January is the planning month to get going on your homestead. Besides saving food for your monthly stash and getting ready for your spring gardening, you need to start thinking about other things that you could do. Poultry can provide eggs and meat for you and your family. Our family has chosen to raise a lot of different poultry types and breeds. We have included chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, and soon to have chukars and pheasants at our home. We chose breeds of chickens that are both for meat and eggs. Many of our other birds, we breed for meat and incubate our own eggs from our own adult birds. Favorite chicken breeds in our house are Barred Rocks and Americaunas (Easter Eggers).
If the chickens are allowed to eat bugs, fresh greens, and scratch grains, the eggs will have a higher nutrient content. Researchers conclude that eggs from pasture raised chickens may contain:
- 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
Remember that home-grown eggs will have a darker yellow to an almost orange-gold yolk vs the store bought ones will have a lighter yellow yolk.
Shelf Life of Eggs
The eggs you buy at your local grocery store are usually, probably weeks old. Technically, eggs do indeed have a long lasting shelf life once refrigerated, however the older they are the flatter the white & yoke becomes. If you are wondering about the shelf life of homegrown eggs in the refrigerator, it’s approximately 3 months. We do not wash out eggs and do leave them out on the counter for several week.
Top 7 Tips for First Time Chicken Owners http://commonsensehome.com/best-chicken-tips/
- Start with chicks.I know it seems like it might be fun to incubate and hatch your first batch of chickens from eggs, but it’s much simpler to start with a healthy bunch of chicks and go from there. While hatching your own is definitely something you may wish to consider in the future, allow yourself to become accustomed to the inner workings of chicken health and behavior before taking on the sometimes frustrating world of egg incubation.
Most local feed stores receive chick orders in the spring, so watch store flyers carefully to determine when they’ll arrive in your area. If this isn’t an option where you live, you can also mail order chicks from places online like Murray McMurray Hatchery.
Another option is to purchase mature hens who are already laying for your first flock. While this works some of the time, you often end up with the “culls” from other people’s flocks, so be careful of what you are buying.
- Choose dual-purpose breeds.Chickens are usually categorized into two varieties: meat breeds and laying breeds. If you aren’t quite sure which route you wish to go, choose a breed that is known to lay a decent number of eggs, but also has adequate meat production in case you end up with extra rooster or a hen that doesn’t lay. Personally, my favorite breeds are Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Barred Rocks, and Araucanas. Dual purpose chickens also seem to be hardier and more self-sufficient than other more “specialized” breeds.
- You don’t have to go crazy with your coop. I’ve seen some wild chicken coops lately! Some of them are fancier than my actual house, and it’s hard to tell if they were intended for a human or a bird. If having a fancy coop is holding you back from getting a flock of your own- don’t let it. Chickens don’t require a 5-star resort to be happy. A few things chickens DO need however: protection from predators, a place to roost, nesting boxes (for layers), and a place to roam.
You can easily meet these needs by modifying an existing building (small barn, shed, or even a doghouse) or building a small chicken tractor. Check out my chicken board on Pinterest for ample chicken coop and tractor inspiration.
- Stay as natural as possible. As the interest in chicken keeping grows, so do the gimmicks. You can make your chicken adventure as simple or as complicated as you would like. A few ways I keep my chickens as natural as I can:
- I free range my girls when at all possible, which cuts down on my feed bill and provides them with a diet more like nature intended. (Plus, they LOVE it! Just be cautious of potential predators.)
- I avoid using chemicals or special “washes” to disinfect my coop, instead I use a natural, homemade solution.
- I feed them crushed egg shells to help to supplement their calcium intake.
- I give them many of my kitchen scraps which helps to provide them with extra nutrients and it keeps that much more waste from hitting my garbage can.
- I don’t leave lights on them year around to force them into laying. Since chickens were designed to take a break from laying, I prefer to allow them to do so- which also helps to reduce the amount of electricity I use. (However, I DO provide heat lamps whenever our temperatures drop.)
- I go homemade whenever possible. I’ve avoided purchasing the expensive chicken equipment at the feed store by creating my own feeders and chick waterers out of repurposed items. We also made our nesting boxes and roosts from scrap lumber. There are many ideas and plans available online, including this idea of turning 5 gallon buckets into nesting areas.
- Establish a routine. Some people seem to think of their chickens as dogs and spend countless hours doting on them. I personally don’t have that luxury, since I’m running an entire homestead, with many other animals. Since my chickens are actually one of the lower maintenance aspects of my homestead, it’s easy to “forget” about them sometimes… I’ve found that things run the smoothest when I establish a daily routine for filling feeders, waterers, freshening the bedding, and collecting eggs. That way, the poor girls don’t get pushed to the back burner.
- Keep things clean.This goes along with the previous point of establishing a routine. Dirty nesting boxes equal dirty eggs which equals the dilemma of whether or not you should wash your eggs.
An ounce of prevention goes a long way- it only takes a minute or two to clean boxes and replace bedding if you do it each day. If you wait until the end of the week, you’ll have a much bigger task, plus lots of dirty eggs. The same goes for the floor of your coop- if you are using the deep litter method, take a minute or two to turn the bedding each time you are in the coop.
- Get a heated water bowl. Generally I’m the type of person who prefers the non-electric method of dealing with problems. However, when it comes to dealing with chicken water, a heated dog bowl has been invaluable! If you live in a cold climate like me, shallow chicken buckets or pans freeze quickly, and you’ll be outside every couple hours breaking ice and refilling. Save yourself some time and headache by splurging for a plug-in dog bowl. It’s a great investment and my girls definitely appreciate it. (During warm weather, on demand waterers, which basically work like drip pet waterers on a larger scale, may be easier to keep clean than standard waterers, but they are prone to freezing.)
As you can see, chickens can be as easy or as complicated as you choose to make them. If you have the time and energy, then by all means, build a Victorian-style coop and mix them up gourmet treats. However, if you are a full-time homesteader like me, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the benefits chickens will add your homestead, without a lot of extra work.
Typical Chicken Characteristics Beginners Look For
We’ve found that most of the time, when people email us asking what breed of chicken they should start with, they are all looking for the same thing.
Most beginners are looking for chickens which are easy to keep, lay lots of eggs, are docile and aren’t very noisy.
This is why we always recommend what’s known as dual purpose birds to begin with. Dual purpose birds are normally great egg layers and very calm- we will discuss specific breeds later on.
Some beginners email us and ask for rare breeds or breeds which produce a lot of meat. We don’t recommend either of these for beginners simply because they require much more time, and are harder to look after. We always recommend avoiding meat and exotic birds until you gain more experience.
Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds
So if you are like us and want to start keeping chickens for eggs, which breed would we suggest?
Bear in mind that the suggestions below are ideal for people with little experience who are looking for backyard chickens, which are easy to manage, require small amounts of maintenance and most importantly… lay lots of eggs!
1. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are synonymous with backyard chicken keeping and one of the most popular chicken breeds around (source). They are friendly, easy to keep and very tough.
Eggs: Should produce upwards of 250, medium-sized, brown eggs per year.
Character: They are very easy to keep, don’t require too much space and lay all year round.
Hybrid breeds such as Golden Comets have been bred to consume small amounts of food and to lay as many eggs as possible. Whilst this is great for you, this can be detrimental to the hens health as their body never rests.
Eggs: Upwards of 280, medium-sized, brown eggs per year.
Character: Hybrids tend to make excellent layers, consumer less food, and aren’t very likely to become broody. They make a great choice, however make sure you source your hybrid from a sustainable breeder and ensure that it hasn’t been overbred.
3. Buff Orpington
Buff Orpington’s are one of the easiest and most popular egg laying chickens around. They originate from Kent, England and are renowned for their good looks and sturdiness.
Eggs: Should produce at least 180, medium-sized, light brown eggs per year.
Character: Orpington’s make great pets as they are extremely friendly and soft. However they do get broody during the summer months hence why their egg production is slightly lower than some of the other breeds mentioned here.
4. Plymouth Rock
The Plymouth Rock, also known as barred rocks, originates from the US and is one of the most popular dual purpose chickens.
Eggs: Should produce 200, medium sized, brown eggs per year- they also lay during the winter.
Character: They are a very active bird who performs best as free-range and would make a perfect backyard chicken. They are also extremely friendly with humans so great if you want to train them to eat from your hand!
The leghorn breed originates from Italy and was first introduced into the US during the 1800’s. They don’t get broody often and are an ideal pick for year round egg laying.
Eggs: Should produce upwards of 250, medium sized, white eggs per year.
Character: Leghorns will be happy in gardens as they are a very active chicken however they aren’t very tame so aren’t ideal for people with children wanting them as a pet.
With these suggestions made its important to remember you always get ‘bad-chickens’ and even the most docile breed can produce occasionally problematic birds.
All of these breeds above should be available from a local hatchery and we’d recommend at the start not to mix breeds within your flock.
Pick a breed and start off with them. This will help reduce pests and stop them attacking each other.
Remember the breed you purchase will require varying amounts of food in their diets, read what should I feed my chicken for more info.
Prescott Arizona Chicken Ordinance Listed on www.backyardchickens.com
|Are Chickens Allowed in this location||Yes|
|Max Chickens Allowed||None specified|
|Coop Restrictions||Chickens must be “physically secure.” No space requirements.|
|City/Organization Contact name||Prescott City Clerk, 928-777-1272, http://www.cityofprescott.net/leadership/code/|
|Additional Information||Ordinance 5-3-1 relates to the \”Regulation of Animals\” and contains all relevant rules regarding chickens within city limits.|
|Link for more Information||http://www.cityofprescott.net/_d/cctitlev1210.pdf|
|Information Last Updated||2011-05-28 19:34:23|
NOTE: This information was submitted by a member of our chicken forum. Please make sure to double check that this information is accurate before you proceed with raising chickens. You can read more info about checking local laws here..
How To Raise Quail For Beginners
Are you a livestock farmer who is looking at adding a new livestock on your farm? Or you are just looking for an easy to raise livestock? If so then look no further than raising Coturnix quails. They don’t require that much care and require less feed, but none-the-less produce quality healthy meat and eggs.
The growth of livestock farming in urban areas has seen a lot of farmers raising quails, although they can also be raised in rural areas. This bird was first domesticated in Asia and belongs in the family of birds such as partridges, chickens and pheasants which are called the Phasianidae.
Coturnix quail come in different varieties, which are gentle and can be raised in small areas. A lot of folks raise them for the production of eggs and meat, at six weeks they are considered fully grown and can start producing eggs.
The male quail unlike chicken roosters don’t make a lot of noise which make it neighbour friendly and a great choice for those who would like to raise them in urban areas. But before you do that you may want to enquiry with your authorities weather you are permitted to raise them in the area you live in and what sort of permit would you need if you want to raise them.
Some quail parents don’t like the idea of hatching the quail so it can be wise to have an incubator to hatch the eggs. It takes about 17 to 18 days for the thumb-sized chick to emerge from the egg shell.
When the chicks emerge from the eggs they can be sluggish at first, they can start running around at full speed and can begin eating fine crushed game bird plus drink some water. Since they can be very small at this time, to prevent them from drowning in the waterers, you can use some soda bottle caps as waterers. To make it safer you may place a marble at the center of the caps.
In their first few weeks of life, just like chickens you can provide some heat lamps to keep them warm. Young quails are very vulnerable to cold and can result to them dyeing in a short period of time. Quails grow very quickly weighing between 3-1/2 — 5-1/2 ounces and grow to be around 5 inches tall when they are adults. They can live for around 1.5 to 4 years.
Once quails become adults they require minimum care to maintain good health. As a farmer you should provide them with a well ventilated house, some high protein feed and access to fresh clean water.
A lot of folks who raise quails for the production of meat and eggs house them in welded wire cages. When using this housing method make it a point that the constructed floor has holes not larger than 1/4 inches so the birds feet don’t get trapped in the holes. Each cage should house one male per cage, reason being males turn to fight with each other, and in some cases can lead to death.
Female quails need about 14 hours of sunlight each day in order to produce eggs, fewer daylight will delay laying activities. So supplemental lighting has to be provided.
When it comes to waterers you can purchase them in most pet stores, but a lot of farmers also use rabbit water bottles. The reason why they prefer them is because they keep the birds from fouling in the water, causing you to refill with clean water every single day.
Quails are known to be gentle birds, but can be skittish. Don’t give them a chance to escape from their cage because they can be difficult to recapture, even if you can be using a net. They have small bodies that can fit in small holes and once they escape they will never return.
When raising quails for meat, there is no better breed in the Texas A&M if you leaving in the USA. Comparing to other Coturnix breeds, the Texas A&M weigh 10 to 13 ounces at the scale in only 7 weeks.
When raising quails for eggs, Coturnix quail eggs can lay around 200 to 300 eggs per single year, but you have to make sure they are well taken care of and provided with artificial lighting if needed. That’s the advantage of raising quails over chickens in your farm, it’s the length of time it takes to get some return of investment.
Chickens start to lay eggs when they are about 18 to 26 weeks old, a single female quail can deliver around 72 to 120 eggs at that given time.
Making the decision to raise quails, the next thing for you is to have a business strategy on how to maintain them for greater returns. This shouldn’t be a complicated plan. If your family is planning in eating the quail meat and eggs, then you don’t need that much planning. But you are planning on selling the meat or/and eggs then you have to take to account your local market.
There are lots of business opportunities when raising quails. Their eggs are very popular in Asia, with the growing population you may want to position yourself to supply the demand market. Even if you don’t target the Asian market, quail meat is also growing in popularity in the USA.
Quail is also a bird widely used for hunting purposes. Some hunters prefer to train their dogs using live quail. To get some leads you can look at some local hunting clubs, some hunting organizations even purchase live quails to stock their ranges for the loyal clientele.
Breeding quails is a very lucrative industry. A lot of farmers maybe searching to buy live birds, hatching eggs or even fully dressed birds. You can put up an ad on maybe Craigslist for local people who may be interested in buying your birds.
Quail meat is very good tasting and full of nutrients, once a person tastes it they will be wanting more. Their eggs taste good as well and when boiled can be used to make a healthy snack for children. To make sure they are well boiled you can cook them with a splash of white clear vinegar in the boiling water. And they also peel very quickly.
Quail eggs are also on high demand by caterers for use as eggs that are devilled since they make nice bite-sized snacks. You can also sell them to local stores as premium eggs.
Having a well planned business strategy when raising quails is the key to successful quail farming. These birds are easy to manage even when they are fully grown, but caution should be taken when raising quail chicks because they may drawn in normal waterers. To avoid this from happening you can use bottle caps and place a marble at the center of the cap.
With very little work upfront you can be on your way to raising healthy quail. Just make sure you are well prepared for this new business venture and you won’t go wrong.