Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ReesePAC, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. ReesePAC

    ReesePAC New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Apr 22, 2012
    Hey,
    I just joined an this is my first post. My wife and I just bought our first home on 8 acres (3 open and 5 wooded), we are moving in at the end of april 2012. We are trying to homestead and be as self sufficient as possible. We are starting with gardens, chickens this May and hopefull bees, small orchards and maybe a few pigs later this summer. I have decided to order buff orpington chicks 1 month from now. I have a bunch of questions that I could not find answers for...

    1. How many buffs would it take to produce enough chicken for a 3 member family w/o having to ever buy chicken again? I would be using them for a consistent supply of both eggs and meat.

    2. I want to free range since it saves money on feed but can your flock survive solely on free range?

    3. If I do need to supplement my free range birds with feed, is it possible to GROW their food so that these birds will not cost me anything? Including calcium/grit or w/e because I want to produce all this on my small farm.

    4. I know free range is good for soil and cuts down on insects but won't the buffs also destroy your crops if they are allowed in the garden?

    5. If Free-ranging destroys crops and I instead put them in a run how do I collect the dropping to use for fertilizer?

    6. I hear pine wood shavings are best for the coop floor, where/how could I get these for free?

    7. Also if anyone good suggest good sites, books, groups for producing all you own food/ being self sufficient that'd be great

    8. Would I need a bigger freezer than the one on a standard fridge?

    9. Is it cheap to hire a bitcher or is it easy to butcher/ prepare yourself?

    10. I know this is a whole separate category but besides chickens, crops, orchards, bees, what else would you reccommend that is a easy source of food to grow and maintain/ can feed soley on a farmstead? Cow? pigs?
    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  2. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    25,007
    68
    388
    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY
    1. Welcome 2. If you eat a whole chicken once a week x 52 weeks you better be hatching and growing constantly....keep a supply of like 6-8 hens including a roo...processing all roos that grow out..keep/process / sell hens if theres an abundance. 3. Yes you need a suppliment...at least provide layer feed...they may not want much spring..summer..fall so yes, you will save money in thse months. 4. Dont allow the birds in the garden unless you want your plants eaten...fence them out...until the garden is done..then let them go crazy! 5. They will drop droppings in the garden when there in it...also when cleaning out their dirty bedding create a compost and use it the following spring if its ready. 6. Shavings are only free if you make them...do you haveva planer/shaver? My DH gets alot of pine hoards left over from jobs and I will plane down everyone if its not sable to create my own... 7. This site is great for all your needs...you have to use the search engine...alot...if you cant find it on here you will find links to guide you there. 8. Yes you will need a bigger freezer 9. I do my own processing...if i didnt it would not be finanially feasable to raise the meat myself 10. I have not dealt with other animals so I cant give you that advice;(
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,613
    1,161
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    1. How many buffs would it take to produce enough chicken for a 3 member family w/o having to ever buy chicken again? I would be using them for a consistent supply of both eggs and meat. If you are new to this, go for getting enough eggs first. Get used to raising chickens, creating a safe run/coop that works for your flock. There are somethings you discover the hard way. I would think that if you got a dozen. That would give you more than enough eggs, and you can do some processing on the extra roosters, to see if you like processing, and if your run is not as tight as you think it is and a predator gets in, you won't have lost a huge investment. Many of us have been surprised.

    Home processed chickens can be a bit tougher than store bought chickens, but taste better.

    Also - though you don't mention it, it sounds like you might have a small child. Roosters can be dangerous to adults, but they are especially dangerous to small children, who are at eye level.

    2. I want to free range since it saves money on feed but can your flock survive solely on free range? You don't state where you are, and closer the equator, the more close you could come to this, but away from the equator, you cannot. My chickens drop their consumption of commercial feed in July-August, when the bug population is at its height. Mine free range almost, not quite 100% of the time. Properly fed chickens will produce more eggs and have less health issues, so unless you are in very tropical country, you will need to provide feed.

    3. If I do need to supplement my free range birds with feed, is it possible to GROW their food so that these birds will not cost me anything? Including calcium/grit or w/e because I want to produce all this on my small farm. You can use their egg shells, feeding them back to them, and you can feed back to them their own eggs. What you have to remember, is that there is quite a variance in plant protein, depending on the climate and season. If it is a very dry year will also decrease the protein. I think you could grow some, but it might be tricky meeting their needs for optimum health.

    4. I know free range is good for soil and cuts down on insects but won't the buffs also destroy your crops if they are allowed in the garden? Yes, you will not have a crop or garden. You must fence either the chickens in, or out of the garden. However, you can have them eat the bugs around your garden, which will help some. And in the fall or early spring let them in your garden. I have put baby chicks in my established garden, that I was just raising. They were too little to do any damage, they did love eating bugs, and it gave them some fresh air and exercise.

    5. If Free-ranging destroys crops and I instead put them in a run how do I collect the dropping to use for fertilizer? Under the roost will be a large collection of manure. I use old hay (I have it available) in the coop and out in the run, the chickens eat all the weed seed, and break it down into smaller pieces, and then I compost or use it for mulch over cardboard.

    6. I hear pine wood shavings are best for the coop floor, where/how could I get these for free?

    7. Also if anyone good suggest good sites, books, groups for producing all you own food/ being self sufficient that'd be great This is an excellent site, and I have learned a great deal here, experience will also teach you quite a bit.

    8. Would I need a bigger freezer than the one on a standard fridge? You may need two large freezers. An upright and a chest freezer would be ideal. Then you could store food from the garden and the poultry.

    9. Is it cheap to hire a bitcher or is it easy to butcher/ prepare yourself? It is not hard to process birds, but it does take some equipment. You need a large as in canner size or bigger, pot to scald the birds, a sharp knife, it helps if you have someone to help you, and with experience you will get better. The first time I did it, I watched on youtube, and it was excellent, we carried the laptop out to the garage and did it step by step

    10. I know this is a whole separate category but besides chickens, crops, orchards, bees, what else would you recommend that is a easy source of food to grow and maintain/ can feed soley on a farmstead? Cow? pigs? Pigs have an incrediable offensive odor, and they root around, which can destroy walls and fences, as they get large they can be powerfully destructive, you will need to keep them a long ways from the house, and away from small children. Rabbits are another food source, that are not hard to maintain, and can easily be bred to reproduce, and can be eaten.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,613
    1,161
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I also thought of milking goats. Can be used for meat and milk, not as big as a cow, so therefore less space is needed, and less feed.
     
  5. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow, I'm not even the OP but golly those were great answers! I don't need this info but found it interesting and concise. BYC folks are so awesome.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by