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Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Chickens are coming! on 02/15/2012 07:40:33 MST Print View

Well, in another week my first batch of chicks will arrive! Last year I started to raise broilers (chickens to eat) for our family. We have egg layers, and I wanted birds to eat. We eat lots of chicken, but hardly any red meat. I raised up a batch, and then decided to sell a few to help offset my costs for our birds. Long story is that by the end of the summer, I had sold over a hundred, and had an additional 200 sold to a local natural food seller. Final tally is almost 350 sold last year!
This year I offered shares (CSA style) and already have over a 100 birds pre-sold, and some turkeys as well! The new baby chicks are due to arrive on the 21st, and then more groups every week for the next few weeks.
Clean home grown food is an amazing experience, both culinary and life wise. This fall we also raised a pig, and filled the freezer with pork that was fed among other things, over 800 pounds of apples! Really a treat for the palete.
There seems to be a very good interest in local folks here who are more and more interested in clean food.
For kicks, you can check out my web site and read my story at:
http://www.getlostoffroad.com/Sunnyslope_Poultry.html

for those of you who have layers; have you been wondering about raising some birds up for the table?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
UL chicken backpacking on 02/15/2012 07:50:17 MST Print View

Ever backpack with friends, discuss ultralight methods, and the bizarre comes up? Here's my son's idea for UL food packing: just backpack with chickens. When supper time arrives, wring a neck. Zero weight backpacking food.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Chickens are coming! on 02/15/2012 08:26:04 MST Print View

I've thought about it...
I had 5 layers; a Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Araucana, Brown Leghorn, and Barred Rock.
Unfortunately, I just had to put the Barred Rock down; looked like she had Merrick's Disease.

Honestly, it comes down to space/maintenance for me; keeping layers is easy, but I really don't have the space to keep more than 5 or 6. My neighbor has a rooster I'll likely be borrowing soon; we might hatch a few more layers.

What I'm actually interested in now is raising my own tilapia for the table; small scale fish farming.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Chickens are coming! on 02/15/2012 08:45:44 MST Print View

Space is and can be an issue. I'll throw this out to you. A broiler only takes 8 weeks to reach market weight. Basically, if you have a couple of additional chickens, in a couple of months, you are done with them... into the freezer!

My method is based on Joel Salatin. I have pens, each are 8'x 10', and they are moved over my pasture grass each day. They still get full feed from grain etc, but the added grass really enhances the health etc. The birds are always on fresh grass every 24 hrs. You could do the same on a small scale in the backyard. Running them over the grass doesn't tear up the grass, and it keeps bugs down, and adds fertilizer. In my pens I have about 40 or so birds. At each days end, there is a square, and by the 8th day, the grass is completley relplenished, to the point you can't even tell the birds had been thru there! With a 4' square pen or even smaller, you could run it all over your back yard and have all the birds you ever wanted to eat, and you would never overgraze your yard. The birds grow so fast, and are so young that they never even get old enough to make noise ie roosters etc.

pasture tracks from my pens in the pasture look like this after one day:

pen track

and then like this a week later:

tracks

it would be an interesting process to see what you could do in a backyard type of setting....

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Carpooling Chickens on 02/15/2012 09:35:32 MST Print View

Steve: I've got a friend here in Alaska who (in the summer) houses his chickens in a converted van stripped of its engine and transmission. He cut out the floor so they can range under and around the van and every day or two, he releases the parking brake and lets it roll another 20 feet downhill. at the end of the month, he tows it back uphill for another run down a different swath.

Your approach is a lot more UL! But maybe wheels on one end would allow it to be moved by one person more easily? Do the chickens stay inside the pen when you move it?

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Carpooling Chickens on 02/15/2012 10:32:46 MST Print View

My pens have brackets at one end, and each day I take an axle and roll them. The chickens learn very quickly, and they walk with me onto the new forage. I just lift one corner, push the axle under, do the same to the other corner, then walk to the front where there is a rope, and by lifting the rope, it puts the pen up onto the wheels and away we go! Worst case is when the chicks are super small they might get rolled over and I have to chase them around to catch them and put them back in!

axle

this is called the Salatin method based on Joel Salatin. He has some incredible farming practices, and his you tube vids are not to be missed... He is one amazing farmer.

the 5 gal bucket on top is a reservoir of water that feeds a pvc pipe in the cage that is drilled with nipples to automatically water the birds when they peck at them.

nipples

this way they never waste water as it drips into their mouths from above. I raise the pipe as they grow. it also allows for easy filling and cleaning from outside the pen.

Edited by idahosteve on 02/15/2012 10:37:33 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Cornish X? on 02/15/2012 21:41:07 MST Print View

Man, your birds are so clean. I like the watering setup, so neat, clean and tidy. I had a movable pen, always wanted to rig up wheels for it but one of those things you never get around to doing. I did not have much grass/weeds, so my Cornish X were on dirt. Sometime after I had raised broilers for a number of years, they got a disease in the area. Cannot remember its name. Introduced by a chick seller or wild birds. Basically it is a disease of their kidneys, the young birds cannot filter their blood, their skin gets red and they die. Hard to take when you have 4 weeks or more of time and feed in them. A hard disease to irradicate. Layers are immune to it. I raised a few red Sex Link for eggs and about 12-15 Cornish X for myself to eat. The roosters were big enough to start harvesting around 6.5 weeks and the hens about 8 weeks out.
Duane

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Chickens on 02/15/2012 21:55:37 MST Print View

Nice set ups!
We have had layers a few times in the years, but never friers. We get attached to them and that makes it hard.
Can't think of a better way to have good meat and be in touch with where it really comes from.
This was our favorite little rooster, a little Bantam we called " C@cky"



rooster

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: Cornish X? on 02/16/2012 06:32:33 MST Print View

My birds are all Cornish X. This year I will have another breed called the Red Ranger. They are bred for free ranpging and for pasture grazing. The pasture, and their constant moving over it keeps the birds really clean, and super healthy. By never being on the same forage for more than 24 hours, they never have a chance for their droppings or any other disease to really pile up. Its a really logical approach to raising them. With only 8 weeks until butchering, its also a bit easier to not get attached. Before you really get going, its done!

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Gone to work on 02/16/2012 21:30:42 MST Print View

I have not had chickens for seven years since I work out of town during the week now. Due to issues with maintaining a fence capable of keeping dogs out and flying chickens in I only had a pen for them to get out in. After work or on weekends if I was around, I would let them out to forage. The only good fence I had was their pen and my dogs pen, 6' high with railroad ties every 10' with "T" posts between those to prevent damage in the winter from snow. Both fences are still up except for a couple rotten top rails that hold the fencing up so it doesn't sag with clinging snow. Would be nice to allow them to roam all the time.
Duane