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Resources List: Poultry Care

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

We don't know everything. Poultry and waterfowl care is a never ending learning experience. We are obsessed with continuing education and improving the care of our birds. This is a compiled list of resources for poultry management the "Watercolor Creek Farm way".


We believe birds should be raised as real birds in the outdoors rather than in indoor poultry houses, so this list of resources that poultry owners, breeders, or soon to be flock keepers with similar goals and philosophies may find helpful.




Mobile Coops:

Mobile coops are the backbone of our bird and soil health. They allow birds to move to areas of fresh forage, keep bacteria and coccidiosis levels low, break parasite cycles, and leave behind nutrient rich manure for pasture and garden growth. A mobile design can even work in a small backyard. Our models have floors that allow manure to fall through, eliminating the need for coop cleaning and fertilizing the pasture as they move.


Chicksaws

Justin Rhode's of Abundant Permaculture has two coop models we use:

  • The "Chicksaw 2.0" is a 6X6 coop that holds 30+ birds for roosting. We use this design to house our bachelor flock of cockerels that need space.

  • The Chicksaw MiniMe is a smaller, 4X4 version of the same coop that house 16 hens (more if bantams varieties). This is the design that most of our breeding flocks reside in.

Chicksaw Coop building plans can be found here: The Chicksaw 2.0 and Chicksaw MiniMe (plans)


This is a small flock in the Chicksaw MiniMe (4X4 version) turning manure from the horse barn into a dormant bermuda grass pasture.


Chicken Tractors

We raise chicks, house small breeding groups, and quarantine individual birds in a chicken tractor. It's a great option if you are on a small budget with a small flock. For a flock of 4 or less, it could be used through all growth stages from chick to adult. If moved to a fresh spot twice daily, it breaks the cycle of coccidiosis and reduces the need for medicated chick feed. It's cost efficient and a great multipurpose housing option.

Chicken Tractor plans can be found here: Chicken Tractor




Portable Fencing

Our #1 predator defense and important tool in mobile/portable husbandry design. Properly electrified, it will keep out all ground predators. It is easy to set up, take down, and move to a new location.

Electric Poultry Net Plus and portable solar chargers by Premier1 Supplies (We recommend the 48in height and 50ft long sections. The longer sections of fence become to heavy to move)


Feed and Water Solutions

Feed: Port Feeders found on Amazon. It's incredibly important to keep feed clean and dry and these port feeders make that possible. We mount them on 5 gallon buckets for portability. We add or eliminate buckets depending on the size of the flock. We allow them to run out before refilling to avoid spoiled feed.


Water: Horizontal Nipple Waterers on Amazon. Also mounted on 5 gallon buckets, they keep water impeccably clean and free of manure. NC State Poultry Unit was very impressed with them when they came for a farm visit. I have never had a bird not figure out how to use them in the hundreds we have raised. (Avoid the cup version. They will with debris and require regular cleaning)




Nutrition

A local mill mixes Jeff's Breeder ration for us as outlined in his book. You will find rations for all life stages and for all flock goals. The rations are uniquely tailored to the needs of pastured or free range birds vs. birds found in confinement poultry houses. We love the mounds of data and feeding trials outlined in his book. An absolute must read for anyone, especially if you're wondering what feed you should purchase.


Knowledge

The are some wonderful continuing education resources.


Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th Edition- The best general poultry knowledge and care resource.


This one is great even for all things poultry. Hosted by Jim Adkins (Poultry judge and founder of the Sustainable Poultry Network) and Karen Johnson (long time breeder) Feed, breed profiles, breeding strategies, management strategies, etc are all covered in their episodes.


American Poultry Association and the Standard of Perfection (book) are absolute must read resources for those that want to breed and preserve the characteristics of the breeds that make them unique from each other.


Joel Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profits - A classic. Outlines the benefits of mobile poultry systems. Aimed at the large scale producer, but the philosophies and ideals can be scaled to fit any size flock.

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