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  • Posted by  $  jlc 3 years, 8 months ago
    I have had several of the varieties that are mentioned in the article, but my favorites so far are the black sex-linked and the amricanus. The former are good because the hens are calm and friendly...and because you can tell that they are hens.

    Story: I went by a feed store (which is where you get your chicks if you do not want to order them) and I saw a crate full of little chicks with a little blond topnot on the top of each tiny head. The create was labeled "pullets" (female chicks) but the white topnot signified that they were all males. So, since one of the problems if you are buying chicks is to make sure you get all pullets, buy black sex-linked and make sure you get the ones with the all-black heads.

    The other breed that I like are the americanus - because they have beautiful green or blue eggs. The hens are also nice colors of bronze and gold (though with an occasional albino). I just like the color of the eggs.

    Jan, has 5 hens and one big rooster
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  • Posted by waytodude 3 years, 8 months ago
    I'm raising Rhode Island Reds. I got 9 layers for a family of four and have more than enough eggs for our needs and give some to close elderly people around us. I have an additional 19 for meat. I let my layers roam after done laying (free range city terms). I tried free range for meat birds once (never do that again) way too tough too eat. Made a portable coop for them to move around to get the flavor of free range. The meat and eggs produced is far superior the any at the store and what a cost savings.
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  • Posted by NealS 3 years, 8 months ago
    After reading the article, now I want to get a few chickens for the eggs. I wonder what the neighborhood/city/county/state would say about it. I've got a huge back yard, but it would have to be sealed under some of the fence. And what about all my wife's plants/flowers/herbs/spices, will chickens damage any of them?

    Years ago someone, believed to have worked for Microsoft, let some rabbits loose in the area. They are referred to as Microsoft Rabbits, I call them (MFRR's) Microsoft Free Range Rabbits. Today there are free range rabbits everywhere to a radius of over 10 miles around Microsoft's main campus. I wonder who would be entitled to the eggs if we had free range chickens in the city.

    And finally, these stories always remind me of the first time my wife and I went to New Zealand. After seeing all these signs saying "Free Range Eggs", my wife said, "I wonder why they're giving them away?.... (Don't ever tell her I told you)...
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    • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
      Hehe - funny - reminds me of the people who have asked for the Deer Crossing signs to be moved so the deer would cross somewhere else!
      :)

      My wife was thoroughly convinced that there were Jackalopes! Funny! (A long time ago that is...)
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  • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 3 years, 8 months ago
    Ameraucana will lay olive green eggs.These are far less cholesterol which makes the yolk ok to eat and higher in protein and taste better. But hard to find.

    To add a
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  • Posted by  $  Snezzy 3 years, 8 months ago
    We don't have any right now, but we have had them in the past. If you can stand the noise, guinea fowl are very low maintenance, except that they are noisy and stupid. They will stand in the road and get hit by cars. They also lay eggs everywhere, rather than in nests. But they do get rid of ticks and chiggers.

    We liked the Ameraucana because of the egg color, and found Dominique to be hardy. The Rhode Island Reds were too aggressive for our modest abilities in avoiding conflict.

    Never be tempted to get pheasants. They are a mistake unless you are certain they are what you want. They will kill each other, given half a chance.

    We got our birds by mail order, 25 in a box, from Murray McMurray, in business now for nearly a century. They took the forefront against the aminal rgihts people who tried to get the Feds to outlaw postal shipment of live chicks a few years back. The people complaining about shipment of live chicks said they were "transported without food and water" and "should be kept at cool temperatures," thus showing complete ignorance of poultry.

    You can fence your poultry "in" or "out" or you can do as a friend of ours does, and have them out during the day and in a henhouse at night. Some people report success with a "chicken tractor" (q.v.).
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    • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
      We let ours run around during the day. We have no fences and neither does our 500Ac neighbor, so they have free run to go wherever they want - but we definitely keep them in the chicken house at night. They go up on their own very well, lay in there pretty well (but we do find rogue nests every here and there), and really have to be locked down due to all the potential predators around - raccoons, foxes, bears, bobcats, etc... There are predators to watch for in urban areas too - feral cats, dogs, other people... I really hate caging critters up so we make every effort to avoid that. We keep them locked up in winter when there's much snow on the ground. They'll just hop into it and stay their like their stuck in mud - even when it's low enough that they could move around. So we give them a bit of heat and keep them in until it clears up or packs down.
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  • Posted by wiggys 3 years, 8 months ago
    Farming is coming back because if you don't have a farm to feed yourself in a few years you may very well starve. Just heard on the ag channel that eggs are$1.23 a dozen at dealer cost, highest it has ever been. probably will not go down until most stop buying eggs. that is called supply and demand. so get a few birds and get your own.
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 3 years, 8 months ago
      You are right insofar as chickens being a 'sustainable' source of backyard protein production, but keeping your own chickens for eggs is more expensive than buying them at the store. If you had a large area, free from predators, and you grew a lot of wild grains you could just free feed your chickens, but even with an acre of land and a horse (horse poop is a great place for chickens to snack on fly eggs and larvae) I had to buy food to supplement them. (Since the coyotes discovered my drive-through coyote fast food chicken restaurant I have had to keep the chickens in a smaller area and feed them store-bought food all of the time.)

      In an urban neighborhood, possums and raccoons are more of a problem, so if you have a big yard you might break even. Point is: good for the delight of having your own really delicious eggs, but not so much for decreasing cost thereof.

      Jan
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      • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
        I agree - potential pets, but with the cost of feed, it will cost more than buying eggs for sure. But the better you feed them and the more they can find on their own, the more noticeable the quality in the eggs as well. We refer to store bought eggs as 'alien eggs' - they are soooo much less rich than ours.
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        • Posted by Non_mooching_artist 3 years, 8 months ago
          They're watery "yellow" in color. The eggs I get right from one of the farms nearby are the most gorgeous orange, yolk of course, and the variety of colors of the eggshells themselves is beautiful. Planning an area for a coop and ranging. We have foxes, coyotes, hawks, eagles, bobcats and bears here. I need to secure an area that would help them be relatively safe from these predators.
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          • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
            Sounds like our critter list - and if you have those then I assume like us, raccoons, (o)possums, etc... too!
            We're thinking about fencing a large area for them - and some goats to come later, but fencing is so expensive. It will be largely covered by trees that tend to dropping stuff on our fences and cause damage.
            Anyway, we have lost probably close to 2 dozen chickens in the last 8 years - nearly half of them from a family of raccoons that moved in and was killing them at a fast rate until I turned the tables on them. It was at least 7 of them (coons) and they killed like 10 chickens in the course of a week. They would wait until we left for work and come during the day - unusual for coons - but they did.
            We haven't lost a single chicken to critters in the last few years now - at least due to critter attack.
            Their chicken house is well sealed - nothing gets in - except for maybe a determined bear and some mice. It's only their outside time where they are exposed. Our roosters and guinea keep a good watch out for predators, but they can't do much other than warn the chickens to go on alert.
            In my personal case, I'd rater them be free to roam as they please. They have a good life that way.
            It's expensive and very difficult to keep everything away from them once they're out of their secured chicken house. Fences have so many weaknesses - digging under, climbing over, stuff falling on them and knocking them over, etc... The area we're considering fencing is about the area that they tend to run in normally, so if we do, it will be a relatively normal area for them. But this will require nearly a thousand feet of fencing and it's main purpose will be to TRY to keep dwarf Nigerian goats contained.
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            • Posted by Non_mooching_artist 3 years, 8 months ago
              Raccoons are pretty vicious, aren't they!? We had a tree in front of our old house, and there was a hole which housed a nest of squirrels, and babies at that. One night I hear this ferocious growling and shrieking and terrified sounding squeaks. Turns out it was a raccoon raiding the squirrel nest. It was devouring the babies. Horrific!

              About the fencing, it is prohibitively expensive, and as you said, not impervious to any number of means of breaching or breaking. And goats especially are notorious for escaping from anything!
              Regarding your question about roosters, it is actually stated as being unspecified. However, people on the street where I live who have grown up here have said that you can't keep roosters, at least not in a "neighborhood" type setting. But right in town, a guy has about 5 goats and a bunch of chickens right between his house and his neighbors. Like I said, it's rural up here, with spots of some development. Down on the main road at least. Which got widened from two to four lanes!
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              • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
                Check with the town hall or county courthouse and see what ordinance applies and how it actually reads. I work for our county and it's amazing what our citizens think the local ordinances say verses the reality of what they actually say.
                I'm hoping putting up a good fence with these small goats will keep the odds more in my favor. That's a few years down the road though.
                Coons are cute critters when they're not being destructive and killing... a big pissed off coon can be an intimidating creature though, that's for sure!
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 3 years, 8 months ago
      I have a brother-in-law who grew up on one of the largest chicken farms in Wisconsin. His family ran it for decades. What most people don't know is that the price of eggs has largely been static for more than 40 years - it hasn't adjusted for inflation like everything else.

      What also should be noted is that the poultry industry has been hit hard both by avian flu and by sabotage, constricting supply and raising prices accordingly. Although it means a correction in price which is inconvenient, I wouldn't read too much into the rise itself.

      Nice article on the various breeds, however!
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  • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
    First, make sure you are allowed to have chickens. There are a lot of local ordinances against having chickens.

    Second, there is a bit to consider. They are very good at eating plants (and bugs, frogs, salamanders, pretty much anything they can swallow) - they will eat leaves, grass, garden vegies, berries, fruits, etc.. So if you have things you don't want them to eat - you'll have to setup fences or enclosures to keep them put or out of your stuff.
    I don't think there is a breed that you can safely say are quiet. The roosters will crow from before daylight throughout the day. The hens will sing their "I laid an egg" song just about every time they lay an egg. But they will get vocal about things that scare them - sometimes loud noises, an animal harassing them, etc... But, they are quieter than the roosters. You do not need a rooster BTW, the hens will still lay eggs - they're just unfertilized. You will get - generally an egg per day per chicken.
    One of my personal favorites is the medium/heavy breed chicken called Buff Orpington. They are pretty mellow chickens and can be like a friendly pet if you work with them (although I think that is the case with most breeds really). Here's a good site on chickens specifically about these chickens:
    http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/buff-o...
    You need to make sure they have around 4sq ft of chicken house space per chicken (of this breed). Smaller breeds like banty varieties can deal with less.
    If you set them up in an enclosed run off of their chicken house, unless you move it around frequently, they will bring the area down to dirt. They love taking dust baths and will wallow in the dirt and then shake it off when they get up - sometimes making a rather large dust cloud.
    If you get chicks, keep in mind that they need to be heated when they are little - requiring heat lamps, and such. Getting a small quantity in a suburban area may be more difficult. Most companies ship them to you, but require 15-25 chicks to be order so they have a better chance in shipping. If you have any Tractor Supply or other companies around you, they may order chicks to come in during early spring, but may not get your particular varietal interest. Finding a feed source will be needed too. Again Tractor Supply, or other.
    Anyway, I'll stop for now - you can ask more if you need more. Check out the Backyard chicken site I posted - they are a valuable source of information on everything chicken!

    Hope that helps!
    :)
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    • Posted by 3 years, 8 months ago
      Thanks for the expertise, AM! Many local ordinances allow hens, but no roosters due to noise. Definitely check local ordinances first.
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      • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
        Have you found any varieties that you are leaning towards so far?
        We have a batch of chickens - I think the current count is 57. But we have a lot of types. Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Black Australorps, Red Stars, Black Stars, Rhode Island Reds, Speckled Sussex, Black Laced Wyandotte, Silkies, I think Polish (the ones with the top hats), etc... My daughter deals with them more than I do and has picked most of the breeds we have.
        They're neat critters. Our oldest one right now is a Barred Rock that we call Grandma Greybar - she is 8 years old now. She has a unique character - she's showing some signs of arthritis maybe - walking is getting slower and more difficult for her - so she meets us at the front door every day when we get home from work to get a ride to her chicken house. She just comes trekking right up to us, stands in front of us and starts stretching upwards and waits for us to grab her and take her home. She's probably not laying eggs anymore, but she's a pet (as they really all are). They will lay for a few years pretty well. Our chickens run around on our property pretty much where ever they want to (other than our fenced garden) so they get a lot of their own food. So if they are not laying anymore, then they get to run around retired ;) We still get plenty of eggs and they nearly break even on their overhead, so we see no need to cull them after a year or two like many people do.
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  • Posted by jdg 3 years, 8 months ago
    This movement offends me. I've had neighbors who kept roosters in a city, and it shouldn't be allowed because it interferes with the right to be able to sleep in your own home. Having something that noisy in a city is exactly the kind of property-rights violation local governments SHOULD ban, and enforce.
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  • Posted by  $  allosaur 3 years, 8 months ago
    I just had a humorous thought about an actual Gulch with a lot of chickens in it.
    Imagine this sight: Squawking chickens part for a pair of Gulchers, who are taking a walk while discussing Ayn Rand's philosophy.
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  • Posted by slfisher 3 years, 8 months ago
    I like the Amerncunas because of the color of the eggs, but it really doesn't matter. I couldn't tell one chicken's eggs from another. What matters the most is what you feed them. Make sure they get plenty of feed as well as access to bugs and things. They also like scraps; mine loved pizza crusts.
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    • Posted by AMeador1 3 years, 8 months ago
      We have Araucanas/Ameraucanas mixes (from McMurray Hatchery) too - they are neat chickens and they do have unique eggs. We sell eggs, and you'd be surprised how many people don't want them because they're convinced that they "aren't right". But others like them and request them too :)
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