January 25, 2007
Originally published June 24, 2006
If I lived where he does, I would have done it a long time ago. catfish got himself some chickens. He told me about his venture into wildlife farming and I responded by telling HIM to build a decent coop. If he lets those chickens free-range, they'll start sleeping in trees at night and laying their eggs 30 feet off the ground. Gravity is NOT kind to an egg laid from that height.
I offered to help him build a good coop and show him how to set it up--- but I've gotta admit. I'll do a lot more engineering than actual WORK on that project, because I simply am not able to do the things anymore that I once did all the time. But I HAVE been a chicken-farmer and I DO know a little bit about it.
He got several different roosters. That's not really a problem, even though people already are warning him that a coop has room for only ONE dominant rooster. I call bullshit on that idea, because I once ended up with FIVE roosters and 28 hens in my coop. The roosters worked out their own... "pecking order," if you will...
I had a big, mean, three-feet-tall Rhode Island Red that was Cock of the walk in MY coop. The other roosters were scared shitless of that mean old bastid, and they stayed far away from him. Usually by flying up in the rafters and never even bothering to eat unless the Tall Dog's back was turned. But when they saw a ripe opportunity, they'd fly down from the rafters, grab a couple of bites to eat, then plow a hen who was scratching and cooing with her ass stuck up in the air at the time.
Then, they'd fly squawlking back up into the rafters before big boy kicked their asses. If they were too slow, Big Red killed them. Life is brutal in a chicken coop.
But I frequently collected as many as 30 eggs out of that coop every day, because my laying hens did exactly THAT. They LAID a lot of eggs. Just provide them with hay and food. They'll build their own nests and lay like gangbusters.
You've got to watch out for your dominat rooster killing the other males if he can catch them, but something else bad is to have a real, dedicated nesting hen go into full mama-mode on you. She'll lay her own eggs and then steal others to fill her nest. Then she wants to sit there and hatch them, even if doing that means not eating for a while.
You've got to watch out for those, because they'll peck the living shit out of you if you reach under her for the eggs. She gets all hormonal and insane from motherly instincts. But the males don't like those chicklets when they hatch and the males will kill them and EAT THEM, just to eliminate future competition.
A chicken coop is a real jungle.
But If I had a place to put one, I would do it again today. You collect plenty of fresh eggs and get to watch a lot of wild, chicken-sex happening all the time. Give them corn and sweet feed to eat, plus dump any kitchen leftovers into the coop for added variety. You'll grow some good chickens and get lots of fresh eggs that way.
But...beware. Roosters like to crow their asses off every morning to welcome the sunrise. Until you become accustomed to the noise, it will wake you up with a case of the cold shivers. After a while, you beome acustomed to it and pay them no attention anymore, but that takes a while.
Two friends who spent a weekend at my house several years ago asked, in all sincerity, "How do you SLEEP with all that racket in the morning?" I asked, "What racket?" because the truth was... I didn't hear it anymore.
If Cat doesn't coop his chickens, his cats and his alligators will kill them all. If they end up sleeping in trees, he'll NEVER get an egg from them. I'm just offering him good advice.
He can take it or leave it. But I KNOW what I'm talking about here.
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