Dream It – Build It – Watch It Flourish
The purpose of the 2024 chicken project is to have a closed chicken flock, and close the gaps on amendments to our garden. A closed chicken flock means we no longer bring chickens in from off our property. This helps to eliminate germs, bacteria, and disease from other places. It also means genetics can get very crossed or watered down, something we will figure out as we progress, creating the “perfect for us” meat chicken.
One huge criteria is that the project can cost little to nothing, meaning using supplies we have on hand, are given to us, or bartered for. If necessary, we might have to buy a few inexpensive items. And most likely have to replace some makeshift structures into a permanent situation.
Every season, we go through our wish lists for the homestead. Countless ideas have been jumping around in our minds for years. Our 2024 Poultry Project is one of these projects.
Many parts of this project we’ve tried several times over the past 18 years, without success. However, the projects gave us insight and knowledge of what not to do. The perfect chicken never seemed to be the number one priority because we could always get chickens that worked. Plus, we had other projects that needed our summer time energy and money more.
What does the 2024 Poultry Project Entail?
Of course, everything is subject to change in some way or another.
We want to create a closed flock of chickens for both meat and laying. They may become the same flock, which would be ideal for simplicity. The reality of this situation is still unclear to us. Larger chickens which are more suitable as meat birds require a longer time to reach maturity than what is ideal for egg-laying chickens. Or are they?
We have ideas to address the one flock ideology, but have not crossed that barrier yet.
We plan to build an outdoor winter chicken area, where the chickens help turn over cleanings from the barn into excellent soil for the garden. Once spring comes, we will connect this outdoor chicken area to part of our garden so that the chickens can eat pests, not our garden. Soil created from the chickens will be used within the garden.
We plan on using fencing and movable housing (we are not sure what type) to move the chickens to different areas of the homestead throughout the summer.
We’ve tried many chicken breeds and mixes over the past 18 years. We haven’t found “the perfect” breed for layers and meat or we would already be breeding and raising that breed. We have found our favorite breed of other animals on the homestead and they are bred, raised, and incorporated into the homestead.
We’ve created our own chicken barn yard mix that is a mixture of the following chicken breeds: Orpington, Easter Eggers, Bress, Australorp, New Hampshire Red, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Wyandotte, White Sex-links and who knows what else. The mix started four years ago when we had a gorgeous rooster and then order a mixed batch of layers to replace the older chickens. Why a mixed batch because we couldn’t decide on a breed. We’d tried so many ones and none were as we planned. Our plan was to keep the rooster and incubate from the flock, creating what we wanted for layers, and then eventually for meat birds as well.
As nature would have it, our rooster became fox food while trying to get his hens back into the barn area. Since then, we’ve kept two adult roosters with about 18 hens for security and breeding. We keep nine younger laying hens and nine older laying hens throughout the season. This gives us eggs all year round.
We still haven’t found the perfect layer, but have moved on to finding the more perfect meat chicken. We figured all chickens lay and would have eggs, but we were sick of harvesting chickens that were not worthy or our time for meat.
Last October we received several dual purpose birds we wanted to try for meat. As of January 2024, we’ve narrowed down the breeds to Black Java, Buff Chantelier, and White Chantelier moving us closer to the perfect meat chicken for us. We might keep them pure or cross them. We might choose other chickens we have and cross with them. Basically, we don’t know yet.
Our Chicken Goal
To raise about 50 meat chickens for our freezer. Do our usual replacement for our layers. And create a space we can use the chickens for better pest control than we have in the past in the pastures and in the garden.
We shall see what happens.
Follow us on our 2024 Chicken Project through articles, podcasts, and videos.
If you have questions, just ask. Email us through our contact form.
May the fun begin!