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Putting Our Chickens to Work!

When we took over the farming operations in late 2019, Matt and I always wanted to incorporate traditional, or "old school" farming practices back into the farm. This would rely on rotating animals through the fields to clear and fertilize the land naturally, and replace mono-crops (aka, fields planted with one singular crop) with no-till fields over-seeded with diverse crops to aid in better soil conditions and less impact on the environment.

The first step of this plan would be to test out this theory in our fenced-in garden field! We built a small chicken trailer for Mr. Speckles and the City Chicks (18 chickens total), and placed the trailer out in the garden area for the chickens to do what they do best- clear the ground, rid the area of pests, and fertilize!

We started off by building the chicken trailer. Matt used a small trailer that wasn't being used and steel grating as the floor. The chicken's droppings fall through the steel grating when they roost at night, and also helps with ventilation.

Once the trailer was built, we moved the chickens into the garden area, and let them loose on the whole space!

A Buff Orpington hen standing in front of a chicken trailer at sunrise with more chickens in the background

Chickens are busy birds! They are constantly foraging and scratching at the ground looking for bugs and plants to snack on. They also replace nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium back into the soil through their droppings. One hen will produce about 130 lbs of manure a year (or about 1/3 pound per day). Fresh chicken manure contains 0.5% to 0.9% Nitrogen, 0.4% to 0.5% of Phosphorus, and 1.2% to 1.7% Potassium (Source). So that means every day, our 18 chickens are adding 5.4 pounds of manure to our soil.

This pilot program has shown us that our dream of rotating chickens on a larger scale through our fields is possible. We are planning our next chicken trailer to be ready to go by this spring, and will be placed in one of our back fields. We will utilize electric netting fencing and rotate the chickens through the field over the season, then over-seed the following year and move our chickens to the next field. Repeating the process yearly until we see healthy fields full of green growth!

This means responsible farming practices, less runoff, and more eggs! We think that's a win all around.

Brown, white, blue and green chicken eggs on a table surrounded by greenery
Image by: Jennifer Casey Photography

Our eggs are sold at our Field Market, running every Saturday May thru November in 2022. Eggs are sold on a first come first serve basis.

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