Tag Archives: chickens

Hussy Hens

​I’m sure all remember the saga of Rocco. My neighbors and I have unfenced adjoining property. They let their chickens run free ruining everyone’s yard. It is what it is. I got chickens and later a lovely rooster. My pullets were still a little thing his attention it seemed. I remember when the neighbors hens got their first glimpse of that rooster: they all came over to my front yard and got his, um, attention. He was running back and forth nailing a good 15 hens. From then on he would visit those girls for a morning screw. My neighbor was so upset my rooster was “raping” their hens she finally shot him one day.

Years later they still don’t have roosters, but mine have learned to stay on my property and their girls sneak over to visit. Cracks me up. It seems their hens are now coming over and raping my roosters 🙄 or just having rough chicken sex.

I’ve seen a few hens try to lure the roosters over, but I suppose the ghost of Rocco warns them to stay away.

Cold Morning Hot Chicks

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I’ve been mixing my own feed for my girls and in the summer I ferment it before feeding. Supposedly more nutritious/digestible/ less food goes father. I don’t feed very much since my girls free range… Only 2-3 wet lbs a day between 11 chickens and 3 ducks. A 150 lb batch is lasting 2 months between the ducks and chickens.

Ah, but it’s cold. Today I gave them a treat since everyone is acting so ravenous: hot mash. With this weather I may switch to hot mash until the weather gets above freezing so they don’t waste the energy warming up the cold grain in their guts. Nothing like a hot meal on a cold day…

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Fall Chicken Crop: Week 1

 

 

I’m doing a fall batch of meat chickens. My first batch of 10 was pretty good, though i lost one to ?? as a day old chick, one my dog killed and another over ate. So…about a 70% success rate my first go round with Cornish Cross. Ohh, but they were deeelish. So I’m doing another batch hoping to make a meager amount of money on them.

 

Tractoring them in the grass worked well. I built a hover brooder that fit in the tractor and it worked out. Same concept, only twice as many birds!

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Day-Old Chicks

The day olds had just little fluffy feathers, healthy happy things that went into the tractor fine. I had a few jump here and there, in my lap, back in the box, ect. Good energy!

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   By day 4 they started developing little feathers on their wings. 20 killed the 2 cups of feed in a few hours.

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By a week old they’ve got some good feathering on their wings and tail feathers are coming in.

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You can see how big they are already getting compared to my foot! I keep their feed restricted because they can over eat and grow too damn fast.

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Still using last years tractor.

 

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I let the chicks out in the morning and evening for a little supervised exercise. So far so good!

Rocko

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I finally got a rooster to replace the one lost on New Years morning. His name is Rocko and he’s a fancy Bresse roo. That means white chicken with green legs. He’s got a very polite crow. I’ve only had him a few hours and I woke up this morning before he did. “Oh dear, I don’t hear him crowing and the sun is up, i hope he didn’t have a heart attack last night!” I thought as I laid in bed. A few minutes later he started in.

His owner needed to make room for a new rooster so either had to find him a home or into the stew pot he’d go, so I offered to take him since no one else seemed interested. I asked my friend to pick him up and apperently she took him to a group meeting and let him run around in the garage then everyone cuddled him. Yea, a rooster letting strangers cuddle him. Sounds like he’ll fit in here just fine.

Chicken Slaughtering

I admit. Before this weekend I’d never taken the live of anything other than a fish. I’ve been involved and watched the pigs go, but its never been my hand thats done the deed. I suppose its the final step as a “farmer” or someone who eats meat at the very least. I’ve always found it disrepectful to the animal that died when people pretend their meat isn’t from anything living. Its magic~! It grows in styrofoam!

No, accept that something lost its life for you so you can live. Per Vitam Mortem. Through death is life. Accept it. When we die we will feed bacteria, worms, the ground, trees, possibly scavengers, hopefully not our hogs

Point is, as I’ve said before, I need to be able to do it if I am willing to eat them.

So I did. BEAUTIFUL Cornish X that free ranged. Small for with age, but healthy. Many people complain that their cornish X don’t move. they just sit around all day and eat. Well, mine started under the brooder outside on grass. They were allowed out of the tractor at 3 or 4 weeks and quickly figured it all out. After their morning grain (filled their feeder with a pea based feed…they don’t care much for it so they ate what they needed to to not be ravenous the looks for better stuff elsewhere) they ranged around the neighborhood, and were so friendly I hated to see them go. But, they were starting to pant implying trouble breathing. They still ran up to greet me, but they were as healthy as Cornish X get and didn’t want them to deteriorate.

I did the 6 largest leaving 2 smaller ones to go a little longer. Dressed out to about 4 lbs 3 oz on average. Small, but absolutely delicious! The texture was so different…like MEAT, not chicken mush. I grilled one that night with some farmer friends and had a good time. I will miss my friendly “little marshmallows” (as the girl next door called them), but their lives were so much better than a store bought chicken and they taste a million times better. Who knew there was such a difference?!

I had pictures of my pretties, but my computer won’t load them oh well.

And Now Chickens

I am attempting a farm that is a conventional traditional farm with a bit of observational permaculture. An important part of this is poultry. All poultry have their pluses and minuses. Chickens eat most bugs, but don’t usually go after the big fat Oregon slugs. I could get ducks for that, but they tend to eat my grass and seedlings. I like turkeys, but they are a little big and scary and I don’t know how to raise them. All of them need a good house to roost in at night. My last chickens died 3 from predators (at dusk even!), 2 from an illness compounded with the cold and the last hen flew the coop and moved in with the neighbors chickens (shes quite a little producer, too!).

Being that I don’t have a good setup yet, and haven’t figured out where to build a sturdy coop I was planning on just getting some broilers and put 6 weeks into them and eat them.

But my mother had different plans. Cute chicks at the farm store for only $2? Why not! I came home one night after work to find my defunct chicken tractor from last year filled with little chicks. And I was about to go on a week long business trip…i can’t let my babies die!

I don’t have a brooder, don’t know how to brood…something about a heat lamp, 95 degrees and no drafts. So I did some research and found out about Ohio Brooders. Basically, a short box with a light bulb that allows the chicks to self regulate their heat needs as they feather out.  So I found a scrap piece of plywood, some 1x4s and some scraps for legs, mounted a porcelain base and tee da! had a brooder that wouldn’t be a fire risk for a matter of dollars, small enough to fit in the chicken tractor.

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Food is on the outside so they are encouraged to leave the heat. In about 3 weeks these guys feathered out.

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Tabitha LOVES watching the chicks. She doesn’t go after them, but can sit for hours just watching. I finally let these guys out to forage a little and called Tabitha over. She ran up and when she realized the chicks were out she stopped dead in her tracks. “BABIES!” She was so careful to not scare them and layed down calmly to watch them. Some maybe shes not a sheep dog but a chicken dog.

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So these gals are growing fast, however, they are layers. I wanted meat chickens. So I needed to build another chicken tractor and brooder. Same style. Lightweight tractor so its easy to move. I got them before it was completed so they spent a day and a half in a tub with a heat lamp. Lots of people do this, so i figured for a day it should be fine anyway, it was better for them to be out of breezes, right? The ammonia built up quickly and I found one dead. Almost like it had been crushed.The chicks were having a hard time regulating the heat and i think may have gotten hot and huddled in the corner. Or the ammonia. Something. So I finished the tractor right fast and moved them in.

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They took to the brooder quickly. They had ground to scratch, but warmth, too. They seem much happier and healthier in outside with a brooder.

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The first few days I let them have the food inside just because i was concerned after loosing one. Then I put it out of the box and they are doing great! I just need to move the tractor to give them clean ground. They seem happy, healthy and energetic. I REALLY recommend this style brooder.

 

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I picked up chicks while on break at work. I brought them into the shop and set them up with a lamp. My boss was okay with it, he understands where I’m coming from.

We had ordered a big lunch of Popeyes chicken the day before. As we opened the box of 60 piece fired chicken I looked in and thought, “Goodness, thats alot of lives taken in those boxes. thats 4 or 5 chickens worth!” In my mind, there was alot of death involved to make that fried chicken meal that no one else thought about. I appreciated those chickens, but was more determined to raise my own and give them good lives while I could.

So one of my co-workers came back from eating the chicken left overs and was complaining there wasn’t any chicken left! My boss and I started giggling. “Erika has some chicken!”

“Yeah, I have some. Though it might be better to wait a bit longer for it…but I got LOTS of chicken.”

Poor guy was so confused until we pointed to the little box of chicks. He had never really seen chicks before and was both facinated and terrified. Most of all he was upset that I was going to kill them one day. “Why don’t you just let them live, give them names and buy your chickens from the store?”

“Because I want them to be raised in a pleasant and happy environment.”

“But its mean to kill them. just get your chicken from the store!”

“Its the same thing. Chickens die to become a chicken at the store.”

“But they are so cute!”

“So are the store chickens.”

“No they arn’t”

“Yes, this is the same breed. Your Popeyes chicken you just at was a cute little chick at one time.”

“But…they shouldn’t be killed. You shouldn’t kill them, I mean. They should be allowed to live until they are grandparents.”

“Dude, these are special meat chickens, they get sick if they live too long.”

“What? no. just let them get old.”

Sigh. This is the part where i had to break it down as simple as possible. “Listen. The mama and dada chicken are two different kinds of chickens and when they are bred together they make a SUPER CHICKEN that grows really fast, but then dies young.”

“Oh. You’ve got super chickens?”

“Yes, so they need to be slaughtered young.”

He still didn’t get it and contended I was being mean. Later I heard him looking at them going “Super Chicken!”

Butchering My First Chicken

I was out in the barn trying to finally build the wall to the feed area so I could let my cold wet animals back in the barn when I went to borrow a tool from my neighbors. While over there they asked me if I wanted a dead chicken.

“Um…how long has it been?”

“About ten minutes.”

“What happened?”

“We killed her. —- shot her. I can’t do it, but —- is heartless.”

“Um…why?”

“She went broody again and was driving all the other chickens crazy.”

Ah, so not disease…just insane. As my neighbor put it “Imagine having to go to the bathroom and everytime you went in there someone else was ALWAYS in the stall next to you. EVERYDAY AT THE SAME TIME. Its freakin’ weird and they don’t want to be next to her.” I would like to add, she probably muttered to herself. The weirdo in the bathroom stall next to you…yeah, you too would probably think twice about laying an egg next to her.

Well, despite being in the middle of another project I won’t say no to free food. Especially not when I was about to go to the store and buy a chicken for soup because I might be fighting a cold (but I’m to busy to stop and figure out if I really am, haha!). So why not give it the old college try and clean a chicken that wasn’t slaughtered correctly in

the first place?

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I always thought she was a pretty one, too bad she was driving all the other girls away from the nesting boxes and screwing up production. So I got a pot of water on the stove, dragged a 70 lb table that I think was originally used for butchery by myself across the back yard under to my back porch where I could work without getting rained on.

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Into the pot she went and 10 minutes later she was plucked

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It all went to hell from there.  Like, suddenly realizing since they just shot her she didn’t get bleed out…so I finally cut her head off just for a few drops on blood. Going broody often means not eating so she had hardly any muscle left. Yet oddly enough her butt was super fatty. So fatty I had a hard time finding her rectum. She was a literal fat-ass. I got to it without puncturing it and carefully started trying to pull out her innards.

But not carefully enough. I ripped a hole in her rectum an poop started falling out. GROSS.

I managed to squeeze most of it on the ground, but I still had a hold in her guts. Aw, screw being careful. I just shoved my hand in and ripped out everything I could possibly find. Then I decided not to bother with gibblets or anything else…so the pigs got the innards.

Cleaned out, great! Not much meat but i needed a stewing chicken, anyway. There were a few feathers left and according to one website “old timers used to take a rolled up newpaper and singe off the remaining hairs.” Well let me tell you.

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That doesn’t work.

The lesson I learned: I can pluck a chicken, but anything else? I fail.