Developing self-sustainable farm more difficult than expectedPlease Rate This Article When I moved to the farm almost 3 years ago I thought this was going to be easy. Build a nice chicken yard, build a chicken house, plant some fruit trees, and things will be off and running. Then I can work on the pole […]
Tag: chickens for shtf
For the most part buying chicks is a springtime activity. The local farm supply stores start getting their chicks in around early to mid February. Then there are the Easter colored chicks. Please do not buy colored chicks for Easter. You do not know what breeds you are getting, what sex, and the “new” quickly wears off.
You may think that after the feed stores stop selling chicks in the spring that there are no more on the market. That is simply not true. Some hatcheries sell chicks all year long. Where do you find these hatcheries? On the internet.
My wife and I had never bought chicks over the internet. We had always gone down to the local feed store, bought whatever chicks they had in stock, then went home. After buying our first set of chicks over the internet, I doubt we will ever buy from a feed store again. The process was easy and straight forward.
My wife and I are planning on ordering some chicks Friday August 1st.
Breed / Quantity
Australorp – 5
Barred Rock – 5
Buff Orpington – 10
Dominicker – 5
Rhode Island Red – 5
Plus the 17 or so we have left after the dogs, fox and chicken hawk got finished.
47 hens with 3 roosters.
My Rhode Island Red rooster is on loan to my cousin right now.
Barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds are, but I have not seen a single one go broody. The instinct to sit on eggs has been bred out of certain breeds. When a hen sits on eggs, companies lose production, which means they are losing money.
Before my wife and I moved to the farm, with the help of friends and family I we got a 75 feet long by 35 feet wide chicken yard. With 2,625 square feet 100 chickens could fit in the yard and each chicken would have 26 square feet. It is recommended that each chicken have at least 10 square feet in the yard. That is double the minimum needed square feet, but there is little to no room for fig trees, blueberry trees,,,, or anything else.
It is time to build a new chicken yard.
The old yard is 75 feet X 25 feet.
The new yard will be 200 feet long, 100 feet wide on the back end and around 175 feet wide on the end where the chicken house is going to be.
The original chicken house is 8 X 6.
The new chicken house is going to be 18 feet wide and 20 feet long.
When my wife and I moved to the farm in august 2013, we arrived with 13 hens. The hens were a little over a year and a half old. Those 13 hens were laying around 9 – 10 eggs a day.
With that 9 – 10 eggs a day I tried to estimate how many chickens and eggs my family would need during a long term SHTF situation. In a previous article we got an estimated number of around 75 chickens or so to satisfy our egg and chicken meat production needs.
In the past 3 months something happened that has thrown a serious kink into my chicken flock plans.
Out of the original 13 hens, only 8 remain.
Out of the 24 chicks my wife and I bought in February 2014, only about 12 remain.
In other words, we have lost about 1/2 of our flock in the past few months.
It is amazing how fast chicks grow. In 1 month they went from being totally helpless, to foraging for food. With every passing day the chicks move further away from the chicken house.
The more I watch chickens, the more I understand why the species has been so successful, and why humans have grown dependent on them. While cats, dogs, humans,,, are still dependent on their parents at one month old, chickens are pretty much independent. At 4 – 6 weeks old chicks need protection from full grown chickens and predators, but they do pretty well at foraging and looking for food.
The colors of each breed are becoming more defined. The Barred Rocks are getting their distinctive white specs, Rhode Island Reds are getting a deeper colors red, Australorps are still black as they should be and the Buff Orpingtons are turning a bright yellow gold color.
At around 4 weeks old the chicks have shed their soft birth feathers and have got their real feathers in. Some of the chicks have bald spots from shedding (molting) one set of feathers and getting another set in.
My wife and I got our first new chicks of 2014, 6 Buff Orpingtons and 6 Australorps. Circle 3 Feed here in Jasper Texas got an early shipment of chicks. Usually the chicks do not start shipping until late February and early March, which is when Kristy (my wife) and I got our first set of chicks 2 years ago.
Circle 3 had Bantams, White Leghorns, Australorps and Buff Orpingtons. My wife and I were only interested in the Australorps and Buff Orpingtons.
My wife has been wanting Buffs for a long time. Now that we live in a rural area I told my wife to get as many Buff Orpingtons as she wanted. On Friday February 7th I picked Kristy up 6 Buff Orpingtons, and we are supposed to get another dozen on Monday February 10th.
We have two Australorp hens that are turning 2 years old in 2014. While Circle 3 had them in stock I picked up 6 more.
Lets talk about some good free range dual purpose chickens. These are chickens that are good at free ranging, egg production or for butchering.
For the sake of discussion lets say that some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation has happened. Whether its some kind of new SARS virus, wide spread civil unrest, nuclear war with China, hurricane, blizzard,,, something has happened to disrupt food shipments.
You go out to the chicken coop, survey the flock for dinner, what kind of chickens would you see? Did you focus on egg production, meat production, or both? Did you buy hens that go broody, or did you go with breeds that do not go broody? If you butcher a hen, will it be replaced?
What are some of the traits we are looking for? Lets start with heritage breeds that have a proven track record of over 100 years. The older the breed the better.
Lets look for chickens that weigh at least 6 – 7 pounds before processing, because do we really want to butcher 2 or 3 small hens for a single meal? We want a hen that can go broody, is a good mother, raise her chicks for the next generation, is a good forager and will feed a family of 4.
Awhile back we talked about how many chickens would be needed for SHTF. We came up with a low number of 30 chickens, and a high number somewhere around 70 – 80. At the present time my wife and I have 13 hens.
In the next few months my wife and I are planning on moving to the homestead. Once we get moved, our chicken flock will be increased from 13 hens, to around 25 hens. There are a couple of problems we need to address before we get more chickens, such as – having enough room on the coop, access to feed and access to water.
The current coop size provides each chicken with 3.69 square feet. If the flock is doubled, that gives each chicken 1.84 square feet. 1.84 square feet is not enough room.
I do not want to rebuild the coop. My wife and I put too much time, effort and money into building it the first time, I do not want to build it a second time.
Prepping for SHTF is a never ending process. Unless money is not an issue, chances are people have to divide their efforts between various projects.
Over the past few weeks I have been posting about what my project for 2013 should be. Should it be rabbits, honey bees, both, or maybe even something else?
The question from there needs to be, what project is going to provide my family with the greatest return on our investment?
Which farm animals are the best able to live off the land, have the best food to output ratio, produce the most food for the amount of room they take up.
Cattle: Lets start with the one farm animal that everyone knows in one way or another. Most people eat cheese, butter, steaks, brisket, hamburger,,,, and so on.
The cow is a universally recognized farm animal, but what is it really good for during a long term SHTF situation?
If you butcher a 1,000 pound cow, then you have to have a way to preserve the meat. Do you have a smoker, and a pressure cooker large enough to process a whole cow?
During the middle ages, cows were not a preferred livestock. Which was mainly because they are so large it takes great effort to preserve the meat.
To be perfectly honest, the Barred Rock chicken is one of my favorite breeds. My first exposure to the Barred Rock was back in the late 1980s. My first wife and I got some chicks around 1988 0r 1989, raised them for around a year or so, then butchered them.
Some of my favorite points about the Barred Rock:
Friendly – one of my rocks will walk right up to me, let me pick it up and pet it. The other rock stays at arms length, but does not act scared.
Foraging – Barred Rocks seem to be excellent foragers. They are always wanting to get out of the coop to explore. When I open the coop to let the chickens free range, the Rhode Island Reds and Rocks are the fist ones out the door.
Good layers – My rocks lay just about every day. If they do not lay everyday, they lay about every other day.
Good meat chicken – Its been a few years since I have butchered a Barred Rock, from what I remember these chickens have a good thick breast and plenty of meat on them.
Cold Hardy – The Plymouth Rock (aka Barred Rock) was developed in the New England part of the United States. With the Rock being cold hardy, they are supposed to keep laying through the winter, but with decreased production.
Quiet – The hens do not make a lot of noise.
Homestead VS Bug Out Location, which on is better and why? Instead of trying to discuss the merits of each, why not combine the two?
Instead of trying to maintain a home in an urban area, and a remote camp, why not build a homestead and make it your Bug Out Location? This way your time and money are not divided between two separate places.
For a lot of people, living in a rural area is not an option. Their job is in the city, and that is where they need to live. There are a number of people that live in rural areas, or in small towns. Lets talk about the people who are thinking about relocating to a rural area away from town.
For this article lets focus on 5 things – food, water, shelter, security, and some other small topics that we can group together.
From wikipedia – The Chicken of Tomorrow is a 1948 documentary short film about advances in chicken and egg farming. This mini-documentary was narrated by Lowell Thomas and is in the public domain.
The film was mocked in a seventh-season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
The Chicken of Tomorrow deals with poultry farming and egg farming in the mid 1940s. Filmed to educate the public about how poultry and eggs are farmed, it also deals with how advances in genetic engineering and technology produces a larger chicken. Eggs are farmed and kept in industrial incubators, and an equal number of chickens are used for meat and other products. Altogether, this produces more food for less money, and allows people to support local poultry farms without breaking the bank. This is relatively similar to today’s poultry farming despite there now being technological differences.
The chicken of tomorrow should provide some food for thought for survivalist who are raising chickens. Do you want a flock of skinny chicken for your family? Or do you want types of chickens that have plump full breast and will lay plenty of eggs?
Do you want chickens that are slow growers and susceptible to disease? Or do you want chickens that mature quickly, lay good quality eggs, have a nice thick breast and resistant to disease?
When the SHTF do you have a sustainable food source already setup? Or do you plan on bugging out to the wilderness with your family and foraging for food? Given the options, I would rather stay at home and have fresh eggs and oatmeal – eggs from my chickens and oatmeal from my food stockpile.
In mid-late 2011 my wife and I talked about getting chickens. I started looking at coop design, types and breeds, drawing designs for my own coop, working up a bill of material, cost,,, just general plans.
August 23 2012, got 10 eggs.
First 5 chicks were 3 Black Jersey Giants and 2 brown Speckled Sussex. 1 black Jersey giant and 1 Speckled Sussex died.
Next set of chicks were 2 Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth rock), 2 silver laced wyandottes and 2 australorps.
Next set were 4 Rhode Island Reds.
You want the world to End, But subscribe to a Survival group….. I hate my VCR I wish Y2K bug was Real….
My reply was,
No, I do not want the world to end. But just in case something happens, I want to be prepared.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Some people take prepping a little too far. They prepare for the worst regardless of where they are at or what they are doing. I agree with having a get home bag. But on the other side of the coin there are people that keep a complete Bug Out Bag along with a small arsenal in their vehicle. Reading what some people post in forums, its like they are prepping for a zombie invasion to breakout at any second. Unlike what is portrayed on TV, the majority of preppers do not live on the fringe of society. We are everyday people living in the cities, suburbs and rural areas all across the world.
When people look at prepping, they get on the forum and get a little overwhelmed by what they see. It is easy to forget that some of the members of the forum have been prepping for decades.