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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2004 12:02 pm 
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hi everyone! My family and I just moved from Rhode island to Boerne, tx! Big move, but we love it here so far! We finally have our little secluded ranch and I would love to have some chickens...of course I don't know where to start! Does anyone have some good tips to get started on raising some chickens, and building a coop, and how to feed them and if there is a good time of the year to start....just the whole nine yards. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks a bunch!
Melissa


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2004 10:09 am 
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If you have the area, my thoughts go toward pasturing the chickens. Apparently they don't move far from the coop, so it's good to have a moveable coop. Do an Internet search on "chicken tractor" and see what you get. If you keep the coop on the move, the chickens will not kill the grass but will fertilize the heck out of it. You will also find that eggs from chickens raised on pasture (bugs and grass) will sit up higher and be a lot yellower (from vitamin A) than store bought eggs.

I've seen several articles and books that suggest you resist the urge to feed pastured chickens. Let them forage for everything (except water).

When you go to the chicken tractor sites, check out the links to other chicken sites. This group doesn't have much going on with chickens. There are also Yahoo group forums on the various aspects of chickens from hatching to raising to processing (slaughtering) to marketing.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:56 pm 
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Welcome to Texas. Check back in August and let us know if you still love it!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 5:54 pm 
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Hey Melissa!

Just found your post today.

Check out Scott Shilala's Easy Chicken
http://shilala.homestead.com/

and
Barry's Feathersite
http://www.feathersite.com/

There's a great supply place in Boerne - Randall Burkey
http://www.randallburkey.com/

I'd get your research done this year and figure out how you want to raise the birds (free-range or whatever), decide what predators you have in the area and what control you're going to use for them and then get the birds.

Some points to consider:

Are you raising chickens for meat, eggs or both? Or are you just wanting some chickens running around looking groovy?

There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds. Some do better than others here in the Texas heat.

There are clean-legged chickens and feather-legged (and feather-footed) chickens. We had to decide to not keep the feather-footed chickens because of the red clay here. Not because it looked bad, but because the chickens would get bogged down in it and die - from both hypothermia and drowning.

Some roosters are just plain mean. Do you have children? Getting flogged by a mean rooster can physically and emotionally scar anybody.

Dogs? Do you have dogs, do your neighbors have dogs and are there wild (drop-off) dogs in your area?

Do you want to raise chickens from chicks? There are certain requirements for brooding chicks. You can get older chicks or full-grown chickens too. Watch out for some of those people selling full grown chickens, there are folks out there who sell really old, burnt-out hens and they'll tell you all kinds of stories about how great they are, 2 eggs a day and all that stuff. Don't fall for it.

In general, stay away from sale barns (auctions). A lot people who raise birds are honest and straightforward but there are some out there who will take sick and seriously diseased birds to auctions.

Be aware that you need to have the State of Texas test your flock annually if you plan to sell either birds or eggs. The testing is free and even if you aren't planning to sell it's probably wise to get your birds tested, just in case.
TVMDL -
http://tvmdlweb.tamu.edu/

We have a bunch of chickens around here (and peafowl and Call ducks) and I get a big kick out of them most of the time. The only thing I don't like is when they mess with my garden!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 9:50 am 
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Hi Melissa-
Maggi sure gave you a bunch of good information and things to think about. Most people take the READY, FIRE, AIM approach to raising chickens. I'm glad you are doing the research up front.
This is another web site that gets about 50,000 hits a month. The forum is very responsive.
http://www.the-coop.org/
One other thing I might add, if you like flower beds or a vegetable garden make sure you fence them with at least 3 feet of fence. Chickens will scratch and tear up a bed in a minute. On the plus side, they are certain death to grasshoppers.
Tony M


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 5:38 pm 
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Chickens need a covered shelter at night and an area safe from predators during the day. Baby chicks can be bought individually at feeds stores and often Tractor Supply Co or mail ordered 25 per order at McMurray Hatchery. They need water, warmth (usually light bulb) and chick starter a few weeks until feathered out. Hens start laying 5-6 months of age. They slow laying or stop laying during the winter but providing extra light time in the morning keeps them going. Roosters are a pain and they aren't needed.

If confined to coop, you need one square foot per large laying bird. If more crowded you will need to do more bedding changes. The best flooring for a bird is bare ground covered with hardwood mulch, not cedar. They avoid cedar and will deter them from digging in flower beds. If confined hens need a bottomless supply of laying pellets, oyster shell, and water. I found the easiest way to provide water was a small bucket hanging up off the ground at about the hen's chest level. This is easiest to refill and doesn't get knocked over. In Texas worry more about the heat than our relatively mild winter.

This is a start. Being in the country with birds is hard because they are on everything's menu. A guardian type dog will keep ground predators at bay but can't work against hawks and owls. Frankly if you keep your birds confined, the eggs are no better than store bought.

Get an idea of what you want the chickens for and do what works for you. No two people keeps chickens the same exact way.

Ask lots of questions, only way to learn. Good luck.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:51 pm 
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Not sure if you are still paying attention (you probably are) but this is a really cool article about a portable chicken coop from Mother Earth


http://www.motherearthnews.com/index.ph ... rc&id=1039


and best varieties for this type of coop


http://www.motherearthnews.com/index.ph ... rc&id=1040


Boerne place must be idyllic in attitude compared to R.I. I am "staying" in Maryland until the end of the year and then finally back home in the blessed hill country.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:53 pm 
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A great site I have found for anyone raising chickens or thinking about it.


www.backyardchickens.com


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:33 pm 
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Hello, all. Don't know if anyone's looking at this topic anymore or not, but I am considering raising hens (only) as well.

One thing I have not found anywhere on the site (yet) are some mentions of the avian flu. This is getting to be a serious situation, according to the World Heath Org in other countries.

Question: do you think this type of infection will be a factor here for truly free-range raised birds? And do you believe, as I do, that like mad cow, there is simply a matter of poor animal husbandry (animal abuse) in operation here, and the outbreaks of the flu can be traced to crowded and poorly fed animals?

Thanks for the feedback!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:18 pm 
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This disease is more of an issue with transportation involved for reasons like showing or selling. Be careful if you add adult birds to your flock.

If you just plan to raise a few hens for eggs I wouldn't worry about it. If you feel the need, your county agent can help you get the birds tested.

Enjoy your hens! Remember grass, sun, and treats make the best eggs!

Pam

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:26 am 
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omgardner wrote:
One thing I have not found anywhere on the site (yet) are some mentions of the avian flu. This is getting to be a serious situation, according to the World Heath Org in other countries.

Question: do you think this type of infection will be a factor here for truly free-range raised birds? And do you believe, as I do, that like mad cow, there is simply a matter of poor animal husbandry (animal abuse) in operation here, and the outbreaks of the flu can be traced to crowded and poorly fed animals?

I'm a die-hard listener to NPR, and they've run several detailed pieces on influenza and its avian roots. It really does sound like the problem is due to the conditions under which the birds are raised. For one thing, they're crowded together, and therefore stressed and susceptible to disease. Complicating that is close proximity to pigs (also under stress), which gives a mutating virus a chance to try out its cross-species infection ability in a mammalian setting.

On top of all that, the critters' human keepers live in constant contact with the pigs and chickens (and ducks, which bring in new strains from the wild). Put it all together, and you've basically got a petri dish -- perfect conditions for incubating a new virus.

This combination of factors would be hard to recreate here. A family poultry operation is going to have more space, especially if you commit to free-range organic methods. And the factory chicken farms have stressed, disease-prone chickens, but they don't run pigs down the aisles and the farmers don't live in the chicken house -- two of three risk factors are missing. Of course, if they could increase profits by running pigs in the aisles, they probably would... so don't give 'em any ideas! :)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:18 am 
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RobertB:

Thanks! Yeah, this is where I was headed with this.

All those commercials about "altered chicken" give you that nervouse kind of laughter.....and makes me want to RUN to Whole Foods.

Anyway, at least this'll come up in a search on the site now.

I hope it doesn't appear in the local news, for all our sakes.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 10:04 am 
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Isn't that "altered chicken" line just a gimmick? I mean in comes from Sanderson Farms right? They are not in any way organic right? Big deal so they don't add salt water to their chickens. What I want to know is how they were raised, hopefully without hormones and antibiotics at least.

Can anyone shed light into why organic chicken is so expensive compared to the price of grass fed beef? Is it that much easier to produce a grass fed cow than a organic chicken? If you raise chickens commercially without anitbiotics and hormones do you need to invest way more for housing?

I think I instinctively understand why but maybe I'm in the dark totally.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:03 pm 
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I think the term, "economies of scale" describes why it is so costly to raise an organic chicken. Commercial chicken houses have 50-70 thousand birds in one house and are fed who knows what. The organic chickens are usually raised in smaller areas and the feed is all organic. There are other reasons but I think this summarizes it. Where are you buying organic chickens? How much are you paying, maybe we can direct you to a better source?
Tony M


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:57 pm 
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Well for chicken breast raised without anitbiotics or hormones it is 6/lb at the Waco HEB. I know some of the grass-fed beef producers are selling chicken breast about $8-$9/lb.

I love to inform everyone how the cost of grass-fed ground beef is very close to the cost of super lean ground beef at any supermarket. This just isn't true for chicken. Right now, grass-fed beef is more of a bargain.

By the way, the chicken at HEB was trimmed better than the bargain stuff. That alone makes it more worth it to me anyway because I usually trim that off before cooking. Of course then the dogs don't get scrap treats.

Thanks anyway, I kinda figured things were how you described.

Pam

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