Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quick and Dirty Rustic Chicken Tote

Today is the last day for our fall crop of meater chickens.  We were originally planning to do all the processing in-house, but found out that our local ordinances explicitly forbid livestock butchering because...well, we're not really sure why.  Probably some city official is worried about raccoons and dogs finding the offal and dragging it around the neighborhood.  Anyway, we looked for other options, and found a (fairly) local farm that will do it for $3.00/bird if we stay and help.  Not too bad, and very nice folks.  Now we just need a way to transport the chickens there and keep them calm and contained while they're waiting for their turn at the cone!

Fortunately, we've collected a bunch of pallets for a project just like this.  Here we start with one like this, but if we were luckier, we could have found one with the board closer together.
But we weren't luckier, so now we have to fill in the gaps with boards from a different pallet.  If we were lucky at all, we'd have at least found pallets that were the same width!  Oh well.  At least they were free!  We're only going to use half of the pallet for this project anyway, so having a few boards that don't go all the way across isn't a big deal.
We screwed the new boards in place and cut down the the far side of the middle runner.  Notice that there's a bit of the runners sticking out toward the top of the picture.  That's because we wanted to make it the same length along the sides as the pallet boards we're going to use for the walls, which in this case is 40".
We cut the runners to the right length and used more pallet boards to make corners.  We made the boards 24" long so that the height from floor to the top would be about 20".
Here it is with more pallet boards as the walls.  No cutting required for the long sides!  Note that the 'quick' part of the title only applies if there are a lot of already-deconstructed pallets around.  Also note that the boards aren't stacked super tight.   That lets the chickens get some air, and it lets us use up some of the crummy wood that split while we were deconstructing the pallets.
Fit test #1: Pass!  Plus there's enough room for the cooler alongside!  With the seat down in the Saturn, the front is higher than the back, so we added a hunk of 4x4" to level it.
Fit test #2: Also pass!  All eleven fit in there comfortably.  We could actually fit four or five more, but it would be a bit tighter.  We could have probably made it a bit shorter also.  Fit test #3 is that we can lift it with all the chickens inside.  The tote itself probably weights 30 lbs., and the chickens are probably another 40 lbs. (We'll know in a bit!)  Fortunately, Katie is strong like whiskey!
To keep it dark (which calms the chickens), we could make a wooden top with a hinge, but it also works fine to just use a blanket.
Check back on Thursday for the final stats on our fall batch of chickens!  We'll have all the numbers crunched and post our weights, costs, and average conversion ratio.

How do you transport your chickens?  What do you do to keep them calm while they're awaiting processing?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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