Entries Tagged ‘livestock’

All of the new chickens are gone

I need to explain the title in a little more detail.  When my wife and I moved to the farm in July – August 2013 we brought with us 13 hens. These hens were a year and a half old.

Between February – March 2014 my wife and I bought around 20 chicks. These chicks were only a day or two old and were bought from local farm supply stores here in Jasper Texas.

We are back to 13 hens and one rooster. Some of the original chickens disappeared, and the new ones took their place. But we are back to the original number we started with.

Between a chicken hawk, fox or coyote, and my dogs killing the chickens, the ratio of new chickens that have died sits at 100 percent.

My wife and I loaned a rhode island red rooster to my cousin, he is doing good. My wifes buff orpington rooster had a stroke. Those are the two extra chickens we have left out of the new we bought.

It is rather depressing to put so much time and effort into raising something, then a dog, coyote, fox, or chicken hawk takes all your hard work.

Last weekend my dogs caught one of the new rhode island reds and tore her up pretty good. To end her suffering she was put down.

For those of you who follow my youtube channel, yall know I have been working on a new chicken yard. The new yard is working well. The dogs stay on one side the the fence and the chickens stay on the other side.

The chicken that was killed last weekend got out of the yard. I can only do so much to protect my chickens. They have to stay in the yard when the dogs are loose.

6 weeks ago my wife and I ordered another batch of 20 chicks plus one rooster off the internet. These are doing much better than the original set we got in February – March. They are being kept in an enclosed run and not allowed to roam free. When they reach around 4 – 5 months old they will be moved into the new chicken yard.

It is really depressing when you put so much time and effort into a project, then something comes along and takes away your hard work.

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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One of my Silver Laced Wyandottes died

The day start out as any other.  I woke up, threw some clothes on and went out to the chicken house to let the chickens out.  This has been my daily routine for 2 years.

Today was different.  When I opened the door, one of my Silver Laced Wyandottes was laying on the floor dead.  I opened the door to let the chickens out, then grabbed the Silver Laced Wyandotte to get it out of the chicken house.  The body was cold and rigor mortis had set in.

A couple of days ago something killed one of my Black Jersey Giants.  That is two of my full grown hens who were 2 years old have either died or been killed. That sucks.  It really sucks.  These hens were in their prime years, spring is here, egg production is picking back up and bam out of nowhere this Silver Laced Wyandotte dies out of nowhere.

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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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Taking care of new baby chicks

Are you interested in raising some baby chicks, but are worried about how difficult it is to get started? If you take the right precautions raising chicks is neither difficult or hard, but it is a labor of love.

Chicks are small and cute, but provided they have the right conditions they are not fragile. During the late winter and early spring hundreds of thousands of chicks are mailed from hatcheries to farm supply stores and directly to customers. The vast majority of those chicks arrive alive and well.

Baby chicks should be provided with 5 things, safe place that will protect them from predators, heat lamp / heat source, food, water, and a clean place to sleep.

Let’s discuss each of those points in detail.

Keeping chicks safe

Baby chicks are an easy target for just about any kind of predator. They are an easy target for house cats, feral cats, aerial predators, snakes, opossums, minks, weasels, raccoons,,, to name a few.

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Help make a chick growth chart

Any readers of this blog and forum members wish to contribute to a chick weight / growth chart?

In my possession I have Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Australorp chicks. All of them are less than a week old. When I get some Barred Rocks on Thursday, February 13th I plan on weighing them also. I picked these breeds for certain qualities such as egg and meat production.

Yesterday I weighed a random selection of the chicks and recorded the weight in ounces. Ounces did not seem to be accurate enough, so I switched to grams.

The plan is to weigh a random selection of chicks everyday, record their weight, then figure out an average. The goal is to enter the information into a spread sheet and chart the growth of each breed. This will give survivalist an idea about which breeds grow the fastest.

Out of my 6 australorps and 6 buffs I weighed 4 of each breed.

Out of my 3 rhode island reds I weighed all three.

The project will continue until I get bored and decide to work on something else. But I would like to continue this for at least 4 – 6 weeks.

Anyone wish to be part of this project? If so weigh at least 3 or 4 chicks in grams, post the weights or averages, age of the chick in days, type of feed and breed.

Type and brand name of feed is important to know, as we can chart that as well

Visit this link if you wish to help with the growth chart.

Please post any information you wish to share in the forum thread.

Random picture of one of my Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpington chick

Chickens see snow for first time

Chickens in snow
Thursday January 23rd we started to get snow here in southeast Texas, I am in the Jasper area to be exact. Between Thursday night and into Friday morning at sunrise we ended up with 2 inches of snow on the ground and 3 inches of snow on the top of the chicken house and other places off the ground.

When I let the hens out in the morning they usually run out of the house and start looking for food. With snow on the ground it was a nopeday. As in nope, they are not going outside. The hens would go down the ladder to under the chicken house. Look around for a few minutes, then go back up the ladder.

After about 6 hours I finally took a couple of hens and set them out in the snow. From there things were ok.

When my wife and I built this chicken house off the ground I was worried about how the chickens would do in cold weather. This is the second winter and so far none of the hens have shown any signs of frostbite.

Forum thread – Chickens see snow for first time

Meat Production After SHTF

There are all kinds of articles out there talking about meat after SHTF.  You want to know what is missing in a lot of those articles?  Exact details.Cooking at the Bug Out Location

Awhile back we talked about how many chickens would be needed for SHTF.  I would like to do this article in the same manner as the chicken article.

Lets start with one very important question, and that is how much meat does the average person eat?  To find the answer lets turn to the US census.

Per Capita Consumption of Major Food Commodities

Average US meat consumption in 2009:

Commodity Weight / Number
Red Meat, includes beef, veal, lamb and pork. 105.7 pounds
Poultry, includes chicken and turkey. 69.4 pounds
Eggs 246 eggs

For right now lets exclude eggs and focus on red meat and poultry.  We will talk about eggs later.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Building A Rabbit Hide Box

A rabbit hideaway box serves several purposes – it provides a place for the rabbit to hide, provides the doe with a birthing box for her litter, and provides a high place for a lookout point. Rabbits are prey animals, and as such will want to hide when they are scared.Rabbit hideaway box

The rabbit hutch was built a couple of weeks ago, so now it is time to build the hideaway boxes.  One box will be built for the doe and one box will be built for the buck.

The first hide box was built 20 inches X 24 inches.  After the box was placed in the hutch it seemed a little large.

The second box was built 16 inches X 20 inches.  Even at 16X20 the box seems a little big.

I may cut that down to 12 X 20, but it will be after the rabbits are grown.  Right now the boxes seem a little large, but the rabbits still have a lot of growing to do.

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Finishing The Rabbit Hutch

My wife and I started the rabbit hutch last weekend. And as things happen in life we ran out of time and were unable to finish the hutch. This weekend we were going to be a little pressed for time, but I was hoping to get it finished. Besides the hutch my wife and I had a pageant for my daughter in Newton Texas on Saturday, then a birthday party for two of the grandkids on Sunday. Saturday was a no-go, so we only had Sunday to work on the hutch.Complete rabbit hutch

Sunday morning my wife and I moved the rabbit hutch from in front of the wood shed to under a large oak tree in the back yard. When my wife asked why we were moving the hutch to work on it, I asked her if she wanted to work in the sun.

The drops from the legs are long enough to make cross members for the floor. When the floor was being built a cross member was placed every 2 feet. This left a space of 2×3 feet that was not supported. As a result there was a lot of slack in the floor. After the extra cross members were installed the floor was reenforced and the extra slack was removed.

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Building A Rabbit Hutch

Have you considered raising rabbits as part of your long term SHTF survival plans?  Rabbits are easy to raise, do not take a lot of room, do not make a lot of noise,, what is there not to like about rabbits?

A couple of weeks ago my wife and daughter got a two Californian white rabbits.  The rabbits can not stay in their cage in the kitchen forever; the time has come to build a hutch and move them outside.Californian rabbit

Instead of building or buying some simple wire cages, my wife and I decided to build a solid rabbit hutch.  This is something that will fit into my chicken coop plans with no change of design or other major alteration.  The rabbit hutch my wife and I built this weekend is a total of 8 feet long, divided in half gives each rabbit a space of 3 feet by 4 feet, for a total of 12 square feet.

If I am going to keep rabbits and chickens, I want to make sure they are treated humanly, protected from the elements, and have plenty of room.

Bill of material

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Starting My Rabbit Project

For the sake of discussion let’s say that some kind of SHTF situation occurred.  Whether it is widespread civil unrest, nuclear war, financial collapse,,, something has happened to disrupt food shipments as well as infrastructure.California white rabbit

How do you plan on providing fresh vegetables, fruit and meat for your family? In other articles we have discussed gardening, beans, squash, potatoes and chickens (only to mention a few topics we have discussed). So lets talk about rabbits for a little bit.

Why Rabbits

Easy to raise
Eat a variety of grass
Reproduce like crazy,,, well, they reproduce like rabbits
Easy to butcher
Easy to cook
Do not require a lot of space
Do not make a lot of noise
Large enough to feed a small family
Poop makes excellent fertilizer

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Using Easter To Kick Start Chicken And Rabbit Project

Easter is next weekend, April 31, 2013. If you live in the burbs or in a rural area you may see people selling rabbits and chicks on the side of the road. Or you may be seeing ads in the local paper for chicks and Easter bunnies for sale.

Public Service Reminder, please think before you buy live animals for Easter.Chickens in the chicken coop

Those bunnies and colored chicks are cute, but they will soon grow up.

The majority of live animals bought for Easter will either be abandoned, or will die before they turn a year old.

I have bought my kids bunnies for Easter before. But we also built the rabbit hutch and took care of the rabbits. It was a fun project for the whole family.

But then again, not everyone wants to invest the time, effort or money into building a rabbit hutch. Keep in mind some cities prohibit keeping rabbits and chickens. It would be a shame to buy a couple of chicks, then find out your family will not be able to keep them.

[Read the rest of this entry…]

Breeding Barred Rock Chickens

Over the past couple of years I have looked at several chicken breeds to develop a self-sustaining chicken flock. Some of the breeds I have looked at are the Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Dominique and Australorp (only to name a few).  This article will focus on the Barred Rock, which is part of the Plymouth Rock family of chickens.

Why should we care about the Barred Rock? It is a good dual purpose chicken which has been raised for well over 100 years.

I do not consider the Barred Rock a high egg producer chicken, as it only lays around 200 eggs a year. There are breeds out there that lay well over the 200 egg mark. The Barred Rock makes up for its average egg production with its size, hardiness, and its meat quality.

While looking for information on various chicken breeds I came across this youtube posted by FarmRaised which talks about breeding the Barred Rock.

This video brings up some good topics for discussion:

Separate the chickens into groups based on desired traits.

Breed for size and traits.

Weigh the roosters and hens so your flock maintains a steady size.

Related ArticleHow many chickens for SHTF

Some of my long term plans

There are some of my personal plans and are not based off the video.

Lets start out with around 15 – 20 hens, and either 3 or 4 roosters.

Divide the hens into 3 – 4 groups based on various traits.

Use a cable tie to mark the various groups. Cable ties are cheap, easy to put on, easy to take off and are available in a wide range of colors.

Then its a matter of breeding the flocks so the parents do not breed with their children or grandchildren.

Forum ThreadLets talk about the Barred Rock

Uncle Sam Wanted You to Raise Chickens

There was once a time when Uncle Sam (the U.S. Government) wanted people to raise chickens. This was especially true in times of war when our troops needed food.

Unfortunately those days are far behind us. If a city dweller tried to raise chickens today, they would probably be sued by the city and forced to get rid of the flock.

What does that say about us as a nation when we turn away from time honored traditions of raising our food, only to become dependent on a grocery store?

Uncle sam wants you to raise chickens

I often wonder how the typical city dweller would act if the grocery store shelves were empty? How would society react if the government started rationing food like what happened in World War II?

[Read the rest of this entry…]




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