How Are You Doing It?

olderoo

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 26, 2014
58
8
38
Leesville sc
For most, keeping chickens means housing as many birds as space allows in a coop and earth based run arrangement. Along with that comes the constant coping with flies and smell and the ever-present poop morass.

So how about this?

"There is no question that congestion or crowding of the breeding stock is one of the most serious causes of impaired vitality. Fowls kept in large numbers should be on extensive farms rather than in crowded quarters.

Land occupied by fowls should also be used for grass, grain and fruit crops; the poultry department being incidental. This method will provide ample free range and prevent soil contamination. No matter how the fowls are kept there should be extremely careful grading as to vigor and size so as to reduce the contest as much as possible between the physically strong and the physically weak.

Where crowding is practiced, overfeeding is also common. Plenty to eat and little to do is one of the surest and strongest factors for producing infertile eggs and weak chicks. Plenty of deep litter for the fowls to scratch in and whole grain scattered in it to encourage exercise are used; preventing or reducing the dangers from over-feeding, and, to a certain extent, taking the place of free range and exercise in the open air."

-- M.G. Kains

• Conduct grading/culling based on vigor?
• Have more room - or keep fewer chickens?
• House your birds on deep litter?
• Rotate chickens to otherwise productive land?

These practices may seem revolutionary to some. For example, how many have the courage to eliminate weaklings from their flocks?
Or keep fewer birds, when the popular message is one of enabling our "chicken addiction?"

So I'm wondering, how many chickenseers are operationg as Mr Kains suggests?
Or, How many see it as restrictive or impractical?
 

donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
3,899
581
Southern Oregon
I've always been very up front about culling for health and thriftiness on this board, and boy has it caused problems! I don't treat illness, period. I observe for 2-3 days any bird that's "off", then cull if not recovered. I don't have the inclination to deal with a bird that's prone to illness, or gets egg bound, or whatever. I also don't help chicks hatch.

I use deep litter in the coop. No flies, no smell, nothing. I'm down on my knees in my coop frequently to access a nest box and only rarely get poop on my jeans.

I'm a big advocate for more space for the birds. For most folks, a barren run is the only practical solution, but even then there needs to be lots of space. I look at those tiny coops and runs and think I'd sure start cannibalizing whoever I had to share that small space with!

I'm always leery when I see folks get chick addicted--where are they going to house all those birds? I'd love to have hundreds of different birds, so many projects I'd love to be working on. I'm constrained by space, just like everyone else. I'm not willing to risk the health of my birds to have a few more.

I have straw in my run, and scatter scratch and oyster shell in there for them to scratch around and find. I also toss my kitchen scraps out there for them, that provides a lot of entertainment (for them and me!). I keep pieces of plywood in the run, flip them over every week or so to allow flock access to all the bugs and worms that live under there.
 

olderoo

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 26, 2014
58
8
38
Leesville sc
I've always been very up front about culling for health and thriftiness on this board, and boy has it caused problems! I don't treat illness, period. I observe for 2-3 days any bird that's "off", then cull if not recovered. I don't have the inclination to deal with a bird that's prone to illness, or gets egg bound, or whatever. I also don't help chicks hatch. 

I use deep litter in the coop. No flies, no smell, nothing. I'm down on my knees in my coop frequently to access a nest box and only rarely get poop on my jeans. 

I'm a big advocate for more space for the birds. For most folks, a barren run is the only practical solution, but even then there needs to be lots of space. I look at those tiny coops and runs and think I'd sure start cannibalizing whoever I had to share that small space with!

I'm always leery when I see folks get chick addicted--where are they going to house all those birds? I'd love to have hundreds of different birds, so many projects I'd love to be working on. I'm constrained by space, just like everyone else. I'm not willing to risk the health of my birds to have a few more. 

I have straw in my run, and scatter scratch and oyster shell in there for them to scratch around and find. I also toss my kitchen scraps out there for them, that provides a lot of entertainment (for them and me!). I keep pieces of plywood in the run, flip them over every week or so to allow flock access to all the bugs and worms that live under there. 
Thanks donrae!
I'm curious, how did you come by these concepts?
Did you learn them from study, from a mentor, or do they just seem like common sense to you?
 
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donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
3,899
581
Southern Oregon
I don't really know...mostly common sense, I guess. My mom and grandma kept chickens, I've been around horses and dogs at least all my life. We've never been ones to treat sick animals as a rule...it was mostly financial when I was growing up. Now, it's just good sense, and trial and error. I see so many folks on these boards that treat sick birds, or help chicks hatch, or other things, and they wind up with animals that need a lot of, well, coddling, for lack of a better term. My pets are pets, but my birds aren't pets, they need to earn their keep in some fashion. I just don't have the inclination to keep special needs animals, so I manage my flock to not have them.
 

olderoo

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 26, 2014
58
8
38
Leesville sc
I can't speak for Donrae, but I keep chickens much the same way. A lot of what I've learned has been through trial and error and experience.
Good old Experience, winner of the title, "Worst Teacher Ever."

She always gives the test - before she gives the lesson.

I have been fortunate to amass a cross section of poultry books, spanning the 19th Century through today.
This has taught me that what many end up relearning, are things which were once common knowledge.
Moreover, a large portion of what we accept as "good practice" is rooted in processes that we would balk at, if we knew the full extent.
 
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olderoo

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 26, 2014
58
8
38
Leesville sc
I don't really know...mostly common sense, I guess. My mom and grandma kept chickens, I've been around horses and dogs at least all my life. We've never been ones to treat sick animals as a rule...it was mostly financial when I was growing up. Now, it's just good sense, and trial and error. I see so many folks on these boards that treat sick birds, or help chicks hatch, or other things, and they wind up with animals that need a lot of, well, coddling, for lack of a better term. My pets are pets, but my birds aren't pets, they need to earn their keep in some fashion. I just don't have the inclination to keep special needs animals, so I manage my flock to not have them. 
That latter part will sound harsh to some, I'm sure. But it's a common thread from the days when lives depended on livestock.
That is kind if a core value, too, i.e. "Do you see chickens as pets or livestock?"

I had pet chickens when I was a kid - we were on a WI farm and they were my only friends.
But they were chickens. Not people.

To this day I'm drawn to chickens as companions, but not pets. Like you, I still apply the farm values that I learned:

1. They serve us.
2. I am their steward.
2. Only the fit must survive.
 
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