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Chickens would be great farm animals for SHTF if they were not so stupid. The honest truth is they will find a way to get themselves killed.

Build them a nice cage and they will find a way to get out.

They will wander away from the flock and get killed.

They will stay out to dusk, right when coyotes start looking for an easy meal.

They will spill their water.

They will crap in their food and water.

They will crap in laying boxes.

They will roost in high places so if they fall at night they will be hurt.

They will eat stuff that makes them sick – free ranging eating weeds, rocks, pieces of glass, etc.

They will free range out in fields where hawks can see them. They chickens can have all kinds of weeds and cover to forage under. But no, they have to go out in the open away from the flock so a hawk can get them.

They may not even run from dogs or coyotes until it is too late.

They will eat their own eggs.

Yesterday (September 23, 2015) I noticed several of my new Australorps and Barred Rocks were missing out of the small chicken yard. I call it the small yard because I have two chicken yards.

Large yard – 200 feet long and 100 feet wide.

Small yard – 75 feet long and 35 feet wide.

I found the missing chickens outside the yard. My dog Ellis had got ahold of several and pulled the feathers out. Ellis does not try to kill them. He likes to hold them down and pull some of the feathers out. Once he has his fun, he will let the chicken go and go catch another one. Sometimes the chickens will go into shock and die.

The chickens have plenty of room, food, water and they still want to get out. What kind of idiot leaves a safe area just to get killed. Just stay in the yard and everything will be fine. But oh no, you can not be content with staying in the chicken yard, you have to get out.

Video from June 2015. These are some of the chickens that got out.


What really aggravates me is how much time, effort and money I put into taking care of these chickens. Only for them to get out of the chicken yard and get themselves killed. I do everything I can to take care of them, and they have to go off and do something stupid which ends up getting themselves killed.

The breeds that got out were not some poor quality breed. These were good heritage, dual purpose breeds:

Australorp – Developed in the late 1800s for dual purpose meat and exceptional egg laying. This is one of my top chicken breeds for SHTF. Between 1922 and 23 a team of six Australorp hens set a world record by laying 1,857 eggs (an average of 309.5 eggs per hen) in 365 consecutive days.

Losing one Australorp hen cost my family around 200 – 250 eggs a year. Losing 4 hens is devastating as we lost 800 – 1,000 eggs over the course of a year. During a complete collapse of society, or even rough economic times 800 – 1,000 years in a year is a lot of food.

Related article: How many chickens would you need for SHTF



Besides the excellent egg production Australorps make a good meat bird with hens weighing between 7 – 9 pounds and roosters weighing 8 – 10 pounds.

The Australorp is one of the few chicken breeds that retains the instinct to go broody. Some of my hens will go broody twice a year, once in the spring and once again in the mid-late summer. Having a hen that will sit on eggs is essential for a self-sustaining chicken flock.

Barred Rock – Dating back to the 1800s this is a good dual purpose meat and egg production chicken. While the Barred rock does not lay as many eggs as the Australorp it is a well rounded, hardly and a good forager.



One of the things I do not like about the Barred Rock is the instinct to sit on eggs as just about been bred out of them. The Barred Rock will sometimes sit on eggs, but not near as much as the Australorp. Then again if you want egg production sitting on eggs is a bad thing.

The Barred Rock and the Dominicker are easily confused. This video describes how to tell the difference.


Conclusion

Prepping for a long term SHTF/TEOTWAWKI situation takes a lot of time, dedication, money and effort. Just when things are going your way those stupid chickens get out of their yard and get killed. It takes at least 6 months for a pullet (a hen less than one year old) to start laying. When the pullet starts laying it will be another one or two months for production to stabilize and the eggs to reach full size.

Losing several chickens puts my survival plans back at least 8 months. Let’s just go ahead and say a year. Instead of buying chicks and waiting 8 months, the other option is to buy pullets or hens who are already laying. In rural areas people will sell hens who are close to laying, or who are already laying. Around here in Southeast Texas a laying hen, or a hen who is about to start laying will cost around $15 – $20.

To replace 4 or 5 hens who were just about to start laying will cost around $80 – $100. That money could have been spent elsewhere if those stupid chickens would have just stayed in their yard. $80 – $100 could buy a lot of first aid supplies, ammo, solar panel,,, some other addition to my SHTF survival plans.
 

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Never Give up
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Over the years hearing about your problems with chickens could I make suggestion? How about rabbits? You seem to have the worst problem there is. We have not lost any birds in over 7 years. Before that we had a short learning curve but not anymore. But back then I was wondering how to teach our birds how to shoot, but now its just a pain when they think they need treats and I don't have them with me.
Most problems happen from little lapses, eliminate them and go on. After SHTF you don't want to have another worry, fix it now.
 

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The Mighty Pen
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Have you identified how they are getting out? No offense, but your birds sound more stupid then most.

The other day one of my best laying hens scooted out the gate as I was going in. I shrieked. She went a few steps and realized she was alone and in a strange place. I stepped back and she hurried back into the pen. I can't free range because of neighborhood dogs. Smaller hens will sometimes roost in the rafters, but have never had one fall and get hurt.

A smart, protective rooster is vital. Mine will call the hens for food, alert them to danger, break up hen fights and tell them when to go to the coop in the evening. I'd give you one of his sons if you wanted to collect it, but they're all mutts, not purebred. They are destined for the freezer in about another month.
 

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Fixer
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Bury the wire on the run close in the top ive lost a few 3 to an ermine.
this year a meat bird just disapeared no fethers or carcase (sustect hawk or eagle) meat birds are in a tractor but let out to forage now and again.
You want to loose birds try ducks they are only half as smart as chickens. And they wont shut up they like to call in foxes to the dinner table they just dont understand they are the main course.
However the eggs are yummy and like 2 for1 compared to chickens actualy the chickens we have now are new layers and duck eggs are probably 3 to 1 in size.
 

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Retired thinker
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Our small flock of four hens seem to be smart. They are in a dog kennel with their coup inside of that. Wife raises meal worms which they think are cocaine. We have "trained them" to stay around our property by giving them a treat once in a while. We put the meal worms in a red cup and when they see that cup, they come running. They are so conditioned that they will follow us to their pen and go in when we walk near there. Now, they put themselves to bed. After ranging around the yard in the evening, they walk back to their coup, feed a little, sit on their roost and a few minutes before dark they go into their coup. We shut the door behind them and they are in for the night. In the morning, we give them fresh food and water, let them out and repeat the process. They go back to the coup while free ranging if it rains, they want a drink or if they sense danger. We live next to the national forest and have the usual critters like bears, bob cats, foxes, *****, coyotes, etc. but so far, nothing has bothered them. We even had a bear walk past their cage at night and get into the trash. He carried off a big bag of trash but never bothered the girls. It has been said that chickens will eat anything. Not so for this crew. They have expensive taste. They like trout, meat, a few veggies and watermelon. They turn their noses up at other stuff. I guess we are lucky and got some good birds. Also, we have NO rooster and no intentions of getting one. We are only interested in the eggs for now. Of course, we'd add a few hens and another rooster if we wanted to get into the meat production end. The four birds lay three big eggs every day. Somebody is holding out but then the birds just started laying at the end of July.
 

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they may be stupid, but if they keep escaping from the enclosure you built, I am not sure who is smarter......
богдан;7920230 said:
Question kev? How is the perimeter of your enclosures built?
He has an open run, from what I remember. Fencing that would probably hold a goat in and stop most canine predators, but has an open top so the birds can just fly out (or hawks in, which he has experienced afaik).

An open run covers a larger area at a lower material cost, but if you're losing birds, the cost effectiveness becomes questionable. At $20/bird, how many would you have to lose to consider covering the run? How about when they're a more valuable asset, and really contributing to your sustenance/survival?
 

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Kev, Kev, Kev...they are direct descendants from dinosaurs, which lasted longer than Mankind has been around, so they must have SOME sense of preservation. We have bred some of it out, I suppose, but perhaps survival of the fittest doesn't apply here...maybe survival of the smartest? (are Texas chickens more stupid than the average chicken maybe?) ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Raising chickens for shtf

богдан;7920230 said:
Question kev? How is the perimeter of your enclosures built?
T-post and field fence.
 

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LEGAL citizen
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They're chickens... why do you think they are at the bottom of the food chain? If you own them, it's your responsibility to take care of them. You can say the same for every kid on the planet (except for the poopin in the food part LOL)
 

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T-post and field fence.
I have a similar set up with goats. We have t posts and red brand goat fence.

I find that while thay can jump the fence 4ft high generally they do not. They go through the gates having a few goats in a pen or other livestock really helps them because they.clean up any feed that the goats spill and most critters are not tk eager to run into a pen with other large animals.

But most losses are if I forget to put them up at night
 

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A Chipper Prepper
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The breeds that got out were not some poor quality breed. These were good heritage, dual purpose breeds:

Australorp – Developed in the late 1800s for dual purpose meat and exceptional egg laying. This is one of my top chicken breeds for SHTF. Between 1922 and 23 a team of six Australorp hens set a world record by laying 1,857 eggs (an average of 309.5 eggs per hen) in 365 consecutive days.

Losing one Australorp hen cost my family around 200 – 250 eggs a year. Losing 4 hens is devastating as we lost 800 – 1,000 eggs over the course of a year. During a complete collapse of society, or even rough economic times 800 – 1,000 years in a year is a lot of food.
Australorps are the BEST!!! :D::D:

Keeps poop out of their water and keeps them from spilling it:


You can also DIY something similar a lot more economically with a 5-gallon bucket, a drill, and some chicken nipples from Tractor Supply or Amazon.

Kev, are your chickens going OVER the fence? Have you tried clipping their wings?
 

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Australorps are the BEST!!! :D::D:

Keeps poop out of their water and keeps them from spilling it:


You can also DIY something similar a lot more economically with a 5-gallon bucket, a drill, and some chicken nipples from Tractor Supply or Amazon.

Kev, are your chickens going OVER the fence? Have you tried clipping their wings?
I have never had issue with birds pooping in either I hang our 40l feeders about 8 in off the ground also limits them kicking feed out of feeder and the waters are on cinder blocks for same reason.you can add pebbls to water trough to limit how much water is actually in the trough
 

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I'm having the same rough luck up north of you Kev. Problem is we've let the predators run for so long we need to constantly be on alert.
I like the clipping the wings idea! I just finished building my "Maximum Security Chicken Penal Rehabilitation Center". 40 x 60, 3.5 ft high, 2 x 4 woven wire with wooden and t-post. I'm going to run a hot wire around the top, just above the woven wire, so ***** or what ever else that can climb will have a little "shock" as they try to go over the top. Will work on covering the top with chicken wire over the winter.
I re-started my flock this past Spring when I bought 10 pullets, all Buff Orpington, 7 weeks old for $7 each. I went on vacation and my wife called to tell me I only had 7 left. (this was before the MSCPRC was built). I got home and lost 4 in one evening. I had been shutting their pen after dark, but they were starting to stay out later and later. I went out about an hour after dark and they had scattered, then next morning I only had 3 left. One of them got the crooked neck, and later died. Now, one of my remaining two has gotten the wobbly/spraddle legs....afraid she's going to pass in a week or so. That leaves me ONE hen left.
Last week I ordered about 45 chicks to be hatched and delivered about the middle of next month. I'm re-starting again! Meanwhile, I'm debating buying another pullet or two to keep my lone survivor company.
It's very frustrating, but I really enjoy watching them grow. And it makes me giggle to watch them run!
Like you, though, I'm getting pretty darn tired of disposing of dead bodies.
 
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