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Author Topic: NGC raising chickens  (Read 1718 times)
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« on: May 22, 2013, 07:38:45 PM »
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OK, so tell me if I'm nuts-  I live in a small New England town with a small back yard that really isn't being used. For some reason, I have an urge to get chickens. No idea why- they just seem cool and relatively low maintenance. Seems I'm not alone, as the pasttime is growing around the country. Anyone have advice/tips?
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2013, 07:41:08 PM »
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Don't .
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2013, 07:52:56 PM »
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Foul.  They're called foul for a reason.  They are foul.  They breed septic bacteria, flu vectors, attract vermin and predators, make an ungodly mess, tension with the neighbors and a maintenance nightmare.  They pick their way through their own shit and distribute it everywhere you walk and on eveything you touch.  Disease blows through them like the wind, and like the wind it keeps on going.  If anyone has sick chickens in your section, you will too.  If yours were upstream, their damage could be your liability. 

If you want to do something good with the yard grow asparagus.

$0.02
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 07:56:45 PM »
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Got new renters next door....decided to bring chickens with them from Oregon.  City of Bellevue says you can have 6 chickens as pets.....gotta be effin' kidding me! Angry  Don't bother me too much as I'm usually up by 3am, but when I hear them hens start clucking in the am on my days off, I feel like reaching for my Ithaca 20 gauge!  All in all, they don't annoy me too much(liot less than the screaming girls), but I've never seen chickens before in Bellevue, WA.
Might want to check with your neighbors as a courtesy to see if they object.....just sayin'
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2013, 08:00:48 PM »
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Wow-  I haven't heard the downside and am very appreciative for the input-  keep the details coming.
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2013, 08:05:29 PM »
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We started our backyard flock a little over two years ago.  I built a small coop with a ramp up to the nests and another door that lets them in for food or water as needed.  They are let out every morning, they go back to the roost on their own before dark, and we close both doors each night to keep predators out.  We get 5-7 eggs per day from the 7 hens.  We also have a rooster since we both love to hear him crow, and he's pretty good at watching over his harem.  Believe it or not, our first rooster teamed up with our cat to charge a hawk who had his talons on a grown hen.  The rooster and cat ran the smallish hawk off, and the hen only lost a patch of rump feathers.

The first chickens we got were two mature hens so we could have eggs immediately.  We ordered six chicks, and they were mailed to us (USPS) in a box with breathing holes at the tender age of one day.  We had them in a homemade brooder for about five weeks until they grew full feathers and then put them in the coop with the two adults.  After a few weeks confined to the coop, they were allowed to range with the older birds.

So far, we lost only two hens, one died on the job sitting in the nest, and the other vanished during the daytime, probably taken by a fox or coyote.

The eggs are so good, you'll never want store bought again!

Our birds wander the yard, seeking cover from the heat under shrubbery.  They have a "route" they use most every day, scratching for a living.  They rather forage than eat store bought feed, so the bill for food is very low.

My wife loves her flowers and yard, but the sensitive areas are blocked off with decorative fencing, and the damage they do under shrubs is mainly moving the mulch around.

Our dogs were trained from day one not to molest the chickens, and they basically ignore them.

I can't imagine not having them now and wish I could find some pictures.  I'll take some tomorrow to post if you're still interested.


BTW, I just read all the negative comments.  I assume none of these folks eat eggs.  I can guarantee the commercial ones are from filthy conditions compared to ours.  Besides, bugs and worms give the eggs their rich flavor Wink
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2013, 08:05:46 PM »
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They can and often do invite predators , which will also eat desirable fauna , and until you have dealt with chicken dander ...well . But like muley said , the eggs are good , maybe ducks would be a better choice .
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2013, 08:07:48 PM »
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OK, so tell me if I'm nuts - For some reason, I have an urge to get chickens. No idea why...

When I was in high school, I worked on a farm where we raised 12,000 chickens a year. Maybe that colors my opinion, but if you want to raise chickens, you started your question with the right phrase  Roll Eyes

I would recommend extended viewing of the British show The Good Life - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Life_(1975_TV_series)!
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2013, 08:14:46 PM »
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The only good thing about the chickens is that they are quieter than Peacocks!  Whatever you do don't do Peacocks!!!!!!!!
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 08:16:44 PM »
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The only good thing about the chickens is that they are quieter than Peacocks!  Whatever you do don't do Peacocks!!!!!!!!
That is the best advice I have ever heard .
Dusty
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 08:22:41 PM »
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Back in the day, some years back, actually a long, long time ago Marion decided she would rise chickens for eggs and meat.  She also bred Pit Bulls.  The egg part went well.  A farm fresh egg is quite enjoyable as is farm raised fresh meat.  The meat part didn't go so well.  You see it was long before Matthew, Cheryl and their mother gave all the chickens names.  Killing those chickens didn't go over very well and then they quit laying.  So at this point all the chickens are doing is eating and sleeping.  Then the Pit Bull pups discovered a way to access the baby chicks by digging a small hole under the fence. They would stick their paw through the hole and wave it around. The chicks would follow the paw into the hole and into the waiting mouth of the dog.  One day one of the larger pits got into the chicken pen and it was dead chickens and feathers all over the place.  Good luck  
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 08:24:30 PM »
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If you have a garden, hens are great.  After your plants get to a decent size, the chickens will scratch the soil keeping it loose, eat  busgs off the plants and fertilize the crop. Any new weeds popping up they will eat when they are still in the bow stage.  The weed will never see the two leaf, let alone four leaf stage.  Fresh eggs all year around, and after a while, a freezer full of fresh chicken.  I suggest raising broilers for the meat, and egg hens for the eggs.  Unless to want some of your hens to brood and hatch chicks, you don't need a rooster.  Some cities that allow chickens in the city limits, prohibit roosters. If you like fowl there are other birds to raise for meat also, such as Guinia Hens, pheasants, ducks, geese, turkeys, Cornish Game Hens.
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2013, 08:27:24 PM »
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Just a thought.
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2013, 08:28:12 PM »
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OK, so tell me if I'm nuts-  I live in a small New England town with a small back yard that really isn't being used. For some reason, I have an urge to get chickens. No idea why- they just seem cool and relatively low maintenance. Seems I'm not alone, as the pasttime is growing around the country. Anyone have advice/tips?

We had chickens when I was a boy.   I hated cleaning out the coop.

The eggs were nice, and the chickens fried up nice when they were done laying.   We kept about 12 chickens at a time, plenty enough for our family of 5.

We kept them a long way from the house, though, for the reasons RK mentioned.   If I had to keep them in my back yard, I wouldn't do it.

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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2013, 08:32:57 PM »
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We love our chickens.  We have about 18 or so, but we live in the country and they free range so they make no mess at all. They keep ticks and other bugs down a lot.  Our dogs keep a close eye on them and guard them pretty good.  We've only lost a couple to predators over the last 6 years.

We have 2 roosters we're gonna eat this weekend.  Our rule is only hens.  No bloody eggs for us.  But, when we do accidentally get a rooster, we grow them and eat them.  Memorial day BBQ coming up.

I can think of no downside at all.  They eat very little when the weathers nice because they free range.  They're eggs are fantastic. (I hate store bought eggs now).

If you have less than a 1 acre area for them to free range, you'll be stepping in stuff alot that you might not like, but when it rains, it's all gone anyhow.

I'd say get them, try it out without spending a lot of money on a coop and if you like them, build a nice coop.  We built a 10 X 20, 2 room coop. One area is nothing but a door and chicken wire and the other is for roosting, fully enclosed with another door.  Very nice coop we built, but we plan to have chickens for a while.

FWIW, we had ducks and guineas too.  They suck.  Ducks dirty up the drinking water and are messy.Their eggs are good for baking though, but we'll not be doing ducks again.  Guineas are terribly loud, but they made a nice Sweet and Sour meal one night.  Peacocks scare me, so that's out of the question.

If you just want some for pets and maybe help keep bugs down, but have no interest in eggs, maybe you get some banty chickens?  If you're after eggs, by all means, get the real thing.  Some that lay best are dominickers, rhode island reds and Barred Rocks.  Those 3 are our favorite, as they are a very hardy breed and need minimal attention.  Our chickens are so happy that they never even molt.

Just my $.02
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2013, 08:48:06 PM »
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If you decide to get them, you can't beat free-ranging Rhode Island Reds.   Hardy and long-lived for laying hens, and still tender enough to fry when they're done laying ....

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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2013, 08:51:44 PM »
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Good advice, my asparagus patch never shits on anything!
Foul.  They're called foul for a reason.  They are foul.  They breed septic bacteria, flu vectors, attract vermin and predators, make an ungodly mess, tension with the neighbors and a maintenance nightmare.  They pick their way through their own shit and distribute it everywhere you walk and on eveything you touch.  Disease blows through them like the wind, and like the wind it keeps on going.  If anyone has sick chickens in your section, you will too.  If yours were upstream, their damage could be your liability. 

If you want to do something good with the yard grow asparagus.

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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2013, 09:01:21 PM »
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I grew up on the farm where I killed chickens for a living.  Hint -- don't name them.  It will make your little sister cry.  I agree the eggs can be superior, but for a couple bux a dozen they are something I am willing to buy rather than build.

One of my first computer jobs, back in the '70s was doing the data crunches on fowl experiments for the WSU extension labs in Puyallup, WA.  Among the studies I wrote up was one on the disease potential among small, diverse flocks, like a suburban setting would have.  In close proximity to chickens, the human living environment becomes more toxic than eating in a gas station bathroom.  You know the one I'm talking about.  Without trying to remember the details, I'll just say that unless you've got meaningful separation of living spaces you can't avoid it.  

The problem decreases with the number of chickens and the sophisitication of the husbandry.  This is because, as posts above point out, with more birds you plan and provide better, pay more attention, defend, fortify, learn, and either loose them all or get good at it.  But at the home hobby level they often are seen as self-feeding housplants.  That's just not fair to any involved.

Now Peacocks are another matter.  Truly the idiot of the pheasant class.  We had a huge flock of them when I lived on the Redmond/Fall City road east of Seattle.  They are all that I said about chickens, only bigger and more stupid.  They are also quite taken by themselves.  Mama has a compulsion to parade her brood up and down the highway centerline, with predictable results.  Fancy, exotic restaraunts pay huge money for a properly prepped peacock though, so they were worth our time and the carnage to maintain.

 I have burried about as many sick and dead birds as I've harvested, and I've probably lost as many to predators.  I have probably shot and killed 20 coyotes in defense of chickens, and in some manner or other killed simply too many other rats, foxes, weasels, hawks, etc to even attempt to estimate.  Never mind the feral and stray dogs.  During a flood once we stood at the edge of the barnyard with shotguns, standing off waves of rats making for the chicken coops as they escaped rising water.  Damn things couldn't pass up the opportunity to kill a bird as they fled.  It was a huge brawl with us and the dogs on one side and the minions of hell on the other.  We killed well over a hundred that day.

All strictly $0.02, but based on a true story.   Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2013, 09:08:55 PM »
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Along with all the other animals on a working farm, we had 1000 chickens. They are the nastiest buggers on the farm. One of the biggest problems we had was 'coons. They would start at the south end and keep eating north.. Shocked Had to get depredation permits, etc. Coon hunting is fun, but then you have to have a coon dog, etc.
I didn't like chickens much.  Grin <shrug>
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« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2013, 09:20:09 PM »
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I watched as a 350 lb hog leapt in to the air and snatched a valuable game breeding hen from the air , nothing but feathers were left . Yhis is appropo of nothing , just thought it was funny .
Dusty
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« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2013, 09:35:41 PM »
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Reminds me of a girl I knew.
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2013, 09:46:39 PM »
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Reminds me of a girl I knew.

Which part - the 350 pound hog or the snatch?
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« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2013, 10:01:04 PM »
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OK, so tell me if I'm nuts-  I live in a small New England town with a small back yard that really isn't being used. For some reason, I have an urge to get chickens. No idea why- they just seem cool and relatively low maintenance. Seems I'm not alone, as the pasttime is growing around the country. Anyone have advice/tips?

Had chickens for the last 20 years. I like them, as a matter of fact they are the only animals I have that give something back. Currently I have 12 and get approx. 8 to 9 eggs per day during the spring/summer/fall.

Check out this forum  http://www.backyardchickens.com/f/

Nick
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« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2013, 10:02:14 PM »
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Which part - the 350 pound hog or the snatch?
You said that , I didn't.
Dusty
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« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2013, 10:11:19 PM »
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Which part - the 350 pound hog or the snatch?

My ex was a 350 pound hog with a snatch.  She snatched all my money, house, and tools in the divorce.  But what bothered her the most was when she had to reach into her purse and return my balls to me after the divorce.  She squelled something awful about having to do that.  Cheesy Roll Eyes
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« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2013, 10:17:29 PM »
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Boy, try to tell an innocent pig- chicken story .
Dusty
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« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2013, 10:25:50 PM »
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Seems we just made that left handed turn into weird........focus. .....focus.....      Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2013, 10:30:12 PM »
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Seems we just made that left handed turn into weird........focus. .....focus.....      Grin Grin Grin
  tee hee     The bad part is how obtuse that angle of turn is .
Dusty
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« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2013, 10:35:03 PM »
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OK, so tell me if I'm nuts-  I live in a small New England town with a small back yard that really isn't being used. For some reason, I have an urge to get chickens. No idea why- they just seem cool and relatively low maintenance. Seems I'm not alone, as the pasttime is growing around the country. Anyone have advice/tips?

First place to start is if the town allows you to have chickens.  The covenants and/or laws may not allow it.  Then talk with your neighbors.  You might have to provide them with eggs.  Growing produce might be easier.
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« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2013, 10:37:20 PM »
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  tee hee     The bad part is how obtuse that angle of turn is .
Dusty

Hey now, I'm maybe fat but you taint gota call me obtuse!!! Wink Cheesy  Chunky maybe! Cheesy Cheesy
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« Reply #30 on: May 22, 2013, 10:48:31 PM »
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Hey now, I'm maybe fat but you taint gota call me obtuse!!! Wink Cheesy  Chunky maybe! Cheesy Cheesy
" and now a wafer thin mint "

Dusty
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« Reply #31 on: May 22, 2013, 10:54:31 PM »
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We've had them a few years, in Massachusetts. Great fun, great eggs,but the smaller your land the more work they are.

Small back yard and neighbors means confined chickens. Our older hens are free ranging, but the new batch is going into a "chicken tractor" we will be building shortly.

Also something to think about if you plan on being away for a bit-who feeds, waters and cleans up when you're gone? They are fine for a day, 2 days, 3-but a week?
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« Reply #32 on: May 22, 2013, 11:16:14 PM »
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We have 19 (surviving; ravens, hawks, the neighbor's mysteriously-disappeared cat) heritage-breed "Buckeye" chickens. and 7 ducks, and two turkeys. The damn rabbit ran off when step-daughter took it out to cuddle, thank God.

Turkeys are stupid. Ducks aren't much better. We have cayugas, a black breed where the females quack and the males don't talk much. (Go figure...) They're pretty, but messy as hell.

Chickens are a lot of fun, even if they do crap everywhere. Ours are a dual-purpose meat and egg breed, very tolerant of cold weather. They're an attractive dark red color with black trim. They put themselves up at night, pick on the turkeys, and fight amongst themselves almost continuously (though not with any real seriousness). Kinda like 8th grade - they all want to be one notch up in the pecking order.

We plan to eat most of them as soon as they get big enough (soon), and keep a few around for eggs and more eating-chickens. One trick is to have enough of them so that they are "the chickens" rather than "Mary, Sue, and Bob."

Highly recommended, though all the down-side comments are true as well.

Enjoy,
C


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« Reply #33 on: May 22, 2013, 11:44:54 PM »
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You said that , I didn't.
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« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2013, 01:49:51 AM »
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Which part - the 350 pound hog or the snatch?

  Yes,   both
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« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2013, 08:10:41 AM »
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On the fresh egg thing........Does everybody know yet that the 'farm fresh' eggs you usually get at the grocery store are already a month old? We live in the country, so to speak, and within a 3 mile radius there are 4 or 5 places that sell fresh brown eggs anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 a dozen. My next door neighbor gave his 30 hens to a neighbor to make room to expand his 'picker' business. He gets the eggs from him for a buck and sells them for 2 bucks a dozen. I'd just as soon have the smell a reasonable distance away.
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« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2013, 08:32:14 AM »
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Which part - the 350 pound hog or the snatch?

In case anyone is interested in the entomology of the word snatch:

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/sex-language/Content?oid=1079333

This:
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=snatch
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« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2013, 08:43:51 AM »
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When we lived on the farm there were always chickens.  Kim's grandmother had Rhode Islands, her dad had bantams in the horse barn, and her uncle had gamers in the dairy.  Caitlan brought home a couple of bantam hens and within 6 months I think we counted over 80 of them in the yard.

Chickens have tons of personality compared to other stuff on the farm.  A bantam rooster is constant entertainment in motion.  Their deaths are usually interesting too, but you know you don't have to worry because they will always make more chickens.   Our downfall was when the kids started treating them as real pets which meant I couldn't kill them or take their eggs.  I think I am one of the few people in the world that has a vet bill stating "euthanasia- chicken".  $10!

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« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2013, 08:47:44 AM »
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I may be just a bit bias due to growing up with chickens. Find someone else in the country that free range their chickens and buy the eggs and meat from them. All the benefits, none of the downside. If you really put an objective pen and pencil to it you may also be saving money over having the chickens yourself. At this point someone would have to pay me big bucks to even consider raising chickens.
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« Reply #39 on: May 23, 2013, 08:57:37 AM »
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I may be just a bit bias due to growing up with chickens. Find someone else in the country that free range their chickens and buy the eggs and meat from them. All the benefits, none of the downside. If you really put an objective pen and pencil to it you may also be saving money over having the chickens yourself. At this point someone would have to pay me big bucks to even consider raising chickens.
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One of my wife's employees keeps chickens and we just buy the eggs once a week. Store bought eggs just don't taste the same.
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