Farming forum: chicken farming

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Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 11, 2017 6:42 PM CST
Hi everyone.

I am going to be moving to Nampa, ID, and the house I am moving to a house that has a fenced area for chickens with an insulated chicken coop. According to city ordinance, I can have up to ten hens. I am posting because I want to learn how to raise chickens and what I would need to raise them. Can anyone help me learn how to raise backyard chickens and how to get a lot of eggs?

Thanks!

Jared
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 11, 2017 9:06 PM CST
Chickens are easy and fun. If you start with chicks, it will take about 5 months before they begin to lay eggs. All you will need to provide your hens is feed, water, and a dry place to live that is protected from predators. It sounds as if you already have the needed housing. Chicks need to be raised in a "brooder" which is just a safe confined area that can be kept at a constant temperature (90 degrees for chicks a week old or less and 5 degrees cooler each week to a minimum of 70.) A feed or farm store can provide all you need. There are several chicken owners here who will happily answer your questions. Welcome to farming!
Porkpal
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Feb 13, 2017 9:40 AM CST
We are a Christmas Tree Farm and the neighbor is a city man trying to be a farmer. He keeps buying chickens when they are chicks and let them free range. No protection from hawks, etc from the time they are big enough to be out alone. They go in their house at night but he even has a timer on the door. I was never sure how he taught them to tell time so they were sure to be in before the door closed at night. Sorry, I am not a happy camper when it comes to the way he treats his chickens. To make a long story short they fly over the fence to our farm as soon as their wings are big enough and then we seem to inherit them for hours a day. A few weeks ago, he decided he wanted to move their chicken house. He waited until they were all in it and then he moved it and kept them locked in it for three days. When they got out, they came right over the fence to my house (they love my bird feeder seed and corn) and for three nights he would come over with nets and chase them around like a madman. Throwing them back over the fence and putting them in their coop until the next day. After a few days of this the hens were traumatized big time. I finally said STOP. No more coming over and chasing these hens.
It is too cold, they do not have big lungs to be chased in freezing weather and you could see they were getting really upset. He has not been back since and he has not contacted us about their whereabouts. So, we have 5 happy hens just as sweet as can be now. For a few days they were even fighting among themselves until they settled in my barn where they now live. I have no clue where they are going to lay eggs since I was not prepared to house 5 hens. But, I am sure they will deposit them when they begin to lay again, in some secluded area and eventually I will find them. We may decide to give them a nest box but I am not sure we really want 5 hens in the gardens this Spring. They can make a mess with mulch and new plants as you know. Just wanted to share my little story with you.
You really should consider covering all things like this when they decide to get animals.
Especially when it is in an area where neighbors are close.
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 13, 2017 8:49 PM CST
Hi everyone.

@JB, Thanks for sharing that story! I will really consider all things after hearing it!

@Porkpal, Thanks for the advice! We do have a chicken coop down there, and a large fenced area also. I dont know if the coop is heated or not, I will have to check when I get down there in 10 days. I will ask questions as I go along, and I will get chickens in April. I will ask more questions in ten days when I have more details.

Jared
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Feb 14, 2017 2:30 PM CST
Chickens are easy to raise and keep if you just use common sense. They are not like other birds when it comes to care,they are considered poultry and need certain things in their diet for poultry. I say this because we used to raise chickens before we became a tree farm, and I also had an exotic bird farm before I moved here and I bred and raised small and medium hookbill (parrots, lovebirds, senegals, conures) as well as canaries. Before you get your babies, I suggest you do your homework especially on the amount of space they need and perching and scratch seed needs. Their diet changes of course with age. I am sure you will enjoy your birds if you give them love, keep them clean and always give them fresh water. They can live without food for a time, but they can not live without fresh water.

The girls here are eating the cat food....they seem to love the fish especially. Of course, being range chickens my only food I give them in the winter is lots of corn and they eat some of the exotic seeds from the food I recycle for the wild birds from my inside flock of house birds and they also eat some of the backyard bird seed. Plus bugs, etc when available. They also like some plants and flowers....you will find that out if you have a garden and let them range. Hilarious!

I would like to pop in here and see how you are all doing. I love chickens, birds of all kind and horses. Just an old farmer at heart.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Feb 14, 2017 3:14 PM CST
I find chickens to be easy-keepers. We have a small 4x8 coop that comfortably houses up to a dozen hens. I have a light-sensitive automatic chicken door that opens and closes at dawn and dusk, which works well - the hens are always in the coop well before the door shuts and when it opens in the morning, off they go. I don't have to worry about predators over-much, and we can be away from the farm knowing they are relatively safe. I have an enclosed chicken yard that is about 1200 feet square which is plenty for them to forage in. That yard is about an old cow corral, 4-board fence with wire tacked to the bottom half. I also let them free range in my yard and outlying fields most days for a few hours to all day. I can load them up with water and feed and simply be gone with no thought for up about 5 days, but usually have someone come by every couple days to gather eggs and check on them. We started with a dozen mixed chicks, two ended up being roosters, gave one of those away and eventually killed the other (he was mean as snot), lost four hens to predators, two hens successfully hatched out 4 replacements, and just recently lost 2 to neighbor dogs. We are now down to 6 hens, which is way enough eggs for the two of us, with plenty to share with friends and family. I'm not interested in selling eggs although I think it is pretty easy to find a steady market if that is the direction you want to go (I've had plenty of folks want to pay me for eggs). My local feed store and on-line information seem to agree that $3-4 per dozen is about a break even cost, and one can easily charge $4-5 per dozen (or more). Frankly, with my small flock, I get enough joy just giving eggs away. Good karma. I find them to be pleasant little animals, not much work, and there is nothing compared to fresh farm eggs for flavor. They also are good for tossing scraps and weeds to. Have fun with it!

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I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
[Last edited by Bonehead - Feb 15, 2017 6:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Feb 15, 2017 9:46 AM CST
Deb, how do you keep them from flying over the fence. That is what my neighbors do. The fence is 6 ft but they fly over to my yard. Do you have some greens growing on your fence. Love the pictures.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 15, 2017 10:27 AM CST
If your neighbor (or you) would carefully clip the ends of long wing feathers of one wing, they wouldn't fly as well.
Porkpal
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 15, 2017 12:58 PM CST
Hi Everyone.

I was actually just wondering how you prevent them from flying over the fence! Thanks for answering that!

Jared
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 15, 2017 1:03 PM CST
The heavy breeds like Orpingtons fly less than the light ones like Leghorns.
Porkpal
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 15, 2017 1:14 PM CST
I have put chicken wire on the top of the fence, not so much to keep them from flying out, but to keep the hawks from diving in and catching them. However, since I live in the country, I let them free range during the day in the spring, summer and fall. Sometimes if there is no snow cover, and it's a nice warm sunny day, I'll let them out in the winter. Those kind of days are few and far between here though. Smiling Although it's been really nice for the last week, so they have been out having fun. I'm planning to order about 20 replacement pullets this spring, as I have lost a lot to old age in the last couple of years and hadn't replace them yet.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Feb 15, 2017 6:41 PM CST
Yes, I clip the right wing of each hen which discourages them from flying (our fence is only about 4' high). I also let the flock out for free-ranging most days I am home, although I do have to follow-up with a quick hose-off of the sidewalks, as they don't have any compunction about where they deposit their fertilizer. When I have seeds coming up or freshly installed plants, the hens have to stay inside their yard. We also have a smaller secondary yard with a chicken gate between the two. I let them in to the secondary yard on a periodic basis, allowing the grass to re-grow between grazings. I have not had any air predator problems, although we have a healthy population of eagles and hawks. I do have to watch the flock when they are free-ranging as we had a coyote nab one right from under our eyes. The neighbors on both sides of me have had much poorer luck with predators, not sure why. Maybe because we are home most days, wandering around doing stuff outside, plus we have a medium large dog. Who knows.

JB, I am slowly planting the perimeter of the fence with chicken friendly plants - comfrey, daylilly, herbs. They peck through the wire at the leaves but so far have not killed any off totally. I am also finding several re-seeders that the hens actually won't eat that are now colonizing their yard (I toss my weedings in for them to scratch around, eat if they like, or harvest bugs/worms). Elijah Blue fescue, vervain, Sweet Annie artemia, and feverfew. It keeps the yard from being scratched to bare dirt, although I may have to dig out some of the vervain which is really taking over. I also have a grape trellis along one side and toss them treats (both the leaves and fruit), and last season I planted a white mulberry inside the yard for both shade and treats.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
Image
JB
Feb 16, 2017 11:05 AM CST
I thought about clipping the wing, since that is what I do to my parrots, but, these chickens are all over the place and only now at night are safe on the high rail of our barn. We have fox and other predators including dogs that could harm them if they could not fly high enough. If they were my hens I would have the fence like you do and then the wing clipping would be fine. They are safe the way Deb does it and they still can get on a perch. This is just another example of irresponsible pet owners. The first flock he had were all killed one way or another. The rooster survived until the hens were gone and one early morning they got him.

Thanks for your info Deb, and your place sounds like your chickens are in their own little heaven.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer Tomato Heads
Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Paul2032
Feb 16, 2017 11:19 AM CST
I have raised a number of varieties and for egg production I would recommend the sex-linked. The blacks are my favorite. Lots of large brown eggs. I also liked the Golden Hubbards.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 16, 2017 5:41 PM CST
Hi everyone!

I am getting a lot of good information so far! I also was able to get in contact with a hatchery down where we are moving, called Dunlap Hatchery. I got a lot of good information from them as well as care information! Apparently they recommended exactly what Paul2032 recommended.

I am going to be starting from chicks, and I did a lot of research on it. Any input on how to raise chickens from chicks would be helpful.

I will also post a picture of the coop and area when I move in a week.

Jared
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Deer Organic Gardener Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Feb 16, 2017 10:09 PM CST
In my limited experience, warmth is the key for chicks. I have only raised a couple batches of chicks and I literally checked them every couple hours for the first couple of weeks (probably obsessive on my part, but I'm retired...). Once their real feathers come in, you're on easy street. Although I suppose this is not the best husbandry advice, I'd invite as many little kids over as you can when the chicks are young. The kids love it, it's good for the chicks to have some handling, and they are only chicks for a very short time. Have fun with it!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Kari Walker
Hermosa Beach California
Do What You Absolutely Love To Do.
Puppet2
Feb 18, 2017 12:23 PM CST
I found this site very helpful with accurate detailed info.

http://www.raising-happy-chick...
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 24, 2017 12:56 PM CST
I was given 6 young hens today, the owner had to move and was so glad to find a home for them. They are really tame and friendly, they must have handled them a lot. Some of my favorite chickens are the cross breeds. I have several that I raised that are just mixed up breeds, and they seem to be very hardy and so colorful. They seem to have that hybrid vigor. I am planning to order some chicks this spring, want to get some Barnevelders and some Welsomers . Want some really dark brown eggs. Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Jared Nicholes
Nampa, Idaho
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jnicholes
Feb 24, 2017 10:24 PM CST
Hi Everyone!

Sorry it took so long to reply, I just moved down to Nampa yesterday. The coop has a tile floor, about 6 by 12 feet, I think. There is a nesting box that needs repairs, and there is a broken windows. I cannot post pictures at the moment.



What do I need to do to get this coop ready for raising chickens? I am raising from chicks, by the way.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 25, 2017 5:16 AM CST
You will mostly have to make it critter proof and free from cold drafts. Clean it up good, and scrub the floor with bleach water. Put down a thin layer of wood shavings or saw dust, and get or make a brooder that you can control the temperature. You will want to have a nice round guard around the brooder to keep the chicks from getting too far from the heat of the brooder for the first weeks. Once they can fly up and over it then remove it. This should be about a foot high. An alternative to a brooder would be a heat lamp. You can regulate the temperature by adjusting the height. You will have to set things up a few days before you get the chicks so you can have the temperature adjusted to maintain it at about 90 degrees. I think someone else mentioned that you can lower the temp on a schedule as they develop feathers. If they stay huddled near the center of the light, they may be too cold. If they stay away from the light, they may be too warm. You will want to have chick starter in food trays around for them to find. I also put some on paper plates and set them around so that they are sure to find food. Also enough baby chick waterers set about to make sure they can find it. I always make sure each chick drinks a some water before I put them into the brooder. If you find some weaker chicks among them, you can give them some sugar water. That gives them some quick energy.

If you get your chicks from a mail order source, it's important to do the watering of each one. If you get them from a local source, they my have been eating and drinking already. Expect to loose a few the first few days. Some people put some electrolytes in the water that is specifically made for poultry. You can get that from a local farm store.

My biggest fear is having a power outage during the first few days. Also be cautious of fire hazards. If you use a heat lamp, don't hang it by the cord. Smiling

If you are only getting 5 or 6 chicks, then you don't need to have a large brooder. I have used a wash tub and a small light bulb for up to a dozen chicks for the first two weeks.

Good luck! keep us posted.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great

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