Melo Farms

It's all swine with us!


2 Week Graduation - First Day on Grass

Posted on May 5, 2015 at 5:50 AM

It's been two weeks since the first batch of chicks came and Sunday they graduated to their portable hoop shelter.

During their first two weeks - here is where we're at.


  • We had 2 losses within the first 12 hours.  We count those as 'failure to thrive'.
  • We had 1 loss at about 7 days .. .no explanation
  • We euthanized one this weekend, due to a displaced hip.
So from an 'environment' perspective we've lost one chick during their first 2 weeks on grass.  The weather finally broke.  Days in the mid 70's or so with nights in the mid 40's (or better) and the chicks are looking great!  


Yeah .. they sent us to Melo Farms

Posted on April 23, 2015 at 5:05 AM

Chicks arrived a bit later than planned, but all arrived safe and sound.  

As I mentioned in the last entry, the big thing is getting the environment stable as well as warm.  Their water should be air temp or better vs right out of a tap.  Since ours comes from a well, it'a about 50 degrees and a bit 'chilly'.   Also, no matter what type of waterer we've used, a few of them always end up taking a bath, so keep an eye and if they do, just warm them up ... their 'fuzz' being wet is not a good thing.

A video of their first few minutes on grass is at

To say the least, the weather for mid to late April is not helpful.  Highs in the low 40's and overnight around 28 degrees ... so I added an insulation tarp over the half of the hoop shelter they occupy.   

The front hoop house helps keep the air off of them while we check in / water / feed, etc....

Baby Chicks Tomorrow Morning

Posted on April 20, 2015 at 5:40 PM

Well Spring is trying.  We had a nice stretch of weather, so finally ordered the chicks.  Now we're looking at the next week of nights at freezing.  However .. we're ready.  

When we are looking at a stretch of cold / wet weather we start the chicks in our Chick Starter Suites :)  We strap two hoop houses together.  We cover it with 6 mil plastic (20' x 25') and seal up the ends.

The nylon web strapping has been the best material find to deal with any type of plastic / tarp, etc...  On the front of the hoop house, I just screwed on the straps and then cut the plastic ... custom fit.

 I'm trying a new 'hoop in the hoop' structure in the hoop house to capture the heat closer to the chicks.

By getting this set up a couple of days ago ... before any rain, the ground is dry, but has a nice layer of grass.  The ground temperature is also much closer to the air temperature and even warmer in the 'hoop in hoop'.

I'll post the chicks jumping out of their box and get they healthy start they need.  

By providing a shelter that manages the weather, the chicks just do what they know to do instinctively.  Again, we've seen consistently lower losses and better grazers as they grow.  

Baby Chickens on Grass

Posted on April 15, 2015 at 4:40 AM

It's finally here ... warmth and therefore chicken season for all of us who raise Pastured Chickens.

This will be the third year of our First Day on Grass practice, which is based on our 'Instinctive Habitat' practices.  So, I'll take a shot at documenting our approaches and experiences.

Bypassing a brooder and going straight to grass for baby chickens was evolutionary and we've learned a number of lessons, but rather than seeing a loss of 5% or higher of baby chicks we're closer to 1% for the first 2 weeks of life.  

The foundation for First Day on Grass is the Hoop House shelter.  We can provision the hoop shelter in a number of ways that match the weather / season to make sure all are warm and dry.  It is also a shelter that we believe provides the best life-cycle for chickens.  Basically - we're not against Chicken Tractors, but we think it inhibits the movement and therefore natural foraging.  It definately limits 'cardio', which is worth the entertainment value as well.  

So the chicks come next week, which means I'll be getting the Hoop House set up ... so I'll see you in a couple of days with some photos, et...