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WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


A few years back, I became a homeowner, and my mother-in-law made the snotty comment that 'You guys should get some chickens', apparently because the house is painted a barn-red color, with white trim. My husband looked at her and said "Y'know, maybe we will". So, that evening I looked up the city code, and, lo and behold, its legal to keep chickens in my city. Specifically, you can have up to ten birds, roosters are allowed if they don't piss off the neighbors. The more we thought about it, the cooler the idea seemed, and a whim born from wanting to spite my mother-in-law turned into a real plan.

After looking at the various options, we placed an order for baby chicks over the internet. Baby chicks don't have to eat or for the first 48-72 hours of their life, which means that its possible to ship them, although in the US, only the Postal Service will deal with shipping live chicks. We ordered from a website called mypetchicken.com, which at the time was one of two websites that would let you order less than 25 chicks. We ordered 17, figuring that this allowed for some mortality in the chicks, and for some being missexed. As it happened, all of them lived, and all of them were female, so the extra birds were sold on Craigslist once they reached 16 weeks, which is called 'point of lay', because most breeds start laying at between 18 and 24 weeks. Looking back, I would have just bought the full 25 and saved money on shipping, which is what I intend to do this year when I order some more chicks to add to my flock.
Since then I've added a couple of birds from a few chicks I picked up at the feedstore, as well as a couple from eggs that hatched when one of my hens went broody (I got fertile eggs from someone who had a rooster), and sold a bunch via craigslist. This past spring, we also raised a few birds for meat, but that was an experiment I don't think I'll repeat.

Owning chickens has been a lot of fun. In terms of care, I need to clean out the coop twice a week (which takes about 15 minutes) and put down clean bedding. In terms of the amount of work, its a lot like owning fish, but you get eggs. I compost the poop for fertilizer, so it all gets put to use. The quality of the eggs is much, much better than anything you can buy at the supermarket-nice orange yolks, whites that aren't runny, and the eggs have a more intense 'eggy' flavor.

Anyway, its a lot of fun, and I thought some goons might like to know more about it, so ask away.

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WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


My neighbors all know that I have chickens, and opinions range from thinking its cool to not really giving a crap. We live in an older part of town, and the area is conservative-with-a-libertarian-bent, which sucks in some ways, but one of the benefits is that people tend to be tolerant of what you do with your own property, and raising your own food is viewed positively. I'm far from being the only person who has chickens, there are at least a dozen people who have them in my neighborhood. I've learned this by word of mouth, especially when, a couple of years ago, there was an abortive attempt to change the city code. Otherwise, you wouldn't know that there were so many chickens in the neighborhood, hens are pretty quiet and they don't smell if the coops are kept clean.

My coop is a converted block shed that was built by a previous owner. The coop itself has 81 square feet of floor space, and there is an attached 'run' (a fenced area that gives the chickens access to the outdoors), that is about 120 square feet. By way of comparison, commercially produced eggs are classified at 'cage free' if the birds have 1 square foot of space per bird, and 4 square feet per bird is usually suggested as the minimum for the bird's physical and mental health.

I let them out to free range occasionally, but only when I don't have vegetables growing in the garden, as chickens can and will lay waste to a garden in about fifteen minutes flat. To make up for this, they get fed plenty of weeds, grass clippings and table scraps, so they have pretty varied diet, even if they don't free range all that often.

We had a rooster for a year, and he was indeed beautiful, but his crowing was starting to annoy one of our neighbors, so I gave him to a guy in a small town near by who wanted a Easter Egger rooster to breed more pretty Easter Eggers. If that neighbor ever moves, I may give it another try, I actually liked the sound of the crowing. Flock dynamics also went a lot smoother with a rooster, there weren't any picky dominance fights, less squabbling over treats and so on. This isn't to say that things are terrible without a rooster, but they are a lot better with one.

WrathofKhan fucked around with this message at Jun 9, 2011 around 02:01

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chickens are pretty cheap to keep, the big cost is in start up. We already had a structure to use for the coop, but we then had to spend about $150.00 on hardware cloth and posts to make the run. I've seen people charging upwards of 1K for a fancy prebuilt coop, but if you're handy and use recycled materials you should be able to make a good coop and run for under $200. I was also able to recoup some of the startup cost by selling some of the chickens once they got to around four months. Prices vary, but around here a point of lay pullet (a pullet is a female chicken who is under a year) sells for around $25, and you can get a day old chick for around $2-$3.

Once you've actually gotten started, its really cheap. For eight birds, I buy a 50 pound bag of layer feed every two months for around $15, and spend another $10 every three or four months on grit (little rocks they need to digest their food) and oyster shell, which they need as a supplement, since eggshells are made of calcium. I use straw for bedding and buy a bale for $5 every 3 or 4 months.

Production varies a bit depending on the season, and chickens also slow down on laying as they age. At max production this spring, I was getting three to four dozen eggs per week from eight birds. I live in the southwest, and production drops in the hottest part of the summer, based on past years I'll likely only get a dozen eggs a week in July and August. In the fall and winter things slow down a bit as well, this year I got 2-3 dozen eggs a week. This is enough to keep my household of 5, and my mom's household of 3 well supplied with eggs, as well as the occasional dozen to give as a gift.

When I have 'extra' eggs, either give them away or store them in a airtight container in the back of the fridge. Eggs have a natural anti-bacterial coating on the outside, called the bloom, and if it isn't washed off eggs will keep for a long time, especially if refrigerated. How long? Well, in the '70s the lovely people at Mother Earth News tested various methods of egg storage, and they found that unwashed eggs were still safe to eat after being refrigerated for eight moths. The whole study is here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sust...Fresh-Eggs.aspx and is pretty entertaining to read.

The laying chickens we have all have names, and my kids are pretty attached, and my husband is a big softie, so I think we'll probably keep the birds around until they fall off the perch, although if it was up to me I'd have no problem with butchering once they got old enough that they aren't laying well.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Well, the first egg we got was pretty expensive . I think it got lost in a computer crash, but I took a picture of our $300 fried egg.
Seriously, though, after that costs dropped pretty rapidly. If you assume that the eggs are worth $3 a dozen (standard price in my area), and factor in the money that we made by selling a few extra birds, the flock had totally paid for itself in two years. So right now, I'm only paying for food, bedding, ect, and I'm spending right around $2 a dozen for eggs. Considering that 'cage free' eggs cost between $3 and $4 at the store, I'm saving money, but it doesn't compete with cheapo Walmart eggs cost-wise. That doesn't factor in the value of the fertilizer they produce, chicken poop makes awesome fertilizer, but I tend to assume that my labor is worth the poo poo I get from them.

Chickens don't smell any worse than any other animal, imho. I think that they get that reputation because the huge, industrial chicken houses really, really reek. A few chickens, if you clean up after them, don't smell any worse than a dog or a cat.

Doug: All you can really do is ask your neighbor to keep their drat chickens away from your beets. Either that or put up a fence around the garden. Chickens will eat the gently caress out of leafy greens so there isn't any simple way to discourage them.

Actually, chickens will eat the gently caress out of just about anything. As Alterian correctly observed, they're little dinosaurs. I'm not kidding, basically chickens are small ground dwelling feathered dinosaurs that found a niche that worked for them and stopped evolving, except for some changes that happened because of selective breeding in the past few thousand years.

And I've slit the throat of a few chickens, but I've never choked one :P

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


I've only got one RIR, but she's a real sweetie. Both of the Cuckoo Marans I got were absolute bitches, so I dunno.
For those who are wondering my current flock is composed of a Blue Andalusian, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, a Rhode Island Red, a Buckeye, a Easter Egger, a Barred Rock and two Brown Leghorns.

Kafka: I sometimes scratch their backs when they squat for me, even though it kinda makes me feel weird that my chickens have a interspecies lesbian crush on me.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Wahad: In general, hens will figure out a pecking order and stick with it. Interchicken violence is usually only an issue when something happens that disrupts the pecking order, like introducing a new bird, or when a old bird dies or otherwise leaves the flock. Even then they usually sort it out pretty quickly. It can also be a problem if you have a particularly foul tempered bird that is a bully, in which case the best thing to do is to get rid of that bird. Usually if it gets to the point that blood is being drawn, it means that either your chickens are overcrowded or you've got a problem chicken.

Laying and personality can vary a bit from chicken to chicken, but there are certain strong tendencies for each breed. A very good resource is Henderson's Chicken Chart: http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhender...oks/chooks.html which includes a description of pretty much every breed easily found in the US. Based on my own experience, Andalusians, Rhode Island Reds, and Easter Eggers are pretty quiet, friendly and good layers.
To tie in to another question about laying, the first two years are the most productive, but the hens don't totally stop laying after the first two years. Its more that a hen who had been laying 5 or 6 eggs a week will now start laying 3 or 4 eggs a week. This is especially true if you pick 'heritage breeds', sex-linked hybrids and production strains of Leghorns tend to lay daily for the first two years and then really, really drop off after that.

Its totally possible to sex baby chicks, if you are a highly trained professional. There was an episode of 'Dirty Job' that explains how its done, possibly in more detail than you want to know, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tmEO9xRqvo As others have said, its about 95% accurate. The alternative is to buy adult birds, but that is considerably more expensive than raising your own from chicks.

I'll echo Alterian, Kafka and Dr. Octogon in saying that chickens aren't any louder than a dog. A normal dog, not some hell beast who barks non-stop 24 hours a day. I've got eight, and most of the time you wouldn't even know I had any by noise.

I don't have any experience with predators, the only animals in my area that are running loose are cats, and honestly the cats are scared of the chickens. Awhile ago, Mother Earth News did a article on how to make a inexpensive, portable chicken coop with an attached run that would work well if you're going to have a few birds. http://www.motherearthnews.com/do-i...zm0z11zhun.aspx

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Its a myth that hens won't lay without a rooster present. Ovulation happens independent of fertilization, and hens will lay with or without a rooster. Hens are more likely to go broody with a rooster around. I'm not sure if this is because of geting laid, or because of the rooster engaging in behavior that makes them want to nest.

That said, there are advantages to having a rooster around. A rooster will break up fights and keep low-status hens from being picked on. If you integrate new hens into your flock, it goes a lot more smoothly with a rooster around to help the new girls find their place. If you free range your birds, the rooster will warn the flock if there is any danger, and will help the hens to find food. Even if you're giving them the treats, the rooster will call everyone over, and make sure to point out especially choice morsels, which they seem to like. If a predator does attack the flock, the rooster will sound the alert and try to stop the predator, laying down his life if need be. Plus, it lets you maintain the size of your flock through natural reproduction, which saves money and decreases the risk of disease.
Plus, roosters are pretty to look at.

As a side note, you want to have at least three hens per rooster, and the ideal ratio is around 10 hens for one rooster. Having more than one rooster in a flock is tricky. If you have enough hens, and one of the roosters is less dominant, you can have multiple roosters. Too few hens and can have their back feathers ripped up from being overmated. If both of the roosters are very dominant, you'll have constant cockfights.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Spog: My neighbors don't have a problem with it, but they're pretty laid back about most things. Its possible, if you have a really picky neighbor, that they might gripe about the noise from a few hens, but based on my experience and what I've heard, a neighbor who is going to gripe to you about a few hens is a neighbor who is going to gripe about *something*. And, as Marchegiana said, if you're allowed to have chickens, and you're following the local laws, they can't really do anything to stop you.

If you live in the US, the Backyard Chickens website has a database of information on laws related to chickens http://www.backyardchickens.com/laws/search.php and if you find out that you can't have chickens, a number of cities in the US have recently changed their laws to allow chickens.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


If you have a rooster, he's usually kept in with the whole flock. Chickens are pretty stupid, and if you take a bird away from the flock for awhile, when they come back the flock treats them like a stranger, so the rooster would have to reassert his place in the flock again. Also, only letting the rooster in occasionally wouldn't assure you of infertile eggs, since rooster sperm can live inside a hen for up to two weeks after mating.

The good thing is that eggs have to be kept warm for a couple of days before they start to develop, and if you put them in the fridge the embryo doesn't start developing, and dies after a few days. So even if you have a rooster, you should be ok if the eggs are collected daily. If you are extra paranoid, or aren't sure how old an egg is, you can also candle the egg, which involves holding the egg up to a bright light in a dark room, so you can see through the shell. If its clear, you know that you aren't in for an unpleasant surprise when you crack open the egg. As a side note, this is why a lot of old cook books tell you to crack the eggs in a saucer first, you're supposed to be checking for embryos and spoiled eggs.

Marchegiana: If you haven't already done it, I'll be glad to email the mods with that information. They try really hard to keep it accurate, but it was done by volunteers, and sometimes errors slip through.

This past fall, I raised six Cornish Cross meat birds. This is the hybrid that has dominated the chicken market since the 1950s. If you're an American, odds are that this is the only type of chicken you've ever eaten. They're kind of interesting, as a monument to what can be done with selective breeding. Basically, they're bred to gain as much weight as possible, as rapidly as possible, so that they reach butchering size at around nine weeks. A 'normal' chicken reaches butchering weight at around 16-18 weeks, which is the age most breeds reach their adult size and finish puberty. They also have more breast meat than a 'normal' chicken. They are also dumb. And lazy. And ugly. Y'know what I said about chickens not smelling? They had to be cleaned up after daily, or they stunk. They would lay in their own poo poo. A lot of people don't mind them, but I thought they were disgusting. That said, once they had joined the choir invisible, they best tasting chicken that I've ever eaten. Being able to walk around (occasionally) and get (some) exercise along with a better and more varied diet seemed to agree with them.
Butchering wasn't really that bad. Emotionally, the only thing that bothered me was, oddly, how easy it was. It seemed like it should have been *harder* somehow, to turn a living thing into meat. Other than obscure moral qualms, it didn't really bug me.
I might consider trying it again eventually, but using a different strain of broilers that are a little bit slower growing and allegedly act more like chickens and less like feathery Huttsese.

I haven't thought about raising meat rabbits, mostly because raising rabbits here is difficult, due to the extreme heat in the summertime. Plus, my back yard is fairly small, and I really don't have the space.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Wow, a ton of awesome questions while I was working!

Zone Management: A cat could, possibly, take on a single adult chicken and win. But with chicken, you aren't dealing with a single chicken, you're dealing with the whole flock. Any cat who gets close is going to be charged by a pack of flapping, squawking velociraptor terror. The feral cats who live in my neigborhood give my chickens a very wide berth. I haven't personally seen it happen, but I've heard about a flock of chickens killing and eating a cat.

Birds of prey can be a problem, if you have them in your area. In that case, if the run has a roof of some sort on it, or if the free ranging chickens have a place to run for cover, you should be pretty much ok. You may still lose the occasional chicken, but that happens sometimes.

Chido: I don't have any experience dealing with illness, thankfully my chickens haven't gotten sick. If I had to guess, I'd say that the rooster is picking on her because she's sick. If it gets too bad, you might need to isolate her until she recovers.

Fluffy Bunnies: To quote my grandmother "Why would anyone in their right mind want to dry pluck a chicken?!". I tried skinning, and I tried dry plucking, and my grandma was right. The easiest way is to dip the chicken in not quite boiling water, and the feathers come right off.


Zombie Zero: I didn't name the meat chickens, although we did call them 'the nuggets' collectively, and some of them did get descriptive nicknames, mostly based on their foul personal habits. I didn't let them run around, I used a killing cone, which is neater. Basically its a cone where the chicken goes in upsidedown with only the neck sticking out. Due to anatomy, they can't breathe upside down, so they were already pretty much out of it when they cut their throat cut.

Ms. Happiness: I haven't thought about keeping guinea fowl, mostly because they are noisy, and because I think that they are fugly. I haven't had to deal with a punk rear end rooster, the one I had was a real sweetie. My personal opinion is that there is no reason to keep a mean rooster, given how many roosters their are relative to the number of job openings.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Baronjutter: Chickens generally don't need a lot of healthcare, as long as they aren't overcrowded and are getting an adequate diet. Like Alterian said, if it only happens once a year or so, its molting, which is totally normal. If it really is all the time, that its feather picking, which usually means that they are overcrowded and/or bored and/or aren't getting enough protein in their diet.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


ODC: As long as the chickens have plenty of shade, water and have a run so that they can be outside, you'll be fine. Remember, chickens are the descendants of jungle fowl, so Florida will be awesome for them. If it gets really super hot, some people like to give them a pan of water to stand it, or just make a puddle in the run, so they can cool their feet. Just so you know, Jersey Giants were bred to be a meat bird, and aren't the greatest egg layers, even though they are cool as all get out. All of the ones the breeds that you've mentioned are pretty mellow, and make great backyard birds. I'm very fond of my Barred Rock and my Silver Laced Wyandotte, although the Barred Rock is the noisier of the two. If you find out you like Wyandottes, they come in a bunch of colors and patterns.

Stottie Kyek: I don't personally have a lot of experience with cold, but from what I've learned talking to chicken owners who do, chickens usually don't have a problem with cold, as long as they are in a dry coop with no drafts. While I was looking for images, I found this UK site that has some good breed information http://poultrykeeper.com
Adopting some battery hens would be a good deed, but I think you should totally get Lemon Cuckoo Orphingtons or Legbars. Just because those are two breeds that a absolutely beautiful that are almost impossible to find in the US .

In other exciting chicken news, my Buckeye, Jean Grey, has decided to go broody. This afternoon I'm going to pick up some fertile eggs to put under her. Marans, Ameraucana and Icelandics! If all goes well, I'll have me some Viking chickens!

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Dr Scoofles: Whatever, broodys are totally awesome. :P

And yes, a barnyard subforum would rock the awesome.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Mother Road: That sounds like it could be the result of overmating, especially because of the location. The problem might be that you have too few hens, especially if your rooster is really vigorous. They also make 'hen saddles', which is what it sounds like, a piece of fabric that protects the hen's back.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Zeta Taskforce: The main problem that I've run into with my chickens is that while they like grass, it isn't really their most favorite thing ever, so they tend to try to trash everything else and then move onto the grass. I haven't tried it myself, but the best way to use chickens for lawn control is to get a movable pen, whats usually called a 'chicken tractor'.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Zeta Taskforce posted:

When you say everything else, you mean the clover, dandelions, weeds, and all the stuff in a lawn besides grass?

Clover, dandelions, weeds, any flowers you have planted, the vegetable garden, some bushes, any berries or fruit, I mean Everything Else. If you planted peas as a cover crop, the chickens would be more than happy to go in and eat all the leaves, and pods and would probably give the stems a try as well. In my experience they seem to like fresh greens over dry ones, but that may be my birds being picky.

For those who are following the hatching saga, Jean Grey is now sitting on 17 eggs. Five Icelandic (white eggs), Six Ameraucana (blue eggs) and Six Marans (chocolate brown eggs). Two of the Ameraucana eggs are fathered by a Marans rooster, and if they hatch and produce pullets, they will lay a rich olive brown colored egg.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Even if you don't make a plucker, its really easy to pluck by hand, and it isn't that much of a pain if you're only killing one or two at a time.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chido: What you're describing sounds like normal chicken politics to me, so as long as she's not getting severely beaten up, it might be a good idea to let them sort things out.

GrauFrau: I've never heard of anything like that, some googling indicates that it could be caused by diet and harmless. It'd freak me out too.

Save me jebus: It depends on how cold it is where you live. I live in the desert, and the girls lay through the winter just fine, especially if they get a little bit of supplemental light. Another option might be to get chicks in August or September, that way you wouldn't be feeding non-productive adult chickens, and they'd be ready to lay in the spring.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Oh, he's pecking on her back! If he's just pecking her back, hat isn't him being mean, thats him putting the moves on her. Again, make sure he isn't being too rough on her, but it sounds pretty normal.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Take a deep breath and don't worry. The chickens will sort things out on their own.

In other news, my broody, Jean Grey, is still sitting strong on the eggs, although when I checked today, during her break, there were only 16 eggs in the nest. One of the Marans eggs was missing. There was no sign of broken shell, egg guts or the egg anywhere in the coop. Otherwise, she's doing awesome. Last year, her first time going broody, there was a problem with the other hens pushing in and laying in her nest, but this year she's pushed everyone into laying in a new spot. I'm going to take a picture of her, because seriously, she's a ball of pure rage at this point. Its hilarious and awesome.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


The best way to keep your chickens healthy is to keep their coop clean, feed them a balanced diet, aren't over crowded, make sure that the have plenty of access to the outdoors and lots of clean water. To prevent mites, a good idea is to put down food grade diatenacious earth in the run for the birds to dust bathe in, this keep the mites from getting started. This will also work for lice.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Leghorns can fly a fair bit, generally the breeds classified as 'medium' or 'heavy' can't fly very well. Or as others have suggested, you can clip the wings.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Congrats on your chickens! All your questions have pretty much been answered, but I would ad that since you've got a rooster you want to feed them 'Flock Raiser' or some kind of other feed that doesn't have added calcium, and put a dish of oyster shell in the coop. Laying hens need the extra calcium that is added to layer feed, but its bad for the kidneys of chicks and roosters.

If he ends up being noisy, and you decide you don't want a rooster, it might be worthwhile to put him up for sale on craigslist. Marans are the 'cool' chicken right now, so someone might want to use him for breeding. Or alternately, process him and make coq au vin.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


It is kind of surprising, since chickens are dumb as poo poo. My personal theory is that the need to eat oyster shell is kinda like pica in humans, and the hens have a overwhelming urge to eat the high in calcium stuff when they need it.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Stupid chicken stories....

Well, I had one chicken who committed suicide by flying over the back wall and getting eaten by the neighbor's dog.

Another chicken, my Easter Egger Jubilation, (they were free ranging in the back yard, because we'd just gotten irrigation and wanted them to eat bugs) wiggled behind a large shipping box we use for storage on the patio to lay an egg. Once she was there, she couldn't get out and flipped over onto her back. We found her an hour later, she seemed pretty woozy, because chickens can't breathe well when on their backs, but recovered quickly.

As far as smart chickens go, my Blue Andalusian, Inara, is pretty bright. This makes getting her to stay in the run a real challenge. We clipped her wings to keep her in, and she started *climbing* up the wire. Like, she'd jump as high as she could, then hook onto the wire with her feet, and do this flapping climb up the fence, then jump off the top. Later, we added a bird netting roof to the run, and she found the one spot where it wasn't attached to the run fence, and wriggled through.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Sorry for causing confusion. You want to put poultry netting over the *top* of the run, especially if you have a large run, to keep the chickens in and to keep smaller birds out. But for the sides of the run, and in a set up that small, even on the roof, you want to use hardware cloth.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Its really hard to say, but the chick could have gotten into the water and then gotten chilled. It could have been overcrowded and gotten smothered. The chicks could also be sick, there are some illnesses that can be passed on via the egg from mother to chick. It could also be the result of trauma from the trip. It could be 'pasty butt', if you aren't already, you need to check their butts once a day to make sure that their vents aren't covered in poop.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chickens are taking over the Animal Farm

A quick update, my broody hen gave up on the eggs a couple of days ago. I took them in and candled, and none of them were fertile. So its disappointing, but she must have somehow known that there was no development.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Fluffy Bunnies posted:

Question about ordering chicks in the mail. D'you think it's better to get them from the closest facility possible? Or does it really matter if the chicks are overnighted to you anyway?

In theory chicks will get to you faster if you order them from the closest hatchery. In practice, I think it matters more how close you are to a major shipping hub. I live in Phoenix, and have gotten chicks from Meyer, in Ohio, in 2 days. As a side note, I highly recommend Meyer Hatchery, healthy chicks and for a little bit extra they put Gro-gel in the box with the chicks, so they stay hydrated and fed.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


You want to wait until the chicks are more or less the same size as the adults, but it also helps integration to do what you're doing and let them interact when the chicks are smaller, as long as they are big enough to fight back, and have enough space to get away.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


I don't do deep litter, but if you have a big enough coop, you can just take out the dirtiest bedding and then put in fresh once or twice a week, although every 2 or 3 months you have to clear out everything and do a through cleaning.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Well, that goes without saying. I mean, do you think that a mammal like yourself could come up with a satisfactory perch :P
This is more or less why I started just chucking in big chunks of straw and letting them go at it, when I scattered it around neatly they always rearranged it, since I obviously was doing it wrong or something.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


I've ordered chicks from Myer Hatchery and from My Pet Chicken, which ships from Myer. As I understand it, MPC leases incubator space and shipping services from Myer, and uses some, but not all of the same breeders for hatching eggs. Shipping isn't too traumatic on the chicks. Baby chicks don't need to eat or drink for the first 72 hours. This is because when a hen is hatching a clutch of eggs, there can be a few days difference in the age of the eggs, so the first chicks can hatch a few days before the last chicks are ready, so this way she can stay on the nest until all the chicks hatch without starving the older chicks. So, although it may not be the most fun thing for them, it isn't too traumatic. Certainly the birds I've had don't seem to have any long term mental or physical damage from spending their first couple of days in a box.

If you don't want to get chicks in the mail, you can also buy from a feed store (who probably ordered their chicks from a hatchery) or from a local breeder. Craigslist is an excellent resource, although you will pay more, $10-20 vs $2-$4, for a close to mature pullet as opposed to a day old chick.
Personally, I'd suggest buying 25 chicks from a hatchery (if you order 25 or more shipping is less expensive because the chicks can keep each other warm from body heat and don't need a chemical heater) and selling the excess on Craigslist. I've done that, and it took awhile to sell all of the chicks, which meant I ended up raising a few extra pullets to point of lay. This meant that I made enough money to cover the cost of the chicks and the food it cost to raise them to laying age.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Fluffy Bunnies The amount of work doesn't really change based on the number of chicks. Regardless of the number you're still going to need to change their bedding and give them clean water twice a day, and check their food at the same time. The only real difference is the amount of food and space it takes, although if you want super tame 'lap chickens' its better to start with a smaller number so that you can hold them and socialize them more.

CoachBombay: I agree with Alterian that the chicken was probably attracted to polish or a shiny ring. The next time the chicken does it, give her a little tap on the face, or push her aside with your foot. She'll get the message pretty soon.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chido posted:

Aaaaaannnnd I got Roostroyer "crowing" on video! The beginning is very dark because, for some reason, the image darkens when I zoom in with my camera. He crows a bit at the beginning, and gain at around minute 3:40 or so. You guys can also see how he treats Megatron. He scares he and Rusty away from the food, so I have to spread it a lot. I hope that changes as they mature.




Yeah, having seen the video, that looks like mating behavior, rather than aggression. Right now he's young, and has more balls than brains or smooth moves. Give it some time, and see if things smooth out as everyone gets older.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Crossing an Ameraucana and a Marans will produce a chicken that lays olive green eggs.
The blue egg gene affects the color of the shell. Specifically, it causes the shell to be blue instead of white. Brown eggs are produced by a coating that the bird produces that covers the shell. The exact color of the brown coating is determined by genetics. The blue egg gene is dominant over the white egg gene. So, if you cross a Amerauacana with a Marans, you get a chicken that has one white egg gene and one blue egg gene, and so lays blue shelled eggs, and has one gene for brown coating on eggs and one gene for no coating. And when you cover blue with chocolate brown, you get an olive green color that some people think looks really cool.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


coyo7e posted:

A thing I noticed reading through this thread, is that there seems to be a general lack of discussion/awareness about the birds' crop. Impacted crop or "crop bound" problems (someone mentioned that primarily grass-fed birds can get this) can be easily prevented by providing grit and small stones for the birds. Oyster grit is useful for this and also provides calcium to keep eggs from breaking when hens attempt to roll them around while setting on their nest.


Got any pics? I'd really be interested in seeing these with good lighting.

Thanks for mentioning grit, its a very important thing to remember!

I don't have any pics of the olive eggs, but if you google 'olive egger' there are a ton of pics.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chickens are very visual animals, and use color to figure out if a chicken is part of their flock or not. A mixed flock generally isn't a problem, since if they're raised together chickens will assume that all of the chickens who look like their flock is part of their flock. It gets trickier when you need to integrate new birds, since chickens who look like other birds in the flock will be accepted faster than chickens who don't.

Dr Pain: My chickens, I have eight at the moment, and live in Arizona, go through about fifteen gallons in a week. I have a five gallon waterer that I refill 2 or three times a week, which only takes about five minutes.
Scratch is a treat, and you don't want to give them too much. The best thing is to only put out as much as they will eat in about five minutes. Store it in a rodent and wild bird proof container, and you'll be fine.
Wild bird will try to come in and eat your feed, which is why hardware cloth for the sides of the coop/run and bird netting over the top is a good idea.

Lyz: chickens can be dumb, but I've heard plenty of stories about hens who came from generations of broodies who smothered their chicks or whatever. I've also had several hens who came from generations of hatchery birds who were great mothers. So I think it may depend more on the bird than breeding.

loldance: Chickens are flock animals, and really don't do well alone. You want to have at least two, and three is better. Three chickens will give you about a dozen eggs a week, two at absolute max.

WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chido: I'm so sorry that your chickens are sick again. Do you have any idea how they keep getting reinfected? Or are they just never getting fully 'well'?

In my chicken news, its cooled down, and the hens are laying. The older girls are a bit less productive than they have been, but egg size seems to have increased. I'm now pretty sure that the five chicks my Barred Rock is raising are all Red Sex-links, as is one of the chicks that I didn't give to her. Right now, I still have several chicks that I'm trying to move on craigslist, which I suspect is going to take awhile, since they are too old to be cute, and too young to lay.

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WrathofKhan
Jun 4, 2011


Chido posted:

... Roostroyer has gotten so pretty and fluffy, I want another brahman, and I'd love to get a dark brahma hen, but nobody seems to sell them online, at least on the sites where I can order only 3-4 chickens .

I need another big fluffy butt running around in my backyard...

My Pet Chicken has Buff Brahmas and Light Brahmas, if that would be close enough.

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