Category Archives: Chickens

Visiting Buena Vista Farm (and an upcoming course there, too)

buena vista 03

Perched on green headlands with rich volcanic soil below, mountains behind and the wide blue of the Pacific out front, Buena Vista Farm is a pretty special place.

And as a bonus, it’s peopled by an awesome young farming family producing beyond organic food for their community, and doing it with a smile…  Continue reading

Rooftop Chickens

Rooftop girls

Chickens are an excellent addition to any small-scale growing system, if you have the space. They recycle green waste and produce two very valuable things for the small-scale gardener: fresh eggs, and chicken manure.

In a rooftop garden scenario, there’s no reason that chickens can’t still be a valuable part of the growing system. A great example is at Eagle Street Roofotop Farm in NYC, where Nick recently hung out with some high-rise chickens…  Continue reading

Egg mobile with added duck. Bring on the Muscovys

muscovys 1

We’ve been wanting to introduce ducks to our integrated animal systems for some time now. We’ve been trying to decide which breed to start with and where they would best fit, so we can maximise the Power of Duck at Milkwood.

Random opportunity seems to have decided for us, for now. Friends down the road are moving on, and needed to find a home for their load of Muscovy ducks – 4 drakes, 4 ducks and a couple of clutches of ducklings. What a fantastic breed they are. They even perch to roost. Continue reading

Enter the egg mobile (start with what you’ve got)

eggmobile 02

We’ve been researching egg mobile models for a good while now, in order to figure out how best to get our small (but growing) flock of layers rotating through our paddocks, enjoying fresh pasture and laying eggs aplenty. In the end, as with most things, it came down to working with what we’ve got.

Enter the Chalet. Or the Sherman, depending on who you talk to (in reference to the sherman tank, as this thing is robustly constructed). Nick’s dad Karl kindly built us this construction a few years back, with the intention to put broiler hens in it. Now Floyd has converted it to an egg mobile of sorts, it’s proving an awesome pastured poultry unit. Continue reading

Costa and his Ladies

Back when Costa was setting up his verge garden (the one that now beams into Aussie homes every Saturday night on Gardening Australia), he proved that chicken tractors will work just about anywhere, even on the verge.

As part of the preparation of taking his verge from grass to community veggie patch, Costa made a great chicken tractor out of a table with wheels and chicken wire, into which he put his ‘ladies’ when he was outside working on the garden… here he is in the process of taking them back to their run in his backyard one evening. Chickens in the city. Gotta love them.

We can’t wait to see Costa at our Serious Backyard Veggies course later this month…

Azolla (water fern) as protein-rich animal feed

Azolla is a native water plant with some seriously exciting attributes for anyone looking to develop closed-loop cycles for organic animal feed. It’s high in protein and minerals, fixes nitrogen, is palatable to chickens, pigs, goats, ducks and cows, and can be grown on any closed body of water.

At Milkwood Farm we have many emerging animal production systems, and we’re looking for cost and energy effective ways to produce organic feed for them, using passive and regenerative techniques. Azolla looks like a great tool for us. Continue reading

Meanwhile, in the Gravity Chicken Run…

The Gravity Chicken Run is now entering its second winter as one of the gravity-powered (and chicken powered) composting experiments at Milkwood Farm. We’ve made some modifications since last winter, and things are looking good.

As with all on-farm experiments, we’re learning as we go. But egg production is good and, as we continue to tweak things, all-round chicken happiness is high. Continue reading

Egg Mobiles I Have Loved…

An Egg Mobile is a movable chicken house designed to house laying hens at night, who by day cluck around on open pasture. Joel Salatin made them famous at Polyface Farms, but who invented the concept I do not know.

Egg mobiles are different from chicken tractors in that they are designed as part of a free-range chicken system where the hens can venture well beyond their house to the limits of whatever fences them in (commonly electric netting in a farm setting). They are a darn fine idea. Continue reading

Attack of the Wolf Mountain Chickens

Warning! This post contains chook-talk. Not much of it, as I am not the resident chook fancier of Milkwood, but still a bit.

In short, we have started breeding Blue Langshans, a heritage dual-purpose (ie good eggs and good eating) chickens, hopefully in quantity. Wish us luck. Continue reading

High-rise chicken feeding stations

Within our gravity chicken run, we needed a way to feed the chickens up off the ground. Mainly so nothing would impede the gradual down-hill slump of mulch we’re hoping this overall design will provide. The answer? Recycled palettes and assorted fabulous junk. Continue reading

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