[This series is a diary of our experience raising chickens for our home flock. To see all articles in this series, please visit Home Flock Series.]
Our chickens are about 5 weeks old now. They are growing and developing well in the chicken tractor. The chicken tractor works well for them because it gives them access to grass, seeds, and bugs and protects them from predators.
We put the chicken tractor within an area that is fenced by electric poultry netting alongside other chickens and ducks. This electrified netting gives the young chickens additional protection against predators that are able to dig, and the chicken tractor protects the young chickens from the older ones but at the same time lets them begin getting used to each other. This will make it easier to introduce them into the main flock down the road.
The Chicken’s Crop
It is easy to see the full crop in this photo of one of the Turkens. It is the bulge at the base of the Turken’s neck. All chickens have a crop (though not all types of birds have crops), but it is much more visible in Turkens because they have fewer feathers on their necks.
When chickens eat, the food goes into their crop, where it is stored temporarily, then from there, it passes into the proventriculus, which is a type of stomach where digestive enzymes are released and mixed with the food. Next, the food passes into the gizzard. This is a muscular organ, which also contains small bits of grit or rock that the chicken has previously eaten. The gizzard, with the aid of the grit, crushes and grinds up the food. It is especially effective for grinding up seeds that the chickens have eaten.
Below is a gallery of photos. Click on any photo to see a larger view.