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Suburban small flock management

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrsbos, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 3 six month old EEs who just started laying. We're getting an average of 2 eggs/day. Perfect for my family of 5 with enough eggs to share on occasion. We love our hens as pets (more so every day it seems), but also enjoy the added benefits of pest control and rich chicken poo fertilizer. A flock of three really is ideal for our suburban neighborhood---low profile, as much poop as I can manage, minimal landscape damage and no noise issues (currently it's not even legal to keep chickens in the residential zone I'm in).

    Here's the problem I see in the future. In about 3 years, egg production is going to go way down. I want eggs. So then I'm going to have 3 hens that I love as pets who will probably live another 10 years producing fewer and fewer eggs. The obvious answer would be to get more chickens. That would mean buying a larger coop, dealing with even more chicken poop, and being a little less "low profile" in my neighborhood. Three years after that....same issue. Though I'm currently lobbying to make backyard chickens legal, there would probably be limits on the number of chickens allowed (I'm guessing 3-6). I can totally understand the whole theory of chicken math now. Non-laying hens or infrequently laying hens shouldn't count as a whole chicken right? [​IMG]

    Is it inevitable that 10 years down the road I'll find myself with like 10-15 chickens...or more?
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Haha - ya gotta love chicken math, dontcha?

    Okay, to address your questions, yes it is conceivable that you will end up with more chickens than you originally thought. However keep in mind how natural selection is at work. Chickens are a sought after food source for just about every predator out there. Most people who keep chickens fall victim to predators at some point - its not pleasant, its just a fact. Second, chickens get sick and die just like any other pet. Again, not pleasant but a fact of life. In addition to the usual things - colds, tumors etc., that any living creature can get, chickens are subject to some things most animals are not - sour crop, egg bound and so on. The more chickens you have and the longer you have them, the more chance you will encounter some of these things.

    Beyond that, you have a choice as to whether to let your flock continue to grow or not. Some people approach chicken keeping from the standpoint that they have to earn their keep. Once they are no longer laying, they end up in the stew pot to make room for the younger birds that can still provide eggs. Others feel they are pets and they could never eat their pet. It is completely your decision.

    I am in a similar situation where my numbers are limited by my location. Here we are allowed 5 without a permit and up to 12 with a permit (hens only). I got the permit thinking I'd never actually need to have that many. But somehow I'm pushing that number right now with no plans to cull any until late Fall.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    western South Dakota
    I really like having chickens, as in the whole flock. And of course, I have my favorites, but I am one of those that move them in and out, and as the above post said, way too often the darn coons help, or the hawks, or a dog...

    But I like having hens, and getting eggs. Really culling is not as hard as I thought it would be. With EE's, you might get a broody hen, well there is nothing sweeter than a hen and chicks. As those chicks grow, you know that some of the older birds will have to go, to make room for them. They have had a good life, and it works. As the chicks grow, distance yourself a little bit from the older hens.

    Currently, I have 4 hens going on 2 years old, their egg production slowed during the short days of December, one of those went broody last summer and raised me a nice clutch, I processed the roos, and kept the 3 pullets and one roo. 8 fit nice in my coop/run. The plan is to butcher the three stars, next fall. My BO, is a good hen and she is the questionable one, but if I get her to raise me a flock this summer too, then I should have some pullets, and some laying hens each year. That should keep me in eggs, and a nice young flock.

    Another thing that helps me, is that my older hens get crabby. I think that their bones hurt like mine do in this cold weather. And that makes it easier for me. But the big surprise to me, was that it was much easier than I thought it was going to be.

    And there is something about being competent and able to provide for yourself that is kind of neat. Many people say they can't, and that is their choice. But I like the little flock I have, I like getting new chicks, and I don't really want a huge flock with all the work and expense.

    It works for me.

    MrsK
     
  4. maizey

    maizey Chillin' With My Peeps

    sounds like me.. I have 3 that i am keeping "low profile" as well... and I want to hatch out some of the eggs on these auctions so bad im twitchy! It is inevitable, once the chicken bug bites, they are going to multiply. We are going to move....yes MOVE so I can keep more chickens (not the ONLY reason, but a big one). They make me THAT happy. But I wanted them from the beginning as a food source, both for eggs and one day, chicken and dumplings. I don't think I will enjoy that decision when it comes, but I feel like I have all along been preparing myself for it. If you can mentally prepare for it, its something you can feel good about. You aren't going to find healthier chicken than the one you raise and feed and put on the table with your own two hands and you ensured that it only ever had one bad day. I think thats how it should be, at least for me. In the end, you have to do what you feel is best, and by thinking about it early like you are doing, you will be prepared for whatever you decide.
     
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:This describes my feelings exactly. I don't enjoy processing - it is messy and time consuming and I hate seeing the life go out of them - its so irreversible. But - I want to add new spring chicks every year and am limited on how many I can have total, so I have to make room for them somehow. What I try to focus on is that the chicken meat available at the store comes from birds who led miserable lives and possibly suffered a horrible death. I actually refuse to buy/eat commercial chicken and have for years, to protest the industry. However my chickens - I know the kind of life they lead. They free-range, get the best of food, catch all the bugs they can, eat lots of greenery and table scraps, dust bathe in the sun, get plenty of exercise. And, since we researched processing methods a LOT before we did the first one, they die humanely. In fact, I'm not sure they feel any pain at all because by the time the message is sent to the nerves to feel pain, they are already unconscious. So - I can justify it - but also understand if someone else in a similar situation reaches a different conclusion.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I was just like you, and once I did it, all me and my sister in law, kept saying, it really was not that hard. And as you said, I KNOW what was fed to my chickens, there was NO question as to their health or that they were treated humanely. And home grown chicken is really a better taste!

    If you can't, you can't, but make the decision weeks in advance, a good friend to help you, and really it was not that hard, and you know what you are eating, .....[​IMG] you have to get new chicks!

    I am out in the country, and it worked well for me to have the chicks and layers during the summer, as mine free range quite a bit then, but with the fall, and having to pen them up more to protect them from predators, I have to get back to 8 head. Today, with it so bitter cold, and them soo couped up, I am glad for the happiness of my flock, that I only have the 8.
     
  7. KimM

    KimM Out Of The Brooder

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    If you aren't up to culling them (don't think I could do it, so don't feel bad), you could try giving them away once they reach 2 years old or so. They will still probably lay well after that, so could be useful to someone. If it was me, I don't know I'd probably end up keeping them, getting just a couple more each year so I'd still have some eggs. Because something is bound to happen along the way- we lost 2 of our 12 in the first 6 months- so your flock would stay manageable.
     

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