In praise of poultry

gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)October 28, 2006

I am so enjoying my flock of chickens! They are still youngsters, but are of adult size. They are spoiled rotten, getting to free-range the property whenever we are at home.

They have become bold, covering more and more areas. They look to me for treats, since I bring them goodies every day.

They will eat nearly any leftovers.

So, when I go on the patio to read and enjoy this nice weather, I hear "Buk Buk, Book book?" and have bright eyes staring at me, waiting for some action(G). The girls stand posed, one foot up, head cocked, ready to move in. A cup or plate on the table means even more attention..

They are soo funny! They get crazy wild at times and run/fly/screech for no obvious reasons. They preen/peck/

sunbathe within inches of the Mastiffs, who watch in utter fascination, or boredom, depending on the dog(G).

They have cleared out lots of areas under my trees. I have learned that if I pull weeds, leaving a little bare ground, the chickens will clear a wide area all around the tree. Then I mulch it, and they don't bother mulch very much. They are making my weed patrol easier.

They are better than TV for entertainment, fertilize the property and eat weeds and insects.

Their pen is deeply layered with clean shavings. They turn it over all the time, and I get fresh shavings often. They don't smell, and are very clean and healthy looking. I hope to have lots of eggs to share soon! There is no way two people can eat the eggs 23 hens produce(G).

If you live where you can have poultry, I highly recommend Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks! Smart, sweet and gentle..


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How sweet! I wish I could have chickens! They are so cute and I enjoy your observations of how antimated they can be!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 7:40PM
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carmiewest(Eastern South Florida)

I envy you so much! I wish I could have them but I live in a gated community and I could never do it. When you get eggs to share I would gladly buy some from you. After reading about the egg/chicken industry, I have decided to buy less eggs or to try to eliminate them from our family's diet. It is going to be hard finding a source that we know for sure treats its chickens fairly.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 10:33PM
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Oh Lisa,
I am saving egg cartons for you!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 7:18AM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

good idea. I'll save you cartons too, Lisa. Hey, post some new pics of them. When we were little kids we lived on a farm and I loved the chickens and ducks we had. It was so much fun gathering eggs. And you are right. They know the hands that feed them, but can be totally content foraging on their own.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 9:15PM
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How many pounds of feed do you use per week for 23 chickens . We have a 5 acre farm and we are thinking about ordering some chicks from Mc Murray Hatchery. Also how do you keep the racoons away? Can you post some photos?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 6:24PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Thank you, Ladies, for saving egg cartons. Good idea!

Maureen, we use about 50lbs every 3 weeks, of flock starter. Plus scratch grains, about the same amount. Cost is about $20 for 100 lbs. They free-range, and get all the kitchen leftovers. They are safe from predators, since the hen-pen is sturdy chainlink, with a metal roof. No raccoons can get in to harm them. I got my chicks from Mc Murry, and they all arrived healthy and active. You will need a small, secure, heated area for them if you get them in winter.

i'll get some more photos later today.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 9:43AM
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Thanks for the info. Mc Murray has some specials now. By the way were the chicks vaccinated before they were delivered?.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 4:23PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Hi Maureen, yes, I paid the small fee to get them all vaccinated.

Just a bit of a caution. Don't get straight-run birds unless you are willing to butcher the Roos. They begin to eat each other at young ages. You are best off getting females only. Heavy breeds are more docile, Bantams more lively and flighty. It is pretty easy to keep heavy breeds out of trouble, since they cannot fly over a normal fence. Light breeds will go exploring far and wide.

If you are considering Turkeys, don't get BB Whites or BB Bronze. They are sweet, loveable, curious, and become crippled very young. It will break your heart.. Get light breeds of Turkeys-they stay sound and active.

I am very, very fond of my Buff Orpingtons. They are beautiful and docile. The Barred Rocks have a bit more "spook" to them, they do not enjoy being picked up, like the Orps do. Easter-Eggers (Americanas) have flaky temperaments, as do many RI Reds. Sex-links are good ones, and on the calmer side. Go for gentle birds, and buy more than you think you will need. Some may be lost to illness or predators. It is not easy to introduce new birds to a flock, once the pecking order is established. You can always sell, give away or eat excess birds.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 8:17PM
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I plan on getting a few RI Reds , they're good egg layers. My main concern is where would I leave the birds when I go on a 2-week vacation. I can't leave them at the kennel that's for sure. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:06PM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

My parents have been raising chickens for their eggs for years now. They feed them grain pellets, cracked corn, and all the weeds they can eat. They've had road island reds, barred rocks, leghorns, buffs, ameraucana (they laid green eggs), and a few bantams. They try to only get hens but occasionally they get a rooster or two. Once the had a beautiful pair of bantam roosters but one of them turned mean and attacked anyone who went into the chicken pen. It got so bad that we had to carry a baseball bat just to collect the eggs and feed them. We found a new home for the aggressive rooster and kept the more docile one. Sadly, a week later a fox got the second rooster. More recently, they had a black rooster that had what looked like a white pompom on it's head. We named it Afro but since it was smaller then the hens they ended up plucking all of the white feathers out. Right now all of the hens lay brown eggs that are often to big to fit in the egg cartons, even the jumbo sized ones.

While the fresh eggs are great there are downsides to raising your own chickens. The biggest one in my opionion is that chickens can be very vicious to one another and often turn cannibal if another hen gets sick or hurt. They'll even eat other chickens and animals alive if they are injured and can't get away.

Keep your feed in galvanized steel trash cans or you'll probably get rats. Metal storage containers are the only things that will keep rodents out. Watch out for hawks as well. They have no trouble carrying off chickens. One year my parents lost about 20 hens to the pair of hawks that live nearby. We ended up having to put chicken wire across the tops of the pens in order to keep the hawks out.

My parents used to let their chickens out to free range during the day but stopped doing so after the hens got out of their yard and into mine. The hens nearly destroyed one of my larger flower beds going after earthworms. I lost quite a few of my lower growing plants and had to completely re-mulch the entire area.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:19AM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

Lisa, a couple of weeks ago, there was an episode of Green Acres where Eva Gabor's character, Lisa, (coincidence?), was calling the chickens her "girls" and named each one of them. I thought of that as soon as I read your post!lol


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:42AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Here are some recent photos. They are becoming so tame that I can just reach down and scoop them into my arms. They come running to us whenever we go outside. They started laying too! The worst thing they do is kick some mulch around. A few minutes of raking fixes the damage. They cannot get into the veggie gardens. They are priceless for the entertainment factor and for their beauty.

Wild Things!

Potted Poultry

"My Leaf!"

Buff Orpington Gal

I wonder if human toes taste good?


    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 5:08PM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Oh Lisa they are beautiful. I'm glad they keep you smiling!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 6:48PM
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Thanx for the pics Lisa. I remember seeing pics of your little chicks not too long ago. Boy, they got big pretty fast. Are you raising them "free range"?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 5:46PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Hi Marion! I must get a good photo of the rooster "Foghorn." He turned out to be a Silver Leghorn (pronounced "Leggern") and has a nice, wimpy temperament. The birds are pleasant to touch and pet, and I get a serious case of the giggles when they RUN across the property. They look soo funny!

Maureen, yes, they free range when we are home, and put themselves away as the sun goes down. I shut them in the secure coop at night to keep them safe. Busy chickens are happy chickens. I feel very sorry for birds that are locked up 24/7. Our property is fenced so they cannot get out.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2006 at 5:39PM
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I was wanting to get some polish hens can I mix them with Isa browns in the same pen not for breeding

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 2:45AM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

They are lovely! I love my ducks too they are so entertaining.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2009 at 7:26PM
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I absolutely love that lady proudly protecting her leaf!

Once again Lisa, you've made me want chickens. I have the advantage of living in the city of Miami, where it's completely legal to keep livestock on your apartment balcony and chickens can "free-range" along the street (there was a free-ranging family of chickens down the block last year - but I don't see them anymore -either hit by cars or eaten, I assume, either by their owners or by stray dogs.) My fenced yard would be pretty fancy for Miami chickens. But the boyfriend says two cats, a Dane puppy and an aging lab are really quite enough livestock for our little urban postage stamp.... post more pics. I live vicariously through you.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 12:40AM
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I got an acre about 4 years ago and I raised Old English Game Birds for the eggs. I then got some Serama and loved them so much I gave away the Game Birds. Now I specialize in Ball Type Silkied Serama, which I call Tribbles. They jump into my lap every evening when they're ready to go to bed. They can be very affectionate birds. #1 housepet in their native Malaysia.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tribble Serama

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:45AM
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