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Letting chickens forage ONLY? - Page 8

post #71 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg88 View Post
 

Data can be manipulated in many ways to show the results you want.

I will state that I have not taken the time (yet) to read this entire thread.

I do know a couple things.

1) I am a scientist and have degrees in Animal Science

 

2) I like the flavor and dark color of my "yard eggs"

 

3) "free range" has been debated.

    a) The definition, as stated is "the opportunity to go outside"

         i)  my chickens love going out to the bigger pen and forage

         ii)  Commercially raised chickens (that make our eggs and poultry affordable to the general public)         when given the opportunity will RARELY go outside, not sure why. so, most claims of "free range" eggs or poultry (when not from an individual) while they meet the USDA definition of free range since they have been given the opportunity to go outside, rarely do and are little, if any different from the standard poultry.

so the “FREE RANGE: Probably the most misunderstood of all claims, it’s important to note that hens basically stay near their food, water and nests, and the idea of a happy-go-lucky bird scampering across a field is far from the natural way of life. The claim only means that the hens have access to the outdoors, not that they avail themselves of the opportunity." is TRUE!  (seen it myself)
 

4)  nutritional value of eggs can be manipulated to resemble free range yard eggs with feed supplements.

 

This gets away from the original question (from 2011) which is free range only with no feed.  I agree that todays chicken will likely need at least a little supplemental feed, esp. in the colder month.

 

I agree with your assessments as I have witnessed that myself.

 

While I don't have an Ag degree, I have a lot of 4H science under my belt as well as helping a daughter go through Vet Tech school (from which I picked up a lot as we used my flock for her studies), and of course my personal observations and rural upbringing.

 

Chickens will respond to their environment as conditioned. I note that my broody raised chicks have little problem integrating with the flock and transitioning to yard foraging while my artificially brooded chicks would rather stay in their box than venture outside....they are actually terrified by the "big outdoors" and not overly sure what to do with a bug the first time. I have to slowly transition them with pens until they are acclimated.

 

As noted before, my predominantly feed fed chickens prefer feed more than nice, wonderful, organic vegetables I can get for free from an organic grocer as his culls and toss. I stopped doing that as I kept throwing away a large portion of the bin as the chickens were so picky at what they would and wouldn't eat. The grocer noted that those who seem to make this really work have to feed only greens to young chicks before they develop a taste for grain feed. Since I only want to supplement greens and am not interested in replicating the wheel and having to carefully figure nutritional values for a balanced diet for my birds, as nutritional deficiency can cause a lot of harm in your bird, I find it easier to let the Ag science people behind the feed company do it for me. Years of testing have gone into those feed bags to provide optimal nutrition for poultry. And the feed companies are responsive to public concern. If I want to pay more, I can get organic, non-soy and non-GMO feed, but then my expenses rise further creating a bigger gap between what it takes to produce an egg and what I can sell an egg for, or how much I really want to spend for my own eggs.

 

On that thought, I'd also like to give a shout out to all those hard working poultry farmers out there who bring us Americans overall excellent food for very cheap prices. The public gets what it wants. The Ag community does not foist product upon them. People only want to pay about $1.50 to $2 for a dozen of commercially raised eggs whose nutrition value is well above sustenance level (and carefully marked on each egg carton per USDA standards). Most people don't want to pay/can't pay the $6 to $7 a dozen for organic, real pastured raised eggs with a bit more nutrition. (Those are the rates in my neighborhood). I'm sorry, but when I go to those nice, natural, whole food stores where I live (which I do have fun shopping at for some special items), I can't help but chuckle at all the newer BMW's, Lexis, and Audi's in the parking lot. Where I live, you have to go to a regular grocery store to see a better representation of all makes/models/years. If I really want to feel like 'home," I drive out to a rural Ag feed store to see those familiar beat up but still running Ford trucks.

 

I keep chickens as a hobby and sell a few eggs at $4 a dozen to offset feed costs. Note, that is offset feed costs. I would have to charge $6 a dozen or more to pay for my feed and supply costs with my little acreage as my chickens are predominantly fed by commercial grain feed, supplemented with yard foraging (which I make as rich as possible) and table scraps...and still provide me with darker yolks and thicker whites....which color I've found I can also manipulate by which brand of feed I give them. (Feed them Penny Royal, and you get green eggs with your ham.)  But I find it hard to get anyone to pay more than $4 a dozen for farm fresh eggs. That seems to be the niche market price for me....and that tanks when the economy tanks. People are back to eating those commercial, cheap eggs again, and I've got eggs stockpiling in the fridge.

 

My vet tech daughter married a farmer who is an organic vegetable farmer in Tennessee. He grows absolutely gorgeous vegetables, and they have begun to raise chickens (starting with a small flock of hens I gave them...yup they pulled them behind an old Ford truck cross country from momma's coop to theirs) and increased each year with chicks and purchases. My son-in-law agrees with me that you have to have substantial foraging to be able to match (expense wise) the incredibly low prices people want to pay for eggs when you are a small holder. They have worked a system of tractor use wherein they pull the chicken tractor to different locations on the farm to both forage the birds and debug and fertilize the crops, being mindful of some plants the birds will also eat. Even so, they find it hard to be competitive in the egg market at their farmer's market stall. The chickens are still mostly for their own use and fertilizer for the farm.

 

So a number of sub-threads have been implied alongside the first question of whether 100% forage only would work, and the pressure to do that by certain perceptions of some customers. If you have large enough field, yes, maybe, in summer months...but you won't be doing that for real egg production as you would have a nightmare collecting eggs and most of us have a real threat of predators. (I constantly battle with hawks in my area and have to string hawk netting and wire to protect my birds). You also probably won't be producing the most optimum birds as they scrape for their living and therefore less egg output. I agree with another poster who said there is a difference between survival and optimum health.

 

So I think the real question is why would you want to 100% forage? Is it for the health and welfare of the chicken? Or for the perceived tastes of some customers who may not be basing their decisions on Ag science or nutritional truth but more from philosophical ideology?

 

I think the answer lies in what is evolving over time...."happy" birds seem to lay better and have fewer losses than "unhappy" birds which typically means those who have a pleasant amount of sunlight, safe forage, greenery, supplemented by well balanced, scientifically tested feed to produce optimum eggs and meat year round....but not necessarily at the cheapest price. This will always be offset by the customer who is looking for the optimum egg and the cheapest price.

 

My 2 cents.

LofMc

Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
Reply
post #72 of 79
Very nice post, Lady. I’ll ty to respond to one of your questions.

So I think the real question is why would you want to 100% forage? Is it for the health and welfare of the chicken? Or for the perceived tastes of some customers who may not be basing their decisions on Ag science or nutritional truth but more from philosophical ideology

We all have different goals and set-ups. I think 100% forage would fit a very specific niche. It would not be hugely effective as a commercial operation, not on a big scale. You may be able to sell some extra eggs at a profit, we sometimes did, but it would take a really large operation to make it profitable enough to support a family. So let’s not worry about the commercial aspects. It would not surprise me though if someone like Centrarchid could make a profit off of something like this though probably not a livelihood. But let’s not worry about the commercial aspects.

First you have to have the quality of forage available and predators have to not be an issue or have to be controlled. That will eliminate most of us right there. Of course where you are located and your winter weather plays a big part in quality of forage year around.

Where I have seen this model work and work well is where they want a flock that produced eggs and meat to feed a family with minimal costs and with minimal work. You have to gather eggs and butcher chickens. Not a lot of work there. The potential for work is if you grow food for them to eat during the bad weather months. That can be labor intensive but doesn’t have to require a lot of money. You may have to manage a predator every now and then. From as far back as I can remember until I graduated from high school I can remember two predators that had to be dealt with, one fox and one dog. The management tool was a gun and a father that knew how to use it. For a lot of us predators won’t allow this model to work at all or would be too expensive for some (fencing or electricity).

Let’s address the health and welfare of chickens. Some people may not consider a chicken healthy unless it is laying the most eggs it possibly can, the largest eggs it possibly can, and with the largest body it can grow. I often see this stated as “reaching their genetic potential”. My model for a healthy chicken is different. I prefer to see an average sized chicken running around chasing bugs and scratching in some pretty nasty stuff, laying a fair amount of fair sized eggs, hatching and raising chicks, and not getting diseases nor having major problems with parasites. Those are the chickens I grew up with, Dominique and New Hampshire as well as a barnyard mix. I think their health and social welfare was excellent, just the way a chicken is supposed to be. I’m convinced a big part of that was that they had a tremendous amount of room to roam. Poop did not build up so parasites and disease had a problem getting a start.

Mom could feed a family with five kids off or one scrawny hen. Some people consider chicken ‘n dumplings comfort food, we considered it a good meal and it can really stretch a chicken. When Mom fried a chicken some of the pieces on the platter were neck, back, gizzard and liver in addition to all the others. They were heavily breaded too and cooked in lard. A lot of people won’t eat chicken that way but it’s available if you are willing to eat it.

To address something else I’ve seen on this thread. From when we got pigs in March until we butchered them in late October, the pigs got all the kitchen scraps and garden waste. The chickens did not get any, it was too important that the pigs got it all. After the hogs were butchered the kitchen wastes were thrown out where the chickens could get them. That and corn that we grew supplemented their diet in the winter. They also had a hay barn they could forage (they really didn’t do that much but they did forage where we fed hay to the cows and horses outside). They could get a lot of nutrients from partially digest stuff by scratching through that cow and horse poop. We did not get much snow either. Most days you could see the chickens out scratching in the dirt and pecking at what they found even in winter.

When you have not seen any of this it can be pretty easy to say it can’t be done. But there are some of us around that have not only seen chickens survive in these conditions, but thrive. At least I call it thriving when they are don’t get sick, don’t have parasite loads, hatch and raise babies, lay good eggs, and chase all kinds of creepy crawlies. Others may have different definitions of thrive.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #73 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

Very nice post, Lady. I’ll ty to respond to one of your questions.

So I think the real question is why would you want to 100% forage? Is it for the health and welfare of the chicken? Or for the perceived tastes of some customers who may not be basing their decisions on Ag science or nutritional truth but more from philosophical ideology

We all have different goals and set-ups. I think 100% forage would fit a very specific niche. It would not be hugely effective as a commercial operation, not on a big scale. You may be able to sell some extra eggs at a profit, we sometimes did, but it would take a really large operation to make it profitable enough to support a family. So let’s not worry about the commercial aspects. It would not surprise me though if someone like Centrarchid could make a profit off of something like this though probably not a livelihood. But let’s not worry about the commercial aspects.

First you have to have the quality of forage available and predators have to not be an issue or have to be controlled. That will eliminate most of us right there. Of course where you are located and your winter weather plays a big part in quality of forage year around.

Where I have seen this model work and work well is where they want a flock that produced eggs and meat to feed a family with minimal costs and with minimal work. You have to gather eggs and butcher chickens. Not a lot of work there. The potential for work is if you grow food for them to eat during the bad weather months. That can be labor intensive but doesn’t have to require a lot of money. You may have to manage a predator every now and then. From as far back as I can remember until I graduated from high school I can remember two predators that had to be dealt with, one fox and one dog. The management tool was a gun and a father that knew how to use it. For a lot of us predators won’t allow this model to work at all or would be too expensive for some (fencing or electricity).

Let’s address the health and welfare of chickens. Some people may not consider a chicken healthy unless it is laying the most eggs it possibly can, the largest eggs it possibly can, and with the largest body it can grow. I often see this stated as “reaching their genetic potential”. My model for a healthy chicken is different. I prefer to see an average sized chicken running around chasing bugs and scratching in some pretty nasty stuff, laying a fair amount of fair sized eggs, hatching and raising chicks, and not getting diseases nor having major problems with parasites. Those are the chickens I grew up with, Dominique and New Hampshire as well as a barnyard mix. I think their health and social welfare was excellent, just the way a chicken is supposed to be. I’m convinced a big part of that was that they had a tremendous amount of room to roam. Poop did not build up so parasites and disease had a problem getting a start.

Mom could feed a family with five kids off or one scrawny hen. Some people consider chicken ‘n dumplings comfort food, we considered it a good meal and it can really stretch a chicken. When Mom fried a chicken some of the pieces on the platter were neck, back, gizzard and liver in addition to all the others. They were heavily breaded too and cooked in lard. A lot of people won’t eat chicken that way but it’s available if you are willing to eat it.

To address something else I’ve seen on this thread. From when we got pigs in March until we butchered them in late October, the pigs got all the kitchen scraps and garden waste. The chickens did not get any, it was too important that the pigs got it all. After the hogs were butchered the kitchen wastes were thrown out where the chickens could get them. That and corn that we grew supplemented their diet in the winter. They also had a hay barn they could forage (they really didn’t do that much but they did forage where we fed hay to the cows and horses outside). They could get a lot of nutrients from partially digest stuff by scratching through that cow and horse poop. We did not get much snow either. Most days you could see the chickens out scratching in the dirt and pecking at what they found even in winter.

When you have not seen any of this it can be pretty easy to say it can’t be done. But there are some of us around that have not only seen chickens survive in these conditions, but thrive. At least I call it thriving when they are don’t get sick, don’t have parasite loads, hatch and raise babies, lay good eggs, and chase all kinds of creepy crawlies. Others may have different definitions of thrive.

 

We are in agreement and experience...and I side tracked a bit perhaps...although the original question was raised specifically to meet a customer market...which is what brought my Ag market response as the thread devolved into more of a discussion of more "natural" and  "best" eggs and meat as produced by which method.

 

My father grew up in a family similar to yours. Chickens lived on forage and scraps, but only provided the necessary meat and eggs for the immediate family, with little to no expense. Without scientific studies, I cannot say how "optimum" their health was, but a certain amount of loss was simply accepted without too much thought. (and edited to add, my Grandma's response to chicken quality between commercial and 'homegrown" indicated her overall experience with free ranged birds at nominal effort.)

 

When Grandma went into the egg business (which is when I knew her), that's when you saw a big change in her chicken keeping habits. Suddenly egg production was the focus...meeting customer needs....and with that coops with caged pens, feed, and husbandry.

 

So it really is your goal and purpose and important for readers to not confuse the issues with buzz words of "natural" and "nutritional" vs. "commercial."

 

The original OP was inquiring partially if it was practical to do so for a response to a particular market....which I think it would not be.

 

For those who want to really back woods live, and have that kind of acreage with optimum forage (most don't), yes, it can be sustainable and should provide enough meat and eggs for family needs, most years (but not all)...if you can ward off predators, as was my family's experience.

 

Excellent thoughts. Good discussion.

LofMc


Edited by Lady of McCamley - 1/21/16 at 1:24pm
Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
Reply
Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
Reply
post #74 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post
 

 

I agree with your assessments as I have witnessed that myself.

 

While I don't have an Ag degree, I have a lot of 4H science under my belt as well as helping a daughter go through Vet Tech school (from which I picked up a lot as we used my flock for her studies), and of course my personal observations and rural upbringing.

 

Chickens will respond to their environment as conditioned. I note that my broody raised chicks have little problem integrating with the flock and transitioning to yard foraging while my artificially brooded chicks would rather stay in their box than venture outside....they are actually terrified by the "big outdoors" and not overly sure what to do with a bug the first time. I have to slowly transition them with pens until they are acclimated.

 

As noted before, my predominantly feed fed chickens prefer feed more than nice, wonderful, organic vegetables I can get for free from an organic grocer as his culls and toss. I stopped doing that as I kept throwing away a large portion of the bin as the chickens were so picky at what they would and wouldn't eat. The grocer noted that those who seem to make this really work have to feed only greens to young chicks before they develop a taste for grain feed. Since I only want to supplement greens and am not interested in replicating the wheel and having to carefully figure nutritional values for a balanced diet for my birds, as nutritional deficiency can cause a lot of harm in your bird, I find it easier to let the Ag science people behind the feed company do it for me. Years of testing have gone into those feed bags to provide optimal nutrition for poultry. And the feed companies are responsive to public concern. If I want to pay more, I can get organic, non-soy and non-GMO feed, but then my expenses rise further creating a bigger gap between what it takes to produce an egg and what I can sell an egg for, or how much I really want to spend for my own eggs.

 

On that thought, I'd also like to give a shout out to all those hard working poultry farmers out there who bring us Americans overall excellent food for very cheap prices. The public gets what it wants. The Ag community does not foist product upon them. People only want to pay about $1.50 to $2 for a dozen of commercially raised eggs whose nutrition value is well above sustenance level (and carefully marked on each egg carton per USDA standards). Most people don't want to pay/can't pay the $6 to $7 a dozen for organic, real pastured raised eggs with a bit more nutrition. (Those are the rates in my neighborhood). I'm sorry, but when I go to those nice, natural, whole food stores where I live (which I do have fun shopping at for some special items), I can't help but chuckle at all the newer BMW's, Lexis, and Audi's in the parking lot. Where I live, you have to go to a regular grocery store to see a better representation of all makes/models/years. If I really want to feel like 'home," I drive out to a rural Ag feed store to see those familiar beat up but still running Ford trucks.

 

I keep chickens as a hobby and sell a few eggs at $4 a dozen to offset feed costs. Note, that is offset feed costs. I would have to charge $6 a dozen or more to pay for my feed and supply costs with my little acreage as my chickens are predominantly fed by commercial grain feed, supplemented with yard foraging (which I make as rich as possible) and table scraps...and still provide me with darker yolks and thicker whites....which color I've found I can also manipulate by which brand of feed I give them. (Feed them Penny Royal, and you get green eggs with your ham.)  But I find it hard to get anyone to pay more than $4 a dozen for farm fresh eggs. That seems to be the niche market price for me....and that tanks when the economy tanks. People are back to eating those commercial, cheap eggs again, and I've got eggs stockpiling in the fridge.

 

My vet tech daughter married a farmer who is an organic vegetable farmer in Tennessee. He grows absolutely gorgeous vegetables, and they have begun to raise chickens (starting with a small flock of hens I gave them...yup they pulled them behind an old Ford truck cross country from momma's coop to theirs) and increased each year with chicks and purchases. My son-in-law agrees with me that you have to have substantial foraging to be able to match (expense wise) the incredibly low prices people want to pay for eggs when you are a small holder. They have worked a system of tractor use wherein they pull the chicken tractor to different locations on the farm to both forage the birds and debug and fertilize the crops, being mindful of some plants the birds will also eat. Even so, they find it hard to be competitive in the egg market at their farmer's market stall. The chickens are still mostly for their own use and fertilizer for the farm.

 

So a number of sub-threads have been implied alongside the first question of whether 100% forage only would work, and the pressure to do that by certain perceptions of some customers. If you have large enough field, yes, maybe, in summer months...but you won't be doing that for real egg production as you would have a nightmare collecting eggs and most of us have a real threat of predators. (I constantly battle with hawks in my area and have to string hawk netting and wire to protect my birds). You also probably won't be producing the most optimum birds as they scrape for their living and therefore less egg output. I agree with another poster who said there is a difference between survival and optimum health.

 

So I think the real question is why would you want to 100% forage? Is it for the health and welfare of the chicken? Or for the perceived tastes of some customers who may not be basing their decisions on Ag science or nutritional truth but more from philosophical ideology?

 

I think the answer lies in what is evolving over time...."happy" birds seem to lay better and have fewer losses than "unhappy" birds which typically means those who have a pleasant amount of sunlight, safe forage, greenery, supplemented by well balanced, scientifically tested feed to produce optimum eggs and meat year round....but not necessarily at the cheapest price. This will always be offset by the customer who is looking for the optimum egg and the cheapest price.

 

My 2 cents.

LofMc

:clap 

Greg, NW AR

4 BO, 1  Prod Red and in the process of expanding.

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Greg, NW AR

4 BO, 1  Prod Red and in the process of expanding.

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post #75 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow722 View Post

Birds by nature are grain eaters. I don't think they could be completely grain free. But they could be organically raised and free ranging. They'll find seeds, bugs, and worms. Given the opportunity they will eat the tassels off the weeds or wheat grains out of hay or straw, they'll even eat young grass shoots. 

Birds is a very divers class of animals!
There are birds that are strictly carnivores like eagles, owls, penguins and turns.
There are birds that are mainly herbivores, like finches or hummingbirds, (and in this group there is a sub-classification to grain eaters and so one)
But the majority of birds and chicken included ,are Omnivorous that eat bot plant and animal materials
So you cant say that birds are exclusively grain eater!
״הרוצה להתעלות אל יחפור בור לחברו אלא יבנה גבעה לעצמו״
"He who want's to be a bigger men, should not dig a hole to his friend, but raise a hill to himself!"
״חז״ל״
״Our old and wוse people״
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״הרוצה להתעלות אל יחפור בור לחברו אלא יבנה גבעה לעצמו״
"He who want's to be a bigger men, should not dig a hole to his friend, but raise a hill to himself!"
״חז״ל״
״Our old and wוse people״
Reply
post #76 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post
[..]

 you would have a nightmare collecting eggs and most of us have a real threat of predators. (I constantly battle with hawks in my area and have to string hawk netting and wire to protect my birds). You also probably won't be producing the most optimum birds as they scrape for their living and therefore less egg output. I agree with another poster who said there is a difference between survival and optimum health. [..]

 

Our girls forage all day, but they always return to their house to lay an egg. So no losses.

 

Not so much problems with hawks, chicken buzzards can be a treat, but it looks as most are driven away by crows, others by "our" snake eagle. Despite in winter times, he usually pops up shortly before leaving to his winter residence in Africa, as if he would just want to say goodbye, as well as "saying" hello in spring when he just returned. He also has a wife, but this is another story...

 

In addition the egg output is quite high. Only real downside, you have often problems eating something outside, as some of the ladies think anything must be for them and jump onto you to "steal"...;-) Also you need to close every door tight or some girls will just walk in the living room...

post #77 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by dickhuhn View Post
 

 

Our girls forage all day, but they always return to their house to lay an egg. So no losses.

 

Not so much problems with hawks, chicken buzzards can be a treat, but it looks as most are driven away by crows, others by "our" snake eagle. Despite in winter times, he usually pops up shortly before leaving to his winter residence in Africa, as if he would just want to say goodbye, as well as "saying" hello in spring when he just returned. He also has a wife, but this is another story...

 

In addition the egg output is quite high. Only real downside, you have often problems eating something outside, as some of the ladies think anything must be for them and jump onto you to "steal"...;-) Also you need to close every door tight or some girls will just walk in the living room...

 

It sounds like your system is working very well for you (well, other than the occasional snatching the food out of your mouth).

 

And that is what makes chicken keeping something unique to all. You have to work within your environment and do what suits you best.

 

I do have a number of friends with large hen house coops and nothing but the woods or fields behind. Several have lost the entirety of their flock from a predator...some overnight...some picked off over several weeks. Several have trouble keeping the hens laying in the house and not in the fields. All have to supplement with some feed. 

 

It is a system that still typically takes work to make work, and is not feasible for a number of people for many reasons, which was the original OP's question....how typically feasible is it.

 

But I am glad it works well for you and that you have shared your positive experience. 

 

LofMc


Edited by Lady of McCamley - 1/22/16 at 11:52am
Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
Reply
Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
Reply
post #78 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akrnaf2 View Post


Birds is a very divers class of animals!
There are birds that are strictly carnivores like eagles, owls, penguins and turns.
There are birds that are mainly herbivores, like finches or hummingbirds, (and in this group there is a sub-classification to grain eaters and so one)
But the majority of birds and chicken included ,are Omnivorous that eat bot plant and animal materials
So you cant say that birds are exclusively grain eater!

I've seen my chickens catch and eat frogs and mice.

post #79 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post
 

 

It sounds like your system is working very well for you (well, other than the occasional snatching the food out of your mouth).

 

[..]

 

 

Though they forage the whole day, they also eat tons of commercial food in addition, we try to limit, but they know for sure they can easily convince her to give them even more of it. You can hardly give the dogs some meat/bones until those lady went sleeping, they will take it away from the dogs and nice as they are with their hens, they will usually let them go! We have btw not only woods behind, we are just in the middle of it...;-)

 

Think I need to present them perhaps some more grassland, although this means taking down a bit forest. Dunno how much they need in addition, though they forage also in the forest, but it seems there is not much despite a few bugs, perhaps one additional acre will do?

 

It seems without the two lgds we wouldn't have a single chicken? The last 8 we bought just a few days old...Now as they have started laying we have trouble eating all those eggs.


Edited by dickhuhn - 1/22/16 at 1:17pm
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