My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

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phalanx
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by phalanx » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:35 am

CorpsmanUp wrote:Just bought a house with some land that will finally allow me to get some chickens.

Plan on starting with a couple and see how it goes.

Luckily I have a good network down here that I can draw from.

In my experience 3 or 4 chickens is pretty much the same amount of work as 5 or 6 chickens; it all depends on how many eggs you eat. When we had 10+ eggs a day from chickens and ducks we ended up composting a lot of them and feeding them back the shells, but it was never much work. Just go for it!
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by CorpsmanUp » Mon Dec 22, 2014 9:39 am

phalanx wrote:
CorpsmanUp wrote:Just bought a house with some land that will finally allow me to get some chickens.

Plan on starting with a couple and see how it goes.

Luckily I have a good network down here that I can draw from.

In my experience 3 or 4 chickens is pretty much the same amount of work as 5 or 6 chickens; it all depends on how many eggs you eat. When we had 10+ eggs a day from chickens and ducks we ended up composting a lot of them and feeding them back the shells, but it was never much work. Just go for it!
I've already mentioned it to people at work and have offers to trade other goods (produce) for eggs when the time comes!

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by procyon » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:52 am

CorpsmanUp wrote:Just bought a house with some land that will finally allow me to get some chickens.

Plan on starting with a couple and see how it goes.
phalanx wrote:In my experience 3 or 4 chickens is pretty much the same amount of work as 5 or 6 chickens;
If you haven't raised them before, I would probably start with around half a dozen if you have the room.
And I wouldn't grab a rooster with the first batch. The hens will lay eggs without a rooster, and it will let you get used to taking care of them without the noise a rooster will make. You can always add a rooster in - and if you only have a couple hens, the hens will likely end up in bad shape from his constant 'attention.'

It also gives you a bit of a cushion in case a local 'critter' finds your coop. We lose chickens each year to coons, possums, stray dogs, foxes, coyotes, cars/trucks backing over them... so give yourself a cushion for when 'life happens.'

And if you have a garden - you probably want to fence it off if you free range the chickens. They will do a good job taking out seedlings when they dig chicken sized divots dusting their feathers, or scratching up dirt looking for bugs, and often find many greens 'tasty' and will pick them apart...

And if you get more eggs than you can eat, sell them or give them away to family that doesn't have chickens.
We sell eggs regularly. Between what we sell and eat, we generally come out a few dollars ahead on what we spend keeping/feeding them (but not much).

And if you really want to keep down bugs, don't rely on chickens. If you can tolerate the noise, guinea fowl are far better. Chickens will eat mostly feed and just pick at bugs when bored. You can force them to eat bugs by cutting back on their feed - but they will respond by laying fewer eggs. Guineas will occasionally pick at feed, but pretty much spend the day hunting bugs. They also eat ticks, which chickens tend to ignore. I would say that at least 90% of the food that goes in our guineas - they find for themselves. Which is good because they are just there to eat bugs and make noise when visitors show up. There is no money in keeping guineas.

Good luck with the chickens. :D
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by CorpsmanUp » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:23 pm

procyon wrote:And if you really want to keep down bugs, don't rely on chickens. If you can tolerate the noise, guinea fowl are far better. Chickens will eat mostly feed and just pick at bugs when bored. You can force them to eat bugs by cutting back on their feed - but they will respond by laying fewer eggs. Guineas will occasionally pick at feed, but pretty much spend the day hunting bugs. They also eat ticks, which chickens tend to ignore. I would say that at least 90% of the food that goes in our guineas - they find for themselves. Which is good because they are just there to eat bugs and make noise when visitors show up. There is no money in keeping guineas.
Good stuff!

Will have to look into guinea fowl. Might be something the wife will like.

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by phalanx » Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:12 pm

Ducks are also very good at keeping bugs down and are much better foragers than chickens, plus certain breeds like Khaki Campbells outperform chickens in egg production. I don't care much for the meat, though, but that's a personal preference and if I really needed to eat a few I would not be complaining about the taste!
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by Sins » Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:40 pm

Really don't like my ducks.
They're NASTY... If you think chickens shit a lot try ducks. I think they should just call diarrhea duckarrhea. They shit everywhere including in the bathtub we have buried in the ground....and if shittng in their own bathtub was bad enough. Wait till they drink their own shit water. They really are water FOUL.

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by procyon » Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:50 pm

phalanx wrote:Ducks are also very good at keeping bugs down and are much better foragers than chickens, plus certain breeds like Khaki Campbells outperform chickens in egg production.
Sins wrote: They really are water FOUL.
This is wandering off topic. But I will say something as the OP says he does have a pond on the property.

Ducks are messy. They like to churn up the ground to get to grubs/slugs/etc. So if you are trying to keep them in your yard - they will make a mud hole wherever you keep them. But if you have a pond - that really isn't a big deal.

On the plus side, they are low maintenance if you have a pond. They need a lot less feed than a chicken most of the year as they feed themselves. They also are healthy and far less likely to need meds to keep them healthy. Chickens with drooping wings happen a couple times a year for me. Maybe once a year I will have to treat a duck for 'bumble foot'. But they do need a lot of water. A LOT. They don't eat without drinking. A dozen chickens will be fine on a gallon of water a day in a hot summer. A single duck will go through that by itself on a nice day. So they do need a constant supply, and it does come back out mixed with the poop.

And if your pond is a distance from your garden, the ducks aren't likely to bother it. But they do like to sit on any flat, warm surface. So if you have a busy road near that pond - you will find your ducks sitting in the middle of it regularly...

And concerning eggs - in my experience Campbells and Indian Runners are both good layers. The Campbells eggs are easier to gather and they make better moms as they tend to 'nest' where the runners will lay everywhere. Campbells will need their wings 'pruned' though as they will be happy to fly off if other ducks start calling from neighboring ponds/lakes where Runners aren't good flyers. The white 'farm ducks' (Pekings) are nice pond ornaments as they don't fly off, and aren't exactly great layers (you will get some that lay every other day or so year round, but most just lay a couple clutches a year and that's it). Which can be ok.
Duck eggs aren't chicken eggs. They are good for baking, and mixed 1:1 with chicken eggs make good scrambled eggs. But 'over easy' and such with duck eggs will be very different from what you get with chicken eggs.
And if your pond isn't close to the house, walking a quarter mile to gather a couple duck eggs can be more of a pain than it might be worth to you. Especially if your family decides they don't like the taste and you can't find anyone to buy them.

So if you have a pond, a couple ducks can be a nice addition that won't set you back much. But like every other animal you may look at - they come with their own issues and benefits.
But my girl loves her ducks. They 'play' a lot more than chickens and can be fun to watch.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by ineffableone » Thu Dec 25, 2014 9:09 pm

Chickens is the first livestock I am planning to get when I finally get land. They are a great food source as well as wonderful for pest control and clearing land as they forage.

Chickens are definitely a great prep.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by alessandro » Fri Dec 26, 2014 10:55 am

MacTech wrote:The flock has been raised to free range, wander the lawn and ajacent fields, I open the door to their barn in the morning, replenish their water, check their feed, then open the door to the run to let them out into the yard
Since they are raised free range, how you are able to collect the eggs?
Or they return at their barn, automatically, each day? And make eggs inside it every time?

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by Zimmy » Fri Dec 26, 2014 11:46 am

Predation is tough in the boonies. Even my dogs kill a couple of hens a year and then disregard them the rest of the time. Maybe it's an attitude problem with the hens in question. I don't know.

A few of my chickens don't go into the pen at night anymore. Last night some big thumps against the house and cackling led me to find an opossum up on the normal roosting area above the pen. The thumping was panicky chickens flying into the side of the house in the dark. The chickens all showed up this morning and the opossum has gone to a better place now.

Bobcats, skunks, dogs, coyotes, hawks, brown eagles, and owls (for avian threats clue in to chickens that run from overhead cover to overhead cover and missing hens instead of carcasses) have all attacked my flock over the years. It's the circle of life, I guess.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by procyon » Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:37 pm

Zimmy wrote:for avian threats clue in to chickens ... and missing hens instead of carcasses
I've lost a couple to hawks and owls. But the bodies are always left behind. I suppose a big barn owl might carry off a bantam or small white leghorn, but so far they always perch on their kill, eat a chunk, and then fly off. Rabbits, chickens, and such weigh almost as much as the predator and they usually can't get airborne with that much weight.

For me (here in southern Iowa), if the carcass is missing - it was something big enough to carry it off. Coyote, fox, dog, bobcat, big coon, etc. And you can almost always track down where it went as the 'prey' tends to shed feathers as it gets carried around. Usually the predator goes less than 100 yards before it stops to eat its 'kill'. They almost always leave the carcass (although I have had bobcats stick them up in a tree...), which means that you put out a set of traps around the carcass. The predator will usually come back within the next 2-3 nights. Usually it won't be the first night as they tend to eat enough to wait that long. But the second (or occasionally the third) night will be when it comes back to clean up what was left.

Now, how you go about snagging the predator could fill another thread. Trapping predators isn't easy. Most are fairly smart and have good noses, so getting one to make a mistake isn't always easy. Check with the local DNR or sheriff first. It is almost always legal to trap predators that are encroaching on your livestock. But sometimes there are still rules about how you can go about it or what you may use. And sometimes it can be worth money to do it in certain ways. Like bobcats in our area. I make more $ catching a bobcat and turning it over to the DNR to release elsewhere than I could get out of a prime pelt during trapping season. Some critters you can trap, but you can't keep the pelt or anything else if it is off season and the DNR may want the animal/carcass. So check first.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by Zimmy » Fri Dec 26, 2014 10:58 pm

procyon wrote:
Zimmy wrote:for avian threats clue in to chickens ... and missing hens instead of carcasses
I've lost a couple to hawks and owls. But the bodies are always left behind. I suppose a big barn owl might carry off a bantam or small white leghorn, but so far they always perch on their kill, eat a chunk, and then fly off. Rabbits, chickens, and such weigh almost as much as the predator and they usually can't get airborne with that much weight.

For me (here in southern Iowa), if the carcass is missing - it was something big enough to carry it off. Coyote, fox, dog, bobcat, big coon, etc. And you can almost always track down where it went as the 'prey' tends to shed feathers as it gets carried around. Usually the predator goes less than 100 yards before it stops to eat its 'kill'. They almost always leave the carcass (although I have had bobcats stick them up in a tree...), which means that you put out a set of traps around the carcass. The predator will usually come back within the next 2-3 nights. Usually it won't be the first night as they tend to eat enough to wait that long. But the second (or occasionally the third) night will be when it comes back to clean up what was left.

Now, how you go about snagging the predator could fill another thread. Trapping predators isn't easy. Most are fairly smart and have good noses, so getting one to make a mistake isn't always easy. Check with the local DNR or sheriff first. It is almost always legal to trap predators that are encroaching on your livestock. But sometimes there are still rules about how you can go about it or what you may use. And sometimes it can be worth money to do it in certain ways. Like bobcats in our area. I make more $ catching a bobcat and turning it over to the DNR to release elsewhere than I could get out of a prime pelt during trapping season. Some critters you can trap, but you can't keep the pelt or anything else if it is off season and the DNR may want the animal/carcass. So check first.
Owls and caracara usually hit smaller birds like bantams and younger chickens. But I've seen red tailed hawks and golden eagles haul off grown chickens.

A pair of golden eagles vexed me for two months with until I caught them in the act. They landed in the pen and herded the chickens into a corner with wings outspread like cowboys cutting calves in a corral. Once the chicken was selected there was a hop and grab followed by the pair flying over my 8' fence and getting gone. I couldn't shoot an eagle over a $4 chicken but a double blast from my coach gun scared them off for good.

Afterwards I found the kill tree in the woods about 75 yards from the house. They hit me about every third day for a good while so there were feathers galore under that tree.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by procyon » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:15 am

Zimmy wrote: But I've seen red tailed hawks and golden eagles haul off grown chickens.
We've got plenty of red tails, but never had one carry off a chicken. Found several sitting on chickens in the yard, but never had any carry one off yet.
But a big red tail is only going to be around 3-4 pounds. And they aren't going to be able to generate enough lift to pick up more than about 1/2 their body weight.
Same with the Great Horned Owls around here. They top out around 3 pounds.

They just won't be able to generate the lift to pull a 8+ pound chicken off the ground.
A big golden eagle probably could. But we don't have any around here.

We do get a fair number of bald eagles around here. They might be able to snag a smaller chicken and get it off the ground. But I have never had one offer to. They are far more interested in setting above the ponds or creek. They never spend any time around the house.
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by Sins » Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:03 am

procyon wrote:
Zimmy wrote: But I've seen red tailed hawks and golden eagles haul off grown chickens.
We've got plenty of red tails, but never had one carry off a chicken. Found several sitting on chickens in the yard, but never had any carry one off yet.
But a big red tail is only going to be around 3-4 pounds. And they aren't going to be able to generate enough lift to pick up more than about 1/2 their body weight.
Same with the Great Horned Owls around here. They top out around 3 pounds.

They just won't be able to generate the lift to pull a 8+ pound chicken off the ground.
A big golden eagle probably could. But we don't have any around here.

We do get a fair number of bald eagles around here. They might be able to snag a smaller chicken and get it off the ground. But I have never had one offer to. They are far more interested in setting above the ponds or creek. They never spend any time around the house.
Don't know about the red tails around you, but generally they're a little bigger than a chicken.
What steroids are you giving your hens as well?
Eight pounds??? That's what a gallon of milk weighs.
Anyway, yes I've seen red tails pick up hens.
Not for extended distances or heights, but enough to carry them away.
Maybe 75ft distance and 15ft height

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by procyon » Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:39 am

Sins wrote:Don't know about the red tails around you, but generally they're a little bigger than a chicken.
Don't know about red tails bigger than 3-4 pounds. If you can find something that says they get bigger, I'd love to see.
But that means they won't be getting a chicken over 2 pounds off the ground.
Most around here won't even get a small rabbit in the air. They just fly away and leave it when we spook them out hunting.

My hens, feathers and all, are around 8 pounds or better. But they are pretty much a mix of barred and Rhodes. Heavy and good layers.
Now, dressed out for the oven - they are more on the lines of 4 pounds.
We have Cornish each spring though that will go over 15 pounds pre-butcher wt. They look like short, waddling turkeys. :lol:
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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by HeldTheAncient » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:06 pm

I have chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl. The chickens stay in a coop due to issues with an aggressive rooster. The ducks combined with the guineas do a great job of keeping the yard free from pests, however, the ducks tend to dig small holes everywhere whereas the guineas have yet to damage the yard as far as I can tell.

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Re: My best prep purchase so far, chickens!

Post by Anianna » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:36 am

In my experience, guinea fowl aren't destructive - they're just dumb and sometimes fuss a lot very loudly about nothing much. In our house, when a guinea fusses, the dog goes nuts. :roll:

I laugh every time I hear our guinea's feet run across the roof. Funny little bugger. One of the chickens got herself up there once. I cringed every time I heard her tough little beak pecking at my shingles. The guinea never does that.
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