Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Managing Poultry on Pasture With PoultryNet/PermaNet

Managing Poultry on Pasture with PoultryNet/PermaNet

(copyright by Harvey Ussery and reprinted with his permission)

We keepers of the home flock are often advised not to keep our birds all cooped up: "Get 'em out into the fresh air and sunshine!" But we know the local tribe of predators like our poultry as much as we do, so we take care to install a good stout fence around our chicken run to keep out the bad guys. Now it's safe to let the flock out into their little corner of the great outdoors. But wait! Within a week every last blade of grass is gone from the run — it looks like the surface of the moon dotted with chicken poops! Droppings are accumulating, flies are having a field day, pathogens are a potential hazard, and the run is a source of run-off pollution with every heavy rain. A static chicken run is not such a good idea!

Much better to release those birds, let 'em free-range like nature intended! Now they're healthier and more content; and the live foods they forage — green growing plants, wild seeds, earthworms, slugs, and insects — are of a quality we cannot hope to match with anything from a bag. The living pasture sod "digests" the poops laid down — vastly healthier for the flock than the static run (and a boost in fertility for the pasture). This is the life for "the natural chicken"! Oh but wait, they're in the garden! And Mr. Pumphrey's rose bed! And worst of all, Brer Fox and Mr. Raccoon are having a field day (to say nothing of the neighbors' dogs)! Free-ranging the flock is a terrible idea!

Is there any way to manage the homestead flock that both gives them access to the many benefits of free-ranging on good pasture, confines them where we want them, and protects them from the bad guys? Fortunately there is: electric net fencing, or electronet.
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

(Note: The Electronet referred to in the article is Premier's PoultryNet™.)

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Harvey Ussery is the author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock (Chelsea Green, 2011), on sale in Premier's book section. Visit Harvey's website at www.themodernhomestead.us