Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: chickens for teotwawki

First chicks of 2014

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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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Chicken project 6 month update

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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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Chicken coop update May 14 2012

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Chicken coop with runAs part of our long term preps, my wife and I decided to get some chickens and build a chicken coop.  We bought our first chicks on February 25.  Over the next week and a half we ended up with 13 chicks.

Instead of trying to stockpile #10 cans of freeze dried eggs, why not have a supply of fresh eggs?  Nutrition wise, fresh eggs are a lot better then freeze dried eggs loaded with sodium.

On the weekend of March 17 the first half of the chicken coop was built.

On the weekend of April 7 the second half of the chicken coop was built.

The chickens are starting to get cramped in their coop and area below the coop, so its time to build a run.  The run will provide a the chickens with room to get our from under the coop.


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How to build a window for a chicken coop

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Chickens in the chicen coopWhen I first started looking at building my chicken coop, the first thing I did was go out on the net and look for pictures. There are all kinds of examples out there, but I needed to go cheap. Cheap as in building the window out of scrap material. I see no reason to buy a window, when one can be made from left over scraps from building the coop.

Besides ventilation, the screened in vent windows allow the chickens to be viewed without opening the doors.  At ni time, if you want to check on the chickens, walk up to the coop, look in through the screened in windows to check on the chickens.

In the following article I will try to describe how to install a screened in window for a chicken coop.  If some steps are left out, I apologize.  But hopefully this article can give you the general idea.

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Chicken project two month update

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Chickens in the chicken coopThe first set of dear little chickens turned two months old on April 25th, and what a trip it has been. Part of my long term SHTF survival plans include getting chickens and building a chicken coop. the goal was to have a secure chicken coop and egg production up and running by the middle of 2012. So far things have been running according to plan.

Over the past two months there have been several changes to the plans.

The first plan was to only have 4 or 5 chickens, but those plans quickly changed. My wife and I bought 5 chicks, of those five, two died.

One week after buying the first set of chicks, my wife and I bought 6 more.

About 3 or 4 days after buying the 6 chicks, we bought 4 more.

This left us with a total of 13 chicks. 13 is about 2 – 3 times what my wife and I had originally planed on having. During the initial planning phases dimensions of the chicken coop had been calculated so that each chicken had plenty of room. Now that we had 13 chicks instead of just 3, things had to change. The first thing that had to change was the square footage per bird.

The first coop was a simple 4 foot by 6 foot box – with 3 feet of hardware cloth, and 1 foot of laying boxes.

The second coop is 8 feet long and 6 feet wide. This equals out to around 3.23 square feet per chicken in the coop and another 3.23 square feet under the coop.

Lessons learned

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Chicken Coop Project Part 4

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Chicken Coop PerchA few weeks ago someone posted a comment on one of my chicken coop videos saying the chickens may fight to get to the highest perch.  After thinking about it for a little while I decided to redo the sloped chicken perch and make all of the perches the same height.

With making the perches flat, instead of slopped, this would also provide more room for the chickens.

Friday April 13 braces were installed around the bottom of the coop.  After the braces were in place, 36 inch tall by 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was secured around the bottom of the coop.  3/4 inch hot dipped galvanized staples were used to secure the hardware cloth.  The staples were spaced about every 6- 10 inches, and on alternating rows on the hardware cloth.  If all of the staples are on the same row of wire, there seems to be a lot of slack in the hardware cloth.  Alternating the staples seems to help with the slack.

Related Articles

Chicken Coop Project Part 1
Chicken Coop Project Part 2
Chicken Coop Project Part 3

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Chicken Coop Project Part 3

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Chicken coopUnlike a lot of people that spent Easter weekend going to church and hunting easter eggs, I spent my weekend working on a chicken coop.

Friday morning my wife and I loaded up in the truck, grabbed some lunch at McDonalds, then we went to Parkers lumber in Jasper Texas to get supplies for the chicken coop.

This is what we bought at Parkers:

36 inch x 1/2 inch squares hardware cloth, 10 foot roll
Paint tray
1 box 1 1/2 inch roofing screws with rubber washer
Extra bits for the drill
Skil saw blade
Exterior latex redwood stain paint
14 – treated 2x4s 8 feet long

Chicken coop project part 1

Chicken coop project part 2

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More chicken coop ideas

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Raising chickens for SHTFIn the previous article we built the first 1/2 – 1/3 of the chicken coop.  Now its time to look at building the rest of the coop.

During the final stages of the coop construction, there are 3 things I want to focus on:

Security
Lights
Exhaust fan for the coop – this is a “maybe”

Lets see if we can break this down:

1 solar panel for the hotwire
1 solar panel for the 12 volt battery for lights and exhaust fan

My orginal plans were to run the light, fan and hotwire off one solar unit and a single 12 volt battery. But since the hotwire system has a 6 volt battery,I am going to have to go with 2 solar units. 1 solar for the 6 volt battery and hot wire, 1 solar unit with 12 volt battery for lights and fan.

Security

After I build the rest of the chicken coop and enclose the run, I am thinking about putting a solar power / battery powered hotwire around the edge of the run. Tractor supply has some hotwire systems for various lengths of wire and various sizes of livestock. From what I understand this is supposed to be all-in-one units with solar cell and voltage regulator.

The problem I am running into is the hotwire tractor supply carries is Zareba, and it looks like their systems are 6 volt, and not 12 volt.

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Trying to raise chickens part 3

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Chicken feeder and watererMy first batch of chicks turned one month old on March 25th.  All of the chicks were bought within a week and a half of of each other, so lets say all of the chicks are within 10 days of each other.

When my wife and I bought the chickens we bought two water dispensers.  One of the dispensers was used for food and one was used for food.  The one used for food did not work very well.  But then again, when the chicks were a couple of days old they did not eat very much either.

Waterers

The first two waterers bought were red and screwed onto a pint or quart sized jar.  The chicks quickly outgrew the pint sized jar and had to be upgraded to a quart sized jar.

The quart jar lasted only a few weeks before a 1 gallon sized container had to be bought.  Currently 13 chicks that are about 1 month old take about 2 – 3 days to drink 1 gallon of water.  I keep the quart jar in the coop with the 1 gallon jar just as a backup.  Within the next week or so the quart sized waterer will probbly be removed from the coop.

I imagine that the chicks will have to upgraded to a 3 or 5 gallon waterer before too much longer.

After the coop is finished, I am hoping to have a waterer in the coop and a waterer in the run.  During the summer heat I want to make sure the chickens have access to water 24/7.

Related article – Trying to raise chickens part 1

Feeders

Somewhere in buying the second of third batch of chicks my wife and I bought a “real” chicken feeder. The first feeder we bought is made of plastic, and either a quart of pint jar can screw onto it. At first my wife and I were using glass pint jars, but the chicks quickly outgrew the pint size jars. It was not long before the feeder was upgraded to a quart sized jar. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the chicks have outgrown the quart sized jar.

My wife wanted one of those galvanized chicken feeders that are about 18 inches long, and have a series of holes for the chicks to stick their heads through to get the feed. It looks like a hog trough, but for chickens.

I do not know what it is, but I can put the feeder that is round and has the jar on top of it right next to the trough feeder and the chicks will barely eat out of the trough. The round feeder can run out, and the chicks will knock it over before they eat out of the trough feeder.

Maybe the chicks are used to a round feeder since they used it first? Maybe the trough feeder is too deep and the chicks do not like to stick their head into it?

After watching the chicks ignore the feed in the trough, I had gave up and removed it from the coop.

Now that the chicks are emptying a quart sized jar almost daily, my wife and I decided it was time to upgrade. We went to the local Tractor Supply and bought a feeder that is supposed to hold 7 pounds of feed and has an attachment for hanging it from a string, rope, chain or cable.

While the chicks are getting used to the new feeder I am going to continue to use the small feeder. The two chicken feeders are going to be put next to each other so that the chicks will have the option as to which one they want to use.

The chicks spill a lot of food while they are eating. In an attempt to keep as much food as possible where its accessible by the chicks, the feeders were put on a 1×12 that is about 18 inches long. I was hoping that the feed would spill out on the board, where the chicks can continue to eat. But even with the board in place, the chicks still spill a lot of feed that falls through the hardware cloth and onto the ground.

Related article – Trying to raise chickens part 2

The new 7 pound chicken feeder might last a couple of months before its time to upgrade again. Instead of retiring the 7 pound feeder, it might get moved to one side of the coop and the new feeder on the other side. That way the chickens will not be bunched up when they go to eat.

For the past month the chicks have been fed chick starter food. With the handy chart on the back of the bag, we will probably continue to feed the chicks chick starter through the end of April.

Chicken Coop Project Part 2

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Chicken coopThe first part of the coop was thrown together because rain was on the way. It was either get a section of the coop built and get the roof on it, or everything was going to get wet. Due to the rush, certain things were left off the coop during the first weekend, such as a vent window, the ladder,,, and a few other small details.

March 24 and 25 another door was added to the coop, the egg collection door was finished, the ladder was finished, and a vent window was added.

The second door was cut 24 inches by 24 inches square. The other door which measures 18 inches wide seemed a little narrow. The rugs of the ladder are spaced at 1.5 inches apart. To keep the spacing the same, I used a 2×4 on its side as a spacer. The problem is, 1.5 inches between the boards leaves a large gap for a snake to get through. To hopefully keep the snakes out, 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom to the ladder.

The ladder was completed, except for a draw string to raise and lower the ladder from outside the coop. But then again, I am thinking about not using a string and just reaching through the door to lift the gate by hand. Whether a string is used or not depends on how much chicken crap is on the ladder. If the ladder is covered with crap, its getting a pull string installed.

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My Chicken Coop Project Part 1

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Building a chicken coopA few weeks ago my wife and I picked up 5 chicks, a week later we got 6 more, a few days later we got 4 more.  Two of the chicks died, which left us with a total of 13.  Up until last weekend the chicks had been kept in a large plastic tub, which in turn was being kept in the bathtub.  The chicks can not stay in my house forever, sooner or later they were going to have to go outside.  On Sunday, March 18, 2012 the chicks moved into their new home.

It took about 2 1/2 days, but with the help of my wife and my son, we got the coop built.

Before construction of the coop started I probably spent 2 weeks thinking about the specs, how many laying boxes were needed, how large the coop needed to be, how it was going to be designed, square footage per chicken, types of lumber, how the chickens were going to access the coop, coop security,,, just lots of details were thought out.

One of the first things I did was get out on the internet and look at some chicken coop pictures.  There are a lot of different designs out there, that is for sure.  The plan I wanted was for the coop to be portable.  The type of coop I was aiming for is called a “chicken tractor”.  Its a type of coop that can be moved around the yard.  Once I got some pictures, and got some ideas, it was time to start making sketches.

I took several pieces of paper and made rough sketches of how the lumber was going to fit together.

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Raising chickens is a labor of love

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Chicks inside chicken coopMy wife and I are in 3rd week, going on 4 weeks of having chickens.  One thing I have realized in this short period of time, raising chickens is a labor of love.  Unless you are ready to check on your chickens everyday, feed, water, clean, inspect, worry about,,, don’t even bother.

From February 25 – March 18 the chicks were kept in a plastic box, that was in kept in a bathtub.  On a daily basis I had to clean the tub, replace the newspapers, refill the water and refill the food.  For the last week that the chicks were in the box I put some pine shavings down in the tub.  This made matters worse as the chicks scratched the bottom of the tub and threw the pine shavings into the food and water bowls.  The water bowl was the worse, as the pine shavings soaked up the water and stuck inside the water bowl.

On March 16, 17 and 18, with the help of my wife and my son I built a chicken coop.  On Saturday I only had about 1/2 day for work.  the morning was taken up helping my step-daughter do a beauty pageant.

The coop measures 4 feet wide by 6 feet long, and has 5 laying boxes on the inside.  While building the coop I realized I should have used 4 foot wide hardware cloth, instead of 3 foot wide.  Just having that extra foot would really help out with the perch.

I am thinking about adding a lower set of laying boxes.  The current boxes are screwed into place.  All I would have to do is build the extra boxes, unscrew the current set, lift the current boxes up, slid the new boxes in place, then screw the two sets of boxes together.

For most people, when their kids grow up and move out, they get some kind of pet such as a dog or cat.  My wife and I decided to get chickens.  If we are going to take care of a pet – feed, water, care for,,,, we want something in return.  Its all fine and dandy when your dog wants to play, but fresh eggs are nice to.

Chickens go past the pet mentality, they provide food as well as companionship.  Cats just eat, sleep and want to be petted.  Chickens do all kinds of good stuff, they eat bugs, provide eggs, are fun to watch,,,.

One of the big advantages of keeping chickens over dogs and cats, if you get tired of taking care of chickens, you whack their heads off, pluck the feathers, and put them in the freezer.  If you do that do a dog or cat you will probably get charged with animal abuse.

If you eat a dog or cat everyone freaks out.  If you eat a chicken, nobody cares.

One of the disadvantages to chickens, they are not going to sleep at the foot of your bed, and they can not be house trained.

If you want to something to bark at strangers, a chicken just is not going to get the job done.  When I see a chicken, I am thinking about chicken gumbo or chicken nuggets.  When I see a growling German Shepard, I am thinking about my arms being torn off.

I think it takes a special kind of person to care for chickens.  Some people do not have the patience to care for chickens, some people to not have the patience to care for cats or dogs either.  Where some people just want to throw down a food bowl and water with a cat or dog, that is not going to work with chickens.  What other animal craps in their water bowl?  What other pet walks through a pile of steaming crap, then stands in their food and water bowl?  The only one I can think of is a chicken.

Trying to raise chickens Part 2

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Raising chickensIf you have not read part 1 of this raising chickens series, please do so. Its been over 20 years since I have owned chickens, so this is kind of a new venture as I have fourteen a lot over the past 20+ years.

Week 1 – my wife and I bought 5 chicks. Within the first few days 2 of the chicks died. One of the chicks looked small and weak from the first day. One chick died on day one, second chick died on day 3.

Week 2 – on March 3, 2012 my wife and I went to a local feed store to buy some Production reds. When my wife and i arrived at the store, we were told they had sold the last of the Production Reds just a few minutes before we arrived.

After talking about what we should do, my wife and I decided to go to Farmers Feed on HWY 96 north of Jasper, Texas.

Farmers Feed did not have any Production Reds, but they did have several different types of chickens.  My wife and I decided to buy 2 of each type of chicken, of a total of 6 chicks.  Two of the chicks are Barred Rocks. the other 4 chicks, I can not remember the type. I will call the feed store Monday morning and ask what kind they are selling.

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Trying to raise chickens Part 1

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Raising chickens for shtfIf you are planning on surviving some kind of long term SHTF survival situation, then your plans should include food production. Stockpiling rice, beans, oats, corn, freeze dried foods,,, is fine and dandy. The problem with having a static food supply, it “is” going to run out sooner or later. To expand my families food supply, my wife and I decided to get some chickens.

With the chickens we will have a steady supply of eggs for protein, and if bad turns to worse, we can eat the chickens. Eating the chickens would be a last ditch effort, as I would rather use the chickens for breeding purposes to make more chickens.

This is my first attempt at raising chickens in over 20 years. The last time I had chickens was back around 1989, 1990 and 1991. Over the past 20+ years I have forgotten a lot about raising chickens, but I am sure things will come back.

On the morning of Saturday February 25, 2012 a friend of the family called my wife and told her that Circle Three Feed in Jasper Texas has chicks.  My wife and I grabbed a laundry basket to put the chicks in, then we headed to the feed store.

Upon arriving at the feed store, the lady that was helping us said the chicks were Black Giants, but the proper name was probably Black Jersey Giant.

The plan is to have at least 2 different types of chickens.

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