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vegetarian conundrum

 
gordo kury
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hi there fellows!
I am a vegetarian AND I'd like to raise some animals for the nice job they do and because I like them... but I won't kill them nor will I sell them to anyone who wants them for meat. I don't think of course this is in any way better nor superior to people who raise them and them eat them, it's just that I don't feel like it and I don't want to. Ok, that was and introduction to the problem. What I'm asking is your opinion on this: if I raise chickens I will need to cull some of them or sell them if I need to keep them from over populate my land, and I don't want to do that, so I am thinking in raising peacocks and sell them as ornamental birds as a way to solve this dilemma. Would they do a similar job as bug control and manure producing as chickens? do you see many problems in my reasoning? do you have any other idea as to solve my conundrum? thank you in advance and greetings from Argentina
 
chad stamps
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We've got a pair of peahens that roam with our free range layer flock. They sleep in trees and seem very independent. The peacock feathers will fall out and can also be sold as another means of supporting the birds without culling.

If you are looking to confine them at all they will be harder to manage than, for example,chickens in a paddock shift system, but they seem pretty territorial so once they are pretty sure they are at home letting them roam may be the simplest way to get what you want.
 
Abe Connally
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I would suggest guineas. They are better pest control than just about any other poultry.

The way to keep them from overpopulating is to keep them from breeding. With birds, this is easy, steal their eggs. You can give the eggs away or cook them and feed them to dogs or other animals.
 
John Polk
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I agree that guineas are greater pest control than chickens.

I disagree about "just stealing their eggs" as a means of population control.

Guineas are much less domesticated than are chickens. They are very likely to totally ignore any nest boxes you may provide for them. Some of your hens are more likely to just disappear for awhile, and then wander back home with 6-8 little chicks in tow. They prefer to lay their clutch under a hedge row, or in a good patch of high weeds. They, and their chicks will return home once the chicks have matured enough.

This more natural instinct has more of a tendency to self regulate populations. Most animals, in the wild, regulate populations dependent upon food supply. If bugs are becoming scarce, their reproduction is likely to slow down (unless you overfeed them).

If/when time comes to sell, trade or barter excess chicks, the people seeking guineas are much less likely to just want them for Sunday dinner. Their work is more valued than their meat.

 
Dale Hodgins
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You could go with a single sexed flock. You'd have to replace losses with purchased birds. Any mix of species. They might run off in search of mates. A nice retirement for old cage layers or others past their prime.
 
Abe Connally
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You're right about the nest box thing, but when a hen goes missing, you basically have 3 weeks to find her. If you can find her in that time, problem solved. If not, then do like John says and give away the chicks locally. In my area, a guinea keet that's a week or 2 old is worth about $3.

No one is buying a $3 keet to eat it.
 
wayne stephen
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If you prefer the company of chickens to guineas {I do} you could raise ornamental breeds . Banties. Silkies , Long tailed types , etc. I saw 3 month old sets of 2 pullets and a cockerel go for $30 at the swap meet. Nice way to pay for your own chickens. People are way less likely to eat a fancy crested bird than a Rhode Island Red . Chickens and guineas will hunt much smaller insects {like ticks} while peacocks and turkeys will be looking for beetles and grasshoppers .
 
Renate Howard
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I agree with Wayne - get ornamental bantam chickens. They're too small to bother with eating, can be let to free-range and are way less destructive than heavy breed chickens, and good at pest control. Ours behave more like wild birds, fly up into trees at night, can fly across the yard to land in a high tree when frightened. When they feel crowded in the yard they'll branch out to more predator-friendly areas and the population will get thinned. Here, it was touch-and-go whether we'd keep a population surviving as so many disappeared but now we're getting more and more hens showing up with babies. We've sold about 20 so far and can sell more. We have a mix of breeds so people can get unusual kinds they've never seen before (people seem to like to collect with banties). If you do eat eggs, their eggs are half the size of regular eggs so makes it easy to halve recipes!


 
Terri Matthews
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If you do not shut your birds in at night, varmints will pick them off while they sleep. I have heard that chickens are easier to confine at night than guineas are.

If you have more than one rooster they might fight. Not always: we had 2 roosters that were raised together, and the dominant one pecked the weaker one every time I let them out in the morning but that was it.
 
chad stamps
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Terri Matthews wrote:If you do not shut your birds in at night, varmints will pick them off while they sleep. I have heard that chickens are easier to confine at night than guineas are.

If you have more than one rooster they might fight. Not always: we had 2 roosters that were raised together, and the dominant one pecked the weaker one every time I let them out in the morning but that was it.


I've been able to train my dogs well enough that I no longer lock up my layer flock or my ducks. They do still go to shelter each night, and I'd certainly agree it's important to train them to do so.
I've noticed that when I have more than one rooster the dominant one has tended to end up more aggressive to the humans on the farm - that could have been luck of the draw, but it's happened two or three times now. The less dominant rooster also ended up bullied really badly which I also wasn't happy with.

I'll also throw my lot in with the folks suggesting peafowl aren't the right choice here - chickens are the mainstay of farm birds for a good reason. Peafowl are an oddity, and fun for the kids, but they aren't going to get the work done that a flock of chickens will. Guineas would be my second choice generally, but if you get them trained to stay around instead of flying away the guineas will be less susceptible to predation.
 
Abe Connally
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the other option here is to avoid having a rooster. That would take care of the issue once and for all.

Bantam and fancy breeds are a good idea, but to be perfectly honest, I can't allow chickens in and around gardens. They are too destructive. Guineas, on the other hand, do well in the garden and pretty much take care of themselves.

The key with guineas is to get them established on a roost where you want them. We did this by making a pen in our barn and making a roost up high for them. After being penned up for 2 weeks there, we were able to let them out a little each day, and then gradually more. After a few weeks, they now come and go as they please and return to the roost on their own.
 
Terri Matthews
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You say that you let the guineas out for an hour or two at first? How did you get them back in when the hour was up?
 
Abe Connally
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Terri Matthews wrote:You say that you let the guineas out for an hour or two at first? How did you get them back in when the hour was up?


we walked them as a group/flock. They tend to herd pretty well, you just need a long stick and direct the leaders. The others will follow. My 5 yr old and 2 yr old are able to herd them all around our property without an issue.

When you first elt them out, they are nervous and unsure, so it is easy to direct them. Gradually, they get brave, but even then, we are able to herd them quite easily. Guineas tend to stay together as a group, so it's not as hard as you think.
 
Terri Matthews
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Thanks!
 
Jay Green
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Eventually, you will have to kill an animal if you raise animals. Particularly a prey animal. To end suffering from injury or illness of some kind there will be a time to kill. If you cannot do this, it's not advisable to have them...unless of course you have someone who can do it for you who is on call 24/7.

If you are vegetarian because you have a heart for the animal, but you cannot provide mercy when they need it, it kind of cancels out the reason you are not eating them, isn't it?
 
gordo kury
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Jay Green wrote:Eventually, you will have to kill an animal if you raise animals. Particularly a prey animal. To end suffering from injury or illness of some kind there will be a time to kill. If you cannot do this, it's not advisable to have them...unless of course you have someone who can do it for you who is on call 24/7.

If you are vegetarian because you have a heart for the animal, but you cannot provide mercy when they need it, it kind of cancels out the reason you are not eating them, isn't it?


you misunderstood me terribly, if the animal need mercy you can count on me to do it.
 
gordo kury
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so, lets say I get the chickens, or the guineas... but what about the males? I understand there will be a 50% chance of an egg to get you a rooster, right? if that's true I will end with too many roosters (or drakens) and thus making the life of the hens a nightmare, am I right? I'm thinking in they having their faces in the dust all the time if you know what I mean, I've seen this with just two roosters in a flock of 15 hens, the poor chicks just run as fast as they could all day long but even then they ended up "biting the dust" and losing a lot of pens in the back, sad to watch really. What would you sugest? I have no experience with guineas nor ducks, but for what I heard the ducks are not gentlemen, I have no idea about the guineas. Any thoughts?
 
Jay Green
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gordo kury wrote:
Jay Green wrote:Eventually, you will have to kill an animal if you raise animals. Particularly a prey animal. To end suffering from injury or illness of some kind there will be a time to kill. If you cannot do this, it's not advisable to have them...unless of course you have someone who can do it for you who is on call 24/7.

If you are vegetarian because you have a heart for the animal, but you cannot provide mercy when they need it, it kind of cancels out the reason you are not eating them, isn't it?


you misunderstood me terribly, if the animal need mercy you can count on me to do it.


if I raise chickens I will need to cull some of them or sell them if I need to keep them from over populate my land, and I don't want to do that, so I am thinking in raising peacocks and sell them as ornamental birds as a way to solve this dilemma.


Maybe it was this kind of phrasing that confused me...it seems as if you are looking for a way to never kill a chicken, by using peafowl instead...but that doesn't mean you'll never have to kill a peafowl, so it left me wondering if you thought this would be the case.

 
gordo kury
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Jay Green wrote:

Maybe it was this kind of phrasing that confused me...it seems as if you are looking for a way to never kill a chicken, by using peafowl instead...but that doesn't mean you'll never have to kill a peafowl, so it left me wondering if you thought this would be the case.



perhaps my English is not good enough to convey what I mean. So please help me out here and try a little harder (out of mercy?): what I don't want is to kill the animals to feed on them or to sell them to other people who will. That's all. I'm looking for a way to manage a flock without the culling but still have them around doing their job. Do you have any thoughts that could help me with this?
 
Jay Green
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Well...not really. For good livestock management, one has to cull as a type of natural selection in order to have healthy stock and to maintain health within the flock. If you never cull/kill one, you can eventually compromise the health of all the others by letting sickly birds remain in the flock. In domestic animal husbandry, the farmer is the predator, of sorts, and is responsible for creating the "survival of the fittest" paradigm for the good of the species he is running on his land.

It sounds lovely to just let flocks of this or that bird stroll around your lands doing beneficial things, but that's just one part of good stewardship of the animal and land. There is another part that is necessary to all good management of animals and that is killing the weaker animals so you don't keep disease and parasite carriers within the flock. It's for the good of the whole that some may have to be sacrificed.

That is, if you care about the good of the whole flock. Therein lies the part about true compassion, both for the weaker animals and for those that are compromised by their presence. If you wait to kill them when they are really sick and suffering, you've let them down. If you wait until their weak immune systems expose the whole flock to disease or parasites, you've opened up more birds to suffering and it results in having to kill birds that wouldn't have had to be killed if the job was done right in the first place.

 
gordo kury
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ok Jay, I get your point of view, thank you for your input.
Anyway I am looking for people who can help me do what I'd like and feels good to me. I rather don't debate about opinions about what is right. But thank you any way, I do get your point
 
wayne stephen
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You can buy from a hatchery already sexed. You do not have to breed them . You can buy females only . Just let them live out their life and derive mutual benefit. The eggs will not be fertile and you could give them away or sell them . Day old chicks will run you anywhere from $1.50 - 3.00 depending on the breed . You usually have to buy them in minimum sized batches of 25 if mail order. If your not breeding them you won't have to worry about culling males . Most unsexed batches through mail order or clutches you hatch out will average 50-50 male/female .Give or take 10-20% . If you want to breed and sell chickens you will have to deal with culling some males . As I said earlier a set of 2 females and a rooster seem to be the minimum numbered set that most people will buy. If you read through the chicken forums there are many people asking how many females can they put with one rooster. So most people want to minimize the number of roosters to hens. The traditional farming method for culling males is fried chicken at 6-8 weeks old. You also want to be aware of Easter time chicken sales . Alot of people want to buy living "Peeps" for their kids instead of the marshmallow ones and 6 weeks later have real chickens running around. They just get abused . I love chickens and enjoy their presence but they are fairly one dimensional personalities and the novelty wears off quick. Maybe you could advertize on Craigs list as an Easter Chicken Sanctuary. I had that offer a few months ago . Someone heard I raised them and offered me their holiday brood . Good luck .
 
gordo kury
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thank you, that sounds like a sound advise
 
Joe Skeletor
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If they're already sexed from the hatchery, chances are that they are killing the excess males and selling females for laying. You're just having somebody else do the culling for you then.

 
Ken Peavey
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A caponized rooster may be a direction to go. I understand they still exhibit protective behavior with their ladies, but won't be able to reproduce.

Around here, there are a couple of folks who raise chicks until they start laying, then sell them off as layer hens for 10 bucks each. If you had to reduce your flock size, offering the birds as layers would command a price that would not promote buying them for meat.
 
Mike Leo
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I suppose it depends most on what job you would like your livestock to do and where you are.

In a lot of places predator pressure is high enough to pose real problems trying to get a flock of baby birds established. I've heard it said that all the predators know the day your chickens move in and will appear to have a go at your defenses that very night. My personal experience hasn't been quite so severe, but then I'm erring on the side of electric fences and somewhat confined ranges. If your area is that way you may find yourself struggling to keep a sustained breeding flock or confronted with the choice between dealing with your predators or keeping your livestock.

If you are in a friendlier area and lack of predator pressure would not keep a population of chickens, ducks, or guineas in check I would recommend going with something slightly larger (easier to keep track of and slower to breed) like geese or turkeys. If preventing breeding by preventing hatches or removing eggs poses a moral issue for you then I'd suggest going with mammalian livestock and paying to have some or all of them fixed.

Fiber animals like sheep or alpacas might be an option here, but they would breed too if the flock was large enough and you might not be able to sell/relocate every breeding animal.

With larger animals likely you would keep fewer. Having 3 female goats or sheep is a fairly easy proposition compared to trying to order a dozen chickens and ensure they are all females (though the hatcheries are quite good at this, mistakes can be made).

At some point an element of control will need to be introduced, whether it is culling, preventing new births, or eliminating the ability to breed. A hard decision, sometimes, but one that you need to make in order to steward animal companions responsibly. If you won't starve them, and predators don't eat them your flock/herd will continue to grow until you have to make hard choices.

Whatever you decide to do, I recommend you just jump in and do it. You may find what looks "right" for you on paper is an animal you hate living with in person and you may find that after tripping over eggs in the yard, driveway, woods, porch, everywhere you are removing them just to keep things tidy and to prevent rotten eggs all over the place. Good luck .
 
gordo kury
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thank you fellows, great insights!
 
Thea Olsen
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I'm a vegetarian and used to keep hens (until I had to move to a town that doesn't allow them.) You do have to be willing to accept the fact that even if you aren't doing it, someone has to cull those extra males. That's not really a problem for me, since I don't think everyone must be a vegetarian, it's just the right choice for me.
Our first hen was a retired show bird, bought from a 4H kid after the show season was over. The next one was from a school hatching project. Then came a retired show breeder and one that was an accidental crossbreed and therefore not showable. I also bought a few hens from local farmers. The only time we ever had to cull one was when it was sick. Still I had to be ok with the fact that most of those hens' brothers were somebody's dinner. That's the case if you eat eggs at all, no matter where they come from.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thea Olsen wrote: Still I had to be ok with the fact that most of those hens' brothers were somebody's dinner. That's the case if you eat eggs at all, no matter where they come from.


Good point! In India some states and Hindu groups do extreme campaigns against anybody eating beef. They'll ban "cow slaughter" (which includes bulls) because the cow is our mother and all sorts of things, and then there will be some news item about how they intercepted a convoy of trucks carrying bulls over the border to Bangladesh (to be slaughtered). I don't know what they want to be done with the brothers of all their sacred cows. You can't have milk without cows giving birth, and half of the calves will be bulls. Who do they think will feed all those bulls? They'd over-run the country and be goring people right and left if they don't get eaten!
 
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