Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: raising chickens

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.

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?

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

Our First Dozen Eggs

Dozen fresh yard eggsIts official, my wife and I got our first dozen eggs. The eggs are rather small, but they will get larger as the chicken matures. My aunt calls the first eggs a chicken lays “pullet eggs”.

The first egg was laid on July 14, 2012

The 12th eggs was laid on July 22, 2012.

The chickens went from laying one egg every other day, to laying 3 eggs in one day. For the past 3 days, the chickens have been laying 3 eggs a day.

It took around 4 months and 3 weeks before the first egg was laid. After the chickens starting laying, the rate of laying has picked up dramatically. Hopefully the rate of laying will continue to pick up over the next few weeks. As of right now, I think only 3 of my 13 hens are laying. When all of the hens start laying, I am hoping to get anywhere from 6 – 10 eggs a day.

My wife and I have 13 chickens:
2 Black Giants
1 Speckled Sussex
2 Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth Rocks)
2 Silver Laced Wyandotte
2 Australorps

From now on, my family and I do not have to buy our eggs from the grocery store. During a long term SHTF survival situation, my family will have a source of protein and a source of fresh food.

Chickens have been a vital food source to humans for thousands of years. There is no need to change now.

Chickens are starting to lay eggs

Dozen fresh yard eggs

All of our hard work is finally starting to pay off, one of the hens has started to lay eggs. This means my family and I will have a source of fresh food (especially protein) during a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation.

February 25, 2012 – got our first 5 chicks, 3 Black Jersey Giants and 2 Speckled Sussex. One of the Black Jersey Giants and 1 of the Speckled Sussex died.

March 3, 2012 – bought 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes and 2 Australorps.

Around March 7, 2012 – bought 4 Rhode Island Reds.

After it was all over with, my wife and I had 13 chickens.

Around March 21st or March 22nd the chicks were moved to their new coop. For the first few weeks the chicks were in a plastic box that was being kept in the bathtub. My wife and I take showers, so the bathtub is rarely used.

First chicken video posted on February 25, 2012

Six Month Window Post TEOTWAWKI

Pullet egg

Some kind SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation has happened, how long will take you to get your food production up and running? How long do you think it will take you to plant your garden, get some livestock, build a pen to keep your livestock secure from predators… etc?

I learned something today, or rather something happened today that helped me set a 6 month timeline as the post SHTF window – my wife and I got our first egg.

We got your first chicks on February 25, 2012. the first batch was 3 Black Jersey Giants, and 2 Speckled Sussex. Within a couple of days of obtaining the chicks, 1 of the Jersey Giants died, and 1 of the Speckled Sussexs died. This left 2 Black Giants and 1 Speckled Sussex.

1 week later (March 3) my wife and I obtained 6 more chicks – 2 Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth Rocks), 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte and 2 Australorps.

Around March 7 my wife and I obtained 4 Rhode Island Reds.

All 13 of the chicks were around 2 days old when they were bought.

Why Chickens Are The Perfect Pet

Looking for the perfect pet? Look no further then the chicken.

Why is the chicken the perfect pet? That is a good question, so lets talk about it.

House training

Chickens can not be house trained, so you know you have to keep them outside. Dogs on the other hand, they have “accidents” where they piss and crap on the floor. A cat has to have a litter box. But with a chicken, you keep it outside, so it never crap on the floor.

Chickens make eggs

What does your dog make, besides piles of crap?

What does your pet fish make, besides a dirty fish tank?

Chicken coop update May 14 2012

Chicken house with attached run

As 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.

How to build a window for a chicken coop

Raising chickens for shtf / teotwawki

When 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.

Chicken Coop Project Part 4

Chicken Coop Perch

A 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.

Saturday April 14 my wife and I went a birthday party / crawfish boil for a buddy of mine. At the party, my buddy boiled 250 pounds of crawfish. On the side he had sliced brisket, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, sausage, potatoes, corn,,, it was just an amazing feast.

Sunday April 15 is when my wife and I reworked the perch of the chicken coop. We caught the chickens and tossed them down the ladder and into the bottom section of the coop. The ladder was pulled up and secured so the chickens could not come back up the ladder.

Chicken Coop Project Part 3

Chicken coop

Unlike 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.

Materials:

  • 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

For 2 of the walls:

2 boards 8 feet long were laid in parallel on level ground

3 boards were cut 6 feet long

Trying to raise chickens part 3

Chicken feeder and waterer

My 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 probably 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.

Chicken Coop Project Part 2

The 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.

Raising chickens is a labor of love

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.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018