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I am interested in raising and keeping a few chickens in my back yard. I have a family of 4 so I think 2-3 chickens will do nicely. Does anyone here have experience in this? How about the smell? Would it be bad or with that few chickens would it be ok?

Thanks,
Shrek
 

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I am a little teapot
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Shrek-we started raising chickens this past spring. We have 6 hens from which we reliably get 5 eggs a day. Sometimes there are 6 and there have been as few as 4. We keep them in a chicken tractor that we move around the yard but for winter it's parked under an overhang on our barn. It doesn't have much of a smell as far as I can notice, but like any animals, you have to keep the area cleaned up.
 

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I have a dozen dominique and a few Easter egg chickens. (what can I say about easter chickens - I like blue and green eggs. :D)

With only 2 - 3 chickens, clean up would be quick and easy and no smell. A small chicken tractor like Jason said would be great.

Keep us up tp date! :2thumb:
 

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We have 25 layers and sell our spare eggs to cover feed costs. The coop litter gets composted and used in the garden. Chores require about 10 minutes per day other than cleaning the coop litter.

I am happy knowing that when times get tough my family will have protein, meat, and barter goods.
 

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performing monkey
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Zookeeper
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Here is a nice website for breeds http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/which-breed-is-right-for-me.aspx - most egg layers seem to lay 4-5 eggs/week. So 3 chickens you "should" get a dozen eggs a week. Is that enough for your family?

Remember to get extra if you start with day-olds, maybe 1 extra if you get sexed (I think ~90% accuracy, so you could get a rooster still - I did), and if you get straight run, you might need to by 6-7 chicks, as "half" (on average) will be roosters.

2 or 3 chickens will be a nice group. I have 3 right now, due to attrition from older birds and not adding chicks last year.
 

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The wanderer
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And remember, everyone, when the SHTF, those chickens will still need to eat. It's not always summer, with lots of bugs and seeds and stuff for them to forage for.

Look at the price of chicken food in your area and figure out how much you'll need to buy each month. Decide if you can afford to stock up ahead to get through any transition time during and after any sort of SHTF situation, temporary or long-term.

This can vary from a local natural disaster to a large-scale, widespread disaster, to your own personal SHTF of something like losing a job or being in an accident where you're unable to work for a while.

So...how are you going to feed the chickens or any other food animals, let alone non-essential animals like horses, other than draft horses doing something productive like plowing?

If you're in an area where you can grow corn, and maybe a few other grains, you might do okay. Otherwise you may be butchering and canning them when the SHTF.
 

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Hey gypsysue ... :)

I agree and disagree at the same time ...:)

When it comes to a SHTF ... things are different ... yes you must feed the critters ... but how did they do that 100 years ago ...

Some times ... it takes a walk to the past to see.

Now ... was the past always right ... no ... but we do have something to look at.

Just something to think about ...
 

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Zookeeper
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Some farming book from 100 years ago.

When it comes to a SHTF ... things are different ... yes you must feed the critters ... but how did they do that 100 years ago ...
A hundred years ago, in Montana, I bet they did exactly what GS said. I see you are in Virginia though, so your situation is very different.

Here are a some google books online from a hundred years ago:


I haven't read these extensively, I mainly downloaded them for reference later. (If you are outside the US, Google Books might not work for you. If that happens and you want to look at these let me know, I'll try to find them on archive.org )
 

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The wanderer
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Sure, andi, you are right. Same with the family dairy cow and any other critters they kept around.

But...how many people TODAY, even on this forum, know how people kept their animals fed 100 years ago?

Expectations of production have changed nowdays too. The number of eggs chickens laid on their diets 100 years ago was probably less than nowdays. Just something people should investigate and find out what to expect.

We started growing grains and certain veggies for our chickens and other critters 3 years ago, and it's a hard job with hand tools and on a small-scale basis. We can't grow corn here, which would really help. YOU probably can. Growing the grains we CAN grow here, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley, requires a lot of work in cutting, threshing, and winnowing. We're still not up to enough production to feed us and the chickens over the year.

In our climate, as in many northern climates, chickens can only forage/free range part of the year.

It's easy to say "our forefathers did it" but do we know HOW they did it? Can WE do it? Are we up to the kind of work they did? I guess we'd better get to that point.

Never did I say it couldn't be done. But it needs to be addressed.
 

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RockyMountainCanadian
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There is that I'll just grow my own food if SHTF, I think those that are doing it now would tell you it is not as easy as it sounds, not a hard job if you can jump on the tractor and cultivate or harvest with out and distractions , but if one has to remain covert to avoid the "golden horde " or who ever things will be a lot more complicated.
 

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Zookeeper
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There is that I'll just grow my own food if SHTF, I think those that are doing it now would tell you it is not as easy as it sounds, not a hard job if you can jump on the tractor and cultivate or harvest with out and distractions , but if one has to remain covert to avoid the "golden horde " or who ever things will be a lot more complicated.
Good point! I never even considered that having suitable farm land and a tractor could be even more dangerous than having a patch of ground behind the house.
 

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My point was that "IF" a person wants to have a few chickens (in virginia or else where) ... it can be done ... with a plan.,

Broom corn can be grown north or south ... My grandma (on hubby side) grew broom corn just for the 'chicks' - as she called them) They were on their own until it snowed ... then they had a 'broom corn head' to hold them over ... with what ever Grams wanted to give them...

IMO - if you have critters ... you must have a plan ... :)

And that was my only point ... If you have a family - have a plan ... if you have critters - have a plan.

Then again ... this is just "my thoughts" :) Which will get you "NO' where ... lol
 

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I am a little teapot
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Alright, here's a question for all the chicken people with more experience than me:

The other day I was getting the eggs from the chicken tractor and I accidentally dropped one into the pen. Of course it broke, but the chickens went nuts and DEVOURED it. Like pushed each other out of the way, feeding frenzy, type stuff. It was a little disturbing. Why would they do this? Are my chickens normal or are they some kind of canibal zombies?
 

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The wanderer
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Broom corn can be grown north or south ... My grandma (on hubby side) grew broom corn just for the 'chicks' - as she called them) They were on their own until it snowed ... then they had a 'broom corn head' to hold them over ... with what ever Grams wanted to give them...

IMO - if you have critters ... you must have a plan ... :)
Good, you have a plan, and it sounds well thought out. I was only pointing out that people needed to think about that. Did I sound forceful? If so, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it sounded that way. I guess it seems like so many people think they can just plant a garden and get some chickens and live happily ever after. Meanwhile, after spending several years getting my garden soil in good hape and figuring out what grows good here and what doesn't, and planting heirloom varieties and learning how to save seeds, I've turned to learning how to grow the things I need to keep my various animals fed, in addition to their foraging/free-ranging. It's been such a learning process.

I just hope that preppers realize how much they need to think about and learn. It's not complicated, but it's something that needs to be planned for. There may come a day when we can't go to the feed store and pick up a few sacks of chicken food. Right now, that would be a problem for me. I'm still not set up to keep my chickens fed without buying part of the feed. There wouldn't be anyone in the area to barter with for it, either. Most of my friends would be even worse off, because they don't grow any grains, and I do.

I had no idea what broom corn is so I did a quick search on it. It said it was a grass grain more than an actual corn, which means it probably would grow here.

There are several grains that grow well here, but corn just seems easier!
 

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Alright, here's a question for all the chicken people with more experience than me:

The other day I was getting the eggs from the chicken tractor and I accidentally dropped one into the pen. Of course it broke, but the chickens went nuts and DEVOURED it. Like pushed each other out of the way, feeding frenzy, type stuff. It was a little disturbing. Why would they do this? Are my chickens normal or are they some kind of canibal zombies?
I don't know about anyone else but here, if anything hits the ground, it's a feeding frenzy with birds pecking each other to get as much as possible. And once they get the taste of egg, they go looking for more. I caught one a couple days ago just as she was starting to peck at one even though there is plenty of food available. I caught her before she poked a hole in it but I'll need to keep my eyes open.
 

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I agree with Uncle Joe ... chickens are the ultimate garbage disposal and will eat just about anything and fresh eggs are on the top of their list. Nothing unusual about it.
 

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Did I sound forceful? If so, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it sounded that way.
No you didn't ... my bad (sorry)

Jason - that is normal. (just like the others said. :D)
 

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I am a little teapot
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Thanks, all. I was worried I had feathered little zombies just waiting for me to reach just a little too far into the pen...
 

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The wanderer
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Thanks, all. I was worried I had feathered little zombies just waiting for me to reach just a little too far into the pen...
:eek: :gaah: I'll never look at our chickens the same way again! :lolsmash:
 
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