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I don't know about economical, but I do know I loved those chickens so much! We moved and had to get rid of them, and I cried!

The thing about chickens, is they listen, or at least seem to, and their clucking is so sympathetic.

I would go in the back yard and babble about anything and they would just cluck and nod their head in complete agreement.

The eggs were just an added bonus.

 

We hope to have a coop built here at our new home for spring. I do believe they are very therapeutic.

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They're not cheaper than buying commercial chicken meat and eggs at the store.

 

They *are* cheaper to keep / raise your own than buying the really high quality (free range, no abx, etc.) meat and eggs.

 

And they are cheaper "pets" for children to care for than a dog; they are cheaper "entertainment" than subscribing to cable; they are cheaper "nature study" than enrolling in a class at the Audubon 45 minutes away; they are cheaper "economic training" for young children than many other options. :)

 

(In other words, there are so many variables and factors involved that it's just about impossible to make a straight comparison; we're a frugal family that has a LOT of fun keeping chickens, eating wholesome chicken meat (we also eat "conventionally grown" chicken in addition to our own), and learning lots and lots of new egg recipes. Our children sell the extra eggs to other home schoolers, and get to keep a percentage of the profits.)

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I've been researching for a couple of year and find that having them will attract snakes, racoons, and other animals who would like to have a nice chicken dinner.

 

If you dont' have other pets and aren't used to it you might not like being tied down by yet another live thing to feed and care for!

 

Pros: I don't know.. I haven't tried it out yet.

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If you're just buying chicken and eggs at the grocery store, it won't be cheaper to grow your own. If you're buying all natural, hormone and antibiotic free, free range chicken and eggs (not necessarily organic) it will be cheaper to grow your own.

 

We have had chickens for 7 years and the year we had to rent a house and not have them wasn't fun. We get to have an Easter egg hunt every day LOL.

 

Pros:

I love that my kids know where their food comes from. I also love the responsibility they learn taking care of the animals.

 

I adore the number of bugs they eat and those bugs make their eggs yum-o.

 

They make me feel calm when I see them out free ranging.

 

I never waste any food. They get everything we don't eat, except poultry. Some people feed them poultry too, but it doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

 

Cons: You will have the occasional death. That's hard for the kids and us.

 

It's hard to leave to go anywhere. However, most of our friends are quite happy to come take care of them in exchange for keeping the eggs they collect.

 

If they free range, you will have poo in places you don't want. Its not stinky and its not big, but it is a pain at times.

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What would you say are the pros and cons?

 

What are we looking at cost wise-is it more economical to raise your own? Or to buy eggs/meat from the store?

 

We have eight hens and my 4,8, and10 yr old really enjoy them. They are very entertaining and I think the other poster is right about them being therapeutic. I have a kid with special needs and those hens are great with that child. They go for bike rides,swing on the playset, and eat "gourmet" dishes prepared by her.

 

We have eggs coming ou t our ears!

 

The downside is their that they potty everywhere. It is not good if they are too close to the house. They also like to burrow into the dirt an Dave created many bare spots in the yard. Again, they'd need to be away from the house. We put them in our fenced in area to make care easier for the kids and to protect them from predators. We haven' t had any predator problems, but I think we will have to move them for sanitary reasons.

 

Funny story about them communicating. When they were about three months old we took one out by the driveway to show it some grasshoppers. The poor hen wasn't used to being in that part of the yard and was very nervous. It walked,from person to person begging to go home. Finally it walked up to my husband and started to complain to him. Being rather goofy, my husband squatted down and replied,sympathetically. That bird immediately jumped into his arms! He was so startled and all we could do was laugh.

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You should go hang out at Backyardchickens.com some. My son wanted chickens last year and even selling eggs, I don't think we have broken even yet. You need good fencing/run material to keep out predators, a co-op, feed, water (think bill).... If you want to start with chicks, you need lights, a brooder, special feed... That being said, we love our chickens. The eggs are amazing. It took me awhile to build up to eating them though. It just felt weird for some reason. We have not eaten any for meat yet, although we did help butcher one. That is the hard part, really for us. We don't have a processing plant here that will do it for us so we had to find someone that could teach us and help us. We need to cull off some of our flock right now but I don't want to butcher them and we can't find anyone who will let us pay them so we keep feeding some chickens who are not laying.

 

The ducks have been a blast!

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I don't know about economical, but I do know I loved those chickens so much! We moved and had to get rid of them, and I cried!

The thing about chickens, is they listen, or at least seem to, and their clucking is so sympathetic.

I would go in the back yard and babble about anything and they would just cluck and nod their head in complete agreement.

The eggs were just an added bonus.

 

We hope to have a coop built here at our new home for spring. I do believe they are very therapeutic.

 

Aside from all the other pros and cons this is the biggy for us too. Just going outside and watching them is stress relief.

 

However, make no mistake, as kind as they seem I have no doubt that if I suddenly shrunk to mouse proportions they would eat me in a heartbeat. I don't think there's any love in a chicken's heart. I've seen how they treat each other.

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Hmm... This makes it seem like it would be very hard to use them for meat, lol.

 

I love the idea of getting meat and eggs by raising them.. but Im an animal lover and Im sure I would get attatched like you were.:001_smile:

 

Eh. We have laying chickens, meat chickens and meat turkeys. We have really enjoyed the meat birds this year, especially the turkeys but honestly, we'll be happy to ship themoff to the processor next week. They are a LOT of work. You don't get attached to individuals because 25 meat chickens all look alike.

 

My daughter is the great animal lover in our house. She gives her heart to the meat birds but has no issue with eating them. I think her love in Platonic. She loves the ideal. Certainly she loves the material birds but when they go she still has that loe of the ideal chicken or turkey to carry her through to next year. :D

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The pros...

We love to watch them and listen to them clucking. I love knowing when one has laid an egg.

It is nice to walk outside and have them run up to great you looking like little elderly ladies in bloomers as they skitter across the yard.

I don't think we are saving any money on egg buying with them unless we were always buying free range or organic eggs but knowing what goes into our chickens and what we are getting out is nice.

They eat all our table scraps for us.

The kids have gotten lessons in care and raising them. They know a lot about chickens now.

 

The cons...

Ours free range in the backyard and there is a lot of ummm...mess.

They tear up the grass, dig holes, and have made dust bathes out of our raised herb beds.

If you get them as chicks, a bit of money goes into raising them before you get any eggs...but it is really fun to watch them grow up.

We are too attached to ours to eat them.

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I've got about 24 right now, which is about half of what I usually have.

 

They are fun to watch.

 

Lot of work. Have to let them out and put them up. Predators everywhere. It's a real pita to find someone to watch them if I want to go out of town. Expensive.

 

I'd like to give them up but I know I'd miss them.

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Pros

- Fresh eggs on demand

- Fun to watch

- Eat bugs in the yard

- Good meat

- Good chore for the kids & I

- 4H fun!

 

Cons

- Feed is expensive $15 for non organic vegetarian. More for Organic.

- Eggs in our area don't see for more so the feed expense is more than produce

- Feeding them in the winter is brrrrrrr!

- When one gets hurt or sick it's really sad

- They ate most of my green tomatoes this summer, zucchini, and the biggest watermelon we grew! Next year, a fence!

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Meat birds are yucky by the time they are old enough for slaughter. They are a lot of work, and you won't be sorry to see them go. Including the cost of processing, they cost us the same as supermarket chicken.

 

Laying hens are wonderful. During the summer, we get enough eggs to eat all we want and break even on feed selling the rest. We free range our chickens, but they still need to be supplemented with feed. During the winter they lay a lot less and eat a lot more as the ground is snow-covered so the cannot free range for food. It's not as much fun, then, either, but it's still worth it. And we've only had a problem with a fox one spring out of 4 so far - they haven't really attracted predators even though we live in a rural, high-wildlife area with coyotes and bears around.

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I think in the summer our egg layers are probably cheaper then store bought, they don't take much food, and we do have less grasshoppers for sure then neighbors without free range chickens. But they do poop on everything and sometimes finding the eggs can be a battle ;)

 

We are also attached to our layers, but by the time the meat birds are ready to be butchered it is a relief. I also love butcher days, we tend to invite a bunch of freinds and family and do 30-50 at a time (sending home a couple with everyone that helps). They are great days and my two older boys are capable of getting a chicken ready for dinner, from chopping off the head, plucking, gutting, and getting it ready for the pan or the freezer. The little ones help with catching and plucking ;)

 

One con I didn't see was sometimes those roosters can be mean. Our current one is nice, but sometimes even your beautiful carefully choosen breed rooster is only fit for the soup pot.

 

If you aren't too far north (or can keep them warm) I think early fall is the best time to get chicks, because most birds don't lay too much in the winter, so if you get new chicks in May then when they are old enough to start laying about Sept, they also won't lay quite as much becuase the days are getting so short (although you can keep the light on and make longer days and that helps). But I notice here that by about the end of Jan the lengthening days really help our eggs pick up so if you get babies in Sept then they are ready to start laying about the time eggs pick up anyway.

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Hmm... Thanks for all of the advice. Im really focusing on the cons right now. If it was cost effective I would really be considering it. We may be moving to a more rural area and I was really intrigued by the idea of growing/raising our own food to cut cost.

 

But I guess that isn't always the case.

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Rabbits are the cheapest meat to raise.

 

When we get the runts from a local chicken farm (for free) and just finish them, then I think they are cheaper then from the store. Often we even get some food that they clean out of the feeders, because they'll need to but chick starter in for the next batch.

 

But then we still got all of the downsides of commercially grown chicken (lots of antibiotics, and strange birds- we have one right now with 3 legs and two in the last batch we butchered we decided not to eat because they were odd looking- small and scrawny, light brown livers???)

 

Our chicken coop was made from salvage materials and didn't cost much and we don't have a big yard for them, they are just free range.

 

But I don't think there is any comparison from a truly free range egg and anything you buy at the store, even those brown egg/free range expensive ones don't compare to the ones right out of our hen house.

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What would you say are the pros and cons?

 

What are we looking at cost wise-is it more economical to raise your own? Or to buy eggs/meat from the store?

 

It is not cost effective to raise your own. lol Feed is $$, especially organic feed. I try to lower that cost by letting them graze. They also get kitchen scraps, and adore too- ripe garden tomatoes. In summer, I grow lots of sunflowers. I store them in the barn, and hang one or two a month tin there pens hrough winter. They go crazy.

 

Chickens are delightful. They are fun to watch. They are calming to watch. I call it chicken therapy. I often sit outside to watch them frolic and scratch. I start my morning with a mug of coffee and a show. It's my most favorite time of day. A hen enjoying a dust bath is a glorious thing to witness. :)

 

It's possible to lower the cost of feed, and if you do not have dozens of chickens, it probably is cost effective to raise your own. The problem is Agriculture-itis. Once you have a couple of birds, you want more. There so many various breeds, one tends to want to see variety within their own flock.

 

The eggs produced get are far tastier and healthy. There is pride in knowing your birds are enjoying good and healthy chicken lives.

Edited by LibraryLover
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We have 6 layers and we love them. We got them at 1 day old. At 4 months they started laying. We get 6 eggs a day. We sell our excess to our neighbors and that helps pay for feed. Our coop is mostly recycled but our run cost about $200 to build. Wire is expensive. It is fully enclosed and predictor proof. We haven't had any problems with snakes or other predators. We also have 3 cats that like to hunt so that probably helps. We also let them free range (supervised) in our backyard because they really enjoy it. Once we finish our fence we will probably let them out more. They do poop a lot, but it hasn't been too big of a deal for us. We have designated shoes for out back and leave them in the garage and everyone washes their hand when they come in from playing. We have 6 chickens, 3 cats, and a dog so sh!t happens. :lol:

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We have 6 layers and we love them. We got them at 1 day old. At 4 months they started laying. We get 6 eggs a day. We sell our excess to our neighbors and that helps pay for feed. Our coop is mostly recycled but our run cost about $200 to build. Wire is expensive. It is fully enclosed and predictor proof. We haven't had any problems with snakes or other predators. We also have 3 cats that like to hunt so that probably helps. We also let them free range (supervised) in our backyard because they really enjoy it. Once we finish our fence we will probably let them out more. They do poop a lot, but it hasn't been too big of a deal for us. We have designated shoes for out back and leave them in the garage and everyone washes their hand when they come in from playing. We have 6 chickens, 3 cats, and a dog so sh!t happens. :lol:

 

That's true. Selling eggs helps. (Except when they are molting at the same time.) Selling broilers doesn't make me money, but it does give me organic pastured meat for free.

Edited by LibraryLover
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People here keep talking about sending their chickens away for processing. Does no one butcher their own chickens?

 

I know several people who butcher their own. It would be more cost -effective to do so, but I am not set up for doing a bunch at once. I learned how to do it, and I think I could do one or two at a time. I believe that if I am going to eat them, I should take ownership of the whole process. I am not there yet.

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I love my animals, but I did not attatch to my meat birds- at all. They are fat, lazy, non stop eating machines. Raising meat birds is actually fairly expensive, even just 20 is a LOT of work, they go through food and water at an alarming rate, I would strongly recommend having them free range as much as possible to cut feed costs, because you won't break even if you pay a butcher (compared to getting chicken on sale at the grocery store). You don't raise meat birds to save $ really, IMO, You do it for the upsides- you know what they are eating, you know they're being raised humanely, you know you're eating healthy birds. Egg layers, on the other hand, can be pretty easy. We barely buy them feed, they free range during the day and eat mostly scraps from our kitchen and enough grain to keep them happy and laying. We can easily go way for several days and leave enough feed and water that we don't need to have anyone take care of them, not so with meat birds, they will just park next to the feed bucket and eat until it's gone. I enjoy my layers, and I do attatch to them, nothing compares to farm fresh eggs, and if we run out usually we just wait a few hours and we'll have a couple more, I never tire of collecting eggs. :) My girls' eggs are unrivaled, fresh, and we eat them knowing our chickens are living a sweet life and they're all healthy! We usually keep a rooster, he keeps the girls in check a little better and is a good protector, plus I love to hear him crow in the morning and strut around the yard, plus we hatch our new chicks from time to time which is great fun for the kids (and me!), way cheaper and easier than buying chicks because the mother hen keeps them warm and does all the work for you.

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I know several people who butcher their own. It would be more cost -effective to do so, but I am not set up for doing a bunch at once. I learned how to do it, and I think I could do one or two at a time. I believe that if I am going to eat them, I should take ownership of the whole process. I am not there yet.

 

I think that if we're going to raise chickens we have to take responsibility for them when they have to be killed. My husband had to finish off a big sex-link roo last year when he got ill and I had to take a pair of kitchen shears to a meat chick this year. But processing? That's a lot of dirty work. We have a family member that runs a small business doing that and he's a chicken fan too so we know he does a good job. I've got no problems taking them there.

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I love my animals, but I did not attatch to my meat birds- at all. They are fat, lazy, non stop eating machines. Raising meat birds is actually fairly expensive, even just 20 is a LOT of work, they go through food and water at an alarming rate, I would strongly recommend having them free range as much as possible to cut feed costs, because you won't break even if you pay a butcher (compared to getting chicken on sale at the grocery store). You don't raise meat birds to save $ really, IMO, You do it for the upsides- you know what they are eating, you know they're being raised humanely, you know you're eating healthy birds. Egg layers, on the other hand, can be pretty easy. We barely buy them feed, they free range during the day and eat mostly scraps from our kitchen and enough grain to keep them happy and laying. We can easily go way for several days and leave enough feed and water that we don't need to have anyone take care of them, not so with meat birds, they will just park next to the feed bucket and eat until it's gone. I enjoy my layers, and I do attatch to them, nothing compares to farm fresh eggs, and if we run out usually we just wait a few hours and we'll have a couple more, I never tire of collecting eggs. :) My girls' eggs are unrivaled, fresh, and we eat them knowing our chickens are living a sweet life and they're all healthy! We usually keep a rooster, he keeps the girls in check a little better and is a good protector, plus I love to hear him crow in the morning and strut around the yard, plus we hatch our new chicks from time to time which is great fun for the kids (and me!), way cheaper and easier than buying chicks because the mother hen keeps them warm and does all the work for you.

 

Turkeys are nice too. They're more like layers in terms of work. Next year we're thinking of a dozen turkeys and a couple dozen meat chickens (as opposed to the 40 or so we did this year).

 

We're actually considering a meat pig or two as well. :D I find that after you've raised your own meat you start to pay attention to the store bought stuff and wonder what kind of life they had.

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Dh and I are REALLY curious about this. Right now we buy free range eggs from a lady here in town for $3/dz and they are so awesome. We almost never eat chicken because the only free range organically raised chicken we can find is $6/lb. So typically we buy a dozen 4-6 lb birds for the entire year and once we're out, we're out because it's so insanely expensive.

 

I won't eat commercial eggs or meat. We're about to move and from what I can tell free range eggs sell for more like $6/dz in our new city. Which sucks because I use lots of eggs! I know I can prob get organic eggs at the store for a little cheaper but I'd prefer not to.

 

So based on the above, is it generally cheaper than that to raise chickens? Particularly for meat? I would love if we could have chicken more than once or twice a month.

 

Can you take them to a processor and they'll do everything? Because I know in my heart that I really wouldn't be able to kill the chickens myself. Possibly my dh could, but probably not.

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This may be a stupid question, lol. But what is the process of raising chickens for meat? I mean, after you kill it.. its gone. So do you basically just breed them and wait for the chicks to get big enough?

 

It seems like you would have to breed them like crazy to have a steady supply of chicken, or is it just meant to be occasional? :lol: Im so clueless here!

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They're not cheaper than buying commercial chicken meat and eggs at the store.

 

They *are* cheaper to keep / raise your own than buying the really high quality (free range, no abx, etc.) meat and eggs.

 

And they are cheaper "pets" for children to care for than a dog; they are cheaper "entertainment" than subscribing to cable; they are cheaper "nature study" than enrolling in a class at the Audubon 45 minutes away; they are cheaper "economic training" for young children than many other options. :)

 

(In other words, there are so many variables and factors involved that it's just about impossible to make a straight comparison; we're a frugal family that has a LOT of fun keeping chickens, eating wholesome chicken meat (we also eat "conventionally grown" chicken in addition to our own), and learning lots and lots of new egg recipes. Our children sell the extra eggs to other home schoolers, and get to keep a percentage of the profits.)

 

:iagree: This has been our experience as well.

 

Hmm... Thanks for all of the advice. Im really focusing on the cons right now. If it was cost effective I would really be considering it. We may be moving to a more rural area and I was really intrigued by the idea of growing/raising our own food to cut cost.

 

But I guess that isn't always the case.

 

If you are really looking to cut food costs, look into raising meat rabbits. They are cheaper than chickens to feed and maintain, and easier to process yourself. Plus they are extremely lean and healthy, all white meat, and breed and grow out fast so it is easy to keep a steady supply.

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This may be a stupid question, lol. But what is the process of raising chickens for meat? I mean, after you kill it.. its gone. So do you basically just breed them and wait for the chicks to get big enough?

 

It seems like you would have to breed them like crazy to have a steady supply of chicken, or is it just meant to be occasional? :lol: Im so clueless here!

 

I don't raise chickens so I could be totally wrong but I assume that you raise a bunch all at once, process them, and then freeze them. We buy all our meat in bulk. It'd be no different than buying (or raising) a cow or half a cow which you then store in your (deep) freezer for the year.

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:iagree: This has been our experience as well.

 

 

 

If you are really looking to cut food costs, look into raising meat rabbits. They are cheaper than chickens to feed and maintain, and easier to process yourself. Plus they are extremely lean and healthy, all white meat, and breed and grow out fast so it is easy to keep a steady supply.

 

Thank you! I will look into that!

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I don't raise chickens so I could be totally wrong but I assume that you raise a bunch all at once, process them, and then freeze them. We buy all our meat in bulk. It'd be no different than buying (or raising) a cow or half a cow which you then store in your (deep) freezer for the year.

 

 

Ahhh, makes sense:001_smile:

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We have quite a few free range chickens, and about 20 turkeys.

 

The turkeys are more expensive to feed because we have them penned, but we suppliment their feed with whey, and anything the kids leave on their plates.

 

The eggs are much better than eggs from the store. I believe that eggs from chickens on grass are better for you than eggs from confined chickens.

 

I would recommend doing it for the entertainment, and educational and nutritional value, but not to save money.

 

Our Great Pyrenees was born on a poultry farm, and he keeps everyone safe from predators.

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This may be a stupid question, lol. But what is the process of raising chickens for meat? I mean, after you kill it.. its gone. So do you basically just breed them and wait for the chicks to get big enough?

 

It seems like you would have to breed them like crazy to have a steady supply of chicken, or is it just meant to be occasional? :lol: Im so clueless here!

 

Meat chickens are different breeds than laying hens. You can get some that might be considered "dual purpose", but I don't know too much about them.

 

A meat chicken is usually slaughtered/plucked/put in the freezer at 8-10 weeks. They grow FAST. They are eating and pooping machines. They turn big and ugly and mean pretty quickly.

 

A laying hen is a smaller breed which takes longer to mature and doesn't start laying until it is about 16 weeks old. They are usually friendlier, pretty, and have great personalities. You can slaughter and cook an older laying hen, but my understanding is that there isn't much meat and it will probably be tough (compared to a meat breed).

 

Unless you were planning a huge operation, I don't think it would make sense to breed your own meat birds. Most people get their chicks day-old from a hatchery. The minimum order is usually around 25. It's a lot of work to feed and water 25 big ugly chickens until slaughter. And I had a horrible experience trying to get my birds processed (I've never been taught, and don't plan to raise meat birds again). It makes the most sense to get it over with all at once, though, and put them in the freezer, instead of dragging it out unless you are planning to process your own as you eat them, and then you'd have to figure processing time into each meal preparation.

 

You can often get a smaller number of birds from a local agricultural store - you can order what you want from a store like Agway, while you'd have to purchase what's in stock from someplace like Tractor Supply. The problem with ordering from a local store is that you are stuck on their timetable.

Edited by Amy in NH
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Cons: SO MUCH POOP! (mine free range, so they poop all over our front porch) Also, you can't really have any landscaping with chickens if you plan to free range them, b/c they eat just about everything. We have a couple large bushes in our yard, but other than that we have no other plants or flowers planted b/c they would just destroy them.

 

Pros: Everything else.

 

I seriously love my chickens to death!! They are like pets to us, but our first group of chicks were all roosters, so we butchered them. DS refused to eat them, so after the first one we cooked, we gave away the rest of the meat. We grew up eating store bought eggs until about a year ago, and we don't like the taste of our chicken's eggs, so we just sell them all. The people who buy them think they taste great, though.

Edited by somo_chickenlady
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Dd9 has been raising chickens for the past three years. She has learned to not get attached to them because a raccoon will always find a way to kill off her favorites ( in broad daylight, while the kids are playing outside near the chicken pen.). We have dual purpose chickens, some ordered as chicks, and others incubated from purchased eggs. You can't beat incubating and raising chicks for a science project!

 

We currently have 11 hens, between 2 and 3 years of age. They are still laying really well and we get about 3 dozen eggs per week from them. We always sent our roosters to freezer camp when they started to get too rough with each other and the ladies.

 

The eggs do taste better than regular store eggs, but they are not cost effective. When our current hens are gone, we will not be getting any more. I will gladly buy organic eggs from our neighbor, rather than invest in getting more.

 

Chickens can be quite smelly and they do poop everywhere, but they are great entertainment.

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I know several people who butcher their own. It would be more cost -effective to do so, but I am not set up for doing a bunch at once. I learned how to do it, and I think I could do one or two at a time. I believe that if I am going to eat them, I should take ownership of the whole process. I am not there yet.

 

 

I think it would be easiest to do it with someone else a couple times first. I suppose I'm lucky in that my grandparents used to do a LOT of chickens every fall and the whole family would get together for it. It would give 4 families all the chicken they needed for the year.

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unless you are already buying organic, free range meat/eggs, then it is NOT cheaper to grow your own meat and eggs.

 

BUT....

 

I love the chickens. The eggs are SO much better than store eggs. The meat chickens we did. Not so much difference.

 

I'd house the meat chickens separately because they POOP SO MUCH and they will eat themselves to death and your layers might not get enough food.

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Cons: SO MUCH POOP! (mine free range, so they poop all over our front porch) Also, you can't really have any landscaping with chickens if you plan to free range them, b/c they eat just about everything. We have a couple large bushes in our yard, but other than that we have no other plants or flowers planted b/c they would just destroy them.

I've got plenty of landscaping and never had a problem. I let them out around lunch time. However, they do have 43 acres to roam on, and I guess they find scratching through our cow poop more interesting than eating my landscaping. I do keep them put up when I have small plants out and I have to fence my veggie garden.

Pros: Everything else.

 

I seriously love my chickens to death!! They are like pets to us, but our first group of chicks were all roosters, so we butchered them. DS refused to eat them, so after the first one we cooked, we gave away the rest of the meat. We grew up eating store bought eggs until about a year ago, and we don't like the taste of our chicken's eggs, so we just sell them all. The people who buy them think they taste great, though.

we did go from mulch to pea gravel in the landscaping. They don't scatter that quite as bad, and the breeds that we have forage better than our first batch. This means that they spend less time pooping up by the house and more time scratching around the property.

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unless you are already buying organic, free range meat/eggs, then it is NOT cheaper to grow your own meat and eggs.

 

BUT....

 

I love the chickens. The eggs are SO much better than store eggs. The meat chickens we did. Not so much difference.

 

I'd house the meat chickens separately because they POOP SO MUCH and they will eat themselves to death and your layers might not get enough food.

 

Thanks, yes that makes sense about housing them separately. And we do buy everything organic right now which is why we almost never eat chicken. We buy 10-12 chickens a year, in bulk, at $6/lb and that's all we eat - once it's gone, it's gone so we typically end up going several months without any chicken at all. Eggs I get fairly cheap from a lady who has chickens for $3/dz but we're moving soon and so far I've only been able to find them for around $7-8/dz in our new city :eek:

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We have done both separate and together. It depends on how many meat birds we are getting and the weather.

 

Of course my chickens are free range, I wouldn't make layers live in one coop with the meat birds because they won't get much food. The batch of meat chickens we had this summer (about 50 runts from the chicken farm), we just put in the normal coop, but my layers weren't so happy about it. Finding eggs was a real challenge for the 4 weeks we finished out those birds.

 

When we did 60 chicks last year (and I remember my figures correctly), I think we ended up spending $6-7 per bird by the time we butchered them (we butchered the hens at 6 weeks and the roos at 8 weeks). That was not organic food. If we did it again from day olds, I would figure out where I could get the best deal on a whole pallet of organic food. I think we used about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag a food per bird (so about 25 total for 60 birds) plus the cost of the chicks and shipping (or gas in our case), plus the cost of some vitamins we added to the water. The cost also includes bedding (straw), but not water or electricity or a building or waters or feeders. And we butcher our own.

 

Cornish rocks do so much better if they aren't shipped or spend the least amount of time in the mail. We didn't lose any of our 60 last fall (or even have any with bum legs), and usually you hear of 10-30% death rates with those guys. I would recommend finding the closet hatchery from your house to order from. It is best if you can go pick them up, but because of contagous disease worries, not many are set up this way anymore- there is one in Springfield, MO that will let you pick up if any one is interested.

 

Raising meat birds is a lot of work, they poop, and eat and drink so much. We have a 5 gallon and 3 gallon waterer, and by the time we have 50 or 60 meat birds that are over 4 or 5 weeks, we are filling up those waterers twice a day. At that point they also have several feeders and food dishes that we are filling up twice a day too. By the last week or so (if you've got 60 birds) they are eating almost 50 pounds every two days. Just hauling around the food makes me tired :D

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So I don't get it: why do the meat birds eat so much and not walk around much? Are they bred to just get fat quickly? Do they not want to walk around and forage at all?

 

Dh and I are moving to FL in a few weeks (or months...whenever the gov't gets it's act together since it's a gov't transfer and they told us we would be moved by June '12...). What would you look for in terms of a yard/land when thinking of raising chickens? I definitely want some layers, perhaps 3-4, not more than that. And since we pay so much for organic chicken, and I suspect even more out there, we're interested in meat chickens as well - maybe 25-30?

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pros: they eat bugs, including ticks

 

cons: they only decrease your tick population if they are free range and if they are free range they poop on EVERYTHING!! Including porches, decks... Still have not figured out a way to keep them off the deck

 

OP, you've gotten lots of great advice that I agree with but to this poster.. We reduced the chicken on the deck problem by throwing a glass of water on them each time they got on the deck. Kind of the same theory as a spray bottle for a cat on the counter. The kids play on the deck since there is poop all over the yard! lol

 

We love our chickens and it's not cheaper but it's awesome for all the reasons mentioned.

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When we bought our farm we had visions of free ranging happy chickens. Then we met our neighbor's dog and the neighbor's dog met 20 of our chickens. The outcome was unhappy.

 

We now keep a dozen laying hens in a fenced hen house with an outdoor run. We also raise about 100 roosters for meat. We get heavy meat birds but not a cornish rock cross. Ours have less breast meat but are healthier birds. The roosters are in two tractors that we keep on pasture until the birds are about 16 weeks old.

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So I don't get it: why do the meat birds eat so much and not walk around much? Are they bred to just get fat quickly? Do they not want to walk around and forage at all?

 

To put on weight an organism has got to do one or both of two things, not expend a lot of energy and take in a lot of energy. Meat chickens do that brilliantly and it's exactly what they were bred for.

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For meat birds, check into the Freedom Rangers. They don't eat as much (and are not as big) but you don't have the injuries and deaths like the Cornish Rock. The birds can walk until their demise just fine and have more of a chicken life instead of laying around.

 

I am going to defend the poor Cornish Rock.:D

 

We have done three batches of Cornish Rock now. 66 chickens in total. We took 2 of those batches past the slaughter-at-8-weeks-or-they-die point and lost a total of 3 chickens. One was a goner from the start. Deformed vent and likely more issues inside, he had a purple comb for a weekand dropped dead at 6 weeks. One, we think, got cocci as a 3 day old and I had to finish the poor thing. One dropped dead at 5 weeks. We suspect she was trampled in the rush to get food.

 

Out current batch is 11 weeks and going to the processor tomorrow. The cocci chick was from this batch. We put them out at 3 weeks, free ranged them, limited their feedings to certain parts of the day and they are fully feathered darlings that forage and run and even fly a bit. Seriously, these are handsome, healthy chickens.

 

I am now fully convinced that many of the health problems people encounter with these guys are of their own making. People feed them for 12 or 24 hours straight or confine them to small quarters.

 

They've got an ugly waddle and they poop like there's no tomorrow but they're sweet, charming chickens. No, they don't have the same activity level as a layer but that's because they're doing exactly what we ask of them, putting on weight. They'll forage if you put them out early, they'll follow you like puppies and let you pet them if you're Mama Food, they'll all make it to processing time if you treat them right.

 

FYI the first batch we did we took them to ten weeks (the other two deaths were from that batch) and they finished at 6 - 8 lbs each. I cannot hate a chicken that gives me an 8 lb roast in 10 weeks.

 

This year, we're keeping a hen to see how long she'll live and what size eggs she'll lay. I love my Cornish Rocks.

Edited by WishboneDawn
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