Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catching Chickens 101

Huh? How do you catch a chicken? Fish net? Snare trap? Baseball Glove? Y'all were such good students in my Cotton 101 class, I thought that I would introduce a new subject! Some of you may have heard of chicken catching from one of the guys currently on "America's Got Talent". I believe his name is Kevin Skinner. They list his occupation as "out of work chicken farmer", but he's not a farmer, he's a chicken catcher! Our chickens were caught last night, so lucky for you, I have plenty of pictures to explain!
First, you get your catch times from your field tech (the person who comes out to the farm periodically to check the chickens). Our catch times were House #3-3:00AM, and House #1-5:00AM. They like to catch chickens when it is cooler outside, which usually means night time. There are two catch crews with about 7-8 guys a piece, and they do two houses each. House #4 and House #2 are caught at whatever time the catchers finish catching their first house. There are certain times when you have to turn off their feed (so their stomachs will be empty when they are processed at the plant), raise feed lines/water lines, etc. So here is the schedule from last night. Notice the times? Yeah, you never get sleep when your chickens are caught. This is actually one of best schedules we've had. They usually like to string us out so that we lose two nights of sleep.

Here's one house full of 32,000 unsuspecting chickens!

Look, we have a racially diverse farm!

As soon as we get the feed and water lines raised out of the way, the catchers roll up the front door and go to work! It's hard to get good pictures inside a chicken house because the older the chickens get, the less percentage of light you give them. The day we catch, the light is 30%, but when the catchers come in, they like it to be 0-5%. The less light there is, the less the birds move.

When the catchers grab the chickens, they put one chicken between each of their fingers (they can hold eight at a time), and put them in one of these coops.

When a coop is full, this guy drives the fork truck in there and picks it up. You better be outta the way too because he's fast. He would probably run over his own grandmother to get finished.

He then places it on the trailer, grabs an empty coop and brings it back inside.

If it starts to get hot outside, the catch crew usually has a designated "chicken sprayer", which is someone who squirts the chickens with a water hose to keep them cool. If the chickens aren't upset enough that they were thrown into a coop and put on a trailer, spray them in the face with some water. No wonder they squirt poop at you when you walk by the trailer.

When a trailer is full, it sits and waits on another truck to get back with an empty trailer. The truck unhooks from the empty coops and then hooks up to the full trailer to take it to the plant. It takes about 4 of these trailers per house, so they're tearin' up the roads!

When they are finished, you have to go in the houses and pick up any "casualties", then all you're left with is empty houses! Time to clean 'em up and get 'em ready for next time!
Thanks for attending Stephanie's School of Farming. I hope I've enlightened you more than confused you. In a few weeks, I'll be teaching you how to "Dump Chickens".

Check out some of Lance's watermelon crop! He grew about 1/4th of an acre of them this year.

Here's some of the cantaloupe he grew too.

Our peanut trailers arrived last week. These trailers will be used to transport the peanuts after we pick them to the buying station in south Alabama. The big opening in the front of the trailer is for a dryer. The dryer is a big fan used to dry the peanuts.
The sheet rockers have just finished sheet rocking our house! The finisher is currently "finishing".

Here's our garage.

Here's the living room.

Here's Lance checking out the sheet rock in the dining room.

It's kind of dark, but here's part of our bedroom!

Thanks for visiting the farm!


  1. They are FLYING with house! Isn't it great when the drywall goes in and you can really see the size and shape of the rooms?

    That is very cool how you catch the chickens. I bet there is poop!

    Happy Early Birthday!!!


    Robin :o)

  2. Thanks for the lesson, but I think I stick with my 36 chickens and their eggs ;-)

    Your house looks great.

  3. I wondered if you knew about Kevin Skinner, the chicken man. He is such a good ole country boy but I don't think he's good enough to win unfortunately. Thanks for the chicken farming lessons-VERY interesting! You sure do work HARD on your farm! Those watermelons look SO good-I wish you'd send me some! LOL! House looks awesome-I bet you're more then anxious to move in. Is Henry still helping you? What ever happened to the stray dog that showed up at your house? Just wundrun'

  4. wow those hours would stink...but at least it's only evey once in a while!!
    Your house is lookin' great have you been working on it long?? My husband and I did a remodel job on a house on our farm and we figured that we should have just built new. Have you picked all your paint colors out yet??

  5. Thanx for the chicken catching lesson! Maybe sometime I should give a lesson on cattle and the crops we grow! You're house is coming along! How exciting!

  6. Thanks yall!

    Lovin7-The stray dog ran away! She stayed for about two weeks, and we were talking to a woman who rescues dogs, she was going to come get it and rehabilitate her, but right before she came, the dog disappeared!

    Janet-I think we started the actual building like at the beginning of June. I just finished picking out our paint colors! "Golden Mist" (yellow) will be the colors in our kitchen/breakfast nook/dining room, "Deep Blue Sea" (brightish blue) will be in our laundry room and part of our game room, "Homespun Linen" (tannish color) will be one accent wall in the master bedroom and the tray ceiling in our living room, the other walls in the living and master bedrooms, and also the master bath will be an off white color that matches the homespun linen. The rest of the house will just be white for now!

  7. I had a terrible time with G'ma Maggie & the few chickens she had ... I'd be in hysterics watching all that or being near them. Who would have ever thought all of this.

    Love the house & those doors are excellent ... I love wide open spaces. Beautiful ... how much longer before house is completed?

    TTFN ~ Marydon

  8. Believe it or not, I have actually been involved in "chicken catching", as a fund raiser for our church when I was a teen..:)


  9. They are shootin' for the end of September to be finished with the house, but I have my doubts!

  10. Glad to see the house is moving right along. I know you are anxious to get in and get settled.

    I loved the chicken catching lesson. Never had to do that kind of catching. The only kind I ever did was on Sunday -- trying to catch dinner. ;-)

  11. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Steph-and MANY more. Hope you get to celebrate properly. ((HUGS))

  12. Steph: I'm going to the ARCA race in Toledo on Friday night and Schrader will be there again. Wish I could take you along! Looking forward to seeing my boy Parker again too! Did you have a nice birthday??

  13. Hey Kevin the Chicken catcher lives pretty close to me! :)

    Thanks for he lesson on chicken catching and the house is looking great!!!

  14. The watermelons look great. Did he grow just seeded watermelon. At my work we sell just seedless watermelons these day's. Maybe it's differnet in this part of the country. We used to sell seeded watermelons. But the last couple years people just refused to buy them and went with seedless. The house is looking great can't wait to see when it's done.

  15. Hello My name is Pamela. My Fiance and I was thinking about starting a Chicken Cathching Crew, and wanted to know if you tell us how we would need to start it, and what we would need to do. thanks!

  16. seems chicken mobility is determined by the amount of light available hence it is easier to control feeding habit of chicken and how they lay eggs within their life span.