Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    I am going to speak frankly. That is how I speak, and this is by no means a criticism of you or anyone else. This is just a hobby.

    I have shared what I have based on the title of the thread. That has been my mindset. My view of what that means is obviously different. My interests are different. Not better, just different. Frankly, I am only wasting a lot of time. I think that I have contributed as much as I can.

    You have an interesting goal. I hope that you are successful, and that you enjoy the process. You should chart your process and progress and make that a contribution to this thread. I am sure that will be interesting to some.

    Concerning your comments performance/waste, you will find that for your goals the comments are still relevant. Because you have an actual goal. Not an idea, a goal. If you continue with it for any length of time, that is if you enjoy the process enough, you will find yourself eliminating waste. You will make improvements, and some of it will be instinctive. You will find yourself trying to get better at it, and getting your birds better for it. That is eliminating waste, and pushing to get more efficient. The point is equally applicable here. Just because the goal is capons, does not change anything. That is if you are breeding the birds to be capons. My response to your response, LOL, is that you did not think about how the comment applied to you. Instead, you dismissed it as not applying to you.
  2. Beer can

    Beer can Chicken Obsessed

    Aug 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    I haven't ever had a sick chicken, nor has my father who raised chickens for many years. We never clean or sanitize the coop, never heard of worming chickens until reading BYC. I didn't really know a lot about chickens until becoming a BYC member, learning more all the time, this thread is very informative. One reason Ithink our chickens never get sick is a well ventilated coop and using the deep litter method. Didn't know what it was considered it was just how we thought everybody raised chickens. Thought I was doing something wrong reading posts on people cleaning and disinfecting their coops, linoleum floors. Then I read some using the 'deep litter method' basically what we've done for years. It makes for healthier chickens, and much better for healthy chicks starting them on litter.Deep litter has anti-coccidiosis properties. Read up on it.
    2 people like this.
  3. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 13, 2014
    Southern Arizona
    Love this! Thank you! I actually use the deep litter and open coop methods myself...and so far no illnesses at all in my chicks, pullets and cockerels. I'm really hoping it stays that way. [​IMG]
  4. Shellz

    Shellz Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm wondering about those using the deep litter method...would this be on a dirt floor? I've read that deep litter works far better on a dirt floor. I have a wood floor & just modified our coop to a more open-air type. Although I find the bedding drier now, I still feel the need to toss out the fresher waste in the morning. I also give the whole coop a good aerating with a manure fork, to keep ammonia levels down about twice a week.

    I'm curious also about the 'need' to rest certain areas of the yard. Perhaps this is more dependent on number of birds & whether you free range or not?
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Your neighbor has chosen a CAFO mentality to raising a backyard flock and thinks that his neighbor's chickens will cause disease in his own flock if they are not raised in the same manner. They deal with disease and death frequently and need to blame it on someone other than their management methods, so they often blame it on nearby backyard flocks or vectors such as wild birds or rodents that have been in contact with the neighbor's back yard flock. You are correct in thinking they are full of baloney, just as most CAFO operations are when depending on the USDA for guidelines in raising livestock.

    You're going to hear many opinions on this, just as many as there are breeds of chickens. I've been doing chickens for almost 40 yrs now and have read, studied and absorbed much information along the way, as I'm always hunger for learning how to improve just about anything that I do. So, I'll venture an opinion derived from much hands on experience and much, much study on farming and farming practices. I was one of the few little girls in my grade school that couldn't wait for the new issue of Mother Earth News or whatever farming or stock journal I could get my hands on...this has been a life long pursuit of mine, you could say.

    I do know this....barren, compacted soil is "dead" soil and can't maintain a healthy soil culture of the beneficial nematodes, bacteria, fungi, bug and worm life necessary to stay healthy and not harbor more harmful pathogens. Those more harmful bacteria, molds and yeasts thrive in dead soils overloaded with fecal matter. The water that runs off of such places is pretty much a cess pool of bad things and can infect even the soils around the affected area.

    This is why animals raised in confinement are always at risk of disease, with the added component of being confined with a number of other CAFO situations, it's too many other animals. Keeping disease transmission down when animals cannot get away from one another, are drinking and eating from communal receptacles, and living in close contact with each other is a difficult thing to do. Usually these operations will also seal up their building as well, as one of their biosecurity measures, which is a huge mistake that causes even more disease transmission.

    At that point one has some choices to make...

    1. Medicate anything that comes along, in hopes of stamping it out before it infects the whole flock, or medicate prophylactic in hopes of preventing whatever may come along. Rotate stock to other areas in hopes of letting overused areas regenerate and parasite/pathogen populations die out~this takes years, BTW, depending on just how overstressed that soil/pasture really has been. Only keep stock for a few years before selling/culling and getting all new animals, cleaning and disinfecting the poultry house and equipment in between flocks. This is the CAFO style of raising livestock and they find it the most efficient in terms of profit and loss. These kind of operations and backyard flocks depend on biosecurity and medications to keep the current flock alive long enough to serve their purposes.

    2. Provide free ranging conditions and keep stocking numbers low so that the soils are not rendered barren, over impacted and unable to stay healthy. This leaves the coop and run still vulnerable, though, and that needs to be managed as well, with huge ventilation and plenty of sunlight, with the soils of the run and coop covered with something that allows the soils to stay soft, absorptive to moisture and able to support the myriad flora and fauna that can use the nitrogen rich feces deposited there.....or raked out daily to keep feces from sitting around and supporting the lives of harmful pathogens and attracting flies.

    3. If unable to provide free ranging to relieve soils of becoming over impacted and dead, one can provide a cultured deep litter in the coop and run, in effect creating a habitat, not only for the chickens but for the life found in the soils there. My providing ground cover of a variety of materials that can bind with the nitrogen and compost in place, one enables the life in the soil to benefit from the nutrients underlying the ground cover. This, in turn, creates a soil that is spongy and able to absorb fluid instead of hold it on the surface as a place for the breeding of less desirable things.

    By creating these "forest floor" conditions in the coop and run, one can help keep the soils in balance in that manner. This still is dependent on keeping stocking numbers to a reasonable place, as any overstocking of buildings and runs creates undesirable conditions, no matter the precautions.

    4. Breeding and culling for disease resistance, no matter your choice of habitat management. One simply cannot do this fully if they choose to medicate, even if it's only "when they really need it" or "they will die if they don't get medicine" situations....the ones that die are not disease or parasite resistant, those that remain are and they are your breeder flock. When one introduces even mild medications into this paradigm, they've missed the point.

    Either you let illness or parasites do the culling or you do the culling by noticing which animals are the most likely to carry disease and/or parasite loads. The former needlessly exposes the flock to disease or parasite carriers but can truly put the genetics of the flock to the test. The latter is a more controlled way of managing the flock and removes these animals while they can still be used for consumption. The latter is my preferred method.

    It's pretty well known in livestock circles that usually only 5% of a flock or herd is carrying 95% of the parasite load...these animals are also those most likely to contract a disease. If one can eliminate that 5% by judicious culling, then a flock or herd can live in their environment, still get low level exposure to the parasites and pathogens in that environment and develop a natural immunity and resistance to them.

    This is one reason I never quarantine a new bird to my flock. Either I have done my job correctly in culling for disease resistance and the new bird will test that to the fullest, as will be tested for his own hardiness by being exposed to MY flock~or~I have not done my job correctly and the new bird will expose that by infecting my flock....and I can change my current methods to something that will increase disease and parasite resistance of my flock.

    The world is full of potential hazards for a chicken, disease being one of them. One can either build a flock strong enough to withstand these hazards or live a life of fear and stress trying to protect that same flock from every breeze, wild bird, rodent or visitor to the coop. It's all a matter of how one wants to spend their time.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
    3 people like this.
  6. Beer can

    Beer can Chicken Obsessed

    Aug 12, 2014
    Upstate NY
    I have a dirt floor with about 6" of sawdust/chicken poop. Doesn't smell at all. My father had a wood floor, always dry never rotted. Our coops aren't necessarily open air, really cold here in the winter. Ventilation comes from the roof rafters being open. Well ventilated coop prevents frostbite by keeping moisture down, we've had -40 winchills for over a month now. I've heard that deep liter also keeps the coop warmer, I don't know though, feels cold in there to me.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  7. mayble

    mayble Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 12, 2015
    I've been wondering the same thing. I saw the "Buckit Pluckit" video and my arms hurt just watching him! Can't imagine how it would feel to do ten or twenty birds that way
    But the bicycle idea has crossed my mind. I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried to rig one up. Or the repurposed washing machine I've heard rumors of.
  8. mayble

    mayble Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 12, 2015
    If you don't mind a newbie question - what is the "peak of the growth curve", age wise? NH and Delawares are the two dual-purpose breeds that piqued my interest.
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    desert chic-- find Saladins books on grazing chickens. Joel saladin pasture raised chickens are key words that should get you to it-- then I checked with interlibrary load for a copy. Read it and returned it.

    Rotating stock around in a systematic method is one of the best natural ways to minimize internal parasites. For many farm animals. Years ago my Sheep specialist at ag school encouraged me to run sheep and horses one after the other over the same pasture. Would break the life cycle of the internal parasites. BEcause in this case what sheep have and what horses have are different, and it would prevent say the horses from eating around the areas they had pooed on depositing the next generation of internal parasites. When the sheep grazed over it they scooped up the parasites and were not more than extra protein.WHile this is more intricate as it used to species of animals you can certainly rotate what areas you have to break the cycle.

    USually if you can break the area into 4-5 areas, and graz over one, then move in a week to the second and so on. By the time the chickens regraze the first location, 4 weeks will have past, and most of the eggs depositted wont be viable anymore.

    How well this works depends on many factors. Like how crowsed the animals are and so the amt of poo depostied; the ability of the land to take up that manure: grassland works manure back into the land better than bare areas without foliage with roots to keep the soil aerated and not packed. Temperature ( time of year) , types of internal parasites, and probably other factors I'm not recalling at the moment.

    Around here, horse vets have moved away from worming every 6 weeks to worming as needed based on fecals. Because the wormers are not working like they used to. Use of wormers can only result in resistant strains of internal parasites; the question is how long that resistance can be delayed.
  10. Dueling Rooster

    Dueling Rooster Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 22, 2015
    Griffin, GA
    My SLW have almost quit laying. Just cold here getting into tje single digits some nights and have several in molt currently on top of it. Getting about 6 eggs a day from 21 hens. My other flock all the hens are still laying. Someone suggested using paprika to boost laying, what do you think and how would I add it to their diet?

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by