Looking for a mentor

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Aust1227, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. Aust1227

    Aust1227 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 4, 2014
    My name is Austin. I am a long time reader, first time poster. This thread will be on the long side, but it won't have any animated smiley faces! So it shouldn't be too tough to read.

    I am 35. My wife and I have done the corporate thing for years. We have saved well, and enjoyed life. Over the last few years we have been trying to find a way out of the 8-6 grind. And low and behold, a few months back we had the opportunity to buy 4.5 acres w/ a small A frame house on it. We jumped at the opportunity! The "new house" (the small A frame) is just about ready to move into. We are located in central Florida.

    We will be raising a variety of chickens and turkeys. I am an A type personality, and when i jump into a hobby (golf, tennis, brewing beer, gardening, triathlon, ext) I jump in with both feet and attack.

    The current plan is to have the following.

    The plan - Overall plan is to have a self sustaining flock of dual purpose birds and egg layers. I will selectively breed the birds, both pure bred, and sex link. The roosters will be raised for meat, the hens will be sold off, or replace the older ladies. The turkeys will be slaughtered in the fall.

    - Turkey pen -- Approx 100X300 fenced in area (no top) for free ranging turkeys (they have a small lean too). We have seeded their area with a mixture of millet, soy, sunflowers, alfalfa. And will be feeding them free choice commercial food as well. I don't have my first set of breeers yet, but will probably go with Bourbon Reds.

    - Hen area -- Approx 200X300 fenced in area (no top), and a 12X16 coop. The plan is for approx 25 laying hens (brown leghorns, Americauna, Rhode Island Red, Barred rock, Turkens, Silver Laced Wyandottes)

    - Roosters - We will have roosters of each variety too. I hope to let three or four roosters go out with the hens, the others will be housed in tractors. This is where I am struggling a little on how to house and mange the boys.

    - Brooders - We have two large 30X60 brooders that we have made. They will be stored in the 8X8 Chicken workshed. Each brooder can be subdivided if need be.

    - Chicken tractors. We have (2) 4X8 double deck chicken tractors. These will most likely be used to raise the males for meat.

    - Breeding/grow out pens - We plan to build at least 2 breeding/grow out pens. These will be 36X72", half run, half coop. We plan to have one or two hens isolated in these pens, then give visitation rights to a rooster once or twice a week until we have our quota of eggs.. If she goes broody, she can raise the little ones right here in these pens until they are ready to go off.

    - Processing - We will be processing our own meat.

    - Fencing - I have lots of fencing questions

    - Guard dogs - Lots of questions

    - The catch (there is always a catch).. Both my wife and I race triathlons all over the country. So we take a lot of three and four day weekends. One of the main goals of ALL we do with the chickens and turkeys is to keep a flock that can be self supporting for our little mini vacations. Obviously this will be difficult with baby chicks, but planning ahead and good construction of feeders and waterers is critical to our multiple goals (chickens AND vacations!)

    If you have made it this far, hopefully you have some interest in what I am trying to do, and would be interested in sharing ideas and giving me some guidance as we get our flocked established.

    I am looking for the following in a mentor.

    - Knowledge of breeds, sex link traits,
    - History of dealing with mixed flocks, roosters, ext
    - Willingness to expirement with housing, techniques, construction methods, ext

    Thanks for reading! Hopefully in a few years I will be able to read a post like this, and be able to offer mentorship to someone else!! But right now, I have so much to learn.. Please drop me an email or PM if you would like to work with me on this new adventure in life.

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  2. txredchick

    txredchick Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 13, 2011
    While I am new to raising chickens myself - your story sounds so familiar.

    I too left corp world 8 yrs ago & my husband and I bought a small ranch - will never go back, love it !

    I have 9 hens, 6 black sex link & 3 New Hampshire, only three sex links have started laying so far (24wks old all 9). Because of where we live, I can't free range because of the many predators - so my husband over engineered a huge run that is right next to my acre garden. Their coop is an old barn with 8 nesting boxes. We plan to add on the run and coop in the fall to have a quarantine area for new hens in the future. Haven't decided on a rooster / raising babies just yet, still getting my feet wet. Goats are coming in the fall too.

    I'm trying to do the farm to table lifestyle, work in progress - but it has been rewarding & enjoyable.

    Don't have much to offer you other than good luck! Hope you get better advice !!!!
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Good morning! and you are a type A personality!

    It is very helpful to post where you are living. As people in the deep south have different experiences than those of us farther north.

    The advice I would give you, is to make this a 7 year plan. One of the biggest problems in poultry is predators. By starting a bit smaller, one can find what works in your area. Then expand. Many of us have gone down to what we thought was a perfectly tight set up to find a lot of dead birds. There is a learning curve to raising chickens, experience is the teacher and you tend to get it the hard way.

    25 birds will produce a HUGE amount of eggs for two people. In the summer months, you should have close to 2 dozen eggs a day. That is a lot of feed to buy. Truthfully, for a family of two, 5 layers will more than fill your needs. So you will need to have a place to sell eggs. It is also much better to have a multi - age flock. Young birds produce pullet size eggs, but generally will lay through the first winter. Year old bird generally molt in late fall - winter, and don't start laying again for me until January, slowly at first, more rapidly as the daylight hours increase. Adding artificial daylight can increase laying, should be wired carefully into the coop, if you are going to do it. Fires happen in coops if not done properly. Right now, I have four active layers, and I generally am giving eggs away, putting eggs in the freezer..... I move birds in and out of the flock, to get a mult- age flock, I keep a flock of about 10-12 layers in the spring, then add chicks, and take out older birds as we go is the plan....... but I free range quite a bit, and often times predators and other variables mess up the plan, hence the current 4 layers.

    I assume you are talking in feet for measurement. As space is another big problem in birds, but I think you have that covered. For the predator situation in my area, I need over the top coverage of fencing to my runs. I have no idea what a double deck chicken tractor is.

    Personally, I would just add 2 roosters to the 25 hens. Different breeds of hens lay different color of eggs. With careful observation, you can tell which egg comes from which breed. So if you want pure bred Wyandottes, put in W roosters, and just hatch the eggs of W hens. The other eggs will be fertile too, but so what. Chickens do not do well, when separated and returned to the flock. They have very limited memory and don't remember this bird from a couple of weeks ago.

    If you are interested in a dual purpose breed, I think you should consider Delaware chickens. They were developed to be top carcasses and good layers. If you are interested in meat, then every year, you should consider doing a pen of meat birds. They grow quick, you process them all at once, put them in your freezer and you have that done and ready to cook. They will be much more tender, more meatier than dual purpose hens. I really find dual purpose hens and roosters, a little tough and it takes them months to get to size, and really, I tend to just make soup and casseroles out of them.

    As for fencing, Chicken wire on the inside, woven wire on the outside at least 4-5 feet up. Along the perimeter of the fence on the outside, I have laid chicken wire, or any wire on top of the ground, held into place with heavy objects, landscape fabric staples, and allow grass to grow up through it. This has worked well for me with digging predators. They tend to dig in a tight U, close to the fence. If they can't dig close to the fence, they leave me alone.

    If you are going to be gone 3-4 days, you can easily set it up to provide food and water. Any more than that, you need someone to check on them. Things go wrong, and you can have a lot of dead birds in a small amount of time.

    Mrs. K
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Hi Austin. Welcome. What growing zone are you in? I'm assuming you are in a bit of a warm climate? That may affect the breeds you choose to raise. Your Barred rock and silver laced wyandotte hens will produce black sex linked chicks with any of the other breeds of roosters. I strongly recommend that you take a close look at the Dominique. This is a bird that might meet almost all of your needs in a single package. The hens will produce sex-linked chicks when bred by any non-barred or not white rooster. The barred birds are auto sexing all by themselves. Doms are wonderful foragers, nice personality, the "all round American bird!" There's an excellent article on producing Sex-links on this forum. Just type sex link into the search bar. If you're in a very cold climate, you might want to stay away from straight combed birds, and feathered feet. There are some excellent articles regarding the other aspects of chicken genetics: combs, feathered feet, shank color, etc. An other consideration is: do you have the room to quarantine any new additions to the flock?

    My recommendation is to start small. If possible, get all of your birds from the same source, or NPIP certified hatching eggs or day old chicks. Disease will wipe out your efforts faster than a predator will!

    Check out electronet fencing. Most predators can easily scale over a fence of almost any height, but one zap will send them running for the hills.

    Are you gardening as well???

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