RancherMan & I enjoy raising chickens. But we’re also fans of doing things ourselves. So when we needed a chicken feeder we took a trip to a thrift store. We made our own feeder from thrifted supplies costing only about $2 total. All we used was an old metal lid and a plastic Rubbermaid canister. It served us well for years but finally the canister portion succumbed to the elements. Now what??!
You know what I say: “Use Whatcha Got!”. Check out this Homestead Hack & see how we easy (and with NOout of pocket) repaired our chicken feeder for many more years of service.
RancherMan & I really enjoy raising hens each year. We don’t really have a market for the eggs since I no longer work in an office. Most folks around here are raising their own chickens for their own eggs. And a friend of mine is selling eggs the local Farmer’s Market so I don’t want to move in on her business. So every year we just buy 3-4 hens. It’s enough to provide us with the eggs we want. And we allow them to free range part of the day so they get much extra protein (and some excitement) from running around the house eating grasshoppers and such. The garden pests are eliminated by them while providing us with even healthier eggs. That’s really a win/win, no?
We typically sell these girls in the late fall. They’re prime-age egg layers but we don’t want to have to overwinter them and their value is much higher as productive egg-layers than meat in the freezer. Then in the spring we’ll buy new pullets and start again. So I’m far from a chicken expert, but I thought I’d share what we do to keep our girls happy & mite free.
Last year RancherMan & I decided that housing our free-range hens in the coop of our 1880’s barn just wasn’t protecting them. Oh they were safe in the coop overnight, but when we let them out to free range each morning, predators were taking the entire flock time & time again. We needed a modified free-range setup.
So we decided we’d amend our garden to include the chickens. But our fenced garden offered some layout challenges.
I recently wrote a piece for Mother Earth News, come see how we were able to successfully incorporate the chickens into our garden area. We have been able to protect the chickens from predators as well as the garden from the chickens.
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing! You can also follow along on Pinterest,Twitteror Instagram.
I found I really enjoy our chickens. We don’t like to over-winter them because like my dad says of predator pressures, “You can’t blame them. Heck, everyone loves a chicken dinner!”. LOL So we buy a couple of pullets in the spring and keep them through fall, when we sell them as young layers. We repeat the process again in the spring & this has worked really well for us.
We enjoy those fresh eggs most of the year, I will Freeze Fresh Eggs when they’re coming in faster than we can eat them. We’ll have plenty to use during the winter months and we start the process fresh-laying process over in the spring.
When we bought our first chickens I was amazed at how expensive it was to keep them fed. Heck when you factor in the feed cost, these are the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten! But over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about feeding our hens…
Y’all already know we split the garden area this year. About 40% of that area became the chicken ranging area and the other 60% remained my veggie garden, but more efficiently arranged. I love the symbiotic relationship of chickens/garden. I’m hoping the chickens will keep grass scratched away from the adjoining garden area to help me win the fight against Bermuda grass. And I know they will also eat all the bugs & grasshoppers coming toward my garden from their area. I can toss over grubs or produce that didn’t make it, and the hens provide me with fresh eggs. Win/Win!
I recently shared with you a low-waste chicken feeder RancherMan whipped up for me. While I love how much it reduces the chicken’s slinging it to the ground and wasting it, the wild birds were also loving the free open buffet. We’re feeding organic laying pellets, I certainly didn’t want to be feeding that to the birds! But oh we’ve discovered a secret – check out today’s Homestead Hack.
One thing I noticed when we first bought chickens several years ago was how wasteful they were. They use their beaks & sweep their feed from side to side. That ends up slinging their food out of the feeder. And all that feed is wasted! The first time I cleaned out the coop I started to sweep out the hay bedding and found it was heavy with wasted feed & grain. I was so frustrated.
Hey, we’re feeding these girls organic layer pellets, and that’s not chicken feed ya know…
Oh, maybe it *is* chicken feed…
But it’s too expensive to be wasteful & sweep it out of the coop & onto the ground! I’ve tried various ways to make our own lower-waste chicken feeder. Although it helped reduce the waste, way too much feed was still being wasted.
Dang girls, were you raised in a barn? (Oh, yeah right, strike that…)
We raised chickens for the very first time last year and they were an absolute blast to raise. But we sold them all in late fall. I was afraid that free ranging hens in the winter months would just make them easy prey for predators since food gets more scarce in the wintertime. But the entire time we had them it was so much fun to watch their antics.
And of course we enjoyed those fresh free-range eggs. There’s absolutely nothing like the taste of a free-range egg, you chicken raisers know what I mean!
So we were pretty excited to raise chickens again this year. We contacted a local breeder and purchased 4 hens from her and BOOM! We were back in the chicken business.
But one of the hens quit laying eggs & became broody several weeks after we purchased her – we’d never dealt with broody hens before. And with no rooster in our flock it wasn’t helping anyone, her nor us.
It’s loads of fun raising hens so we decided to give chicken-raising another go. We purchased four young hens early this spring. Soon they were into the free-range routine and providing plenty of eggs for us.
Because we live in the country there are all manor of predator dangers present for our free-range chickens. Predators such as coyotes, bobcats, feral cats, foxes, skunks & more. But with a secured coop and by locking them safely inside each night we were spared any deaths.
Then one night when we went to lock them up we noticed the black hen was nowhere to be found. Although we hated it, we understood that there are predators out here and that it was just one of those things. We never found her.
Then a week later we noticed the white one was missing. But this time we knew exactly what happened to her.
Last year we tried our hand at raising chickens for the very first time. We bought day-old chicks and raised all that fuzzy cuteness into adult chickens/roosters. We ended up with four hens and two beautiful roosters but someone STOLE both of our roosters! Can you even believe that??!
Aaaanyway not wanting to overwinter the hens due to predator issues we sold them last fall after I had preserved many of the excess eggs by freezing them. I used those frozen eggs all winter and about the time my freezer started running low on my supply we decided it was time to raise chickens again this year!
RancherMan & I are slowly learning what veteran chicken-raisers have known all along about raising chickens and about fresh free-range eggs. Last year we raised our very first batch of chickens from day-old chicks. It was lots of fun seeing them turn from fuzzy peepers to a full grown egg-producing chicken.
I learned that it took them 21 weeks to grow enough to produce their first egg and I also learned that chickens don’t just lay eggs in the morning. In fact their egg-laying time isn’t even a balanced 24-hour time span. (or maybe they just like to sleep in from time to time – who knows?? LOL)
But I learned even more about the eggs themselves. For instance I didn’t know: