Finding the balance

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Whistling Badger, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. Whistling Badger

    Whistling Badger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2008
    a burrow in a pasture
    OK, we're waiting for our eggs to hatch, and pondering our layout.

    Our chickens will be "working" birds, not pets--we are raising them to help us become more self-sufficient and healthy. In other words, we plan to eat them and/or their offspring. (no sense mincing words, right?) We will enjoy them, I'm sure, and treat them well and be friendly with them and respect them...but their purpose in life isn't to entertain us, it's to feed us, and hopefully save us some $$ in the long fun.

    So, we don't want to put any more money into these critters than absolutely necessary, because we're trying to avoid the "$50 Drumstick" scenario. On the other hand, we want them to live well and be happy, and from a purely pragmatic standpoint we want them to be safe enough that a predator doesn't just wipe them all out and destroy our investment of time and money. We have plenty of space and good pasture, so keeping them happy should be fairly easy. Keeping them safe from predators and cold will require some things that really can't be scrounged (especially good fencing), and that could very quickly get so expensive as to also defeat the whole purpose.


    So, it's a question of finding the balance between safety/comfort, and practicallity/affordability. It seems a difficult balance to strike.
    Any thoughts?

    Tom
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Where you live will make a big difference in how you put together a coop for them. You said it gets cold there .. how cold?

    I understand completely about wanting to be self sufficient and highly applaud you. We are also working that direction and will use our chickens to help us to that end also. Having said that ... it's really easy to get attached to them so we made the decision that we name the ones who stay to give us eggs and don't name the ones that will become a meal in the future. (That's just us.)

    How many chickens will you have at one time? What type of predators do you have in your area?

    Are you going to be raising mostly meat birds that will dress out at 8 weeks old? Or, mostly layers who will be around for a long time? Or, dual purpose birds that will be around for a while but not for years?
     
  3. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Indiana
    You may want to consider part of the coop and fencing as a real estate investment rather than a cost associated with the birds themselves. Will it increase the value of your land? For instance, we constructed our coop so that it could easily be used as a garden shed if someone didn't want to keep chickens. We live in an area surrounded by hobby farms. Fencing is valued here. So the cash outlay for their shelter and protection we consider part of the real estate. Feeders and all that other kind of equipment is a cost associated with the birds.
     
  4. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    You have to think of the expense of building material and fencing as a long term investment. Dividing the cost over 10-15yrs. will keep you from having the "$50 drumsticks"! I think you have to provide the best materials possible for keeping them secure--it is better to prevent a problem that trying to correct one.. Good luck with your venture..Dixie
     
  5. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    i'm going to agree with those who posted above and urge you to consider the initial layout as an investment for years of drumsticks to come. further, it will positively impact the value of your property if it isn't slapdash or kind of uncomfortably funkily frugal. [​IMG]
     
  6. morelcabin

    morelcabin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Sounds to me like you will be raising a good dual purpose bird, and that you will keep a few older ones for breeding/eggs to hatch and to eat...and putting some in your freezer every fall.
    Chickens don't need much...you have to remember that many of the posters on here have them for pets only...if they depended on them for survival, it would be a whole different ballgame, but they are pets. I have chickens for about the same reason you are wanting to get chickens. Self sufficiency and healthy food.
    They don' t really need insulated henhouses. Yes thier combs will get black spots from frost bite but it doesn't kill them. They do need a draft free but well ventilated dwelling of some sort...and 2-3 sq feet per bird inside the coop. Free range is your best option to keep food costs low. Other than that it is all trial and error...predators, and such. But as you go you will learn, and you will feel the satisfaction of being somewhat self sufficient:)
     
  7. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:forgive me, but that doesn't really sound like responsible husbandry to me. in my opinion, if you're going to keep birds through the winter, you need to make sure they're not getting frostbite, just as you don't allow them to pluck themselves raw with mites or fight to the death with other birds. if you can't overwinter them appropriately, put the whole flock in the freezer in the fall.

    whether chickens are pets or livestock, it's in everyone's best interest for them to be cared for properly.
     
  8. morelcabin

    morelcabin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    My birds are very well cared for, but yes frostbite does happen in the winter around here:) Maybe whistling badger doesn't live far enough north to worry about it
     
  9. Sandrachx

    Sandrachx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2007
    Chelsea, MI
    good for you for managing your resources in this ever changing economy. wish more people would be willing to change their mentality about consumable products. sounds like you are trying to keep expenses down; maybe you might look into a habitat for humanity re-store. we have a couple of them in my area of michigan -- you can get great building supplies at a fraction of the cost of new. most items are donated by builders, etc. or homeowners who are upgrading, so you can find windows, doors, cinderblock (50 cents ea), fencing, lighting, plumbing, etc. that would go to a landfill anyway. just a thought...
     
  10. Whistling Badger

    Whistling Badger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    a burrow in a pasture
    Thanks for the comments. To answer a few questions, here's my basic plan and reasoning. https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=57593

    Morel
    , you hit the nail on the head:
    Quote:I guess what I'm asking is, how much of this stuff is really necessary, and how much is for the "pet factor?"

    Please note: I'm not scorning the pet factor--we keep goldfish in our pond purely because they're beautiful (I'd have to be pretty derned hungry to eat a goldfish), and we pay to feed my wife's brain-damaged cat that will never catch a mouse unless he accidentally sits on one, and my dog wouldn't know an intruder if it bit him on the rear end (it's happened).

    But that isn't why we want chickens.

    T
     

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