Exploring Chickens

Hello, Frank here.

Let me thank you up front for taking the time to look at this post. What I hope to do is spark an interest in raising chickens. Chickens were the first livestock that Fern and I raised. We both enjoy them a great deal, but I probably enjoy them a little more than Fern does. If you have read some of my radio posts, then you know I talked about radios in a series of posts, and that’s how we’re going to do it here. This post is going to be a very general introduction. You ready? Let’s start.

A question. Maybe a couple of questions. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? You see, I know the answer. The next question: Will you provide me with input about your region, climate, housing, and special needs that chickens require in your neck of the woods? You see, I live in southeastern Oklahoma – hot summers, mild winters, wet some times of the year and dry other seasons. These are the parameters that I work with. Someone living in Vermont is going to have an entirely different set of circumstances to deal with. That’s why I’m asking for your input, so we can help people everywhere get started with chickens.

There is not one perfect chicken, like there is not one perfect car or truck, or radio. If you strictly want lots of white eggs, there are chickens just for that purpose. If your interest is more in the lines of putting meat in the freezer as quickly as possible, then chickens can meet this need also. Chickens come in exotic breeds, Bantams, decorative type birds, fighting chickens, egg layers and meat breeds. So you see there is a large arena for most people to find something to meet their chicken needs. What we are going to focus on here is the dual purpose chicken. It is a good meat bird and a good brown egg layer. I will be providing you with resources: where to find chickens, health needs, butchering, housing and nutritional needs. As I said earlier, there is not one perfect chicken.

Some folks are going to have different opinions about how to raise their favorite chicken, and that’s great. What I’m going to give you, is just the way that I do it. Okee-dokee? Okee-dokee.

I use a lot of humor in life and so on occasion, I will try to tell you

a funny story. Are you ready for one? If you take a red chicken and breed it with a yellow chicken you can get an orange chicken, or pretty close to orange anyway. And an orange chicken is an ugly chicken. Not too long ago we had a rooster flog Fern. There was a 2 x 4 handy. I pre-tenderized that rooster before we ate him. But he was still extremely tough. So, this is my humorous anecdote for the week.

On a serious note. Chickens will provide you with a lot of meat, a lot of

eggs, meat that doesn’t taste anything like store bought chicken. They’re excellent for keeping bugs down. They are fairly easy to start with, relatively inexpensive as far as livestock goes. They will provide
you with a sustainable source of food. In hard times certain breeds will forage much better than others and will provide the majority of their own food. So, to me, chickens are an excellent livestock animal for a homestead. In the near future I’m going to break down individual parts: housing, feed, and other chicken related items.
We’ll talk more later. Frank

10 thoughts on “Exploring Chickens

  1. I had relatives raise Cochins primarily for show. On occasion, they have used them for sitters. Otherwise, all of my experience has been with full-sized dual purpose chickens. Fern and I have tried multiple ways of processing older birds, older being one year old, and have not been happy with any of the results. I know if times were hard, this situation would be different. It's up to you if your birds aren't laying, then it may be time for new birds. I guess the most humane way to get rid of an older chicken is to take it to a chicken swap. Some people are peculiar, they don't really care about eggs. They just enjoy the site of chickens running around their yard. If they ask about egg production, I find that honesty is always the best policy. Or you can take a 22, dispatch each bird and dispose of them in an appropriate way. If I read your comment correctly about wild scavengers, we never feed anything to a wild animal that we don't expect them to come back and seek more. In other words, it's a very bad practice to feed wild animals. On occasion, when I cannot get a bird to go back into the pen at dark, I would shoot the bird and dispose of it, because I don't want any predator problems.Frank

  2. Depending on when you are planning on making your move, I would be giving thought to chicken house location and breeds now. Reason bein', you don't want to be downwind from your chicken house. And if you're going to drill a well, you want it far enough away from the chicken house. So start planning now. Location is very important.Thanks for reading and please continue. Let us know how the move goes. And remember, there is no perfect chicken.Frank

  3. Okay, T. Just for you. If I were going to choose one bird to live with the rest of my life, it would be a Buff Orpington or a Partridge Rock or a Speckled Sussex or …….Frank

  4. Thank you for reading and thank you for the comment. Be careful buying chickens locally. If the bird is an adult, you don't always know what quality it is. If you can buy from someone that has an established flock, this might be a good way to go. An example, every year or two, I will switch to a new breed of bird and get rid of perfectly good two year old hens. So they are out there. Here is an old saying, \”Buyer beware.\”Frank

  5. No, we have not been to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy site, but we will check it out. We've always stayed with the dual purpose breeds. We change breeds every couple of years just because we want to. Something to consider in your research, is whether or not you want a bird that will sit. Not this next time, but soon, we will be talking about breeds.Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading.Frank

  6. If one doesn't have the where-with-all to pre-tenderze a chicken (lol), how old is too old to process one? (I have never fully processed one. I have put down roosters with a hatchet, giving up those 5 roosters to the wild scavengers- didn't have much meat on their bones for being a year old and I figured the work involved would land me with rawhide quality and no quantity of meat anyway).I was given a flock of 8 chickens 2 years ago that were already 2, I now have 7 non-laying 4-year old hens and their rooster that I am considering processing in the spring. They are beautiful large cochins – but pick them up and they feel like… maybe mostly feather!

  7. In northwest Georgia we get several freezes every winter month – although this year it has started a little early. Daytime temps usually jump right back up to the 50s & 60s, only ocasionally staying in the 40s. As soon as I finish the fall planting (there were no food plants growing here when I bought 8 mos. ago), the coop will be going up and I'll start buying chickens both locally and from a hatchery. I'm looking forward to hearing your experiences and having my own!

  8. 2×4 chicken tenderizer…..I had one too! Ralph and I have done hours of research into breeds.We have found out a lot but we are looking forward to your blog. We don't think you can really ever have too much information. We Like the multi purpose breeds. Eggs, bug control and meat. We also consider rare breeds bred and developed here in the USA if possible. While we currently live in town we are working on getting land. Have you been to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy site? Looking forward to your next installment.

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