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Raising Chickens


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Speaking of snakes. Don't normally shoot rat snakes but I do shoot thieves who I know will just keep coming back for more  loot.

Very sneaky snek. My nest boxes are attached to the back door and are about an inch or so above the floor of the coop when it's closed so they can drain underneath. Where that snek is laying would be under the boxes with the door closed. Likely nobody could have seen him under there, not even that mean barred rock rooster. And he would have just slithered out after dark once they were all on the roost up above.

 

 

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Edited by crimsonlonghorn
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It’s been years since we had chicken coops and a pen but occasionally we’d find one gone in the morning with a smooth, bloody tunnel under the outer concrete/rebar barrier. Weasels are a motherfucker but gotta appreciate the craftiness 

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/6/2020 at 3:54 PM, crimsonlonghorn said:

Last month my kids convinced me to let one of our broody hens sit on some eggs and try to hatch them. Rather than let the hen lay them all we collected eggs from two coops and gave her an instant clutch of nine eggs. May 7 (tomorrow) was supposed to be the day.

Two eggs broke early on and were thrown out. We found a dead premie in the coop on Monday (gross) but then opened the coop this afternoon and found these with the mother still sitting on four more eggs. 

Never hatched eggs before. This is kind of cool. 

They will all be mixed breed since none of the roosters and hens in either coop where we gathered the eggs are of the same breed. The one on top is likely a cross of the Barred Rock rooster and a Buff Orpington hen. The one on the bottom hatched from a white egg, so we know she's 1/2 leghorn (and looks like a leghorn chick) but can't tell which rooster was her daddy. 

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Lost the little yellow chick on Sunday night. Dead body was in the coop with the head pulled off, which makes me think a raccoon got him through the steel mesh and could only get the head since it was still small enough to fit. I'm curious why he wasn't roosting up inside with the other birds, but maybe he didn't know better and his mom didn't know he was gone.

My 13 YO was pretty broken up about it after we found the body. That chick was was growing a comb pretty rapidly and appeared to be a leghorn/orpington cross cockerel. 

Ironically, the other chick had injured herself over the weekend and had a bloody scratch on her head, so she got moved into the brooder box to heal and avoid the risk of getting pecked. This probably saved her because I'd think she would have been with the other chick on the ground when the same raccoon came by that night. 

Circle of life and everything... 

Edited by crimsonlonghorn
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2 hours ago, crimsonlonghorn said:

Lost the little yellow chick on Sunday night. Dead body was in the coop with the head pulled off, which makes me think a raccoon got him through the steel mesh and could only get the head since it was still small enough to fit. I'm curious why he wasn't roosting up inside with the other birds, but maybe he didn't know better and his mom didn't know he was gone.

My 13 YO was pretty broken up about it after we found the body. That chick was was growing a comb pretty rapidly and appeared to be a leghorn/orpington cross cockerel. 

Ironically, the other chick had injured herself over the weekend and had a bloody scratch on her head, so she got moved into the brooder box to heal and avoid the risk of getting pecked. This probably saved her because I'd think she would have been with the other chick on the ground when the same raccoon came by that night. 

Circle of life and everything... 

That and raccoons often will just eat the head and leave the rest.

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1 hour ago, DDD Dad said:

That and raccoons often will just eat the head and leave the rest.

Yeah, totally agree on that. 

I guess the good news is that all the other birds in that tractor were still alive and fine the next morning and the raccoon(s) never got into the roost itself. I've had my share of coon massacres where you go out there in the morning and dead chicken parts are everywhere. Pretty clear this little 5 week old chick was the only one it (they) could get to for whatever reason. 

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Do chickens actually clear your yard of scorpions, or is that an old wives' tale? New place in the hill country is scorpionapalooza and looking for ways to control them a bit, besides going rambo on them with the grip end of a golf club while drinking a bourbon. I could free range a few of them in the back yard where I've found the majority of the scorpions. Have a lab that won't mess with them (doesn't care much about birds) that hates furry animals and would scare raccoons and foxes off. I'm sure I'd lose a few here and there, but that's fine, as long as they eat the scorpions. I don't really care much if they're on the rest of the property, we have acreage in the country-ish, they're going to be here. But I want my toddler to be able to play in the yard without getting stung.

PS - golf club + black light to light up scorpions + whiskey = a great way to kill 30 minutes

Before and after glowy, bitch ass scorpion.

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Edited by BradInATX
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They'll clear your yard of basically any pest.

And be careful with the lab, AZ vets regularly get cases of pets stung by scorpions. Severe cases may require antivenin, which isn't any cheaper for a dog than a human. Those can become multi-thousand-dollar vet visits.

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They'll clear your yard of basically any pest.
And be careful with the lab, AZ vets regularly get cases of pets stung by scorpions. Severe cases may require antivenin, which isn't any cheaper for a dog than a human. Those can become multi-thousand-dollar vet visits.
Aren't AZ and TX scorpions different? I don't think ours are venomous.
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Where "out here" in the Hill Country are you?

& YES, chickens will tear it up on every bug possible.  The horses will benefit from less flies.  The pill bug problem resurfaced after we de-chickened.  Will be getting birds back, but not the volume we had before (were up to around 65 max @ one time, between the dumbass Guinea hens & chickens.  Maybe 20 were Guineas.  Every once in awhile I would get a few birds around a piece of plastic (old piece leftover from a Rubbermaid low shed) & lift that up - Pill-Bug-A-Palooza!
 

The birds got free range access 6 or 7 days a week & the yard was dirt & dust - gonna reduce that to maybe 2 or 3 days when we get back into them.

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10 hours ago, ROFL BOX said:

Where "out here" in the Hill Country are you?

& YES, chickens will tear it up on every bug possible.  The horses will benefit from less flies.  The pill bug problem resurfaced after we de-chickened.  Will be getting birds back, but not the volume we had before (were up to around 65 max @ one time, between the dumbass Guinea hens & chickens.  Maybe 20 were Guineas.  Every once in awhile I would get a few birds around a piece of plastic (old piece leftover from a Rubbermaid low shed) & lift that up - Pill-Bug-A-Palooza!
 

The birds got free range access 6 or 7 days a week & the yard was dirt & dust - gonna reduce that to maybe 2 or 3 days when we get back into them.

New Braunfels area. Between NB and Canyon Lake. 

So they tore your grass up completely? I'm looking at a much lower number of them, like three or four. Is it possible to maintain a decent yard with a small number of chickens in it, or are they going to tear it all to shit?

Was looking at Guinea Hens too. Are they really that loud? Like bothering the neighbors from 200 yards away loud?

Edited by BradInATX
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14 minutes ago, Spaulding Smails said:

Chickens will eat the shit out of bugs.  I built our chicken run adjacent to our garden.  Pest count in the garden went way down once we got the chickens.  My only complaint is that they mess up the mulch in the flower beds.  More of an annoyance than anything.  

Not sure about scorpions since we don't have very many (if any) in Fort Bend County, but they do clear out the other crawly bugs. My wife lets ours free range in her vegetable garden in the spring and they go to town on the pests. 

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1 hour ago, crimsonlonghorn said:

Not sure about scorpions since we don't have very many (if any) in Fort Bend County, but they do clear out the other crawly bugs. My wife lets ours free range in her vegetable garden in the spring and they go to town on the pests. 

I tried that.  Once.  They mowed down the veggies along with the bugs.  Now, they're the perimeter defense and I had to weld on another panel to the bottom of the gate to keep them out of the garden.

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18 minutes ago, Spaulding Smails said:

I tried that.  Once.  They mowed down the veggies along with the bugs.  Now, they're the perimeter defense and I had to weld on another panel to the bottom of the gate to keep them out of the garden.

Plants definitely have to be big enough. If they are just seedlings or sprouts the birds will for sure wreck the garden, too. 

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I tried that.  Once.  They mowed down the veggies along with the bugs.  Now, they're the perimeter defense and I had to weld on another panel to the bottom of the gate to keep them out of the garden.
Perimeter defense isn't a terrible idea actually. The fenced in yard part of my lot sits in a way where I could make a chicken run all the way around.
But now I have to get something else for the rats? Like a mongoose? Or a bald eagle (f yeah)?
Starting to feel like the episode of Always Sunny with the cat in the wall.
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10 hours ago, BradInATX said:

Perimeter defense isn't a terrible idea actually. The fenced in yard part of my lot sits in a way where I could make a chicken run all the way around.
But now I have to get something else for the rats? Like a mongoose? Or a bald eagle (f yeah)?
Starting to feel like the episode of Always Sunny with the cat in the wall.

Mongoose sounds like a solid plan.  Or a bobcat that's trained to avoid birds and only focus on rodents.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Any ideas? Head and craw are still attached, that and time of year makes me want to rule out a raccoon. Thinking maybe a dog or coyote? The breast is ripped off and stomach exposed  

Three got out of the tractor yesterday afternoon that we couldn’t catch. Came back after dark and one was sitting on top and got put back inside but the other two were nowhere to be seen. Came back this morning and found this carnage and the other one walking around with PTSD but unharmed otherwise. 
 

 

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