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Old School Poultry Keeping

This is a discussion on Old School Poultry Keeping within the Livestock forums, part of the Survival Food Procurement category; Originally Posted by JustAnotherNut Good info, thanks...…...just remember forcing them to lay does have it's negative side effects. It can stress them out and they'll ...

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Thread: Old School Poultry Keeping

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAnotherNut View Post
    Good info, thanks...…...just remember forcing them to lay does have it's negative side effects. It can stress them out and they'll give up laying at a younger age. If I remember correctly (and I may not), hens DNA is hardwired to lay a certain number of eggs in their lifetime and if provided light in the winter to keep laying.....you're in effect 'using up all her eggs' at a younger age. Just sayin
    I get 3 seasons out of a flock then they are gone and I get a new batch of point of lay pullets. Like I said they either work or they take a swim in the stew pot. Most breeds are done after 3 years anyway so I run light. Nothing is for free no welfare at my coop.

    Best layers for the most eggs per year are Leghorns and ISA Browns over 300 eggs a year from those breeds. ISA Browns are hybrids.
    Last edited by hawgrider; 11-15-2019 at 07:40 AM.
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  2. #12
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    Also for folks who may not know for every molt a hen goes through egg production slows for the next laying season.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.
    "The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath." W. C. Fields
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawgrider View Post
    I get 3 seasons out of a flock then they are gone and I get a new batch of point of lay pullets. Like I said they either work or they take a swim in the stew pot. Most breeds are done after 3 years anyway so I run light. Nothing is for free no welfare at my coop.

    Best layers for the most eggs per year are Leghorns and ISA Browns over 300 eggs a year from those breeds. ISA Browns are hybrids.
    I don't keep mine much over 2 to 3 years either, though my goal is to be self-sustainable so my flock can replace itself, so I consider it more of an investment in the future of my flock. When I find a good broody, I'll keep her around for that purpose. I get a fair number of eggs, some meat and new chicks to boot. So to me, it's not really getting a free ride.

    Any extra cockerels and extras or older birds are sent to freezer camp and I keep my numbers down to a manageable size. SHTF, I still have a rotating flock & supply of meat & eggs.


    Currently I have 8 hens of various ages, from 3 months to 2 years......plus one hen sitting on 4 eggs. Really that is too many for us. We like eggs but getting 6 eggs a day during peak season is way too many for us, so by next spring I'll start weeding out the who's who and fill my freezer and only keep about 4 good hens and 1 rooster. I'm hoping of the eggs to be hatched will have a cockerel so I can replace my rooster as well.

    The 3 youngest hens are Sex Links (also hybrid) that I bought just to shut one of the broodies up and to mix things up a bit in the gene pool. I could not convince her to leave the nest, even after dunking her butt in cold water or continually pulling her off or that she stayed there longer than the 21-25 days. She just wasn't going to stop, so I put these chicks under her and she was happy as a clam. Now that trait and especially her persistence may be frowned upon by many in the chicken world, but for me....she's worth her weight in gold. She may be a little bitch, especially with chicks (I had to wear PPE just to feed & water them cause she drew blood) but I couldn't ask for a better mother and she is only about 9 months old, so I still have a few good years of her service ahead. For my purposes, it's a win/win
    hawgrider likes this.

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  5. #14
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    Speaking of which, that gene pool...….unless you are able to get new birds from outside sources or have a large enough set up to run 2 or 3 or more separate flocks, you have to be careful or you can end up with Frankenbirds.

    Namely it comes down to this...…….full blooded brother/sister should not be allowed to mate/reproduce just because of identical DNA's. Father/daughter, son/mother is ok for awhile.....but eventually you're going to want some fresh blood, so to speak. Easiest is to just replace your rooster, or add in a couple of new hens or even replace the whole flock. Only possible problems here is when SHTF, new birds will be hard to find. Maybe make friends with another chicken keeper that you can swap out birds with.


    Then comes the broodiness. Most of todays breeds/birds have been either been hybridized or bred out and seen as a problem/unwanted trait...…...and it's true, it can be, even for a homesteader/self sufficiency set up. As noted earlier, I had one such bird. Since I had already had 2 hens hatch out a total of 6 chicks and other projects on my plate, I didn't need another broody and tried to break her of it. She won and now is at it again and this time I'll let her have her way.

    But I did want to touch on the subject of breaking a broody and the ways that are usually successful.

    1. Every time you find the hen on the nest, take her off. Of course don't do that if she's just there to lay an egg.....but the difference is a layer only stays in the nest long enough to drop her prize, give a shout out and off she goes......a broody will stay there, with or without laying an egg (usually once they go broody, they don't lay and won't until any chicks are about 2 months old). To be sure if she's brooding or laying? If she is in the nest at night, long after roost time. If you're still not sure, she'll be there the next night, and the next & so on.

    2. Put her in a small cage for awhile, suspended so cool air will circulate her underside. No worries about feed & water since broodies can go days without.

    3. Dunk her butt in some cold water or put a hose to it......that outta cool things off.

    4. Not sure about this one, but would still make sense......once you get her off the nest, block her from returning and keep her moving for a good 15-20 minutes maybe longer. Doesn't mean you have to keep chasing her, just every time you see her sit, give her a nudge to get her moving.

    5. And if all that fails, then either get her some fertile eggs, or baby chicks or sell or cull


    6. If you choose to raise chicks, there are many people (and I've done it too) that raise them inside the house or a warm/protected environment (garage/shed/whatever) under a heat lamp until they are about 6 weeks old. when all their feathers have come in. You can then try adding them to your flock, but personally I think they're still young & small to defend themselves against the older birds pecking at them......whether to be bullies or to put the youngins in their place at the bottom of the list. So I have a smaller coop that I raise them for a couple of months and are big enough to withstand the 'abuse', but that's just me. Your own set up and flock may be different, so that's a judgement call only you can make.
    A. As reported previously....do not feed layer to young chicks they do not need the calcium and it doesn't have enough protein that they do need. If you can, put your chicks on some grass or dirt even if only for an hour every day or so and as they peck around, they can get enough calcium and grit that you don't have to provide supplements. Also don't feet whole grains or scratch grains or feed in pellet form.....it's just too big for them to eat & digest. Either grind it fairly small or buy crumbles.
    B. If you do have a broody hen that has hatched the chicks, you won't have to worry cause she'll take care of their needs. She keeps them warm, will pick out or break down food pieces for them to eat, she teaches them how to scratch for their own and she'll protect them from most predators, often with her own life. Under most circumstances, all you have to do is provide their food/water & shelter.....which you're already doing for the other birds and she takes care of the rest.

  6. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rice paddy daddy View Post
    Great stuff.
    If you keep a light in the coop during the winter to trick the hens into continuing to lay, know that there egg bearing years will be lessened..
    We just store excess eggs starting in late summer in a bucket of hydrated lime water in the pantry. Easiest way to make the solution is to buy a bag of pickling lime (canning isle in the grocery store) and mix 1-2 ozs of pickling lime per gallon of water in a 2 or 5 gallon bucket. No refrigeration needed to preserve the eggs for a year or until the birds start laying again in the spring. Just drop excess clean eggs in daily until the birds stop laying for winter.

    We feed excess eggs to the dogs.

    We lock the birds in the coop at night but they run the property eating bugs during the day. This allows us to use a lot less feed most of the year, minimize poop in the coop, and the birds seem happier and healthier. But this means we lose a few birds each year to preditors and occasionally the birds will create a different laying area that we'll have to find and destroy so they lay their eggs in the laying boxes for easy collecting. Generally the birds stay within about 100 yds from the coop.

    Since we don't want to deal with fertilized eggs we don't keep a rooster. 4-5 good laying birds lay all the eggs we need so every year or two we buy some chicks, raise them in a stall in the barn for a few months and merge them into the flock.
    Last edited by Elvis; 11-15-2019 at 07:53 PM.

  7. #16
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    We can't let ours run completely free, the woods have red fox, bobcat, coyotes, raccoons.
    We have an area 40 feet X 60 feet surrounded by 6 foot high chainlink where they can roam during the day.

    Inside that we have three 10 X 10 chainlink dog kennels with small coops in each. We let one little flock out each day, if we let them all out at once the roosters would fight and the hens would pick on each other.
    We have 18 hens and 3 roosters at the moment, we have had periods over the years with more than 50 birds.

    I'm 71, wife is 73, when these birds die off we most likely won't continue with more.
    JustAnotherNut and hawgrider like this.
    "There is nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." Winston Churchill
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  8. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elvis View Post
    We just store excess eggs starting in late summer in a bucket of hydrated lime water in the pantry. Easiest way to make the solution is to buy a bag of pickling lime (canning isle in the grocery store) and mix 1-2 ozs of pickling lime per gallon of water in a 2 or 5 gallon bucket. No refrigeration needed to preserve the eggs for a year or until the birds start laying again in the spring. Just drop excess clean eggs in daily until the birds stop laying for winter.

    We feed excess eggs to the dogs.

    We lock the birds in the coop at night but they run the property eating bugs during the day. This allows us to use a lot less feed most of the year, minimize poop in the coop, and the birds seem happier and healthier. But this means we lose a few birds each year to preditors and occasionally the birds will create a different laying area that we'll have to find and destroy so they lay their eggs in the laying boxes for easy collecting. Generally the birds stay within about 100 yds from the coop.

    Since we don't want to deal with fertilized eggs we don't keep a rooster. 4-5 good laying birds lay all the eggs we need so every year or two we buy some chicks, raise them in a stall in the barn for a few months and merge them into the flock.
    Usually when I get too many eggs I've dried & powdered mine and have used them for baking & scrambled eggs but I've been wondering about storing eggs that way, in the water. Are they still good for frying sunny side up?

  9. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rice paddy daddy View Post
    We can't let ours run completely free, the woods have red fox, bobcat, coyotes, raccoons.
    We have an area 40 feet X 60 feet surrounded by 6 foot high chainlink where they can roam during the day.

    Inside that we have three 10 X 10 chainlink dog kennels with small coops in each. We let one little flock out each day, if we let them all out at once the roosters would fight and the hens would pick on each other.
    We have 18 hens and 3 roosters at the moment, we have had periods over the years with more than 50 birds.

    I'm 71, wife is 73, when these birds die off we most likely won't continue with more.
    Do you & your wife do any butchering? Or do you sell your excess eggs?

  10. #19
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    Meat birds & butchering.....


    Cornish Cross (Cornish x, or jumbo Cornish) is a hybrid breed of chicken, bred specifically for fast weight gain for meat. They are also the breed of chicken you buy in the store. They do not lay eggs, mainly cause they don't/won't live long enough. I've tried twice to raise some for the freezer, but for whatever reason I wasn't able to see the project to finish and ended up selling them before they reached full size.

    They are fast weight gainers because they are usually fed 24% protein(or is it higher?) and are then butchered around 6 weeks of age. Much beyond that time frame and their bones can break from the weight, have other health issues and possibly die because of it.

    They may start out like normal chicks, but within a week or two you'll notice they sit or lay down a lot. Much less active, can eat you out of house & home. And what goes in, must come out.....and they STINK to high heaven.
    And in return, they give a lot more meat(3 or 4 x over) than a heritage or standard bird that takes much longer to reach a decent size.



    Butchering, culling, dispatching...….there's a lot of different ways to do it and thousands of videos & articles about the process, so you can figure out which way works best for you. I will say that cutting off the head & letting it run around is probably not the best method. But that's your choice.

    I catch the bird and will hold it firmly while rubbing or scratching it's head to calm it down. Then I'll wrap something around their wings to keep them snug against their body so they can't flap their wings and possibly injure me in the process. Then I'll tie their feet and hang them upside down from a tall rack, then cut off their head and let them bleed out into a muck bucket. I do have a killing cone, a metal cone that you fit the bird into with a hole at the bottom for the head to hang thru, but I've always had problems with using it, namely trying to get the bird down far enough to expose the neck.

    I usually do my butchering outside in the yard with a table, a muck bucket for the offal stuff & feathers & blood, another bucket with bleach water for cleaning as I go(my hands or knives) and another with cold water for the finished product and the garden hose at the ready to keep the work surface cleaned. Though the last time I did in the kitchen, at the time it was just easier.

    After about 10 or 15 minutes of hanging, I'll take them down, then dunk them in a 5 gallon bucket of hot water 160-165 degrees for a few minutes, making sure they are completely submerged. Anything cooler and the feathers won't come out easily and any hotter, you cook the bird. So that's the sweet spot. Take them out and pluck them clean. Sometimes they get another dunking if needed. Then cut off the neck and the feet. Feet are then put in the hot water & scraped of the scaly skin and toenails pulled off (feet are good to make bone broth) then are put in a bucket of clean cold water. Then butt toward me, I carefully insert a sharp knife just under the breast bone and cut the skin around that opening, then turn the carcass and make the cuts to loosen the windpipe & esophagus. Then using my fingers to separate the membrane, I reach into the body cavity along the breast bone to the neck opening and try to pull out the innards though I still haven't perfected this and usually takes a few more twists & turns and cuts to get it all out at once.

    The greatest concern when trying to gut a bird is the gall bladder. Small thin green/black thing on the liver. DO NOT PUNCTURE OR TEAR IT. It contains bile and if it gets on the meat it's ruined. If you want to save the liver, just lift it up so the gall bladder hangs away from it, then cut it off where it's attached. If you save the gizzard, use a knife to slice it around the edge, then pull it open. It will be full of small rocks or other non-food items, wipe that all out, then peel off the yellow layer and toss that.

    You can either leave the carcass whole for baked chicken or cut into serving size pieces. But once I'm done I then rinse off the meat again, then put into ziplocs and put in the fridge for 24-48 hours to rest and let the rigor run it's course (if you don't let it rest long enough, the meat is tough & chewy) then put in the freezer or use for a meal.

    You can find some weird things in the gizzard....like pellets or bb's or glass or??? And when butchering a hen, it's possible to find a fully developed unlaid egg, or even a few and quite a few smaller undeveloped egg buds. Quite the anatomy lesson, for sure.
    Slippy likes this.

  11. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAnotherNut View Post
    Do you & your wife do any butchering? Or do you sell your excess eggs?
    Wife has done butchering, but frankly it’s more convenient to buy from the grocery.
    As far as eggs, what we don’t eat we give to friends who have helped us.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.
    "There is nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." Winston Churchill
    "Leave the artillerymen alone, they are an obstinate lot." Napoleon
    Member: VFW, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Society of the 5th Infantry Division, Sons of the American Revolution.

 

 
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