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how to NOT raise chickens

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14198
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞


http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~atwu/firstcultural/chicken.html



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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14198
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This is rather excellent.
Kellic kelwen


Joined: Jan 11, 2011
Posts: 27
Location: Northwestern Ohio, US
Its rather sad to think that their really exist people that clueless about something that use to be common knowledge. If you've ever cared for any kind of animal before you should know that all animals need some care from humans if they are kept in artificial or contained environment.


"All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man." Henry David Thoreau
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    1
Gotta love hippsters.....


SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14198
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Kellic Cantrell wrote:Its rather sad to think that their really exist people that clueless about something that use to be common knowledge. If you've ever cared for any kind of animal before you should know that all animals need some care from humans if they are kept in artificial or contained environment.


I think this stuff is very common.

This stuff is really complicated. On the one side, people that have never really raised chickens before could read a book on the topic first, but most of those books are pretty misleading too. They could get advice from their neighbors that are doing this, but their neighbors are doing a lot of this.

I think the desire to steward chickens is normal and healthy. And what is good for the chicken is something people typically want to understand, but the information from that perspective is scarce. In fact, some of the worst books and ideas are labeled "happy chickens". This is a big reason why I created my raising chickens article.

This kind ties in to the wheaton eco scale. Level 1 is getting your first chickens and doing a coop and run. Paddock shift with food forests is gonna be level 6. The key is to not hate on the people behind you, but try to figure out ways to persuade them to try the next level.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14198
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Frankly, I think the artist here is exceptionally brilliant.

The Clueless Hipster Guide to Urban Chicken Farming


I think it is great that there are books out there that get people interested in raising chickens. The hard part is, some books are better than others and most people aren't going to read more than one book - if they read any at all. And even then, VERY few books touch on to the stuff that i advocate. So, well, i guess you gotta start somewhere.

///////////

What does it say on the back of their car?

I do enjoy the hearts, rainbows, smiley faces and peace signs coming out of the tailpipe.

Uh.... if we're trying to have local food, isn't it odd to be ordering the chickens online? I thought we were going to get the chicks from Mrs. Wu.


I have to admit, that most of the chicks I ever bought were on-line. This makes a pretty good point. But ... there are issues buying local too. While I feel shame at my choices in the past, I have to admit that I would have felt shame about any other paths I could have taken. They all have downsides. The only path that doesn't have downsides is keeping roosters and having some baby chicks.



(A hen that popped out with two chicks at my place a long time ago. I found a few eggs she left behind and one egg had a late chick which I stuffed under her so she took it in)

We're going rock climbing.


The flaw with most systems. You cannot leave your responsibilities. Although if you live in community you can. This comic does a good job of showing how clueless jerks will often stick others with their responsibilities.

What? Half of them are dead?


This was my primary shopping criteria for on-line ordering. Checking the reviews to see which hatcheries had the most live chicks arrive. And I had things worked out with the post office so they would call me the moment they had the chicks (one of the perks of a very small town). The folks at the post office seemed to really enjoy it because of all the peeping!

I think all of the deliveries had at least one dead chick. Damn.


You know, we spent $200 on this vintage chicken coop and another $100 to fix it, then there's that organic chicken feed at $3 a pound .... these are going to be rather pricey eggs ...


Don't think about it that way! These are artisinal eggs. Each one is like an original work of art!


This was the statement that led me to paddock shift systems. I was selling eggs and meat for about the same price as the feed.

I think the egg can be a work of art if the chicken is a forest animal and getting plenty of fresh veggies and bugs. But if all they get is dried up grain and nothing else, while penned in a small area where they stand on their own poop all day .... that is hardly "artisinal"

That's the second week without eggs.


Have you been feeding them enough? All I ever see you do is take pictures for your blog!


I like the part where they look up why the chicken isn't laying so much and see "Typically the chickens are slaughtered at this point." and then there is the "cool" and "uncool" buttons. 46 people think it is cool and 2415 think it is uncool.



As the people struggle with the idea of harvesting their chicken (probably over a chicken dinner): is that lame guy wearing overalls?

Chicken Recycling? WTF? "We reincarnate"?? "we offer a full line of karma offsets"?? These are new to me. But I could see these folks getting super rich offering this stuff! Brilliant!












Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2236
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  38
paul wheaton wrote:

What does it say on the back of their car?



It says "Negative Emissions Vehicle" and you're right, a brilliant comic!


Hands-on workshops in all shades of green - Cascadia & Seattle Eco Events Calendar | QuickBooks Consulting and Accounting Services - www.jocelyncampbell.com
Sandra Ellane


Joined: Nov 08, 2011
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
"we offer a full line of karma offsets"?? These are new to me. But I could see these folks getting super rich offering this stuff! Brilliant!


It may be a play on the carbon offset concept, which had good intentions originally- figure out your carbon footprint and do things to reduce it.

It quickly morphed into "figure out your carbon footprint. If you can't figure out how to reduce it, give money to a green sounding cause".


http://citylivingnaturally.com
A sustainable approach to life in the city
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14198
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:

What does it say on the back of their car?



It says "Negative Emissions Vehicle" and you're right, a brilliant comic!


So it emits negative stuff that looks like hearts and rainbows? Oh, that is just too good.


Jenn Andersen


Joined: Mar 13, 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Alturas, CA
    
    1
I second Paul's observation. I was disturbed by the derisive tone of this comic. I think folks are rather brave for trying to take on urban chicken raising, and there are a ton of books out there that make it sound easy (which it actually is), and NONE (that I have read) will mention that if you are serious about getting eggs you need to cull your chickens every few years. I live here in the Bay Area (until June, when I will move to my little "ranchette" to become one of those silly urban folk trying to find peace in the country), and have raised chickens on my urban lot for years. I designed and built my own coop and fenced in half my yard for them, set up some automatic systems and had fun doing all that. Keeping and maintaining hens WAS easy. However, when it came time to kill and butcher them, I had to really "man up" for it (especially tough since I am a woman!). Many of the folks I met doing urban chickens for eggs were in awe of my ability to kill my chickens. They couldn't do it, and they said so. However, their solution was generally to keep them as pets (rather than taking them to whatever "chicken recycling" is supposed to be in this comic). Frankly, I don't find anything wrong with that. It just means they are not really raising chickens, and they know it. We are not raised to kill things, and it is hard to deal with emotionally. This is something society is going to have to address if we want folks to have a larger hand in raising their own food.


Jenn Andersen at Sundog Ranch
www.SundogRanch.blogspot.com
Teresa Green


Joined: Oct 03, 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Alabama
I love the illustrated story. Yes, it is true. Chickens are work. My chickens are free range. They have almost 2 acres. I pen them up at night for their protection. But I love each and every one of them. I get about 7-10 eggs per day. I share with family and friends. They are beautiful eggs and healthy too! I posted about 6 months ago that I was consuming DE. I give this to all my animals too. (Off the subject: I have now lost 36 pounds and kept it off to date and have white toenails and fingernails!) I just pour some into the feed bag, mix it around and give it to the animals in with their feed. Wouldn't take nothing for my chickens or goats. I milk my goats, make cheese and butter and plan to learn the soap making process. Now if I can get the gardening thing down pat I'll be a happy camper! Love your thinking and all of your posts. PS I can't kill my chickens either when they get older. I just have some sweet little friends hanging around for my enjoyment.


I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me. Phillipians 4 :13
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 285
    
  20
In my historical district in Jacksonville, Florida we are getting the "right" to keep up to 6 chickens with the following stipulations (as if that wasn't a stipulation): No "harvesting" of chickens (can't eat 'em), They have to stay cooped-up, no roosters (I want roosters, but I can understand this one. Roosters like to get noisy too early in the morning). Even worse, they are only talking about dry grain feed and all of the local feed stores are coming to the meetings. No one wants to pay for organic (except a very few).

This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I want to do. I want the birds to be able to range in their paddock-shift system with chicken food plants and those plants' companions. I want a rooster to father young and to pass down chicken heritage. I want to give them the least amount of dry grain feed as I can (I used to use organic dry-grain feed from a place in Virginia until I found it had some kind of USDA approved anti-clumping powder in it. I've since found a better source).

Once the law is approved, I will still "not have any chickens".

As for eating chickens. All animals are eaten by another animal except in rare occasions. I think that it's a city notion that leads us to hate ourselves for being a part of the system that nature has established. I've found that the chicken is a beautiful bird. All things deserve an amazing life. It's the death part that gets hairy. In the wild, an animal goes through hell during it's death. It's generally tracked, culled and eaten alive in front of its children and family. It usually screams and has fits and finally gives up. This is how mother nature handles it. I'm not saying that its wrong either. However, I do it a very different way... and I throw as much love into the process as I can.

Devon Olsen


Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 978
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
    
    5
i really enjoyed the video on harvesting chickens paul, i'll have to get myself a pink sweater when i get to raising chickens

on devoting all of your time to chicken-raising, does it reduce how often you need to be there if the chickens have a hanging five gallon nipple for water and have full time free range to get their own food, it seems to me that somehow, one could manage a flock without having to tend to them on a daily basis, other than maybe harvesting eggs...


Current Cheyenne, WY project
"Do you Hugel?" T-shirts and other products
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 285
    
  20
Devon Olsen wrote:i really enjoyed the video on harvesting chickens paul, i'll have to get myself a pink sweater when i get to raising chickens

on devoting all of your time to chicken-raising, does it reduce how often you need to be there if the chickens have a hanging five gallon nipple for water and have full time free range to get their own food, it seems to me that somehow, one could manage a flock without having to tend to them on a daily basis, other than maybe harvesting eggs...


With mine, I throw them fresh greens every day, but they could definitely live on five days of grain. I have built an auto waterer that will hold them indefinitely. If the water went out, it has a capacity of 7 days in the summer for the number of ladies I have.

They have a very spacious coop, so I can coop them up for a week too and they don't suffer. I have the ground under the coop armored, but that armor is a foot underground. This gives them the ability to scratch and bathe all they want. They are close enough to the wildness of trees and weeds to be able to get a few bugs a day while in their safe haven.

It's do-able, you just have to treat them extra special when you get back!
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 79
Location: Cornwall UK
I might send that to my brother in law who had chickens for a while but they smelled and scratched up the lawn so they had to go.


Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees - please
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 285
    
  20
aman inavan wrote:I might send that to my brother in law who had chickens for a while but they smelled and scratched up the lawn so they had to go.


I never could figure out the smell part. I've never smelled my chickens. I'm not sure what I'm doing right, but we live in a humid, hot climate and you'd think that if something's going to smell it would be in this climate. Absolutely no smell except hay!
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 5858
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
  88
In my opinion, with any livestock, if it smells, you're doing something wrong.

If you live rurally, check to see where the nearest 4-H or FFA kids live. They are usually more than willing to look after your flock if you need to be out of town a few days. They usually do a good job, and the price is right...they get to keep the eggs, and in the spring, offer them a pullet/cockerel pair.

Joe Skeletor


Joined: Jan 04, 2010
Posts: 102
Location: Northern Illinois - zone 5b
Just to remind some folks if they don't already know -

Places like SandHill Poultry Preservation only sell straight-run chicks. Meaning that they do not sell only females and kill the males.

From their website -

PLEASE REMEMBER ALL DAY-OLD POULTRY IS SOLD AS STRAIGHT RUN ONLY. WE DO NOT SEX ANY OF THE DAY-OLDS. Since we do not sell sexed chicks, we have no control over what you receive as far as a male-female ratio. Ideally, it is supposed to be a 50-50 split, but anyone who has been in poultry knows it can vary from that.
and

We are also a no-kill chick facility. We adjust our hatches accordingly to hatch numbers of day-olds within reason. This means we do not have many extras with no homes to go to. It also means we cannot usually meet last minute orders wanting immediate delivery. This does not mean that we do not cull out defective birds. It simply means that we do not "overhatch" to have extra with no home that have to be disposed of. All extras that we hatch are distributed through our various assortments.

So, there are alternatives to the massive chick producers.

here's their website - http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/index.html
They have a ton of different, rare, and awesome breeds of poultry!


Joe
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Thank you very much for that link, Joe!


Idle dreamer

Travis Halverson


Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Great comic!

Maybe even better than this one.
Rick Freeman


Joined: Jan 08, 2012
Posts: 102
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
"Please stick with tofu." LOL. That was a good one. Great comic. Hilarious parody of our twisted and lazy culture.

In terms of solutions, I'm definitely coming around to the position that group permaculture is preferable to solo efforts in that it gives people a chance to take turns "getting away" for awhile. Getting along can be difficult, but perhaps some creative solutions can help with that problem.


Rick Freeman

Interface Forestry, l.l.c. http://interfaceforestry.com
rick@interfaceforestry.com
Craig Dobbelyu


Joined: Dec 22, 2011
Posts: 860
Location: Maine (zone 5)
    
  22
A joke:

A couple is looking to get into farming after moving from the big city and into an old country farmhouse. They visit a feed store where they see cute baby chicks for sale. Even though they had ZERO KNOWLEDGE about chickens, they immediately, decided to purchase a few to start their very own flock. After getting all the supplies they head home to start their new venture.

After a week they return to the store with disappointing looks on their faces. The store clerk asks if something is wrong to which they sadly notify the clerk that all of the chicks had died.

The clerk, astonished that ALL the birds had died so soon, decides to ask a few questions.

He asks if they fed the birds.
Indeed they had fed them every morning
He asks if they watered the birds.
Yes they replied.

The clerk took a minute to think about it then stated that he didn't know what the problem could have been.

Then the wife looked into the eyes of her husband and said "I wonder if we planted them too deep."
To which the husband replied " No, that's ridiculous! If anything we planted them too far apart."



"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

-Gandhi
Rick Freeman


Joined: Jan 08, 2012
Posts: 102
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
Good one.
Katrin Kerns


Joined: Feb 08, 2012
Posts: 86
Kellic Cantrell wrote:Its rather sad to think that their really exist people that clueless about something that use to be common knowledge. If you've ever cared for any kind of animal before you should know that all animals need some care from humans if they are kept in artificial or contained environment.

You would be surprised at how many people are really that clueless about raising or caring for animals in general. Ask your local pet store about "Easter Bunny" stories.

Lots of clueless folks think it would be fun to buy their kids pet rabbits as an Easter present, but they don't research rabbits or just exactly what it takes to properly raise one. Many of them try to return the rabbits to the pet stores once their kids get tired of trying to take care of them, or they get sick from improper care and feeding. Failing being able to return them many of those folks just release them into the wild thinking that they should do just fine. But domestic rabbits do not have the proper instincts for survival in the wild. Most rabbits that are released into the wild die within a few days due to being hit by cars, killed by predators, or simply due to exposure.

The ones that do actually survive become a problem because they dig burrows near people's homes and eat garden plants because they are not as wary of humans as actual wild rabbits. It's generally a bad situation all around.


P.P.O.Y.T. (Playfully pouncing on your toes.)
Katrin Kerns


Joined: Feb 08, 2012
Posts: 86
Jenn Andersen wrote:I second Paul's observation. I was disturbed by the derisive tone of this comic. I think folks are rather brave for trying to take on urban chicken raising, and there are a ton of books out there that make it sound easy (which it actually is), and NONE (that I have read) will mention that if you are serious about getting eggs you need to cull your chickens every few years. I live here in the Bay Area (until June, when I will move to my little "ranchette" to become one of those silly urban folk trying to find peace in the country), and have raised chickens on my urban lot for years. I designed and built my own coop and fenced in half my yard for them, set up some automatic systems and had fun doing all that. Keeping and maintaining hens WAS easy. However, when it came time to kill and butcher them, I had to really "man up" for it (especially tough since I am a woman!). Many of the folks I met doing urban chickens for eggs were in awe of my ability to kill my chickens. They couldn't do it, and they said so. However, their solution was generally to keep them as pets (rather than taking them to whatever "chicken recycling" is supposed to be in this comic). Frankly, I don't find anything wrong with that. It just means they are not really raising chickens, and they know it. We are not raised to kill things, and it is hard to deal with emotionally. This is something society is going to have to address if we want folks to have a larger hand in raising their own food.


I hope to some day have the property on which to raise pigs, goats, and chickens... but I already know that when it comes time to kill them I won't be able to do it. My hope is that I will have property near enough to a local butcher that will be willing to maybe do a trade off with me. Butchering my livestock in exchange for some of them when the time comes. That will be one of the criteria for where I eventually buy property when I have the money for it. At least that's the idea I have for trying to raise my own livestock. That might change if I do the intentional community living with someone who is capable of doing the butchering for me though, I'm not ruling that option out either.
Katrin Kerns


Joined: Feb 08, 2012
Posts: 86
Teresa Green wrote:I love the illustrated story. Yes, it is true. Chickens are work. My chickens are free range. They have almost 2 acres. I pen them up at night for their protection. But I love each and every one of them. I get about 7-10 eggs per day. I share with family and friends. They are beautiful eggs and healthy too! I posted about 6 months ago that I was consuming DE. I give this to all my animals too. (Off the subject: I have now lost 36 pounds and kept it off to date and have white toenails and fingernails!) I just pour some into the feed bag, mix it around and give it to the animals in with their feed. Wouldn't take nothing for my chickens or goats. I milk my goats, make cheese and butter and plan to learn the soap making process. Now if I can get the gardening thing down pat I'll be a happy camper! Love your thinking and all of your posts. PS I can't kill my chickens either when they get older. I just have some sweet little friends hanging around for my enjoyment.


What is DE? Sorry if that is a stupid question, but I'm not familiar with the term.
Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2236
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  38
Katrin Kerns wrote:

What is DE? Sorry if that is a stupid question, but I'm not familiar with the term.


Hi Katrin, not a stupid question at all! It's one of my pet peeves when people use acronyms that aren't fully known by everyone on the receiving/reading end.

Here on permies, DE usually means diatomaceous earth - the food grade kind, not the pool grade stuff. Follow the link for lots more info, but basically, it's fossilized critters that are effective at killing fleas, mites and other pests. It's used in most grain storage, so if you eat store-bought grain, you've eaten DE.
Morgan Morrigan


Joined: Oct 16, 2011
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
chuckle

More please !


Get involved -Take away the standing of corporations MovetoAmmend.org
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  11
Humph, I don't know what is so hard about chickens. (I jest) I just let ours wander around in the edge of the forest, eating the bugs, etc. Granted, we don't even know what cold weather is, and we do throw them some feed occasionally so they like us so that comes butchering time, we don't have to work so hard, but aside from that, no work. I am not getting any eggs from them, but I suspect I will be seeing a lot of chicks pretty soon, which suits me just fine.

Of course, the right species is important (i.e. not the white ones who were bred to live in a cage).

As far as killing and cleaning. Well, I am a bit of a country boy, and our caretaker and cook, even more so. One thing we started doing since we don't eat the skin, anyway, is skin em, instead of removing feathers. It is heck of a lot faster.

I like to naturalize everything I can, usually works. I would prefer to change what I eat, than spend all my time and effort recreating what is easy for factory farms to do. If I want the same results as a factory farm, I will just buy from them. Usually ends up cheaper in the long run.

I am going to try naturalized turkeys next. Our neighbor (Costarican) has a sizable flock that seems to be doing very well that way, and I love turkey! Costa Rica has native turkeys too, some of them very large. Also, I am seriously thinking of peacocks instead of your classic turkey (in Costa Rica, the peacock is known as the royal turkey, which is not to be confused by your neighbor who wakes you up in the middle of the night...)

One thing I do which is producing very good results is looking back into what was the ancestor of the domesticated critter. For chickens, they think it was the Red Junglefowl. Well, I got jungle and I let them enjoy it. It is amazing how well they are doing and they are doing a great job of keeping the insect population down too. Just like in permaculture with plants, when we stop trying to fight nature, but work with her, life gets easier, and more interesting.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
 
 
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