Monday, June 9, 2008

Less is more?

My birds are 4.5 weeks old today. Ok, let me backup.

About 4 1/2 weeks ago I picked up my seven Rhode Island Red day-old chicks and two Mallard ducklings. The ducks were an afterthought -- I like ducks and they are hardier than chickens, but I knew absolutely nothing about them. Why seven chicks? Well, I've never raised chickens before and I thought I'd lose at least one. Happily, they're all doing great! The duck(ling)s are HUGE. I had no idea they would grow so fast.

Since they all needed to be kept at 95F for the first week and decreasing at 5 degrees/week after that and I have a background in designing control systems, I figured that rather than adjusting the heat lamp every week like everyone does, I'd design a temperature controller.
So I spend a few nights with temperature sensors and microcontrollers and software and finally get this thing working the day before I pick up the birds. Then I realize that it would be cycling on and off constantly so I might as well just do it the old fashioned way.

Strike one for the technological option!

However, I do want to track how they grow on feed & pasture, the number of eggs I get over time and so on. This means I'll probably be writing a software program to help do all this stuff (notebooks are so 20th Century).

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