Raising Chickens

Discussion in 'Livestock' started by TechAdmin, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    I live on a little over an acre and have been thinking about raising a few chickens for eggs. I have been reading about it a lot lately but would like some feedback from people currently raising small scale chicken operations.

    Mostly want to hear the bad stuff that goes with it :D
  2. CVORNurse

    CVORNurse Well-Known Member

    Predators come out of the woodworks, literally. Coons, possums, fox, are the main ones we deal with here, but once came back home to find out that 2 dalmations had gotten into the lower pen and killed 15-20 chickens and our 2 turkeys :mad:. LE told the owner she had to reimburse us, but it took a while to replace them.

    But I love being able to walk out in the back yard and gather the eggs I need for breakfast.

  3. thegroove

    thegroove Guest

    Well you get chicken snakes but you can place golf balls in the chicken nests and they eat those too :)
  4. DuckA

    DuckA Member

    Sort of off topic, but if your chickens get mites you can make a homemade medicine for it. Just mix fine cut dip (Copenhagen works) with Vaseline. Rub the mix under their wings and near the vent (chicken butthole). A lot of the medicines that treat mites have nicotine as the active ingredient.
  5. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    That's what I look forward to.

    Any major risk of chickens and accumulating diseases that effect humans?
  6. CVORNurse

    CVORNurse Well-Known Member

    well, there is always the bird flu to worry about, but other than that... not really that I can think of.

    I know the hatcheries vaccinate for something called marek's disease, and when we were into show chickens, we had to vaccinate them for something if we didn't have proof that they had been protected( but I can't remember what it was at the shows- DH handled all that). I have never worried beyond being sure the poop was washed off our hands and the eggs as soon as we came in. And no one has gotten sick to date, we have had chickens for 8-10 years. At one point, we had over 100, but DH sold them, and the predators took care of a bunch more. Now we have maybe a dozen buff orpingtons and a few roosters. And 2 yard hens that will take on the cats if needed for survival. One was dragged around by our beagle 2 weeks ago, and survived, with the aid of DD#1.

    The most important thing to me is that you have a good pen to put them in. One with a top if you can pull it off. Ours are all scrounge material, some better than others. We have used everything from chain link fencing to chicken wire to dog pen wire to build our pens. Some have been off the ground pens, which seem to be better at predator deterent. If you put on a top, be sure to tie it into the sides- we just lost our bantams because of a gap at the top of the pen.
  7. lisat

    lisat Well-Known Member

    We are planning to have chickens in the spring for eggs. I hated to wait but didn't know enough to winter them. I am taking a chain link dog pen with a concrete pad to convert to a coop. We will build the house in the back of the cage or remove one side and add the coop. We will build a roof and wrap the chain link in a chicken wire. We have a lot of snakes, small wildcats, fox and coyotes. We plan to have about 6 chickens, that is one per person in our family. They say to plan for 20% mortality. They will run a large fenced in area outside of the dog pen area daily. There isn't much they can hurt in this area. Our garden will be across the street where they won't get to it. You will have no grass in their scratch area.
  8. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    CVORNurse did you seek a specific bred of chicken or how did you go about selecting which type to raise.
  9. CVORNurse

    CVORNurse Well-Known Member

    Well, at first DH was just buying whatever chicksthey had from the feed store. Then about 8 or 9 years ago we found Murray McMurray Hatchery, and discovered that we could have chicks mailed to us as soon as they hatched. We looked through the online catalog and went with 25 of the all heavies( for meat) and 25 of the brown egg layers, as well as 25 of the rainbow layers. We ordered from McMurray several times, and always found them to put in extras to make sure we got the full number we ordered. Watching them grow up, I decided I like the heavier breeds best. So after that first order, we tended towards the full size heavier chickens like barred rocks, orphingtons, brahmas. They eat a bit more feed, but it is more satisfiying to watch them than a banty. And they are good egg layers, giving a good sized egg.
  10. westbrook

    westbrook Well-Known Member

  11. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    I raised Aracaunas, which give a beautiful blue/green colored egg.
    I had about 12 birds, built a strong coop with nests and horizontal poles to roost on.
    I changed the water and feed every two days. Used cedar wood chips or fir sawdust for flooring, to soak up the dung, neighbors would fight over this for their gardens.
    I had a strong (1/4" mesh) wire fence, which I buried 6 inches in the ground and up and over the yard area, this kept the predators completely out.
    I kept all vegan table scraps and threw them in the yard area, they loved them.
    my eggs were unbelieveable.

    learned to add corn to the feed in winter, they need the fat, otherwise the egg production would drop off.
    12 birds yielded about 8-10 eggs a day.

    The strange thing was they became like friends after about six months, when I changed the water and feed, they would sit on my feet and go to sleep, go figure, snuggling chickens.:confused:
  12. SurvivalNut

    SurvivalNut Retired Army

    Buff Orphingtons-How long will they lay?

    Got my 4 Buffs last Feb so they are a year old now, laying since September. How long will they lay eggs?

    I love 'em! This winter we had it bad. 6 feet of snow inside a month and temps down to the -teens often. The henhouse is 300 feet from the house so I ran 300 feet of extension cord out, but they were out every day under their roof or awning scratching and socializing, they just stayed in on the windy days. Their combs bruised a bit, but have already recovered.

    Power was for their water heater. I did put a small heat pad under the nest box to keep the eggs from freezing, somedays it took me 2 days to collect the eggs.

    Egg production stayed up around 60% through the winter.

    Good Solid Girls!
  13. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    We were given 7 hens and a rooster last July from a friend who was overrun. We put together a coop and a fully enclosed run about 25' X 25'. We have a fox family living nearby as well as a few red-tailed hawks, so we never let them out until about 2 weeks ago when one of the horses pushed the door to the run open. We came home to find the birds wandering around the pasture. Trying to catch them was an exercise in futility, so we just left the gate open and as dusk approached they all wandered back in on there own.
    Over the winter we had several consecutive weeks of sub-freezing temps with overnight lows in the low single digits. They all came through fine with no heat in the coop. We did have to go out twice a day to keep them in water though. They get all our table scraps as they will eat anything.
    This year I am expanding the run and building a seperate nesting box to allow a couple of the hens to hatch their eggs. I plan on keeping the flock at 25 or so for meat and eggs.
    We have horses, donkeys, mules, goats, and dogs, and the chickens are by far the easiest keepers.
  14. JCfans

    JCfans Member

    We have production reds and Black Austrolorps. They are both great layers but the Produciton reds are definatley the best brown egg layers you can find. They have a great feed conversion ratio and lay like crazy. The Austrolorps are about the friendliest bird you could ever have and don't lay that bad either. We raise meat birds a couple of times a year and go with the Cornish X breed. They grow from chick to a 7 pound bird in 8 weeks. The cornish eat a ton and poop a ton as well but man are they tasty. I can't say anything negative about the layers though they are a pleasure to keep and the fresh eggs are delicious.
  15. palooka slim

    palooka slim Guest

    We have a yard full of chickens somewhere around 30 last count. we have no pen, so far we have been very lucky with predators we have an ol mutt dog who is a good guard dog.but i am building a pen so eggs will be easier to find.we have gotten around 40+ eggs in last two weeks.yall probably already know this but the best way to check if eggs are good is to place them in a bowl of water,if they float they are bad.
  16. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    I thought that didn't work until th eeggs were a week old? ???

    thanx palooka
  17. Soggy Bottom

    Soggy Bottom Member

    Chicken Feed

    Does anyone have a good recipe for homegrown organic chicken feed? We grow small amounts of Millet, Amaranth, Wheat and Comfrey.
    We really don't want to buy commercial feeds as I believe they contain a lot of feedstuff we would rather not give to our hens - and eventually ourselves via eggs and meat.
  18. shirls

    shirls shirls

    I grow comfrey as well, its great, I have been buying my chooks and ducks commerical food, but recently have been cooking them porridge,for the last year, they go through three bags a week so thats 3.00, and now they hate the other chook food, i add a handful of rice and a handful of cheap frozen corn, plus comfrey and scraps. They lay every day except one old one, I have 5 chooks and 6 ducks, but still give them a small scoop of mixed grain. Which is eaten I m sure my the mice....

    we have a ten acre block and they all free range as well.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  19. Ramkitten

    Ramkitten Member

    I miss having chickens. They were such fun, scratching and pecking all over the place ... except when it came to our veggie garden. Definitely have to keep them out of there!

    The only real bummer was that, occasionally, an otherwise healthy-looking, happy hen would just keel over. One day layin' eggs, cackling, then next ... clunk! Down for the count.

    One thing we did, by the way, when we built our chicken house, was that we made "drawers" down below, beneath where they'd roost. Made the coop pretty easy to clean. From time to time, we'd slide the drawers out and collect the droppings, age them and use that "gold" in our garden. I think I have a picture of the coop with the drawers around here somewhere. If I find it, I'll scan it and post it here. Not that we reinvented the wheel or anything, but we were pretty pleased with that system.
  20. crikey

    crikey Member