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Check My Thinking Please, Stealth Bantams? -- Great News! Town Policy Modification.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 3KillerBs, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was on here a few years ago full of hope for a backyard flock of Delawares but ran into the local ordinance roadblock and, unless someone in town who is far more politically-adept than I am gets into chickens, its not going to be resolved.

    But as we've worked with our yard we've been able to block more and more sight-lines into the backyard of our corner lot and I'm thinking I might be able to sneak in some stealth bantams.

    I had wanted the Delaware for eggs and stew hens, but what we need most is tick and "wood roach" control in the heavily-shaded backyard with its mounds of pine straw and leaves. Each summer we've had to restrict our kids from playing out there too much because of ticks and mosquitoes and while the wood roaches don't carry disease like regular roaches they are very unpleasant to get into the house.

    I was thinking that if bantams could do the job on 2" roaches they'd be a lot easier to hide than full-size hens.

    If I were to build a chicken tractor how big would it need to be for 3-4 bantams? And how long would it take them to de-bug that big of a run? I doubt I'd be able to let them out since we can't afford to fence that area -- especially not with opaque fence. But a supervised playtime in a space surrounded by 4-foot garden fence might be achievable.

    I'm not so worried about the near neighbors -- the house against that stretch of yard sort of "turns its back" to ours -- they don't hear our gaming group and we don't hear their garage parties since they don't open their windows much and both heat pumps provide "white noise". There's a big shed between that stretch of yard and the other neighbor.

    What worries me are busybodies walking on the street spotting them and making trouble. So I'm wanting to make something that doesn't look like a chicken house. And I'm not sure whether to choose patterned, brown bantams that would be inconspicuous ruffling around in the pine straw or outrageously feathered, un-chicken-like bantams.

    I'm in the NC Sandhills. My ground is white sand that can't get muddy no matter how hard it rains. Our winters are mild with very little in the way of sustained, below-freezing weather and below-zero is a once-in-5-year occurrence. The ground never really freezes. But we have HEAT! Sustained high 90's with overnight lows in the mid-80's are common for weeks from late-June to mid-August and sustained 100's not unknown during bad years.

    Any thoughts on what I'm trying to do? Would bantams handle my bug problem?

    Any recommendations on bantam breeds that would suit?

    Would bantams be successfully confined in a pen of 4-foot, green, woven wire or would they fly right out?

    Is it possible to have a small tractor where feeding and watering can be done from the outside? I want to involve the 7yo in their care but don't want to have to worry about daily escape attempts.

    Am I crazy?
     
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    You could try a few Silkies. They can't fly because of their shredded feathers and are generally very quiet and docile.
    That being said, I really wouldn't recommend going against city/county ordinances. Think of how heartbreaking it'll be to invest all that time and money into birds and a coop just to have one of those "busy bodies" turn you in. There are "those" people everywhere and it always seems as if their sole purpose in life is to stick their nose in other peoples business.
    Besides, I don't think a small number of confined bantams are going to give you the results you're looking for as far as bug control.
    I'm not trying to be a downer, but it may be more effective (and cost efficient) if you just had a pest control company come and take care of the bug problem. Good luck with whatever you decide to do...
    Nikki
     
  3. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Silkies were my first thought for the "outrageously un-chicken-like" concept but I had read that silkies didn't forage much because they don't see well? Am I misinformed?

    My intent was to move the tractor either daily or every couple days as they cleaned up the individual area. The backyard is small and could be covered fully every 2-3 weeks -- especially if I can set up the movable, temporary fence for supervised "playtime" outside the tractor.

    I would have at least two possible places for re-homing if it proved necessary. Having the yard sprayed with poison costs just as much as this would, prevents the boys from playing there, and doesn't last.
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    They can see well if you give their crests a trim every now and then. If you're ordering from a hatchery (or buying from a feed store, which is the same thing since they order from hatcheries too) those chicks wont get huge crests. All of mine are somewhat crested like the hen in my avatar photo, and they still see well enough to forage, chase down bugs, go up and down ramps, ect. I don't trim them either.
    One thing you may find as a plus, since you've got children, is if you get breeder birds that have large crests they don't see well enough to run away from them. My daughter goes into the run and picks up the rooster and all of the hens without much fuss. That makes her very happy since they're "her" chickens (she's 6). Even though they can't get away, mine have managed to decimate all of the grass in their run. Opening up a bag of crickets into the run- I buy them at Petsmart- is absolutely hilarious. Good luck being stealthy! Hopefully you don't get caught and don't have to worry about rehoming them!!!
    Nikki
     
  5. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any other opinions? Recommendations?
     
  6. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I highly recommend Dutch bantams for this purpose. Mine were always very active and would make good foragers. They're very small so would go unnoticed fairly easily, and as a benefit they were fantastic layers. They can fly when spooked though, so you'd want a fully enclosed chicken tractor or something.
     
  7. noitulover

    noitulover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would go with silkies. We've had them here in VA (which has similar weather I believe) and they have done just fine. A 4' fence would probably keep silkies in, but wouldn't keep predators out. Silkies are definitely susceptible to predator attacks because they cannot fly at all to get away. Hawks, owls, raccoons, snakes, possums, cats, and dogs are all likely predators in a suburban area. I would cover your run in 1/4" hardware cloth.

    I had a rogue bantam in the suburbs once (on 3/4 of an acre), which is a long story I won't get into! My next door neighbors never had any complaints. I gave them eggs every so often and the neighborhood kids thought she was pretty cool. (We had other chickens at the farm.)

    I am sure they would cut down on bugs, but depending on the size of your yard, I don't think they would eliminate them or anything. They sound like the type of bugs chickens like to eat, but I wouldn't count on that. My chickens will eat bugs and worms all day long, but they prefer certain ones over others, and rarely touch some at all.

    I guess what I'm really saying is that if you really want chickens for pets, then I think you could manage a few bantams. However, I wouldn't count on bantams for eggs or bug control. You might (and would likely) get a bit of both, but I wouldn't let those wants be the deciding factors for the trouble of hiding suburban chickens.
     
  8. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you.

    Would dutch bantams handle winter in a tractor without supplemental heat? We don't have a lot of winter -- the ground rarely freezes solid -- but I wouldn't have an option for bringing them into a more sheltered area when we do get a storm.
     
  9. Kilsharion

    Kilsharion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    You're not going to have any trouble with winter in your location. ~4 bantams in a tractor without a draft will keep plenty warm. As my husband points out when I fret, "Honey, they have down coats on. Might not be goose down, but it gets the job done."
     
  10. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was just wondering since a quick check of breed info turned up repeated warnings that they weren't cold-hardy.

    My personal taste in beautiful chickens runs to wide bodies and heavy feathers. And I particularly like them in black and white. When I thought I could get a laying flock I was going to get Delawares (and still will when we can have a country place). But for stealth chickens to try to make a dent in the insane bug population, ....

    Where does the size of larger bantam breeds intersect with the size of small regular breeds anyway? Or would that be a question for a separate thread in the breeds section?
     

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