How to raise chickens in your backyard for off the grid living
There are many different chickens. Which ones are best for off grid living
When it comes to living off the grid and finding a sustainable form of food, chickens are one of the cheapest and most sustainable living meats that you can find.
However, not every chicken is the same and there are some chickens which are better for certain purposes where others fall short. Also, creating the space for a chicken can be a bit of a challenge if you have never made a chicken coop/pen.
Do not be discouraged. This article will give you all the information that you need to get started in raising chickens in your backyard for meat and eggs as a way for off grid living.
Create a Space
The first thing which you will need to do is create a space. Some people would say that you can let your chickens roam free, and to those people I tip my hat. Chickens have a tendency to fight and pick and prod.
Keeping them in a contained area will help you to keep your various types of chickens from killing each other, especially if you have more than one rooster in the bunch.
To create your space you need to calculate that each chicken will take up 10 square feet of walking space. If you are confining the birds to a nesting box they will need to be a minimum of 18 inches per box. For example:
If Old McDonald has 10 chickens on his farm he needs to have 180” of nesting box (or 15 feet) and at least 100 square feet of space for them to walk around (a 10 foot by 10 foot area).
Once you have established the area simply put up a chicken wire fence for that area ensuring that you give space around the nesting boxes. You will want to make sure that you get a grade of chicken wire that will not allow snakes to get in or for the chickens to get their heads stuck. When putting up your fence it is advised that you make it a minimum of 6 feet.
To keep your chickens from flying out or climbing over the fence consider putting PVC arched over the top of the fence topped with a hardwire cloth.
Cut access doors behind each nesting box (attached with a simple bolt lock) to allow for quick and easy collecting of eggs
Elevate the chicken coop 12 inches to minimize snakes and vermin from getting in. Put moth balls under the coop to keep snakes away
Make sure that you have plenty of ventilation on the nesting box area/coop. Even though it may be the fall or winter season, birds need air just as much as we do.
If you have a chicken coop already, do not try to introduce chicks into the coop with the older chickens. Instead pick one hen to act as an adoptive mother for the chick and separate them until they have bonded. In a lot of cases chickens will attack an outside bird to protect their young. However, if a hen adopts it in the chances of its survival are greater.
Which Chickens should I buy?
You should note that there are several different kinds of chickens available. However, I prefer to stay within three very broad categories when discussing chickens.
You have fertile chickens (which lay eggs with yokes), non-fertile chickens (meaning they lay eggs but they will never produce any more chickens), and then you have poultry chickens (chickens raised for eating).
Of course you will need to have a rooster if you want eggs. Only have one rooster per coop or you will have fighting and problems.
As a survivalist, you will want to have chickens that lay fertile eggs. This will give you the option of eating the eggs or keeping some around for future chickens.
Keep in mind that if you get a fertile group of chickens that you will need to collect eggs every day and maintain your overall population of chickens. You do not want to have an overabundance as they will die quicker.
Poultry chickens live about 9 weeks and are ready to eat. They are different from regular chickens in that they grow exceptionally fast. Their bodies resemble softballs, and they tend to stay in one place.
They are a little bit nastier than the other chickens and have a tendency to stink of fecal matter if not kept cleaned consistently. You MUST harvest poultry chickens by the 9th week or you will be at risk of having the bird just kill over (obesity will kill them dead at about 9 to 10 weeks).
A survivalist has to eat, true. However, your chickens will also need to eat. Ensure that you have enough seed (corn) put aside so that you can feed your chickens without causing a strain on your food supply.
If you are in the process of prepping consider stocking up on some chicken feed for the first few months in order to grow your own supply of food for your chickens.
As you will be raising your chickens in your backyard, you will need to ensure that you have a way in which to secure your food supply. Because the chicken fence is made of thin material, it is a target for easy access from those seeking food. When you are not able to attend to (or at least keep an eye out for trespassers on your property) keep the chickens locked up in the chicken coop.
If you need help in getting your chicken coop started, you are advised to seek out your local feed and seed store or better yet find a local farmer.
Chickens are just one of the ways in which you can become self-sufficient and provide your family with meat and eggs without having to go to the grocery store.
It is just one more step in moving towards being off the grid and prepared for any situation.