Author Topic: chickens  (Read 16071 times)

ace1224

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chickens
« on: September 25, 2013, 07:12:25 AM »
does anyone here have backyard chickens?  i am thinking about getting two of them and was looking for some first hand input.

lackofstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2013, 07:31:09 AM »
I don't, but I know a lot of people who do. How many people are you trying to feed? How many eggs do you need a day and what are your questions? They can be good for some situations, not so good for others. Are you trying to save money or just have some food producing pets?

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2013, 07:46:50 AM »
i'm just going for some food producing pets that have a decent roi.  ideally i would like 2 for approx a dozen eggs a week give or take a few which is about what we go through.  i like to buy the super spendy ones for 4 dollars a dozen at the farmers market and it makes me cranky to do that. 
i'm basically wondering if they are difficult pets or hard to keep.  i don't mind feeding them or cleaning out the coop.  i was imagining sort of a free range type thing.  but i dislike finicky things and things that require tons of attention. 
i've read so many blogs about them that have opposite views i was just looking for real life stories.  such as "omg they are so much more work than i thought" or "so glad i did it" etc and so on

brewer12345

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Re: chickens
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2013, 07:51:58 AM »
I am also interested because my youngest is very animal-focused.  Two other questions:

- what do you do to keep them safe from predators?  I have foxes, coyotes and raccoons on the other side of my 6 foot stockade fence.

- what do you do with them when you travel for an extended period?  I can board the dogs.  Chickens?

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2013, 08:00:08 AM »
I am also interested because my youngest is very animal-focused.  Two other questions:

- what do you do to keep them safe from predators?  I have foxes, coyotes and raccoons on the other side of my 6 foot stockade fence.

- what do you do with them when you travel for an extended period?  I can board the dogs.  Chickens?

i do know they have some totally enclosed coops and enclosures and even some decent DIY plans to build them online. 

lackofstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2013, 08:13:22 AM »
Totally enclosed pens are available and handy if there are predators. We actually look after some for our friends when they're away. There's no official boarding that I know of.

The ROI is OK, it won't save a lot of money, but can be a lot of fun, especially for kids. They aren't hard to work with/care for, but some are smarter and tougher to corral than others. Feeding is easy, just leave it out, they'll eat when hungry. Water is the same way. If they're free range, just make sure to lock up for the night & let 'em out in the morning. Be careful of hawks & owls though, even fenced in.

If you're handy, the coop can be built cheaply, though if you want to spend $, you can. The coop is the biggest initial investment, so it needs to be a long(ish) term proposition for ROI if you spend much.

Joshin

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Re: chickens
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2013, 08:16:13 AM »
Have you considered layer ducks? A dozen eggs from two chickens may happen the first year they are laying, but will quickly start to taper off by year three and will drastically taper or even stop by year five. We have three ducks -- two Indian runners and one Khaki Campbell. They have reliably laid 5 - 7 eggs a week for the last three years, and others I know with these ducks say theirs continued to lay an average of four eggs a week up until age 7 or so.

Duck eggs are slightly bigger than chicken eggs with a thicker shell, but they taste the same (as long as your ducks have no access to fish or water plants -- that's what gives their eggs an off flavor). They cook best at lower temperatures compared to chicken eggs, because they have more protein in them so they toughen up at high temps.

We also went with ducks because they are friendlier (we have kids), less disease/parasite prone, and more cold hardy -- all thanks to their waterproofing oil. They don't peck at each other and are much more mellow overall.

As for costs -- We spend about $10 on feed every 45 days (find a feed store for the best price). We built them a pen from scrap plywood and fencing mesh (ducks don't roost, you just need something for them to shelter in, like an old doghouse). We build a simple elongated a-frame, enclosed with plyboard at one end and fencing over the rest to keep out predators. We also fenced in a small area of yard for them to graze in for bugs. Runner ducks don't need a pond but they do enjoy water. We installed a the smallest size pond liner in a corner of the yard (about $20). Ongoing costs is just the food and a $5 bale of straw each year for bedding (look into the deep litter method for both chicken and duck keeping -- easy, not smelly, and gives you an annual supply of awesome compost if you garden.

Check out backyardchickens.com They have a ton of great info on backyard poultry of all types!

Rickk

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Re: chickens
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 08:23:25 AM »
I would recommend reading this http://www.nwedible.com/2013/05/you-absolutely-should-not-get-backyard-chickens.html and make sure you are up for the adventure.
We have some people in the neighborhood who have chickens and really enjoy the experience, but I get the impression you really want to know what you are getting yourself into!

APowers

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Re: chickens
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 08:27:34 AM »
I grew up with my family having chickens, and we currently have three in our yard right now.

If you have predators, you'll want a fully enclosed coop. If not, then a coop with a latching door so that they can be closed up at night. They're super easy to build if you're handy-- or if you have a fenced dog run, just put a covered/enclosed nesting area and roost in place of your doghouse, and you're set.

Do be aware that it will be 5-6 months from the time you get them as chicks until you're getting eggs.

As far as care goes, they're super easy to care for-- just make sure they have chicken feed and clean water, and toss them your kitchen scraps/leftovers. We spend 5 minutes a day (really not even that long) feeding/watering/collecting eggs, and moving the coop once in a while.

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2013, 08:47:59 AM »
I would recommend reading this http://www.nwedible.com/2013/05/you-absolutely-should-not-get-backyard-chickens.html and make sure you are up for the adventure.
We have some people in the neighborhood who have chickens and really enjoy the experience, but I get the impression you really want to know what you are getting yourself into!
thanks i do!  i might have to look into this husbandry thing.  i don't think i would have a problem culling the flock, but i'm not sure exactly how one goes about that.  i will have to google more.

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 09:12:47 AM »

I currently have about 60 or so, but 50 of those are meat birds. I have Great Pyrenees so I don't much worry about predators, even the human kind. I have had as many as 250 layers at one time, plus turkeys and ducks. I'm a member of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association and sell meat birds and eggs at the farmers market. $4 is a steal for a dozen eggs.

Two chickens is too few to keep you in eggs of a dozen a week. For one, most breeds don't lay every day. Then you have to figure for molt, broodiness, etc. Plus, they are more fragile than other pets and you are likely to lose one or two. I would say 5 is a good starter number.

Getting them to laying age from chicks is the most work. Takes about 6 months for most breeds. You could go with a hybrid, like the Golden Commet sex links (you can tell the gender by the color, thus avoiding the possibility of roosters) or Black Sex Links. Both of those produce earlier than standard breeds and are prolific layers. You could get as many as an egg a day per bird for months on end.

If you go this rout, make sure you order Ready To Lay pullets. That way you avoid their most tender ages where the losses usually come in. I would not get someone else's birds. Difficult to know how old they are unless you are very experienced, and almost impossible to know whether or not they are sick with some diseases. As others said, they do drop off in their laying as they get older, so plan on replacing them at least after two years. Professionals get new birds yearly.

You can get ready to lay birds shipped from Murray McMurray hatchery in Iowa for very reasonable prices. They also raise their birds on pasture, which is the best way to raise a chicken.

Unless you want the fun and drama of raising them yourself, in which case day old chicks are the way to go.


Mr.Macinstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2013, 09:23:43 AM »
Great info here. Thanks Josh for the duck info.... what are the downsides to them, if any?

Around here people by their chicks from http://www.orschelnfarmhome.com/. Since I eat a doz eggs a week, I've been considering getting a few.

Maybe some of the pro's can weigh in on this, as I've heard lots of different reason. Exactly what makes the yolk of an eggs deep orange vs a a pale yellow?
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 09:26:38 AM by Mr.Macinstache »

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 09:36:29 AM »
wow thanks storypage that helps a lot!!  good to know 2 isn't enough

Diamondpick

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Re: chickens
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 10:36:48 AM »
I grew up with chickens and we were constantly going through them because of dogs, skunks, raccoons...etc, and they just die or they got sick a lot. They did produce eggs but I can't tell you it was cost effective and we had 15-25 at a time. They were good for us as kids for chores and I liked having them around. The eggs were definitely different and most probably healthier. We had a house with a yard that I constantly covered and repaired with various types of chicken wire over fencing. I dug a trench around the yard and buried the fence and wire and it had a top cover fence on it as well. It was tough to keep predictors out. We would get neighbors to feed and water when gone or just keep feed out. Water in winter was a problem even with heaters and heat lamps. Have fun!

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 10:47:21 AM »
What the bird eats affects the yolk color. If they are raised on pasture and have access to good greens and bugs and other things they love to eat, in addition to their regular feed, their yolk will be closer to orange than the anemic yellow of store bought eggs. During the winter when pasture is weak, I supplement their feed with alfalfa hay to get the greens to them. Because I have my own recipe mixed at the feed mill, I also have them include alfalfa meal year round and up the percentage in the winter months.

Healthy yolks also have more definition than store bought yellow ones. You can pour it from hand to hand without breaking it. It is a sign there are more nutrients in the egg.

I have bought an occasional bird (mostly turkeys) from feed stores, but they tend to mostly sell them in the spring. Some do a bit in fall, though, so maybe you can get lucky. Make sure you get pullets, though, and not "straight run". Than means you will get roosters as well as pullets. Nice for atmosphere in the country, but the neighbors will hate you in the city when your roo crows at 4 in the morning.

For enclosures, google "chicken tractor". That is basically a moveable pen that keeps them protected, plus gives your birds access to bugs and greens, while fertilizing your lawn or garden plot.


LeighinCT

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Re: chickens
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2013, 11:11:41 AM »
My 11 year old is interested in farming so last fall we planned out a coop and a run and finally brought home 4 hens this past June. We arranged for our chicks to be raised by a local farmer for the first 6 weeks. It really depends on your climate. We live in the northeast and spent time figuring out coop location and securing the fencing for predators (we have coyotes, raccoons, skunks and dogs in our neighborhood).

Re. everyday life - The hens walk themselves up into their coop at dusk. We go out and close up the coop and bring in the food at night. Once the coop is closed nothing is getting in there. However, it also means that the girls are not going to get out in the morning until we let them out. Each morning at daybreak we go out and get them fresh water, new food and open up the coop to let them into the run. We have a 20'x12' run fenced in around the coop. There is netting over the run to deter the hawks and other birds that live in the area. We also let them out for several hours each day to free range in the backyard. Getting fresh greens and bugs helps enrich the yolks and give them a nice deep orange color. Every other day my daughter cleans out the shavings that we have in the coop and nesting boxes.

We have 2 americanas and 2 speckled sussex. We initially wanted 3 but the farmer convinced us to go for 4 given the risk of losing a bird do to illness/predators/etc. We looked for birds that would bear confinement during the winter when they'll spend more time in the dark in the coop (chickens can't see very well, if at all, at night). We didn't want them to be broody and we looked at egg color just to give a little variety. Americanas lay blue/green eggs and the speckled sussex lay a brown shelled egg. We decided against a rooster d/t noise and space concerns and we wanted to keep our neighbors happy. Roosters are great at protecting the flocks and keeping the hens together. However, they can be loud and they are bigger then the hens so you need to plan space accoordingly. Amazingly our 9 year old beagle has taken over as the resident rooster. She hangs out in the yard while the girls scratch around.

We feed an organic, non-GMO, soy free/corn free feed supplemented with table scraps, garden trimmings, grass, frogs, whatever the hens can catch. Be aware of illnesses. We ended up at the not-so-local feed store bright and early on a Sunday morning when we found a bird with bloody poop and lethargy. A round of medicine and some TLC in the chicken ICU in the basement got her back to health. But there is nothing more distressing then having a sick chicken and no clue what to do. I second the backyardchickens.com website. Good stuff on the forums there.

At this point they are pets more then producers for us. We worry about them when we leave town. We worked with a neighbor's son to help take care of them when we are away. So far we've only gone away for a few days. They are a ball to watch and each have their own personalities.

Overall, more of a hobby then a food source but the eggs are a nice bonus. Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 11:14:34 AM by LeighinCT »

Jamesqf

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Re: chickens
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2013, 11:38:33 AM »
I would recommend reading this http://www.nwedible.com/2013/05/you-absolutely-should-not-get-backyard-chickens.html and make sure you are up for the adventure.

Second that.  Or third, fourth, whatever.

Also, chickens do NOT make good pets, even if you are (like a neighbor of mine) willing to provide them chicken Social Security.

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2013, 11:57:50 AM »

I'm not a pet-chicken kind of person, but I know lots of people who swear by them. They can be great pets for many people.

As to the stats in the article about not keeping chickens, well... in addition to my working livestock guardian dogs and my 4 cats (for rats and other vermin, in the latter case), I also have a chihuahua.

She is pretty much worthless as either a protector or egg laying.

Because I believe in local, sustainable food sources, I would NEVER discourage someone from getting chickens. You can't get more local and sustainable than your own back yard.

GuitarStv

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Re: chickens
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2013, 12:12:03 PM »
I would recommend reading this http://www.nwedible.com/2013/05/you-absolutely-should-not-get-backyard-chickens.html and make sure you are up for the adventure.

Second that.  Or third, fourth, whatever.

Also, chickens do NOT make good pets, even if you are (like a neighbor of mine) willing to provide them chicken Social Security.

I also agree strongly with this article.  We have a problem around here of people giving chickens to Animal services once they're past laying age because they don't want to deal with having to kill the chicken.  What do you think animal services is going to do with a four year old chicken?  If you're not willing to take responsibility for the animal that you're looking after (including killing it when it has outlived it's life as livestock, or looking after it for several years once it stops laying) you are not ready to look after that animal.

Joshin

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Re: chickens
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2013, 01:04:39 PM »
Great info here. Thanks Josh for the duck info.... what are the downsides to them, if any?

Around here people by their chicks from http://www.orschelnfarmhome.com/. Since I eat a doz eggs a week, I've been considering getting a few.

Maybe some of the pro's can weigh in on this, as I've heard lots of different reason. Exactly what makes the yolk of an eggs deep orange vs a a pale yellow?

There are a few downsides:
It takes them about 8 to 10 months before they start laying. For us, their longer laying life overall and better health made this no issue. Of course, you could get older ducks that are ready to lay.hermes god

They are messy. Ducks drink lots and lots of water, which leads to watery poops. I've read smell complaints, but we haven't had any issues using the deep litter method. We turn their bedding every day or two and add a fresh layer of straw when we get a whiff of duck poo.

They are dabblers, which means they will turn the area around a water bowl into a mud hole. We just wrote off that section of their enclosure and throw straw over it if it gets too muddy.

Some ducks quack, a lot. We have one girl that is a quacker. Fortunately, our neighbors like to hear her and think it's neat to have ducks. If you want a quiet duck, Khaki Campbells are known for quacking less and less loudly.

Hardware disease is a major issue with ducks. This is where they eat something inedible, such as a screw, and it gets lodged in their gizzard or throat. Ducks mouth everything to see if it's edible. With kids in the yard, we have to enforce a strict rule of keeping non-food items away from the pen area and run area.

Can't clean up kitchen scraps as well as chickens. They can eat a lot of scraps, but some vegetables and fruits can harm them in large quantities. Backyard chickens has a good list of what to avoid.

Benefits:
Few if any parasite or illness problems. We do sprinkle their bedding monthly with diatomaceous (sp?) earth to keep parasites at bay, since we can't turn the bedding as often when it's freezing.

You don't have to heat 'em. Ducks generally can survive temperatures down to 0 F if they have a dry place out of the wind. We do stick a couple of hot water bottles in the house at night when it's in the teens to help them warm it up until their body heat does the job.

They can lay year-round (except for maybe the month or so they are molting). They need light to lay during short winter days. They are located by a patio , so we have the light set on a timer to trick them into thinking the days are longer.

Good egg production. A runner or campbell can lay 300+ eggs a year. The first year we would get 7-9 eggs a week per duck. The second and third we have gotten an average of 6 a week, but they all still sometimes lay 7 each week.

Pest control. I live in the Pac NW -- aka slug central. Slugs are attracted to duck poo, and slugs are a duck's favorite treat. My garden survived this year with no slug control needed, which is a beautiful thing!

Ducks are just plain fun and they have awesome personalities. We call them our yucky duckies. They follow us around the yard like a dog hoping for treats when their pen is open. They are hilarious to watch in the water. They play with each other. Give them watermelon or peas, and they are just funny to watch as they are in ducky heaven. They chase butterflies. They preen, pose and argue with you. They aren't flighty at all. They run to you, not away from you. There pen door folds down, making a ramp. Last year during a deep snow, we'd open the door and they would run down the ramp, tucking up their legs at the last minute so they could slide across the frozen snow. The did it over and over, for hours, having the time of their life. It was great!

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2013, 01:22:37 PM »
I would recommend reading this http://www.nwedible.com/2013/05/you-absolutely-should-not-get-backyard-chickens.html and make sure you are up for the adventure.

Second that.  Or third, fourth, whatever.

Also, chickens do NOT make good pets, even if you are (like a neighbor of mine) willing to provide them chicken Social Security.

I also agree strongly with this article.  We have a problem around here of people giving chickens to Animal services once they're past laying age because they don't want to deal with having to kill the chicken.  What do you think animal services is going to do with a four year old chicken?  If you're not willing to take responsibility for the animal that you're looking after (including killing it when it has outlived it's life as livestock, or looking after it for several years once it stops laying) you are not ready to look after that animal.

Well, there are other options. I never keep hens up to their end of laying age. You could offer them after a year and a half on craigslist or take them to a poultry auction (there are some in pretty much every state) while they have slowed a bit but still good layers. Then the decision on what happens to them at end of lay would be up to the new owner.

Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to butcher them as stewers, which we often do, and there are always various ethnic communities interested in older birds for food, particularly if the birds aren't white. It is silly to ever take them to the animal shelter.

That's the nice thing about chickens. You can't eat a dog when you no longer want it.


Jamesqf

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Re: chickens
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2013, 01:25:48 PM »
I'm not a pet-chicken kind of person, but I know lots of people who swear by them. They can be great pets for many people.

I guess that depends on your definition of "pet".  I tend to think of a pet as something you can pet, without getting bitten/pecked/spurred.

Now I can understand keeping some of the ornamental varieties of chicken (or peafowl - always wanted some of those), purely for decorative purposes, the way some people keep tropical fish, but I don't really consider those as pets.

We have a problem around here of people giving chickens to Animal services once they're past laying age because they don't want to deal with having to kill the chicken.  What do you think animal services is going to do with a four year old chicken?

And they're almost certainly not going to give the meat to the local homeless shelter, either.

brewer12345

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Re: chickens
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2013, 01:29:12 PM »
Interesting stuff.  I am OK with culling birds (I am a hunter and typically whack upwards of 50 squirrels and a few dozen rabbits per season, some of which require a coup de gras headshot up close when the shotgun does not quite end it), but I don't imagine my kids would put up with that.  So this would be a long term commitment if we choose to do it.  I'll have to do more research and we will start with a beehive next spring in any case.

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2013, 02:16:22 PM »
I'm not a pet-chicken kind of person, but I know lots of people who swear by them. They can be great pets for many people.

I guess that depends on your definition of "pet".  I tend to think of a pet as something you can pet, without getting bitten/pecked/spurred.

Don't know many chicken people, do you? :) Some of my friends dress them in diapers and take them into their houses to watch TV with them.


oldladystache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2013, 02:33:34 PM »
Don't forget, chickens are birds. They can fly. You'll need very high fences or an enclosed on top yard. Or you can trim the flight feathers on one wing. But you have to do it often enough so they don't grow back and you suddenly get a call from the neighbors about the chickens damaging their garden.

My brother had 4 hens. After he and his wife ate all they wanted they gave the excess to our parents. When the parents had enough they gave some to me. I wound up feeding a lot of eggs to my dogs. Eventually the 4 hens got old and quit laying and became pets. Then they got older and died. He buys eggs now.

When I was a little girl I had 12 hens. They were tame and friendly. I sold eggs to my parents and many of the neighbors.

naners

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Re: chickens
« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2013, 06:35:59 PM »
My ex keeps chickens - no need for a tall fence. The yard is their world; there is a low fence they could definitely have flapped over if they wanted too, but they never did. He's had them for 2+ years now and so far no problems with disease or predators. At night they're in a coop, during the day they're usually in a run, unless someone's home, in which case they have the run of the fenced-in yard.

Something no-one else has mentioned: they're a ton of fun! If you just have a few of them you will get to know their little personalities and funny quirks. His aren't affectionate like a cat or a dog, but they sure are greedy and will hang out with you in return for treats. Not sure the ROI is especially high but the eggs are fantastic and the fun factor is high, especially if you have kids.

nz

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Re: chickens
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 01:57:51 AM »
I have about 17 chickens, 8 chicks and 8 eggs due to hatch in a few days.

Initially the idea was just to get the eggs. But it has grown into a major hobby, lots of eggs and lots of fun (watching a chick slowly break out of its egg is truly magical)

Does it make financial sense? Marginally, probably not if you factored in my time.

Would I do it again? Definitely!

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2013, 05:25:35 AM »
Interesting stuff.  I am OK with culling birds (I am a hunter and typically whack upwards of 50 squirrels and a few dozen rabbits per season, some of which require a coup de gras headshot up close when the shotgun does not quite end it), but I don't imagine my kids would put up with that.  So this would be a long term commitment if we choose to do it.  I'll have to do more research and we will start with a beehive next spring in any case.
i'd be okay with culling, and actually my mom is super excited and on board and even offered to cull for me lol.  i'm not too sure my kid would put up with it either, but he might.  my mother is hispanic and loves older chickens to stew.  i'll definitely have to talk to him about it and make sure we are all on the same page before we make any major decisions.

brewer12345

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Re: chickens
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2013, 08:14:08 AM »
I have more to add! Sorry! They are social, so I would encourage you to get four or so to start with. You don't need a rooster to get eggs. Adding a roo into the mix can complicate things, as they aren't the sweetest of guys sometimes. So, I recommend only getting pullets (girls that aren't layers yet).

You are not kidding about the roosters.  My mother used to spend a lot of time on her grandparents' farm.  Any rooster that attacked or bothered the grandkids became Sunday dinner.  I get the impression there were a lot of chicken dinners.

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2013, 08:40:44 AM »
Interesting stuff.  I am OK with culling birds (I am a hunter and typically whack upwards of 50 squirrels and a few dozen rabbits per season, some of which require a coup de gras headshot up close when the shotgun does not quite end it), but I don't imagine my kids would put up with that.  So this would be a long term commitment if we choose to do it.  I'll have to do more research and we will start with a beehive next spring in any case.
i'd be okay with culling, and actually my mom is super excited and on board and even offered to cull for me lol.  i'm not too sure my kid would put up with it either, but he might.  my mother is hispanic and loves older chickens to stew.  i'll definitely have to talk to him about it and make sure we are all on the same page before we make any major decisions.

The positive thing about that, he will learn where food comes from. I learned early as I watched cattle and pigs slaughtered on our small farm as a kid, and helped my mother butcher chickens when I was as young as 8. That helped me as I grew. I could watch Bambi and Thumper and Ferdinand the Bull on the cartoons, but realized it was just fantasy and never confused them with the food on my table. I'm not sure people who grow up without a similar experience really get that as kids, which is why so many are shocked into vegetarianism as adults when they finally realize where meat comes from.

Not to diss vegans or vegetarians. :) I raise my own meat or get it from humane sustainable sources, but if I couldn't, I'd be vegan. I consider industrial agriculture to be unsustainable and inhumane.

Which is why I think everyone should own chickens! :D


BuzzardsBay

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Re: chickens
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2013, 10:17:12 AM »
Don't know where you live but you may want to see if there are any city ordinances before you get them.  I know people who had to get rid of them because neighbors complained and, it turns out, they were not allowed in the area she lived.

ace1224

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Re: chickens
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2013, 12:25:13 PM »
Don't know where you live but you may want to see if there are any city ordinances before you get them.  I know people who had to get rid of them because neighbors complained and, it turns out, they were not allowed in the area she lived.
they are allowed in my city and i live in a neighborhood without an HOA.

brewer12345

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Re: chickens
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2013, 12:54:02 PM »
Don't know where you live but you may want to see if there are any city ordinances before you get them.  I know people who had to get rid of them because neighbors complained and, it turns out, they were not allowed in the area she lived.
they are allowed in my city and i live in a neighborhood without an HOA.

Ditto.  I think I am actually legal to keep a sheep or goat.

MrsPete

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Re: chickens
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2013, 06:44:05 PM »
I've had chickens.  Yeah, it's fun, but it's also work.  You've already received some excellent advice, and I can add little:

- They're really fun to feed/watch and will eat all your leftover scraps.  But not daisies.  Never daisies. 

- You will not have a single bug left in your yard -- well, not a single crawling bug; they can't help you with the mosquitos.  Google "Pinterest chicken tunnel or chunnel".  If I ever get chickens again, I will sooooo build this around the edges of my yard.  I'll never see a bug again.

- I suggest you skip the rooster.  The hens don't care whether they "have a boyfriend" or not, and this eliminates the possibility of fertilized eggs, which is just plain nasty.  Also, roosters are just a pain:  They make noise and like to fight.  Mostly they like to fight other roosters, but occasionally they'll pick a hen . . . or you.  You'll win, of course, but a big rooster'll make you regret not having put him in the stew pot. 

- You can buy baby chicks in the mail.  The post office will call you and say, "COME NOW."  If you buy baby chicks, the hens-only thing often turns out to be a lie.  If you're dead-set on hens only, buy slightly older chickens that are developed enough that the farmer KNOWs what he's selling you.  Older chicks cannot be purchased through the mail.     

- You will need some sort of protection for the chickens.  Everything wants to kill chickens.  Everything.  And they have very little going on in terms of self-preservation.  You'll also need to provide laying boxes; these aren't hard to make from old dresser drawers, which you could probably scrounge up for free.  If you're super-cool, you'll rig up doors to the outside of your coop to make it super-easy to collect the eggs.

- I once saw a snake curled up in our chicken's roosting box.  I couldn't have been 10 years old, but since that day I have never put my naked hand into a roosting box.  I wear gloves, or I don't pick up eggs.  I have been known to use a trowel.  Reasonable?  No, but I've never been snake-bit either. 

- If you're doing this, I strongly suggest a Chicken Tractor in addition to a coop.  This is a "moveable yard" on wheels that you can pull around.  It allows you to move the chickens from spot to spot in your yard -- into the shade (don't forget them!  Set a timer!), into an area where you want them to eat bugs, whatever suits your needs.  You can build this yourself, and it's easier than the coop.

- Four is a nice number for most families.  Four chickens'll give you enough for your own table AND enough to give away (because once you have chickens and it becomes a topic of conversation, people will want your eggs), which would likely get you some nice tomatoes and zucchini in trade.  Ask friends to bring their own egg cartons.   

- Fresh eggs last a long time.  It's also practical to break two eggs into a bowl, beat them, and then freeze the beaten eggs in a snack-sized ziplock.  You could potentially freeze a bunch of eggs, then eat the chickens . . . and not need more chickens for another year.  This won't help you, of course, if you're big boiled-egg eaters, but it'll keep you in omelets, and they're great for baking. 

- If you have good layers, you will occasionally get double- or triple-yolks.  This will become a great source of amusement to the whole family.  Size will be a hint, of course, but not always a sure-fire indicator; kids love to "candle" the eggs to get a glimpse of the contents before the eggs are broken. 

- I personally do not care for duck eggs (if you're considering them, buy a couple eggs before you invest in the animals), but ducks are way smarter than chickens.  If you have both, the ducks will bully the chickens.  I suggest you take pity on the poor, stupid chickens and don't mix them.   

- Never let a bad egg lie in the chicken's walk.  If they peck at it and decide that eggs are good to eat, your egg-collecting days are over.   

- When you go out of town, you will need someone to care for your chickens.  Unlike dogs, you can't drop them off at a boarding place.

- If you anticipate doing a Henry-the-Eighth after they've passed their laying age, never name them.  You cannot kill and eat an animal whom you've named.  You just can't.

- If you do this on a small scale, do it for a hobby.   You will never save big-money with a couple chickens -- you can never save more than you're spending on eggs now, which isn't all that much for me personally. 

   
 


Mr.Macinstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2013, 07:59:13 AM »
Still undecided on the chickens. I eat a doz eggs a week and love orange yolks, which I cannot get from any store. It seems all my friends' chickens aren't laying so, I'm not sure it would be worth the work.

My kids will get attached to them which will be hard to put them down once they stop laying. I wonder if local butchers accept them?

Spork

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Re: chickens
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2013, 10:09:06 AM »
- If you anticipate doing a Henry-the-Eighth after they've passed their laying age, never name them.  You cannot kill and eat an animal whom you've named.  You just can't.
 

My wife's family has a story where everyone is sitting around the table eating and Pa-in-law says "Pass me a little more Fred."  All the kids push away from table and start crying. 

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2013, 10:40:13 AM »
- If you anticipate doing a Henry-the-Eighth after they've passed their laying age, never name them.  You cannot kill and eat an animal whom you've named.  You just can't.
 

My wife's family has a story where everyone is sitting around the table eating and Pa-in-law says "Pass me a little more Fred."  All the kids push away from table and start crying.

This is why you never name your chickens.

Rural

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Re: chickens
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2013, 12:32:44 PM »
- If you anticipate doing a Henry-the-Eighth after they've passed their laying age, never name them.  You cannot kill and eat an animal whom you've named.  You just can't.
 

My wife's family has a story where everyone is sitting around the table eating and Pa-in-law says "Pass me a little more Fred."  All the kids push away from table and start crying.

My father's family (eleven kids) had to give a fully-cooked chicken dinner away to the neighbors when one of the younger sons ended his blessing with "and God bless poor old Petunia." No one could stand to cut into Petunia with the little ones crying, even though it did mean they'd go to bed hungry. That was sometime in the 1940s, and I know I've heard the story retold within the last year.

Don't name chickens, and if the children name them, accept your fate.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2013, 01:03:12 PM »
The old saying about your goose getting cooked is true.

My great grandma ended up cooking my mothers goose when she was little. Literally.

avonlea

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Re: chickens
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2013, 02:55:56 PM »
- If you anticipate doing a Henry-the-Eighth after they've passed their laying age, never name them.  You cannot kill and eat an animal whom you've named.  You just can't.
 

My wife's family has a story where everyone is sitting around the table eating and Pa-in-law says "Pass me a little more Fred."  All the kids push away from table and start crying.

My father's family (eleven kids) had to give a fully-cooked chicken dinner away to the neighbors when one of the younger sons ended his blessing with "and God bless poor old Petunia." No one could stand to cut into Petunia with the little ones crying, even though it did mean they'd go to bed hungry. That was sometime in the 1940s, and I know I've heard the story retold within the last year.

Don't name chickens, and if the children name them, accept your fate.

My dad raised beef cattle as a side business and for the family's consumption.  One year, my sister and I got especially attached to a calf named Brutus.  He was slaughtered when he was large enough.  My brother kept reminding us at mealtimes, "You're eating Brutus!" and then we would cry.  After about a week or so, though, we got used to eating our beloved.  :(

Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2013, 03:03:19 PM »
I don't name my chickens, but sometimes do my turkeys we plan to keep and eat.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Dinner...

Somehow. nobody ever minds eating Dinner.



Storypage

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Re: chickens
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2013, 03:07:02 PM »
My kids will get attached to them which will be hard to put them down once they stop laying. I wonder if local butchers accept them?

Again, put them on Craiglist under Farm And Garden.

Monkey stache

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Re: chickens
« Reply #42 on: October 01, 2013, 09:47:01 PM »
I keep 10 chickens, some turkeys, and honeybees in the city. Like everyone else, I always recommend more than 2. You could lose one and then you'd have a very sad chicken. Integrating new adult chickens isn't easy either.

With the right setup, taking care of chickens isn't much work at all. The coop is the biggest project but that's really one time. I made a waterer that stays clean and only needs to be filled weekly: http://www.peakprosperity.com/wsidblog/79313/diy-simple-chicken-waterer
I made feeder that I only refill once a week: http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Chicken-Feeder/
My only daily chore is collecting fresh eggs!

When choosing breeds be sure to chose ones that are good for your climate. Since I live up north I selected cold hardy, winter laying breeds. Also quieter breeds are good if you're in the city. Chickens are pretty quiet but some breeds can be loud (never getting a buff orpington again!)

Consider what you will do if your chicken gets ill. Some people spend a lot of money taking them to a vet. I do research and administer care to them myself. If they're too ill or don't respond to treatment then they have to be put down. There's no wrong answer on this but it's something to think about.