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Old 05-09-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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ISO advice on raising laying hens...

Okay, we've decided this is the year to raise a few chickens. I can get 'ready-to-lay' pullets (with their beaks trimmed), and I think that is the route I'm going to take--I'd probably kill the day-old chicks. And, I don't want to wait 6 months before I can start collecting eggs.

We have a barn that has a "dog pen" in it. I was thinking of converting that area to the coop. The two gardens are fenced, so I thought I'd put the hens out there during the day. Silly question, are chickens prone to fly away? Do people overwinter chickens or do people butcher their laying hens in the fall? Do you have to trim their beaks again? I can bottle-feed orphaned puppies, but know nothing about raising poultry.

Another question, would the hens get along with a duck or two?
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Old 05-09-2011, 10:55 AM   #2
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"Silly question, are chickens prone to fly away?"
They tend to stay close to home. I know folks that free range their chickens and lock them up in the barn at night. They need a place to roost though. Home needs to feel like home to them or they will look for a better one.
And laying hens more hop than fly. They are to heavy to truly fly any distance.

"Do people overwinter chickens or do people butcher their laying hens in the fall?"
I keep mine over winter. That way I get eggs year round without having to start from scratch again. They take a few months off now that they are older, but I could cure that with artificial light if I wanted to. I'd just as soon they get a little break, rather than "using them up" quicker.

"Do you have to trim their beaks again?"
Mine have never had their beaks trimmed. That is more done if you are overcrowding them. If they are overcrowded or bored they can get testy with each other.

"I can bottle-feed orphaned puppies, but know nothing about raising poultry."
Yikes, get a book. Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens is a good one. And THIS is a good website/forum. You shouldn't go in blind any more than a dog owner should get a dog without prepping for its arrival.

"Another question, would the hens get along with a duck or two?"
Sure, they can co-exist. You do know that ducks need water to eat, don't you? Like a pond, spring or something?
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:32 PM   #3
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I have no possible way of having chickens, but this makes me smile.
I have such lovely memories of my grandparents with their chickens.

If Kathleen sees this Frank will be hounded again. Bruuuhaahaa....
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Old 05-09-2011, 03:08 PM   #4
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I have no possible way of having chickens, but this makes me smile.
I have such lovely memories of my grandparents with their chickens.

If Kathleen sees this Frank will be hounded again. Bruuuhaahaa....
I think I'm PM it specifically to Kathleen and bring it to her attention.
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Old 05-09-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I think I'm PM it specifically to Kathleen and bring it to her attention.
Muahaha
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:36 PM   #6
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I miss the dark orange yolks from the eggs we had on the farm when I was growing up but, that is all I miss about it. I cannot understand why a farmer would do all that work for a retail price of $1.69/doz.

Like the old farmer that hit the lottery said when asked what he would do now, I quess I'll just keep farming until its gone.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:43 PM   #7
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I have had chickens here on Sparrowgrass Hill for almost 10 years.

The best place for chicken info is your University Extension Office. I work for U. of MO Extension--here is our publication on the home chicken flock.G8350 Small Flock Series: Managing a Family Chicken Flock | University of Missouri Extension

Do you have a picture of the dog pen? Hens need a roost up off the ground, they need to have a varmint-tight area in which to spend the night, and they need nest boxes. If you are in a cold region, they need to be enclosed in a smaller space than a barn, a space they can warm with their body heat. They don't need to be really warm, but their combs will freeze if the temp drops really low.

When you say 'gardens' do you mean a veggie or flower garden? Neither one benefits from the presence of chickens. The hens will eat anything and everything, and they scratch and dig all day long.

Chickens don't fly away, but they can fly. Yep, chickens can live to be 10 years old--they peak in egg laying the first year, and commercial operations only keep them for a year. You could butcher your hens at the end of a year, but it would be a waste, in my opinion.

If you are not raising chickens in a crowded pen, you don't need to trim beaks. I never have, and my chickens only pick at each other if there is a wound.

Hens and ducks will get along fine.
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Old 05-09-2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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My neighbor has 3 - 4 Rhode Island reds. They produce enough eggs, usually over 20 per week, for both us and the neighbor to be well supplied. Nothing like a fresh egg from a contented chicken. We've been getting so many that I've started making custard ice cream. Biggest problem so far (3 years) is that the feed can attract pests.
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Old 05-09-2011, 05:29 PM   #9
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I used to keep my laying mash in 55 gallon barrels with a lid....A garbage can might help Bill
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Old 05-09-2011, 05:35 PM   #10
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I used to keep my laying mash in 55 gallon barrels with a lid....A garbage can might help Bill
.22 longs are also helpful. Galvanized cans are becoming somewhat hard to come by.
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