Who has chickens?? I have q's!!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tiffer, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. tiffer

    tiffer Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    We are wanting to get chickens (right now for eggs, later for meat). I'm needing to know a few things (from folks that are actually doing it and not just these books I'm reading)

    1-we need to build a barn, would you have your chickens and goats and everything in the same barn? Or would you have a separate chicken house and yard?

    2-I don't want anything fancy, and I'm sick of saying "we don't have the money right now to get chickens...the people in the depression had chickens and I bet they were poorer than we :) Any ideas on a cheap chicken coup?

    3-some say don't let your chickens run around (poop everywhere, we have a dog...etc..) But would we build a big yard and feed them more grain??

    4-someone also told me that you can't cook farm raised chickens the same as the ones you buy in the store...said they're tougher (I'm assuming like that wild turkey my dad killed and when we tried to grill the legs you'd have had better luck eating leather and rocks) Do you buy certain ones that are specifically for meat?

    Thanks in advance....I'm so glad I found this forum. You guys are so knowledgeable!!!

    Tiff
     
  2. poppy

    poppy Guest

    I keep chickens and goats in the same barn, no problems. There are chickens bred for meat, such as cornish cross. Any chicken can be a good eating chicken if it isn't too old. Old ones need to be roasted or slow cooked to be tender. While being an excellent layer, the leghorns will never have much meat on them. A coop needs to be large enough to keep them in. 4 square feet per bird is recommended, but you can get by with a little less if you have an outdoor run for them. Make the coop out of anything but metal, it gets too hot in the summer unless it is shaded during the day. Pay attention to be sure it is predator proof. For egg laying, they need at least a 16% protien diet, 18 is better IMHO. You will have to give them this in layer mash. They won't lay much on just corn unless they have another source of protien. Hope this helps. I'm sure you will get lots of good advice on here.
     

  3. ckncrazy

    ckncrazy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    112
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Location:
    Parish New York
    I would have a seperate coop for the chickens. They can make other animals sick by craping in their water.

    I would spend what you can afford. Make sure the coop is large enough, Draft free, and critter proof. Use you imagination. I have seen coops made out of just about anything.

    You could build a yard for them. I prefer free range. They eat bugs such as ticks and other multi legged pests. The do poop alot, But if you have enough space for thrm to roam you wont really notice the little piles. My dog doesnt bother my chickens, but every once in a while a neighbors dog will. A .30-06 usually remadies that problem. I also would feed them a well balanced chicken feed, not just corn and other such foods (corn is like candy to them, They will get over weight and could stop laying).

    You can cook them the same, They get tough as they get older. Cornish Cross are the meat type chicken. They grow extremly fast.

    You P.M. me if you have any more questions.
     
  4. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    329
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Location:
    Estillfork, Alabama
    You don't need a big building. Some 10 by 10 would be enough for a dozen.
    Be sure to put two by fours in the corners for them to roost on.
    They crap all night and you don't want it in the nesting boxes.

    Mine have the run of the yard and the roosters take pretty good care of the girls when my Scotties chase them. The Husky would kill them, so she doesn't get her off leash time until after 4:00 pm, when the chickens have gone to bed.

    We have RIR's for nice brown eggs and Americaunas (sp?) for green eggs.

    One bag of cracked corn is all they get to supplement their forage for bugs.
    It last about two to three months.
     
  5. poppy

    poppy Guest

    Another thing. If you let them free range in your yard, they will scratch up your flower beds and probably ruin your garden, so you may need to fence them out of certain places. If you let them in the house, they will roost on your bed headboard. Make sure the last person to bed every night " turns the chickens ". That is, turn them so that their heads are toward the bed. ;)
     
  6. tiffer

    tiffer Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Hey BJ
    Thanks, I just found that site and you're right...very informative.

    It'll take me a while to get used to this site.

    Tiff
     
  7. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2004
    Keep you coop away from trees that might fall on it and make sure you have a gun to shoot the varmints who wish to liberate your chickens from your coop.
     
  8. designer

    designer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    709
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    I used a 8x8 storage shed, the ones that look like a miniture barn. We cut vents in the top front and back covered with wire and a small door, about a foot sqaure. Attached a 15ft lot, with top, and wire connected to the bottom and layed on the ground and buried. This prevents dogs from digging under. I let them out to roam the yard on nice days. They return to the house to lay but our old choc lab crawls in the door and eats all the eggs. So we only get eggs on days their up. I shut they up at night.
     
  9. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    Free-ranging (letting them run around all over the place) works fine as long as the neighbors aren't close and you don't mind holes in your tomatoes and them dusting themselves in your lettuce seedlings and you don't live in the wild like we do where predators are a major problem. If you are planning on being where you are for the long haul, I would spend as much as I could afford for a nice tall fenced in yard for them of a good size so they can still forage for bugs. We actually toss ours alfalfa and clover to graze on and we get the most wonderful eggs.
     
  10. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,980
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    We have Rhode Island Reds (RIR). They are super foragers, but more aggressive than others. The roosters will protect their hens from dangerous beings, like newborn lambs. during the summer we move the hen house every couple of weeks, this helps to spread the valuable fertilizer around. If you put the chickens in the barn, you will have to use a shovel and fork. During the winter, when the coop freezes to the ground, be sure to keep adding straw. There needs to be ventilation or they will die from their own waste. Putting the roof about two or three inches higher than the walls will do this for you. They need to be out of the weather, but they will keep themselves warm by snuggling if the coop is not too big. Make sure you can easily get the eggs from the outside.

    Our garden is lasagne style, so we don't mind the chickens scratching around in there, they eat the bugs. We didn't loose any tomatoes to the chickens last year. Try planting marigolds alongside the tomatoes to keep them out.

    They do not wander far, in fact I wish they wandered farther as they will pick at donkey poop and eat the parasites they find.
     
  11. Jane in southwest WI

    Jane in southwest WI Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    143
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Do meat chickens and layers need to have separate coops? I started researching chicken coop plans, and they seemed to be for one type or the other (or the information I found recommended keeping the 2 types of birds separate). It would be a lot easier to keep both types of chickens together, than to have separate set-ups for each.
     
  12. tiffer

    tiffer Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    I read somewhere today that you should separate. But maybe someone that actually HAS chickens could tell you what they do.

    I'm looking into, when we get meat birds, just moving their pen around the yard everyday. In one of my books it showed that they needed very little covering and did not need a place to roost b/c they could bruise themselves.

    ??
    Tiff
     
  13. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    I believe the two types really need to be separated. Meat birds grow so fast and need a different protein ratio. They are also a constant accident waiting to happen in my experience. They fall down and can't get up.......mostly that just eat and poop. You are right Tiff......they don't roost. They are really ugly birds IMO, but they gain fast and really fill the freezer. They do need shade......very important. In fact, if it is really hot I run a fan on them. They are a metabolic machine that produces tons of heat. If they get too hot the just turn up their heels and die.
     
  14. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    6,395
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    You might try getting heavier dual purpose birds. That way you are eating the eggs and waiting until you see if the next generation are males or females. You then eat only the males (leaving one or two roos to make the next generations) and the hens that are older than two years old.

    Dual purpose breeds DO roost.

    When you butcher, you should soak them in salty water overnight, THEN cook or freeze. That makes a difference. Just cook them a little longer if they are older.

    You have to be careful if you are trying to pasture chickens. Many predators can just dig under your fencing, or tear it. I'll be experimenting with this soon.
     
  15. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,259
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    You could have the chickens in the same barn, but I would keep them separated by fencing. Or they'd be fine in a small shelter. You could build a coop with scrap wood, siding, plywood, chicken wire, anything you've got around. Just make sure it's secure and has shade. I prefer free-range as well, but if you've got predators, you might need to keep them locked up. And yes, they'll go through more grain if they're in a coop all the time vs. being allowed to range.

    Yes, farm-raised can be somewhat tougher. One think you must do is let the meat age a few days before you eat it or freeze it. We keep ours in the fridge for 4 or 5 days before eating or freezing them and it helped a lot. I also think the meat stays more tender if you keep the bird whole with the skin rather than skinning and cutting into pieces, but YMMV.

    What else??? Oh, yeah, if you're doing meat chickens, definitely get Cornish Crosses. They're so much bigger and ready so much quicker, you just can't beat the feed to meat conversion rate with anything else. And they're tasty!

    Hope that helps.
     
  16. .netDude

    .netDude Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    455
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Western NY
    wholly crap, that's funny!
     
  17. SkyOne

    SkyOne Active Member

    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    I have a small chicken yard with a small roosting house up off the ground. They have a ladder for roosting, and a shelf with nesting boxes. Over the top of the wire I strung twine to keep out hawks and owls. My chickens are kept up until about three or four hours to sunset. So when they are turned out they head straight to the barn and pasture area. They learn quickly only had to push them that way a few times. They like the dropped feed and bugs they find. When it comes time they return to the pen by themselves. Never had one want to stay out at night. They are fed scatch and laying mash every morning. I have sandy soil so had to throw in some gravel for them as they use that to process their food. Gets pretty hot here so during the heat of the summer they have a small plastic swimming pool as they like to stand in their water. This stopped that. As for the meat the older the bird the tougher the meat as others have stated. I have Dominics. ..Sky