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Would you buy local produce, insects, and grain to feed your urban birds?

 
Adam Jackson
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Hello friends,

I'm trying to get a 1/2 acre farming operation running this year. I need to find small and strange markets for my small and strange permaculture plot. I had the idea today that local small scale chicken raisers might be interested in a sort of CSA basket of odd veggies, insects, and grains that are either too diverse or too small scale for the grocery store. I don't have the space to keep chickens myself, and the system I'm envisioning will have a fair bit of incidental production supporting the more traditional cash crops.

Does that sound at all like something you would hypothetically be interested in, or am I barking up the wrong tree here? I've never raised urban chickens before, and I would greatly appreciate your input.

If this does sound interesting to you, would you be especially interested or disinterested in any particular crops? Would you buy a mix of produce, grains, and insects. Would you prefer live insects or dead and processed insects?

Thank you for your time,
Adam
 
John Elliott
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Buy?

Chickens are to be fed as cheaply as possible, with stuff that is throwaway. With the amount of food that supermarkets throw away in the course of an average day, you could feed a flock of hundreds of birds. Then there are the weeds and bugs that crop up in every garden that gladly go in the crop of the nearest chicken. Not to mention boards that can be turned over for juicy sowbugs and slugs.

I don't mean to burst your bubble, but here on Permies, we try to figure out ways for chickens to earn their keep, not spend $$ feeding them. I hope I haven't given you too rude a welcome to Permies. Do stick around and maybe you will find a way to include chickens in your operation.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I have a small urban plot (total area 1/6 of an acre with a small house and garage on it) and I have room for a small flock of 4-8 chickens in a fenced area and I still have tons of room for an urban orchard and annual veggie areas. I currently have 4 chickens - all old ladies - they're valuable because they still give me yields as well as a few eggs.

I have trained my neighbors to bring me their compost items, much of which I process through my "hen system" and some of which goes into other compost bins. So they get about 75% of their nutrition that way. I supplement with store bought feed. I only go through maybe 2 bags of feed per year with my current four hens (this is WITH the wild birds eating some as well). I *might* buy insects like black soldier fly larvae once in awhile for a treat for the hens although I'm working on a system for that at my place as well.

If you're looking for more revenue streams you might look into raising worms and selling both the worms and castings. Where I live, there is a large park with a lagoon. The local convenience store will buy fishing worms from me to sell to people who visit the park. They even have a special mini-fridge for the worms.

Honestly, I think you would have room enough to run some hens and they give back lots of yield in the form of eggs, meat, chicken poop (people who grow roses LOVE chicken poop) and they process waste from the garden into some fabulous compost. What I don't use in my own yard, I have sold - you get a good price!

Dried stalks of grains are also a big seller for decorative accents around Halloween/Thanksgiving.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Many people keep exotic pets that require insects. Certain lizards, snakes and fish eat them. This crowd are accustomed to spending money on treats.

Those who feed wild birds might choose a meal that includes bugs. I'm sure that many birds prefer bugs to millet.
 
Julia Winter
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You might want to check out Erica's blog at Northwest Edible. She keeps urban chickens as do many of her readers, and that crowd might be a better fit for this business idea. I am also baffled by your statement that you don't have room to keep chickens while also saying you are on half an acre. If you are close to a city, I would look into harvesting things that are currently waste--you will have to make life easier for the people involved (giving the stuff to you needs to be as easy as whatever they are currently doing), but there are many, many things that could be collected and transformed into sale-able product either by worms, chickens, fish or bacteria.
 
John Polk
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In a sense, I feel you are barking up the wrong tree.
We don't know where you are, nor how many small scale chicken raisers there are in your neighborhood.

I think that what you need to identify first is how large is that community, and what their needs are. Is there an online community of hobbyist chicken farmers in your region? Or a bulletin board at the local feed/seed store? You need to get involved with that community, as they are far better in a position to identify their needs than we can hope to speculate.

Once you have identified that community, and joined it, you will begin seeing their needs. This experience would be greatly enhanced if you were actually a part of it: raising chickens yourself. I think the bottom line is that if you don't have the space to raise your own birds, you certainly don't have the space to raise the products that these customers will need. At least, not at an economically feasible level.



 
David Livingston
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The idea of raising bugs to sell to owners of exotic pets as a way of making cash sounds good but the economics of selling stuff to chicken owners doesnt.
I have a friend who feeds his birds the cheapest spagetti he can buy cost him less than 50cents a day how can you compete with that ?

David
 
Dale Hodgins
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David Livingston wrote:The idea of raising bugs to sell to owners of exotic pets as a way of making cash sounds good but the economics of selling stuff to chicken owners dosen't.
I have a friend who feeds his birds the cheapest spagetti he can buy cost him less than 50cents a day how can you compete with that ?

David


I have a few acres of Oregon grape and salal which provide natural bird feed. I leave dead trees standing, for the woodpeckers and flickers. But you're right. There are cheap things that can be fed to birds. (spaghetti is a terrible food for birds, give him a slap for me) To make any money on bugs, a specialty market would need to be cultivated.

I've seen chickens on tiny city lots. Probably the best route would be to find room somewhere on half an acre and let the chickens eat all of this stuff. Sell chickens or eggs.

In case anyone cares, The egg came first, preceding chickens by millions of years. So there.
 
Adam Jackson
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Thank you all for your input.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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