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Wherever chickens are outlawed, only outlaws will have chickens.

Wherever chickens are outlawed, only outlaws will have chickens...

I figured I'd start a thread to talk about experiences with backyard chickens. Chickens are not outlawed in my area, but I've always thought that quote was clever.

I live on less than a quarter-acre, but I am able to produce way more food than you'd think.

One of the ways I produce food and compost material is raising chickens. Chickens are easy to take care of and need just food, water, and a clean coop. I have 4 laying hens in a fenced-off area of the back yard. The coop is about 3'x5'. In their first year of laying, they produced more eggs than my wife and I could eat. We gave away plenty of eggs to the neighbors. Their laying dropped off considerably this past winter and we occasionally had to buy eggs from the store.

With the local dairyman, I've exchanged home-made jam for bales of straw. He'd probably oblige for nothing but I don't like to take without giving. Straw makes a great bedding for the coop and when you clean the coop, it decomposes well with the manure into a nitrogen rich compost.

Collecting eggs is fun, reward for your labors, and fresh eggs are uber-delicious. It's also nice to throw them your table scraps, knowing it is cutting down on your feed bill and it's not throwing perfectly good food into the trash!

Hens make a little bit of noise, but it's not intrusive to us or the neighbors.

I buy layer pellets for feed, but I supplement that with wheat, barley, and corn I've collected from local farmers during harvest. Farmers are quite willing to let people collect grains they've spilled out of the combines or near the augers. It's always nice to get some free chicken feed!

I just thought I'd throw this out there. I have a feeling there might be a few chicken raising folks out here on the DP. This might be a good opportunity to compare notes so that we might have healthier backyard flocks.

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I used to have a flock and sell the eggs as a kid.

Never made much, lost a lot of hens to varmits, had a lot to learn. I'd love to have a few again, but the boss says no....strangeky the city government is okay with it though.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

Nice post!

I am by no means an authority, but we have 9 assorted hens protected by a bad-ass rooster in addition to 9 Muscovy duck hens and 2 drakes. They all get along rather well, and the ducks follow the rooster and respond to his alerts (which are often, as we're in the sticks with fox and coyote around).

If you're starting out and on a budget, I'd advise getting a dozen-plus of unsexed chicks and seeing what/who develops. Definitely keep a rooster (a couple if you can free range), as hens are happier / healthier with a man about. Extra males = meat birds. Honestly, I believe it is important to go all out with birds. Axing some males and processing is hard work, but I think it is important to get a real sense of where food comes from. Plus, the chickens you grow will taste better than any you've ever had from the store!

Lots of good suggestions on this post as far as scraps, non-GMO foodstuffs, composting, coops, etc.

Depending somewhat upon where you live, loss is a real and inescapable part of having birds. Whether it's a bold fox (One carried off one of my duck hens 3 days ago. Grrr... *weep*) in the woods or a raccoon/opossum in the neighborhood, you WILL lose somebody from your flock. (Our dogs played with a bird or 2 "to death" when we first got them, but they ignore them now.) So grab a couple more birds than you may feel you need.

I do want to plug Muscovies really fast. They are great ducks if you can find a source nearby. They are tree ducks and do not migrate, and they are non-mallard... being more closely related to geese (and much larger than runner ducks, etc.). They are quiet: they hiss and do not quack, so they are good for survivalists fearing detection by roaming zombies. The females are fantastic mothers: we have two duck hens and a chicken hen sharing one nest right now with over twenty eggs! The broody females are good surrogate mothers for other birds. 5 male birds processed = 30 lbs of delicious, fine dining quality meat! And duck eggs are the absolute frickin' BOMB! Richer than chicken eggs, thicker protein matrix in the whites, so better for baking. (Very trendy now, too, so you can sell them for over a buck an egg to the right people.)

What would the Founders do?

mountaincat's picture

Chickens are outlawed here.

Should I break the law to challenge it
or challenge the law to break it?

They are outlawed here too, Grand Rapids Mi

The city had a proposal to allow chickens, but it was shot down because they claimed chickens attracted rodents.

GR here too!

They have outlawed chickens and promoted fluoride in the water. Mayor Hartwell is also into gun control . We have a most beautiful city. I only wish that the City Government would get out of the way.

http://www.dailypaul.com/275412/grand-rapids-was-first-to-ad...

Laurelai

Its a chicken coop.

The "p" is silent. Chickens will set you free, they are a r3volutionary creature.

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

Some communities don't just outlaw chickens!

Gardens are outlaws in some places, as well! (Learned this from a gift subscription to Organic Gardening ! )

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Yeah isn't that nuts!?

I was just reading somewhere the other day that a couple in Florida was having to go to war with the local authorities (read: tyrants) over having a small garden in their front yard. Pure insanity!

I'm reaching up and reaching out.
I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been.
Spiral out.

Outlaw Chicken - awesome band name...

otherwise, yeah, totally!

Family business used to collect restaurant cooking oil and turn it into diesel fuel additive. Always would tell people 'it's not as easy as it sounds'.

It was probably the pandas.

good posts deserve...

bumps.

LL on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LibertyPoet
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
http://www.dailypaul.com/203008/south-carolina-battle-of-cow...
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Nice Post

I am moving to Arkansas and want to raise some hens. Had some years ago but don't know much about chickens except I had several hens that laid double yolk eggs. My worry is finding mash for chicks that isn't GMO.

skippy

Not sure how to find mash

Not sure how to find mash that isn't GMO. You can make your own mash. I have a friend that feeds his hens crushed barley, kitchen scraps, and crushed egg shells. They lay just fine.

I need to get a crusher so I can crush wheat and barley. It is easy to get free grains at harvest time, just talk to local farmers and ask if you can fill some 5 gallon buckets from their over-spill near the augers or near where the combines unloaded into the trucks. Otherwise, you might be able to get a mash from a dairy farmer- they feed their cows a combination of grass and grain.

Of course, you could always grown your own grains. I've heard of some folks who planted trees that produce fruits that fall into the chicken run which cuts down on the feed bill. I'd do a search to see what bushes or trees would be most beneficial.

The founders would be ashamed at us for what we are putting up with.

if you are buying barley you are probably OK

Monsanto hasn't bothered to push GMO versions of most of the minor grains, so milo, barley, oats, millet, maybe some home grow forage beets. In the summer plant some zucchinni and cucumbers just for the ckickens, they love them.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

3 chickens over 150 eggs in 3 months.

my wife wanted a hobby because I had too many hobbies, so she suggested getting chickens. Well, I built the coop and take care of them, so add another hobby to MY list. Since oct 19, we got over 150 eggs. They are hilarious and I absolutely love them. Winter cuts down on egg production but they at least are surviving and pumping out about 2 a day. Every morning I walk out to feed them, they dash to the fence, really makes you feel appreciated.

I also brew beer and they love the spent grains.

try some light if you want more eggs

hens lay less during the shorter days. a light that in on a time for a few hours a day will trick them into laying like it is summer year round. extreme weather will cut production as well, so keep them warm (above freezing) in the winter, and give them some cool dirt to bathe in in the summer, and they'll be happy as can be.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

I've got 9 chickens and they

I've got 9 chickens and they have brought us a lot of joy and humor. They sure are smart for such dumb clucks. One of our chickens disappeared for a month and we thought she was lost. Turns out she was under a bush brooding on 20 unfertilized eggs. She would not get off that nest no matter what we did. She was actually dying because she would not get off to eat or drink. So I ordered some fertilized eggs in the mail and got 4 americauna eggs and 4 black copper marans. 6 hatched and that chicken has been such a good mom. Unfortunately the chicks got attacked one night by a predator and only 3 survived. Does anyone know how I can determine if the chicks are male or female? They are a few months old now.

By now...

Your roos should have red combs (and maybe waddles as well) but your pullets combs are probably still yellow or just starting to get pink. Roosters legs should be thicker than the pullets, too.

Ron Paul convert from the Heart of Dixie

I've heard you can sex them

I've heard you can sex them when they are newborn chicks by placing them in your palm on their back. A male will tend to bring his legs and feet up while females will rest their legs strait out.

The founders would be ashamed at us for what we are putting up with.

You can,

but its not as easy as it sounds. People who do that for a living aren't even very good at it. lol

Love the quote - good for a

Love the quote - good for a laugh. I have been thinking about getting some chickens. I need to keep them seperate from our dogs. I talked to my neighbors and I don't think they would mind. Any advice to get started -

I would like to get a rooster too (in case things really get bad), but not sure if the noise would be too much.

when I was a kid

If a dog took a chicken we would hang the carcass from the dogs collar for a few hours to a day after a good scolding. It always seemed to get the point across. Then again there are dogs who just go wild with bloodlust, nothing for that but to get rid of the dog but by that poin they are dangerous to every animal (and little children) not just your birds.

Josh Brueggen
Engineer
Entrepreneur
Gardener
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

Dog Whisperer

Borrow the Dog Whisperer videos re dogs that shred and destroy property, and snap when over food. I'm pretty sure it's just a matter of "claiming" the chickens as your own, and making sure the dogs understand that. Of course, Cesar makes it look easy...

I don't have any dogs, but I love that show! The techniques work on people, too.

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

I'd start with building a

I'd start with building a coop. I live in a cold winter climate so I insulated my coop with 1 1/2" Styrofoam insulation. I also added a heat lamp on a thermostat to prevent their water from freezing and to prevent the eggs from freezing. If eggs freeze, the whites break and the yolk becomes brittle, but they are still edible, just not nearly as good.

If there are potential night-time predators then you need to have a door you can shut at night. The chickens will instinctively make their way to the coop at sunset.

The coop needs some sort of nest boxes. Nest boxes should be easily accessible for harvesting your eggs.

As far as the roo goes, you can start with a roo but if he becomes ornery or a nuisance, then you can cook him up! Young chickens will taste better than old chickens.

I have a friend whose chickens run around the yard with the cats and dogs with no problems, and his dogs are guard dogs. So I don't know exactly how to accomplish this, but my cat is deathly afraid of the chickens- one peck to the nose learned him good!

The founders would be ashamed at us for what we are putting up with.

I'd love to get some chickens

I'd love to get some chickens but I don't think my big dogs will like them much (or probably a little too much!! LOL).

My cat and dog (boxer) have

My cat and dog (boxer) have adjusted to the chickens. No one messes with the chickens because they will win- you'll see.

ConstitutionHugger's picture

an idea that's ready to hatch

I have done some research on backyard chickens. I plan to buy one little chick for each of my three kids this Easter. The breed I chose is the unusual Silkie chicken. It has angora fur-like feathers and is very gentle and kid friendly. The meat and bones are black and according to Chinese medicine has restorative powers. I like a pet that is magical, fluffy, and lays eggs. And if the HOA complains, I'll tell them they are two legged cats. Look how fluffy!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykMhDJlsPus

I have a silkie trio

They are a very friendly breed except for that my roo HATES my red rain boots that I wear when I'm out tending to them most of the time. If I wear other shoes he doesn't even notice me but when I wear those he will stalk me and attack them whenever I turn my back. My husband thinks it's hilarious.

Just so you know, they are a pretty small breed so they don't provide much meat (compared to other breeds) and they lay very small eggs. They are a great breed to have for fun but I wouldn't want them to be my only breed in a SHTF scenario.

Ron Paul convert from the Heart of Dixie

ConstitutionHugger's picture

Thanks for the fun story- I'll remember, no red boots!

True, they are not the best breed for food production. But I am in an HOA that doesn't allow chickens. I figured they'd be great for my kids, and that I might be able to show they are pets, not livestock, if ever I got busted. Yes- I'll be one of those chicken outlaws. We plan to move in a few years and I'll get some better food chickens then. Hopefully the shit will stay in place until then. But part of me wants to just get it over with, let it fly.

Ha!

They could pass for 2 legged cats!

The founders would be ashamed at us for what we are putting up with.

I have chickens...

Quite a few more than I should have probably but I have found them to be a bit addictive. Currently we have 19 plus I have 56 (viable-I candled them yesterday) eggs in my incubator(S) due to hatch in about 5 days. I also have 5 goats.

I have been reading about growing my own fodder to use as feed and I think that's something I'm going to start on soon. I was planning on adding an aquaponics system to our greenhouse this spring so I may as well try fodder too!

Ron Paul convert from the Heart of Dixie