Pea-eating pests and pastured poultry

During evening chores the other day, we found the broilers were entertaining guests – Black Tailed Deer.  In the middle of our second thunderstorm of the month.  We might normally get a thunderstorm once every two or three years.  weird year.  I’m finding it a bit rude of the deer to not even be anxious about us standing just the other side of the poultry pen from them.  We are seeing them almost every evening, and they’re beautiful, but they are also the creatures that ate my peas.  I’m not over it, you pea-eating pests.

Yes, I got most of the broilers processed last week.  But these four were runts that I held back, and we’ll process them ourselves this weekend for our own use.  Do you remember the young broiler that got attacked by an owl?  She recovered really well, so well in fact that though I was going to hold her back with these four, I mistakenly caught her in the dark on processing day, and had no idea, till I got back that night and found she wasn’t there.

There were seven runts originally,  all birds with leg problems, which they developed about week 2 or 3.  This is the first year I tried separating them out and keeping them in their own pen, and it worked wonders.  My thinking was that they wouldn’t have to compete for food and water, and with time and less stress might develop some strength.  I put the injured bird in with them, and she looked huge in comparison, but that probably worked in her favour as it meant she didn’t get pecked or hassled.  On processing day, I took the four biggest birds – one of which was obviously her.  The remaining four all walk completely normally and they’ve grown out nicely without the competition from the larger birds.  I’m expecting they’ll dress out around 4 lbs. They do look a little lost in the big pasture pen though.