Chicken Talk

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There has been much discussion about producing meat for the family in an economical way and to be able to sustain that production should TSHTF.  One of my favorite things growing up was helping grandma gather the eggs and tend to the chickens.  She kept a flock of about 150 chickens in two houses.

In the first house she kept the laying hens.  They were leghorns.  Those birds rarely sat on the nest, but if one did, watch out.  It would peck you if you tried to get her eggs.  The roosters were mean as all get out too.  One rooster figured a way out of the pen and took to guarding the property.  When I got off the school bus, that mean old rooster chased me right up the sidewalk and into the house, pecking me all the way and making me bleed.  One of my uncles saw it peck me and that night we had rooster for supper.  I was glad to eat it.

The second house was the brooder house where she kept chicks until they were old enough (pullets) to be out in the pen.  Once they reached 12 to 16 weeks of age, they became frozen chicken in the freezer.  We spent days plucking 20 per day.  Once it was done, we had chicken to last us until next spring and we would start all over again.

Leghorns aren’t good for meat production, but they eat less food and produce more eggs than other breeds.  Some breeds produce some fewer eggs, but are also good for eating with more meat.  What it comes down to is that you have to choose what is most important to you.  Do you want meat birds?  If you do, you have to sacrifice egg production.  Higher egg production sacrifices meat production.  If you don’t want to incubate eggs, you might might to choose a broody breed.  Incubating eggs is a pain.  If the hens will sit, so why should I be fiddling with that darn machine?

I’ve noticed hens that are broody tend to be more aggressive than those who sit the nest.  As for roosters, if there are not enough hens per rooster ratio, you will see elevated aggression to anyone who enters the pen.  You will also see the roosters aggressive and violent to each other at a higher than necessary rate.  It might just be my experience, but from what I’ve read, it seems other writer’s have had similar experiences.  The level of docility is important if you are going to have children helping tend chickens.  If your child gets injured by a chicken, he likely will not want to help again.  And, any wounds you get from livestock could result in infection.  For me, I will choose less egg production for broody, less aggression and more meat.  Do your research well.  There are so many breeds and you need to choose ones that are hardy and will meet the needs of your family.