My husband and I have been tossing around ideas to be more self-sufficient. I said I'd like to have chickens, we go through quite a few eggs in our house. My hubby says "NO WAY, they are filthy!" So, what's the consensus here? He didn't think free range chickens lay eggs, do they? Do they lay in one specific are. Keep in mind I know nothing about this! We are only recently country folk! Do they have to be filthy? Is there a good way to do it? How many chickens should we have? I suppose we could put up a sign to sell eggs... we go through about 18 eggs per week. Thanks for your time in advance! Cheryl
>My husband and I have been tossing around ideas to be more self-sufficient. I said I'd like to have chickens, we go through quite a few eggs in our house. My hubby says "NO WAY, they are filthy!" So, what's the consensus here?
I have had free range chickens for 30 years. They are a lot of fun to have around and they are filthy. They get in my garage and poop on everything. They like to roost on top of my empty bee equipment and poop on everything. Obviously I think it's worth it.
>He didn't think free range chickens lay eggs, do they?
Of course they do.
>Do they lay in one specific are.
Each hen usually lays the same place everyday. Sometimes several hens decide to lay the same place. It helps if you provide a community nest box near where they roost with some nice soft dry grass in it for a nest, but in the end they lay where they want and sometimes I find 30 eggs or so in a hollow tree somewhere.
>Keep in mind I know nothing about this! We are only recently country folk! Do they have to be filthy?
Yes. They are chickens.
>Is there a good way to do it?
Try putting them in a hen house every night and closing it up. It's mostly when they roost that they make the filth. It's not bad if you can localize it in the hen house.
>How many chickens should we have?
How many eggs do you eat a week? You could get as much as an egg a day from a hen or as little as one egg for every two hens. Also they will only lay all year if you have mild winters, or you have heavy chickens AND you have a light out during the shorter days of the year. You have to have at least four or so to have a flock and chickens need a flock. You don't have to have any roosters unless you want to let them set and raise your own chicks. Then, you only need one rooster for every 20 hens or so and you don't want more than one rooster for ever 7 hens or so or you'll have a lot of fighting.
>I suppose we could put up a sign to sell eggs... we go through about 18 eggs per week. Thanks for your time in advance! Cheryl
I'd say seven hens and a rooster would make a nice flock of chickens for you. I've had the best luck with the Araconas. They tend to roost in the trees and they have survived the predators here where all the rest of the breeds have not. They also lay green and blue eggs.
Of course you always have too many or not enough eggs depending on the time of year.
If you buy mail order chicks then come in packages of 25. If you go to the farm store in the spring, you can buy as many or as few as you like.
Yes they are filthy, that's why they are called fowl, I have a spooky (rooster) and 18 hens. Yes I name the rooster, go ahead and laugh . Now I keep them in a coup at night. Part of the day they stay in a 18X20 penned, there is a top to the pen or as I call it 'play area'. When I get home at 350PM I let them out to the big world till night fall where they go back into the coup. They rom around 5 acres that is all theirs. It has woods and fields and yes they get to play with the bees. I get close to 2.5 dozen eggs a week. I sell some, I eat (burp) some and the rest I give to my dogs.
They don't go in my garage. I chase them out or (new Idea MB) close the door. If I don't we'll get a lot of guano in there. That's incentive enough to close it. I enjoy my chickens a lot. In the coup I have straw or hay on the floor which I clean up one a month. I do this basically in winter since the secret to keeping chickens is to keep the moisture down. Summer there is hardly any cleaning involved. I have 5 nest boxes and the girls will run into the coup to lay an egg. Most of the time they all like to lay in one nest. I have to take the eggs out everyday. I also have a 60 watt light about a foot from the floor. I figure the heat if any will go up to keep the chickens warm in winter.
My wife and I have chickens, goats, bees, two dogs and three cats, all on two acres of land.
We have Barred Rock, Araconnas, Orington Buffs and Rhode Island Reds - 17 chickens total. We sell what we don't use for $1.50 a dozen. I fenced in 1/2 acre where the goats and chickens have free reign and built a 20 x 20 feet roofed 'shed', and used chicken wire around the sides so nothing can bother them at night when they bed down. This is also where I built the nesting boxes where the hens lay. We have no roosters because I don't want them raising chicks continiously. I buy bags of pine shavings from the feed store to spread on the ground in the shed and this helps keep the place neat and clean. We rake it out occasionally and replace it and I spread it on the garden to till in and put some in the compost pile.
We raise all of our animals as pets and everyone who comes over likes to go to the shed and pet the goats and feed the chickens. Our grandson has a blast.
I highly reccomend doing it. It is a source of fun, relaxation and also a source of income.
The more I can live off of the land the better. I think we all should get back to the basics and IMHO it would make people get closer to one another and the world would be a better place to live.
>They don't go in my garage. I chase them out or (new Idea MB) close the door.
I'm afraid the Cardinals have broken out all the windows in the garage and the chickens just fly in the windows anyway. Also the door doesn't latch and my kids seldom remember to block it shut with the brick there for that purpose. Also the front (sliding) door is usually left open by someone. Maybe the term "garage" is misleading. Actually it's a big long corrogated metal machine shed with a dirt floor.
It's impossible, without putting a roof on the yard, to keep these Araconas in the pen, at night or otherwise and since the ones that stayed in got eaten or carried off by something, the Araconas are the only ones left.
Ah coyote, MB, back to that gun control thing hu? That's what I do to the cats that come around and kill my chickens. Since I live in the woods these are wild cats. So far they have taken 8 of my chickens. I did not think they could but I have seen two of them doing just that so ..... A hunting we will go.
I don't get many clear shots at varmits. Between the neighbor to the North, the horses on the West and South side, my house etc. So I usually try to trap varmits. But sometimes they get cornered in the chicken house and I can get a nice downward, safe shot at them...
Just to mention another option....guinnea fowl are a blast. Their eggs have a higher percentage of yolk (yah, real hyper-yellow omelettes)than chickens. They take care of themselves real well....roosting out in a 80' maple 8 -9 months/year. They eventually move into the coop when winter really hits. Beside feeding them alittle scratch in the a.m., they basically feed on various insects (no bee problems) all day which is cool to have done around the house when that includes ticks,etc.. Due to their awareness (no their not smart, just paranoid) and quickness, they deal real well w/ predators. However, If a hen decides to lay/sit on a nest outside of the coop, 9 times out of 10 she will be toast (coyote, fox, mink, etc.). Once in awhile we'll find a decapitated body left where they roost from an owl visit...but that's the give and take of nature and I hope the owl chicks thrive.
Chickens are outstanding, and MB et al are correct in that they are also pretty messy if you let them run around. We had a group of four that would march up to the porch every morning and let loose quicker than a white separatist on a federal agent.
(sorry, have to get my mind somewhere else.)
Anyway we just inherited a batch of 15 and they will be going in mobile chicken tractors (which are large bottomless cages that allow the chickens to eat bugs and grass, but not leave the processed bugs and grass on your porch.) I would recommend the same for you. Of course, I do miss laughing at all the odd places and odd times the true free-range chickens used to show up. They are natural comedians. But we just lost too many to predators. If you allow the chickens to eat more grass and less grain, the eggs are much much healthier for you, not to mention tastier. (Though some people are so used to the bland factory eggs that the flavor does not appeal to them.)
You do need to get used to the idea that some chickens are probably going to be killed. Dont get too attached. Chickens are the universal prey.
One word about guinea hens they take care of themselves, but they can be LOUD, and they never shut up. As an Amish acquaintance here in Ohio said,
Guinea hens!! They remind me of the Teufel I mean the Devil. They always have something to say.
Of course one wonders what the Devil says to Amish people
Get a car
you know, that job would go a lot quicker with a chainsaw
why not put a zipper on that coat?
Funny you mention it, up intill last night I had 23 chickens, now I'm down to 22. Not sure what took the one, but I'm settn the trap tonight.
My chickens have a 5X8 coop and a fenced yard. I'd like to let em run free, but between the loose dogs, feral cats and oh yea the law that says I shouldn't have chickens, they are just safer in their own yard.
Only eight of the chickens are laying, the others are a little young yet. But right at the moment I got one addicted to eating the eggs. If any one knows a remidy for this, other then a frier, let me know.
I like buying fertile eggs and hatching them myself. I keep the hens and when the roosters start crowing I turn em into friers. Auctually I had my brothers kids hatch my chicks this year. Its interesting to them and they learn something, what I'm not sure, but I know they learned something....