Yep, that’s right…chickens are trainable! Who would have guessed?
So much is happening at Polyface now that spring has sprung. Cows are on pasture, broilers are on pasture, turkeys are in the brooder with the chicks, pigs are pigaerating, and eggmobiles are out! Since spring took its time arriving, it has been a mad dash to get all of the animals outside. Much of the last several days and evenings have been spent preparing, filling and deploying eggmobiles and then training the chickens. Here is a more in-depth look at the process.
Polyface currently has several sets of eggmobiles. Some sets hold 900 birds while others hold 700. One set remains at Polyface while the others go to rental farms. To prepare the eggmobiles for deployment we de-winterize them by doing repairs, haying nest boxes, setting up waterers, etc. When an eggmobile is ready for deployment, we gather together as a team after dark to catch the chickens from the hoop houses. We do this after dark so the chickens are easier to catch. The eggmobiles below are waiting at dusk at hoop house 3 to be filled.
After we fill an eggmobile, the chickens stay inside for a full day to become familiar with their new home.
On the second day, we take the eggmobile to the pasture and let the chickens out! Hooray! The chickens are so happy and it is such a pleasure to see them get outside and do what chickens do! For the first couple of evenings, we have to go train the chickens to go inside the eggmobile for the night. If we don’t do this, the chickens will go to sleep under the eggmobile, leaving them vulnerable to predators. To train the chickens a few of us go to the eggmobile and encourage them to head up the ramps and go inside. We walk around and “herd” the chickens toward the doors as best we can. The darker it gets, the more the birds huddle up and start to go to sleep. Once it is dark, we catch the chickens that would not go in on their own and put them inside. Amazingly, it only takes a couple evenings of this before the chickens figure out how to do it on their own. Then each night it is only a matter of shutting the eggmobile doors so the chickens are safe and sound inside to sleep. The following pictures were taken at Briarmoor a few evenings ago when we helped Grady train his chickens.