Saturday a friend called to tell me he was getting a bunch of chickens from a flooded commercial chicken house. The birds that the chicken catchers weren’t able to get had been sealed up in the house without food or water, left to die from dehydration and ammonia. He and his brother ended up with over 70 chickens, some of which had to be killed due to illness or injury. The 60 remaining birds literally covered the floor of his small coop so he offered half to me.
I drove to his house yesterday to loaded up 30 birds that are now living fairly happily in one of my chicken tractors. It’s a tough transition for birds that spent all 4 weeks of their lives in a climate controlled house with food and water right in front of them, especially when their eyes and lungs are burned from the ammonia and they’ve gone three days without water. So far all 30 are still alive. I’m feeding them laying mash while I start some fodder in the basement. If I can keep them alive long enough I plan to feed them wheat fodder with the layer feed and give them some old canned pears to help fatten them up for processing in 2 weeks. This is the second time in the past few months that I’ve come across free commercial birds that I’ve been able to detox for a couple weeks then process. The result is a nice fat chicken that is close to the quality of my pasture raised birds for almost no cost.
The birds have two dog houses with hay in the bottom so they can stay warm at night. The feed pan is right in front of the dog houses and the hanging water bucket is also close by. Hopefully they stay alive for a couple weeks.