chickens in the garden

shermthewerm(8 PNW)July 12, 2014

Always looking for an excuse to show off my babies...thanks, Prairiemoon, for suggesting we start a new post dedicated to chickens.
Here's a few (sorry, don't know how to post multiple pics in one post).

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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Trying to show the variety of breeds...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:56PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

One more (for now). The others are being a little elusive.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:59PM
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I'm always jealous of people who have chickens so vicarious chicken experiences are always appreciated :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:37PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Thanks, Elisa. I'm hoping to see others' as well.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:53PM
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are they not supposed to be in the garden only just before the season starts and just before the season ends, for pest and weed control?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:59PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

My girls are spoiled, I guess. I don't like leaving them cooped up--their coop isn't huge & it gets hot in there. All of the edibles are fenced off (temporarily during the growing season). Once I've had my share, I take down the fencing, & let them have total access. They do a great job with weed/bug control all season long.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:04AM
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Ducks are better pest and weed control since they do not scratch up everything but your chickens look pretty.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:13AM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Thought about ducks, but we were a little bit worried about what they would do with our pond... Also we love the eggs we get. I don't know very much about keeping ducks. Do they lay as many eggs? And would they stay in the yard, or do they fly away?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:28AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Pretty birds! I especially like the one on the right in photo #1. I'm curious, lots of questions. How many do you have? What do you do with them in the winter? PNW, is that zone 8? Do you get snow? Do you have to supplement their diet with grain? What breeds do you have? Six eggs a day, that's about 4 dozen a week. What do you do with the extras? Are you planning on hatching new chickens from the eggs? Do you have a rooster too?

Thanks for posting photos!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:58AM
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Ducks will use your pond if you have any, and they will fly away(at least for a good distance) too if the wings not clipped regularly, but they really search for and destroy all kinds of slug.
Anyway chickens are better if you prefer to have the eggs because ducks need more care and their eggs are not as tasty and they lay eggs less frequent than chickens. Actually duck egg taste a bit weird to me.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:29AM
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We keep only 4-5 hens and have enough eggs and pest control (tick-free yard, yes!). They are good company and can be employed in some garden jobs, but they are dumb chickens after all. The flock shares a fenced 2 acres with two large dogs so we don't need a rooster. They eat very little proper chicken food in the summer, but need to be offered feed year round. Mine all have names: Snowflake (light brahma), Big Louise and Little Louise (black australorps), Pumpkin and Gumbo (americaunas).

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:40AM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Love the brahma, planatus. She's gorgeous. 2 acres would be amazing!
Prairiemoon, I have 9 chickens, 8 different breeds. The one you mentioned is an Easter egger (she lays green shelled eggs). I have 2 of those, a silver laced Wyandotte, gold laced Wyandotte, australorp, cuckoo maran, gold comet, rhode island red, and a black sex link. No rooster-- so can't hatch their eggs.
I think we're zone 8. We don't get snow very often, just a lot of rain. No special care in the winter--we open their coop every morning (if there's snow on the ground they won't come out) & then we close the coop in the evening. Layer feed is always available, and they supplement with grass, weeds, bugs, and whatever else they can find.
Yes, a lot of eggs! Probably too many chickens for a family of 4, but extras are shared with co-workers, neighbors & family.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:57AM
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I love them!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:07AM
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We let ours out when we do our daily pest inspection (mostly hornworms) - they roam the yard until we call them over for a goodie. The garden is fenced - they would tear up the garden.

Also have to remember to put the cat food up - they love cat food - they are voracious eaters.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

We have 4 new little girls and 2 older ladies. Right now they are locked up in their coop area, but usually we allow them to wander through all of our lower garden area. Our veggie garden is fenced off but when we are done with it for the season we let them have a bug picking field day in there. We have a "chicken moat" meaning the area around the garden is patrolled by the hens

They are not up in the nice beds by the house because their thing to do is to dig and scratch looking for bugs and if you mulch and don't want to carry a broom it gets messy. In the lower garden we just leave the chicken potholes and flatten every now and then.

No ducks for us, not that mom has not hinted how much she wants a couple. I think they are noisier and messier. They need water both to swim in and to play with their food in. This gets sloppy quick. I do love listening to the neighbors ducks, just don't want them in my yard.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:55AM
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Here's three young hens with the veg garden in the background. So far there has been coexistence between the chickens and the veg garden. When the tomatoes ripen, there's likely gonna be trouble.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:12PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Beautiful birds! I've heard they can decimate a garden quickly though. I bought 17 in 2003, and now only have 3 left. Yep.....they're 11! No more eggs. I like to say they are in "henopause". They are all easter-eggers. I originally also had buff orpingtons and black australorps, but they've all gone to that great free range in the sky. I would have had all the original easter-eggers, except that a coon got into the run. I think they have less problems, maybe because they are a bit smaller. (and more cantankerous). :) Your chickens are beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 5:22PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Planatus, more pretty birds. Love the white on the Left [Snowflake?] with the pretty collar and looks nice with the dark chickens too.

How are chickens good company? [g] I can only imagine that they follow you around?

Sherm, thatâÂÂs a lot of chickens and most of them different from each other. The only breed IâÂÂve heard of, is Rhode Island Red. So, you donâÂÂt have to bring them indoors in the winter. That would be one of the big drawbacks for me, because I would with the really cold temps and tons of snow we get. Your lucky coworkers, neighbors and friends!

LKZZ, they eat cat food? I wonder what else they will eat? [g]

Kippy, you didnâÂÂt fence the vegetable garden just to keep the chickens out, did you? I didnâÂÂt know ducks were so messy.

Tcstoehr, I guess they can fly up to the top of the fence there. Your garden in the background is looking pretty lush. :-)

Catherine, it sounds like you were running that retirement home for chickens that Loribee was talking about on another thread. :-)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:45PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

tcstoehr, I can't believe your chickens are on the fence & not in the garden. Mine don't wait for the tomatoes to get ripe--they actually will eat the whole plant green tomatoes, leaves. So everything is fenced off this year.
Prairiemoon, believe it or not chickens tolerate the cold much better than the heat. I've heard people keeping chickens way up north (Alaska) without heat. There are certain breeds more adaptable than others, though. We've been having temps in the 90's here & the poor chickens miserable--mouths open (sort of looks like they're panting), and wings away from their bodies. How cold does it get in MA? We were down in the low teens for about a week this past winter, they just snuggle up together. I guess the key is having the coop not too roomy, and not drafty, and allow for enough ventilation so they don't get frostbite from the humidity.
Catherine, I've heard of chickens living to be 15 (my neighbor has one). At what age did they stop laying? I have 4 that are over 5, but are still laying. Did you do supplemental lighting in the winter?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:43PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Nice pictures, everyone! I just took my older birds to be butchered this week and the little ones moved out into the pen. The pen is made with easily moved electric netting, so I have to bring the garden goodness to them, but they really help with cleanup! I had some kale that needed to be removed and it was full of caterpillars. They ate both the plant and the bugs. And they are great help with the the tomatoes that are cracked or otherwise undesirable.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:09AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Sherm, in Massachusetts, we do get down below zero here but not all that often. Last winter we were in the single digits more than we usually are. The average number of days we fall below freezing in a year, is 98 days. Compared to an average of 12 days at 90 degrees or above. Although, that number seems low to me.

I would not have thought they could keep chickens in an unheated space in Alaska. Does that mean an outdoor shed, with no insulation and nothing for a heat source, I wonder?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:19AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Sherm........most of them quit laying much after about 9 years. I have one that laid a couple eggs last year.
No, I never used supplemental lighting. I figured they needed the break. I have the feeling they wouldn't have lived as long, had I used extra lighting.
Also, I'll bet those hens who get extra lighting have more ovary problems later on. Ovarian cancer is pretty common (along with the eggs going into the abdominal cavity, etc.) among hens, since they get worked so much!
My easter-eggers seemed to be the most prolific layers. I sure do miss those home-grown eggs! I don't know if I will get more hens. I'm 64 and getting tired. :)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:53PM
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