Old Fashioned, Common Sense Chicken Keeping.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bobbi-j, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

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    On the MN prairie.
    How many people still keep their flocks the old fashioned way? Keeping them outside in coops, (with or without runs), free ranging, feeding them kitchen scraps, etc? My chickens are housed outside from the day I get them if bought or shipped, and within a week if I hatch them here. I have progressed from a heat lamp to MHP, but don't have monitors or video cameras in my coop. I did put electric fence around my run after a mink attack this summer.

    How about when you have a sick or "special needs" chicken? I usually cull. I want to keep my flock strong and healthy.

    So, how do you all raise your chickens?
     
  2. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Sing Brightly

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    Following this thread, I hope it gathers some good information. I'll post more details on my flock raising tomorrow along with information I have been given.
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

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    Looking forward to it!
     
  4. Perris

    Perris Songster

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    I do; on a learning curve with chicks since Aug 10 :jumpy
    Yesterday's lesson was 'don't give up looking if one's gone missing': it was apparent one was missing after someone had been round with a strimmer and mower in the area where the broody and her chicks had been having their foraging lesson. I guessed it was either annihilated by the strimmer or panicked into running somewhere other than where mum was, so looked round the whole area, finding nothing. After a while I did another circuit (their usual roosting time was approaching, broody was by the coop and apparently was focused entirely on the present not the absent) and heard a repeated loud single call (not a regular chick cheep), but whenever I got close to where it seemed to be coming from, it stopped. When it started again I finally caught sight of it on the branch of a cedar about my chest height :wee - I'd been looking at ground level since they're only 3 weeks old - but it clearly didn't see me as a rescuer :rolleyes:. I grabbed a bag of food and tried to get the broody come get it but she was staying near the coop :barnie. So I lured the rest of the flock with food until they arrived at the cedar; the pullet at the bottom of the pecking order saw her opportunity of course but :celebrate the cockerel stepped in to protect the chick.
    It took three attempts to get the chick back to the coop; on the first it dived into a hedge about half way there and then ran back towards the cedar :th; on the second it got within sight of the coop and then ran away again; it didn't help that the broody was invisible in the bushes nearby, so I went and drove her out into the open - she finally started co-operating with the rescue :yesss:; and on the third attempt the lost chick followed one of the other hens to a spot in sight of the coop and mum. That hen did seem to be consciously helping, because the rest of the flock stayed by the cedar while she headed home with the chick in tow. A bit more calling and chick and mum were reunited, just in time for bed :highfive:.
    Such are the highs and lows of free-ranging the old fashioned way.
     
  5. RWise

    RWise Songster

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    I free range my birds all day, there is no feed in the coop/s, or in pans about. New hatch chicks go to the brood house at 2-3 days old, where they can visit the hens, but not be touched. Here they stay until 5 weeks old when they are moved at night to the main coop.
    IF I get a broody, I often let them set, in an area that the others can only visit but not touch. When the chicks hatch, I open the door and she will take them out into the flock at 2-3 days old, and to the roost at about 4 weeks old and at about 5 weeks old start telling them they are chickens go scratch.
    But my main thing is not eggs, they are here to eat bugs. I had a tick issue and dont like poisons. The tick issue is now gone.
    Kitchen scrapes, yes, whatever the dogs dont eat first!
     
  6. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    How much detail would you like...10 pages?:lau
    I'll join in later.
     
  7. Rysktal

    Rysktal Songster

    I'm doing my best to get to simple chicken raising. Like someone said, there is a big learning curve!
     
    snow5164, EggWalrus, alexa009 and 2 others like this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    My Coop
    Well, I don't free range, but my birds are food-not pets, I think that qualifies as 'old fashioned'.

    They live outside within a week of hatching with a heat plate and are integrated into the flock by 4-6 weeks. My coop is not cute, but functional-which is beautiful to me. Every years I slaughter (or sell) and eat all the extra cockerels that hatch and older hens to keep my population matched well with the available coop/run space I have-which is way bigger than 'factory farms' regulations and the main reason that I 'grow my own' eggs and chicken meat. Sick birds are euthanized, not given meds. Herbs and spices are reserved for when they get cooked to eat.

    The 'pet' chicken thing really sticks in my 'craw'.
    Accepted, pffft, encouraged/applauded 'chicken math' is an abomination, IMO.
    Tiny 'dollhouse' (or 'easy bake oven') coops stuffed with way too many birds, SMH.
    Obliviousness to chicken biology, which is trumped by misplaced 'love'.
    It's a darn(wants to use a different, much stronger, expletive) shame that the backyard chicken fad has changed from a 'grow your own real food' into an anthropomorphic pet craze. I's better stop there. Thank you @bobbi-j, for starting this thread...hope I haven't gone too far sideways on ya.
     
  9. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    My Coop
    Free range. They're let out before the sun hits their coops and get shut back in at dusk.
    They have virtually unlimited freedom to roam. They tend to use about 4 acres.
    Multiple coops. Each coop houses 4 to 6 chickens with a rooster for each group.
    All the coops are movable so parasite build up and attention from rats etc can be reduced.
    All the sitting and hatching is done by hens in a coop, or in one of the mini coops I have for broody hens. The chicks mix with the rest when mum lets them.
    I never buy in chickens and I don't use an incubator.
    Chicken population varies from 20 to 30.
    All the chickens choose where they live. I usually have spare space.
    Some like to roost up trees. I try to discourage this but I've had them roosting in trees for a while before.
    I feed them commercially produced food in the morning.
    I don't leave food down during the day.
    They eat whatever they can find during the day.
    They get treats fed by hand, usually walnuts which grow here.
    They get commercially produced food late afternoon.
    They get something special in the evenings. I've found this the easiest way to get the little ******** out of the trees.
    I do doctor the sick.
    I do eat their eggs.
    I do slaughter the occasional chicken if the predators have left me any.
     
  10. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Sing Brightly

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    My chicken keeping style has changed much over the 4--5 years I've had them. What follows after the background story is as I currently keep them, and yes, if you look back at my old posts you'll find me trying to doctor up a gravely injured extra cockerel. I gave that up pretty quick.

    I got my start in raising chickens from a neighbour getting out of them. I bought her coop, flock, and supplies lock, stock and barrel. There were about 45 hens, a few roosters, and a 12 x 14 coop that was in such bad shape that when we towed it the back wall shattered off. I replaced it quickly. At that point, I hadn't even heard of BYC, so I went with what my neighbour told me which was pretty simple. Layer feed, fresh water, kitchen scraps, chick starter for chicks, free range, and close up at night. She didn't say anything about culling birds, though, so I'll admit now that I have let several suffer too long when I didn't think what to do better.

    The first time I saw BYC was in 2014 when I was looking up answers to my questions on a broody hen with 30 infertile eggs under her. After I did get around to joining this site in 2015, I definitely tended towards the pet side. I thought they were a tad crazy for their complicated feeding rules and whatnot, but I didn't question it and figured that was what "enlightened chicken keepers" did. I tried fermented feed, and the birds loved it, but it was just too labour intensive for me. Especially when it's winter and you have to keep all your birds full in highs of 0*F. I am NOT going out there three times daily and making sure even the ones that hibernate on the roosts get their food. So, layer pellets it was. I never really tried to limit kitchen scraps, because I didn't and still don't have any idea what 10% of their total feed looks like. I stopped feeding their eggs back to them after I read it can cause egg eating. Spoiler alert: it doesn't. I can crack a dozen eggs in front of them and then show them an uncracked one... they'll bill it a few times and lose interest. I feed the shells back to them too, the ducks especially think they're delicious, and that way I don't have to chuck them into the woods to rot.

    Things proceeded at about that speed until spring 2016, when I finally started figuring out that the way I kept chickens before worked better for me and gave equal results with less work on my part. At that time my birds had to be confined to a run, which was not my choice at all and only because I was having regular dog visits from an uncaring neighbour. I hated the bare dirt runs that were all I had ever seen, and discovered putting leaves, branches, and old shavings in there to keep it from going nasty. I thought I had really hit on something... then I found out it had a name. :gig I kept the DLM going in my run until that neighbour moved out and took his 15+ nasty mutts along with him. Then I closed the back door permanently and let them all out to free range. Bird morale skyrocketed, and so did their health. I had been having stubborn lice issues, and free range reduced re-infection rates considerably. At the time of this post, it has been coming up on a year without a single louse spotted on my birds.

    In 2017, I demolished the old coop and built another after roof, floor, and predator issues that I couldn't fix no matter how many holes I patched. It was in seriously bad shape, and when I took the linoleum off the floor the plywood underneath as well as the first floor layer (flat boards nailed down... they were a pain to clean and there were holes everywhere from when some steers escaped and got in the coop) just crumbled and you couldn't walk on it without falling through. That was a close one, eh?
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    My new coop could probably be described as fancy. It's a 12 x 12 with a hay loft/storage area. I don't do DLM in it, but rather replace shavings 4x per year, maybe 3. I would love to use deep litter, and was going to try again after advice from some good people, but I have still come to the conclusion that it's just not working for me in this climate. The amount of moisture that builds is okay if you live in a warm climate, but when you can have two weeks of weather where the highs don't scrape 0*F, anything but bone dry litter freezes solid and turns into a minefield of poop rocks. I've been told that 'it works' in northern climates if you do it right, but none of the people that told me that live where I do, so I'm doubtful. I have electric fence around the coop because of bear issues. Going without that wouldn't be old fashioned---it would be stupid. Even my neighbour that's been raising birds for 80 years and doesn't coddle them at all has electric around his coop.

    Ventilation is another thing I had to do my own way. They say as long as you don't have drafts, you need lots of ventilation. To a degree, I agree. But I found that when I left the windows uncovered, they still got bad frostbite. When I covered them, boom, frostbite stopped. My personal gauge is whether it smells bad in there. If it does, it needs more air. As food for thought: my friend has about 8 chickens in a smallish coop. She covers every single window and crack with plastic in the winter. Said plastic gets frost all over it, and the bedding freezes solid. Despite all that, not even her Leghorns get frostbite. That flies in the face of every recommendation on here. Am I suggesting you do that? No. I don't do it that way either, I think that fresh air for their lungs is more important than stuffy air for their comb. I'm just saying that sometimes what works isn't what's recommended. As a side note, winter weather doesn't get above freezing for months, so there's no opportunity for frozen moisture to make everything soggy. Once it's warm enough for freeze-thaw cycles, I take plastic off.

    A very wise member that used to be on here called Beekissed gave me some of the most useful information I have ever received. I'll copy it into a spoiler below, because it's long. That woman has the healthiest, most productive flock I believe I have ever clapped eyes on.
    Not really....there's not much about holistic poultry care out there and what there is is hidden deep among many old books, articles, etc. and most is taken from what is good for other livestock and even humans, then applying it to chickens to see if it works there too. It can takes years upon years to slowly amass an idea of what constitutes holistic care for animals, especially when you have to sort through all the misinformation in order to get at the kernels of truth buried here and there.

    Some of the information is just common sense stuff that has been passed down through generations of farmers, back before the USDA got its bony fingers onto agriculture here in the US and advised all the farmers to rely more heavily on chemicals to keep crops and animals "healthy" and producing.

    The truths I've found to be consistently dependable down through the years is that chickens need a few things on a consistent basis in order to remain healthy living in a flock.

    Clean soil on which to live. Think about any creature, pooping over and over again on the same ground underneath their feet and how unsanitary that becomes over the years. But, invariably, folks will insist that keeping chickens in a coop and run situation is healthy for them because "I clean my coop and run all the time". It's impossible to remove all fecal matter left behind, no matter how one tries, so years of build up in the soil of highly nitrogenous manure on soils that are so compacted by the feet of the chickens, leaves a soil that is ripe for growing and harboring harmful bacteria.

    Low stocking rates for free range situations is key....if there are barren areas in the range caused by the chickens, the stocking rate is far too high for the birds it has to support. For those who just have to keep a chicken in a coop and run situation, one can only resort to a system that will help loosen the soil, will digest the nitrogen by combining it with enough carbonaceous materials, and is sustainable over time. The only system I know of that can do that is a composting deep litter in the coop and run....if the coop is too small, then the run will have to suffice. While not optimal...free range on clean soils is optimal, it's better than the typical soil found in chicken runs.

    Fresh air in all seasons. Too small of coops that cannot be properly aired in the winter months are a perfect place for disease transmission and they also contribute to the birds becoming chilled due to high humidity caused by high stocking rates and small ventilation solutions, so the combination can mean that a flock is under constant attack both winter and summer from the lack of good airflow where they sleep and spend a lot of their time. Cold is not what causes illness, be it in beast or man, it's the transmission of pathogens when the body is already under stress from the weather. Fresh air cuts down on the transmission of pathogens.

    Sunlight and plenty of it. Dark coops, covered runs, no chance at full sunlight in either place throughout the seasons. The sun creates health in many ways~Vit. D production, which is essential for good immune system health, sunlight can prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and molds, the ultraviolet rays can kill bacteria on the skin and feathers of the chicken...one reason they don't just lie down in the sun but they also spread their wings and stretch out one leg, it also helps to rid them of external parasites.

    Good dusting areas. Essential to have these areas in all seasons, they need them for cleansing their feathers and skin, protect their skin from biting bugs, and also to desiccate parasites and their eggs. They also seem to peck at and eat things in the dust while dusting....I'm not sure what or why, but it seems to be part of the ritual, so must be important. What seems to work best for dusting is pure old dust...not sand, not wood ashes, not compost, or any combination of these things, just dust..a very fine material of mostly clay particles, very fine sand particles, etc.....whatever it is, it needs to be ultra fine so as to penetrate the feathers and cling to the skin well. (For your current problem with external parasites, pyrethrin powder can be found at most garden centers and is safe to use on animals...it's all natural and very effective. Dust the birds thoroughly, then dust the roosts and nest boxes, but not the bedding or run...you'll want to keep some of the more helpful bugs there. )

    A nutritious and varied diet. The best diet is, of course, what they can forage and find for themselves out on pasture and in the woods. If this cannot be offered, then attempts to mimic that in their environment is worth the effort~grow frames, bug harbors, fresh feed with a few whole grains mixed in, vegetables and fruits, etc. A person can do the foraging for the birds by advertising for free apples in the fall, asking at roadside stands for their blemished vegetables, gathering up pumpkins and squash that people use for decorating in the fall(not only nutritious but also the seeds are an anthelmintic), providing good alfalfa hay free choice(just leave the bale where they can pick at it on their own), providing clumps of soil with saw grass intact so they can pick their own vermifuge, etc. It's worth the effort made to give the chickens as varied a diet as they can get.

    Quality grit. Usually a free range flock can find their own grit but you can also provide some free choice as well every now and again, especially if your range doesn't have a good selection of the right type of material. I've never been impressed with the grit mixes sold for poultry...it just doesn't look anything like what I find in their gizzards when they can choose for themselves. The most prevalent type of rock I see them choose for themselves is quartz. Lowe's has a small bag of this, cleaned and ready for fish tanks and the like, for less money than the grit sold at TSC and it will go farther due to being all quartz.

    The right stock. Choose breeds and sources that are known for hardiness. Doing anything otherwise is just shooting yourself in the foot. Start with something good and work to make it better instead of starting with sick, genetically poor breeds or birds and then trying to fix them. Sick roosters alongside the road? Shouldn't even cross your mind to bring them home...if you feel sorry for them, kill them right there and put them out of their misery. No amount of quarantine will fix that situation...you are starting out with birds that are prone to contracting disease, so they will continue to be prone to that very thing. Just like there are people in this world who catch everything coming and going, there are chickens in this world that do the same....avoid keeping such as these. If they look healthy when you buy them but show signs of any illness within a few weeks of your having them, just kill them and get it over with. You don't need that on your soils, in your housing nor in your flocks. Oh, you could give them medicine and "fix" them right up....until the next time a pathogen needs a place to land and they get sick again. Not worth it.

    A determined attitude towards health. A chicken's health is not just what you can see...most of their health lies beneath what you can see, on a cellular level. A good immune system, with a good store of varied antibodies, one that is quick to react to environmental threats to the bird's system, is essential. Some of this is genetic but equal parts are from good gut health, a good start in life, a healthy environment as described in the list above, and exposure to the various pathogens in their environment early and often.

    If you build their health like one would build a good house, you need never fear exposure to a new chicken in the flock, wild birds, extreme weather, etc. If you plan for good health, you're more likely to get it. If you plan for various illnesses, you are more likely to get those too. Think of those people who raise their children in a bubble, germophobic women who rush the kid to the doctor with each sniffle and bathe them in alcohol hand sanitizer every other second of the day. They usually have the sickliest kids. They are usually the sickliest people too. Medicines and sanitizing all surfaces is not the way to build a healthy immune system, rather it's the way to break one down and make it defenseless.

    Toss out all the meds and chemical dewormers and plan for good health in your flock. Resist the urge to medicate...that's a crutch, a bandaid, not a cure or a fix. For steady, sure and consistent health in your flocks, you'll have to build from the bottom up and depend on good flock management methods to see you through...and they will if you just stick with them.

    The consistent and judicious cull. Set your mind to the fact that chickens will die. Your chickens will all die. Each and every single chicken will eventually die and there's no getting around that fact. Now that you know that, you need to know that you have the power to choose the manner of their dying in most cases. Being able to choose when they die and which birds will die, is one of the most invaluable tools in your box for a healthy flock.

    Out in the wild the various herds and flocks are kept healthier by the predators that choose the old, the sick, the deformed, crippled, injured animals. This is a good system and has worked since time began and it will work for you too. You get to be the predator that will insure the health of your flock down through the years.

    Deliberately culling once or twice per year will help you eliminate the animals most likely to carry heavy parasite loads and disease. In chickens it's fairly easy, as you can automatically cull those hens no longer laying a regular cycle...this is one group of potential parasite and disease carriers. Killing them while they are still healthy and before they suffer from an aged reproductive system failure, cancer, fatty liver disease, etc. will remove all chances they will suffer before dying. Kill any birds that don't have good conditioning and fail to thrive on the same regimen as the other birds.....if all the other birds are healthy on it and this one bird is not, it's a bird problem, not a flock management problem. Take it out of the flock.

    Breed your own replacement layers from your healthy stock as much as possible. Cull each year for the best of the best, in spring and also in the fall, taking only the healthiest birds through the winter.

    These are just some very basic ways of making great gains in flock health....there are many more~ from starting out chicks properly, developing the proper ventilation and coop environment, developing pasture, providing natural anthelmintics, to fermenting the feed~ that can vastly improve the health potential of your flocks down through the years.

    One very basic rule...if you want to learn how to keep a flock healthy, don't ask those who will advise you on what medicines to use. These are not people with healthy flocks, these are people who are very experienced in various methods of trying to FIX the ill health of a flock, which apparently doesn't work if they've done it so often. Better to ask those who have never had an illness in their flocks. Hope this helps!!!
    "Set your mind to the fact that chickens will die. Your chickens will all die. Each and every single chicken will eventually die and there's no getting around that fact. Now that you know that, you need to know that you have the power to choose the manner of their dying in most cases. Being able to choose when they die and which birds will die, is one of the most invaluable tools in your box for a healthy flock." This particular quote is the reason I started culling and butchering my own birds. I can't tell you how much it helped me.

    My current policy on sick/injured birds depends on the reason. I culled two otherwise perfectly good Ameraucana pullets recently because they had horrible runny noses. If it's something that is the bird's fault, such as proclivity to worms, lice, or other illnesses, I will cull for it. If it's something situational such as bumblefoot, dog attacks, or frostbite, I will treat if it's not too bad or recurring. By treat, I mean feed, keep away from things that would like to finish eating it, and keep the wound clean. Some predator attacks are the bird's fault, so if I have a hen that's being an idiot and wandering around in the open grass when the hawks are on the move I'm not going to fix her up so she can go be stupid again. It also depends which bird has an issue. My bantams are more likely to get patched up than the 3-y/o layers that are two steps away from soup anyway. Coccidiosis is something I treat too, because sometimes their living situations are less than ideal due to mud or having to stay in the coop all winter, but I shy away from hatching from any bird that has needed said treatment. One exception is a fantastically cold hardy bantam that is healthy as a horse now but just couldn't take it when she was younger. That was my fault; I shouldn't have hatched so late in the year. Winter doesn't do little guys any favours. One thing I always cull for (at least so far) is eye infections. I'm not messing around with antibiotics and pus removal... yuck. As a whole, I think my birds are healthy. I don't have to cull very often, maybe a few times per year at most. I'm going to be doing more of it next year, because the variety of Ameraucana I am working with has poor breeding behind it at best and needs lots of chicken dinners to bring it back up to a health standard. Yes, I could cull them all and go get Leghorns, but I would like to work with this variety and help it. As for wormers---I'm still undecided. I haven't used one in a long time, and I do think any bird pooping out worms should probably be culled. I think there was some figure somewhere that said that 20% of the herd holds 80% of the worms. No reason to keep fixing up that 20%; they'll just get the 80% wormy too.

    My ducks (x7) will get more help in the medical department if they need it than the quail or chickens do. I've even given a duck a round of antibiotics for a particularly nasty case of bumblefoot. Except for that, they stay healthy on their own, though, and I think the aforementioned bumblefoot is the only issue I've ever had with them. They could easily be used as birds for production-only if I felt like it. I haven't intentionally given chickens antibiotics, ever, except for when I gave them wormer three years ago and didn't know it was an antibiotic too. I don't breed from my ducks or expect anything from them. They are my freeloaders; the chickens are expected to pull their weight.

    My purpose for my flock varies with the 'groups'. The ducks are ornamental, but they happen to lay quite liberally so they're pets with benefits. I will keep them as long as they have quality of life. I don't know that I'll get more when these die, except maybe one or two. They are lots of work, but they make me smile, and they are fantastic at bug patrol. They go under the grass instead of picking off the top. The quail are another 'because I can' thing. I have 9 right now. They eat barely anything, and I sell their eggs sometimes. I think they're pretty to just have around. The chickens are for practicality. They are expected to lay eggs at least a few times a week all summer, hold their own outside with hawks constantly watching, be good mothers but not insanely broody, get along in confinement so they don't eat each other alive in winter, forage for a good bit of their food, and be tolerant of basic handling. Some of them fail on the last one, lol. Checking bands is an ordeal, to say the least. I also want tough feathering in the hens so that rooster wear doesn't make them bare backed. I am working on breeding to the SOP too, but health and practicality comes first. Roosters have an even tougher standard to live up to: they must put the hens first, be alert to warn them of low-flying hawks, not be aggressive towards humans, not fight excessively with other males, not overmate the hens, break up fights, and look gorgeous while doing it. I've only ever found one male that's almost perfect, and he's, guess what, a Silkie. Yup, I was shocked too, but he has bought himself a ticket out of the soup pot as long as he keeps being incredible. I don't like Silkies so the fact I've kept him for even just three years is a real testament to how great he is.

    Now for feeding: I get that there's real science behind the idea of feeding only all flock with oyster shell on the side, but I just can't afford that. It's several dollars per bag more expensive. I feed my birds the cheapest layer I can find, supplemented with all stock grain in summer (because it's $8 a bag instead of $11) and as many scraps as I have available. Sometimes that's only broccoli stems and a few soggy cheerios, sometimes that's a whole crate of stale bread from the bakery. They don't gorge themselves on it, believe it or not, and they aren't overweight or dropping dead from malnutrition. I put food items in bowls or spread it on the ground to make it more likely that the chicks get some of it. As proof of how horrible and mean I am for feeding my birds junk, I will show you a picture of my poor malnutritioned rooster. Can't you just see how sick he is?
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    He was almost 4 lbs dressed, I think, when I processed him this spring. He was a good rooster... nice and wide in the back, and gorgeous in feathering. Only problem was I had plenty of other good roosters to choose from, and he got the short end of the stick.

    Replacements for my flock are procured by an incubator most times, which is decidedly not old fashioned. Broody hens are more trouble than they're worth for me, plus I like watching them hatch in an incubator. If they go broody in the nest box, I'm constantly having to pull eggs out from under her that got laid after the fact. I also have to lift them down when they hatch, which is a pain. If she isn't in the nesting box and making those two issues, then she's in separate housing and making yet more mess for me to clean and refill. Maybe if I had a better flock setup. They are definitely easier than hand raising once the chicks are hatched and a week or two old. Young birds are reared in the basement for the first bit, until they annoy me enough that I am motivated to drag them out. I use a MHP on chickens and a light on quail and ducks. Once I build the add-on I'm envisioning, all chicks will be outside from a few days old.

    Integration is never something I've worried about. Once they're mostly feathered, I let them out of their pens (which are in the main flock's free range area) while I'm in the area doing chores, and then close them up when I leave. By the time they're a month and a half old, they're sleeping with the big chickens and eating regular food.

    So, in conclusion, I don't know that I'd call my chicken raising 'old fashioned', but I certainly enjoy the more practical approach to keeping a flock, & I'm working towards an end goal of the most healthy, productive, solid birds I can get. I don't keep 'special needs' birds, I don't repeatedly doctor up sickies, and I rarely keep birds past their useful years. The occasional one earns pet status, i.e. a ticket to stay around even when not laying, but even those will be culled if needed. I try to apply common sense to every situation, but I'm not perfect, lol.

    I'll edit more in later, but I need to get busy so I won't make you suffer through more for now. :caf
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018

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