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The Chicken, Duck, Turkey Thread

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posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 11:07 AM
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I have chickens roaming free-range in my yard. It seems every time I mention them in a thread, someone wants to know more about them, so in order to not derail other threads, I thought I would post what I know about them here. Hopefully others will chime in with their knowledge as well, and of course all questions about raising birds are welcome.

My process for raising chickens has developed through trial and error. I had a pet rooster as a kid, but I never really got into the day-to-day raising of chickens for eggs and meat. So when we had this massive tick infestation some years back, after poison, burning areas off, spraying, and everything else we could think of to control the little pests, all to no avail, I decided maybe it was time to look to nature.

Our local Tractor Supply sells chickens and ducks every spring. My thought process was that chickens eat bugs, and ticks are bugs... chickens also lay eggs, and I like eggs almost as much as I hate ticks. So I bought us six Rhode Island Red straight run chicks and a bag of chick starter, total cost about $30. I chose Rhode Island Reds because the information I found on them said they were good meat and egg birds. That information was correct.

My first issue was where to put them. Obviously, living at the edge of a wooded mountain range, just letting chicks loose in the yard is little more than a good way to feed the possums, skunks, and coons. Since that was not my intention, we got a large cardboard box and set it in the corner of our bedroom with a 60W incandescent light in a portable clamp fixture to keep them warm and two small bowls... one for water and one for food.

My first discovery was that chickens stink.

So I began working on a way to keep them safe outside. I finally settled on building a 4' x 8' coop, 30" high, with a hinged top. I used pressure-treated 2x4s around the bottom and top, with corner posts made out of angled 2x4s in the corners and simple 2x4 verticals every 24". I then wrapped the whole thing in chicken wire and buried the bottom 2x4s in the ground about an inch. The top panels, each 4' square, were made out of some old 5/4" x 6 decking lumber I had left over from building a porch and covered with more chicken wire. As soon as the weather warmed up some and the chicks got bigger, we moved that stinky box outside and put the chickens in the coop.

Baby chicks are very susceptible to cold weather, we found out. My wife wanted some ducks, so I bought 4 of them and put them in with the chicks. Big mistake! The ducklings love water from birth, and their splashing drenched the chicks. One cool morning, we found one chick still alive, but unresponsive. My wife grabbed some towels, dried it off, and huddled with it to her chest wrapped in the towels for a few hours until it perked back up. I was meanwhile busy getting another box set up with another light and moving the ducklings into it.

Once they got bigger, there was no problem putting the ducks and chickens together... they got along fine. But ten birds in a 48 square foot cage is just a little too crowded. They did fine until they got almost full size, then we lost a chicken... a few days later we lost another one. Since they had been healthy the day before we found them, we realized the coop was too small. We released the chickens and ducks into the yard, hoping that they wouldn't run off, that they wouldn't get eaten, and that the dog wouldn't attack them. We had no choice, because I simply didn't have time (or money) to fence an area in.

In my yard was a large stack of concrete block I had been using to lay a foundation for an add-on... it became a roost. Chickens will find a place high off the ground if possible to roost at night. They do not fly well, so they will need their roost to be accessible in short hops. Ducks do not roost in high places; I'm not sure where they stayed at night, but they apparently were able to find a good place. Both stayed close to the coop, although neither wanted back in it. They had become accustomed to their new home and didn't want to leave it, which was a good thing for us. The dog had accepted them while they were in the coop, so he became a guard dog for the birds.

Once we let the chickens and ducks out, the smell began to fade. If they have enough room to roam freely, chickens do not stink. The smell comes from their manure, which is a very powerful natural fertilizer. It is so powerful that adding fresh chicken manure to a garden will kill it. The manure has to sit for a year or so to be usable... except that in a large enough area, it is spread out enough so it does not damage the yard... it actually fertilizes it!

Chickens and ducks are both voracious eaters, too. They had the tick problem under control within a month... three months later and ticks were barely existent at all. They also trimmed back the spider population, the cricket population, the worm population, pretty much every type of bug we had here was controlled. I am of the opinion that chickens are the single most effective pest control available.

I took a sheet of exterior grade plywood and made a laying house. It's small, with two 16" square nesting boxes and a 8" 'porch' in front of them. I mounted it on a 4x4 post and set it next to our porch, with a small piece of plywood connecting the two. I glued some 1/8" x 1/2" strips of wood across it every 8" to give the chickens a better walkway, and my wife filled the boxes with fresh grass. The hens found it quickly enough and started laying eggs in it. Strangely enough, they all picked one of the laying boxes and all laid eggs in it. They would actually gather on our porch and wait turns rather than use the other side.

The ducks would not use the henhouse; they built their nests in grassy areas.

We wound up having 2 hens and 2 roosters, 2 drakes and 2 duck hens. We found out that you really don't want more than one rooster, because one of the roosters got tired of fighting and wandered off. The alpha rooster and his two hens stayed, and we still have "Big Red" today. He is getting old and lazy, though. He spends most of his time laying on the porch.

Most people think roosters are aggressive, and they are. Rhode Island Reds are especially aggressive as far as normal chickens go. Red has 2" spurs on the back of his legs, and when he was younger he began to "bow up" at us. My wife and I took turns kicking him across the yard whenever he did, and we soon had him broke from it. That sounds pretty bad, I know, but roosters are tough birds. A good swift kick will not damage them normally, but it will cause them to back off. Just be careful to stay clear of those spurs, because they can do some damage. I hear guinea chickens and bantam chickens are even more aggressive; I have never raised either.

Anyway, bear in mind that you don't need a rooster to get eggs. You only need a rooster to get baby chicks. Pullets (baby females) are often available if all you want is eggs. I personally like having a rooster around, because the rooster itself is protection for the hens and will act as an anchor to keep the hens around. Just be sure not to have more than one.

~ to be continued ~

TheRedneck




posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 11:36 AM
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I buy my eggs from a woman and her husband I know, they raise their chickens free range and she buys good quality foods for them. I pay three bucks a dozen for the small eggs, they are smaller colored chickens, all have names and she gives them social security after they quit laying.

Did anyone notice that eggs in the store are all expensive right now, it is weird, there is no real reason for the raise in price. It is the commercial eggs that went way up. I like eggs, I actually eat quite a bit, it is good for my hypoglycemia, a good protein to keep from crashing is needed. I have been eating a lot of eggs all my life, it is cheaper than eating other meats. Beans are not a good source for me, but peanuts are.

I thought about doing chickens, but the people we know have lots of eggs and someone needs to buy them. I buy eggs for the daughters too, usually get about eight dozen every other week for all of us.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 11:46 AM
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a reply to: TheRedneck

I raise quite a mix, originally started with Black Australorps for the same reason, but now we have Americanas, , Reds, Cochin pippins (might have that name wrong) and more...keep between 25 and 30 birds.

For our coop, we went with a deep litter style floor, so when I framed the foundation I started with 4x4 corners and closed it off like a giant sandbox. Next I ran rolls of metal hardware cloth from thw top edge of the 2x12s across the sodded dirt floor and wove them together with coated wire. The floor allows for better composting of urin and poo, while the metal cloth also keeps out the burrowers damn effectively. eta...about a foot deep of pine shavings covers the wire mesh, and helps with the aroma as well.

The coop is 12x12 and 8' at the front portion of a saltbox roof. The roosts are maple and cherry branches I screwed to the studs which is kinder to their feet even though more than few still roost in the trusses.

No ducks yet, but we do have a small pond...do your ducks keep with your chickens? How is tbe social dynamic between the Roosters and ducks?
edit on 7-4-2018 by BlueJacket because: Eta


We have 3 roosters to get fertile eggs, but that has its downsides and upsides...3 roosters and a great pyrenees has really helped cut down on Hawk kills. The dog is ruthless on opssums, coons coyotes etc...
edit on 7-4-2018 by BlueJacket because: Eta



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 11:51 AM
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a reply to: rickymouse

yeah we havent bought eggs in years...breakfast out is ruined for us their eggs just dont stand up to our free ranged, organic fed gals.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:09 PM
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a reply to: TheRedneck

i expected some " turducken " action - but hey - good luck with your poultry



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:15 PM
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a reply to: TheRedneck

I like chickens. They do help with the bugs, and IMO snakes. I think they're smart. We had one little hen that would go with the cat to greet our daughter when she got off the bus when she was little. They had to cross the highway to do it, but there they were, white chicken and orange cat, waiting patiently for her every day. It was hilarious.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:27 PM
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originally posted by: BlueJacket
a reply to: rickymouse

yeah we havent bought eggs in years...breakfast out is ruined for us their eggs just dont stand up to our free ranged, organic fed gals.


It is surprising how much taste real eggs have compared to those commercial eggs. Some of the store bought eggs taste like you are eating a match....pure sulfur.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:37 PM
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a reply to: TheRedneck

You should get a Rockstar Chicken.






posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:37 PM
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a reply to: redhorse

Our chickens are smarter than I used to think they were... now the ducks, that's a different story!

TheRedneck



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 12:46 PM
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Tell me more about this spider control you speak of..



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:03 PM
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a reply to: Wardaddy454

We live right at the edge of a small mountain covered in virgin forest. Spiders thrive in semi-forested areas. There's plenty of trees to build webs around and plenty of insects for food.

The last three years, since we've had chickens, we see maybe three or four webs a year, as opposed to dozens each year before that. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a wolf spider since we let the first batch of chickens loose, and we used to see them constantly, some as big as a saucer. The yellow and black garden spiders went down from a couple dozen a year to maybe one a year.

There's still a few webs in the spring, mainly the tiny little spiders that pop out as soon as the weather breaks, but that's about it.

TheRedneck



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:11 PM
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I raise my chickens and ducks separately because a male duck will try and mate with a hen and sometimes injures or kills them in the process.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:17 PM
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a reply to: TheLieWeLive

I've seen the mallards in action at my old apartments. Gang rape festival out there for two weeks a year. Wicked little devils!




posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:22 PM
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Here's a pic of my chickens, Cornish X Rock at 6 weeks old. In about two weeks they'll be ready for the freezer. However, I'm going to keep them around and see if they'll lay eggs.

In a few more months they'll get big as Turkeys and Ducks.... I'll probably put them on a diet. They can't free range here because of coyotes, foxes, hawks and owls etc... but they'll have a large coop run.




posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:31 PM
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Duck mating habits are.. odd.

Exploding penises, reinforced vaginas... ducks are I think the only animal out there that practices homosexual necrophilia.


Warning, graphic....




posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:35 PM
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a reply to: IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Duck and chickens do not anatomically align, if you know what I mean, a ducks penis can corkscrew. A duck can do a lot of damage to a hens insides, so mix that with gang rape, and its not good for the hens.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:39 PM
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We keep 4 hens and love the eggs; golden yolks and tan shells that are twice as hard to break as store eggs. They took care of our tick problem as well. They do require care at least twice a day to put out feed and make sure they have fresh water. The straw we line their coop with ends up in the compost pile. The hens love many of the leftover scraps of veggies, fruit, cooked rice etc.

I would happily eat any of them but that won't happen since my wife is so attached.
Take care they don't become pets if you intent to fully utilize them.
We've already buried 2 birds we could have eaten.

I hunted wild turkey until I finally shot one and had to clean it.
It was the only turkey I ever shot as I don't care to clean another.
Nothing I ever smelled was worse than that.



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 01:56 PM
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a reply to: TheLieWeLive

I've never had that happen... and I've had RIR hens running loose with Mallard ducks.

Maybe having that rooster helped?

TheRedneck



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 02:01 PM
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a reply to: imitator

We have about the same preds here, but so far no issues. The dog keeps the coyotes and foxes at bay, and the turkeys handle the smaller possums, skunks, and coons.Turkeys can get mean when they want to!

So far no hawk issues, but we did have a run-in with a barn owl a while back. No missing birds after all was said and done, but it did net us a sleepless night.

TheRedneck



posted on Apr, 7 2018 @ 02:05 PM
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A few pics I took of our fowl...

This is Big Red:


And this is Tom, strutting his stuff as usual:


TheRedneck




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