Our laying hens are housed in a chicken caravan which is towed between paddocks, following behind the grazing of our cattle.
The hens are protected from predators with electric “feather net” fencing and Genghis, our “guard gander” and can roam freely by day and roost safely at night.
They follow three days behind the cattle and sheep where they “vacuum up” the parasites in the dung hence progressively eliminating our need to use chemicals on cattle to control parasites. (No chemicals are used on our laying hens.)
Their caravan is moved every two days and they have access to fresh chemical-free pasture daily, where they enjoy foraging for insects. Their diet is supplemented by certified organic layer mash. No antibiotics, and GMO free. No cleaning chemicals used - Natural sun UV works daily at reducing pathogens etc ensuring healthy animals, farmers and consumers.
They drink filtered water from our house supply. Daily they get a dash of Apple Cider Vinegar in their water, to keep them healthy and control worms.
This herbivore activity greatly improves the quality of our paddocks by fertilising and sanitising the pasture. This increases the diversity of plants which can thrive and in turn improves our pasture and the diversity of food for our cattle and sheep.
We started with an old caravan converted for chickens, but have had Randal Breen of Echo Valley Farms make us the new one. Apart from potentially accommodating more hens, the great benefit was a major percentage lift in egg cleanliness and usability. As eggs are laid they roll out of the laying box onto a conveyor belt, out of the hens' reach.
"Excluders" are used to keep the hens out of the laying boxes at night so they do not foul the boxes - the excluders open at 4am on a timed mechanism. The base material in the laying boxes is also very easy to clean.