This is Part 6 of the Tools (used on my 'stead) series. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 can be found by clicking the links.
Currently the main livestock that we raise are Chickens. Yet we do raise or have raised, ducks, geese, and turkeys. Types of tools used can and have changed over the course of the years that we have raised poultry. We started with the chick brooder kit that can be found here, at the McMurray Hatchery. If you have the room, it is great. Unfortunately we do not have the room, and it became problematic. Next we tried a child's swimming pool and then our master bathtub. It worked great until the turkeys decided they could fly, we used shredded paper as litter. We stuck to the tub experiment for the next several broodings. Soon we were given a rabbit hutch, and successfully brooded our chicks in here, less mess. We are now in the process of drawing up blueprints for an outside hatchery.
Heat lamps, litter, feeders, and waters are important tools needing in brooding. Around 6 weeks you are able to move your chicks outdoors. (we have built a seperate nursery where the adults can check up and meet with the little ones, without the chicks getting hurt)This is when a chicken coop will come in handy. You will also need proper fencing, depending how far you want them to roam. We allow them out of their 1/2 acre enclosure when we are outside to keep 4 legged predators away.
The same needs are present, the litter to make nests, feeders (or feed them by hand, tossing the grain on the ground) and waters. Heat lamps are a good idea in the winter. Ours is set on a timer to ensure that they get the required amount of darkness, yet able to stay warm. A heated waterer or trough with a heating element in it, is a must have if you live in an area that freezes. I also feed them a mash that has been heated with hot milk. In the summer, ice cubes are placed in the water to keep it cooler.
Places to hide, nest or roost are placed in many different areas. We tend to "repurpose" items for this. Old work benches, buckets, washtubs, are used for nests. Metal pipes, parts of old bed frames and old timber are used for roosts.
A good litter that we found is a mix of straw and shredded paper. The hens love the shredded paper to build their nests. A good basket is important to gather large quantity of eggs, or even just a couple. More then likely while you are gathering eggs you will see something that needs to be taken care of.
More tools used, are a place to keep the feed, hand pumped well, a hose to fill the waters, hot fencing to keep predators away, and a long stick to protect yourself from that bad attitude rooster that is dead set on killing you. A large net is useful when it comes to catching those birds that are uncooperative.
Old tires are used for the geese and ducks to build nest in, these are placed close to a pond. Ponds are important if you are breeding geese. The males can get a little excited about the project and can seriously injure the female. If you have ducks, make sure you get both males and females. The males killed our hens because of the lack of females. They would chase them into the pond and be randy with them until they drowned. We ate the ducks.
Tomorrow, Tools Needed to Butcher your Poultry.