Entries Tagged ‘chickens for shtf’

Buying chicks in the summer

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.

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Next chick order August 2014

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.

The reason why my wife and I want a variety is for various traits. The Buff and Dominicker are supposed to sit on eggs, one of my Australorps will go broody at least once a year.

In a previous article we talked about the best chicken breeds for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI.  There are so many good breeds out there, it is impossible to pick an absolute best.  In order to expand my knowledge and experience with chickens, I want several different breeds in my flock.

As of right now the Buff Orpington is quickly becoming one of my favorite breeds.

The Dominicker is an old heritage breed dating back to the pioneer days. If a breed of chicken was good enough for the pioneers, it sho0uld be good enough for me.

Would you add or subtract anything from the list my wife and I want to order? Post your comments in this forum thread – What do you think about my next chick order?

 

Planning a new chicken yard

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 6 feet wide X 8 feet long.

The new chicken house is going to be 18 feet wide and 20 feet long.

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Update on the chicken flock

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.

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One month update on the chicks

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.

Why did we pick these 4 breeds

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First chicks of 2014

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.

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2013 Chicken Community Count

For you forum members out there, lets do a running total of how many chickens we have as a community.

I have 13 chickens at this time.

4 – Rhode Island Reds
2 – Silver Laced Wyandotte
2 – Barred Rocks
2 – Australorps
2 – Black Jersey Giants
1 – Speckled Sussex

Next poster add your chickens to my 13, post the total, next poster add your chickens to the total before yours.

Lets make this a year long project. If you add chickens to your flock, add them to the running total.

If any of your chickens die, subtract them from the running total.

Forum Thread – 2013 chicken count thread

Issues With Increasing Chicken Flock Size

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.Homestead chicken coop design

Coop Size

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.

Instead of building a new coop, I am thinking about building in leanto around the existing coop. The chickens would use the existing coop for roosting, then they would have the leanto for when the weather gets bad, or they need some shade.

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What Is The Best Livestock For SHTF

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.

Cows can produce a lot of milk, which in turn is used to make butter and cheese.

Then there is the amount of grazing field a cow requires. If you want a herd of cattle, do you have the room to take care of them? Do you have a fenced in field large enough to left the cattle graze? Do you have a barn large enough so the cattle can be protected from bad weather?

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Thoughts on the Barred Rock Chicken

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.

Barred Rock ChickenThe Barred Rocks my new wife and I got in February 2012 are very much like the ones I had back in the 1980s.

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.

Raising chickens for SHTF

In another article we talked about some of the best chickens for survivalist, of which we discussed the Barred Rock.

If there was some kind of long term SHTF situation, the Barred Rock would be at the top of my list, right next to the Rhode Island Red and Australorp.

The BR has some of the main characteristics that I would look for in a chicken – friendly, good forager, good layer and good meat chicken. What more could you want form a homestead?

The light on dark colors provides the BR with natural camouflage to help avoid predators. The Roman author Columella noted that white chickens should be avoided as they are not very fertile and are easily caught by eagles or goshawks.

Have you raised Barred Rocks? If so, how was your experience?

Do you think the BR would make a good breed of chicken for a Homestead or a for a long term survival situation?

Homestead as a Bug Out Location

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.

Food

Homestead / Bug Out Location garden diagram One of the main purposes of a Homestead Bug Out Location is to be able to grow fresh food. Its one thing to have a years worth of dried beans and rice stored in mylar bags, its something totally different to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sooner or later the #10 cans will run out, sooner or later the mylar bags will run out,,, and then what?

In my chicken coop project I learned that its going to take an estimated 6 months to get a small farm off the ground.

Its possible to work the soil, plant some radishes and have food ready to eat in a matter of 4 – 5 weeks. Radishes grow quick and the whole plant is edible. But who wants to live off radishes? Once you start talking about squash, corn, greens, potatoes and beans, you are looking at 2 – 4 months.

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What survivalist can learn from the chicken of tomorrow project

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 and resistant to disease?

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Chicken project 6 month update

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.

February 25 2012, our first chicks.

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.

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Prepping for the everyday person

Southeast Texas Whitetail DeerThere was an interesting comment posted on the survivalistboards facebook page,

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.

Related Articles:

Long Term Survival Plans
Hunter Gatherer or Farmer Survivalist
Shortsighted Survival Plans
Everyday Carry Gear (EDC)

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.

Prepping is not for the lazy.  Sure you can buy some rice and throw it in an airtight box, buy some canned foods and think you have a well rounded survival plan.  Just because you “think” you have a well rounded plan does not make it true.

Where do we start?  A lot of people start prepping in the wrong order.

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Fundamental foods survivalist should stockpile

Chickens eating watermelonWhen survivalist start stockpiling food, we buy #10 cans and usually store food in mylar bags.  Lets say we had to focus on certain foods, what would those foods be?  Lets look at food that packs a nutritional punch, renewable, easy to grow, easy to harvest and can be stored without modern technology.

How do we decide which foods we should focus on?  Lets narrow our selections to how easy the food is to grow, how well it stores, and the nutrition content.

During a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation, we will being growing and storing our own food.  One thing we do not want to do is dedicate a lot of time and effort into food that contains little nutrition.

In this article I hope to focus on renewable foods.  Foods that we can grow in a home garden or at a Bug Out Location.  During a long term survival situation, people that hope to make it through will need a renewable food source.  It is not enough to stockpile food in mylar bags, or stockpile freeze dried food in #10 cans.  Sooner or later those mylar bags and those cans will be empty.

Honey

Humans have been eating honey for well over 1,000 years.  Some estimates put humans eating honey up to 8,000 years ago.

  • The bees do the work for you, all you have to do is harvest the honey
  • Honey is loaded with trace minerals
  • Honey does not spoil or go rancid
  • Honey inhibits the growth of bacteria, so it can be used in the treatment of wounds and injuries

One of the drawbacks to honey, the bees will sting the crap out of you if you bother the hive. You think your big and bad until a swarm of bees are done with your ass. When its said, done and over with, you will be in a fetal position crying for your mommy.

If you plan on adding honey to your to your preps, either stockpile the crap out of it, or learn how to safely harvest honey.

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