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Too often chicken houses are too dark, cold, and smelly during the winter season creating conditions that make egg production expensive and less than optimal for the farmer and hens.
By utilizing a modern hoopbarn to optimize sunlight, protect the flock from extreme cold weather, and utilize waste heat from compost generated from our bison bedding pack, we can evaluate the profitability of a limited energy inputs egg laying flock. Simultaneously, while reducing potential nutrient runoff into the water cycle. CO2 and NH3 levels will be the key air quality gases monitored. Carbonaceous bedding will be routinely added to ensure air quality for the farm workers and hens as well as proper C:N ratio for compost. The compost will be tested before fall season hoop house piling and before spreading on family farm fields in the spring for nutrient quality.
Quality of life for the farmer will improve in part to the limited inputs and reduced time spent to clean dirtied eggs, increase in saleable unfrozen eggs, and quality of life for chicken flock. The hens will be removed from farm fields in the muddy seasons of spring and fall, potentially avoiding soil health damage during dormant seasons.
Project objectives from proposal:
Evaluate the Efficiency of Raising Pastured Egg Layers in a Compost Heated Hoopbarn Over Winter and Their Influence on Compost Quality through:
1. Evaluating compost heat as a energy source to maintain a chicken flock profitably through winter.
2. Evaluating Compost Nutrient Quality before and after hoop house utilization as a salable product for the farm.
3. Decrease risk of nutrients leaching by stabilizing nutrients through compostable bedding
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.