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Topic: Urban Chickens  (Read 4429 times)
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retroeva
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« on: January 14, 2007 08:49:19 PM »

My husband approached me that he wanted to keep a couple of chickens in our back yard. We live in a duplex in a pretty suburban area of TN. Ive already checked out the city chicken's webpage and we are getting really excited. I was wondering if anyone else has chickens as pets in an urban to surburban area and if so what kinds of coops do you reccomend? Id like it to be a focal point in our backyard and not something that we would want to hide under an overgrown tree. I dont think we could go as ornate as the coveted chicken chapel, but we arent looking at a dog pen with a tarp over it either. We havent decided on a breed yet so I dont know how big it would be, so if you have a breed reccomendation that would be cool too.
Does anyone compost their "fertilizer" for their garden? And is there any thing crafty to do with their molted feathers?

We are only going to get hens, no rooster and we are looking forward to using the eggs. We will NOT be growing chickens to butcher as I am a vegetarian and my DH rarely eats meat anymore.

Thanks a million!
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2007 09:02:11 AM »

I replied to this and my lovely computer literate almost 2 yo son closed the window LOL.

We have a single chicken.  She's a Rhode Island Red hen named Nice.  We live in a suburban area in the Florida panhandle, so Nice has the run of the yard....free range chickie  Wink
Our weather here stays fairly nice (no pun intended) so we've never built her a coop.  She prefers to nest under an azalea bush.  She lays the most fabulous brown eggs.  They are twice the size of the so-called jumbos you can get at any store.

There's a Yahoo group you may be interested in, that has all sorts of different poultry breeds, and they don't look down their noses at backyard flocks. 
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Homestead_Poultry/


We got our Nice at a feed store for about $1.  She was a little rusty yellow puffball with huge feet.  She's a great watchdog.  If there's anything or anyone in the yard who shouldn't be, she squawks until we either go outside or it flees for it's life.  We feed her mixed grains, oystershell and a bit of cat food for protein.  As a result, we have milo plants growing in the yard....she produces her own food LOL.  Occasionally we'll give her egg shells for calcium, but after getting them, she has the tendency to peck her own eggs.

I do use her poo around the yard, mixing it with topsoil to keep the fly population down.  My azaleas and hydrangeas have gotten so much bigger and prettier since we got Nice.  I also used it in my garden last year.  Unfortunately my back yard garden was attacked by the chickie....if you plan to have your chickens loose in the yard and want to garden, make sure they can't get to your plot as they will devour any tender green shoot they can get.

We have my hubby's 10yo stepdaughter living with us full time, and whenever she has a school project, she goes out and gathers feathers.  We've dyed the downy fluff feathers with food coloring and the color sticks fairly well.  I, myself, have used wing feathers in projects.  I painted some wooden plaques, and used the wing feathers to drag metallic paint...turned out pretty neat.  I get the wing feathers when we trim her wings, and keep them in a coffee can.

We do want to move out into the country and have more chickens, so I've been scouring the web looking for chicken shed plans.  I absolutely adore the Chicken Chapel, but that is out of both price and creative range for me LOL.  The best free plan I've found so far is at this link:
http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/poultry/factsheets/designs.html
The 8*8 layer house looks really nice, and could be decorated to make a nice focal point.

One more thing to be aware of.....chickens don't have a defense system...they run, hide and squawk.  During our first summer with Nice, we had a golden eagle hunting her from one of the back yard trees.  He was huge and gorgeous, but looking for a free meal.  I wish I would have had the camera because he was only about 10 feet up in the tree.  Scared the crap right outta me.

Good luck with your chickens! 

Carol
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2007 01:54:57 PM »

I have two urban guerrilla hens. Originally we had 3; one died of unknown causes last fall.

They are both a lot of fun and a gigantic pain in the ass. They're more personable and entertaining than I ever imagined chickens could be. They're also a lot louder and more destructive! They cackle vigorously every morning; not at sunrise, really, between 8 and 9 am, but we have a neighbor who works night shifts mostof the week and wants to sleep in Saturday, and she is not very happy about the noise.

I did the free-range thing. Over one winter, they scratched up ALL the grass in our not-tiny yard. They also ripped my beloved spring bulbs to tatters as they emerged. Planting any seedlings in my flower beds? Forget it. After unsuccessfully trying to fence them out of the flowerbeds with ornamental wire fencing, we built them a pen. In the spring and summer when the days are longer and we're outside more frequently, I let them loose in the yard for an hour before sunset each day. They get to eat grass (greenery makes for much better tasting eggs) and roam that way, and don't have long to really destroy anything before the sunset sends them running home to their hutch. (They do rip up the occasional small annual though, and they kick mulch around like crazy).

They live in a converted rabbit hutch that I scored off of Craigslist for $20. It's about 2.5'x4'. and the ceiling is about 2.5' high, and it stands on 3' legs. I nailed plywood down to make the floor solid, shingled the roof, and added a thick branch about 6" off the floor for a roost. The hutch also had an external nest box, the roof of which I added hinges and a barrel bolt to so I can get to the eggs without  reaching through the inside of the hutch. Having to flutter up to the raised floor of the hutch before climbing onto their roost satisfies their instinctual urge to get up, off ground level, at sunset.

When they were free range, I opened the hutch door for them every morning and locked it each evening. Now that they have the pen, I just leae it open. Sometimes I feel that this is walking a fine line as far as predators goes, because I know we have raccoons in our neighborhood, but so far there's never been the slightest indication of trouble. (A baby possum spent the night all cozy in the nest box once, though!)

The hutch isn't exactly something for the cover of House Beautiful,
but I can see how painting it white (say) would make it pretty attractive. It's neat and tidy, at least. I've considered whitewashing it for a while.

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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2007 10:20:42 PM »

Check out Countryside magazine, they always have info on chickens.  They are online,  as well.

They talk about a chicken tractor, which is actually a sort of mobile housing unit.  Fertilize the lawn, contain the chix, gather the eggs, all from a single cool structure!

I worked at a kennel that also had chix, they would give the leftover dog food to the chix, and then put the eggs in the dogs' food!  They were sweet chix, one would actually sit on your lap and let you stroke her.

I dunno about using the feathers, chix can be very dirty birds, so any feathers would REALLY have to be washed!

As far as breeds, reading is always good, or contact your local 4-H or pet store that sells them.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007 08:37:40 AM »

a little late but I just got here!  here are some ideas...
http://www.backyardchickens.com/coopdesigns.html

I raise chickens, currently have 100 but honestly, don't count them. I have clutches of chicks almost year round. I also raise turkeys, goats and rabbits.

Here is a great link to the various breeds and information on them
http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html#a%201

chicken fertilizer must be aged (composted) before using as it is very strong and will burn your plants.

the biggest problem with raising chickens is predator problems. this is neighborhood dogs that run free to cats that run free. You may also have possums that eat eggs. I use Livestock Guradian Dogs to protect my livestock.. specifically Anatolian Shepherd Dogs.

I love my chickens and if I had to get rid of all my livestock, I would keep chickens.

w.
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2007 02:56:56 AM »

Did you get your chickens yet, ma'am? Cheesy
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2007 12:04:44 PM »

Not yet, weve had too much going on Undecided
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2007 02:35:19 PM »

Boo!
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007 02:47:50 PM »

oh man...this is making me want chickens.  too bad there are a bunch of cats that are allowed to run loose in my area, i'd worry they might think our chickens are dinner.  oh yeah, plus the whole, my parents would probably never let us have chickens ever thing.   Undecided
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2007 08:34:25 AM »

LOL.  I shudder to think of what would happen to a cat if he decided to try to nosh old Nice.....
My littlest guy, Nizzle, just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago.  His favorite hobby is to annoy Nice through the sliding glass door.  I have to watch him like a hawk when I let him go out to play because Nice will come at him from behind and peck the crap out of his back.  It's soooo hard not to laugh or be mad at the chicken.

I love my zoo  Grin
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2007 04:25:34 PM »

My chickens could totally kick a cat's ass. I think you might be underestimating the size and ferocity of an adult standard-breed chicken  Wink

Bantams or juveniles, those I'd worry about.
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2007 08:45:03 PM »

The City Chicken: http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/index.html
This site makes interesting housing: http://www.henspa.com
This is a good all around poutry site with a lot of links about poultry housing. http://www.feathersite.com/ I live on a farm where it isn't neccesary but the "chicken tractor" idea rocks.  (same site under "free range")

You should also contact your local extension office.  Extension is a part of the USDA formed to share the research from the land grant colleges (U of Mn) with anyone that can use it, creating a well educated and productive society.  4-H is a large part of it.

and....the Storey's put out great books.  It's so nice to have one handy when you get curious about something.  I have an awesome book from the 70's on the whole full cycle surburban self sufficient agriculture thing.. from feeding the chickens to eating the eggs to using the manure, but I'm sure it out of print now Tongue

Our chicks are a few weeks old now (after survivng the coldest April on record...) 5 amerucanas(bue egg layers), 5 light brahma cochins ( my favs... great personality, great layers and cute fluffy bloomer butts... well that you might have to see to appreciate! lol) and 5 white crested black polishes(rock star chickens), along with 3 ducklings for my 5 year old.  My oldest son (10) has a string of customers lined up for selling eggs.. two dozen a day, a dozen to each customer once a week.  Each breed lays a different color of egg, the eggs are freerange and technically organic and he gets $3 a dozen for them. 

My brother lived on a lake and raised some chickens with the neighbors consent.  They all adored them.  Chickens are amazing wood tick eaters if that's an issue.  Where ever the yard is mowed is pretty much bug free.  They also "sing" when they're happy! Smiley 

Good Luck!
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2007 07:28:10 PM »

We had a small flock (actually morelike 20, but yeahhh) We had a mix of Rhode Island Reds, some random mixed breed from a local farm, and Bantums. I would highly recommend Rhold Island Reds. They are kind of on the larger side, but they are really friendly. We had a really great Rhodie Rooster who took care of all the girls. He even had a fight with a neighborhood dog and managed to hold him off long enough for us to get out there and get the dog to leave.  We never lost a single hen with that Rooster on duty!
As for our coop, my very crafty mother built one out of leftover wood from the building of our house. It was pretty much a garden shed with some roost boxes inside and windows covered with Chicken wire (and hardcore plastic sheeting in the winter).  A chicken wire run went around three sides of the coop so that when the door of the coop was open it closed off the run. The only safty measure we had were a couple big rocks and a log to hold the coop door closed at night. Good Luck with your chickies! They are great fun!!
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2007 07:39:37 PM »

I have a little flock of 5 hens that have their run of the front and side yards of our house.  They're totally fenced in, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for chicken enrichment.

For my pet rats, I make "rat pinatas" where I take some yummy foods and tie them up in a few layers of different types of paper (napkins, paper towels, plain printer paper), and hang it inside the cage.  They have to work and figure out how to get the treats out, it usually results in a lot of chewing and sniffing and tugging.

What can I do for the chickens?  I planted strawberries out there for them, and I bring them crickets/mealworms/grasshoppers/nightcrawlers.  Do they like toys like other birds?  The only thing that gets them excited is when I spread out scratch for them, but it seems so...plain.
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« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2007 06:36:16 PM »

Scratch s a good treat for everyday and will train your chickens to come when you call.  It should get them close enough to you where you can reach down and pet them.  This comes in handy if you ever need to catch them during the day.

You can set out a dish of oyster shells or other calcium enriched stuff.  Chickens are very good at knowing what minerals they need and will eat what they need, if they need it.

They also like to take dust baths so you could dig a hole a couple of feet wide and fill it with sand for them to play in.

They like treats, like corn on the cob, fresh fruits and veggies. (they have to be small enough... a chicken can't eat a whole carrot or apple very easy for example)  They also like cereal, like cheerios. 

Potato chips aren't the healthiest thing to feed them but a group of them will play foot ball with it... one grabs it and the others chase after him.

They like to peck water and food out of metal containers that make a lot of noise, like wagons or metal pans.  They'll chase an aluminum can around for hours.

A chickens favorite thing seems to be chasing grasshoppers.   The bugs found naturally in your yard should provide plenty of entertainment.



*A momma raccoon got into our chickens last week and 10 of them disappeared.  The barn door is designed for horses, mounted on an overhead track and very heavy duty, and she still managed to push it open.  The poor chicks that were left were scared to go in the barn at night because of her, but we were able to catch it in a live trap.
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dressshop
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2007 07:59:32 PM »

I have araucana chickens, they lay green and blue eggs.  This is really cool because it freaks everyone out!

Araucana History . . . The Araucana, is a breed of poultry which lays blue and blue/green eggs that can trace it's descent from two rare South American types of chicken - the Collonca, and the Queteros.  The Collonca is a naturally clean faced, rumpless, blue egg laying fowl. The Queteros is tailed, has ear tuffs and usually lays a pinkish brown egg.  The cross between the Collonca and the Queteros resulted in the Araucana  (info from http://araucana.freeservers.com/)

Jo-Ann
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2007 05:32:47 AM »

I have 2 silkie hens, 1 silkie Cockerel, a barnevelder hen, a maran ( i think)  hen and a silkie chick. They are all fab and very interesting. They love to get in and about the when you're gardening. They wander into the house if we leave the back door open. The only complaint I have is that they love to eat my veg, so it's a constant ight to keep them out of the veg plot. Although if it came to it I'd preer to have my chucks than my veg. Grin


The silkies

Silkie chick





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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2007 06:34:24 AM »

Chickens! <3  I plan to have rescue chickens (and other rescue animals) one day.

Chickens are so great and it surprises a lot of people about how much personality they have, too - as much as a cat or a dog.

Those silkies are far too cute!  Cheesy  That's a good picture of the araucana, too!
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« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2007 01:36:32 PM »

My family has raised a small flock for a long time - my dad built a really nice little "tractor coop" with a house, nesting areas, a bar, and a little run out the coop door (all enclosed to protect against raccoons, foxes, etc. - raccoons have made many meals of our fiesty free-range roosters - so be warned!). Anyhow, the uniqueness of the chicken tractor is that it's mounted on 2 4x4" runners, with a chain at the end - so you can move it around to fresh grass/dirt whenever the chickies scratch it all up.  It's like a giant chicken sledhouse.  We move it around the garden in the fall after harvest to let them "fertilize", and then as mentioned in a previous post, the poop ages over the winter so it doesn't burn our plants in spring. Works really well, 2 people can haul our big one around when needed - for your size area you could get by with a smaller one (manageable by one person).  Chicken Tractor. I think we found the plans in a sustainable small farm/off the grid kinda magazine.  Guerrilla farmin'.
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2007 07:29:29 PM »

I have a bunch of chickens and guinea hens.  Grin  I have two separate big coops with yards.  I also let my chickens free range and they always return to their coops at night, my guinea's do most of time.  Banti's aren't timid at all like some PP have suggested.  I really love my banti's they have great personalities.

 
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