Keep me from going over board

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicky_Baby, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Chicky_Baby

    Chicky_Baby Out Of The Brooder

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    I tried asking this on another forum and nobody answered so I am guessing it is one of those tough questions that doesn't have a real answer. I will settle for a good guess.

    I have 6 free range black australorps and they are doing a decent job of keeping the bugs down in the area they use but I am still being invaded by crickets and from what I have seen the hens never leave the side yard so I am guessing that just the one area is providing all the food they need and then some as there are still a lot of bugs there. They lay every day even if I do not give them laying mash and are extremely healthy so I am assuming they are getting enough bugs to cover their need for protein. My problem is that I want to get rid of these stupid crickets because they are coming in the house and are everywhere. There is a farm next door with cattle and I think the spilled feed is contributing to the problem by providing lots of bug food. The area I want to have "patrolled" is roughly 1 1/2 acres give or take a bit and I do not want to end up over loading it to the point I have a mess.

    Could someone with a larger flock PLEASE tell me how many chickens to get or give me at least some idea of how many chicks to order. I don't want to end up being the local "chicken hoarder" with sick birds because I got too many but if I have one more year of sweeping crickets out of my house by the dozen I am going to lose my mind.

    HELP!!! (sound of me drowning in crickets)
     
  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    Wow! I cant help with your question, but I can bump it up so hopefully someone else can answer it.
    Kind of curious to hear responses as well.
     
  3. Farmerboy16

    Farmerboy16 Rebuilding my Farm

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    I have found that when I raise a batch of chicks in different area, they stay around in that area, while my older birds will stay in a different area in the yard. I free range all of my poultry, and each type of poultry will free range where they were raised. What you might want to consider is get another small batch of chicks and raise them in the area where you want them to be, or move the coop in that area. In no time at all, the crickets will be gone. [​IMG]
     
  4. laughing man

    laughing man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 18, 2010
    westfield mass
    how much space is your side yard, add 6 birds for ever space the size of your side yard [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  5. Chicky_Baby

    Chicky_Baby Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Laughing Man it would be a good idea but going by that rule I decided I would need 120 chickens and that isn't accounting for the fact that the hens I have now are on the side farthest from the farm where I think the crickets are coming from. Adjusting for density of bug population my husband guessed we would need 200 hens and that seems like a BAD idea but I have never known anyone with this problem before so I am not sure. Nobody in my family ever had more than 20 or so hens and sadly my aunts have all passed so I can't ask their opinion.

    I have never seen a yard so thick with bugs as mine is so it is hard to even begin to guess at this. The 6 I have stay in such a small area and are fat as pigs with crickets / stink bugs to spare so I am afraid to hazard a guess that way. I think I may not ever really get rid of all the excess bugs and maybe should ask...

    How many chickens can I keep on 1 1/2 acres without their tearing it to shreds and getting sick?

    Seriously if I can have 100 - 200 hens I will just sell the eggs and thank the fellow next door for all the free chicken feed but I want to make sure I don't turn the lawn into a feces encrusted mess. Can I keep that many on the area and not have them turn it into a waste land?
     
  6. Orange Ribbon

    Orange Ribbon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a little over 100 chickens, and most of them free range in the evenings. I have 45 acres, but they don't go that far. We have 3 to 4 acres cleared around the house for a yard, and when we let them out they take off in every direction. Some hang around the big yard, some go into the edge of the woods which are all around us. I have only found 2 ticks this year, and that was early summer. No spiders, grasshoppers, or crickets except under a board or something here and there.

    So I don't think you need as many chickens as you think to take care of the problem. I understand some breeds are better foragers than others, and having several different breeds I see differences in the way they hunt for stuff. Out of all my birds the top three foragers are:

    1. White Leghorns. I have even seen them catch mice.

    2. Speckled Sussex. They are not picky about what they can get either, and they even go after stink bugs.

    3. The best daggone all around, wipe 'em out, go after anything that moves chickens I have are the Partridge Rocks. And they are not even laying age yet! They range all over the place, but stay within a few acres of the house. If you were to get about 10 or 15 of those little dudes, they would take a good chunk out of your cricket population. We got ours from Ideal Hatchery.
     
  7. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I must say y'all have some brave chickens or I have a bunch of chichen chickens. Mine will not go beyond a 30 yard radius from the coop. And if I go looking for them after a bit, they're back in the run under the coop sleeping. They just seem to like it in their own area.
     
  8. Orange Ribbon

    Orange Ribbon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey Ole Rooster, having a chicken that stays right at the coop would be weird to me! What kind of chickens do you have?

    Besides what I listed above, I also have Barred Rocks, Ameracana, White Rocks, Australorps, Red sex-links, a RIR roo, and Brahmas. I feed them all twice a day, but everyone of them get out and forage around all over the place. The Leghorns, Speckled Sussex and Partridge Rocks just seem less picky about what they eat. Of course, many of them lounge around the coop also, but they don't stay there. I also have some Pekin Ducks and 3 Brown African Geese, and they get around too, just not quite as far as often. I have two flocks of SS. One is breeder stock and I have them in a different area. I also have some SS from Ideal Hatchery in a separate pen. When I let any of them out, they don't go very far, but they really dig around for anything they can find. Of course, I don't let any of them free range with the other birds.

    I like to hear what breeds rather stick close to their coop than range.
     
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I wonder if you need more chickens or just need your chickens to move to the other location? Mine will range over 5 acres, if the gates are open. All the breeds I've had were good foragers. I think my Faverolles have been my favorite, due to their enthusiasm for hunting mosquitoes. They seem to be a bit more bug obsessed than some of my others have been.

    Foraging is an instinctive behavior, but it's also a learned behavior. Chickens have to learn what is safe to eat, what is good to eat and where it's safe to go. So, it takes them a little time to learn all of this through trial and error. The older they get, the better they get at it. If they have someone to watch eating things or follow to new areas, they learn faster.

    If you want them to forage in other areas, I would take them over to the other areas. Mine will come when I call them, but if you give yours a little treat every day, they'll learn what the container looks like and follow you.

    Find a treat they really like and sprinkle some of it around the area you want them to forage in. Spread it very thinly, just a bit here and there. Put a bowl of water over there, too, so they don't have to leave when they need a drink.

    Chickens like cover more than exposed areas, so they don't get attacked. Tossing the treats starting near cover is a good place to start. If they really don't feel comfortable in that area, you can also sit over there for a little while at first, to make the area less scary for them. Usually I just need to take youngsters over to an area once, to get them going.
     
  10. Chicky_Baby

    Chicky_Baby Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Thank you all for the good ideas and advice. I went yesterday and picked up 10 additional hens I found on Craig's List. I am going to put up a second hen house on the side next to the farm and see if that helps. (I almost think I just need to put diapers on them and bring them inside to catch the blasted crickets - just joking I am not that far gone yet but I am getting close - lol)

    I really do think my situation is abnormal due to the piles of spilled feed and all the cow manure next door. Don't get me wrong I love having the cows next door - they are calm, polite and beat the heck out of living next door to some teenager who wants to play his stereo at full blast in the middle of the night BUT I have never seen this many crickets before I moved here and I have always lived where there are farms near me. I asked the ag agent and he said the problem was most likely due to the farm and that field crickets can sense the warmth of my house from across the yard and move towards it as the weather gets cold here. There are a number of tobacco growers in the area and they use so much pesticide I filter all of my water and the water for my animals so I think the tobacco farms are why we have less birds than we need to kill all of the crickets in the fields. Hence my problem - so after I set up the 10 new hens if that isn't enough I will add to my Wall Of Chickens with new hens. Seriously this is so bad that instead of buying chicks my husband told me to go ahead and just buy adult hens because it is making him batty too and neither of us have the patience to wait for this to resolve itself. It is 7:30am and the latest batch of sticky traps I put out last night now have 29 crickets on them. How many crickets do you need to have in your house to have that many get stuck on sticky traps in less than 12 hours? I do not even want to think about it. Yuck!

    I think a normal number of chickens is not going to do it.

    Next spring I am going to get a flock of guineas and hopefully they will go to my neighbors cow fields and solve the problem at its source. There has to be a natural cure for this and I am not willing to spray pesticides everywhere when I have a baby who could get into it so poultry hoarding here I come.
     

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