TICKS! And brand spankin new to chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Phantomfoodie, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. Phantomfoodie

    Phantomfoodie New Egg

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    Hello all! I just joined and though I've raised many animals from horses to snakes to exotic fish, I am brand spankin new to chickens.

    I am interested in possibly raising some chickens this year because our son is just starting to walk and we live in a VERY tick infested area in ME. In order my priorities are tick reduction, not having poop absolutely everywhere ( the toddler will eat it I'm sure),easy to keep/maintain and having some meat.

    We live in a fairly rural area on 3 acres. Our property is mostly cleared but on 3 sides of us there is woods and a creek. The house is set back about 200 feet from a fairly well traveled road. We can see our neighbors but they aren't right on top of us either. I'll try to include a pic below.

    I've heard the Guinea hens are great at controlling ticks but I have some concerns, mainly noise, predation and sanitation. Are Guinea hens the only reasonable option for controlling ticks? I've heard that they are loud. Too loud to have them next to the house at night?

    Is there a reasonable way to balance having the birds free range to control ticks but also keeping them somewhat safe from the hawks, fisher cats, cars, etc? Is there a reasonable way to have them out eating ticks but not hanging out pooping on our porch?

    I guess my biggest question is... what would you do? Would you recommend keeping poultry in this situation? If so, what kind or breed? How many? How would you manage them?

    Any input or advice is greatly appreciated!! TIA
     
  2. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Guinea are considered the best, but that does not mean a chicken won't control the population too. Chickens are great hunters and will eat any grasshopper, tick, or other insect they find. Look for good free ranging breeds like Barr Rock, my personal favorite, but there are many others as well.
    As far as predators are concerned. There is always no matter what you do going to be risk and loss when you free range your birds. There are many ways you can help lower the risk. Some people put up electric fences. This eliminates some of the risk from coyotes, raccoons, weasles, etc. Yes I understand your worry about your child, but as someone who grew up around electric fences and uses them some now, children learn quick. This does not work for us. Instead we rely on dogs. I have two dogs that range the yard. They do not attack my chickens (yes some will you must train them not to)
     
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  3. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The best way to protect your birds is to protect them when they are most vulnerable, at night. A good coop that is shut up every night will protect your birds better then most anything else.
     
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  4. Phantomfoodie

    Phantomfoodie New Egg

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    [​IMG]

    Thats our house in the middle. The long field just to the lower right is ours too.
     
  5. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pretty trees
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome! Very nice place, too. Make sure that you can legally have birds, what kinds, numbers, and roosters, before you start. Guineas are incredibly loud; my neighbors had them, and I never will. Chickens can do good work eating bugs and stuff, also your flowers and garden produce. A safe coop and run are essential, and then free ranging will be fine. My coop is about 200 ft. from the road, and the birds rarely go that way. There's a pasture, and woven wire fencing, which discourages them. You may need some perimeter fencing, and electric is very useful. Chickens were jungle animals, and prefer shrubs and trees to open spaces. Pick breeds that forage, but not too far. I would avoid Sumatras or any that mention good flying and wide ranging behavior. Start with a mixed group, and enjoy! Mary
     
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  7. Monguire

    Monguire Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I personally use this style of fencing for my pasture. Easy setup, easy adjustment, green color blends in with environment making it less visible/obtrusive. I often switch things up so the chickens graze in a rotating circle around the house. When we first moved here, the kids were toddlers and EVERY time they'd come in from playing outside, they'd be COVERED with ticks. Since getting the chickens and letting them "patrol" the property strategically...well, have not seen a SINGLE tick in two years now.

    The swath of insectoid-destruction that is my pasture has just been one of the many side benefits to having chickens. The most natural pesticide known to man also makes me breakfast every morning. I call that a win! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
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  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    We have some muscovy ducks that will patrol the yard and fields to find all types of bugs, only birds I've ever seen that will walk around in the pitch dark hunting bugs. They are very quiet and personable. Guineas can be loud and flighty.
     
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  9. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens will control ticks very well, after letting my flock in my large fenced yard which includes some of the wooded area around the yard, I had very few ticks last summer I think I only picked 2 or 3 off my dogs all year when before having chickens I would likely find 3 or 4 day on the dogs at the height of tick season. As far as the mess goes that will depend on how many chickens you have, if you don't have your coop right near the house I shouldn't think they would have reason to hang out and crap all over your porch though they may figure out that you always come and go from that door when you feed them and start hanging around, I suggest not throwing them treats off the deck and encouraging them to be off finding their own food. Keep their feed and scratch near their coop area
     
  10. Phantomfoodie

    Phantomfoodie New Egg

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    Thank you all for the great info!!

    Electric fencing doesn't scare me at all. I have many fond childhood memories involving dares and electric fence. However, I'm not really interested in fencing. Would you say that fencing the property or a portion of the property is necessary?

    We do have 2 large dogs but both are older and neither has lived with chickens. Both are very maternal with baby animals, even ones much smaller than chicks so I'm hoping we'll introduce them early and there will be no chasing. They might spend part of the day out with the birds but I wouldn't have them out when I wasn't home. We have a local dog snatcher.

    As far as a coop, I've heard that meat birds don't necessarily need an actual coop. That they need a space safe from predators that provides a good wind and rain break. Would it be feasible to use a 6x10 chain link dog kennel coated in chicken wire and partially covered with plywood and or tarps? Just trying to understand exactly whats needed so I can avoid purchasing unnecessary stuff while keeping the birds happy.

    We do have local restriction on chickens (6 birds, no roosters, must be fenced in, etc) but clearly nobody follows them. I am surrounded by farms. I can think of 4 neighbors with roosters and a dozen more whose flocks of more than 6 wander where they please. I'm not too worried about it but thank you for mentioning that!

    That poultry netting looks nice but is waaayyy out of our price range I think. I'm really hoping to stay under $500. I was considering doing a pasture rotation but the ticks are so thick I wonder if they would just pop back up wherever the chickens weren't. Its good to hear this worked well for you!

    Would ducks be a better option for tick control? Are they easier or harder to care for? I had ducks and geese years ago but was living in a very different place.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016

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