and keeps the chickens out.  Lettice is growing well, parsley shooting up everywhere and lot of sunflowers emerge. And there is room for the productive space to even grow bigger, following the motto of Charlie: "The Edge is Where it's At".

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