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x-posting to farmers & organic_farms

Hello from the Mack Farm! I'm hoping that it will one day have an actual name, but for now, that'll do.

I know that a lot of my friends raise chickens, and I'd like to hear from you if I could. Or from folks who have raised chickens in the past. Our goal is to raise chickens listed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy's critical list. A lot of people apparently don't realize that many livestock breeds, especially heritage breeds, are becoming endangered. These are the ones we hope to focus on here on our homestead.

What kind(s) of chickens do you have? Where are you located? What would you suggest to someone just starting out? We're hoping to order probably a straight-run in spring. We plan to start with a dozen of one breed. Extra cockerels would probably become broilers. After we know what we're doing, we'll probably invest in a couple of different breeds.

Missouri is cold! We're looking for breeds who are winter-hardy. I don't know how the summers are, though. I don't imagine it would be too awfully bad, but I do plan to look up info from the last few years. Maybe my MO friends can give tips there, too. We're also looking for breeds who are good with kids & pets. We hope to free-range them during the day, assuming we can teach all our critters how to behave around the flock. I'm still on the fence about whether we want broody or non-broody breeds. I'd probably prefer a breed that will happily hatch and raise its own chicks when we want more, as I don't think I want to shell out for a whole bunch of expensive incubation equipment right away. On the other hand, I don't want them fighting the kids when they go to collect eggs.

So what are your experiences with chickens?



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
It's not hot like the south, but it still reliably gets into the 90s in MO, especially in southern MO. And it can be very humid. I'll be interested to read what you guys decide with chickens! You might also consider quail -- there's a pretty good MO organization for reintroducing them (but you don't have to necessarily do that), and according to Brian they are adorable and friendly and make good meat and eggs.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up!

I'll have to look into the quail organization. I think I would love to eventually raise lots of different poultry. I'll definitely have to learn more about quail. I don't know all that much, tbh. I've only had it once at a restaurant, and it left Josh thinking that they were too small for the trouble. I don't know that it'd be much trouble. :P
Jan. 2nd, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
They are small but very tame and good natured (again, according to Brian). I bet your girls would love them, and they are practically all breast meat.


Jan. 2nd, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that link! I read quite a bit, and I've bookmarked it to check out more later. I had no idea that they were so threatened! And lord knows, we have a lot of downed trees/ground cover on our land. I'll have to find out if there are quail in this area before we go clearing it all out, as we'd planned. If not, maybe I could bring some in! I prefer breast meat anyway, so it's sounding quite good to me.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Just going to second that it will be in the 90s for at least 2 weeks every summer in MO and the humidity in the summer is terrible (and for some reason those are inevitably the two weeks I am camping, ugh) :). Can you semi-free-range them by making a yard for them that the dogs can't get into (assuming the dogs have issues trying to 'play' with them)? I know nothing about chickens but wish you luck in raising them! :)
Jan. 2nd, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
Awesome - thanks a bunch! We actually have a pen built onto our chicken coop, so we can use that if we absolutely have to. I'd prefer to do free-range, though. I have no clue how the dogs will do. The last owners had a flock running around the yard, and Bo didn't seem to bother them.

I don't know how Achaiah, Biscuit, or the kitties will do. Achaiah tends to learn quickly when we bring new animals into the "pack". All I have to do is say "NO!" if she goes after them and pet the newcomers, and she generally gets it. She did kill a neighbor's bird once, though, so who knows? Biscuit already shows signs of being a bird dog, so I'm hoping we can train her as to when that's actually appropriate.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )