Our first batch of broiler chicks has been ordered and will arrive on May 4. Three short weeks after that, all 170 birds will be out of the brooder and onto the pasture.
I haven’t built broiler pens yet.
Nothing like having a deadline to light a fire under you.
Fortunately, Tyler’s dad Bradd is building ten new broiler pens for their farm this week, so I volunteered my outstanding construction expertise (ha!) in exchange for some pen-building tips. The verdict is that these things are really easy to build, and they don’t take long at all. With three of us working, we made three frames in just a few hours. The lids and siding are projects for another day, so I’ll post pictures of that when we get there.
For the uninitiated, here are a couple pictures of what a Salatin-style broiler pen looks like:
The pens are specifically constructed to be lightweight yet sturdy. Unlike copy-cat pens made from PVC, these will hold up over the years. They are moved every couple days by sliding a dolly under the end and then walking backwards while pulling a handle on the front. (Edit: these pens are moved every day). The dolly is visible in the first photo, at Joel’s right shoulder.
The chickens are get water from a Bell-Matic automatic waterer that hangs in the pen. It is connected to a water reserve in the black five-gallon bucket with plastic tubing. Each pen has one feeder made from 5 ft long, 6-inch diameter PVC pipe cut in half on the horizontal, which you lift out before you move the pen. I’ll have a feeder construction tutorial up soon, but for the time being here is a crummy iPhone picture for reference.
So, without further ado, here’s a picture of the frame of a broiler pen. It is completed; it just lacks wire to keep it taut, siding, and a lid.
Here’s a clearer picture of the end piece:
As soon as Bradd gets me the materials list and lumber specifications, I’ll post it here. I have had little luck finding any of this on the internet, so I’m sure this will be of use to someone.
(Edit: You can see the plans for the broiler pasture shelters on my 4/29/11 post. Click here: Broiler Pasture Shelter Plans.)
And yes, I realize it looks like I live at Afton Field Farm. I do, kind of. So, if you’re learning anything at all on this site, thank them!