Actually, it now appears that the life expectancy was better than people originally thought. When you use the term "average life expectancy" you are factoring in the high infant mortality rate. Apparently, if you survived your first 5 years, you had almost as good a chance of living into your 60's or more as we do now. I guess good honest food and lots of excercise beats modern medicine?That said... don't we all agree that eating more raw organic veggies makes a lot more sense! Every single cancer patient I know looks back at their illness and questions what WE did to cause us to have cancer. And almost every one I know also says that they wish they'd paid more attention to their diet. Whether it's Keto, Paleo, Atkins, etc - it seem that most research, and many of us intuitively, points back towards our bodies being able to process foods that hunter/gatherers ate seems healthier than foods that thrived under agricultural society .. But then again - life expectancy for hunter gathers was something like 30 ......
Really helpful suggestions - thank you. I found this site from the backyard chickens sister site. I've gotten similar advice there as well. I plan to isolate the breeds initially to see how it goes for each breed. Because I can only eat poultry and fish, we eat a ton of chicken. I only processed 12 of my own this first year, and know that we'll be closer to 50-75 chickens per year for the two of us...plus what we end up giving our 3 adult kids.
I don't think I can genuinely "Free" range - we do have a high predator load. We have a lot of abutting land with coyote and bobcat as the local apex predators, but we also live on an exposed ridge, with raptors drifting overhead often. I've been successful (so far) with my first egg / dual purpose flock - they have a very solid coop and run that I think will keep out anything but a bear, and let them range within about a 1/2 acre surrounded by electric poultry netting. So far (please don't jinx me) - no losses. I also use game cams, and if I notice either tracks or a picture of a predator, I lock the chickens down for a few days or weeks , and try to change the pattern of when I let them out. And a great big dog that wanders amongst the chickens, and around the fence. He barks at any raptor, and even the planes or helicopters that might fly by - not sure how he does it....
With the DR - are you suggesting that I'll need to bring in a new rooster every year or two, or start an entire new roo/hen combo to keep the size up?
Also.... do you know if they would eat gypsy worms and tent caterpillars ? I'm thinking of putting the DR in amongst the apple trees, in hope of keeping the bugs down and fertilizing? Really curious about creating a symbiotic system if possible?
You might take a look a Jersey Giants. I've been thinking about them instead of turkeys. They are in between regular chickens and turkeys in size, lay a respectable amount of eggs, and supposedly fairly docile. You would need to keep the roos separate from the other chickens I think, because of their size.
Actually, it now appears that the life expectancy was better than people originally thought. When you use the term "average life expectancy" you are factoring in the high infant mortality rate. Apparently, if you survived your first 5 years, you had almost as good a chance of living into your 60's or more as we do now. I guess good honest food and lots of excercise beats modern medicine?
I did well with electronet, until the birds decided they could fly over it. When they started doing that, I had a Northern Goshawk that moved in. He would have killed a hen every day if I'd not have changed things up. I ended up building a permanent run, 6' tall fence, covered with bird netting. Then, when hawk load seemed to be decreased, I started letting the birds out to free range for a few hours, mid day. Fox moved in and killed a lot of birds. He was brazen. Even when I kept the birds penned up, he would come back in the middle of the day, looking for a meal. I put out one of the corpses, hoping to make a personal acquaintance with him, and show him some lead. He always moved too fast. At one point, I was within 10' of him, and he stared me down, before he decided to move on.
Good that you have a dog. Sounds like he will be your greatest asset in defending your poultry. My dog? She is a good mouser, not worth much else.
I didn't keep a DR roo, so, I can't tell you how long you would expect successive generations to maintain their form. Generally, you should get 3 good breeding years out of a roo. And, your best breeding year with a hen will be her second season. While she may continue to produce for a number of years after that, her egg quality, and perhaps her fertility/hatching rate will go down. So, if you decide to do a breeding program with DR (or any other breed) I suggest that you keep your best roo, hatch the best eggs from your best hens, Then, long about year 3, save his best son, and continue. If you find carcass size decreasing, then you could bring in new stock.
My chickens won't eat hairy caterpillars. I've tried to get them to, and they just stand around talking about them, then wander off. My chickens won't even eat a mouse. Nor will they eat potato bugs or squash bugs. But, they LOVE tomato hornworms.
Putting chickens in your orchard: Good idea, unless they fly up into the trees and decimate your fruit. Let me know how it works out.
Roos in a bachelor pad: I've found that eventually, they do decide to kill each other.
I will raise up a replacement roo in the flock with the alpha roo. Usually, they get along well until the son is about a year old. Then... comes... the... day... They decide that one of them must die! At that point, I have to say good by to the older man, and let the younger one take over.
True that! I've had hatchery JG's many years ago and they just didn't stack up to the breed standard. Now my flock mostly consists of Easter Eggers, Orpingtons and the most recent addition -Turkens. The Turken roo's are good sized but I have yet to harvest one. I need to put that on my to-do list.Jersey Giants from a hatchery are not so giant. In my experience anyway.