Looking to raise chickens/turkeys on 3-5 acres

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by McCulloch610, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. McCulloch610

    McCulloch610 Just Hatched

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    My family and I will be making a move within the next year or so and we're planning to buy a little more house on a lot more property Right now we live on 1/4 lot in a subdivison and we process our own firewood, hunt and fish, and grow a small garden, but the town won't allow chickens and we need more room anyway. We want to get our girls (1 and 4) started early-the older one has already become interested in 4H and has been begging us for chickens. I have been testing her by having her take a more active role in caring for the dog (making sure he is fed and watered, letting him out in the morning, at night, etc...) and she is doing well as she is just one of those kids who loves anything to do with animals. Basically what I'm looking to learn here is the following:

    • How many chickens it takes to supply a family with about a dozen eggs a week - We really only want to produce eggs for our own consumption and don't wish to try to sell them, but we do have friends and family who would be happy to take excess eggs.
    • How "hands off" one can be with chickens - My wife and I both work away from the house full time. She is a schoolteacher, so she gets home earlier than I do, and of course is off for three months of the year, but I work about an hour away and work longer hours. Can this work with raising chickens? What about other types of livestock (turkeys, rabbits, goats, etc...)?
    • Generally can laying hens be slaughtered for meat when they are done laying, or are there breeds more suited to being used for meat?

    I'll be browsing the subforums for answers to these questions and more, but thought I'd include a decent amount of information in my intro post in the hopes that others who are in similar situations can relate their experiences.
     
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  2. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    Welcome to BYC [​IMG] .

    You have found the perfect place to get information to get started and how to take care of your animals. This will be an exciting and rewarding adventure for you.

    I'll answer a few questions and more members should be along shortly to give greater detail. The learning Center is an excellent place to get started and answer many of your questions and some you may not have thought to ask yet [​IMG].

    Your first question:
    How many chickens it takes to supply a family with about a dozen eggs a week - We really only want to produce eggs for our own consumption and don't wish to try to sell them, but we do have friends and family who would be happy to take excess eggs.

    A lot depends on the breed. There are chickens that are better layers and chickens that are better for meat. There are also dual purpose chickens that meet in the middle. Other members with various breeds can give you a variety of good answers. For example:

    A layer breed can include: Ameraucana, Leghorn, Welsumer, Ancona, etc.
    A meat breed can include: Brahma, Cornish, etc.
    A dual purpose can include: Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Jersey Giant, Plymouth Rock, etc.

    Second question:
    How "hands off" one can be with chickens - My wife and I both work away from the house full time. She is a schoolteacher, so she gets home earlier than I do, and of course is off for three months of the year, but I work about an hour away and work longer hours. Can this work with raising chickens? What about other types of livestock (turkeys, rabbits, goats, etc...)?

    Working full time and owning livestock is not a problem. Chickens are pretty low maintenance. Let them out in the run and give them fresh water and feed in the morning. They will generally put themselves to bed in the evening. Then lock them up for safety overnight.

    How much time you spend with them is up to you. You do need to check on them daily to observe any that look ill or injured so you can deal with those immediately. If you are in the country you will likely have many predators. You will need to construct a run and coop to protect your flock and avoid any losses. Gather as much info on coop and run designs to familiarize yourself with what you will need to do as well as the predators in your area and their behaviors. You don't want to come home from work to a heartbreaking scene.

    Third question:
    Generally can laying hens be slaughtered for meat when they are done laying, or are there breeds more suited to being used for meat?

    Depending on the breed you chose, hens can lay several years before they stop laying. They can be slaughtered at any time for meat. It is a common practice to slaughter hens that no longer serve the purpose of laying eggs. Your second part of that question is answered above.

    And finally, we are all here to help you with any questions you have. Look forward to seeing you often around the forum.

    -Free Spirit
     
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  3. McCulloch610

    McCulloch610 Just Hatched

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    All very helpful-thanks so much!
     
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  4. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
     
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  5. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. Free Spirit has given you some good information. I would simply add that if high egg production is your sole priority, then you should get either White Leghorns (for white eggs) or Sex Links (for brown eggs) as these are the best layers in the world. These are the birds used by laying houses as they are egg laying machines, consistently churning out more than 300 large eggs per hen per year. Having had all three, I especially like the Black Sex Links (Black Stars) are they are very hardy and friendly and persistent layers in really cold winter weather. Also, they have tended to lay my largest eggs with double yolks not being uncommon. If you haven't done so already, definitely check out our Learning Center at https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center. There is lots of useful information there. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Cheers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
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  6. btguy

    btguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the girls are going to be involved you will also want to consider the likely personality of the breed you choose. This can be effected a lot by where they come from and may be less of an issue if you have no Roos. Rhode Island reds and game breeds are frequently aggressive. Marans usually aren't but I got mine from a breeder focused only on egg color and they all turned out to be mean. On the other hand orpingtons are more likely to jump in you lap to be pet and steal your snack than to try to fight you. If you get them straight from the breeder just ask about their temperament, if you go with a hatchery ask on here.
     
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  7. McCulloch610

    McCulloch610 Just Hatched

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    Good information-thanks! Their involvement will be limited at first while my wife and I get the hang of it, but eventually caring for the chickens and collecting the eggs will be their primary responsibility.
     
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  8. NickyKnack

    NickyKnack Love is Silkie soft!

    Hello!
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    Welcome to BYC and the coop! There's a lot of great peeps here! Feel free to ask lots of questions. But most of all, make yourself at home. I'm so glad you decided to joined the BYC family. I look forward to seeing you around BYC.
     
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  9. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Welcome to Backyard Chickens, glad you joined the flock.
     
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  10. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member

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    You've asked some really good questions for someone interested in starting out with chickens. Nice intro too!

    For a family of 4 to get a dozen eggs per week, 5 or 6 chickens would be a nice place to start, depending on breed as already stated. You might want to try a mixed flock so you can get a feel for the different rate of lay, personalities and for the 'eye candy'. Unless you want fertile eggs to raise chicks, a rooster is unnecessary, the hens will lay just fine without one. Also, with one roo, it's recommended to have about 10 hens to prevent stress issues due to over-breeding. While there are good roosters around, they can be aggressive and with young kids wanting to be involved, that could be a concern.

    As for how much time they take, you'll want to check on them, feed & water every morning and evening. If you do a quick spot clean of the coop and run every day, that makes the clean-up faster (and the coop and run more pleasant). All together that would take about 45 minutes or so per day once you get a routine established. You could find out like a lot of people do that they are so fun to hang out with, you spend more time with them. Chickens are interesting little animals and nothing is better than 'chicken tv'.

    Meat rabbits are pretty easy to raise and going by our experience, they take even less time than the chickens. They are easy to obtain, their housing needs are fairly simple and they don't take up much space. They also reproduce like, well, rabbits so 1 or 2 breeding pairs for a family of 4 would be enough to get started. The young rabbits are ready for processing around 8-10 weeks so turn-around time is pretty quick. Goats can take more or less time than chickens depending on how people-friendly you want them to be. They take more space, are more expensive to obtain and there are fencing needs to consider. If you get into raising goats, you have to figure out what to do with the excess males that will be born. Randy males can be a handful.

    If you want chickens first for laying and then for meat, dual purpose is the way to go. You won't get quite as many eggs or quite as much meat as chickens that are more singular in purpose but they are sort of the best of both worlds.

    Good luck to you and your family!
     
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