How long have you been raising chickens?
This will be our third spring getting chicks, so I guess that means we are starting our third year!
Our meat birds (and a few buffs) in the expandable brooder made of a couple rolls of aluminum flashing.
What inspired you to start your flock?
I always wanted to have a little homestead thing going on so it was really just a matter of time. Starting on my Permaculture Design Course at Glacial Lakes Permaculture was the major push though.
Holding 'lefty' who's comb hangs to the left, (the other leghorn is 'righty' :) We don't name all of our chickens, just the ones that seem to have one.
What kind of chickens do you raise?
We currently have two leghorn hens, 3 Buff Orpingtons (one rooster two hens) and a Black Orpington (I think, either that or an Australorp) hen. We raised 20 cornish cross meat birds over the summer.
Our first flock in the summer area, including the beautiful rooster named 'supper' he's not around any more...
What is your property like?
We have 2.5 acres just on the edge of Sioux Falls. Much of what we do with the chickens takes place in the area surrounding our house that is the same size as a city lot would be.
The trampoline chicken tractor.
Do you butcher your own? What does that experience look like?
Yes, last year was our first time doing it but it went pretty smoothly and we plan to do it annually. It doesn't take long, a couple months of relatively easy basic care and then a day or two of processing. In the end you have a freezer full of chicken and you know exactly where it came from and how it was raised. The experience has given us a much greater appreciation for the meat we eat.
My husband Derald getting the knives sharpened .
Talk about your coop.
We built the coop for our egg layers with just a general idea of what we wanted and minimal building skills but it turned out great for us, we have an open air enclosure with a small hutch for the chickens to roost and nest in. The whole set up gets moved a few times a year so that we can collect the layers of deep litter for compost and have better wind and weather protection in the winter. For the meat birds we turned our trampoline into a chicken tractor with some plastic chicken wire, zip ties, and pvc pipe. The trampoline is light enough that we can drag it to fresh grass every few days without wheels.
The winter set-up including the new buffs the chickens also get to free-range for awhile, usually every day or so.
Tell me a little about the economics of your operation - do you save money?
I haven't really taken the time to sit down and do the math but I think we probably will be saving money overall once we've been doing everything for several years, so initially no, but long term yes. I consider any initial extra cost to be well worth some of the non-monetary benefits such as entertainment and gaining valuable skills etc.
25 birds at full size, still lots of room under the trampoline.
What do you see as the 3 biggest benefits to raising poultry?
Direct involvement in our food production, reduced dependance on commercial food sources, and the community / relationships that have developed from involvement with others who are doing it too.
Detrian (14) jumping on the Trampoline chicken tractor.
What would you say to people who want to see city chickens banned?
I can't imagine any reason why chickens should not be allowed in the city. Compared to any domestic animal chickens have no more issues or drawbacks. If our communities and society in general are going to move toward being healthy and sustainable we must begin the process of integrating the things that sustain us into our local communities and daily lives. Chickens are one step in that process.
Showing some friends how to gut the chickens, they got a chance to do it themselves later.