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Currently the eggs I sell barely covers the cost of the feed (I pay extra for all natural (no pesticdes, etc.) feed). I could dedicate 10 acres to growing chicken feed, but the acrage is kinda dry and unirrigated. I might be able to irrigate one acre. I have a tractor and baler and am planning on trying to grow some alfalfa next year.

I currently have 50 layers, but would eventually like to grow to 100 layers.

It seems that grains would be easy to grow, but the harvest could be difficult.

Another aspect is protein. My first year here I tried to raise earthworms to keep the chickens in protein all winter (the chickens keep fat on grasshoppers in the warmer months). But it became clear that the scale I would need combined with the amount of heat and labor that would be required would soon make that idea kinda silly.

This winter, feeding some diced up, cooked meat sure proved to be just the ticket in improving egg production.

I got to thinking that maybe rabbits would be good. I could feed them the alfalfa and then kill a rabbit every other day or so and toss it into the coop in the winter. Rabbits generate their own heat in winter and will probably continue to reproduce despite the cold. Chickens seem to be pretty good at pecking the meat off of anything.

So! Any suggestions on winter protein for chickens? Or for general feed?
 

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Paul,

I'd suggest to you that worms grow very well in rabbits manure. Once established, they should reproduce fast enough to keep your chickens happy. Instead of throwing a whole rabbit to your chickens, just give them the offal and eat the rabbit yourself. Also, if you give them the skin and fur you might find it still laying around for quite sometime. Remember to raise your rabbits off the ground to reduce the chance of their getting parisites. If you want to let the chickens dig around under the cages, they will enjoy the flys and maggots. Just remember to protect your worm beds and to keep the chickens off the rabbits cages. Chicken poop on rabbit cages is a very big no no.

Good luck,

Mike
 

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What great idea! I never though of letting chickens peck through the rabbit manure or dirt under the cages. Is there a concern for letting chickens near rabbits in terms of disease transmittal? Just a thought ....thanks, Andrea
 

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AndreaR said:
What great idea! I never though of letting chickens peck through the rabbit manure or dirt under the cages. Is there a concern for letting chickens near rabbits in terms of disease transmittal? Just a thought ....thanks, Andrea

AndreaR,

I've been told the cocci carried by chickens is a different type than the cocci rabbits get. I know of people who raise chickens along with rabbits and have no problems, but I've heard of one case of Samonella being transferred via chicken poop on hay to rabbits. To me, the biggest thing is not to let the chickens get ontop of the rabbit cages. This could be done with a hot wire or by clipping one wing on the chickens or by raising birds that can not fly, such as silkies.

Hope this helps,

Mike
 

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I got to thinking that maybe rabbits would be good. I could feed them the alfalfa and then kill a rabbit every other day or so and toss it into the coop in the winter. [/QUOTE said:
oho the killer chickens! ya think they could eat cats? now that would be handy!
 

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When I give my dogs a rabbit they leave it a few days to get ripe, the chickens will eat any bit of meat they can get to while the dogs aren't looking, and yes the chickens will eat a dead cat. Some of the birds go every day to the rabbit yard and work under the cages, with the bedding falling from the cages and the chickens mixing it on the ground, it all just looks like a thick mulch bedding.
 
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