Wednesday 18th January 2017
Out in the run
The poultry run is almost finished (just the inside to ‘furnish now) but because it was a sunny afternoon and it feels as though the birds have been waiting for AGES, we opened up and let them all have an ‘explore’. The meagre amount of grass was demolished and then, as the photo shows, there were lots of wistful looks to the world outside. Our ‘sorry guys, another six weeks to go’ (the lockdown ends on Tuesday 28th Feb) was a bit of a grim statement but it does now mean we are half way through the 3 month edict!
We will put wood chip down over the whole area (no point waiting for the mud to take over first), site a mini pond for the ducks and we may well also bring in a few branches as extra places for the birds to perch and for them to peck at. Plus we want to create a bigger dust bathe area: shredded straw and sawdust are okay but the birds much prefer soil or sand: the smaller the particles the better really.
The run is not big: 3.5 metres by 4.5 metres but it gives an additional 13.75 square metres on top of the 28 square metres inside which now gives each bird just under 1 square metre of space each. Under free range rules, chickens require four square metres of outside space per bird as well as the inside space (nine birds to a square meter) but interestingly, free range birds can be housed for up to 12 weeks and still be classed as free-range. The rules go on to state that during this 12-week period, other conditions must still be met, although it is hard to see what ‘other conditions’ could possibly mean a bird is still ‘free-range’ when they are inside a building 24/7!!!
Our birds are still doing okay with egg laying on the up and very little squabbling. Droppings all seem fine (dodgy droppings often being the first sign of ill-health) and we have a lot of bright red combs.
Nonetheless, roll on 28th February!