Reflections on one year of backyard chicken raising

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by matimeo, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    So it has now been a year since we began the great eggsperiment and I pause to share my insights with anyone who cares to listen. We had chickens growing up, but we also had more land and they had their designated space far from the house. I consider this completely different.

    We have been letting our four backyard chickens free range dusk to dawn in our small-medium size back yard. I'll start with the biggest problems we've experienced:

    1. Chickens are NOISY! The egg songs make me cringe wondering what the neighbors think but it's nothing compared to how much noise they make when they want out of the coop/run in the morning and we want to sleep in (as did the neighbors I imagine). Blacking out the coop worked for a while, but they got more persistent as time went by. Next coop is going to have an automatic door. Only is a problem in the summer.
    2. Chickens poop on EVERYTHING! My kids are sick of having the weekly job to pick it all up. We finally concluded that they're going to have to be banished to their own corner of the yard. It is too nasty to let the kids play back there.
    3. If you don't clip their wings they'll eventually roam into the neighbor's yard in spite of the six foot fence. After clipping they can't get over four feet.
    4. Coops are disgusting. My next coop will have a wire bottom with big enough holes to let the poop fall through so I can just let it compost below the coop. Since I live in a moderate (albeit wet) climate, they don't need a coop to be in other than to sleep, so this coop is only going to be for sleeping- nothing else. My goal is to have my only maintenance be collecting eggs, filling the feeding every couple of weeks and the waterer every month or so.
    5. They destroy everything we try to grow. They completely destroyed the strawberry patch, eat all of the blueberries before they're ripe, rip the branches off the raspberries to get to the berries etc. etc. They dig up grass, make potholes in the yard, etc.

    OK that was kind of negative but I think with the auto door, fencing them into their own area and clipping their wings it solves most of those problems. Oh yeah, and a new coop, even though the old coop is pretty cool. Now to the positive:

    1. The eggs are amazing!
    2. Kids get to learn about chickens and responsibility
    3. They eat SLUGS! and bugs.
    4. I haven't had to mow the lawn as much.
    5. They are relatively low maintenance compared to other pets that don't lay eggs.
    6. Poop is good fertilizer- although I still can't get anything to grow.
    7. Did I mention the eggs are great?

    I'll post some pictures later of what our yard looks like after a year of chickenzilla.
     
  2. McKenley5

    McKenley5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2011
    Quote:[​IMG]

    That is cracking me up! Thank you for sharing your expereinces from the 1st year. We got our chicks in April, so we still have a LOT to learn!
     
  3. LeelooD

    LeelooD Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2011
    NW Florida
    They are poopy, that's for sure. They haven't gone too far with the free ranging yet so they have only eaten weeds and grass. Mine have been pretty quiet so far, but that could change soon since someone pawned off a cockerel on me as a pullet. That's been my worst chicken experience so far and it's only been six weeks! [​IMG]
     
  4. sixty7x

    sixty7x Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 12, 2010
    Warwick RI
    2. Chickens poop on EVERYTHING! My kids are sick of having the weekly job to pick it all up. We finally concluded that they're going to have to be banished to their own corner of the yard. It is too nasty to let the kids play back there.

    [​IMG] I know this is going to sound bad, but when we let our chickens out to roam our 2 little bostons don't mind picking up after them. I can only assume it "tastes like chicken"?![​IMG].​
     
  5. copperpot

    copperpot Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Pennsylvania
    I have bichons that think chicken poo is a delicacy. [​IMG]

    My chickens are eating my plants too. They don't seem to like rhododendrons or azaleas though which is what I mostly have around the house. We are just now starting to get eggs from our pullets. I have over 5 acres they have a lot of room to roam but I also have ducks and guineas (to eat the bugs and deer ticks) so we do have a LOT of noise.

    Thanks for the post on your 1 year reflections!

    ___________________________________________________
    3 Light Brahmas, 3 Red Sex-links, 3 Tetra-tints, 3 Brown Leghorns, 4 Khaki Campbells, 1 Mystery duck and her duckling, 4 Guineas.
     
  6. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    Quote:[​IMG] I know this is going to sound bad, but when we let our chickens out to roam our 2 little bostons don't mind picking up after them. I can only assume it "tastes like chicken"?![​IMG].

    If you think chickens are bad then NEVER BUY/OBTAIN DUCKS!!!!
     
  7. savingpurple

    savingpurple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Ohio
    Thanks for your post. I am almost 5 months into mine, and have not regretted it. Some days I would rather spend my time with the chickens than the customers and employees at work.

    Mine are not free range due to too many air predators. I am enjoying them, and will keep them, but am not sure if we will get more after these or not. Depends on the situation in this country!

    I got them for eggs, but no to eat them when they quit, my husband expects this....[​IMG]
     
  8. matimeo

    matimeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2010
    Oregon
    Here are some pictures of their handiwork:

    [​IMG]
    Poop on the patio

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This used to be our strawberry patch until it was converted into a dust bath

    [​IMG]
    Digging around the roots of plants until the plant falls over

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Various excavation jobs on the lawn

    [​IMG]
    Their new quarantine- I imagine it will only be a matter of days before they strip it bare.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  9. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Yup, that's what chickens do to yards and porches, all right.

    Their personalities and antics, thus far, have greatly over-compensated for the moonscape they've made of my yard, the pots which used to hold plants but are now individual dust bath spas, and the poop on the back porch.

    Oh, and the eggs are quite a bonus, too. But best of all, greatly diminished bug population!
     
  10. ailurophile23

    ailurophile23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 21, 2010
    VA
    Thanks for sharing this. And yes, chickens are true artists when it comes to chicken-scaping an area - we have moon craters all over their area. Sounds like fencing will be your friend - I've had 12 chickens for just over a year now too and they have their coop, their completely enclosed run to which they have access all day, and their fenced area (no top protection, just a 6 foot fence) which they get to run around in when we are home. Their completely enclosed run is dirt and dust holes and is going to get a remake with sand. Their open-top fenced area is much larger and has faired better - still has grass and weeds though it has it's share of chicken-scaping too - mostly dust bath pits but the gravel edge has also been scattered about three times its original width. By confining the chickens with fencing, we have defintiely confined the poop and now we can just hope for rain or hose down the fenced area to help the poop disintegrate. As for the coop and run, I take 10 minutes a day and scoop each one - I use a dog pooper scooper (flat "shovel" with a small "rake") for the run and a kitty litter scoop and bucket for the coop. This all goes into the compost pile (away from the house and the coop and the barns) and becomes lovely food for the garden in a few months. In that 10 minutes, I also do a quick check on their food and water and top them off as needed. That's all it takes to keep their area clean and not smelly and nicer for all involved. Good luck adjusting your set-up more to your liking and I hope your second year is even better than the first!
     

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