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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If a family has a couple of acres of land, they could keep a self-propagating flock of chickens from which 2 or 3 chickens can be butchered each week for their meat supply. The hens would be maintained for eggs and some of them would be allowed to nest on eggs to hatch out new birds to keep the flock replenished.

Problems/issues:
Figuring out how many hens would be needed;
Corn for chicken feed would have to be raised on the land or traded for;
Keeping predators out (both animals and humans);
Adequate water supply;
Maintaining the flock during these "normal times" to have them when needed.

Thoughts/suggestions anyone?
 

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We have chickens and free range them year 'round. They're typically no trouble at all. While we really never count them I would guess that our flock ranges from 25 to 35. The number is constantly changing - hawks, weasels, and coyotes. Yes we do eat about one a month but we do have to be careful because there are times when the hens do not lay an-egg-a-day and there are also times (many times) when the hens simply do not sit on the eggs for 21 days to hatch. With, let's say, 28 hens and 2 roos we only had two hatches last spring. I think there were somewhere around 18 new chicks. Five were roosters so they were the first to become diner. Then DW will select one of the older hens for chicken soup about once a month during fall and winter. But we do have to feed them during the very cold months and feed prices are going through the roof.

Domestic rabbits are much better for a reliable food source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
We let our chickens roam around during the day and our barn is fairly close to the house and the varmints seem to stay away during the day. Then we lock them up at night to keep out predators. I forgot several times to lock the trap door and lost chickens to varmints.

There are charts that list characteristics of different breeds of chickens, and some are much more "broody" than others so selecting certain breeds helps on getting ones that are likely to sit on the nests. I must say though that of the bitties that have hatched out here on our farm, few of them last, as there are many more predators that will kill a bittie but not an adult chicken (like cats, for instance.) And so I realize there are no guarantees on being able to keep the flock going forever.

I have kept hens over the winter before with no other store bought feed than shelled corn, which can be home-grown and thus cheap. I have never tried to raise bitties though on corn only, which of course would have to be crushed, and I am not sure how they would do.

Now as for raising rabbits rather than chicken, I don't like the taste of them as well as chicken, but I realize if times become very hard we may not have the luxury of being choosy! I have noticed other comments where raising rabbits is a preferred thing. I need to learn more about raising them as far as feed and shelter/pens. I assume they can make it on grass during the summer but I wonder what they could be fed in the winter if store bought feed is not available.
 
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