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Discussion of Chickens (Merged Topic)

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SwampMonster:
I have access to a 30x100 flight pen that will only be used during the winter for pheasants. I was thinking about putting in a few chicks in the spring and eat when they get bigger. Any one have any experience in raising chickens?  can you give me some general info?

Swamp

DeltaEchoVictor:
It's been a few years since we've had any, but here's what I learned when we did.  We had 6, I think, there've been a few beers between then and now.  I ain't no chicken farmer either, so take it for what it's worth. ;)  I went with the trial & error method to learn.

I can't eat a chicken I've raised from a chick.  Yes, I'm a hardcore hillbilly huntin' & killin' machine, but if I cared for it while it was a baby, it's safe from my carnivore side.  Get full grown chickens, or at least pullets.  They take less care to raise up to eatin' size & you don't have to feel guilty when you whack their heads off. ::)  Or listen to the merciless teasing you'll get from your wife when she realizes what a puss you are.  We never ate ours, just collected the eggs, which are the best BTW.

A chicken needs about 3 square feet of living space, figure three square feet of space per chicken in the coop, to determine coop size, obviously more is better.  Free range is the best.
If you're going to allow your chickens to free range during the day, make sure they have an enclosed, safe place to roost at night.  They should be able to roost in an elevated position, i.e. off the ground.  Also, if you're going to allow them to free range, when you first get them they need to stay cooped up for a few weeks.  Opinions for how long vary, but I kept mine cooped for 3 or 4 weeks so they got the idea that the coop was the safe spot to come back to at night, YMMV.

They need fresh water everyday & some kind of supplemental feed if they aren't going to be free ranging, happy chickens.  A couple of hens will share a laying nest & if you want chicks you'll need a rooster.  If you want happy neighbors, you'll want to forget about getting a damn rooster.  They're noisy & they can be mean.  We had a one-eyed rooster that used to like to attack my wife, but only on her right side...you figure it out.   No, I couldn't eat him either.

Chickens are a lot of fun to watch, or I'm just really boring. In general, they're easy to take care of.

**Edited for clarification.**

SwampMonster:
Thanks for the info. I am mainly wanting the eggs and meat so no rooster. However that would be a great way to get my neighbors to shut there dog up at night.

Swamp

sassiesmom:
Also, make sure you have a secure enclosure...it's amazing what can get in and out of a chicken pen!

If you do decide that chicks are the way to go, make sure you get them vaccinated or get them medicated feed.  There are a few diseases that could reduce your flock and you don't want to deal with the loss (lost time and $$)

There are some really good Yahoo Groups where you can find a lot of good information, or check out the Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens from your library.  Good info on housing, handling, feeding, and even butchering and storing. 

I'm a city-slicker myself, but we've had chickens for a few years now and am learning a bit about it.  The meat is much better than store bought.  If you purchase meat birds (chicks), you'll notice more fat on them once you butcher than if you purchase more of a heritage breed. We've done both the meat birds and heritage and although the meat is a bit more tender on the meat birds, we really liked the heritage birds for flavour.  Barred Rock chickens are a really nice bird, nice size and dress out fairly large with not as much fat on them.  They're not as meaty on the breast, but still a good eating bird.  They also lay really nice eggs as well.  Buff Orpington are also a nice bird as well as the Wyandottes.  Larger birds, nice large eggs, and good meat. 

Best wishes!  I hope it all goes well for you!
Cathy
BC

SwampMonster:
Thanks Cathy,

  I have access to both a quail house and a flight pen. Figure the pen will be the one I use, if 500 Pheasants cant get out 10 or so chicken will stay.

swamp

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