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This is posted in the Disaster Preparedness General Discussion because this article is for people who may flee to the countryside, or who bug out to the wilderness.

Let's say there is some kind of event, such as a new plague and there is a replay of the Black Death. Someone happens upon a farm and finds a chicken house, what could they expect to find?


Chickens only stay in the chicken house if they feel safe. With the door open so predators can enter the chicken house, chances are the chickens will start roosting in trees around the yard.

Look for clumps of trees where chickens would be protected from owls, and small limbs so raccoons and opossums can not reach the chickens.

Depending on breed, such as good heritage stock, the chickens may revert to their wild ancestor instincts.

Several years ago I visited a farm that had a wild chicken flock living in the nearby woods. The flock started off going between two farms, but the chicks that were hatched did not go to either farm when they matured. They wild chickens roosted in trees and were totally independent of either farm.

Chickens will hide their eggs, which they do anyway.

Chickens also need plenty of water. If there is a stream on the farm, look for livestock hanging out there.

Some of the hardy chick breeds:

  • Barred Rock
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Australorp
  • Dominicker

I have lost faith in the Buff Orpington.

There is a good chance guineas will do just fine without people.
 

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Don't forget the Jersey Giant -- they also incline as broodies.

Chickens unfortunately will nostly remain 'locked in their coops/runs/pens'. How many folks dealing with family members dying all around them while feeling the symptoms come on them will go and open the door? If raccoons/dogs can't get in, then the chickens can't get out. So you probably need to get to this farm pretty fast to save the chickens, goats; if they are barned at night. Dairy cattle in a barn. horses in a barn.

In Florida you have to consider that many pastured animals get the water source from a well. Particularly during the dry season. [those old windmill wells aren't a problem of course].

You won't only be able to smell the dead humans as you near a farm, but the dead animals.

I have seriously considered this situation, and have contemplated opening the coop/run, but I know with the fox/bobcats, that is also a death sentence. Now, I have considered putting them in the garage and opening the laundry room window and hoping they figure out how to get in and out of the fenced backyard [won't really stop anything]. And there is the dog who I believe is too stupid and too much of a coward to figure out chickens are edible. This doesn't solve the water problem. They have to jump the back fence gate to get to the pond and get back before something gets them [yard won't protect them from hawks though]. Now again, the dog, it wouldn't have the sense how to do that [trust me, she is as dumb as a stump. The chickens are smarter than her]. So, for the chickens and dog, I'd have to put out ever last dish/bucket and so on and hope it rains enough to keep the dog alive and the chickens alive until they figure out how to jump the gate.

Anything pastured have a pond. If I ever get a donkey, I'd put the chickens out there, close a stall [which they can go under the rails to get in, and dump whatever feed I had left].

So, ponder, if you 'get' whatever disease is moving around what are you going to do for the animals in your care [am assuming your people have already subcomed].

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Chickens will 're-domesticate' fast. Food and hand raising a few batches of chicks will accomplish that. I'd much rather 're-domesticate' chickens after a few generations than say hogs.
 

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Roosters will do their job and sacrifice themselves for the hens. You typically get quite a few roosters during laying, so there should be plenty to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Also, chickens can fly. Not far, but they can fly.

Guinea birds can easily fly and roost in a tree until the threat is gone.

Both chickens and guineas are vulnerable at night... that's where the real problem is. I think it just depends on the area and how many predators there are. I do know this. When you go to third world countries, chickens run wild in the streets and the dogs haven't eaten them all... nature always has a way to balance things out.
 

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In our BOL area, martens, fox's, lynx/bobcats, coyotes, big hawks, etc would decimate free ranging chickens quickly.

All of the above (excepting hawks) have taken a shot at our coup.
If it weren't built like Fort Knox, we wouldn't have any.
 

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Taste like chicken.

If the human population shrinks, with the number of natural predators will expand, and the chickens days are numbered.
I don't agree. Chickens and Rabbits breed a lot and have lots of babies. They have tons of offspring for a reason... because they are at the bottom of the food chain. Both chickens and rabbits will adopt the offspring of another chicken/rabbit if the mothers dies. Sheer numbers is what keeps them from going extinct. Chicken for example, lay 1 or 2 eggs a day (per hen). Even a small flock can grow very rapidly without any predators around. The predators will help keep the numbers down, not make them go extinct. That's the balance...

Edit - I know people that don't coop their chickens at all. They just let them roost wherever. Yes, they loose some, but they've never lost them all. Matter of fact, the only people I've heard of losing an entire flock, were because a predator got into the coop.
 

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Initially it would be very hard on chicken kind. But the few hardy survivors will eventually increase the flock over time. After several generations they would invent writing, trade and, who knows, perhaps space travel. They would boldly go where no chicken had gone before.

But many chickens are unprepared for the extinction of mankind. They have gotten complacent and expect a free handout of scratch and protection from the predators out there. They are oblivious to the axe hanging over their head. Those that live in the crowded coops and overpopulated yards are in for a rude awakening and it won't be from the resident rooster greeting the sun.
 

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In a post - event world, in regards to chickens, the easiest way to find them is to just listen before dawn. Hear a crow, head that direction [keeping into consideration said chickens might be with still living humans]. This would work in rural areas, suburban areas and urban environments.

Should you have come across an abandoned homestead with empty chicken coop [open door] then don't go far until the next morning. If this is shortly after the Event, there could be hens about but no roosters. Hens though would come back to the coop the lay and probably sleep.

Since hens nest on the ground, there will always be fewer hens in a chicken group because they are such easy prey. In most feral urban and suburban fowl groups there is only a hen or three per rooster -- with plenty of roosters in the wings to replace the rooster should he die/be wounded protecting the hen/s. In protected human raising of poultry, the rooster ratio per hen is much higher.

The distance away said crowing rooster would be would depend upon the environment and wind direction. Woody/forested areas would mute the crow. Open land not much. Hilly/gulch would aim the sound. Rain and fog would mute.

If there were any other roosters [as opposed to a collection of roosters with hens] in the area, you would also hear them too. I might suggest if you hear multiple locations then there probably are humans about providing protection for them. [or an amazing lack of predators].
 

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We never had Roosters, just laying hens. They were cooped up. We clipped their wings to keep them from getting up over the fenced in area.

Most of the chickens in the large egg producing farms would die in their cages. Just like most hogs and feedlot cattle.
 
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