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divermike

anyone here raise chickens??

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Hello all,
just wonderin, does anybody here have experience at raising chickens for eggs? My friend sells me his surplus, and they are far superior to store bought, so I figured out the costs involved, and while it does not appear to be a money making deal, it does mean free eggs, better eggs, and an emergency food supply on feet! I am building a coop, here is a pic of the trusses I made from steel studs!

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G'Day Divermike, we have had about four batches of chooks over the last 12 years or so. We're in Oz, but I guess there is not a lot of difference ( apart from snow ;) ). In a nutshell you need a coop with a horizontal pole for them to perch on, one to two nest boxes per 4 birds, food and water supply, an attached fenced on all sides area, where they can scratch around during the day and ideally a concrete floor on the coop. I put a drain hole in the concrete floor to make it easy to hose out, I also put mesh over this to keep vermin out. Ideally the whole coop should be vermin proof. I'm not sure what sort of predators you have over there but the outside area really needs to be fenced on all sides, as some animals can dig underneath and some can climb over. It can be great if you can let them out during the day to scratch around your garden, they will eat weed seeds and bugs and turn the soil over, but, they will also eat seedlings and some other plants. Not sure what breeds you have over there but cross breeds are usually better layers and they can be feed on commercially available feeds or on kitchen scraps with some supplements. Also try to get birds that are breed humanely, we once got birds that must have crammed together in cages, as they had their beaks trimmed to stop them pecking each other and it took them 2 months to work out what the perch was for. Lastly try to get birds at an age called point of lay they are a little dearer but it saves you waiting many weeks if you buy young chicks.

Hope this helps

Ian

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As long as you are not like my neighbor raising "pets" She has over 50 birds...

Things to remember is chickens attract raccoon and other predators. Install hardware wire under the floor. If you need to have brooding lamps take the time to run a proper circuit to the coop so you are not running on extension cords. My neighbor's beloved coop burned because of this. Only the adults survived.

Chickens CAN fly, and CAN clear a 10 ft fence or wall. This means that your "yard" will need a cover, or you will need to clip flight feathers on your birds. It also means that those metal studs will need to have the sharp edges protected.

Phil

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The wife has Barred Rocks,Aracanas,Reds and another breed that escapes me now.Sells eggs thru the bank of all places.We about break even on feed during the summer but they slow down alot during the winter so we go in the hole to get the eggs and the customers keep calling to see if we have extra(same ones every year,go figure).
We live off in the woods so predators range from raccoons,fishers and weasels on one end to owls and hawks on the airborne side.360 fencing is a MUST for us.
I was able to score a tube frame like they use for a greenhouse or a tent type garage down at the dump so the framing was a snap for the coop and run.I screwed some 2X2 to the pipe and then wrap the run in clear plastic tarp for the winter,more light=more eggs.
Ian`s idea of a concrete floor sounds like a winner,beats shoveling or forking litter.It`d keep the run drier during the winter too.Think I`ll put that on the LONG list.

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We have about fifteen or so here at Walnut Valley Farm. We don't manage our flock very well and so only get about 4 to 5 eggs per day. That is more than we use though. We have way too many roosters (4 or 5). What I wish we had is a good tractor type coop that we could move about the yards (have plans to make one of those). We have had free ranging flocks and that is real nice but dogs, raccoons, foxes and hawks take a toll. Personally I really like the birds (we have a couple of free ranging guineas too), I feel them as a friendly and interesting presence here. One determined hen sat on eggs through this winter (record breaking cold here in MO) I kind of felt badly that I let her expend such an effort in such a futile cause... but a couple of days ago I heard a strange cheeping sound in there and discovered that she had managed to hatch ONE. She is so SO PROUD! They have a little chiconspiracy going out there. They all warn the baby when they see me approaching and the mama gets herself set with the chick hiding beneath her skirts. I have tried to catch the little critter to make sure that he gets food and water but when he is panicked he runs like Walter Payton in a broken field!! I would have to want him badly to get him. I guess he cannot be starving or dehydrated and still run like that!

I have recently discovered diatomaceous earth as an additive to their food and highly recommend it. About a half cup per bag of feed kills most of the moths and worms that otherwise infest it and helps to control intestinal parasites when they ingest it too. It does NOT harm the eggs (unlike the commercial wormers... you should not eat the eggs for weeks after using them). Be sure to get FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth as there are pool additives and such that would NOT be appropriate for your flock. This is also a good treatment for wild bird seed if you have feeders... those darn moths get into everything if you let them prosper! I have a lot of neat pics of the chickens but will need more time to get them organized and uploaded. I'll put up a few later. I gotta clean house today and the KU vs Mizzou game this afternoon will occupy me for a while so don't look for them right away.

Clay

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Hiya Mike! Keeping a flock is a lot of fun. I kept birds for several years when I lived in the southern tier.
I recomend Rhode Island reds, they are a hearty breed for the north and lay at a good rate. Good winter layers too.
Keep some oyster shell in the coop for them as they need to replace the calcium they lose in producing eggs. Some layer mash feeds have oyster shell added. When I first started keeping chickens I worked for Blue Seal feeds and could buy any animal feed at a deep discount right at work but I found it more economical to get it at a local feed mill, a much smaller operation a mile from my house, even with my employee discount it cost less to buy it outright from the small local guy but it had no suppliments added. I put a tin match dispenser in the coop, the type you would see on the wall next to a wood burning kitchen cook stove to hold blue tip matches, just the right size. I kept about a dozen hens and a handful of oyster shell in the match tin every few days was enough.
Buy everything new as far as waterers, feeders, etc. Cleanliness is paramount and picking up a used waterer at an auction could mean exposing your flock to desease. I used a section of vinyl gutter for a feed trough with the covered hopper mounted externally on the outside wall of the coop. Sawdust for the floor was free at a nearby amish sawmill. I used saplings cut from the woods out back for roost poles.
I always let my birds freerange, just open the little doors in the morning and close them when sunset brings the birds back in. Feeding them at the same time everyday helps this. I did have an enclosed run attached to the coop but I only restricted them to the run if I was going to be gone for a day or two. If you plan to keep them confined to an enclosed area it will be entirely denuded to bare dirt in no time. Like the others said predators are a constant. Rats, mink, coons, opossum, fox, 'yotes, owls, hawks, snakes, skunks, you name it, and the neighbor's cat too. I had a hen that dissappeared on me for a week and then reappeared with a brood of about eight chicks. They moved back into the coop with the others and momma had them out & about in the yard everyday. I noticed little by little there were less of them, and less of them. Got down to threee chicks when one day I happened to be at the sink in the kitchen looking out the window at momma and her remaining trio when a red tailed hawk swooped down and swiped one, carrying it up to the top of the telephone pole at the end of the driveway. Aha! there was my culprit! The only remedy is to keep the chicks indoors until they gain some size. I don't think I lost any fully grown birds to raptors anad most of the other predators are nocturnal. KEEP YOUR FEED IN A METAL TRASH CAN or will will just have fat rodents. Lots of folks think they don't have rats around, wrong, they are everywhere.
Get a book or two on keeping chickens, Storey's guides are good.
I look forward to keeping a coop again as I can't do that here where I am now in a villiage. A freind of mine had his barn razed and is keeping for me the stainless steel milk tank. It is about 30" high and eight ft by 12 ft with a drain in the bottom center. This is going to be the foundation for the next coop. I do not recomend buying birds at an auction, get chicks delivered through the mail from a hatchery, start fresh. Do not risk adding birds from another source later. Guineas are neat to have around as well. They eat a lot of bugs around your property, will totally gangbang a snake and serve as watchdogs, if anyone arrives at your place you will know it because they will raise a ruckus at the stranger on their turf.
Good luck!!!

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Thanks to all who responded, wow, lots to do yet, I got the coop framed and the nest framed, and the exterior sheathed, a couple roosting poles up, a cleanout hatch and a window installed today. Maybe tomorrow I will start on the pen, Guess I will gorilla tape the metal studs to keep damage to the birds to a minimum. wire all around it is, we got all the critters you listed here on my 30 acre spread. I will keep posting my progress as long as you all dont mind.

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My wife and I have 12 hens and a rooster and we furnish eggs to family and friends.
We're located in the piney woods of N. Florida and our chickens roam free during the day but come back to the pen to roost and nest. So far we havnt lost a one to critters and I know of a bald eagle nest about two miles away.
We do have a catahoula hound that is a herder and can be found around the chickens most of the time. She actualy scared away a hawk one day.
I dont mind losing the occasional hen to a hawk or eagle. To me its worth it just to sit and watch those predators sometimes. The dog keeps most of the other animals away.
We also have a big Road Island red rooster that is one mean S.O.B. and I have the spur scars to prove it.

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got all 3 modules for the mobile chicken pen pretty much finished, just have to sheath the roof, attach the roof and pen to the coop, and bring in the birds, so far, total cost is 175.00 for materials, I had all the metal studs from a previous job, and all I need now is to attach and level everything, and bring the birds home!! eggs on the horizon.

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Hey Mike,

All of the responses above pretty much have you covered so as far as what to do - it sounds like you're well on the way with some good advice. The only thing I'll give a second to is either go with a tractor coop/foraging unit or free range them and just factor in predatory/elements loss. Keeping all o' the birds in one place all of the time means really having to monitor the health issues and flock infections/infestations - they can happen quick and be devastating if you're not on top of it.

For myself - I hate em! The only thing good about a chicken is eating it! As a kid my family kept a roost of about 50 and we also raised about 200 game-birds for the game dept's release program every year (ring neck pheasants and chukkars). The only thing dumber than a chicken is a ring-neck pheasant - I know, I know, they're all "clever" and they can do some o' so entertaining things but just the idea of having them around gives me the willies! I'm so glad that all I have to do is make some fun ironwork for the neighbor who has a roost and I get clean fresh birds and eggs ready for the frying pan laugh.gif

All that being said - have fun you're in for a "great" eggsperience!

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I guess I could add one semi-entertaining tidbit... we would let our chickens out into the yard every morning to range around. Our son was 5 at the time, and had a hen he decided would be a good pet. Well, he was chasing it across the driveway so he could give it a ride in his Tonka truck. I was watching, the hen had a heart attack in the middle of the driveway, died right there.

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Only thing I would reiterate is to have a critter proof building and make sure they are locked up every night. The night you don't is when Brer Coon will begin his eatin'.
Other than that fresh water and food keeps 'em happy.
I feed out a flock of capons every fall. 30-60 birds, depending upon orders. They reach butchering weight(for roasting) in 15 weeks. Make sfor some great eating , lotsa meat, fairly cheap. Plus they sell for higher prices than your run of mine cockerals. They been averaging 11-13 #.
Finger lickin' good!!

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Thanks guys, yeah I'll be a huntin coons soon, and the birds will be locked up tight at night, just egg layers this time around, as an experiment, then we will see if we want to go to meat birds.

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just got the roof sheathing on, pen fully attached, levelled, coop painted, and pine shavings in the nesting areas, today some forgin fun, then some building of waterers and feeders, it will be about 3 weeks before the chicks come home. Just some simple forging for the feed bucket hook on the front door, a handle and latch.

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tried ducks, till the missus put them in a pen and let the wrong dog out over night, they nearly made it to two months old. now ill get another batch and try again. the black dog is sort of used to them and cares for them, the white dog just enjoyed them..

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My wife had some chickens for awhile,, I built the chicken house then put up the fence so they could walk around outside, I also put fence over head so that the chicken hawks or foxes couldn't get to them. Laura had a lot of fun with them, We had a rooster that was a leg horn, and Laura loved that Rooster, she would go into the pen and he would get on her shoulder and she would pet him and Thought that she had her a good Pet.. I told a friend about her raising the chicken's and about the rooster,, He told me she better watch that Leg Horn, he said he had one and that joker got plum crazy,, Well Laura's pet grew up and sure enough he turned crazy and when you went into the pen he would try and get you.. One day the wife came in and Said the rooster tried to get her.. Well I sent the Terminater " our son" into the pen and he grabbed the Rooster and Rung his neck and While me and the boy was plucking the feather' and cleaning him the wife was getting the skillet ready... about a hour after the Rooster flew at the Wife we had him in the skellet.. .Nothing like good Fresh Chicken...LOL..

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no roosters yet, but I did build a bridge so they won't drown, I hear they can be pretty stupid, actually the bridge is for my wife, but it gave me time with one of my old friends, mr. stihl!! I've got some friends comin over today to help me lift it into place!! Happy resurrection day!

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