Chickens and predators

This weekend is National Alpaca Farm Days and we have had visitors stop by.  One fellow was remarking how many chickens he lost to predators, namely snakes.  I have not had the same problem.  Maybe because our coops are elevated off the ground, but maybe just because the chickens are all over the place and the guineas maybe keep them away (as I read they might, not sure if they really do).

He commented on a snake getting into the fenced chicken area and ate 28 baby chicks,  then was so fat he couldn’t get back out.  Needless to say this guy took care of that snake.  We have not had baby chicks around; the two that the hens hatched out were closely watched by the hens and so I think kept them from harm.  They  have grown into very, very pretty chickens (one pullet; one rooster).

Keeping the predators out is a hard task.  I lost a few to skunks and I saw a raccoon retreating from the area one night.  I guess you just have to expect it will happen at some point and be ready to replace what you lose.

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National Alpaca Farm Day

Now an annual event, alpaca farms and ranches all over the U.S. will participate this Saturday and/or Sunday Sept. 26/27.  They each can choose which days to be open and their own hours.  Please visit a farm near you to learn more.  Here is a link

 http://www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com/

Bits and pieces:

Alpaca: A domesticated South American mammal (Lama pacos), related to the llama and having fine, long wool.

Cria: Young offspring of camelids.

Huacaya:  fluffy “teddy bear” look fleece

Suri: long penciled fleece

Autumnal Equinox

Well, I am a little late on  this, but today, Tuesday, Sept 22, 2009, was the Autumnal Equinox.  We are officially into Fall.  Today it really felt like it. Rainy weather and very cool temps are here.  I have not seen my hummingbirds.  Probably trying to stay warm.  The alpacas are enjoying the cool, but not so much the rain.    Here is a link to some good info about the equinox.  Enjoy!

http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/september-equinox.html

Feeding the chickens

All my poultry, guineas and the chickens, are free range pastured with chicken coops for shelter.  I seemed to notice that when their feeder was full they tended not to free range so much.  I would rather have them scavenging the pastures than sitting in the shade relaxing because they were full from their feed. 

searching the pastures for bugs

searching the pastures for bugs

 

So what I did was put just enough feed in the feeders at night that they could munch on and pretty much finish off before I opened them up in the morning, then no more feed until the evening shut-in.  It seemed to help keep them moving during the day (unless it was too hot or rainy, of course).  I really love to see them fanning out across the pastures and know they are earning their keep.

Livestock barns and bad weather

Well, finally, in our neck of the woods (we don’t really have “woods” here) it is raining.  It has rained all day.  We have small trees and a few big trees, big shrubs and right now tall sunflowers that need to be mowed down, but no woods, really.  I don’t really wish for woods; they bring their own predator issues.

Dash and her cria, Summer Surprise

Dash and her cria, Summer Surprise

I really enjoy going into the big barn, 30×50, in bad weather.  The alpacas are cushing and munching their hay, and are contented to be protected from the weather.  I don’t know how many places we visited, or articles we read, that suggested that a 3 sided shelter is all that alpacas need in the field.  I would like to wholeheartedly DISagree with that statement.  Especially when you have little ones that need some warmth and dryness.  I cannot imagine animals, especially several, trying to tuck in under a 3 sided shelter.  I would not want to be them.  Our chicken’s have warm and dry coops too, or they hang out in the warm and dry barn until nightfall. then go in the coops to roost for the night. 

 I really encourage thinking about and planning for a 4 sided structure to allow the animals in.  We also have roll up doors on the four 10×12 barn entry doors.  Depending on the direction of the blowing weather I can roll down any to offer additional protection and keep the barn somewhat  drier than letting in the blowing rain or sleet.

Stand in the barn, then go out and stand in the bad weather.  Where would you rather be, and where would you want your animals to be?

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