Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: chickens

What Is The Best Livestock For SHTF

Pigs raised for slaughter

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.

Best Chicken Breeds For SHTF

Speckled Sussex, Australorp, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red

What chicken breeds are best for a long term SHTF survival situation? Most breeds are good foragers, but we want something that would make a good meat chicken, good layer, good breeder, is friendly with other chickens and deals with confinement well.

Chickens are an excellent livestock choice for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI. Eggs are a good source of protein, fats and essential amino acids. Chicken meat is a good source of protein. Chickens can be let out out of the chicken coop during the day, and they will return to the coop at night. Which is unlike other livestock that will wonder off if let out of their pen.

There are more chicken breeds than someone can shake a stick at. For the sake of this discussion, let’s look at heritage chicken breeds that have been established for more than 100 years. This gives the breed a century to prove itself. If a chicken breed is going to work out, then this gives it a century to succeed or fail

My suggestions are the Barred Rock (which is part of the Plymouth Rock family), Rhode Island Red and the Australorp.

Barred Rock

Farming Gardening and Hunting After SHTF

Barred Rock chicken

Let’s say some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation happens tomorrow, what would your long term farming, gardening and hunting plans be?

Do you plan on hunting for most of your food from livestock, gardening, hunting or a combination of food sources?

Long term survival plans after SHTF

One of the common theories in the various survivalist communities is that a family will grab their bug out bags, head to the hills where they will live off the land.

In theory this may sound fine and dandy.

In reality, chances are the family is going to starve to death.

If various humanoids have gone extinct over the past 100,000 years, what makes a family think they can survive with very few primitive survival skills?

The long term survivability of humans is directly related to much much food we can produce, and not how much food we can hunt or gather. There is a physical limitation to how many miles a person can walk in a day. There is a physical limitation to how much weight a person can carry.

Observations on types of chicken feed and egg production

Over the past couple of months my chickens were fed different types of feed along with their laying mash. During this observation the hens were between 7 – 8 months old.

Chickens eating table scrapsBreeds include Barred rock, Rhode island red, Jersey giant, Silver laced wyandotte, Australorp and Speckled sussex.

Time of year during this observation was August – early October. Daytime temps ranged between the mid 80s – mid to upper 90s.

Oats, hen scratch and laying crumbles

For close to a month the chickens were given a 4 – 5 ounce scoop of feed oats, 4 – 5 ounces of hen scratch, a 3 – 4 ounce scoop of crushed oyster shell for calcium. Free access to Arrow Feeds poultry laying crumbles was provided at all times.

The Hens were let out of the coop early in the morning right around sunrise. The mixture of feed oats, hen scratch and ground oyster shell were spread over the ground for the chickens to pick up.

Egg production slowly dropped until the hens were laying around 5 – 6 eggs a day.

Feeding Poultry

Experiments have demonstrated that what may be called the gastric juice in fowls has not sufficient power to dissolve their food, without the aid of the grinding action of the gizzard. Before the food is prepared for digestion, therefore, the grains must be subjected to a triturating process; and such as are not sufficiently bruised in this manner, before passing into the gizzard, are there reduced to the proper state, by its natural action.

Chickens eating table scrapsThe action of the gizzard is, in this respect, mechanical; this organ serving as a mill to grind the food to pieces, and then, by means of its powerful muscles, pressing it gradually into the intestines, in the form of pulp. The power of this organ is said to be sufficient to pulverize hollow globules of glass in a very short time, and solid masses of the same substance in a few weeks.

The rapidity of this process seems to be proportionate, generally, to the size of the bird. A chicken, for example, breaks up such substances as are received into its stomach less readily than the capon; while a goose performs the same operation sooner than either. Needles, and even lancets, given to turkeys, have been broken in pieces and voided, without any apparent injury to the stomach. The reason, undoubtedly, is, that the larger species of birds have thicker and more powerful organs of digestion.

POULTRY STOCK, BREEDING, AND CROSSING

The following article was taken from:

Poultry: A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition.

Author: Hugh Piper

Publication Date: 1872

Keep only good, healthy, vigorous, well-bred fowls, whether you keep them to produce eggs or chickens, or both. The ill-bred mongrel fowls which are so commonly kept, are the most voracious, and consume larger quantities of food, without turning it to any account; while well-bred fowls eat less, and quickly convert that into fat, flesh, and eggs.

“Large, well-bred fowls,” says Mr. Edwards, “do not consume more food than ravenous, mongrel breeds. It is the same with fowls as with other stock. I have at this moment two store pigs, one highly bred, the other a rough, ill-bred animal. They have, since they left their mothers, been fed together and upon the same food. The former, I am confident (from observation), ate considerably less than the latter, which was particularly ravenous. The former pig, however, is in excellent condition, kind, and in a measure fat; whereas the latter looks hard, starved, and thin, and I am sure she will require one-third more food to make bacon of.”

Poultry Nutrition

The following article was taken from:

Poultry: A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition.

Author: Hugh Piper

Publication Date: 1871

With the introduction of commercial grade feed a lot of these lessons from the past are falling to the wayside. During a long term SHTF situation, this type of information will probably come in handy.

Protein, one great secret of profitable poultry-keeping is, that hens cannot thrive and lay without a considerable quantity of protein, and therefore if they cannot obtain a sufficient quantity in the form of insects, it must be supplied in meat, which, minced small, should be given daily and also to all fowls in winter, as insects are then not to be had.

Mr. Baily says: “Do not give fowls meat, but always have the bones thrown out to them after dinner; they enjoy picking them, and perform the operation perfectly. Do not feed on raw meat; it makes fowls quarrelsome, and gives them a propensity to peck each other, especially in moulting time if the accustomed meat be withheld.” Take care that long pieces of membrane, or thick skin, tough gristle or sinew, or pieces of bone, are not left sticking to the meat, or it may choke them, or form a lodgment in the crop.

Chicken House Lessons From The Past

The following article was taken from:

Poultry: A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition.

Author: Hugh Piper

Publication Date: 1871

In this work we shall consider the accommodation and requisites for keeping fowls successfully on a moderate scale, and the reader must adapt them to his own premises, circumstances, and requirements. Everywhere there must be some alterations, omissions, or compromises.

We shall state the essentials for their proper accommodation, and describe the mode of constructing houses, sheds, and arranging runs, and the reader must then form his plan according to his own wishes, resources, and the capabilities of the place. The climate of Great Britain being so very variable in itself, and differing in its temperature so much in different parts, no one manner or material for building the fowl-house can be recommended for all cases.

Plans for poultry establishments on large scales for the hatching, rearing, and fattening of fowls, turkeys, ducks, and geese, are given in our smaller work on Poultry.

Egg Recipes

Dozen fresh yard eggs

Chickens are probably the perfect livestock for a long term SHTF survival situation. Unlike a lot of farm animals, chickens will produce food every couple of days in the form of an egg. Once the chicken has matured and stopped laying, the chicken can be butchered and eaten.

One of the problems that people will experience after SHTF will be food fatigue. Even though the chickens may be laying eggs everyday, once food fatigue kicks in people will be sick of eggs.

To help ward off food fatigue, here is a list of various egg recipes.

OMELETTE

3 fresh eggs.
1 cup sweet milk.
3 level tablespoonfuls of flour.

Place a small pan on the range, containing one tablespoonful of butter.

Place 3 tablespoonfuls of flour in a bowl, mixed smoothly with a portion of the cup of milk, then added the three yolks of eggs which had been lightly beaten and the balance of the milk and a pinch of salt.

Stir in lightly the stiffly-beaten whites of eggs.

Pour all into the warmed fry-pan and placed it in a moderately hot oven until lightly browned on top.

The omelette when cooked should be light and puffy, and remain so while being served.

Double the omelette together on a hot platter and sprinkle finely chopped parsley over the top.

Serve immediately.

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.

Four chicken breeds survivalist should consider

Are you thinking about getting chickens for urban survival, or as part of your long term survival plans?

Lets say SHTF, what are the breeds of chickens you should focus on? In my opinion, some of the better chicken breeds for survivalist are the Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Speckled Sussex and Australorp.

Rhode Island Red inside chicken coopRhode Island Red

Cock / Roster average weight: 8.5 lbs
Hen average weight: 6.5 lbs
Good foragers
Dual purpose for egg production and butchering
Egg production: around 200 eggs a year

My grandparents kept Rhode Island Reds back in the 1960s and early 1970s. Dad told me Rhode Island Reds are good at foraging and finding their own food.

Early 2012 my wife and I bought 4 Rhode Island Reds for our flock. Out of all the chickens we have, the RIR are the most friendly and affectionate. When I open the door to the coop, the RIRs walk up the ladder to greet me. I can pick up my RIRs as easily as I can pick up the family cat.

From time to time my wife and I will let a couple of the chickens out of the coop. The Rhode Island Reds go to work scratching through the leaves looking for something to eat.

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, have a nice thick breast and resistant to disease?

Moving To The Homestead Part 1

The time has come to move to a rural area, get the farm setup with a garden and livestock. My wife I currently live about 4 miles outside Jasper Texas. Its time to move ever further away from town.

With the way this nation is heading, families need to be looking at how they are going to afford to buy food and provide basic essentials for their families. One example, my wife and I buy canned refried beans to make homemade burritos with. In the past 2 years the price of the canned beans has gone up almost 20%. I bet your wages have not gone up 20% in that same amount of time. The price of ground meat has gotten terrible. Pork chops used to be cheap, and now they cost a pretty penny.

At 44 years old I am getting too old to go back to school to retrain for a new career. Instead of waiting until the last minute to make my retirement plans, I want to start 20 – 25 years ahead of time.

This morning my wife and I made a trip to the farm, took some measurements and talked about what we wanted to do. The main things we wanted to focus on were shelter, food, water and sewage. These are the basic essentials that anyone would need during a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation.

Farm diagram for Bug Out Location

On the left side of the property is a wilderness area owned by a local timber company. Due to the way the terrain is laid out, nobody will ever be able to build there.

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.

Chickens For Urban Survival

Example of a backyard chicken coop

Out of all of the problems facing urban survivalist, fresh food and fresh water are probably at the top of the list. Sure there are lots of other problems, such as looters and other pest. But without fresh food and safe drinking water, life is going to go downhill pretty quick.

Why would chickens be a good choice for urban survival? They are easy to raise, they lay eggs just about all year long, the eggs are a good source of fats and protein, and if you need to, you can eat the chicken. The protein and the fats address at least two nutritional requirements of your long term survival plans.

Here is an interesting youtube video that talks about some of the aspects in raising backyard chickens.

Chickens are flock animals. Meaning they will not do well by themselves. If you are planning on getting some backyard chickens, plan on getting at least 3 or 4 of them. If you get 2 chickens, and 1 dies, then that puts stress on the lone chicken.

Chickens are Ideal Fr Urban Survival

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018