So, if you’ve been following me for the past “few” weeks (sorry I missed a couple weeks in there!… life as an apprentice is buuu-sssyyy), you’ll know that we’re taking a peek into my every day chore routine. We’ve made it through hoop house 3, and today, we get to look at hoop house 4!
Again, there’s two (very) different animals in hoop 4. When you first walk in the door, however, you’ll likely find yourself among a sea of black and white, feathery ladies. Meet the women of hoop house 4. They’re barred rock hens, there’s about 800 of them, and let’s just say that they’ve been around the Polyface block a time or two.
Last summer, some of these hens resided at Briarmoore and others at Greenmont — two of our rental farms. At both places, they lived in an eggmobile and got to feast on all the “goodies” left over from the grazing cattle. They’re currently spending their second winter here at Polyface and will remain here this summer in our eggmobile.
Aside from the age difference, there isn’t too much that is different for these hens than the chickens in hoop house 3. They use the same watering system as all of hoop 3, and they eat from bulk feeders like the roosters. The one big difference, however, would be the size of their eggs. Because of their maturity, they’re laying bigger eggs. Here, at Polyface, we sell large and medium eggs. Larges are 2 ounces and up and mediums are 1.5-2 ounces. For the most part, the eggs in hoop 4 are larges. So, right now, we’re collecting about 45 dozen large eggs a day from hoop 4!
But, back to chores. Every morning, I head to hoop 4 first. After entering, I get the water running and then head over to open nest boxes. (Currently, we have four nest boxes in there… with 10 nests on each side… that’s a total of 80 individual nests!) Then, I take a lap around the hoop house to make sure every one is doing well, I check the feeders to determine if they need to be filled, and that’s basically it! If the feeders do need filling, it is a bit more of a task. There are 17 bulk feeders in hoop 4 and, with each feeder taking approximately three full five gallon buckets, that’s a lot of feed! So, for efficiency, help is wrangled up and usually two or three of us tackle this job. We feed the bulks about once a week. In the morning, I also check to see if the layers need more oyster shell or grit. We keep both of these things in one separate feeder… making sure that it’s available to the hens at all times.
Well, that’s about it for these ladies. Only one more week to go! Check back, here, (hopefully) next Tuesday to learn about who is in the back of hoop house 4! Until then…