all you ever wanted to know (but not very much) and then some, about chickensgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
The biggest mistake people make is having TOO MANY CHICKENS. They are expensive to feed and you don't need a lot of roosters unless you are hell bent on killing and eating your own. Been there and done that a thousand times in my life, and will tell you I would really have to be starving before killing and plucking and gutting even one more chicken. The bottom line is that most of you have good intentions... and most of you will perhaps do it once.. and thats it unless it truly is TEOTWAWKI.
Make sure you start out with GOOD laying hens. Those of you getting your chicks from Mc Murray hatchery are getting the best. But don't order mixed run. Get all one breed and only two roosters. I say two in case one dies as a chick. Personally I never get a rooster. When you have a rooster you have hens setting all the time and then you have roosters being hatched all the time. The average family needs no more than 7 hens. That should give you 5 eggs/day. With table scraps and a little chicken feed you will have no problem feeding them
I can't answer the question about providing light in the winter without power. But if you do have a light source, have the light come on early in the morning. Like about 3 hours before daylight. In other words extend their day in the morning hours rather than at night.
For those of you who will be hunting deer, elk, etc., this winter, tack the hide up with flesh side out in the hen house. Tack it up good on the wall about a foot off the ground. By spring there will not be a bit of flesh or fat left on the hide. The hide will be soft and supple and you will have provided some extra fat and protein for the chickens, along with the excercise of their having to jump up to pick the hide. If the hen house is tight and pretty well insulated, the chickens can stand a great deal of cold. Water will be your problem. You will need to water them with warm water at least twice a day as the water will freeze. If you have a wood stove, set however much chicken scratch that you intend to feed on a daily basis in a pan of water on the back of the stove where it will get real warm and partially cook over night. If you have a large enuff thermos you can do the same with that the night before. The moist swollen, partially or fully cooked grains will give FAR MORE NUTRITION to the hens than just the dry grain. If you are using a wood stove you can keep a pot of scraps on the back of it. Potato peelings have lots of nutrition IF COOKED. I used to have a metal bucket that sat on the back of my wood cook stove and all the pealings, table scraps, etc., with a little water, went into that and the chickens got a warm meal every morning when I let them out. I now live in Florida...no woodstove humming all of the time. My regime now is to buy laying pellets or crumbles. Then I take whole corn, which we buy by the ton for our live stock, and I grind the corn very coarse using my Corona Corn grinder. I grind my corn each morning for that day's feed. The 7 hens get two cups of crumbles and two cups of corn. They don't usually finish all of that unless I keep them locked up. Mostly they have been running free. But recently its been an egg hunt. So I built a chicken pen and they will stay in that until afternoon, after they have laid, and then I will open the gate and they can roam.
LICE is something that can really take your chickens/egg production down. You need to delouse them once in awhile and also WORM them. You can buy the appropriate stuff for both at a feed store. If you have a wood stove, keep wood ashes in a box on the floor of the hen house and that will keep your lice in check as the hens will dust themselve in it.
Crop/Craw impaction is something else you need to watch, especially in the spring when they start eating a lot of new grass. The fibers in the grass can really bind up the crop. If you notice a chicken that is ill, skinny,etc. Pick it up and examine for parasites. If the craw is full lock the hen up for awhile and see if it goes down. If it doesn't you have a starving hen. Massage the craw and see if you can loosen it up. Personally, I have never had any success with this. But I have had great success with surgery. Lay the chicken on her back on your lap (this all but hypnotizes them, I don't know why.) Take a scapel or a sharp knife and make a cut CROSS WAYS...side to side...in the craw about an inch long. Clean out all the grain, grass etc thats in it. If its smelly you know its old and wasn't moving through. Flush it out with some water and if you have a syringe (without needle) stick it down the tube and flush it with some water. Take a needle and cotton sewing thread and just hem stitch the incision. Keep the hen separate for a couple of days and make sure she is eating and drinking. Make sure your stitches are tight so that the hen doesn't lose all the water she drinks (the reason for a cross cut incision rather than up and down). If you have penicillin it wouldn't be inappropriate to give her a shot in the breast muscle. Chickens react to penicillin very favorably. Don't worry about taking the stitches out. In a couple of days the hen will look just like the rest of them. Hope this helps.
-- Taz (Taz@aol.com), September 29, 1999
Hmmm, so my 40 chickens are probably too much? [G] They sure do go through the feed.
I think I'll thin the flock in a few more weeks. Just got them on September 3rd.
Am I doing anything wrong by keeping food in front of them most of the time, besides costing myself money? Will this accelerate their growth or just make a mess?
-- Jon Williamson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 29, 1999.
I like the idea of tacking deer hides up in the chicken house. I am always saving the hides and then throwing them away six months later because I just did not get around to fleching and tanning them. Sounds like a go way to deal with a hide.
In answer about keeping food in front of them all the time, I think it is a good idea. I keep food in front of my hens and chickens all the time. They know how much they need and what to eat. I keep regular feed free choice, also oyster shell, cracked corn, and free range free choice.
-- chicken farmer (chicken-farmer@ y2k.farm), September 29, 1999.
Mutti agrees than unless you have 10 kids you only need 5-10 laying hens..your frig will be overflowing with egg cartons soon enough. Ten hens laying an egg a day is almost 6 dozen eggs--do you buy that many a week at the store? Now, I know you eat more when they are REAL eggs but you can't produce them as cheap at home...better,yes but around here eggs are really really cheap. Taz gave me some ideas for chicken feeding so I can be even more frugal. Thanks.
-- mutti (email@example.com), September 29, 1999.
Hat's off Taz....... I have a small flock of Orpington hens with one rooster. I also have some small banty hens to do the garden work. It's good to get some tidbits of information from an experienced person
-- kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 29, 1999.
Thanks, TAZ. Good advice. We've a mixed flock of 16 (soon to be) laying hens, no roosters. All are in laying cages (obtained for free!), since there are feral chickens in the neighborhood and we don't want to unduely risk disease. (*&^%$#@ Wild Roosters are up before dawn!!!) We are raising not only for ourselves but to be able to bless our church and neighbors with eggs...
We are about to try adding coconut to their diet. Split a coconut and put some mash/scratch in the half coconut to get them started eating it. Since you are in Florida, you might have access to the odd coconut. Reportedly, they are good for egg production...
-- Mad Monk (email@example.com), September 29, 1999.
Thanks for all the great info. Why provide extra light in the morning rather than at night? We always extended the evening light, not the morning, not because we thought that was better, didn't know it made any difference. It was always fun to come home in the evening dark, seeing the light on in the chicken house. I could imagine them in there, relaxing with the newspaper after a hard day's work catching bugs and scratching....
-- Bingo (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 30, 1999.
I don't really know why you extend the chickens day in the morning hours, but have been told that will keep the eggs flowing better than the night hours. This has been told to me on numerous time by big coomercial egg producers. I suspect it has to do with metabolism and that fact that they will immediately jump off the roost and go to eating. Of course if you have a rooster, it will go to crowing at a godawful hour too. Re egg layer cages. I have a problems with that simply because I hate seeing any animal in a cage. Especially if its one of those that has just enuff room for it to turn around. Can't you build them a small pen that is ferel chicken proof? A good rooster in with the hens will keep any other roosters getting in there. I suspect the ferels are quite small. Besides, Monk, when they are in cages you don't get the benefits of "homemade eggs". They are like store bought as they are not scratching in the dirt and eating bugs, etc. I would rethink that if I were you. Even the commercial egg growers are rethinking this and putting the chickens back down on the ground.
Taz...who is too far north to have coconuts...dang it!
-- Taz (Taz@aol.com), September 30, 1999.
Taz, I had the first casualty in my flock. They started laying at the end of July. This hen would sort of doze off and close her eyes, then come awake and squwack. She would do this over and over all day, quite frequently. It started several days before she died. Do you have any idea what this might have been? The rest of the flock seems it's healthy, enthusiastic self.
-- anon (email@example.com), October 01, 1999.
The reason for providing extra light in the morning rather than the evening is this: Picture the flock eating and drinking and doing their chicken thing late in the evening and all of a sudden the lights go out; instant darkness; no time to find the roost. Many will just roost on the floor because they can't find the roost. Chickens are about the most night blind animals I know of.
If the lights come on early in the morning before daylight to supplement the light, they simply get off their roost and start doing their chicken thing without any stress or strain. It even helps reduce rooster crowing (just a little).
-- Gerald R. Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 01, 1999.