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Posted: 7/24/2013 11:36:14 AM EST
The thread on racist chickens reminded me to ask ya'll something. I live in a suburb, with about a 1/4 acre of land. (large backyard, house built in 50's when they believed in space and freedom and not mutli-unit dwellings with no yard). Anyways, normally you can't have farm animals in my city, with the exception of hens so long as they are kept 6 ft from neighboring fences. No problem in my yard. My wife really wants a few, but I know I will get stuck caring for them.

My question is, are they a pain in the ass? How often is cleaning a chicken coup required for say 2 or 3? How many years will they lay eggs? And are they good eating after the eggs are all laid? Do they live in the chicken coup or are they supposed to have access out of it to roam? When roaming, how do I keep predetors away? We have hawks everywhere, racoons, possums and cats that I know will eat them. And finally, about how much does it cost to feed and maintain these flightless birdies a month, each?

Thanks!
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:40:56 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/24/2013 11:42:25 AM EST by medicmandan]
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:42:10 AM EST
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:42:30 AM EST
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Originally Posted By medicmandan:

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Originally Posted By medicmandan:
Originally Posted By BubbaDog81:
The thread on racist chickens reminded me to ask ya'll something. I live in a suburb, with about a 1/4 acre of land. (large backyard, house built in 50's when they believed in space and freedom and not mutli-unit dwellings with no yard). Anyways, normally you can't have farm animals in my city, with the exception of hens so long as they are kept 6 ft from neighboring fences. No problem in my yard. My wife really wants a few, but I know I will get stuck caring for them.

My question is, are they a pain in the ass? My 8 require very little upkeep. Fill the feeder every couple of weeks, change/refill the water once a week.

How often is cleaning a chicken coup required for say 2 or 3? I clean my coop out once a month (8x6). I have an attached run that also gets cleaned out once a month. It never smells unless it's been really wet and the crap doesn't have a chance to dry.

How many years will they lay eggs? Most breeds taper off after 18-24 months of laying.

And are they good eating after the eggs are all laid? Depends on the breed. Someone are primarily for egg laying so they don't put on a lot of meat.

Do they live in the chicken coup or are they supposed to have access out of it to roam? Mine live in the coop and attached 10x8 run. They do not free range in the back yard. I'm also on .25 acres.

When roaming, how do I keep predetors away? We have hawks everywhere, racoons, possums and cats that I know will eat them.

And finally, about how much does it cost to feed and maintain these flightless birdies a month, each? Our eat all of our leftovers. I buy a $18 bag of feed every 6-8 weeks.

Thanks!



Awesome info! Thanks! Do you have any predator problems. If so, how do you deal with it?
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:43:51 AM EST
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:44:33 AM EST
SSS
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:44:46 AM EST
GO to backyardchickens.com everything you ever wanted to know about keeping chickens.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:45:26 AM EST
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:49:13 AM EST
Chickens are very easy and cheap to keep.

We keep a bunch in several coops. They (usually) all put themselves to bed at night in the coops and I just close the doors. During the day, they roam around. As for predators, roosters are pretty good about sacrificing themselves to the passing fox to let the hens get away... but if you can't keep a rooster, then you'll have to figure out something else for security.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:55:14 AM EST
I have 200 acres ( woods mostly) with a 1 acre yard around the house. There really haven't been many predator problems, I had a hawk take out three of my hens this year but other then that I've been fine. Mine free range during the day, they're really good about heading into the coop at dusk, then I close it. I keep a dog in the yard at night and it keeps the coons away. I've taken out a few possums this year but they menace my garbage cans more then the birds. If you have a garden, the bedding is great fertilizer. If you don't have a garden, find someone who does, theywill take it off your hands.

I have three hens from last year and bought 15 chicks at Easter. The new birds will be laying any day now. Seriously, it is rewarding and after getting/building a coop, very little $ output other then feed every few weeks, and it's not really that expensive if you let them forage for bugs etc.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 11:56:04 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/24/2013 11:57:26 AM EST by navvet89]
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Originally Posted By BubbaDog81:


Awesome info! Thanks! Do you have any predator problems. If so, how do you deal with it?
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Originally Posted By BubbaDog81:
Originally Posted By medicmandan:
Originally Posted By BubbaDog81:
The thread on racist chickens reminded me to ask ya'll something. I live in a suburb, with about a 1/4 acre of land. (large backyard, house built in 50's when they believed in space and freedom and not mutli-unit dwellings with no yard). Anyways, normally you can't have farm animals in my city, with the exception of hens so long as they are kept 6 ft from neighboring fences. No problem in my yard. My wife really wants a few, but I know I will get stuck caring for them.

My question is, are they a pain in the ass? My 8 require very little upkeep. Fill the feeder every couple of weeks, change/refill the water once a week.

How often is cleaning a chicken coup required for say 2 or 3? I clean my coop out once a month (8x6). I have an attached run that also gets cleaned out once a month. It never smells unless it's been really wet and the crap doesn't have a chance to dry.

How many years will they lay eggs? Most breeds taper off after 18-24 months of laying.

And are they good eating after the eggs are all laid? Depends on the breed. Someone are primarily for egg laying so they don't put on a lot of meat.

Do they live in the chicken coup or are they supposed to have access out of it to roam? Mine live in the coop and attached 10x8 run. They do not free range in the back yard. I'm also on .25 acres.

When roaming, how do I keep predetors away? We have hawks everywhere, racoons, possums and cats that I know will eat them.

And finally, about how much does it cost to feed and maintain these flightless birdies a month, each? Our eat all of our leftovers. I buy a $18 bag of feed every 6-8 weeks.

Thanks!



Awesome info! Thanks! Do you have any predator problems. If so, how do you deal with it?

There are a few threads in the ARF Farm&Garden forums covering chickens.

I keep 4 hens in a coop, when I get home from work in the summer (about 6:30pm) I let them out to range until dark. They will roost back in the coop at sundown and we'll go back out and shut them in for the night.

We buy a bag of layer feed and crushed oyster shell (for the calcium) and feed them that via a 2lb feeder at least once a day. Four hens make more eggs than we can eat as a family of four people, they lay about every other day.

I made my coop out of scrap lumber at the house and screwed it down to an old 4x8 trailer I used for hauling limbs around the yard. The back of the box opens for egg removal and the big end is actually a screen door so you can walk in and tend to the coop, there's a small door at the top of the ramp so I can close them in when its really cold and nasty out. I use a layer of straw in the coop and the box that I change every month or so (about half a bail each time).

Be aware that chicken feed draws rodents (who would love to live in your house), rodents draw snakes. I havent had issues with predators but racoons, hawks, possums, yotes and neighborhood dogs will readily kill and eat chickens. The biggest thing Ive had to do is terminate a few possums that came creeping around and relocate some harmless snakes.


Be aware that chickens have a pretty high mortality rate, I recently lost a hen that was bound up internally she never did lay right and finally stopped altogether and passed last week. Time to get two more.

Get your chickens off craigslist from someone local in your area that keeps good birds, $8-12 is a decent price for pullets.

this pic is when teh coop was first built, theres feeders, waters etc hanging off jack chain in there now and some full grown chickens :)







Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:08:17 PM EST
I never knew you didnt need a rooster to have egg laying hens Thats the only reason i dont have any. Do all breeds lay eggs without a rooster? Special food?
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:10:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/24/2013 12:11:56 PM EST by medicmandan]
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:11:42 PM EST
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Originally Posted By nchapa:
I never knew you didnt need a rooster to have egg laying hens Thats the only reason i dont have any. Do all breeds lay eggs without a rooster? Special food?
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Does your wife or girlfriend stop ovulating when you're not around?
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:17:00 PM EST
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:18:38 PM EST
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_17/619388_Chickens_101__questions_about_chickens__start_here___.html

Lots of chicken threads in the Survival and also in the Homestead, Farm, and Garden forum.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:20:22 PM EST
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.
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I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:24:12 PM EST
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Originally Posted By medicmandan:


Only need a rooster if you want baby chickens. Same as any female, they still release eggs. They just don't get fertilized without the rooster.

No special food. I do 18% protein feed in the summer, 20% in the winter.

ETA: You can get a rooster if you like Balut:

http://i.thestreet.com/files/tsc/mainstreet-photos/photo-gallery/art-gallery/delicacies-balut.jpg
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Originally Posted By medicmandan:
Originally Posted By nchapa:
I never knew you didnt need a rooster to have egg laying hens Thats the only reason i dont have any. Do all breeds lay eggs without a rooster? Special food?


Only need a rooster if you want baby chickens. Same as any female, they still release eggs. They just don't get fertilized without the rooster.

No special food. I do 18% protein feed in the summer, 20% in the winter.

ETA: You can get a rooster if you like Balut:

http://i.thestreet.com/files/tsc/mainstreet-photos/photo-gallery/art-gallery/delicacies-balut.jpg



Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By nchapa:
I never knew you didnt need a rooster to have egg laying hens Thats the only reason i dont have any. Do all breeds lay eggs without a rooster? Special food?


Does your wife or girlfriend stop ovulating when you're not around?



Okay bird related question. How come my african grey parrot doesnt lay eggs? I had 2 last year and one laid eggs, one flew away last year and Im left with what I thought was the female bad she hasnt laid eggs.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:25:28 PM EST
My daughter wanted a box full of chicks back a few years ago. We live on 1/3 acre in a subdivision complete with CCn R's and a Home owners assoc.! So I said he'll yah!

We got 10 sexed Rhode Island Red Pullets for egg production only. Raised the chicks in a brooder in the garage until they were old enough to live outdoors. I built a sort of Koop, but the wife n kids said it looked and functioned like shit. But it worked well enough to keep most alive through the winter. We lost two to freezing conditions over the winter. The next spring with 8 hens, we entered the summer months with a new pre made hen house. said it could hold up to 6 hens in comfort. 8 fit just as good. the first batch of eggs were layed soon after. After that they produced about 6 jumbo brown eggs a day between the 8 hens.

We lost another hen to some kind of predator, but egg production remained the same.

Chickens poop a lot, and the coop would need cleaning at least once a week.
It was very confusing on how to prepare and handle the fresh eggs. Lots of conflicting info out there!
We went through a 50lb bag of layena pellets about every 7-10 days. Along with whatever they found running around the back yard.
Novelty and interest definately dropped after the first year, to where I was the only one left to deal with that "Chore"!

Last wierd thing is, no one in my family would eat the eggs! Knowing they just came from a chicken ass my kids would have nothing to do with the eggs. We snuck as many as we could into baked goods. They were beautiful eggs with a bright orange yolk. We ended up giving most away to friends n family!

Lost 2 more hens over the next winter, and ended up giving the rest of the hens away the third year or so.

All in all we spent a few grand total on a fascinating hobby., but it will be awhile before we do that again!
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:26:11 PM EST
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Originally Posted By Andrapos:
Get at least 4 hens so they can flock. Muck the coop out or turn over the shavings every week or two. If the smell gets potent or the birds are wading in mess then clean it more often.

Alternatively you can make a chicken coop tractor and just wheel it around the yard every so often

Yes you can eat them after they are old and tired of laying, but meat birds are much better to eat than layers.


http://roosterhillfarms.net/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Pretty_Girl_with_Henpens_087.114153002_std.jpg
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I love this design...do you have building plans?
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:28:42 PM EST
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:32:14 PM EST
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Originally Posted By SigChef:


I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.
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Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.


I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.


Oh I was talking about raising a couple hundred at a time for meat.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:33:06 PM EST
I live in a subdivision with 5 hens. No more bothersome than the cat rancher next door and her free ranging hell spawn. Eggs are way better than store bought. I throw them left overs and buy a bag of feed about once a month. I only have to feed them about once a week.

My biggest problem is I don't eat that many eggs. U usually bring them to work for my coworkers. If SHTF I will be set on protein.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:37:12 PM EST
I just shit my self...new quote!


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Originally Posted By SigChef:


Does your wife or girlfriend stop ovulating when you're not around?
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Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By nchapa:
I never knew you didnt need a rooster to have egg laying hens Thats the only reason i dont have any. Do all breeds lay eggs without a rooster? Special food?


Does your wife or girlfriend stop ovulating when you're not around?

Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:37:27 PM EST
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:


Oh I was talking about raising a couple hundred at a time for meat.
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.


I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.


Oh I was talking about raising a couple hundred at a time for meat.


Got me on that one.....I have 6...im a few off from hundreds. Ducks seem like they would be cool to try, I might try it when I move to greener pastures.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:41:13 PM EST
I have about 20 head of chickens. You can have only three, But its a little more work than you might want.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:45:09 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/24/2013 12:45:29 PM EST by Andrapos]
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 12:45:56 PM EST
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Originally Posted By SigChef:


Got me on that one.....I have 6...im a few off from hundreds. Ducks seem like they would be cool to try, I might try it when I move to greener pastures.
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Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.


I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.


Oh I was talking about raising a couple hundred at a time for meat.


Got me on that one.....I have 6...im a few off from hundreds. Ducks seem like they would be cool to try, I might try it when I move to greener pastures.



Yup in grass they pretty much just wander around all day eating bugs and quaking at each other. It gets to be pretty funny as they will establish a routine.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:11:57 PM EST
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we went through a 50lb bag of Layena
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we went through a 50lb bag of Layena


Dang, that's a lot of feed. I don't go through anywhere near that with my 8.



The reason we went through that amount is because my daughter lost interest, and that was her "Special" way to get rid of said Chickens(in her mind) I'm sure the whole neighborhood was fed well. She would also leave the cover off the storage bin, allowing near full bags to be ruined with mold. And an occasional pest would scamper in and help themselves. Last but not least, it was a year before I discovered mice, had set themselves up a nice little house in the grain bin. Daughter thought they were better pets, so she purposely didn't tell me, knowing they'd become Airsoft targets. So we lost quite a bit that way too.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:20:35 PM EST
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:28:00 PM EST
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Originally Posted By medicmandan:


Dang, that's a lot of feed. I don't go through anywhere near that with my 8.
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Originally Posted By medicmandan:
Originally Posted By retroangles:
<snip>
We went through a 50lb bag of layena pellets about every 7-10 days.
<snip>


Dang, that's a lot of feed. I don't go through anywhere near that with my 8.


We go through a bag about every month with our ten hens depending on how hot it is. They also get a lot of kitchen scrap so that might have something to do with it

Two 5 gallon buckets will hold a 50lb bag of pellets for those concerned about rodents.

Also, anyone who thinks hens are quiet hasn't been around one that hasn't laid an egg in a couple days. I bet she could give a rooster a run for his money.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:28:33 PM EST
I only have 2 hens and a rooster right now, had as many as 6 at one time. Lost a couple to our dog, one to a hawk. I have a little coop and a small run but they really only sleep in the coop and just wander around during the day. The hens are pretty good about hiding in tall grass or hanging out with the goats. The rooster doesn't give a fuck he'll strut around like he owns the place... and he does. Since they free range I usually just put a cup of cracked corn per day in their feeder, fill up the water every few days and I line the coop with newspaper and clean it out once a week.

I really like my chickens... they are pretty cool to watch as they roam around and they have set times where they will go certain places or start coming home to roost. The rooster is always on guard flapping his wings and crowing. And the eggs are tasty.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:39:58 PM EST
We have 7 - 5 laying, 2 waiting. We go away for the weekends and stuff quite a bit so we had to think about the food/water situation. For the water, we used a 5 gal bucket and a toilet float and connected it to the spigot so it automatically refills on its own (plans can be found online). Only issue is we're on a well so sometimes the water goes out, Hasn't ever seemed to be a problem even in AZ in the summer. For food, we made 2 gravity feeders out 4" PVC with 45? pieces at the bottom to act as the trough (again, plans online). They have screw on tops (cover these if it rains, water can leak in and make the food moldy if they are exposed) and we don't refill them very often - every couple weeks.

Ours have a pretty damn secure area. We lost our first flock to coyotes who dug and ripped up the chicken wire/poultry netting we had. So now they have a coop & run that is inside our garden area (fence off your gardens if you actually want something to grow - they will eat ANYTHING) and that whole area is surrounded by 3 high railroad ties (which is out from the house enough that the dirt is like cement and is damn near impossible to dig) and then 10' high chain link surrounding that. We also attached bird netting to our house and ran it out to the chain link because we do have hawks & owls that find chickens to be tasty treats. Only problem we have with it is doves can get in above the gate we have between a column on the house and a window (it's the top 5' that is open) and then they freak out because they are stupid and can't get out.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:46:02 PM EST
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:



Yup in grass they pretty much just wander around all day eating bugs and quaking at each other. It gets to be pretty funny as they will establish a routine.
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
Originally Posted By SigChef:
Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.


I keep chickens right thru 120 degree heat without issue. Shade, water and a mister keeps them happy and laying.


Oh I was talking about raising a couple hundred at a time for meat.


Got me on that one.....I have 6...im a few off from hundreds. Ducks seem like they would be cool to try, I might try it when I move to greener pastures.



Yup in grass they pretty much just wander around all day eating bugs and quaking at each other. It gets to be pretty funny as they will establish a routine.


We want to get some Indian runners. They seem to be pretty awesome ducks.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Runner_Duck
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 2:49:56 PM EST
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Originally Posted By BobRoberts:
If it gets hot they die. If it gets hotter more of them die. You open up the shipping crate and there some dead ones. What I am saying dont get too attached to them, because there is a good chance they will die. If you can get some ducks they are way cooler.
View Quote


Nah, we don't want them as pets. Just egg layers. My wife visited Mexico as a kid often as that is where her grandma lived. She is used to watching them getting their necks wrung when the time came. She even remembers hunting iguanas with a 22 at 5 years old. Somethings I never knew about her. Haha.

Keep the info coming. Sounds like its not as bad as I though it would be.
Link Posted: 7/24/2013 3:14:49 PM EST
I have a 10x10 chain link dog kennel with hardwar cloth apron and wire on the top. Nothing can get in.

But I just let them free range in the yard for now. Hawks are the biggest threat in my yard. Luckily they have a lot of hiding places.

I like them but may downsize to two. I have big varieties and they really like to dig. They also help with the garden by eating bugs and pooping.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 7/25/2013 4:47:56 AM EST
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Originally Posted By CTRob65:


We go through a bag about every month with our ten hens depending on how hot it is. They also get a lot of kitchen scrap so that might have something to do with it

Two 5 gallon buckets will hold a 50lb bag of pellets for those concerned about rodents.

Also, anyone who thinks hens are quiet hasn't been around one that hasn't laid an egg in a couple days. I bet she could give a rooster a run for his money.
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Originally Posted By CTRob65:
Originally Posted By medicmandan:
Originally Posted By retroangles:
<snip>
We went through a 50lb bag of layena pellets about every 7-10 days.
<snip>


Dang, that's a lot of feed. I don't go through anywhere near that with my 8.


We go through a bag about every month with our ten hens depending on how hot it is. They also get a lot of kitchen scrap so that might have something to do with it

Two 5 gallon buckets will hold a 50lb bag of pellets for those concerned about rodents.

Also, anyone who thinks hens are quiet hasn't been around one that hasn't laid an egg in a couple days. I bet she could give a rooster a run for his money.

I use a galvanized metal trash can and store both bags in that. Still, the feed they kick out and any feed left in the feeder will draw rodents, anyone with chickens shouldn't be surprised to start seeing rats around.
Link Posted: 7/25/2013 4:57:06 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/25/2013 5:01:08 AM EST by Bat-Masterson]
When I had chickens I would let them in my garden for a few hours a week and eat all the bugs.

Now I have dry land ducks (Khaki Campbell Duck), eggs are so much better and have a waiting list for the eggs because of the taste and how much better they are to bake with.

But you still have duck shit to put up with.

Plus Khaki Campbell Ducks produce more eggs a year then chicken

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