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always wanted chickens

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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some of our neighbors have chickens which I babysat when they were gone in the past..but..I've never had my own. I would love to have chickens but my husband doesn't want me to have them. He had to take care of hundreds of chickens when a little boy
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
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Do some looking and researching, then present the idea of having a few chickens that will not remind him so much of the production chickens of his youth. Chickens are chickens but there are some breeds out there that present some personality and/or striking coloration, I'm partial to "blue" chickens myself.
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 246
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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With just a few chickens you can really see their personalities, and could class more as 'pets' and wouldn't resemble industrial production.

I only keep 4-6 chickens at any one time, plenty to give me eggs all year round (mild winters here!) and keep the garden bugs down, not enough that I have to clean them out more than once a week!
 
Tina Lee
Posts: 16
Location: Garrison, Montana
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I was raised on a ranch and we always had chickens. I now have 16 hens and a rooster. I started out wanting 4 or 5 chickens and built a new chicken house for them (sized for 4 or 5) chickens. Somehow we ended up with 9 chickens for a full year and finally started getting 2 eggs per day this past spring. As the spring came on I could here crowing from more than 1 rooster. Come to find out the local chicken guru sold us 4 roosters. Not a problem. Chicken soup. Still only 2 eggs per day from 5 hens. So my father in law decided we need some hot dog hens that lay huge and I mean HUGE eggs. So we get 10 hens. Now I built my coop for a small group, so they had to live in an old coop on the property. But we were getting 12 eggs per day. As the summer went by we lost a few to predators........then we had 10. But the neighbors kept begging for us to take theirs for one reason or another and now we are back up to 17. We have only had 4 eggs in the past week and I feel that's not bad considering it was below zero last week. But we hadn't had an egg for 3 weeks before that. I also always wanted chickens. But I am getting over it. If you are going to be near Garrison, Mt. send me an email. I can spare a few. LOL
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1009
Location: Northern Italy
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Some random thoughts:
Anything less than 10 chickens is about as much annoyance as having 2 dogs and they're just as fun to have around. It's about a 5:1 chicken/dog ratio.
10 chickens cost me about 5 euros a week for food, much less than a dog.
They make eggs! Which is awesome.

The downsides are
finding a good vet who can work with your animals.
Dealing with their sicknesses and eventual death - a lot of sadness there.
Ours were stolen from us, so other humans (bastards) can be a problem.
Predators if you have those.

I would do it again if I had the chance, but I'm waiting to get them again until I've prepared everything.

If I were to give some advice to my former, pre-chicken self, I would say to do a lot of research first and make sure that your "home" is prepared before they arrive, in all aspects. It's really annoying to deal with all the unknown unknowns that pop up when you have the chickens and are scurrying around trying to fix things that should have been thought out beforehand. There are also lots of ways to keep chickens and you have to know which one is right for you.

If you want to chat about all the things to prepare for, PM me. You might find some good stuff on the internet to make your own checklist to prepare.
-W
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 703
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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One dog is as much work that at least 20 chicken and some roosters. I would try to show him some pretty ones, aracaunas or these speckled ones....
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1009
Location: Northern Italy
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If you use the 5:1 dog metaphor, 100 chickens is like taking care of 20 dogs.
I can imagine why he wouldn't be interested if that's his point of reference.

But 1 or 2 dogs are certainly do-able.

Good thing you have a friend/caretaker for if/when you want to get away for a week or so. Those are important.
W
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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I have a friend who had a similar childhood experience and feels the same way. His dislike of his wife's chicken yearnings is all related to poop and the smell of poop. The deep litter method and some free ranging over a large enough territory would make a big difference. I think Paul Wheaton would say that if you smell a nasty poop smell you're doing it wrong. I sure my chickens' coop bedding regularly, fill their run with lots of straw/leaves/pine needles/etc (toss in some seeds or other treats and they spread the mulch nicely) and let them out fir supervised free ranging. No poop smell.
 
Richard Nurac
Pie
Posts: 52
Location: north Georgia
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I've kept chicken for >4 years and we have enjoyed the eggs and the company. Mine are cooped every evening and roam in a 5ft fenced paddock but predators are still an issue. In the past few weeks I've had to deal with a feral cat which killed one hen and mauled another. Yesterday I successfully trapped the cat and with medication, the injured hen is recovering. If you would like a blow by blow account see this link - http://www.nutrac.info/2015/12/09/feral-cat-maimed-chicken-and-solutions/. If the link does not work visit my website at http://www.nutrac.info/ and see post dated 12/9/2015.
 
Miranda Converse
Posts: 239
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bee chicken goat
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We just started raising chickens last year. Started out with 3 and now we have close to 30. We free range ours 100% and so there isn't much change in workload from 3 to 30. We just spend more on feed and had to build a bigger coop. We use the deep litter method, so cleaning is really minimal. And no poop smell. Well except when they congregate at our recessed front door to get out of the wind. Poop on concrete stinks.

A few things we have learned;
Chickens will need medical care, be willing to learn how to treat them, take them to the vet (if you can find one), or cull them if you can't treat them
They put themselves to bed like clockwork once they know where home is
The will dig holes in the ground to take dust baths. BIG holes. Give them a place you don't mind them digging around and they won't tear up the yard too much. Maybe.
They don't always lay eggs where you want them too. If you free range, prepare for egg hunts!
They are pretty awesome and entertaining to watch.

I'm sure there's more but that's all for now. Read everything you can and like someone already said, be prepared before you get them. Don't be like us and buy chicks thinking you have months to build a coop. They grow fast.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1009
Location: Northern Italy
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Yeah!
Chickens can spiral out of control.

We purposely didn't get any more than our first set of 10 (even when gifted them) -- I was worried that chickens lead to more chickens.

If I was planning on more than 10 chickens, I would seriously consider finding large amounts of food scraps, like from multiple restaurants, and using feed sparingly. With 50 you could potentially spend the same on feed as with 10, or even less if you have things worked out well. You probably have to be prepared for
a) large amounts of kitchen scraps.
b) rats. they gravitate toward kitchen scraps.

Actually rats gravitate toward chickens, so that's a major thing we didn't think about initially. Rats everywhere. It got to the point where they were nearly eating along with the chickens!! So we trapped them and sent them to the woods.
W
 
D Cooper
Posts: 22
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duck
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Keeping chickens is a commitment. Its great having the fresh eggs, but you really need to do an analysis on why you really want them. If you only want 4 or 5 birds you will adding a significantly more work into your life than you will get in return. You will also have significantly more invested in these few hens than you will recover in eggs. In the winters you will hardly have enough and will be searching for local eggs from other producers. I always recommend automating what you can to limit your trips to the coop. Then when you go out it is either cause you want to, or the one time a day in the evening to check water, feed, and ensure all the chickens have made it in safely. There are tons of options and ways that people keep chickens, and much of that is dependent on their location and ordinances.

I often encourage folks to just find a local chicken owner, see how they do things and just purchase eggs from them.
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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You know - I don't mean to disrespect anyone's experience, but I find that my chickens are less work than my garden - by far.

I have six hens. Too many predators where I live, so they must remain caged somehow. I bought a coop for them - total footprint is 4x8. The coop is inside a 10x10 foot enclosure, and I have a small chicken tractor and most days they are in that for a few hours on my lawn. They DON'T stink, and I get great orange-yolked eggs.

I open their pop door and feed them wet mash in the morning - 5 minutes.

In the afternoon, I pull up the tractor to the door, and they all pile in because they know what it means. I move the tractor to where I want them to be, and feed them some 3-grain scratch and any weed or kitchen waste. 15 minutes.

In late afternoon, I move the tractor back to the door in their enclosure, so they can roost when they're ready. 5 minutes.

After dark, I move the tractor away from the enclosure, shut the pop door and the outside door. 5 minutes.

If I'm not going to be around in the afternoon and early evening, I skip the tractor, and just feed them their scratch and scraps before I leave. They don't mind a bit.
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