Hi from New Hampshire

Britesea

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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.
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 ......
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?
 

Lazy Gardener

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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 caterpillar
s ? 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?
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.
 

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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?
Thanks for the jersey giant advice - I'll definitely look into it.
Boy - did you send me down a rabbit hole on life expectancy. Crazy data and differences of opinion in the anthropology community. All agree that life expectancy has increased dramatically. Life span - for those that survive childbirth, is only about a decade less than today - so very little change once you solve childbirth and maternal death rates. Then - if you factor out wars, much higher murder rates and plagues - life span is very similar to today's rate. (I'd argue you shouldn't exclude plague, as that risk is not gone) - but despite what you hear on the news today - it's never been safer - crime and murder rates are at historic lows....
So - depending on what you choose to include or exclude - the studies vary widely. Fascinating - thank you for pushing me into the research rabbit hole!
 

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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.
Thank you again. I remember telling my kids that it's important to not only learn from their mistakes, but learn from others mistakes (I had a whole list of dumb stuff I'd done in high school!) - for the most part they ignored my advice.... But I won't ignore yours.

I was thinking that i would raise the cornishX in the orchard... they won't fly - but I'm hoping they'd eat enough to prevent me from having to spray the apple trees.

Are DR flighty? I'm really not physically up to building a really secure coop and run. Between the flighty turkey with wild turkey birdnappers, and predators for the meat birds - I may need to rethink how much i take on next spring!
 

NH Homesteader

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Jersey Giants from a hatchery are not so giant. In my experience anyway. The ones we got were scrawny little things. Jersey Giants from a quality breeder are a magnificent bird however!

We're partial to Dominiques. When/if we get. chickens again we'll get more of them.

We've raised plenty of Cornish X also. If you don't free feed them they forage ok. The source matters too , we had one batch that were incredibly nasty and cannibalistic. Most other batches have been fine.
 

frustratedearthmother

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Jersey Giants from a hatchery are not so giant. In my experience anyway.
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.
 

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DR are not at all flighty. They quickly get too heavy to even consider that option. As for dealing with your electronet, it would be an excellent option in your orchard for your DR or CXR. It will keep out all land predators. All you would then have to worry about would be aerial preds. I've found that it's fairly easy to thwart them.

You would do well to put up the electronet, then run some fish or mason's line between the trees. You could even tie strips of mylar to those lines. Any open areas could then be further booby trapped by driving fiberglass fence posts into the ground. Also, give them several covers to duck under. Trick is to place these in such a fashion that the birds can't use them as platforms to launch themselves over the e-net. I feel fairly confident that this would provide decent safety for any full sized birds that stay INSIDE the electronet.

(Knock on wood). I've had huge hawk issues over the last 4 years. Brazen, bold evil creatures they are. They hang out in the woods to the west of my yard. They would often sit in the trees, and taunt me. I could get within 10' of them, and they'd just sit there and yack at me. They would perch on the top rail of the chicken run. They would run back and forth on the ground in front of my cockerel grow out pen to terrorize them.

My neighbor feeds the birds, which attracts the crows. In spite of other neighbors shooting the crows... (in an ignorant attempt to keep them from digging the grubs out of their lawns. HELLO???? Those crows are doing you a favor!!!) The local crow population is a bit higher than in previous peak hawk years. So... last year, I put electronet around my covered chicken run in a dual attempt to thwart Mr. Fox, and give the birds access to grass. In the open electronet area, I placed fiberglass fence posts about every 5 - 10'. While hawks can easily fly into an electronet enclosure, I've found that when the enclosure is littered with "spikes" they are not willing to risk injury to their wings to do so. The hawks are still around, but I did not sustain any hawk losses last summer.

Finally, if you don't have a good population of crows, I suggest that you attract them. A platform feeder with corn would do the trick nicely. You might have to put up some sort of baffle to keep the wild turkeys from breaking your crow feed budget!
 

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@Beekissed has raised CR successfully on free range, with LGD. IIRC, she feeds them at the end of the day, forcing them to get out and hustle for their grub like any other respectable chicken. Both she and I use fermented feed. If you've not yet looked into FF, I urge you to do so. It improves your feed conversion rates, improves immune system, gut flora, Vitamin B synthesis.
 
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