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backyard chickens

Post in 'The Green Room' started by BucksCoBernie, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    All you need is a fully fortified coop and run.

    There are fox, coyotes, fisher, etc ... that cross our lot all of the time.

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  2. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    They have sharp toenails that can leave a decent scratch, roosters also have spurs that they will use for defense and mating.

    Roosters frequently have to be put down because they will even attack their keepers or others.

    They also have sharp beaks, so best not get in their face with yours.

    But then again that critter in your avatar has sharp teeth and can be a bit on the aggressive side as well.
  3. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    Yes, she understands where our food comes from . It was not against her wishes that we ate the roosters.After they turned on her, and she had to carry a stick to check the eggs she kept on asking me when we were going to eat them.
  4. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    I've used Murray Mcmurray for quite a few orders of day-old chicks with great success. They're a high quality operation located in Iowa and they ship throughout the country.

    The newly hatched chicks can go without food and water for three days or more, and their shipments move fast enough to arrive within this envelope of time.
    They guarantee the chicks as well. Last year we had one die for the first time a couple days after the shipment arrived and they credited us without question.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I shopped several hatcheries including mcmurray's and found that they are way out on delivery dates, like middle of may. So I called my local feed store that has chicks and they are happy to order me a batch of cornishX meat chicks since they don't stock the meat chicks. They need one week lead time, they come from "privet" hatchery in New Mexico, and the price for me is 1.65 per chick. The bad part is that I need to order at least 25!! So like 40$ for the minimum order. Compare that with the other hatcheries that want about 2.50 per bird PLUS 15-20 bucks for shipping and the local guys are making me a better deal. I would like to think that the local guy will also not make me pay for dead chicks should any arrive dead. Honestly, if I didn't want 25 chicks I could, well, "off" the others. I think I may just raise the whole lot and have a major processing party! All plucking is by hand.
  6. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    What tends to happen at this time of the year is that a number of large order farm and feed stores will just about get all of the chicks from certain hatcheries.

    The one I order through normally gets 5,000 chicks for their May chick dates they get slightly fewer for their April and June dates. The chain itself has multiple stores that order from the same place on differing dates.

    They seem to get their birds from MT Healthy. There may be more than one hatchery involved I just haven't seen any shipping boxes that weren't label MT Healthy.

    I have 15 on order for May, all Golden Comet pullets.

    They lay like clock work (they lay a large clutch before skipping a day) , are cold weather hardy, and fairly easy going.
  7. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I got a call one year that 1000 chicks I ordered were confiscated and destroyed in an airport in Washington State.
    I thought I was smart in ordering from a "hatchery" in Pennsylvania which would be close to me and reduce travel time.
    I had no idea why the chicks were in Washington.
    I found out that most "hatcheries" forward orders to a "super hatchery" in Washington and it;s a big secret.
    Mine were held at the airport over a three day weekend and died, that's why they were confiscated and destroyed.

    Make your own feed or buy from a small local producer. The big outfits($) make too many mistakes and cut too many corners.

    Weather plays an important part in the final texture of your meat birds. Some chilly air or hot days will make it tough.
    The third week of May to the end of June was the only time frame for super good meat chickens in my area.

    Buy layers only once. Keep a good rooster with them and every spring you'll expand your flock and/or have chicks or pullets for sale along with last years layers to be used or sold as stewing hens.

    etc.
  8. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Kenny - you ever order from Meyer hatchery in Ohio? They supposedly raise all their own - that's where we're getting our birds from. Fortunately, we can drive down there and pick them up so I guess I'll be able to see for myself if they are the real deal or not!
  9. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Nope. Been out of it for awhile so I don't know who's who anymore.
    You can't beat picking them up. Could be very educational.
    Good luck and enjoy.

    PS- Of all the critters you can raise at home, turkeys have the biggest differance in flavor without a doubt. Raise a couple with your chickens.
  10. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Kenny - I have a friend that raises broilers for his family and they usually do several turkeys a year as well - he says the exact same thing about the turkeys. I'm hoping next year we can get into meat birds. This year we're starting with a few laying hens and I'm hoping my wife will warm up to the idea of broilers and turkeys. Staring out small, just a dozen laying hens.
  11. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    My wife was a city girl. Alas, I knew she was no more when she
    announced she had a designated t-shirt for when she led the killing crew
    on processing day.
    The t-shirt was tie-dyed and had that little yellow cartoon canary on it saying "smile."
    It was pretty funny.


    PS- Ya got poultry, ya got rats.

    Start saving egg cartons now.

    When considering housing and range, consider the biggest, not the smallest.
    The smallest will make them very labor intensive and more costly.

    etc....
  12. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Kenny-thanks for the advice. I'm hoping that laying hens will serve as the "gateway animal" - once we get into them, it might lead to broilers, some turkeys, and if we ever get to a slightly larger piece of land a hog or two.
  13. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    Mcmurray does offer 25 cornish roasters for 46., or 25 jumbo x-rocks for 44.75, but your deal is a bit cheaper per bird and you're right about the shipping costs - I'm paying 22 bucks for my shipment. Plus, the local feed store gets your support. My wife and I raise 25 meat birds at a time and they're not that bad to process once you get a good setup. Instead of one big day of processing we break it up over a couple days.
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Hogs don't take much land, but they stink so bad that you may want the separation to the neighbors. We nearly did hogs last year until I talked to a neighbor FFA girl who had documented costs on raising a couple of weiners. It is very expensive to raise pigs if you don't have a free source of food.

    I've got the green light on 25 chicks so I plan to order here in the next week or so after I arrange housing. With 25 do you need a mechanical plucker solution or is it reasonable to do by hand? I'm not afraid of the work but don't want to spend an our on each bird.
  15. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    I've never done it myself but know of two families that raise broilers each year and have had great success with the "Whizbang Plucker" - a guy named Herrick Kimball - has a fantastic blog site entitled "The Deliberate Agrarian" and a little cottage business on the side sellings books/plans for things he has built. I bought his "Whizbang Cider Press" plans and am very very pleased. I'd suggest you check him out:

    http://whizbangbooks.blogspot.com/
  16. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    A good chicken plucker depends on a good scalder, close doesn't get it.
  17. timss13

    timss13 Member

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    A funny chicken story. We have 5 hens right now. A few weeks ago, we were putting them in their run after they spent the unusually warm day free ranging. My wife was walking a bird over to the run and it pecked her earlobe and swallowed her diamond stud....Now we could have made her a stew bird, but I was smart enough to have those diamonds insured. Also, a chicken will not pass a diamond or other large object- it stays in their gullet and assists with digestion. So, the bird lives and my wife got new diamond studs with the screw on backings. And, when the hen dies, we can find the diamond andkeep it according to our insurer.
  18. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    LOL, you're right that is a funny story!
  19. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    I used to get egg cartons from the local feed store for free. It is owned and operated by one lady who's father used to keep some 40,000 egg layers on the same premises. He has long passed and she now has
    three large barns. One has the feed and the store downstairs and an antiques museum called the hen museum on the upstairs.
    She has one barn for her animals: ducks, chickens, goats and gueese. She still sells eggs out of the store but they are from another local egg farm. She switches them into her own egg cartons and ditches the other cartons. So I used to ask for the spare cartons when I bought my feed. At the peek of egg production we would have up to 18 eggs a day! I had a fridge downstairs just for the eggs. We couldn't give them away fast enough. At one point I was selling them for $1/dozen just to make room in the fridge. This thread has made me look forward to buying some birds. Maybe I'll try a couple of turkeys this year! I'm just waiting until another local store that sells chicks gets their flock hatched. When I bought my first flock it was in May. They are hatched, bred and sold locally.
  20. VCBurner

    VCBurner Minister of Fire

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    Tim, thanks for the site. Ireally enjoyed looking through it. He gives you so many ideas. A lot of information and motivation too!
  21. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    If you're not a procurement specialist, stay away from the wizzbang.
    You can spend $800 or more for parts.
    Nice little commercially made units are available for a little over $300 or spend a little over $800
    and get a nicer commercial one.

    If you're doing 25 at a time, hand pluck.
  22. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    Same as Kenny says, hand pluck them. 25 birds won't take that long to hand pluck especially if you butcher them inside the 8-week mark. Even right at eight weeks some of the pin feathers are emerging and that's what can make it a bit more difficult.
    If you get the scald temp. and time just right you can pluck a bird pretty quick.

    The one piece of equipment that helps quite a bit is an outdoor cooker. We set it up adjacent to the killing cone and keep a floating thermometer in it. After scalding a bird we can fire it up and blast it up to the right temperature in a few seconds for the next bird. After a handful of birds the water can get pretty rank so you can dump it if you want and get the refill up to temp. quickly again.
  23. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Chickens and turkeys will be one of our first priorities when we finally find our "homestead." I've read a lot about raising turkeys and I've heard that they're extremely hardy depending on the breed. One question I have about raising your own poultry though-obviously one of the attractions is so that it can go from coop to dinner plate in a matter of hours, but how do they freeze? Could one process five or ten birds, shrink wrap them, and throw them into the chest freezer to be defrosted and cooked in six months? My thinking is that though you may sacrifice taste a bit, it would be awfully convenient.
  24. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Yes, they freeze well. We sold mostly frozen birds.
    I try to do about 50/yr (two batches) and we have chicken every Sunday.

    Turkeys are very hardy after the first 8 weeks when they live to die.
    BIG TIP: Put turkey poults in brooder and put brooder somewhere with constant temperature.
    Leaving a brooder in the barn in the spring with night and day temperature swings will kill poults quickly and efficiently. Don't rely on just the brooder to keep them warm.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Kenny and dv for your input. I'll pluck by hand. I have a turkey fryer pot and burner setup for the scalding and I know I need to be at just under 150 for the water. For now I just need to set up the brooder and then use the next 7 weeks to plan for the processing.

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