Do you raise chickens?

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ChickenLittle

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I always assumed that I was not allowed because I live in a pretty typical suburban neighborhood. I recently found out I can have chickens!

My wife and three year old daughter are vegitarians so there is no way they will ever get deep fried. They would be very loved and played with pets. I love the idea of having my own fresh eggs though.

Rather than go by the text books I would like to hear from someone that actually has their hands in the muck!

How much space do they need?
How much are upkeep costs? (food, medical, etc)
How social are they (how many do i need at a min. for them to be happy.)
How many eggs do they produce?
Do they produce eggs their whole life or become just a pet after a while?
how messy are they?
 

realisticdude

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Im 3 months into chicken farming.I built my coup and run after looking online , there is lots of info esp on coup building/ design with cool vids on you tube. My daughter has named all 10 chicks , they come to her when she calls them. Messy ,but actually we are having fun with them. My main cost was the hardware cloth and metal roofing for the run. Cheap upkeep so far. As far as the mess ,I built doors on both ends of the coup/ cement board on the floor and using sand. makes for easier clean up so far. Old anorak answered the questions that I was having problems with.
 

jeepgirl

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My chickens became free range chickens after the recent hurricane..we weren't sure if they lived or not but 7 of them came back with one rooster. they are messy and they eat all of your grass! but they stay in our small backyard and we buy a big bag of feed, let them do their thing and we have plenty of eggs a week. I'm not a chicken master by any means and I'm still learning but they are friendly except some roosters and interesting to watch until they get confused and cockle doodle doo at 3 am!
 

rudyc

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reading the above paragraph in the that puppet's voice is funny. im sorry. but chicken's are messy. like any animal, they can be trained. dirty, noisy, crazy. my mother in law has a few chickens, and dont buy eggs. since they have a enough to feed a family of 5-6.
 

jeepgirl

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lol..my kids found 41 eggs the other day next to the house since they decided to lay where they wanted...I cleaned them, tested them, and had 33 at the end. In my opinion they taste better and the color is beautiful compared to store eggs. We are redoing..I say we, I mean, I am redoing the chicken house and getting these little creatures under control. We have been a little lazy lately with them because of everything going on in the world but Spring is almost here..they are pretty self-sufficient birds.
 

old_anorak

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We run up to 100 birds during the warmer months. A goodly portion of them are Cornish Cross for eating, so they are short timers. I canned up my old layers a few months back and I've got 36 hens now that are starting to lay good. We don't free range our birds because I'll be damned if I provide a free meal for a varmint, whether 2 or 4 legged.

Our coops and runs are big, but our rabbit hutches are also in there and I'll stash a goat kid in there once in awhile if I have one that needs separating.

To have hens in town, you'll definitely want them penned in to keep neighborhood dogs and other critters from snacking. The last thing you want is your kids to go out to feed them and find nothing but some bloody feathers or like what we had happen here. 75 chickens, 2 weeks from butchering were killed in one night by a mink. Those things kill just for fun, they don't eat the kills, just break the neck and go on to the next one.

We use straw with shavings mixed in for bedding, just adding to it during the winter time until it reached a depth of like a foot. As everything is decomposing in the litter, it gives off heat and helps with keeping the birds warm. Come spring, everything is stripped down, hosed out with bleach water, lime put down and then fresh bedding to start all over again.

I don't know if the rest of your family eat eggs, but you can figure 6 eggs per week from each hen during the warm months. During their first year, hens will usually lay strong through the winter, but after that, you've got to play around with lighting to fool them into laying. I don't bother with it since we keep eggs in storage.

I usually don't keep a layer past the age of 4, the feed to egg ratio just isn't good. The older the hens get, the fewer eggs they lay, but the eggs tend to be bigger.

A good chicken for your little girl might be a Silkie hen. They look furry, like tribbles. They are a banty breed, so you'll get small, little girl sized eggs from them. They tend to be a very docile breed and don't roost high up, usually huddle in a corner. If you get one, try to get the more docile full sized hens, because Silkies tend to be bullied easily. 2 or 3 hens will keep each other company.

If you feed a layer feed, try to get pellets instead of crumbles. There's a whole lot less waste with the pellets. A good scratch mix is also something to consider along with all the scraps from the kitchen. They'll eat darn near anything. If you garden, don't let them near it or your garden will be toast.

Anyhow, hope that helped.
 

Danil54grl

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We had a mink in our coupe a few years ago. . . wiped out all of our chicks. We only had about 30 at the time. Since then we installed chicken wire along with the wooden fence we had around the coupe and also put chicken wire on top to keep out the raccoons and armadilas. So far we have had good luck since we haven't lost anymore.

During the winter they will lay less because of light issues. If you want to keep up production, add a heat lamp at night. They will also lay less during molting, when they shed their feathers for new ones.
 

Kenny Lee

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Damn, one mink killed all your chickens? I'd be so angry I would track that mink down and turn it into a fur scarf or something.
 

old_anorak

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Yeah, minks, possums, weasels, raccoons, otters, and a few other varmints will kill simply for the sake of killing. They generally bite into the throat and break the neck and then leave the carcass without eating any of it.
 

Kenny Lee

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Hey I got a question about shooting the chicken in the head while it ran around. Wouldn't that freak out the rest of the flock and make them lay less eggs or make them unhappy (anxiety)? Yes, I actually kind of care if the chickens are happy even if I will kill them for food. I use to be a Buddhist, and as an ex-chef I was told that happy animals made better tasting animals. Also less adrenaline etc to taint the meat.
 

old_anorak

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I try not to butcher right in front of the birds and I will pen off the ones that are going to be slaughtered from the rest so that there's less upset to the flock. When I separate them off, I do it at night while they're asleep, it's a lot easier to just snatch them off of the roost instead of chasing them around the run.
 

WILD MAN

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We're about to get some chickens and I was wondering, how big should the coop be? I don't want to build too big or too small I'm looking to start out with about a dozen but I want to work my way up to about 50 or so. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

Trapper

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Are they meat birds or laying hens? Can you free range them? I keep 50 cornish cross for meat birds every year. Get chicks, 8 weeks they are in the freezer. I keep all 50 in a 10X12 shed. Saw dust on the floor for bedding. Change it every week. I leave the door open when I feel they are big enough. They dont go far.
We used to keep lay hens too. Coop was 8X16 with free range. It was plenty big. Also had 12 laying boxes for them. For the most part they laid all the eggs in the boxes. If you kept a dozen layers you would have all the eggs you will ever need and them some. Expect about 10 eggs a day from 12 birds.
 

WILD MAN

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I was going to get about half and half laying and meat and let them free range but if I can get that many eggs I'll probably just get about 12 layers and the rest will be for meat, thanks Trapper
 

DannyboyDS

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They are great, they eat the scraps, produce a concentrated fertilizer and produce food as well. I agree you shouldn't slaughter an animal in front of other animals.

Best way to do a chicken is to take it away from the others, we could usually pick our chickens and ducks up with little fuss, when they are calm simply bind them and lay them on a stump, take the axe and with one swing it's headless, since it is bound it wont go running off without it's head.

You can hypnotize chickens as well, once again, when calm turn upside down (Cradle it like a baby) and draw a line with your finger from it's beak down all the way down it's chest, repeat untill it stops moving.

A sudden spook will bring your chicken back, alternativly you can kill it for food.

This Video shows how its done, a little different to my method but probably take less damage if the chicken freak out doing it this way.

 

old_anorak

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I wish we could free range our birds, there's just too many predators looking for a free meal. The dogs keep most of the four legged variety away, but death from above is all too common and in our area some of them are federally protected. The chickens do have nice big runs as well as chicken tractors.
 

Danil54grl

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We have 16 chicken along with 2 roosters in a 15 by 10 ft space. It is completely inclosed due to predators that tend to lurk around here during the night. We only let them free range on occasion, during the day, when I have a dog out there to protect them. My chickens are for egg laying reasons mostly. I will slaughter the next rooster that wants to "bulk" at me. He will be in the boiling pot and I don't care how tough he may be!
 

old_anorak

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I generally have more than one rooster and they're all named Elvis or Ozzy. Anyhow, when they start acting too big for their britches and come after us, we play a nice little game called Roosterball and the said rooster is kicked across the run. Now if the rooster is dumb enough to come at us again... well Elvis will have left the building or Ozzy will have taken the Crazy Train. That also happens when I have one that's too rough on the hens. I just don't do nasty roosters, life is too short.
 

booter360

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I generally have more than one rooster and they're all named Elvis or Ozzy. Anyhow, when they start acting too big for their britches and come after us, we play a nice little game called Roosterball and the said rooster is kicked across the run. Now if the rooster is dumb enough to come at us again... well Elvis will have left the building or Ozzy will have taken the Crazy Train. That also happens when I have one that's too rough on the hens. I just don't do nasty roosters, life is too short.
I had a little rooster that tried that with my 5 year old spured her twice. Then he met mister shovel:ar15:
 

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