Maybrook Motel and Lodge
We have pastured our poultry at Maybrook Lodge in Kerhonkson NY since 2017. The property, a former resort, was purchased by Dominik Eckenstien in 2017 and re-devoted to supporting local agriculture. We currently maintain the majority of our adult and adolescent geese and chickens at this property. The land is beautifully suited to our birds, and we are very grateful to Dominik for providing this opportunity.
Maybrook includes 15 acres, including several large open spaces punctuated by shade trees. This is an ideal environment for pastured poultry, combining essential natural shade and wholesome grass and other plants. The grassy areas are large enough to accommodate our mobil chicken coops, which provide shelter for chickens while also providing additional shade for waterfowl. Birds are provided a balanced game bird poultry feed to supplement their diet of grass, shrub and insects. Water is kept in large reservoirs near the birds and dispensed into automatic watering systems.
Our flocks are protected from predators by electrified poultry netting energized with solar power. We maintain three families of geese for breeding stock. During 2017, three flocks of approximately 20 geese was allowed to establish their own hierarchies, and at the end of the season, the dominant gander and four geese were selected as breeding stock, and the remaining geese were harvested for Christmas goose. Over the 2018/2019 winter, these three families were pastured separately at our home in High Falls, one family of German Embden, one of French Toulouse, and one with an Embden gander and both Embden and Toulouse geese.
During the 2019 season, eggs were collected from our flocks daily, and eggs were set weekly in our 3 cabinet incubators. Goslings hatched out from incubators were brooded for approximately 2 weeks indoors and then raised in pasture, either by their parents or with other waterfowl. At this time, our Embden and French Toulouse geese are raising families of approximately 20 goslings each in separate pastures at Maybrook Lodge. Our mixed goose family at home is overlooking a large flock of ducklings and goslings.
As visitors arrive at Maybrook, our geese call out to them. They are very social birds, and they naturally assume the guests have come to play with them, to care for them. They also talk to the geese in nearby flocks.
In addition to the open fields, we have the use of a large shed at Maybrook. Here we raise our younger chickens, from approximately 4 to 8 weeks of age. This is extremely important when raising pastured heritage birds. Our birds are VERY slow growing when compared to conventional “broiler” chickens, and the shed provides protection from weather and from raptors, while still allowing the birds a great deal of freedom. The shed is situated close to a wooded area, and the chickens are free to explore a section of those woods. In addition to electric poultry netting, chickens are guarded by one of our goose families, who have free access to the shed.
Our older chickens are pastured in open fields in a large mobile chicken coop built on a hay wagon. This three season coop has a tin roof, plenty of roosting bars and open flooring to allow chicken poo to fall away from the birds, keeping their living quarters clean and dry. Moving the coop every 4-7 days keeps the chickens clean, and allows for natural decomposition of the manure. The chickens live in one of several large fields of tall grass punctuated by mature shade trees. This provides an ample supply of bugs, worms and seeds, as well as some protection from hawks. The coop also carries its own food and water supply. In the 2018 season, we introduced a second mobile coop, repurposed from a John Deere Chuck Wagon by adding roosts and a hoop house top. Pasture is rotated to allow time for grass to regrow, and manure to compost naturally into the ground. Chickens, like all our birds, are protected from predators by solar powered electrified poultry netting.
We hatch and raise our young birds at our home in High Falls. There, we have a room set aside for our cabinet incubators and hatchers, a second location for stacking poultry brooders, and a shed devoted to baby waterfowl, where they live from the time they leave their brooder until they are ready for life in the field. Our breeding stock also live at our home in wood coops with access to grassy areas and tree cover. Our adult ducks wander over the property at will during the day, and return at night to their spacious shed, where they are closed in at night. In the morning, the doors are opened, birds go out to play, and we collect the eggs that they have laid in the hay that covers the floor of the coop. Chickens are housed in separate wood coops and also wander during the day. Our adult geese, Muscovy ducks and turkeys sleep where they wish, in coops, under coops and perched on branches. Our young ducks and goslings forage during the day with all the adult birds. At night, they return to the portion of the property where the sheds are located and sleep there, under the watchful eyes of our adult geese. That entire area is protected by electric netting.