Are you new to chickens / when did you first get chickens? Last year I tried to have an organic garden. Did pretty well for awhile until we were invaded by giant horn worms . Shortly after the fire ants invaded and destroyed the roots to all our plants. Solution... Chickens! This year my husband went to tractor supply and told me the chicks were in and we ended up over the course of 2 1/2 months obtaining 44 chickens. I never intended to have 44 chickens! Started with red Sexlink, then Cornish Rocks, Araucanas, Australorps and Leghorns. We established that the Cornish Rocks and all Roosters were dinner. Which lead to a very funny moment when my 18 year old daughter told one of the chicks it was ok there was nothing to be afraid of, and I piped in "till they're dinner", all Cornish rocks and roosters were then called "I don't want to be a pie" from Chicken Run. We live in a subdivision and my garden which is in a fenced off area of my backyard is 50x100 feet long about 1/4 of the whole back yard. The garden never got planted, the chickens decimate any Fire Ant hill that dares to pop up in their area. Toads, frogs, field mice, snakes and the occasional flying insect are treading in dangerous territory once they enter the chicken area and I can usually tell someone has something from all the cackling and noise they make. I'm building a second coop 4x8 raised with a lot of research including ventilation, metal protected electricity access mainly for fan, door and light, water nipples and automatic feeder. I've chosen to caulk and paint every joint and cranny to prevent bugs and mites from having a place to hide. How many chickens do you have right now? I have 8 Sexlink hens, 3 Australorp hens, 3 Leghorn Hens, 3 Araucana hens and 1 Australorp and 1 Araucana roo. Our Cornish Rocks were processed at 10 weeks, the dogs got 2 before they became friends and 4 were taken to another farm, the rest became pie. Meat and Eggs Yes, I do process my own chickens and I have seen the wide opinion of how people feel about it. We are very realistic with our kids and ourselves when it comes to our chickens. I have become attached to my chickens because of the interaction I have they all come running to greet me. I can pick them up (except the leghorns) without an issue and constantly am checking legs, beaks, eyes and general health. We found that night time is the best time because they tend to be sleepy and relaxed. We separate the chickens the morning of from the rest and are given lots of water and fruit pieces and soft veggies for feed. We put a board up to keep the chickens from seeing what's happening and the coop is closed. We talk to the chicken and thank them, I know it sounds silly but for us it's a mental process. We don't cone the chicken or put them in some device. Simply we lay them on the ground my husband holds them gently and talks to the chicken while I find the artery and avoid cutting the airway as I don't want them to panic by suffication. We also found that a new razor blade receives almost little if no response to being cut compared to a knife no matter how sharp. Once the cut is made I tend to stroke with my fingertips along the comb and the are calm, it also gives me the ability to watch for when their eyes close which we then invert them. I''ve read articles who call what I do "hipsters" and "neo-something's" even Slate has used comments from BYC. There is something about raising your chicken from day old, choosing what they are fed and being there till the end. I don't do it to be a movement, I do it so myself and my children have food that is healthy. Our chickens get regular feed, forage on grass and insects and get supplemented vegtables, fruit, cooked pasta, beans, and dairy. My girls have the responsibility of feeding, keeping their coop and yard clean, collecting eggs, assisting with health checks and socializing. The oldest one assists with prepping everything when it's time to process the chickens. I'm the cutter, my husband is the holder and when it's over with we as a family have provided for each other. My girls learn responsibility, respect for animals and they have knowledge that most adults have no idea. My oldest can tell you everything about the production of an egg, bloom and how salmonila is as about as common on a chicken as staph is on our skin and that proper handling and cooking is best. How did you find out about BackYardChickens.com? I've been stalking the BYC site whenever I have a question. Most recently on to paint or not to paint. I find it an valuable resource for most of my chicken needs. I have an interest in Chicken conservation and the need to keep chicken lines going now that commercial interest are in fast heavy breeds and the heritage breeds tossed aside. From my research and interest I have fallen in love with the Buckeye chicken and am frustrated that my interest comes late in the season and I am unable to obtain any Buckeyes. I want to show these wonderful birds as well as introduce them to my current flock. I know your not "supposed" to have your chicks inside but they are staged in my office until they become large enough to move to the pens in my garage to be brought out in movable pens during the day and put back at night. There's about 3-4 events I can show starting in April so I will keep looking until then. Thank you for this site!