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Self-sufficient chickens????

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by TexasChicken12, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. TexasChicken12

    TexasChicken12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is the link...

    http://pinterest.com/pin/436849232579802000/

    I saw this on Pinterest and was fascinated. Is it possible for something like this to work? Could the chickens possibly have all their nutritional needs met in this way? Any help is greatly appreciated!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes it is possible although not in a typical backyard setting. Area required for free-ranging birds. Plant community / forage base appearance will not agree with the typical yard management objectives for monoculture grass cut to be in a specific height range. You also must consider carrying capacity and how that varies seasonally, with weather and location. That used to be our standard approach for rearing gamefowl. You will have to be more than a study of chickens to pull it off.
     
  3. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    agree. you need paddocks, and eliminate grass. Though here in Michigan, in midsummer only, in a mixed ecosystem (woods with litter, plus mixed prairie) with plenty of space they do manage on their own.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I allow some grass but it ideally not the dominant forage plant. Strive for edges / boundaries between plant types and have areas where detritus collects. Take into consideration birds non-nutritional concerns that can impact ranging habits. Also have so you have a mixture of warm and cool season plants.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    A standard model for thousands of years has been for small farmers to keep free range chickens that basically take care of themselves during the good weather months, providing eggs and meat. These chickens are not huge in size and don’t lay double extra huge eggs. They are more lean and athletic because they have to work for a living. They are generally pretty healthy because they develop a strong immune system.

    As mentioned in the other posts, they need a good forage base. These small farms not only provided a variety of different grasses and weeds, these grasses and weed went to seed, so the chickens had those seeds to eat too. They had places to scratch in rotting vegetation, fence rows and woodland edges to forage in, and all kinds of different creepy crawlies to catch and eat. There were normally different farm animals around, horses, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys and who knows what. Chickens really enjoy scratching around in their poop for really nice nutritious treats. They get to act as a flock and hatch and raise their own replacements. I don’t know how life can get any better for a chicken.

    One of the potential downsides to this is predators. The farmer and his dogs had pretty good handle on this but it required eternal vigilance. Potential predators were always on their minds. How do I know? I was raised on one of these farms.

    Very few people on this forum have the quality of forage necessary for chickens to do really well but even part time foraging on limited quality forage is better than nothing in my opinion.

    I’m not sure the guy in that video is telling you all the itsy bitsy details but a lot of what he said makes perfect sense. A lot of people, such as Centrarchid, raise them with some differences in what I described and do it well. There are different models for this. But quality of forage is very important.
     
  6. glib

    glib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    also for thousands of years chickens have been used as high quality pesticides in gardens. the trick is to let them in in Fall only, after harvest, for clean up of weeds, weed seeds, mice, and grubs. They do it very well, though it works best with modern fencing equipment.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    The presence of grazing livestock does help. Cattle and horses can concentrate grain seeds in their feces and all can promote insects. The livestock can also maintain patches of shorter forages more suitable for consumption by chickens. Beware of overgrazing. During winter the shelters used by livestock are also of value to chickens and same area can be very important for rearing chicks in closed / self-sustaining flocks.
     

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