I first started my attempts at trying to start breeding chickens in March of 2013, when I bought a batch of silkie chicks. All but one chick died from that batch. At the time, Silkies seemed to be very hard to find, so I was eventually able to get another batch. They all died at about 9 weeks old, a week after I put them outside, due to an unexpected rain storm. It wasn't until late-2014 that I was able to successfully raise a batch of Silkies past a few months old. Then, they got sick with Coccidiosis, which cost me two chickens before I was able to get it under control. In the end, I managed to successfully raise three hens and three roosters to breeding age, and was able to start breeding in April of 2015. I suffered lots of losses due to raccoons and possums(I live in the middle of town - why on earth would I think I'd have to worry about them?!), even losing one of my hens to them. I was able to fix this issue by enclosing their areas. I now breed Red Golden pheasants too, or have tried to at least, since I failed to raise any last year due to a protein deficiency in the adults last year. This year I fixed that issue, yet it's looking like another failed year at breeding them.
Over the past 14 months, my hens have gone broody 15 times. I've had 49 chicks hatch. Of those 49, 30 lived to be sold/are still alive. Of those 30, I've made $130. I know this because I keep records of everything. This spring, I had 28 chicks hatch. How many have so far survived? 13. We've been getting lots and lots and LOTS of rain here in central Texas, but all my chicks and hens are safe, so I'm not sure why my chicks are dropping like flies. It doesn't matter if I'm raising them or if they're under a hen, they just keep dying. I haven't changed anything in my routine. The chicks were acting fine just hours before. I've also had terrible luck with using incubators. I spent $100 on an incubator, and despite working myself to the bone getting everything right, out of 42 fertile eggs I've incubated from three separate incubations, two chicks have hatched. 15 of those 42 eggs are currently in the incubator, and today is day 21, yet there are no signs of life.
I'm really just tired of it all. Leaving town is a nightmare because, each and every night, I have to manually go outside and close all the doors to my coops and cages, and each and every morning, I have to open the coop and cage doors. The cost of feed is probably about $50 a month on a good month and I've been constantly struggling with rats due to the fact that I can't exactly put up ALL the feeders at night. I didn't start this for the money, but with the cost of feed, heating lamps/bulbs, building materials, cages, the incubator, buying the chickens themselves, feeders, waterers, and so on, I would not be surprised if I've spent at least 3k on these chickens. I am a 19 year old college student, so this isn't chump change for me. I'm tired of waking up every day, wondering if another chicken has died. I'm tired of being unable to enjoy rain anymore, since now all I can think about while watching it is if my stupid chickens are freaking out/killing their chicks over water falling from the sky. I'm tired of regularly tossing dead bodies into the trash. I'm tired of having to bleach all my water jugs every few months because the **** algae won't go away. I'm tired of all the stupid rats we have now, thanks to the chickens(I've even had to pay $600 in repairs on my truck due to a rat eating my wires).
But, I also like to watch them walk around the yard and enjoy knowing that they're happy and healthy, seeing the baby chicks hatch under their momma and watching them follow after her. I'm just not sure if it's still worth it, because so far, it hasn't been. I kept at it, hoping things would get better, but it's been three years since I started this, and I just feel like a giant failure. The disappointment, the blood and tears I've shed trying to make this work, it's all very stressful. Every time I fix one thing, another thing shows up. Not to mention the only thing people want to buy is Silkie pullets, which sucks because I breed Booted Bantams, Gamebird, and Silkies.