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Old 03-03-2008, 09:34 PM   #1
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Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?


I want to get 3-4 hens this spring to keep for their eggs. I plan on 'tractoring' them, as town code prohibits them from running free.

I would love to hear from any of ya'll about: coops, eggs, acquiring chickens, etc.

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Old 03-03-2008, 10:15 PM   #2
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Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?


They stink, they make a mess, they are loud, and in general are a pain in the ass. A dozen organic eggs costs less than 3 bucks, or what it will cost you to feed them for a week (and you will be lucky to get 12 eggs).

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Old 03-03-2008, 10:51 PM   #3
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Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?


Anyone have anything nice to say about backyard chickens, since Tscarborough doesn't seem to.
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:50 AM   #4
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Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?


I have many and they run free in the back yard ( 1 acre lot) I love having them! Sure, with any animal they will poop and eat. The good things are that they are the best pest control that I have ever had. They eat the bugs etc. I have not had to spray any chemicals etc in the house or around the house for a couple years. With six kids, I hate to spray chemicals around the house. The hens will generally lay only every other day. I think they alternate.LOL (your turn, I LAYED YESTERDAY!!!) The kids love to collect the eggs etc. I had 22 hens last year and I was getting a dozen eggs almost daily. The great thing is that your local feed stores will actually buy the eggs from you (as long as you wash them off first) for about $3.00 per dozen. I found that we could not eat enough eggs and the feed store buying some of them made an ideal situation where the birds were earning their keep. I would recomend keeping chickens for any family with the ability to do so, if not for just the pest control alone. You can get laying hens online or from your local feed stores in early spring. I started with getting older hens from someone that was moving and needed to get rid of them. You can post a note that you are looking for mature hens at the feed store also. The other thing is that the feed at the feed store is going to be more expensive than the local Wal Mart. Good luck.

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Old 03-04-2008, 02:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
I plan on 'tractoring' them,
Ayuh,.... I gotta ask,.... What the 'ell is That,..??

I don't have a barnyard here,...
But my Bud keeps moving his Pen each year,+ planting his Garden where the Pen was the year before......
It seems to be Well fertilized ground,........:D
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Old 03-04-2008, 03:05 PM   #6
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Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?


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Originally Posted by Tscarborough View Post
They stink, they make a mess, they are loud, and in general are a pain in the ass. A dozen organic eggs costs less than 3 bucks, or what it will cost you to feed them for a week (and you will be lucky to get 12 eggs).
Boy. Not my experience at all! We got 6 pullets in the spring, and put them in a plywood box with a heat lamp in the kitchen. After about 6 weeks they were old enough to go outside, and one had clearly turned out to be a cockerel. We put them in a small coop we built on the side of a shed outside. It's about 8'x2'x3' tall. It's got a big door for human access on the ends, and a small chicken door in the long side. Until late fall we free-ranged them, and they would simply wander out in the morning, scratch around the acre or so surrounding our house (we have 6 acres but they didn't range too far), and then about an hour before dusk they would all be lined up on their roosting bar in the coop. The rooster was great at keeping his ladies together, and he'd spot a bird flying overhead long before any of us, and when he did he'd squawk and shuffle all the hens under a nearby bush. Then a couple seconds later you'd see a bird (usually a harmless raven) fly over the yard. We loved driving into the property and seeing them all lined up on the stone wall, just looking around, being chickens. We were wary of foxes and coyotes (we have plenty of both around) but it seemed that since we got our dog (a 130# newfoundland) we never found tracks within a few hundred feet of the house any more, so i think that protected them. Anyways, in late fall, when food was getting scarce, the chickens had wandered much farther from the house than usual, and a fox made off with the rooster and one hen. So, we fenced in a 15'x20' run off the side of the coop, and they've been there since. (no need for the rooster since their penned now) We feed them all our kitchen compost, and they chow everything but citrus peels. That cuts down quite a bit on their feed consumption. We feed organic layer pellets (you'll start them on "starter feed"), which cost about $20/50# sack from Agway. A sack lasts us about a month or two. We get 3-4 eggs every day from our 4 remaining hens. It's a good amount, as we do lots of baking, and can often keep up with that production. Other times we give our neighbors eggs. So we're getting just under an egg/day/hen. That'll decrease as they get older, but we'll probably start a couple new pullets each year to keep the flock young, and cull the older birds for soup. Layers do best under about 2 years of age.


I figure we pay about $1-2/dozen when we consider feed, and we're getting 2 dozen per week. So maybe we're saving $100/year. The point of doing it is more to localize our food chain, and have a more direct relationship with where our food comes from, and have the kids grow up knowing that food doesn't just appear on store shelves. I'd generally agree that it's not worth it solely for the sake of saving a little money. I look at the small savings as a little perk.

Our chickens aren't at all smelly. I'm not sure I'd want to live in their coop, but even that isn't particularly offensive smelling. Just smells a little like animals live there. We shovel the dung onto our garden, as fertilizer. It's good stuff. The hens aren't noisey. In the morning they do some squawking as they lay, but it's nothing we can hear inside our house, 50 feet away from the coop.

They're frankly the easiest animals I've ever kept. Waaaaay easier (and more useful) than the dog. Even easier than the cats. I feed and water them once a week, and most days I take out the compost to them, and collect eggs. If we go away for a weekend, the eggs just pile up and we collect them when we return. If we're away for a week, we have a neighbor who is happy to check on them and collect the eggs in return.

Have fun.

Nate

Last edited by NateHanson; 03-04-2008 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 03-23-2008, 02:32 PM   #7
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My wife has asked me several times if we could a few, had a few growing up so I know the taking care part. Our backyard is 30ft by 50ft and we live in the middle of town. I'm pretty sure there's ordiances against it though. But it would be the ultimate retaliation for the neighbors yapping dogs... hmmm.
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:49 PM   #8
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My wife has told me several times she wants to put in a duck pond and get some ducks. But since we have 3 dogs - 2 lab mixes and a beagle - I think that's just asking for trouble.
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Old 03-27-2008, 01:33 PM   #9
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I think we're going to get 2 and try it out. I guess the worse that could happen would we get a letter from the city.. they like sending me letters anyway.
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:34 PM   #10
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My five hens started laying the day before thanksgiving. Here's their first effort:Backyard Chickens - Anyone have a 'flock'?-1.jpg

I figure it is the worlds most expensive egg. We've gotten around two dozen so far - so their per/egg (is that redundant?) cost has dropped dramatically .

The chickens have been, by far, my easiest and MOST satisfying DIY.

PS. I don't eat eggs, yuck. DH tells me they taste the same as factory eggs - but they sure are pretty.
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:12 PM   #11
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Leah, in case you eat chickens in my experience chickens that lay eggs do not taste like chickens that are raised for food. <-- This is in case you get tired of paying all that money for food and you decide to eat them. Another thing......plucking feathers is a horrible task!
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:32 PM   #12
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Leah:

You should also be aware that commercial chicken farms will feed calcium carbonate pellets to their chickens. That raises the amount of calcium in their blood so the eggs they lay have thick, hard shells that don't break as easily as chickens that aren't fed calcium carbonate. I found out about that when I was looking for a high purity source of calcium carbonate to use in a condensate neutralizer for a high efficiency boiler.

If you're into it, you MIGHT consider going to the library and looking for books on building a "bat house". People are sometimes scared of bats, but they are one of the most effective methods of keeping your whole neighborhood free of flying insects during the summer. Bats are nocturnal, so you don't even know they're there during the day, but at night while you sleep, they keep the flying insect population in your neighborhood under tight control. I know this because my aunt lived in a neighborhood where a neighbor did keep a family of bats, and she said it was great. She could spend evenings outdoors without being bothered by mosquitos and having moths around every light. She liked that because she had a light over her back door and she said that if there were moths swarming around it, she'd be scared to open the door cuz moths might fly into her house.

If the chickens don't work out, try building a house a family of bats might want to move into.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:16 PM   #13
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Nester, oyster shells (ground up) will also harder the shells, most of the feed stores sell it or at least they did when I raised chickens.

Do you know if you can buy bats? For some reason we don't have any in my area, a few people have put up houses to attract them but no luck so far.
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:26 PM   #14
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The biggest difference I've found in my home-grown eggs is that the shells are REALLY thick. Compared to factory eggs they are 2-3x thicker. My hens are pets not food - even though I have several dual-purpose breeds - my DH will not let me eat them. Plus, to keep chickens for meat you really have to have more than a few. Five's just right for me.

My hens get their calcium from their varied diet and from crushed oyster shells that I mix in with their feed.

And - I'm sorry, Bats? Where did that come from?
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Old 12-19-2008, 12:32 AM   #15
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And - I'm sorry, Bats? Where did that come from?
Well, it comes from the same place as urban chickens. It comes from thinking outside the box and having an open mind to consider novel ideas.

Fhivinylwindows:

Quote:
Do you know if you can buy bats? For some reason we don't have any in my area, a few people have put up houses to attract them but no luck so far.
I don't know if anyone sells bats but here's the contact info on people who would know:

Maberry Centre Bat Homes
c/o Marvin & Linda Maberry
1407 Maberry Rd. Daingerfield, TX 75638
(903) 645-7780 Office - (903) 645-2028 Shop
(903) 645-3699 Fax

The Maberry's are active members of Bat Conservation International,
http://www.batcon.org/
and make and sell bat houses to the public to promote the bat population:
http://www.maberrybat.com/index.php
The bat houses they make can be quite large, and will nest 200 or more bats. But, unlike birds, bats will hang upside down in clusters so you can fit A LOT of bats in a much smaller space than you can fit an equal number of birds. You can buy well designed bat house kits, fully assembled bat houses and multi chambered bat condos complete with video cameras to monitor your bats here:
http://www.batcatalog.com/scripts/pr...p?idCategory=5
Or, Google "bat house" to download free plans and appropriate design criteria for building your own bat house.

People tend to have a natural repulsion to creatures like bats and spiders even though both are very beneficial to us. There are groups across North America working for the conservancy of North America's bat population:
http://www.eparks.org/wildlife_prote.../bat_house.asp
http://www.cancaver.ca/bats/canada.htm

The only reason I can think of why the "bat houses" in your neighborhood aren't populated is because the bat houses may be designed much like bird houses. Bats are as different from birds as a fish is from a bicycle, and an improperly designed bat house will remain empty just as an improperly designed bird house will.

A bat house that's attractive to bats SHOULD soon have a family of bats living in it. We generally aren't aware that almost all of the continental US, Mexico and lots of southern Canada are the brown bat's natural habitat. It's just a matter of providing an attractive bat house, and before long, bats will find it.

In the following map the shaded area shows the habitat of brown bats in North America:




You can find brown bats almost everywhere in the continental United States and Mexico.

If you build it, they will come.

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