Welcome to this week’s Survive The Coming Collapse newsletter, brought to you by the NEW paperback and downloadable combo version of the FastestWayToPrepare.com course, just in time for Christmas! From now until Christmas, we’re offering special pricing on this physical and digital package. Whether you or a loved one are concerned about economic collapse, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters like earthquakes and coronal mass ejections from solar flares, this course will show you the FASTEST ways to get prepared to take care of your own shelter, fire, water, food, fuel, medical & trauma, and security. We only have a couple hundred copies printed, so you’re going to need to act fast to guarantee delivery by Christmas. Go >HERE< to get yours now. If you already know you want to buy it and don’t want to watch a video, click >HERE< for the text only page.
Survival Diva here to discuss one of the best ways to generate a steady source of protein whether you live in the city or the country. Due to a renewed interest in a back-to-basics lifestyles, many city dwellers are being allowed to keep chickens within city limits. You will likely need a permit if you live in the city, and it’s almost a certainty you won’t be allowed to have a rooster—they tend to tick off the neighbors with their pre-sunrise crowing—but hens will lay with or without a rooster, and if you’re looking for a steady source of protein then chickens are the perfect answer.
But, before we get started, a little discussed factoid needs to be pointed out. Chickens do their best egg laying in the first year or two of life. After that, you’re probably going to want to add them to a stew pot to ensure that they’re not costing you more in feed than they’re producing in eggs.
Free Range Chickens
There are several definitions of “Free Range”, but in general, it means that the chickens are allowed enough space to run around and hunt and peck for food.
You will need an acre or two of land to provide forging for a flock of free-rangers. In some cases, even rural conditions will not provide the bugs, seed and wild grasses necessary for free-range chickens to thrive. Look around. Do those living close by keep free-rangers? Are there turkeys, or quail foraging in your area? If so, it’s safe to assume your chickens will thrive, but you will want to watch the situation closely at first.
There are reasons other than financial to choose free rangers. Their eggs contain 1/3 less cholesterol, ¼ less fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta-carotene. Free-range chickens can forage for around half of their supper until winter months, particularly true in northern climates when foraging beneath snow is impossible. Whether you decide on free-range or caged chickens, you’ll need to buy…you guessed it; a couple of books on raising them: One on their care and feeding, specific to either free range or caged chickens, and the other a veterinary manual, such as the Merck Veterinary Manual. It has an in-depth section on chicken diseases and gives detailed information on how to care for injured birds. Doctoring your flock will save you vet bills now, and prepare you for the future, when it may not be possible to reach a vet. Be sure to put aside the medicines recommended for disease control for your flock.
As with every decision we make regarding self-sufficiency, thinking smart means preparing for a future that may not offer the conveniences we enjoy now. You will need to decide if growing your own feed has the return you will benefit from later on. This will take research, as feed recipes vary and there is not one “right” grain or grain mix to use. If you don’t have the land to pasture your flock, where they will have a diet of bugs and seed, you might consider setting aside feed. However the nutritional value of commercial feed degrades over time. Our forefathers raised chickens by letting them forage for their meals and by giving them table scraps as a supplement.
During these relatively good times, and if your flock is big enough, you may decide to sell extra eggs, which can cover your expenses while still providing plentiful eggs for your own table.
If you can’t find a 4Her headed to college or a new chicken farmer who’s giving up early who want to get rid of their flocks, it’s best to get day-old chicks from a hatchery that has been recommended to you. Ask neighbors who keep chickens; they’ll be able to provide sound advice that may save you the frustration of choosing the wrong source or breed of chicks. It’s advisable to choose a scrappy breed that hasn’t had the instinct for survival of living off the land bred out of them. They should also be a breed that thrives in your climate zone. If you plan on using your flock for meat as well as eggs, then you’ll want to investigate a meat breed.
Predators cannot be completely avoided and the loss of a flock’s only rooster would mean replenishing your flock with chicks might not be possible. For this reason, it is wise to subscribe to an heir and a spare, so that if a rooster ends up being a coyote’s dinner, your flock will continue to thrive. Because roosters can be aggressive, many homesteaders shy away from keeping more than one, but when planning for survival it’s worth considering the added challenge in exchange for a thriving flock.
Chicks are best raised by keeping them in heated stock tanks, or when on a tight budget, raising them in a draft-free location in your home. Timing is important. If you get your chicks in summer, they will have time to grow large enough to roost, producing smaller eggs at first, but larger ones by the next spring. As the chicks get older, and no longer require a heat source, they can be moved to small outdoor cages. Although some keep free-range chickens out in the open, it’s safest to provide a wire enclosure for times when they aren’t foraging. This better protects them from predators. Those that keep their free-rangers more exposed typically depend upon a watchdog to drive off predators. Such a dog needs to be trained or they, too, may develop a craving for chicken.
The chicken coop can be kept simple, but must have brooding boxes. Typically 4 hens will share a 2’ X 2’ brooding box. Make certain you have provided enough brooding space for the number of hens you plan to keep, or they may begin to lay out in the field, which will draw predators to your property. The brood boxes should be mounted off the floor, allowing room beneath them for chickens to move about. Build a ramp running from the ground to the box(s) so your hens can reach them with ease. Brooding box(s) should be installed in a dark location away from drafts.
They should be enclosed on three sides with the front left open for hens to get in and out of with ease. The roof of your coop and brooding area must have a sound roof, so your flock can stay out of the rain. You will need to provide plentiful water in freeze-proof containers (think solar) and a feeder that is protected from vermin.
The ground of the enclosure itself will need to provide at least one square feet, preferably two, of space per chicken to roam.
Although the mother hen is the best way to hatch eggs without electricity, if there will be a large numbers of eggs, kerosene-powered incubators are available at Lehman’s.
For the first month, chicks are fed chick feed, which is slightly medicated to stave off disease. As they get a little older, it’s time to begin training them to go out in the field in the daytime, and return to the coop at night. Once the birds are fully-grown, feed them once a day at dusk for 1 to 1 ½ hours and then take away the feed. This will encourage them to forage for their own food of bugs, seeds and grasses. As mentioned, there must always be a source of fresh water kept in a freeze-proof container.
You will want to water your flock out in the field if you don’t have a natural water source. Otherwise, they may decide to spend the day lazing around the coop, expecting you to supply their feed.
Training your flock takes patience and time, but once you’re successful, plan on spending around 1 hour a week on maintenance.
Expect around a 10% natural attrition of your flock. When you see anything worrisome with your one of your chickens, like bloody stool or lethargy, it’s time to reefer to a veterinary manual such as the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Note: Free Range chickens can be as heartless as deer with regards to a garden! To avoid their decimating your crop, hang poultry netting, hung loosely between stakes surrounding the garden.
Caged chickens require more food and plenty of room to roam, as they will not have the benefit of exploring out in the field. Caged chickens aren’t as exposed to the dangers of predators as long as care is taken when building their coop. Caged chickens should be given 2 square feet of coop space pr. chicken. This will prevent egg eating and cannibalism. As with free-range chickens, brood boxes are best built up off the floor around 2 feet from the ground with sufficient room for hens to lay their eggs. The coop must have good insulation to avoid the buildup of toxic fumes and should be well insulated against the elements. Flooring must be kept clean and is best made of concrete to help keep vermin away that will eat your flock’s feed and may carry disease. Give your chickens somewhere to roost, as chickens prefer to sleep off the ground. Make sure there are sufficient feeders and waterers to provide for your flock. Adding a chicken run will lead to happy chickens but be sure the wire enclosure is sturdy enough to keep predators out.
That concludes the basics of raising chickens, but there’s still more to the story. For those of you with experience raising chickens, please share by commenting below! Have any great tips on chicken coops or questions? Don’t be shy. Your comments are valuable!
And remember, if you are looking for preparedness gifts for loved ones, check out my NEW physical and digital combo FastestWayToPrepare.com package. Order today for Christmas delivery by clicking >HERE< or, for the text only page, click >HERE<.
God Bless and Stay Safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva