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Chickens and the SFG

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Chickens and the SFG

Post  Jay Bird on 4/8/2010, 12:16 pm

Here it is Boffer !
I am a chicken fan, I admit it, there is no drug to get break the habit. Chickens are alot of fun and they fit into SFG just great. The grids keep them from scratching in the garden opposed to row cropping where they destroy all the new seedlings in search of worms.
The chicken litter is a wonderful compost as well!
I have a Chicken Tractor that will fit right on top of my sfg box (without the grid) so during off season months the chickens can fertilize the sfg (neat huh)
If you are interested in chickens and especially if you are in town the website
thecitychicken.com is a perfect place to go for information.

We have around 100 birds total, Chicken hens two roosters (butchered 6 last week) banty hens and roosters and guinea hens and roosters. The Bantys are not allowed to run around the yard they have both inside coops and outside runs, but the chickens and guineas have free run of the property. the girls go back to the coop to lay eggs in the laying boxes and they all go back in at dark on their own every evening. I clean the coops one time a year and add the litter to the compost pile. We sell the eggs at the farmers market and they actually pay for the feed bill. we hatch out chicks on a regular basis and sell them as 3 month pullets.
The girls keep the grasshopper and mosquito population to a minimum as well as many other bugs. the guineas love weed seeds so they help to contol general weeds infestation. The really only down side is they have hindered my wifes flower bed growth by scratching around in the flower beds. I need to put up a barrier but cant decide on the right type fencing that will keep out the chickens but still make the flower bed attractive, anyone have any ideas???

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  boffer on 4/8/2010, 12:53 pm

Cool! I've been to thecitychicken.com, and they have a lot of useful info. But, I haven't participated in chicken forums because some of the people seem to be as flighty as their birds!

I'm going with a chicken tractor too. It's about half done. Right now, it kinda looks like a porta potti on wheels! We got six chicks, Barred Rocks, hopefully none will be male. The 'playground' will be 5x12. First question for ya:

We've thought of providing Sunday afternoon play time. I can set up a portable fence in different areas, that would enclose about 1500 sq feet. This would allow the chickens a chance to roam and explore a bit in different surroundings. We would be casually supervising, watching for potential varmint problems. Would a Sunday afternoon of 'freedom' create an attitude problem for the chickens when they are enclosed in the 5x12 pen for the rest of the week? Am I over-thinking this?!

For garden fencing, you can't go wrong with a short picket fence. If you weld, a wrought iron looking fence would be neat-but they're way too expensive to purchase.
I have about 20 feet of 2 foot tall fencing around one bed. It's green vinyl covered hardware cloth, 1/2 inch spacing. It blends in OK; it would look better if I used something besides re-bar for posts!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  dixie on 4/8/2010, 12:54 pm

I'm a chicken lover too! I'm glad to know the grids will keep them out of my boxes. DH hasn't done my chicken tractor yet, but we have our plans drawn up.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Jay Bird on 4/8/2010, 1:07 pm

Boffer,
I wouldnt worry too much about attitude, they will learn when they are supposed to be out and when they are supposed to be in, they are really easy to train. But dont forget even tho the books say they cant fly mine manage to get into the barn rafters 14 feet high to roost. So dont be suprised if they explore areas outside the temp fence. I have a hot wire around the main chicken yard its not to keep the chickens in its there to keep predators out. When the chickens feel threatened they all go running back to the main yard.
We use chicken scratch as a treat and have learned that if we are not going to be home in time to put them up we can throw some scratch in the run at any time and they all come running walla lock em up. Also right around 5:00 pm every day is when they generally get their daily normal ration of scratch. If we are late they congregate around the porch looking in the french doors wondering when they will get their treats. If you only are planning on 6 then just spend lots of time with them when they are young and you can train them as if they were a well mannered dog. My wife had a banty rooster that would sit in her lap to be petted. Hw would peck her toes until she stopped and picked him up.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  daisyhill on 4/11/2010, 3:03 am

Our three chickens have an attitude but no brains. They always want to be out of their run, but they'll still hop right back in there if we throw in some food! There's not much room for brains in those feathery little heads.

Ours have been banned from the vege garden because they're so destructive -- they broke in a couple of times and ate all our broccoli and cabbages before we discovered them. No more vege garden for them. Now they are only allowed to roam in the fully fenced front garden, where they spend their time digging up my daffodil bulbs to make way for dust baths, and attempting to get into the house every time somebody opens the door. I have found them watching television in the living room on more than one occasion! Well, maybe not watching it, but wandering around the place like they had every right to be there. They think they're people.

It's such a shame chickens can't be toilet-trained. They'd make wonderful pets if they weren't liable to poop at a moment's notice, usually on something that can't easily be washed. Our carpet bears witness to this

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/11/2010, 10:05 am

Until I moved here I kept chickens, guineas and ducks. I really miss them as they are so entertaining, but am enjoying the freedom not to have to be home each evening at dusk to put them up. When there were three in our community, it was easier, but with just me it started getting really confining.

But I'm still pondering perhaps getting a few ducks -- they are my favourite and don't have quite as much tendency to roam into the street or over to the neighbours.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  garlix on 4/12/2010, 2:56 am

I was also thinking about chickens this year. I do miss them. Back in Arkansas I had a lot of chickens, guineas, ducks and so on. I am still in France this year and started a square foot garden (or two or three). I really do wonder if the chickens will scratch around in it. I was thinking of bantams, but they're quite expensive around here (considering my temporary stay, hopefully just the rest of this year), and I also could not find any Muscovy ducks. We have a slight slug problem Smile So does the grid really keep big chickens from scratching in the SFG?

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Jay Bird on 4/12/2010, 7:48 am

This is my first year to SFG but so far so good about the chickens staying out of the beds, I did use 3/4" x 3/4" lumber for slats and each box has a trellis which may be a deterent as well. One other thing to consider is do the chickens have plenty of other places to sratch around. Mine have 4 acres of open and lots of rough wooded area bordering so maybe they are not in the garden due to path of least resistance. More bugs in the grass and woods!
Also I used chicken litter as the main component in the 1/3 compost so do they smell their own poo in the box??

Like I said so far they havent even looked in the boxes they do go in and around them tho.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  garlix on 4/12/2010, 8:17 am

Jay Bird,

how tall is your trellis?

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Jay Bird on 4/12/2010, 9:15 am

5' Plus a little , I use a 10 foot 1/2" EMT cut in half bend a 90 Deg on each end then use 5 foot legs,

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  jjphoto on 4/15/2010, 11:02 pm

I'm in the middle of taking on city hall to legalize hens within our city limits. A friend and I just created a facebook fan page to try to gain some support. I feel like we're fighting a futile battle though.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  daisyhill on 4/15/2010, 11:42 pm

I find it hard to understand why any city would outlaw chickens (but then it also baffles me that some housing estates ban very sensible and eco-friendly things like hanging your washing out to dry in the sunshine). Chickens are cleaner, neater, and quieter than most children! And they aren't liable to go around killing other animals like many dogs and particularly cats do. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Hope you win your battle!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  garlix on 4/16/2010, 5:56 am

jjphoto:The more people live together (village, city, ...) the more restrictions there will be. People fighting to have chickens will eventually be met with people fighting to not have chickens. I find this a waste of your time. I would start thinking about moving outside of city limits. In most cases that is still close enough to a city's conveniences if there are any. I personally would choose a place out in the country over a city place any time. Just move to where you can do the things you want to do. You are more likely to have nicer neighbors who share your interests rather than work against them.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  jjphoto on 4/16/2010, 9:53 am

garlix - I don't think it's a waste of time. All the area towns allow them, just not ours.

Besides, if we all just decided to duck, cover, and run away, then nothing would ever change or get done.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  nancy on 4/16/2010, 10:08 am

jj - here is a link to a page the ladies at Little House in the Suburbs created. They have LOTS of raising chicken information on their website - goats, too. Good luck with your city hall fight!!

http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/chickenpdf.cwk-WP4.pdf

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  AFLfan on 4/16/2010, 1:45 pm

jj - are you in La Mesa, CA? I know a loady in our town is trying to get chickens legalized within the city limits here.

We are just outside the city limits, so we can have up to 25 chickens. That is the next project coming down the line!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  boffer on 4/17/2010, 11:40 am

Our first experience with chickens: Plymouth Barred Rocks Hopefully they're all females!

Here they are at 8 days





Here they are yesterday at 5 weeks:







Here's my chicken tractor in progress:





So, here's a question: Of course all the chicks have names-Liz is going with a 'bug' theme: June bug, Doodle bug, etc. (I'm lobbying for stink bug AKA 'Stinky' but that's not going over well!). But we can't tell them apart! Is it safe to paint their toenails so we can identify them? Serious question.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  jjphoto on 4/17/2010, 11:57 am

I'd go with leg bands. A cheaper option is to get different colored zip ties and just zip them on there.

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  desertgirl on 4/19/2010, 3:28 am

Do you have a Jitter Bug yet?

THe leg bands are cheap,easy. They sell 'em everywhere. Have you checked out the BackYard Chicken site? Tons of info over there!!!!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Odd Duck on 4/19/2010, 12:12 pm

As a veterinarian, I would strongly recommend against zip ties. They can snug down further from where you place them and will not loosen up. This could cause serious problems like cutting off the circulation to everything below the band. It's fairly easy and cheap to get leg bands, and they are much safer. The leg bands still need checked regularly to keep the chicken from getting feces and debris under them (between the band and the leg). This could also cause a stricture and serious infections, even necrosis (rotting) of the leg.

As long as you check them regularly, purpose made leg bands are usually fine. Checking twice weekly by actually picking up the chicken, turning the band, looking to see that there is no debris caught, etc, will prevent most problems. You can't tell just by seeing the bird walking around, that is NOT enough of a check. It's fine for a quick, daily check, yes, but they still need the 1-2 times weekly physical check/turning.

Birds can also get their bands caught in the fence, crevices, etc, so be aware of that as well.

You can use nail polish on their nails, but it will wear off quickly. Get dog nail polish, it dries faster and comes in a variety of colors. Most pet stores will carry some.

They will usually distinguish themselves eventually by personality (if you spend a lot of time watching and interacting with them).

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  boffer on 4/19/2010, 12:23 pm

Thanks Odd Duck. My wife's first thought about the zip ties was the cut-off end could be sharp and hurt another bird. It didn't occur to us that bands were cheap and easy to come by. That's what we'll do.

Trust me, the chicks are being well socialized. My wife is treating them like a litter of show dog quality puppies. I think she's been a little too anxious and needs to let them develop some more. The one chick she named Lovie (love bug) is probably going to turn out to be the one that should have been named Stinky (stink bug) !!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Odd Duck on 4/19/2010, 12:53 pm

I'm not surprised at all! It's almost always the dogs or cats with the most sugary names that are most likely to try to bite! Some sort of weird, inverse law, no doubt.

I love the "Bug" theme, by the way. Chickens LOVE bugs! You will make their day if you start raising meal worms as a treat. It won't spoil their appetite or make them any less of a voracious bug hunter. Meal worms are very easy to raise and not at all stinky if done right. They live in corn meal, bran or stale flour (easier and less messy to sort out if they're in corn meal) and they eat just a little of the veggies meant for the chickens. Just google meal worms (not "king" mealworms).

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  Jay Bird on 4/22/2010, 7:40 am

I had previously posted that so far I had no problems with chickens in the SFG. Well they still are not scratching in the box but any of the strawberries that are ripe have been devoured, my wife caught Road Runner our Arachana Hen munching away on the first of the ripe strawberries, I wonder if her eggs will be sweet now? Now I am gonna put up a plastic chicken wire fence on the back of the hot wire fence to keep them out.

Last year my wife was pateintly waiting for the muscedines to ripen, when she grabbed the bucket and went to pick low and behold the grapes were all gone ! Chickens like muscedines! Beware and fence them out

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  desertgirl on 4/22/2010, 8:45 am

@jjphoto wrote:garlix - I don't think it's a waste of time. All the area towns allow them, just not ours.

Besides, if we all just decided to duck, cover, and run away, then nothing would ever change or get done.

Amen! Chickens are so beneficial (to not only households, but to communities through decreasing organic wastes in the landfills, re-establishing damaged soil through somposting, etc). It would be a shame not to attempt to educate your town's leaders so that all who want chickens can have them.

good luck!

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Re: Chickens and the SFG

Post  lookmanoweeds on 5/23/2010, 2:25 am

I was glad to find this thread. Recently my husband gave me the go ahead to buy some chickens that I've been wanting to serve as laying hens. His mother also told us about a farmer who used to keep chickens and used them to fertilize the fallow land in his garden. He set the coop up in the middle of the garden which was divided into two halves. One year the chickens were in the fallow half of the garden, and when the season was over he moved the chickens to the other side. He then planted his garden on the side that the chickens had fertilized and scratched up.

I'm wondering if I can do the same thing with SFG raised beds? Is the vermiculite harmful to the chickens if they eat it or would it serve as grit? My thoughts were that the chickens would eat bugs in the harvested garden, keep weeds under control in the empty boxes, and fertilize the boxes while doing so. My mother-in-law thought that having the chickens in the fallow side would keep grass and weeds from popping back after planting a traditional garden thus eliminating the need for raised beds. I really like my raised beds. I don't have to bend over as far, and the lack weeds is a huge boon!

I've only been gardening 1 year (and last year was a bust), and I've never owned chickens. Chicken owners, what are your thoughts on the aforementioned set up?

Rachel

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