My husband always wanted to build a chicken farm. I was telling him "No way! They stink, they are loud, they are stupid..." goes on and on with excuses. I lived near the chicken farm back in Japan. They had thousands of chickens in the building, they were all in the individual cage, lined up to produce eggs or ELSE! Every time I walked by there on the way to the beach, it smells so bad, nasty... I had to hold my breath every time! I hated that area! Because of my memories, I refused to start a chicken farm! My husband had the nerve to say he wanted 100 chickens!! I thought he lost his mind! One day, I went to the Tractor's Supply and saw a bunch of baby chicks. They were so cute!!! Guess what I did? I grabbed a dozen baby chicks. All Female! I had no idea how to raise them. So I studied! That's how my journey started.
Here in the desert, we have a lot of wild animals living and wandering around our neighborhood. We have a tight security system to protect from stray cats, dogs, coyotes, hawks, eagles, owls, field mice... Their access points are anywhere from the sky to the underground! We have lost the entire flocks one time from our neighbor's dog dug under the fence and got them all. We lost about 70 chickens, and 2 turkeys. within a 3 hour period. It was a nightmare. Right now we have about 40 adult chickens and about 20 chicks waiting to be released! Learned from the experience, we upgraded our system so nothing can come through. We called that a "prison system" Our chickens has 2 divisions. "Prison", and "jail cells". We have free-range chickens inside "Prison". It is actually 20' x 60' lot, fenced in all the way around the perimeter with chain link fence and cattle guard fence. Bottom of the fence, we doubled the security using chicken wire, bend about one foot to the ground, use cut out pallets and cinder blocks as a weight, so our neighbor dog or coyotes will not able to dig under the fence to get in. Top, we installed chicken wired throughout. We also have a coop so they can go inside at night. We also built-in near the big evergreen trees to provide them some shade.
Pure Breed chickens are in the "Jail Cells" separated by breeds. We have Silkies, Cochins, Prairie Bluebells, ISA Brown, Plymouth Rock, and Polish chickens. Jail cells are made out of pallets, chicken wire, and plywood sheet, Each cell are 32 sqft, we have 2-4 chickens in each cell, so they can comfortably live there.
How much room does chicken need?
The minimum rule of thumb is about 2 to 3 square feet per chicken inside the chicken coop, and 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in an outside run. More square footage is better. Skimping on space requirements for a flock of chickens can cause stress, cannibalism, pecking, and sometimes even death. According to HFAC’s Certified Humane® “Free Range” requirement is 2 sq. ft. per bird. The hens must be outdoors, weather permitting (in some areas of the country, seasonal), and when they are outdoors they must be outdoors for at least 6 hours per day. All other standards must be met.
HFAC’s Certified Humane® “Pasture Raised” requirement is 1000 birds per 2.5 acres (108 sq. ft. per bird) and the fields must be rotated. The hens must be outdoors year-round, with mobile or fixed housing where the hens can go inside at night to protect themselves from predators, or for up to two weeks out of the year, due only to very inclement weather. All additional standards must be met.
Chickens DO get stressed out!
OMG! When I heard that chicken get stressed out, I asked "FOR WHAT?" They don't need to stress out about paying bills, cooking and cleaning, driving the city, working in a bunch of female environment as we do... What stress are they talking about? Does a chicken have emotions?? Well I guess they do! Observing chickens, I can actually name a few why they get "Stressed Out". Well actually, they stress me out wondering why they stressed out! So here's why they stress me out when and why they are not laying eggs as we expected.
1. Water: Do they have access to clean water? If they can't drink water, they WILL stop laying eggs! not for just that day, for a while sometimes! Make sure to protect your investment by watering chickens! They get stressed out when they can't find anything to drink!
2. Food: So many different varieties of food are out there! Some farmers swear by corns, some say don't feed this and that... Well I can only speak for what I've experienced, but my chickens, they are "Bougie"! They don't like pellets, they don't like cracked or whole corn if it's dried. anything hard, they don't like it. food will be there on the ground for a long time! My chickens stress relief foods are Layer mesh crumbles, Scratch grains, watermelon, dandelions, wheat, alfalfa, leafy greens, fresh corns, anything red, eggs, and worms. When I am picking up eggs, and find the ones that are cracked or pecked, I usually throw it to the ground hard to crush the eggshells and they will run to that fast! In the summertime, tomato worms are everywhere on my tomato plants. I hate them because they can destroy my plant in a day! You know what I do? Pick them up and throw it to the chickens. They will take care of it FAST! Revenge is REAL!
3. Too Hot! But they can't call the police and the fireman...so they get stressed out. Here in the desert, it gets crazy hot. So what to do? Install a chicken mister system! The mist will cool off the surrounding area and their core temp down! Run the irrigation line, and set the timer to run the system on the hottest time of the day. They do not like to get wet and soggy, so be careful not to overdo it! In a hot climate, it's smart to raise chickens that are heat resistant breeds. most of the chickens that I have are heat resistant breeds.
4. Too Cold. Here in the desert, it does get cold in winter as well. often temperature goes below freezing point. The chicken coop needs some extra protection from cold weather. In winter, egg production will decrease to almost ZERO a day! Unless you get yourself some chickens that lay eggs from fall to spring. Those types of breeds will unlikely to lay eggs in the summertime. But, by you mixing different breeds in your flocks, you have eggs year-round! A lot of chickens will NOT lay eggs in winter because of shorter daylight. I let my hens rest in winter, and let winter chickens do the work! Why force it, right? Some chickens will take a long Christmas break, some take Summer vacation! It's normal. Regardless of cold-resistant breed or not, it is always a good idea to throw some hay or alfalfa, even wood chips in their coop so they can stay warm.
5. Predators. If you live in an area where you have a lot of wild animals always wandering around, you need a rooster. They are guard chickens! If one starts tripping, the rest will start making noise, and all of a sudden, you have an alarm system going off in your entire yard! They go nuts!
6. Chicken fight!! When you introduce their "new friend" make sure to do it when they are sleeping at night! Otherwise, you will see some fights! Roosters are really bad!
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America's largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased that Kozue Maye at Poof Dirt Farms in Pahrump, NV has successfully created a certified Wildlife Habitat through its garden for "Wildlife" movement.