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backyard chickens

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

  1. Wallyworld

    Wallyworld Member

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    You'll always remember the smell :-S They freeze fine and will still be better than any store bought bird you can buy. Plucking chickens isn't what I call fun. We used to do 30 at a time, I didn't eat them for a few weeks :)

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  2. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    As a kid I remember butchering day well. We had a tree next to the chopping block and Dad had hooks hanging from the branches. Grab a bird, swing it around to make it dizzy, put the head on the block and off came the head. Give it a toss and that's where the saying come from, Running around like a chicken with their head cut off. It was my job to pick up the bird after they bleed out and hang them. Then out came the scalding pot. You will never forget that smell and we never ate chicken for a few days after we were done. It was a family affair and we would do the years supply and freese them.
    they sure did taste good on Sundays.
    leaddog
  3. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Wow, hand-plucking 25-30 birds even with a good scald! You guys must be pros. I won't do over 5 at a time unless I invest in al least a cheap plucker. If I was new to processing I would be careful about going over 10-12 chickens. As I stated it took me longer than I thought and I have processed many hogs and deer in my life.

    Suprised to see that chicken feed cost up to $12 per bag. We have 40# bags on sale right now for $6.99. If you buy in bulk (at least 1 ton = 40 fifty pound bags) you can get it for around $5 per 50# bag.
  4. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    The first time is exceptionally slow as you inspect all the various organs of the chickens and pussyfoot around with the different procedures.
    I know a young mother and daughter team that'll do 25 in the morning, in their kitchen, and not make a mess.

    It's probably cheaper and more fun to grind and mix your own feed. We grew our own grain and bought minerals.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    My 25 nuggets (the minimum order) arrives on Friday. Wish me luck. 53$ so far into the project.

    Feed prices are often discussed on that backyard chicken site and the prices run well up to 15$ for 50# of no name layer feed. My 12$ price was one of the cheapest across the country. We're talking about real feed with specified protein content. I asked about bulk feed and it seems that the 50# bags are my only feasible option since I don't need a ton.
  6. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Save a lot of headaches, money, worry, and having to learn the ugly truths of trying to grow anything anymore, and cancel your order and start a different hobby.
    I never said it was cheap or fun.
    The newness makes it exciting but do not despair, that'll quickly wear off.
  7. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    We raise 50 cornish cross chickens per year. It's not fun but you will never go back to store bought. I am going to get a few egg layers this spring since none of the farmers bother selling eggs anymore. I did turkeys for 2 years. They are easier than meat birds. Let them out while cutting grass and they chase grass hoppers till they they are full and won't have to feed them that day. They don't taste much different than store bough turkey though. my cot last year was 1.38 lb. for chickens including getting them butchered for 2.75 a pop. Turkeys were 1.11. two years ago.
  8. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    "...across the country. We're talking about real feed with specified protein content." Well, the feed in 40# bags I'm talking about is a national brand that has very specific protein content and the bulk chicken feed comes from our local feed mill/elevator who makes it for the two to three hundred thousand commercial brown egg laying chickens in our area. Just go to the front page ad on www.orschelnfarmhome.com. I don't think I have ever paid over $9/bag. Maybe we ought to figure out how much trucking would be and start a business?
  9. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    2 Rhode Island Red hens, (Chick Chick, and Hen) 1 black Austrilorp (Loopy) 1 Golden Cochan that lays light blue eggs. (Goldie) And one Old English Banty rooster. (Roosty)
    Can't lay down under a tractor without Chick Chick getting on my chest. She's an attention hound. Free roam days, locked in their fortified bear and coyote proof house at night.
    One of my outdoor cats (Chicken Buddy) thinks she's a chicken and pals around with them all day. She walks along side rooching up against them and licking their heads like they are her kittens. When she's playful, she will wrap her paws around their necks and take them down, licking their head and neck. They don't seem to mind. Caught her sleeping in the nesting box a few times. She hasn't laid an egg yet.
  10. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    We have had chickens for around a year. 2 days ago 4 of our chickens disappeared . There was not a trace of them to be found . No feathers, tracks, anything. This occurred in the middle of the day in the same yard where we have 2 dogs on runs during the day. Today our last 2 are gone. Evidence left behind this time in the form of 1 headless chicken in the yard. Any opinions on what kind of critter did this?
  11. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    FOX??? coon???
  12. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    I think a weasel takes the head off.
    A coon takes the entire bird to their den to "ripen" before eating it.
    A skunk believe it or not takes their head off as well. Skunks kill a lot of chickens that lay their eggs in a clutch outside their pen. If you are missing a chicken at dusk that didn't go in it's coop, it may be sitting on her eggs at night. If you don't find the eggs during the day, the skunks find them at night. I always thought skunks were vegetarians and even kept catching them in a trap that was set to find out what was after the chickens. Then I found out that they will reach through the cage if it's near the ground and take their heads off. I was letting skunks out free when I caught them thinking they were not the problem. No more !
    Coons are so smart, they will gather around a coop or run, and make the chickens run around. They are so stupid, they don't stay in the center, and when they run by a coon, he'll reach through and grab the bird. That is why chicken wire is required. I build all my pens up high with plywood floors. If built on the ground, coons tunnel under the edge at night and take an entire bird out.
    A coon can open anything a human can too. So padlock the door with a lock and key. They will figure out most latches.
  13. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    That's pretty scary.
    Four at a time would normally indicate human.
    Sometimes a skunk will bite off a head to drink the blood.
    A hawk will eat the head.
    Opossums rip them apart and eat out the guts.
    Racoons will kill several and eat the heads but they can't carry them all off.
    Weasels eat the head but there will be many small bites all over the bird.
    A dog will kill many birds but not eat them or carry them off.
    It was probably a fox.
    If you look closely, you may find a feather here and there showing which way they went.
    Follow that trail and usually within about 100 yards you'll find bigger piles of feathers leading back to its den.
    Foxes are feeding young right now and need lots of food.
    They grab by the throat and maybe accidentally bit a head off.
    Sorry.
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Can someone give me the quick version on what the cone is used for? I butchered many as a kid, but we never had a cone.
  15. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Put the live cicken head down in the cone, cut off the head. Keeps the chicken from flailing as much and brusing the meet and spilling blood all around. You can also bleed the chicken by cutting the jugular if youare really adept.
  16. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    Chicken predator signs: http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2111/ANSI-8204web.pdf You can also Google the term and find many examples. I would not say all dissapearances are human. We loose chickens and there are not any humans around (except us). I would suspect the predator drags it off in the night. These are very free range chickens, 5 left. The new one will be raised in a shelte and yard with electric protection. Too many foxes, owls, hawks, coons, opossums, stray dogs, and who knows what else. I don;t think the wild urkey or deer take them.
  17. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    I wondered if it may have been a fox feeding its young. It was closer to the end of may last year when we got the chickens and they have not been bothered up to now. Being an avid hunter and occasional trapper I am very familiar with the woods around the house and there is not a den within 1/4 mile of here . I did look well for any sign of feathers ect...Our yard does end at the edge of a 1000+ acre swamp. I just can not understand a mink or weasel eating that many birds that quickly.





    It was probably a fox.
    If you look closely, you may find a feather here and there showing which way they went.
    Follow that trail and usually within about 100 yards you'll find bigger piles of feathers leading back to its den.
    Foxes are feeding young right now and need lots of food.
    They grab by the throat and maybe accidentally bit a head off.
    Sorry.[/quote]
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I picked up my batch of 25 nuggets today. The very small box also included a dead 26th chick though the rest seem healthy and have all eaten and drank. I'm raising them inside a barn in a coop containing 8" of shavings above a concrete floor. The light is on and I've got 8 weeks of stink before slaughter. They're eating 24% protein feed for the first two weeks and then 20% for a week before doing the 12 on 12 off with the 20% until 8 weeks.

    The killing cone, check youtube, also restrains them so that you can make the kill cut without having to hold down the bird. Just grab the head and cut as/where you wish. I may just use pruners and a traffic cone attached to a post. A bucket beneath the cone against the post should catch most blood if I feel inclined to collect it. Expect 1/3 of each birds 8# finished weight to be stuff other than the finished product so I'll have like 50#s of waste material on top of the coop full of spent litter.

    Great fun so far.
  19. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Not a guard dog;

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  20. BucksCoBernie

    BucksCoBernie New Member

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    The Egg Machine is in full throttle! They've been laying for about a month now. Im eating eggs like crazy haha. we get a dozen every 3 days.

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  21. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    We've had our 15 chickens for about two months. I expect eggs starting in another few months. We ordered 5 hens through the mail, and got the hens plus 10 free roosters. 15 chickens is just about too much for the chicken tractor I built for five, but so far they are doing fine. We plan to eat the roosters in the fall. The one good thing about the free roosters is that they seem to be a large breed - they are already meaty at 8 weeks old. I think the roosters are Buff Orphingtons, based on the photos I have seen.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    MMmmmm....I can smell the coq au vin simmering from here.
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    A follow up to my nuggets. I just finished processing the batch last weekend after 12 weeks. They ended up being the "slow" variety of meat birds. Anyway, the killing cone worked great, just as planned, I slit the neck's artery on one side but kept the windpipe and spine intact so the live animal just hangs there bleeding out while breathing until it runs out of blood and dies. Pretty easy. Do not use pruners as you won't get it in one cut. Use a nice fish fillet knife for the slit.

    I got 24 4 lb birds out of the deal and put 450 lbs of feed into them. Not a good conversion ratio really since these were the "slow" birds but I didn't do it for cost savings. I
    ll probably do another batch this fall. Nothing good about 90 degree temps and slaughtering.
  24. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    For you. I wonder how the chicken might describe it. :roll:
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Exceptionally easy for the bird. They just had to set there. You hold the whole head in one hand and then slide the knife across the neck with the other hand until the artery is cut and the blood gushes out. You hold the head for a second longer until the bird gets used to losing its juice and then let go and the bird just stays there until its eyes close. Very little movement and no squawks. I was a little leary of the slit vs. the chop method but I won't go back to chop. There's a reason that the slit is recommended by the local small farm agencies. Very good bleedout too.

    I had a guy that wanted all the hearts and livers so I got to poke around in the guts a bit. Pretty simple birds once they're inside out.

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