chickens

Chicks Are Grown Up and Laying Eggs

| October 28, 2016
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

We lost a chicken this spring, and replaced it with two chicks mid summer so that we can maintain a regular production of eggs. Well the chicks started laying, and at almost exactly 16 weeks. Check out Rosa’s first egg! She’s stoked too. She kept checking it out.

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We recently renovated the coop, and there is room for a couple more if we really wanted, although 5 chickens is a good number for us. Fortunately the younger girls were eager to integrate with the older hens, and started free ranging on 5 acres with them.

After they feathered out, the young girls were able to get big and strong free ranging with the hens, and hardly required feed this summer. A single 40lbs bag of feed lasted 3 full summer months for two growing pullets and 3 full grown hens. Feed is always offered, but they were filling their crops on seeds, bugs, grasses, and scratch, and had little to no interest in their layer feed.

If you consider hens will consume 1/4 lbs to 1/3 lbs per bird per day. At 40lbs, one $16 bag of feed should last a single hen between 100 and 120 days. 5 hens should cost as much as $80, or as little as $60 for cheaper quality feed.

I’m sure we’ll square up on feed costs when winter rolls in, and the girls free range a whole lot less. OR we can consider the coop costs partially recovered, but getting 2-3 eggs per day from 3 hens, and getting two young ones up to speed for dirt cheap is pretty awesome.

Considering a dozen organic free range eggs cost over 5 dollars. The economics of chicken keeping works for me.

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Free Range Chicken Eggs

| September 21, 2015
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

True free ranging chickens, who are given a high quality feed, lay the best eggs. However, when it comes to finding the next best thing, quality eggs at the store, a consumer is faced with misleading egg labels.

The labels on eggs hardly mean what you’d expect them to mean.

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Cage-Free, just means a chicken isn’t forced into a tiny cage where it lives out its entire life. It doesn’t mean they have good quality of life, quality feed, or will ever see day light. They could be confined to poultry houses, which are basically large sheds, where the chickens are packed shoulder to shoulder their whole lives.

Free-Range, you may think is a chicken that has full access to the outside and forages freely. However, USDA regulations don’t specify the quality or size of an outside range. Nor do they specify the duration of time a chicken must have access to that outside range.

Certified Organic is a term independent of the Cage-Free and Free-Range terminology. A caged chicken can receive feed that is USDA certified as organic, and therefore the egg is considered organic. If you aren’t familiar with the organic certifications, or the listing of ‘made with organic ingredients’, they also both utilize grey areas that are designed to deceive consumers, whilst allowing large producers to more easily list their goods as ‘organic’.

Shady schemes of ‘non-medicated’ and ‘hormone free’ chickens, has even lead some poultry producers to treat chickens while they are still in the embryo.

So basically, unless you know how a chicken is raised, and what it is fed, you won’t have a good idea by just reading the labels.

Research your egg source and you may learn you aren’t getting what you think you are paying for.

A lot of people ask if its worth raising your own chickens. We think it absolutely is. If you have an opportunity to keep poultry, seriously consider it. If you can’t keep poultry, find a local person who raises chickens the way you’d expect, and get your eggs through them.

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Meet The Girls – Baby Chickens!

| April 30, 2015
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

After a few years of being chicken and other poultry free, and wanting to have a small flock of chickens, we decided to get four chicks. The girls will more than likely show up in Gardenisto posts from time to time, like when I post up the chicken coop build, so we took a few photos and decided to introduce the girls. Here are the chicks, the weather finally permitting, on their first day outside.

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Meet HoopleHead a Buff Orpington, Joanie an Ameraucana, Red a Rhode Island Red, and Eightball a Black Australorp.

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Raising Chickens

| April 17, 2012
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Raising chickens can be a great way to become more self-sufficient. The most common reason why people want backyard chickens is for the fresh eggs. But besides having fresh eggs every morning, there are many other reasons to raise a flock of your own. Chickens are easy and fairly inexpensive to raise, and you’d be surprised to find out that they are friendly pets with lots of personality. Chickens produce some of the best fertilizer and are always willing to help provide chemical free bug and weed control.

Chickens have a group mentality and are very sociable, so plan to have at least 2-3 birds in your flock.  You should always check with your city’s law and ordinances before getting chickens.  Most local feed stores will have day old chicks in the spring time, or you can purchase eggs online to hatch on your own.

The first 60 days of a chick’s life are very important. You must be dedicated to keeping a clean and safe home for the chicks until they are ready to be put into a coop.  The more time you spend playing with the chicks, the friendlier they will be towards people. Letting your chicks explore the outside is also very important, just make sure they are constantly supervised as they are an easy prey. A few staple items are needed:

  • A young chick broader- A cardboard box works great, just make sure you get a bigger box when the chicks start growing (This happens quick!)
  • Flooring-  Shredded newspaper is easy. This must be changed frequently, never allow it to become too wet.
  • Temperature- 90-100 degrees the first week, decreases 5 degrees each week. A 100 watt bulb pointing in one corner of the box works well.
  • Food and water- Chicks need a starter feed or mash for the first 6-8 weeks.  Plenty of fresh water is also required.

After the first 60 days, general care of your chickens is pretty straight forward. Once your chickens get their feathers they are ready to be moved outside.  The design of your coop will vary depending on what you plan on doing with your chickens. Plan on having at least 2-3 square feet per chicken inside your coop.  You will also want to make sure the coop is protected from both predators and the elements.  If you are raising your chickens for eggs, you will want to make sure you are feeding them a laying blend of scratch or pellets and that they get their veggies too! Chickens love garden scraps, breads, and don’t forget the bugs! Most chickens can also lay around 4-6 eggs a week.

Chickens are such unique birds with personalities and amusing antics that will be sure to make you laugh. They offer you a wonderful “pets with benefits” experience, from fresh eggs to help in your gardens.

 

 

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