Chore Time! — Layers

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.

Your first view as you step into hoop house 4

Your first view as you step into hoop house 4

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!

Bulk feeders on the mezzanine

Bulk feeders on the mezzanine

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…



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About Miriam Gust

Miriam grew up among the lakes of beautiful central Minnesota and is the youngest of four. She is devoted to serving her King Jesus, and she finds great joy in spending time outside (especially while farming and hunting!) and in simply sharing a cup of coffee with friends or family. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow at Polyface and is eager to trust the Lord with whatever the future may hold.
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9 Responses to Chore Time! — Layers

  1. Larry Bailey says:

    Hi Miriam: in the hoop house how are the hens sleeping arrangements (perches? approximately how many? where located?). If possible could you share a picture of the perching system? Thanks


    • Miriam Gust says:

      Hi Larry–
      Sorry for the late response! We don’t have an official perching system in our hoop houses. Most of the hens either just sleep on the ground, on the top of the nest boxes or feeders, or on top of the mezzanines.

  2. Judy Whitaker says:

    I enjoyed reading about part of your busy schedule!

  3. Katie Benz says:

    We only have seven hens but our Barred Rock is our FAVORITE! She lays the biggest, most consistant eggs.

  4. Kristin says:

    Sounds like enjoyable work!

  5. Rob says:

    Can you give details about what is in the hoop house mulch when you put the hens in there in the fall? Very interested in the ratio/makeup of your winter deep bedding.

    • Miriam Gust says:

      Hi Rob–

      Good question! I’m sorry for the late response. We typically use either wood chips (most likely chipped here on the farm) or we use peanuts hulls that are ordered from a nearby litter service. Throughout the winter we occasionally add some more bedding to the hoop houses, but only if we need to. The bedding that gets really deep is that from the cows in the barns… by the end of the winter it’s around 3-4 feet deep!

  6. Scott McCabe says:

    SUPERB! Thanks for sharing Miriam… and great pics.

  7. wes says:

    You have 800 hens in hoop house 4, and only get 45 eggs per day? Why so few?