Growing The Growers Filming Trip 2010

Diary with pictures of our trip to the USA and England to meet with people that have successfully encouraged more people to garden and farm organically

Monday, August 16, 2010


What about broilers, the meat chickens that are the flagship product at Polyface.

Eating chicken is to our way of thinking the same as eating pork. We need to respect and honour the life of this animal if we are truely going to enjoy it on the plate.

Hens demand sunlight, forage (grass and insects) and also shelter. They are an understory bird evolved to peck away under the shade of trees. They need clean water to drink and they also need to be kept safe from dogs, foxes, eagles and other predators that know just how delicious they are. We are the top order predator in this case and yes we eat them but we can also give them a very good life before they end up on our menu. Joel has devised an ingenious system of mobile cages that tick every box on the list of broiler requirements. Meat birds are killed young so roosts and laying boxes are not a requirement.

These mobile hutches house the pullets as soon as they are fully feathered and are able to live on their own without the hovering 'mother hen' simulated in the brooder house we photographed earlier.

Cows graze the grass down to chicken height and then these staggered rows of hutches cross the fields always moving onto fresh grass and leaving a trail of more fertilization and clean up of cattle parasites.

Water buckets travel on top of the cages and birds soon get used to and even expect the daily or twice daily moves.

Thought I'd put in a photo of Fred capturing the scene on video.

It is very easy to see just were the chickens are going next and where they have been.

Moving these houses is a simple job for one person. All you need is one of these dollys which slide under the side of the cages putting in place a couple of wheels which allow the hutches to roll onto the next patch of clean grass.

A close up for anyone thinking of making one for themselves.

And these movable cages can be used for other things. Here is a cage full of young laying hens not yet old enough to be moved up into the larger laying houses. The rabbit kittens will also be moved up into houses like these so that they can grow up grazing grass as nature intended.

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