Do you raise chickens? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 06:10 PM
 
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I didn't raise chicks, I got all of mine as pullets. I got to skip the brooder and chick-feed hassle and expenses and go straight to the good part (eggs and pest control)!

If you're looking for chicks, see if there's a farm store, garden store, or hardware store in your area selling chicks. Many of them do have them in season (this won't start up until the end of February at the absolute earliest; you may have to wait until March or April).

As for homemade feed, we feed ours a local feed with no corn or soy in it, and give them a handful of corn-based scratch every day. We also give them most of our kitchen scraps - vegetable trimmings and peels, old fruit gone soft, apple cores, eggshells, leftover eggs, basically anything we don't want to eat except avocado (it's poisonous to them), chicken meat (for obvious reasons), or garlic and onions (they don't like it and it would make the eggs taste bad). We just throw it all into a bowl over the course of the day and in the morning I throw it into the food processor to make a big meal out of it; then we dump it in a little feeder we made by cutting off the bottom of a kitty-litter container and punching hooks into it. (Their regular feed is in a bucket feeder.)
Wow- good to know! Do you have to process up all the scraps before you give them, or can you give chunks of produce (like the ends I trim off broccoli, etc.)?

I'm pretty excited that I just found a local feed company that has a corn/soy-free feed, so I might look into that instead of making my own.

The reason I'm looking at getting chicks (there are tons of pullets around here on Craigslist) is that I want to make sure that I'm getting birds with NO abx or vaccines in them. Plus, the little chics are so cute, and I think it would be a cool experience for DD to watch them grow.

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#32 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 07:55 PM
 
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Serial posting.... I have another question:

I'm trying to work out logistics of where the coop will be. We have a covered back porch that has huge built-in closets that would work perfect- I could just cut out a small door and attach a run to the outside of it for the chickens to get in and out (and there's a fullsize door on the inside for me to get in.) The issue is that there are rooms on either side of the porch (think U-shaped house, porch in the middle of the U.) Do you think that would just amplify the noise and drive me (and my neighbors) insane? Or make it worse for me, but better for the neighbors? Do chickens usually get quiet once the sun goes down, or are they noisy all night?

TIA wise mamas!

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#33 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 08:27 PM
 
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Wow- good to know! Do you have to process up all the scraps before you give them, or can you give chunks of produce (like the ends I trim off broccoli, etc.)?
Depends on your chickens. I hear of so many people with barnyard chickens who can just consume an entire uncut pumpkin and things like that, but my girls were mostly hand-raised as chicks and they're a bit spoiled. They'll eat soft things like cream cheese and tofu and cooked squash in big chunks, but raw broccoli stalks and other hard materials, I have to chop up. The eggshells I just crumble by hand.

It's very good to give them back their own eggshells; the calcium is good for the future eggs, so they can just keep recycling it. They like eating them too. They also love protein and don't get much of it in their feed, so let them out periodically to look for bugs and worms, and give them things like tofu, meat (just not chicken; they love fish and beef), cheese rinds, cream cheese, cooked eggs, etc. If you ever get maggots in your garbage (I know, this is gross) your chickens will LOVE them, and will eat them before they get to develop into annoying nasty flies. You can also throw them your restaurant leftovers.

They'll all have their own special preferences - I have two who won't eat apples, and two who will fight each other over apples. One of mine is the star Worm Hunter, another will fly four feet in the air for a spider, and the other two would kill their own chicks (if they had any) for tofu. For entertainment sometimes I'll throw them a chunk of steak fat and watch them play Chicken Football - they need to put it down and eat it slowly, but the others will jump in if they do, so they'll run around the yard stealing it from each other for hours. In the winter it's good to give them extra corn scratch and other fats so they can stay warm and build up a little fat reserve so they lay better in spring.

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I'm trying to work out logistics of where the coop will be. We have a covered back porch that has huge built-in closets that would work perfect- I could just cut out a small door and attach a run to the outside of it for the chickens to get in and out (and there's a fullsize door on the inside for me to get in.) The issue is that there are rooms on either side of the porch (think U-shaped house, porch in the middle of the U.) Do you think that would just amplify the noise and drive me (and my neighbors) insane? Or make it worse for me, but better for the neighbors? Do chickens usually get quiet once the sun goes down, or are they noisy all night?
Chickens go dead quiet and right to sleep in the dark. If something startles them awake they'll squawk, but generally they go to sleep as soon as it gets dark and they won't wake up until just before dawn (they see light before we do). For this reason, if you ever need to clip their wings or do other maintenance they won't like, do it when it's dark out; they're sleepy and much more docile.

Hens don't make too much noise in the morning, though they'll lay at any time of day and often will make a big announcement when they do. Most people put the coop at some distance from the house but if you don't mind the chicken doody and the mess (they kick their litter all over the place) right next to the house then go for it. I don't know if you've got permit issues or what the law is in your area, but in my area the coop is required to be 20 feet from all residences. Nobody's coming around to enforce the backyard chicken laws without a complaint though.
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#34 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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Wow- good to know! Do you have to process up all the scraps before you give them, or can you give chunks of produce (like the ends I trim off broccoli, etc.)?

I'm pretty excited that I just found a local feed company that has a corn/soy-free feed, so I might look into that instead of making my own.

The reason I'm looking at getting chicks (there are tons of pullets around here on Craigslist) is that I want to make sure that I'm getting birds with NO abx or vaccines in them. Plus, the little chics are so cute, and I think it would be a cool experience for DD to watch them grow.
Another reason to get chicks is that you know they have a less chance of having diseases. With my first flock I bought all pullets ready to lay, and then they all died one by one of a disease. Chicken diseases are creepy...one chicken can get sick and then heal up, but it remains a silent carrier for life so it constantly reinfects other chickens and kills them or reduces their laying ability and quality of life. (How's that for a long sentence. ) If you get chicks you know they are less likely to be diseased because few diseases pass through the egg, and those that do aren't passed on at a very high percentage. Also new chicks are isolated in a brooder, so they have a lesser chance of being exposed to whatever diseases your Craigslist farmer might have in his barnyard.

I ordered chicks from Ideal hatchery several times. You can order whatever number of chicks you want, you just have to pay a fee of something like $8 if you order a lesser amount. They will give you extra rooster chicks "packing peanuts" for warmth, but you can give those away on Craigslist in a split second!

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#35 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 09:14 PM
 
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Chickens go dead quiet and right to sleep in the dark. If something startles them awake they'll squawk, but generally they go to sleep as soon as it gets dark and they won't wake up until just before dawn (they see light before we do). For this reason, if you ever need to clip their wings or do other maintenance they won't like, do it when it's dark out; they're sleepy and much more docile.

Hens don't make too much noise in the morning, though they'll lay at any time of day and often will make a big announcement when they do. Most people put the coop at some distance from the house but if you don't mind the chicken doody and the mess (they kick their litter all over the place) right next to the house then go for it. I don't know if you've got permit issues or what the law is in your area, but in my area the coop is required to be 20 feet from all residences. Nobody's coming around to enforce the backyard chicken laws without a complaint though.
That's exactly what I was hoping you'd say (about them being quiet when it's dark.) I live in an unincorporated county area, and the rules are pretty basic- one chicken per square feet of property, up to 2,000 chickens- that's it. BUT.... if it would be stinky and gross next to the house, then I will definitely reconsider. The closets are closed to the porch (unless you open the door, of course) so I don't think that the mess would get onto the porch... but smell is another issue.

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I ordered chicks from Ideal hatchery several times. You can order whatever number of chicks you want, you just have to pay a fee of something like $8 if you order a lesser amount. They will give you extra rooster chicks "packing peanuts" for warmth, but you can give those away on Craigslist in a split second!
Thanks!

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#36 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 10:25 PM
 
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Keep it clean and it won't smell. My chicken coop doesn't stink. I just meant that some people get squicked out by chicken poop near the house. Me, eh, it's all over my yard because I let them out for a few minutes every day. It's mostly just salad anyway.

But no, the coop doesn't stink if you keep it clean and well-ventilated, which you should do no matter how close it is to the house.
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#37 of 42 Old 01-12-2010, 11:04 PM
 
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Keep it clean and it won't smell. My chicken coop doesn't stink. I just meant that some people get squicked out by chicken poop near the house. Me, eh, it's all over my yard because I let them out for a few minutes every day. It's mostly just salad anyway.

But no, the coop doesn't stink if you keep it clean and well-ventilated, which you should do no matter how close it is to the house.
Cool.

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#38 of 42 Old 01-16-2010, 01:41 AM
 
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Following this thread. We're considering getting chicks in the spring, or at least i'm trying to talk dh into it. We already have a barn & attached shed/coop, it would be a matter of cleaning/prepping for them.

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#39 of 42 Old 03-02-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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I would suggest mixing and grinding your own chicken feed! The organic chicken feed is very expensive, and it's still very processed and denatured. Non-organic chicken feed is filled with soy and GMOs. Here is a great recipe:

http://greenerpasturesfarm.com/ChickenFeedRecipe.html

Adding a garlic clove to their water, along with a splash of apple cider vineger, helps keep parasites away, and giving the chickens "live" foods like sprouts and kombucha or kefir also help make them (and their eggs!) healthy.

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#40 of 42 Old 04-09-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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first for anyone looking for a great starter book on chickens, Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is great.

on to my question:
1) i've been on backyardchickens for a while but i am definitely more concerned about natural materials and such then most people there so i thought MDC chicken people might be able to help me. what do you do for lumber when you are building a coop and fence posts? i am scared to use pressure treated lumber for fence posts or a coop base because i know chickens love to peck anything to death. what do i use instead? do i spend a fortune and buy cedar? yikes....

2) linoleum as a floor and poop board covering - is it ok? is linoleum somehow toxic (like everything else convenient)?

thanks in advance!
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#41 of 42 Old 04-09-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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first for anyone looking for a great starter book on chickens, Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is great.

on to my question:
1) i've been on backyardchickens for a while but i am definitely more concerned about natural materials and such then most people there so i thought MDC chicken people might be able to help me. what do you do for lumber when you are building a coop and fence posts? i am scared to use pressure treated lumber for fence posts or a coop base because i know chickens love to peck anything to death. what do i use instead? do i spend a fortune and buy cedar? yikes....

2) linoleum as a floor and poop board covering - is it ok? is linoleum somehow toxic (like everything else convenient)?

thanks in advance!
We used old redwood fence boards for most of it. The floor is plywood -- we use the deep litter method and clean it out once or twice a year, using the shavings and poo for compost. It has worked great for us! I can't imagine not using the method we do. It doesn't smell and takes nearly zero attention. The litter never gets wet so there is no need for waterproofing or spraying out---- the good microbes do the cleaning for us. If I ever did need to sanitize it I'd scrub it down with vinegar I suppose. Our chickens are healthy so I've never had a need.

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#42 of 42 Old 04-09-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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Yup, Storey Guides to ANYTHING are great, lol.

We use to order chicks from Murray McMurray, but quit when we lost almost 50 chicks when they must've gotten cold during shipping. Now we order from Ideal Poultry and love them!

Not sure of the count, but we probably have about 65 chickens, including a coop full of 6 weekers. My middle kiddos are going out today to secure their "play area" outside their coop so they can start coming out daily. They'll go in w/the other chickens in a couple more weeks.

Ours mostly free ranged, but I started locking them up in our barn until about 4 p.m. because I got tired of looking for eggs, lol. It's Easter every day here! Also because we were having a coyote issue there for awhile.

We have gone thru chickens being picked off by owls, hawks, a fox, coyotes, but the worst was a stray dog attack. Got 23 of my chickens and most of my guineas. This was years ago, and we now have learned to shoot first, ask questions (or not) later. The 3 S's are Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up. Whether it's a stray dog, wild animal, or a neighbor's dog. Just part of living in the country, though. Some people think it's ok to just let their animals run loose, even though there's a containment law out here....

I am putting in raised gardening beds this year and before I dared plant seeds I fenced it off. My chickens would scratch it all up fast if I didn't. Guineas are another story...they are great to garden with!

Oh, and we do the deep litter method. Total clean out twice yearly.

And we use fly predators for fly control now. Works great!

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