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Old fashioned chicken raising

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 2AcreFarmer, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. 2AcreFarmer

    2AcreFarmer In the Brooder

    Jan 23, 2014
    How did people in the 40's 50's and 60's raise chickens. What did they feed them? Confined or free range? How much did they feed them? Were they getting lots of eggs on the feed they were giving them? I just think it would be interesting for us to share story's about how our grandparents and their parents before them raised chickens. Please comment!!


  2. kingfrodo

    kingfrodo Chirping

    Nov 22, 2013
    Enterprise, AL
    I grew up on a hog farm in Eastern NC. everyone lived in the same house, Great Grandparents, Grandparents, and parent, and then my sister and I. we all lived in a big farm house. My Great Grandmother raised chickens and they free ranged. she had to of had at least 25-30 and would butcher on an as needed basis the extra roos. they ate what ever they could find around the hog pens and any scraps she would throw out. we never bought eggs so I'm sure they provided everything she needed. I was 12 when she died and noone kept up the chickens like she did. so I guess to answer your questions no commercial feed was supplied and I would say they laid pretty good.
  3. 2AcreFarmer

    2AcreFarmer In the Brooder

    Jan 23, 2014

    Thank you for the reply!
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    but if they followed other animals around, they probably ate what they spilt, or 'wasted' or even pecked through the manure. If you have an active farm or ranch, with animals getting fed each day, there is a great deal of waste, and chickens love to peck through that.

    Also even with that large of family, 25 - 30 hens are going to make more than enough eggs, but I will bet that there were times, where there were less eggs and times where there were more eggs. I would be quite surprised if those chickens produced eggs like the breeds that we have today. However, enough is enough, and if there wasn't eggs, those women of that era were masters at making do with something else.

    You really can't get something for nothing, when hens get better feed, they lay eggs. If they get too stressed they cut back on the eggs.

    Mrs K
    3 people like this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Just like today, people did different things. Part of that depended on why you had chickens. Part of that depended on where you were, rural or urban, and your climate.

    You had commercial operations where people provided eggs or meat to the market, but that was generally fairly small-scale and local. The big limiting factor was lack of refrigeration, especially lack of refrigerated trucks. Some people bought practically everything these chickens ate or raised a good part of it. I remember seeing an advertisement on here dated from the 1930’s or 40’s, I think it was Imp that posted it, where someone was selling a strain of Delaware chicks that could reach 4 pounds at 10 weeks, but that would require a high-protein diet. They could not do that free ranging and foraging for all their food.

    I can’t speak too much on chickens kept in an urban area because I don’t have that experience, I grew up in the country many decades ago. I saw some small flocks in small town yards and envision them foraging for some of their food, being fed table scraps, and probably getting some supplemental feed. But I did not live that.

    I grew up on a small farm in Appalachia that was a few miles from not much. I’m sure we raised our chickens the same way people had been doing it for thousands of years on small farms. Our chickens totally free ranged. During warm weather months our chickens and beef cows found their own food. We did not feed them a thing. The kitchen scraps went in the slop bucket and were fed to the pigs. The milk cow and the plow horses did get some corn we raised ourselves throughout the year in addition to what they foraged.

    During the winter when the grass was not growing, the cows and horses were fed hay we grew ourselves. The chickens got some shelled corn we raised ourselves but not a lot unless there was snow on the ground. They still could find a lot of forage even in winter. The chickens did scratch around in the cow and horse manure. They got a lot of good partially digested nutrients from that. They also could pick through the areas where we fed hay to get some grass seed (grain).

    We probably had around 25 to 30 hens and one or two roosters. They fed a family of seven plenty of eggs most of the year. We always kept some pullets so we even got some eggs in the winter, but yes the productivity dropped. During the summer we’d take excess eggs to the grocery store and trade those for flour or coffee, things we didn’t raise ourselves.

    The hens hatched the eggs and raised the chicks. We ate practically all the roosters and the hens as they got older to make room for the pullets. We didn’t just limit the butchering to the roosters. That would be a waste.

    We did not have a breed of chickens, they were a pure barnyard mix. It's what I think of as a heritage chicken, not a heritage breed but a heritage chicken. They are different. Every 5 or 6 years Dad would get a dozen chick at the coop, I remember New Hampshire and Dominique, whatever was available, and save one of the roosters and a few pullets to bring in new blood and keep the genetic diversity up. Those chicks were raised in a cardboard box on the back porch with a 60 watt incandescent bulb. They were fed nothing but cornmeal, ground from the corn we raised. Around 3 weeks of age, Dad would release them at the hen house. They were on their own after that. This was during late spring-early summer so it was warm, but they handled their own integration and found their own food and water. They made it on their own.

    This is just one model. I’m sure there were many others. We bought practically nothing for our chickens, food or equipment, just those dozen chicks every few years. What little we fed them, and it was very little because of our climate, we raised ourselves. How efficient can you get, eggs and meat for practically no cost?
  6. kingfrodo

    kingfrodo Chirping

    Nov 22, 2013
    Enterprise, AL
    I totally agree Mrs. K. I am sure Grandma didn't put the "thought" into it that I do. [​IMG]
  7. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chirping

    Jan 2, 2014
    Free ranging, table scraps and following the herbivores around (poo spreading).

  8. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    I can't say for sure how my Great grandfather kept his chickens, but I assume it was something like my Grandfather did only on a smaller scale. His operation was commercial in that he expected them to provide an income. While I was growing up he had from five to six hundred birds. I would say that when he was younger he had more, because I remember my brother keeping rabbits in one old large coop, and there was the wreck of another. My grandfather raised his chicks in a brooder coop. keeping them in until they were six weeks or so. Then he would leave them free range until they started to lay. At that point they were gathered up and kept in the big chicken house that was divided into four pens. The hens were kept divvied by age groups. He fed them about two thirds a commercial feed and one third scratch that was raised on the farm. He used a mix of Leghorns and Rhode Islands from a local hatchery. So from my experience collecting eggs that they laid well enough. He got enough to supply his egg route and ship the surplus to the local egg auction. The neighbors across the road had Bantams that they left free range, just throwing out some scratch for them. How well they laid I can't say, but the hens did raise chicks each year. The neighbors down the road had several coop in a fenced pasture that they let them run in and were fed some commercial feed. So growing up I saw a couple different methods of keeping chickens.
    1 person likes this.

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