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My Adventures In Owning Chickens

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posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 08:45 AM
So not quite a year ago, I had these chickens show up on my land. Apparently one of my neighbors somewhere had these guys and abandon them, so they wandered off and ended up at my place.

My wife and I had talked about getting chickens off and on. We live way out here in the country and it just made sense to get some chickens that would give us eggs. Not meat birds though. We are both confirmed meat eaters, but there's just something about slaughtering an animal that you've cared for and then eat it that bothers both her and me.

But we never got serious about it. Until these chickens showed up.

After about a week, all but 4 of the white ones had wandered away. The 4 white ones decided to take up residency here at my house. So I decided to build a chicken coop and a run for them.

Of course I had NO idea how to take care of chickens. Research on the internet took me to a web site known as Backyard Chickens and is a web site I highly recommend for all your chicken resources. They have great articles there from peoples own experience in raising chickens, and there is even a forum there so if you have questions you can ask and get a lot of information.

After some research, I saw that the size requirements for the coop and run for just 4 chickens was small. Not wanting to cram them together, I decided to tripple the size of the coop and run that I needed.

I quickly slapped together a home for them:

Once I had shooed them into their new home (and that's another story in itself....), within about a day they were fighting and trying to kill each other!

Turns out there was a very good reason for that: All four of them were roosters!

I found this out after posting pictures at Backyard Chickens and asking people what kind of chickens they were. You can't coop up 4 roosters like that without any females, and you need about 7 to 10 hens per rooster if you are going to have multiple roosters penned up like this.

So they had to go, and I found someone that was willing to take them off my hands.

Now I was sitting here with a chicken coop and run....but no chickens. What to do? Why you go buy chicks!

As it was spring time, this was not going to be a problem. Around here you can buy chicks from local farms, or you can go to places like Tractor Supply where they sell chicks during the spring.

So off to Tractor Supply we went, and we picked up some Silver Laced Wyandottes. Six of them. And assurances that they were all females.....


Well here is what they looked like as chicks:

And they started to grow of course:

And grow some more:

Once they are all feathered in (takes about 6 to 8 weeks) you can put them outside.

I had noticed when they started to feather in, their feathers did not have silver, but gold instead. That means Tractor Supply got it wrong, they were actually Golden Laced Wyandottes.

Wonder what else they got wrong?

Turns out that no, they were NOT all females....there were roos in the mix. How many roos? Out of the six we bought....5 of them!

Of course I was wondering what I was going to do about that when disaster struck!

One of my neighbors had a young dog get loose and it ended up at my place. It crashed through the screen door netting and killed two of my chickens.

Needless to say I was not very happy, but the pup was just doing what dogs do. He came and got the dog, offered to pay for the chickens, which I told him not to worry about it as that would have been about four dollars (the chicks cost about two dollars a piece), and just asked him to try and make sure his dog didn't get loose anymore.

So two of the roos were gone. I installed plywood at the bottom of the door to keep that from happening again.

Then, two days later, my step mother's dog, Tasha, whos a Husky / wolf mix got loose, came over and pretty much just crashed through the chicken wire of the run, and took out two more of my chickens.

Again, not very happy, and I ended up doubling the fencing, using spikes to secure the bottom of the fence to the ground. Have not had an issue with dogs since.

But now I was down to two chickens. A roo and a hen. Not going to get a lot of eggs that way.

That meant going out and buying more chicks.

We went to one of the local feed stores, and small business that still had chicks (was getting to the end of the season). I told the girls that worked there that I wanted chicks that I KNOW are females. That I already had a roo and did NOT want anymore.

The girls there knew just what I needed: Cinnoman Queens!

They are not really a recognized breed, but are a hybrid that are what we call Color Sex Linked chickens. This means that their colors they have as chicks makes it possible to identify them easily as male or female.

The Queens are very friendly, laid back, are great egg producers (about 240 a year per hen) and tend to lay jumbo sized brown eggs.

So we got six of them:

And of course they ended up growing too. Better yet: for a fact, they were ALL females! Yay!

So my rooster is a happy rooster. We call him Nugget (my son's idea). Here's a picture of him. At the bottom of the picture is the other surviving Golden Lace, Betty:

Continued in the next post is some things I have learned about keeping chickens........

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 08:45 AM

So by now I've convinced all of you to run out and get your very own chickens, right?


Okay, if you're seriously thinking about it, here are some sage words of wisdom from me on this subject:

Check out the web link I provided in the OP. Seriously. They have a TON of resources there that will help you not only get started, but help answer any questions you have. They have guides for building coops and runs. They have guides for feeding and watering. They have guides for taking care of your flock. And of course as I mentioned, there's a forum there where you can register and ask questions. The people there are quite friendly and will help you out greatly.

Realize that you're NOT going to be getting any eggs right away, unless you are able to get fully grown hens. You will have your chicks and raise them to hens first of course, and the earliest you'll see any eggs is when they get to be about 4 to 4.5 months. For some breeds it takes up to 6 months.
So be patient. At first all it will seem like is you're spending money on feed and not getting a return on it. However that will change. I've not bought any eggs in almost 3 months as my girls keep us in eggs a plenty.

Feeding: If you're going to have more than 3 or 4 chickens, I highly recommend you have more than one feeder for them. You can buy feeders or make you're own. But if you have 8 or more chickens, and only one feeder, they tend to fight over getting to the feeder, unless the feeder you make is very large.

Water: THIS is very important.
I made the mistake of using a large rubber tub I had for water for them. This is a HUGE mistake. The reason it's a big mistake? The chickens tend to roost on the edge of the tub.....and then take a dump in their water!

This normally results in very polluted water:

You'll end up having to change their water out several times a day! If you check out the link I provided in my OP, you find some very easy to make watering systems that don't cost very much to make, AND your chickens won't be taking a dump in the water!

Roosting! This is also important, but not something I saw talked about a lot. Your chickens need a place to roost. This is actually very important for them to have. For outside in the run, I used an old branch and they love to get up there next to each other:

Make sure you have one inside your coop also. This is how they like to sleep.

Bedding: there are quite a few articles on this, so I'm not going to get into it. Many people use pine chips or sand. But there is one thing to remember: DO NOT USE CEDAR CHIPS OR SHAVINGS! It's not good for the chickens.

Chicken run:

If you make a run for your chickens, realize that ALL the grass there is going to die. Many reasons for this:

Chickens are constantly walking around on it, scratching at it.
Chickens go poo all the time. Chicken poo is a very rich fertilizer, and basically they will kill the grass with their poo because it's the same thing as using too much fertilizer on any plant.

The ground will end up hard packed dirt......until it rains. Then it will be a very muddy place to be! Complete with chicken poo!

Chickens can fly. Yes they can. Not very far, but you will be surprised at how high they can get! When I first built my chicken run, they flew right over the top, even though the fence is 8 feet high! So I ended up covering it with chicken wire to keep them in.
This also helps protect them though from flying preditors like Hawks.

This next part is just my own personal opinion:

The flock you start is going to be part of your family. Treat your chickens right and your hens will give you plenty of eggs.
I actually go out and talk to my girls every day, and I tease Nugget all the time, and he is very protective over his girls, but as a rooster, he can only do so much. He depends on me to make sure I get the food and water out there, and to make sure that no preditors get to them.
If you can, let them free range for a while. Some people are not able to just let their chickens free range all the time, but if you can, let them out of their run so they can stretch their legs, fly a little bit and check things out. Chickens have a lot of curiosity and love to check things out. Don't worry, they normally won't fly off or run away. As long as you're feeding them right, and taking care of them, they know where their home is.

Is it worth it?

For me it is. I actually enjoy having them, and the eggs they give me is a big help.

The egg on the left is the size of a store bought Large egg. The one on the right was laid by one of my Queens (Amber is her name). You can see the size difference:

So, got some of your own stories you want to share? Any other tips and advice? How about some pictures?

Post them here!
edit on 1/30/2015 by eriktheawful because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 08:52 AM
Awesome. Anyone that is readying for the "dip" in modern society should pay heed. Besides guns and gold you will need something to defend and something to eat.

Buk Buk Baaawk!

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:00 AM
a reply to: intrptr

You're not calling people "chicken", are you?


posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:09 AM
How much work is it to clean up after them (poop), doesn't it get everywhere, including in nests and on the eggs? What is the best way to keep excrement to a minimum without too much effort? Has anyone used the chicken coop as a compost heap?
edit on 30-1-2015 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

edit on 30-1-2015 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

edit on 30-1-2015 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:11 AM
Eggcellent thread! (someone had to)

I've always wanted to do this and your story has given me another nudge to do so. Can I own chickens in Connecticut?

I hope the personality you exhibit in your gaming videos helped you stay focused and laughing the entire time during your setbacks. Good stuff...


posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:35 AM
a reply to: eriktheawful

The Australorp is a chicken breed of Australian origin, developed as utility breed with a focus on egg laying.

It achieved world wide popularity in the 1920s after the breed broke numerous world records for number of eggs laid and has been a popular breed in the western world since.
Australorp Chickens

Chickens will only lay eggs for a couple of years ... then the hens will need to be replaced.

"Australorp is a chicken breed" ... ( i.e. not a hybrid ).

Hybrid chickens are more difficult to produce. Hybrids are/were created for the higher-egg-laying-rate BUT you have to know what your doing for the reproduction-of-hens requirement.

NOTE: The new chick-hens won't lay any eggs until they're 5-months of age.

To the Original-Poster ... Star-n-Flag.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:40 AM
In my youth I used to breed Black Sumatra gamebirds and Salmon Faverolles and sell day old and point of lay birds to anyone interested, with eggs going to the neighbours when their was surplus. They were running free during the day and roosted in the chicken house at night.

The fox was partial to my father’s Light Sussex hens which used to find sneaky ways to break in, but my bantams seemed to be lucky.

If you keep chickens you will always remember the eggs and wonder why shop-sold eggs are so inferior. The meat was more gamey than the pallid birds sold in the shops and the guano went into the garden.

If your chickens get scaly leg, try linseed oil as that works.


posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:46 AM
In the Sixth grade my daughter hatched an egg in science class. She opted to bring the chick home. This resulted in a need for a coop and company, so my wife acquired a hen and I had to build a coop and a run. Five years later the coop is more like an apartment complex and the run is huge. We have around thirty chickens and five ducks.....

My daughter actually shows the birds in various 4-H competitions, and she cares for them all. I suppose as long as they birds keep her from falling into the pitfalls of adolescence I am all for it.

She actually has more roosters than hens. We have only lost one rooster from their "pecking order" fighting. Usually if a new rooster is introduced into the flock, he has to fight every rooster until they determine the dominance order.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:50 AM
a reply to: eisegesis

Some towns have ordinances against chickens or at least the number or sex of the birds. If you are rural or suburban you should check with your town hall.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 09:53 AM
a reply to: InTheLight

My daughter says the best way to manage the poop is to put down a lot of playground sand and use something similar to a cat litter scoop to clean it up. Or you can just shovel it all up and put it in your compost bin.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 10:02 AM
a reply to: InTheLight

The Poop Factor!

This is a good question, and one that most people won't touch.....

er....sorry about that!

Chickens poop. A LOT. They poop ever where. In their hen house, in the run, in their water, even in their food some times. (remember if you make a roost, not to put one roost above the other. Why? Because the top chickens will poop on the ones below...).

If you have a large enough run, the poop will be spread out and nature takes it course. Of course you could rake it out and save it for a compost/fertilize pile (it's really good in small doses for the plants).

Depending on the type of hen house you build, if you have one like me, you have to change the bedding out. I use pine chips, and I have a big latched door on the side of the hen house.
Once a week I put the wheel barrel over to the door, open it up and use the garden rake to rake out the old bedding. That get's dumped in the compost pile.
I then put new bedding down for them in the hen house. Keeps the smell down and the really like the new bedding.

Eggs: They will get poop on them. Simply gather your eggs and wash them with warm water to clean them off. If you're really worried about bacteria, you can wash them gently with dish soap like Dawn.

Make sure you always wash your hands after doing any of this of course!

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 10:08 AM
a reply to: eriktheawful

If you are using them for egg producers make sure you mix in some calcium with their feed, as the egg laying with leech calcium from the hen.

If you get more chickens make sure you quarantine them from your flock for 2-3 weeks before integrating them to make sure they are not sick with something that will spread to your existing flock. My daughter has acquired birds from shows and they have had respiratory infections that spread to the whole flock. She had to treat them with antibiotics in their water. If you do bring in more (not chicks) also treat them for lice. This was another problem we had to deal with.

Some people just do not care for their birds the way they should.

I live in Rhode Island and the winters can be really cold. We have heated waterers and we have heat lamps in the coop. My daughter said we had to use red lamps so that it did not affect their sleep cycles....I am suspicious of this as our roosters crow all the time....

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 10:11 AM
Now that's how to make a thread.!

Great tale well told and with pics (so it did happen!) Sn'F sir.

Always have kept chickens I now have only two old girls that are left from my last dozen flock. They stopped laying years ago and they are just living out their retirement as pets hanging out with my cats, they are 'Snackbox & Wings' and they have very distinct personalities. Gonna wait till natural causes happens to them before I can get a new flock but in the meantime we will all shuffle around together in blissful simplicity. And buy eggs for now

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 11:16 AM
a reply to: eriktheawful

Loved reading your thread! Thank you for that. I've always been super interested in owning and raising chickens. I have a neighbor that does it in my area, even though we aren't supposed to, and she gives us and the other neighbors eggs to keep us quiet, works like a charm

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 11:21 AM
Awesome thread! Thanks for sharing. I don't mind admitting that I'm a bit envious. Every time my hubby asks me what I'd like for my birthday I say, "chickens and goats". But, alas, we live in the burbs.

Sidenote, here is a family member's hilariously trashy attempt at a chicken coop....

I would love my pollos so much more than that.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 11:22 AM
Excellent thread. Some day I hope to get chickens, when the wife Oks the venture. I have enough wood and supplies to build a coup. I already have the fencing too. I have chicken wire and also six by six cement mesh which will keep out bigger animals. A bear will even have a hard time getting through that.

So building a coup would not cost me anything. I also own a chainsaw sawmill and have pine trees if need be. I have a tree that is dying now, it is big enough to make lumber to build a six foot by eight foot coup. I need to start looking around for some broken bundles of shingles I suppose, last time I bought some I got them for a buck a bundle.

Sooner or later the wife will give in. Our situation with cats has changed, the outside male had a clot on it's spine and got paralyzed and died a few weeks ago. We brought the old female cat inside, she likes living in the house. The male was too climby to bring inside. Now we do not have to worry about the cats getting the chickens, they loved hunting partridge.

So now fresh eggs may be on our menu. I have been buying eggs from a woman for years. They only cost two bucks a dozen for good eggs from her, I buy what they don't use. Her hens are between five and seven years old and they are still laying an egg a day each average. If you take care of chickens they lay for many years and produce their own kids to keep things going. If you leave them roam the yard though, you do need to keep a gun around to protect them from those darn coyotes here. You have to put them in if you aren't around and be willing to kill the coyotes and fox. The fox here is very skittish, it will run if you shoot, but a pack of coyotes will not, the gun club is right across the street and they are used to shooting. I think coyote makes good pulled BBQ meat but it needs to be cooked really well.

I have no problem cleaning and cooking a chicken to soup if it is starting to get old. But they should get some SS benefits after laying first, I can't see killing a chicken just because it does not produce many eggs anymore. I would treat the chickens well while they are alive, treating your food badly is something I do not like to do.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 11:27 AM
Growing up in small farm town in Connecticut, I wanted chickens. I never was able to get them. We had the room but my parents wouldn't let us have them. I"m envious. LOVE the pictures!

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 02:01 PM
We've thought about it, but the family next door has a hunting dog that they have little to no control over.

posted on Jan, 30 2015 @ 02:01 PM
Local laws on having chickens vary as much as there are places to live!

So if you are entertaining the thought of having some, it makes sense to check your area out as far as local laws are concerned.

Also: even though local city codes may allow you to have chickens, if you own a home in the burbs or something like that, you may have to check with your local Home Owners Association. They may have rules against it (and HOA is one of the reasons I live in the they can kiss my butt and I can do what I want to do).

Here is a link to BYC talking about Chicken Laws and Ordinances:

BYC Chicken Laws

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