The Cluck Truck is home to our laying flock for about 8 months of the year. We like to have the chickens out on pasture because the grass and insects they eat out there greatly improve the quality of the eggs, as well as reducing their feed consumption considerably. In the past we have tried using these chickens to reduce the face fly population that the cows have to deal with. Chickens will scratch through the cow pies where the fly eggs hatch and spend their larval stage. I have heard that this is where the euphamism "that's for the birds" originated. Another benefit of this activity is that it spreads out the manure so that it decomposes faster and doesn't kill the grass underneath the pie, This eliminates the "repugnancy zones" around cow pies that the cows won't eat the next time through the pasture.
The trouble that we have had is with keeping the chickens with the cluck truck. Being a fairly small farm, the barn is always in sight, and eventually a lot of the chickens jump ship and move into the barn. We have eliminated that problem by putting electrified poultry netting around the whole affair, but unfortunately we cannot fence the whole area that the cows have been in because it is too large.
This year I decided to add a poultry species to see if they would take care of the fly larva eating/ manure spreading chore. When I worked at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm they had Guinea Fowl. These birds are just barely domesticated. They would travel many miles a day in search of insects to eat (they are deadly on the tick population). I am thinking that they might be just the ticket. On Tuesday we got our first batch of turkeys, so I went ahead and had 40 guineas sent as well. They are the little striped keets in the photo.