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Howdy from AL

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by slssfrncghst, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. slssfrncghst

    slssfrncghst Hatching

    Nov 14, 2013
    Hey, everyone! Nice to meet you all. I've been interested in getting some fowl for awhile, and my father has finally agreed to letting me have a few hens. I plan to get some Freedom Rangers to raise for meat and I'm trying to decide on a second breed for eggs. At first I'll probably start with three of each. I only have a 16.7 sq ft coop, but I have a large wooded area I plan to let them free range all day and just put them up at night. Does this sound acceptable? I'm a bit new to all this. I've been in rabbits for awhile now, but I figured some free-ranged, hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken meat and eggs for the table would be a great addition. I plan to feed fermented or sprouted grain, mealworms, scraps, and cracked corn in winter. I have a guard dog that keeps the possums, raccoons, and foxes away from my rabbits, so I presume the chickens will be safe, especially considering I've put rabbits in the coop and they've been fine.

    I'm in the Birmingham area and am trying to decide on a great dual-purpose or straight layer that would lay well all year would be. Any Alabamians with first-hand knowledge? I want a bird who can survive our crazy weather!

    Thanks in advance and cheers!

  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    [​IMG] Rule of thumb is 4 sq.feet per bird in the coop. so 16.7 sg.feet falls far short for 6 birds especially since 3 will be Jersey Giants. Even if they aren't confined to a coop for very long, it's just too many birds, too close to each other . When chickens are crowded they may resort to feather pulling, aggressive pecking, bullying, and even at times cannibalism.

    Your dog may not immediately be kind to your chickens - bunnies and chickens are not the same. Chickens flap wings, screech, run in unpredictable patterns and fly, all bringing out predator traits in dogs- that a bunny could not match.

    Free ranging doesn't work for everyone- it helps if a livestock guardian dog stays them .But, with half a dozen chickens scattered over a large area one dog can,t watch them all. You would have to decide how many predator losses per year are acceptable , free ranging vs having a safer, large, covered run.

    If you go to "where am I, where are you," in the social forum, you can locate and post on your state thread- your best advice will come from people in your area. Also visit the Learning Center for a lot of valuable info, and check out the predator threads - also coops and runs for suggestions on predator proofing, etc.

    Good luck in your venture, you have some obstacles to overcome but, none are impossible.
  3. slssfrncghst

    slssfrncghst Hatching

    Nov 14, 2013
    Ah, too many. So more so four birds. Hmmm. Might be better to just put four Cornish X in there for our first try, just to raise meat birds? Then maybe put four laying birds in there if all goes well and then build a large tractor, hoop-house style, for the meat birds.

    As it is, we have high fence around that part of our yard and the dog points. She chases ducks, but she just points at ground birds. I'll get her slowly get used to the chickens, of course; I wouldn't want to find one on my steps like the voles the cats leave! She's fostered a kitten and plays fairly gently with the pet rabbit, so I'm hopeful.

    Thanks for suggestions on where to go next, by the way!

    And I thought Freedom Rangers were Colored Cornish? Or am I mixing names? I meant Colored Cornish; no Jersey Giants for me. Three CCs in there for twelve weeks then culled, leaving the three layers--at least that was my original plan. But since that won't work, I'll adjust. ;) We certainly have the space and most of it is wooded, so it's not useful for agriculture unless we wanted to knock down trees. Animals, on the other hand, could work. The rabbits have been, anyway. Didn't know chickens needed four square feet of sleeping quarters, but that makes sense. Wouldn't want them to eat each other if at all possible. The eating of chickens should be entirely up to my family and I. :p
  4. CashandTracy

    CashandTracy Chirping

    Aug 15, 2013
    Glenrock, Wyoming
    There is a broiler breed that is colored, I believe that it is a cornish cross ,but don't quote me on it. I would steer clear of Jersey giants, they have a slow growth rate for the amount of feed eaten. Some cornish cross can be processed as soon as 8 weeks old. As for a laying breed I am hooked on wyandottes. They are a dual purpose breed and VERY nice to look at. I'm not sure what type of weather you have in your area. There is a lot of info here, check out the breed pages for information on the various breeds to find the perfect one for you. Also like drumstick diva says, I would be cautious with your dogs. Be careful and I would only let them have access/be near your birds with supervision.

  5. All Henned Up

    All Henned Up Muffs or Tufts

    Of all my breeds the white leghorn are the best all around layers, cold or hot short or long daycycle the just lay everyday. They also don't eat as much as my other breeds. Freedom rangers are a meat bird but grow slower than Cornish Rock Crosses, but the freedom rangers forage better than the Cornish X's. The Cornish should be harvested at about 8 weeks to prevent leg problems, must be fed 12 hours on food and 12 hours off to prevent losses due to fast growth. With all birds ready for harvest at the same time it can be a bit overwhelming if you have a lot. I think the freedom rangers are easier to manage, they don't have to be harvested all at once and they can free range some instead of all that meat bird feed the crosses require.
    4 sq. ft. per bird is advised, but if you are building it tall so humans can stand up and clean it, then you can have perches go up like a ladder for your layers and the meat birds under the poop board. The meat birds seldom perch due to week legs.
    Welcome and enjoy BYC!
    Steve :frow
  6. slssfrncghst

    slssfrncghst Hatching

    Nov 14, 2013
    Thanks everyone for the help! Seems like Colored Cornish or Freedom Rangers would be preferable for my situation. I hear it takes them about twelve weeks to get to butcher wait, unlike Cornish X, but that means they move more and like to forage. Now to decide on a layer breed or two. I decided to go half and half still. Two meat-type and two egg-type, as an experiment. I looked into White Leghorn and they lay white eggs and don't go broody; not the best for what I'd want eventually. I prefer brown or other color eggs and birds that would do semi-okay in a SHTF situation. ;)

  7. liz9910

    liz9910 Crowing

    Apr 8, 2012
    Northern California
    Welcome to BYC! You've received some great info, good luck to you.
  8. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome to BYC! The most popular brown egg layer (that is not a hybrid sex link) is probably the Rhode Island Red, they also seem to be popular as a duel purpose/ self sustaining breed. Hatchery or Heritage, the hatchery probably will lay better, the heritage would be bigger and go broody more often. Long thread on the heritage RIR ...https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/407294/the-heritage-rhode-island-red-site
  9. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012

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