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Jason

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Backyard Chickens
« on: July 12, 2020, 06:14:31 pm »
I purchased 9 chicks yesterday (Saturday) at a local farm supply store. They had hatched on Monday. They currently live in a storage bin with straw, a feeder, a waterer, and a brooder heat lamp. Their wings and tails are already getting feathers. They will probably permanently move outside around week 3 or 4. Our house had a chicken coop already built when we bought it. And we have a relatively large yard, though we'll likely fence off a portion of it to contain the prolific poop they produce.

I expect eggs by Thanksgiving. This variety should give about 5 eggs per week per chicken, which could mean 45 eggs a week. This will work well with my keto diet.

Backyard chickens are quite popular. I have watched dozens of videos on Youtube. My 5 year old and 2 year old are both obsessed with them.

Any tips or tricks that you have learned? Does anyone else have desires to have some backyard chickens?
 
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libertygranny

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2020, 07:52:36 pm »
We had 11 chickens for about 3 years. The neighborhood mountain lion got 2 of them, and the rest except 1 all died at various times. We live in the desert, so our backyard is sandy dirt, but the chickens had a nice big fenced in area that they stayed in. We would buy sod every couple of months to put in their area for them to eat fresh grass. They also loved watermelon rinds, fresh corn on the cob, green leaf lettuce, cooked rice and oatmeal. We also set up a sprinkler for them and would turn the water on every day in the summer so they could cool off. Make sure you have a nice shady place for them to go to also. Air circulation in the coop is a must. Keep the nesting boxes clean, change out the straw often.

If you want happy friendly chickens, then make sure you and the kids are interacting with them now. Petting, holding them and talking to them. Our chickens would come running to the gate when they heard any of us and they always fought to be the first one to be petted.
 
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Jason

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2020, 11:53:35 pm »
It has only been a day, but so far when they see my 2 year old coming, they flee to the other side of the box. But he will also gently hold them with supervision, and they do pretty well. He calls them his friends. I am sure that they will start to like him in the coming weeks.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2020, 05:01:15 am »
I'd like to have backyard chickens, but I don't have a backyard. I'd like to have dogs & cats too, but I'd need more living space so my allergies could get a rest.

You have to cook the oatmeal & rice for the chickens, or can they eat raw grain?

 
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Jen

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2020, 12:44:45 pm »
We've had a flock for the last 7 years. They will become more tame. Ours have gotten to the point that most of them let a couple of my daughters pick them up and carry them.

My dad rigged a timed light system in the winter months to keep them producing. We've never done that but he did with a lot of success.

Be aware of what predators are around. We live near a birds of prey sanctuary and had a gruesome Sunday recently when we were letting the chickens free-range and a falcon dropped in for breakfast. Sad day as one of the victims was a chicken we'd had for several years and she was especially tame and friendly.

Also watch for mites. One the flock gets them, they're next to impossible to get rid of, because you have to treat not only the chickens but their living space. The nasty little things can live in the dirt and coop for surprising periods of time.

Other than that, keep in mind that chickens who free-range entirely make a huge mess. I can't believe such small creatures poop so much. Best to give them a good-sized enclosure that they're in for most of the day and maybe let them wander for awhile in the evening. They're good pest control!
 

Jen

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2020, 12:49:11 pm »
Also be sure when they start to lay that they're getting a calcium source, like oyster shells. If the shells don't form well, they can become egg-bound which is dangerous and hard to get them through.
 

libertygranny

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2020, 10:51:40 pm »
The rice and oatmeal needs to be cooked.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2020, 11:43:03 pm »
The rice and oatmeal needs to be cooked.

See how much I know about chickens. I guess they can eat the raw grain off live plants, but once it's processed for people, then it really isn't "raw" anymore. Maybe I should stay with having a cat or dog.  ;D
 

Jason

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2020, 03:03:07 am »
They are almost 2 weeks old and have grown immensely. Most of them have fully feathered wings. Their faces are starting to look more like chickens rather than chicks. They can jump and flap greater distances now. One can get on top of the water container, so I had to put a lid on their home so they do not escape. I can dangle things down and let them jump to try and grab them. I lashed together little ladder perches out of sticks, which they seem to enjoy.

Putting the food and water dishes up on a brick has enormously helped lower the amount of straw kicked into them.

I am proud of my children. While they love animals, they have often been scared to interact with them. My 5 year old rarely hesitate to reach in and pick a chick up. She and my 2 year old will let them sit on their laps, and even peck food from their hands.

I can sit and stare at them interacting with each other for long periods of time.

Now that we are about 2 weeks away from letting them go outside I am going to build a chicken run for them. The chicken coop with nesting boxes has an outdoor area, but I want them to have a bit more space. While I sometimes go overboard, if I keep it relatively small and straightforward I can keep it covered and have them protected from hawks and climbing predators.
 
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Jason

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2020, 01:14:37 am »
The chickens are 3 weeks old today. I have let them play in the chicken coop in the daytime, but have put them back inside their garage accommodations at night.

My chicken run expansion is coming along. It will be a 10' wide, by 5.5" deep, and 6' 5" tall (so I can fit inside to clean it out without hitting my head), completely enclosed to protect from cats, raccoons, and hawks (all of which I have seen in the area recently). I have dug out the foundation, leveled it, placed pavers, and have started framing it. I have very little construction experience of this magnitude, but it is a fun project.
 
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Sparky

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2020, 08:16:23 am »
Jason, I am enjoying learning about your chickens.
 
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Curelom

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2020, 12:02:52 am »
Everyone is copying Jason now.  ;D

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-pandemics-unlikely-pet-chickens/ar-BB17aO8L

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/pet-chicken-supplier-demand-coronavirus-pandemic

I almost hate to ask, but are these chickens ever going to become dinner? Once the family has gotten attached to them, hand-fed them, played with them, & enjoyed their fresh eggs for breakfast, you really wouldn't have the heart to feed them to your kids, would you?
 

Jason

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2020, 12:36:43 am »
I would have no qualms about eating homegrown chickens someday. I teach my children to know what animals their dinner comes from.

However, these likely won't be very good meat chickens. They will only grow to be 3.5 pounds. And when their egg laying days are diminished in 2.5 years their meat might not be very tender. I think the work I would put into slaughtering, cleaning, plucking, and preparing the chickens might be more aggravation than the $8.00 it costs to buy a young fryer at the store.

The chickens bred for meat production can be raised to fryer size in 7-10 weeks. I would likely go that route if I wanted to eat homegrown chickens.
 
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pnr

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2020, 03:05:59 pm »
Please be sure to talk with your kiddos about the circle of life.  If you name the chickens, if the first time you talk about what they are created to do (feed, not entertain) is the day you are going to stew them, you'll have some very traumatized children on your hands.   (And even if you teach the circle of life, it won't be easy for them to lose them.)
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 
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Roper

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Re: Backyard Chickens
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2020, 11:45:16 pm »
My sister still remembers in detail the day that Dino (the feeder steer she had been riding all summer) became dinner. Excruciatingly sad detail. And that was 40 years ago.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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