Anyone here keep chickens for eggs or meat?

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Gathering' started by Kenton, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Kenton

    Kenton Scout

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    We have a flock of 11 and wondered if anyone else was a chicken keeper. For me it helps me get back to my roots of when my grandparents and great grandparents lived off the land and relied on their animals for so much. It also lets my children learn skills that are slowly dying in todays world of video games and iPhones. Share some pictures if you have them. I love seeing others chicken coops and setups.
     
  2. amusin

    amusin Guide

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    yep, got a few my coops not worth photgraphing though the taste of fresh eggs from a healthy active chicken is a whole world diferent from what you can get in a supermarket.
     
  3. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    Well, close - we went with ducks instead because they are better entertainment and because they will eat all the slugs out of the garden without wrecking the plants. Eggs are good. Funny critters.
     
  4. Pekane

    Pekane Scout

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    Way back when

    My Dad raised chickens in Suburbia until 17 years ago. We raised and slaughtered meat birds for only one year, and layers for 4-5. We stopped when his Arborist business took off and he didn't have time to keep up the garden. I miss them.

    Have you played the "marshmallow" game with them?

    @crookedknife: I have been known to do unspeakable things for a breakfast of duck eggs and bacon
     
  5. crookedknife

    crookedknife Guide

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    Duck eggs and moose sausage ain't bad either.
     
  6. Pekane

    Pekane Scout

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    I think I need to trade my Uncle for moose then. He won the lottery a couple years ago and may have some left.
     
  7. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Wife is wanting to try this, and I am wondering about getting a portable/ movable coop and cage. We have bad coyote problems, and can't shoot them often, without waking the neighbors. :) So can't let them run free.
     
  8. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    We've had chickens for many years. They turn kitchen and garden scraps into eggs and meat. Eventually hens get old and don't lay many eggs any more. But they sure make good enchiladas and chicken stew if they spend some time in the crock pot.

    [​IMG]

    Dogs, coyotes, owls, hawks, raccoons, etc etc, love chicken meat too and can really wipe out your flock. A good fence and a safe place for them to sleep at night is the only way to protect them. I live in major predator country (coyotes, foxes, mtn lions, bob cats, bears, etc etc. and have never lost anything to predators because of a really good fence. We let ours run free for a while in the PM as long as the dog is out there to protect them. They go back into the pen at dusk and we close them in for the night.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  9. PatG

    PatG Scout

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    My wife and I had a few chickens until a raccoon got them. I'm working on fortifying the coop a bit before we get some more. I loved having fresh eggs. They do taste a lot better than the store bought. It was also a lot of entertainment giving them left over scraps...especially chicken and turkey carcasses! They're pretty low cost to keep and are a lot more rugged than you'd give them credit for.
     
  10. kyporter

    kyporter Supporter Supporter

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    Can't you hunt with suppressors (silencers) in Texas, or would the coyotes be too much trouble?
     
  11. Hale

    Hale Guide

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    I don't, but it's something I definitely plan to do later on!
     
  12. Camo Jeff

    Camo Jeff Tinder Gatherer

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    [​IMG]

    Here is our chicken pen after the last snow. Their house is on the right and is just a Rubbermaid shed.
    We have had chickens for a long time, mostly just for the eggs

    That's our freshly tilled garden in front. It was 70 degrees the weekend before!
     
  13. Problem Child

    Problem Child Tracker

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    My wife has abot 30 Chickens and an incubator going right now. I love the eggs but somehow I became the caretaker and maintenance man for the Chickens.:28:
     
  14. redrooster1700

    redrooster1700 Scout

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    equip to endure 001.jpg
    i phone 193.jpg i phone 198.jpg
    we love the duck eggs too
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  15. borego

    borego Scout

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    I have a total of six
     
  16. Kenton

    Kenton Scout

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    At the zoo i watched raccoons climb upside down commando style on the top cage fencing. It was like watching a cockroach on your ceiling or something.
     
  17. SquirrelCommander

    SquirrelCommander Tracker

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    A friend at church told me about "chicken tractors", you move them around the yard so the birds can eat while still sheltered http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-tractors-mobile-chicken-coop-designs
     
  18. Kenton

    Kenton Scout

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    Our original coop was a tractor. Some big time free range egg/farm companies have these by the hundreds. They move the chickens every so often and in return the pasture grows greener and lusher. Then the organic cattle come and graze on the pasture. They are pretty neat. Chickens can tear up some landscaping in a hurry without the tractor if free ranging.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  19. TWill

    TWill Guide

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    We kept a small flock for years but weasels or mink would get in and kill several in one night. Hard to fence out little slinky critters. Here in MN it was a lot of extra work from Dec to April so we never got back in after our hens got old and became dinner guests.
     
  20. Vantramp

    Vantramp Scout

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    We have 3 from last year outside in the coop/tractor. There are also 6 noisy little peepers about 5 feet from me here in the living room. They are only a few days old and are living in a box under a light until they move outside next week. I will try to get some pics of them tomorrow. Cute little critters!

    Here are some pics of the outside coop though.

    -Mike

    Forgot to mention they are all girls for egg laying only :) A couple did start crowing earlier in the year and ended up in the stew pot...

    Coop1s.jpg

    Coop2S.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  21. ethanoful

    ethanoful Tracker

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    i have six chickens and one geinea
     
  22. Akela

    Akela Scout

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    We raised Bantams a while back. They were wild enough that they didn't need much attention, except when the hens decided to set, and roosted in the tall cedar and fir trees. I would skin and dry the necks of the roosters when thinning down the flock, and use the hackles for tying flies.
     
  23. Cavemike

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    My wife and I just ordered ours last week. We've got a half-dozen chicks of assorted breed from a reputable online hatchery bought, paid for, and due to arrive sometime in mid-April. The brooder's set up in the bedroom (actually kinda like that warm, heat lamp glow), the coop's all planned-out, we've scrounged/re-purposed most of the materials -- we're pretty excited, and the kids are already trying to decide on names.

    This'll be our first foray into any kind of livestock, so I'm trying to work my way through three separate chicken books in order to catch a clue. Should be fun, though, and man, looking forward to those fresh eggs!

    Okay, I gotta ask. The marshmallow game?
     
  24. MeadsJN

    MeadsJN Tracker

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    We've kept chickens for both eggs and meat since moving to N. Idaho in 2000.

    It all started in 2001 when my wife decided to just investigate getting some roasters and layers. For 'x' amount of supplies, you got 'y' free chicks (usually around March/April). She ended up bringing home 50 roasters, and we didn't even have a shed or anything ready. They stayed in the garage under a lamp for a week or two until we got a shed (8x12 ready-made) from one of the building supply stores, and got the inside ready with coops, wiring run for the heat lamp (chicks need heat for the first few weeks; thereafter, just need to keep the water from freezing); chips for bedding, feeding preps, water, etc.

    Roasters (cornish cross type) take about 8 weeks to adulthood, but will keep growing past 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, they start getting too heavy for the legs to support the weight, and you will lose some of them to broken legs, then disease from being down in the goop. We usually lost a couple of chicks each year in the first week due to them crowding to keep warm. After 8 weeks, they will be consuming more feed, so the ROI starts diminishing. I like them to go about 10 weeks to split the difference -- we get really large chickens, maybe 8 or 10 pounds. After 12 weeks, the ones that survive look like small turkeys after slaughter, about 10 or 12 pounds.

    Your space needs for roasters change rapidly during those 8-10 weeks, starting with 4'x4' for 50 birds, up to the whole 8'x12' building (or even larger if you want to reduce your risk of losses).

    The first year, we did our own slaughtering -- scald, pluck, clean, rinse, package, freeze -- about 8 birds took us half a Saturday. When the first head hit the ground, yellow jackets came to visit from miles away, and the rest of the work was under miserable conditions. After that year, we have taken them in cages to people who have good setups to handle the whole flock in one day. It is well worth it. Drop off the chicks in the morning, along with several coolers; then pick up the coolers and empty cages in the afternoon. I believe she pays $1.50/bird for the butchering.

    Accumulating the layers requires a different set of plans. These are long-term livestock. They need coops at different levels; they need places to roost; they need outside time and space (protected from predators); different mixes of feeds at different times of year. She has a variety of layer types, and we get white, brown, and green eggs when they are laying. It is healthier to keep layers separated from the roasters, if you can provide the separate space. Otherwise, you will need to create a barrier in the chicken house to keep them separate, at least until the roasters are five or six weeks old.

    Chickens are not very smart animals compared to other livestock, but the roasters are especially stupid, lacking even the natural instincts that the layers get from some parentage and longer lives. I'd guess that some of the roasters are even dumber than Democrats, if such were possible.

    There are periods when the layers go through moulting http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/27_2709.htm and don't lay eggs for a while. It's probably a good idea to read up on it.

    My wife started accumulating 6'x12' chain-link kennel panels, some used, some new, to build a chicken run around the garden which is just outside the chicken house and well house. The run needs a panel on top, because eagles and hawks will swoop down and carry off your chickens. Coyotes will try to dig under. Weasels can just get in anywhere and make a mess, but cats and dogs help keep them at bay. The garden needs a high fence anyway to keep the deer out, and they haven't tried to jump over the chicken run. The chickens get lots of bugs going to and from the garden. After the garden is all harvested, the chickens can have free run of the interior for a few weeks to help shred vines and stems, and get whatever insects are left over from the summer.

    When the freezers are still full from the previous year, she skips the roasters for a year (like now). When she had too many roosters (last year), they got taken to the butcher along with the roasters, and got turned into dog and cat food.

    I hope some of that is helpful.
     
  25. Pekane

    Pekane Scout

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    ^^ this!

    Also, meat birds are the dumbest critter man has created. Ours had full access to the outside, sunshine and fresh greens but not one of them moved from between the feeder and water bubbler in the coop. Never again. I just don't feel right eating something that's dumber than I am.

    Take one regular sized marshmallow and toss it into the chicken run. All the chickens swarm it until one pecks it and gets it stuck on its beak. the rest chase it around trying to steal the marshmallow until one succeeds. The game continues until the marshmallow is gone, or you can't breathe from laughing so hard.

    It's like watching 5 year olds play full contact soccer.
     
  26. SunnyBunny

    SunnyBunny Guide

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    Backyard chicken lover from Austin, Texas. We have a annual "Funky Chicken Coop Tour." :50:

    My wife have been keeping 2-4 chickens in the backyard for eggs and fertilizer for the garden, her favour is buff orpington:

    [​IMG]

    And NO, she will never eat her own chicken.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  27. genzer

    genzer Tracker

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    Yep, did the roasters for a couple yrs. now just layers. The "cleanout" of the coop is amazing for your garden.
     
  28. steve_t

    steve_t Guide

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    Yep, both chickens and geese, except I keep losing the chickens to a stoat. Killed the lot, will try again this summer: I like fresh eggs for breakfast
     
  29. OrienM

    OrienM Scout

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    We raise chickens on our little farm for the eggs and meat. At the moment we have four hens and a rooster....we used to have quite a few more, but we had a skunk-attack incident last fall and a bunch were killed. We're hoping one of the hens will have chicks this spring, and get the numbers back up; there's space for 2 dozen or more in the coop/yard.

    They are 'mutt' chickens, a real odd mix of different breed characteristics; we got them from a local farm that raises free-range chickens. A lot of modern types have been bred for artificial incubation methods, and have forgotten how to incubate their eggs and raise chicks. We hope that since these were bred and raised by 'natural' means, that they'll have the instincts to breed properly. If they don't, I may add in a few bantams to the flock; I used to raise banties for fun back in high school, and they are particularly good at setting and raising chicks.

    I don't have any pics of our chickens, but I have one of the coop they live in. I'm kind of proud of this thing, it works well and was built for virtually no $$...Arundo donax cane thatch roof/walls on a wood A-frame, bound together with yucca leaves split in half. Inside there's some nest boxes, and bamboo roosts for sleeping on. The coop is surrounded by a 10' chickenwire fence, and a net covering is stretched over the yard to keep any hawks at bay.

    067.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  30. donal

    donal Banned Member Banned

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    If I had my 'crap' straight enough to have a place in the sticks, I'd have ten, or twelve in a very secure enclosure. We have coyotes, 'round here..
     
  31. forgeblast

    forgeblast Scout

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    We have 3 layers now and 7 more peeps in the basement. I have a 4x8 coop. They are a lot of fun. We may get some ducks and a goose next year. For the duck raisers, do they need a full time supply of water? how do you keep it from freezing in the winter?
    thanks
     
  32. redrooster1700

    redrooster1700 Scout

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    Thats awesome nice job
     
  33. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Growing up I always had chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese. I have a stream in my backyard so most recently I had ducks about a dozen. They had free reign of the stream but would always come home to eat and sleep. One day they all disappeared. I suspect immigrant duck-nappers. :17::mad:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  34. Jon Kaw

    Jon Kaw Tracker

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    About 5 years ago we started out with 4 hens. We have since expanded to 7 hens, 2 roosters, 2 ducks and a guinea.
    DSC02661.JPG DSC02663.JPG
    I love fresh eggs with my pancakes and bacon!:36::39:
     
  35. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I've read that Guinea fowls make excellent additions to the flock because they are extra alert so provide great security making a big racket when alarmed, and being fierce (not truly domesticated) they have been known to even chase threats away including marauding hawks.
    They are rather cool looking too in a Dr. Seuss sort of way. :4:

    [​IMG]
     
  36. HoboTree

    HoboTree Guide

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    We have 4 at the moment but we have had up to 20 at a time. Mostly laying hens but we have raised a few meat birds as well. Besides eggs and meat their poop makes excellent fertilizer for the garden.
     
  37. postman

    postman Scout Bushclass I

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    Yes we have 14 red sex link layers, they average about 10 eggs per day, and we also have 4 roosters all headed for the freezer soon.
     
  38. strong tower

    strong tower Scout

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    We have been doing that for the past couple of years (on a smaller scale, of course.) The chickens are moved around on pasture to eat and fertilize the grass. They follow the rotation of the horses and cows and pick though their manure for the fly larva and any thing else they didn't digest (sounds gross if you're not used to it, but it's very healthy for the chickens and NOT "healthy" for the flies). We have been raising broilers and layers; the broilers are raised in a 10x12 floorless coop and moved one coop length once or twice a day. The layers are in a similar coop (with added roosts and nest boxes), only they are surrounded by moveable electric fence so they can run outside of the coop, and are moved almost every week. Personally, I like moving just the coop twice a day and keeping them inside the coop, but the rest of the family likes having the layers run around in the larger area with netting to protect them, so that's what we do:4:.

    Here is a picture of the broilers in their coop. (this is a new pasture so it is still a little sparse)
    IMG_7312.jpg
     
  39. Jon Kaw

    Jon Kaw Tracker

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    Ahnkochee, I once had 7 guineas and let me tell you they are both entertaining and unruly. They would roam around our yard like a gang of hoodlums, chasing the chickens and making an incredible racket. They wouldn't go into a coop at night unless they were herded in and if it started to get dark before you got them in they would roost in a tree. I lost several that wouldn't come out of the tree and fell prey to owls. I never got a chance to taste one, but have been told the meat is a cross between chicken and turkey.:5:
     
  40. Kenton

    Kenton Scout

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    Thanks for all the pictures and write-ups everyone. Keep them coming. Love it!
     
  41. Brainchild

    Brainchild Scout

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    About to get a flock of layers going. Have not had one since the last one was wiped out by coyotes. I plan to build a much better coop and will post pics when I build it. Also after reading this post am a little interested in the guineas.
     
  42. Scott Allen

    Scott Allen Guide

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    We have had 6 layers for about two years now. 3-Tetra Tints and 3-Golden Comets. They are fun to have around and have really grown attached to us. Here a couple are with my granddaughter are at a day old:

    pete.jpg Skyler and peep 2.jpg Skyler and peep.jpg

    Scott
     
  43. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Nowadays I don't need to bother raising chickens myself. One thing we have a whole lot of here are wild feral chickens. You can't drive a mile on most highways here without seeing at least a few. They aren't limited to parks or wild places. They live at the beach, in suburbs, even in shopping mall parking lots, they are EVERYWHERE. In any disaster situation a pellet rifle and a head shot will get you a chicken dinner real quick. Just yesterday at my dentists office parking lot there was a roaster and several hens making a big noise.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  44. SpranK

    SpranK Tracker

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    Yep, 5 Barred Rock hens, can't have roosters cause I live in the city. They Keep us in fresh eggs and enough to share with friends and family, and I spose in a few years we'll eat em too? Silly lil girls, they know to lay their eggs then they get let out for the day to run around the yard, once the sun goes down they bed back down in the coop and I Lock em up.
    Fun stuff, they each have their own personality..
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  45. Lamewolf

    Lamewolf Guide

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    Get a predator call and call the coyotes in during the day and shoot them ! Sell the pelts to help pay for the chickens.
     
  46. Tundra

    Tundra Scout

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    There's nothing like eggs fresh from the farm. My Cousin had cholesterol problems when he was in his teens. Doctor told him, "eat less eggs", cause apparently, that's what he loved to eat in the morning (and night).

    His mom, my aunt, called BS on the doctor. She decided to buy eggs straight from a farm. Within a month, his cholesterol went down.

    What we learned later was that there is no clear and accurate measure for cholesterol... but I guess that's another thread.
     
  47. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I have read that the lecithin found in eggs pretty much neutralizes the effects if any that the cholesterol in the egg might have.
    I have also read that it not the cholesterol that you consume that you need to worry about but the saturated fats that you consume which your liver turns into cholesterol and adds to our blood stream. Shellfish as well as wild game are high in cholesterol but very low in saturated fats so still healthier to eat than most domestic meats.
     
  48. gloomhound

    gloomhound Guide

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    Nah, they would just end up as pets I'm afraid. I'm to kind hearted to farm that's why I hunt.
     
  49. diannamarsolek

    diannamarsolek Tracker

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    i have chickens and a 22 pellet gun works out great

    o and my donkeys help out o and we also have a goat that goes camping with us
     
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    NoseWarmer Banned Member Banned

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