Home kill, do you?

SatNavSaysStraightOn

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Hey guys, I'm new. Here in Canada, "Urban Chickens" are becoming quite popular. A lot of people are enjoying the home kill concept here. They know what is going in their food, how it was processed, but cost varies. A rotisserie chicken is 5.99 at most supermarkets, and people would be hard pressed to raise a chick for that. Anyone from urban areas in other parts have experience raising chickens in town? Is it worth the cost? Can you get that cost down? Do neighbours care?

Cities have amended bylaws to be able to allow homes to have a variety of numbers. Its up to a city to make that kind of law up here so there is no real commonality.

Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines | City of Edmonton - The capital city of Edmonton allowing multiple hens on a property. This made for some hot topics at council chambers a few years ago. Some pople loved the idea, others hated the idea of smell and noise.

Fun Fact - In Vermilion, AB you can have "Racing Pigeons" but no chickens. Pigeon racing sounds delightful!
https://www.vermilion.ca/en/your-government/resources/Bylaws2015/BYLAW17.15.pdf (Down the page to 5.2.10)
Hi & welcome

The first and foremost question is why do you want to raise them yourself?

If it is to save money, forget it. You won't. Even for eggs, the last thing you do is save money.

If it is for better tasting chicken, for birds you know the life of, know what they've been fed, know that they've had a chance at life before being slaughtered, to avoid the antibiotics they are routinely fed and so on, then it could be worth your while.

You need to address many issues first. And whilst your neighbors are at the top of the list, the biggest issue especially in cities is their security, and not just from predators that are 4 legged, but from the 2 legged variety as well.
Meat birds are not the same as layers. Meat birds need to grow fast and put weight on quickly. They are typically slaughtered very young irrespective of sex. Most people don't like the idea of eating roosters because apparently once the bird is sexually mature it can taint flavour of the meat (apparently). Roosters are typically sexually mature between 12-20 weeks old but I've had chicks you have been enough to be trying to mate and already crowing at 8 weeks. Supermarket chickens are typically 8-10 weeks old when slaughtered by the way. Home grown don't typically grow as fast but are generally pretty young as well. They are also going to be smaller birds and you do need to be purchasing broilers, not layers or dual purpose birds if you're looking to feed more than 2 people from a bird. Broilers grow faster, but this means they eat more as well. What you feed them, controls the flavour. And forget romantic ideas of free range unless you seriously have plenty of space. A lot of feed has added 'extras' that maybe what you're trying to avoid with supermarket chicken (antibiotics being one). Going organic on their feed adds to the cost. Chooks also need worming and treating for fleas periodically no matter how young they are slaughtered. This is no different from any other pet or farm animals. Their health is still important and if you treat for worms, you are not meant to eat their eggs or flesh for 2 weeks. We usually leave it 3 days to be honest and we've not seen any issues with that.

What else. Predators are actually going to be your biggest loss. You can't just put a shed down and expect to put bird in it. You'll need a concrete base to prevent predators from digging their way in at night. The same with fences, they need to be very high to prevent predators such as foxes scaling them (so 8 foot or higher, foxes are expert climbers). You'll also need to consider birds of prey. Here I just accept it, my chooks have a good warning system from natural wildlife and wild birds, but they are experienced free range birds. I haven't lost any to foxes recently but typically you can expect to loose most birds in any single attack and foxes will return to the scene night after night until all birds are dead. And there is very little you can do about day time attacks unless you are building a fully enclosed roost and run for them. If they are free range, you'll need to accept daytime attacks are going to happen. Neighbours' dogs will also be a big problem. In our local town (I'm a good distance from it thankfully) half of all daytime attacks are from a stray it neighbours dog getting in and just killing anything it can get to. They kill add many as possible before eating, so again it will seem like senseless killing rather than purposeful attacks, same with foxes. I gather raccoons can be a problem as well. Here quolls and iguana can be issues (Australia). Snakes can also take out birds as well.

You'll also need to deal with rodents. With food out all the time, rodents can be a problem and so can native birds. It's a free food source, plus wild birds also bring in diseases.

I would recommend that you make sure you are vaccinated against pneumonia as well. Wild birds carry (and have) and particular strain of pneumonia that can easily be transmitted to your birds and on to you. You'll not have any natural immunity to it because it is not one of the normal pneumonia strains.

What else. Eggs. All of them lay eggs. Layers are typically lean birds that put all of their energy into laying eggs. Dual purpose birds are typically larger birds that lay fewer eggs than layers but more than broilers (meat birds). Some of my dual purpose birds weigh in around 4kg but they are several years old now (4 years I think, just starting their 5th season). Believe it or not, that is actually quite small and you'll not get much meat off her once cleaned and gutted. Yes you'll get some meat but probably not much more than 1-2kg if you are lucky. We had to euthanize one of them just before Christmas and I was able to have a really good look at her.
Broilers don't typically live long enough to lady eggs. Usually once they reach a set age, the cost of feed and all the other costs, to the amount of meat obtained starts to rise considerably. And simply from an economic point of view, why feed an adult bird who isn't going to grow that much more. It's simply putting money into something that's not going to sell for anything extra? Humans are cruel from that point of view. (I'll add that this isn't my approach. My girls can and have retired, some are rescues from breeders who were going to slaughter them because they could no longer breed from them. My eldest is in her 9th season. She could live another 3 years yet. She's valuable to me as the flock leader. She's very smart and looks after the flock. But that's not why I keep her alive. She's alive because she's healthy and, well living. She doesn't lay at all anymore. Hasn't for 3 years. )

There are online courses that are a really good introduction to chickens. I think it was the University of Edinburgh that does the one I did (whilst in Australia). (Yep, here's the link. It's a free course and will make you much more aware of what's needed Chicken Behaviour and Welfare)

If you are going for eggs as well as meat, you're best option will be 2 run 2 flocks separately. Broilers have different feed and needs to layers and as mentioned above, are typically killed before they start to lay. Eggs are you best way of dealing with neighbours in the form of free eggs from time to time. You'll also need to look into city legislation carefully. It varies considerably, but a lot of cities do not permit roosters, so you'll need to be able to sex your chickens and kill the males first before they start to crow. (You don't need males to get eggs, only to actually get fertile eggs). Some countries (the UK for example) do not permit you to feed kitchen scraps to chickens and at present large numbers of domestic chickens are being slaughtered yet again in the UK because of the sharp increase in bird flu. So you'll need to think about that as well.

Finally, smell. If you look after them correctly, clean them out regularly etc, they won't smell anymore than having a dog in the backyard would.

Oh, and unless you buy things like automated doors (we have 3 between 2 seperate flocks) , you'll need to be home every morning and night you let them in and out of their secure roost. And leaving them locked in, isn't an option, so you'll need to consider how you're going to go away even overnight.

Yell if you have anymore questions.
 
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Hi & welcome

The first and foremost question is why do you want to raise them yourself?

If it is to save money, forget it. You won't. Even for eggs, the last thing you do is save money.

If it is for better tasting chicken, for birds you know the life of, know what they've been fed, know that they've had a chance at life before being slaughtered, to avoid the antibiotics they are routinely fed and so on, then it could be worth your while.
What an excellent and well worded explanation! I learned a lot from that. Thank you. I have 1.75 cats (An unfortunate encounter between one and a Honda meant one leg had to go) 2 dogs and an axolotyl that take care of my animal love budget so I wont be adding to the mix. I was more curious about perspectives about the issue which you covered very well! I only heard a few thoughts about it and all from amateurs who had never raised them before. I chuckled at the earlier comment about shelters for sale a month after purchase since that was very common after the bylaws had passed. Thanks, everyone!
 

SatNavSaysStraightOn

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What an excellent and well worded explanation! I learned a lot from that. Thank you. I have 1.75 cats (An unfortunate encounter between one and a Honda meant one leg had to go) 2 dogs and an axolotyl that take care of my animal love budget so I wont be adding to the mix. I was more curious about perspectives about the issue which you covered very well! I only heard a few thoughts about it and all from amateurs who had never raised them before. I chuckled at the earlier comment about shelters for sale a month after purchase since that was very common after the bylaws had passed. Thanks, everyone!
We have a number of rescue birds usually between 20-40 if them though currently we're down to 17. Currently all of them are whole though I've had a few who were blind in one or both eyes, one who had regular seizures (only recently just died), several who needed regular break trimming so they could eat and so on.

We've also got a wild Australia magpie called 'broken wing'. No guesses needed on why. We intervened on a mobbing because it was happening right outside the window and in front of our chooks. We fully expected the victim to die but amazingly it hasn't. That was 2 winters ago. It was barely a fledgling at the time. Now 'he' tidys up after the chooks eating what they discard from their free range mix and has mastered the art of getting onto the roof via a series of short hops and jumps. He's amazingly creative and roosts at night in the big tree that protects our vehicles from storms. Occasionally we find him one of the many chook house, usually after water even though there are several other water stations and troughs down by the garage. Because he has never flown he doesn't know that there are dams nearby, so his range is less than that of our chooks. We're continually surprised as to where we find him though height wise, and watching him get up and down has controlled which trees get pruned or tidied and which remain as they are so it can still get up and down!
 

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I do raise chicken and quail, mostly for eggs but yes, also for meat.

Where I am, I can have roosters - urban, forget that! Last year I raised up in an incubator some eggs my hens laid and the roosters fertilized. Got a few new hens and a good many new roosters. Well, I was able to re-home two of them to a farm with 40 hens and the woman wanted some roosters to protect them. Another rooster is out there in a coop, probably planning on shivering a LOT tomorrow. (Temps will plummet.)

Quail has been for both eggs and meat.

I tried incubating some fuinea fowl eggs a neighbor gave me, but only one hatched. I was going to run him/her with the chickens that hatched at the same time, but the quinea fowl had some sort of hip displasia issue - I tried to help the poor thing, but wasn't able to. I had to put the guinea keet down (that's what they call baby guineas instead of chicks). My purpose for guinea fowl was (and will be again sometime) for tick control. Chickens do eat ticks, but guinea fowl DEVOUR them!
 

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They're fed, watered, and heading a-bed; and I got a few other things done, too.

I started my chickens for a few reasons: I always wanted a farm with livestock and other animals. Chickens are easiest to start with. I want to focus more on eating healthier food, food where I know what they ate and how they lived. I also think these chickens taste better - the supermarket stuff, even the organic birds, are slaughtered at age 6-8 weeks, and really lack flavor. WIth birds (I have had dual purpose birds and "broilers" that aren't your standard Cornish Cross supermarket type, the broilers take about 12 weeks and the dual purpose take about 17 weeks to mature to optimal eating size). They do taste better, even the white meat has good flavor.

Roosters can be eaten - did a two and a half year old one who suddenly started playing too rough with his ladies. You just have to cook this a lot longer, slow and low braising. I ended up sectioning him and experimenting with sous vide - he was fine at 17-18 hours at 158 F in the sous vide. So a lot will depend on how old your rooster is.

I started quail in the spring of 2020. I needed a COVID project, since human contact was going to be in short supply. I don't recommend them for meat, although they taste great, but they are just too small. (This is Coturnix quail, there are some types that are larger, but I can't raise those here without a permit.) I like raising them for their eggs. These you can use several ways, but my favorite is to hard cook them and then shell and pickle them. YUM!

I would love to raise ducks, but they need a constant pond - less critical in frozen winter, but the rest of the time they do. The stream on this property is too far away for me to tend to daily. I still want to work on guinea fowl (yes, they are NOISY, but I can deal with their noise better than dogs barking all night long). Turkeys are a thought, but not a serious one here. Geese are downright nasty.

I am in the situation of deciding if I want to have larger mammalian livestock here, but I am getting older (turned 68 last month) and not sure I could handle wintertime needs of sheep, goats or alpaca. Haven't ruled out one of those species just yet, however. There are portions of my dreams I don't want to let die just now.
 
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They're fed, watered, and heading a-bed; and I got a few other things done, too.

I started my chickens for a few reasons: I always wanted a farm with livestock and other animals. Chickens are easiest to start with. I want to focus more on eating healthier food, food where I know what they ate and how they lived. I also think these chickens taste better - the supermarket stuff, even the organic birds, are slaughtered at age 6-8 weeks, and really lack flavor. WIth birds (I have had dual purpose birds and "broilers" that aren't your standard Cornish Cross supermarket type, the broilers take about 12 weeks and the dual purpose take about 17 weeks to mature to optimal eating size). They do taste better, even the white meat has good flavor.

Roosters can be eaten - did a two and a half year old one who suddenly started playing too rough with his ladies. You just have to cook this a lot longer, slow and low braising. I ended up sectioning him and experimenting with sous vide - he was fine at 17-18 hours at 158 F in the sous vide. So a lot will depend on how old your rooster is.

I started quail in the spring of 2020. I needed a COVID project, since human contact was going to be in short supply. I don't recommend them for meat, although they taste great, but they are just too small. (This is Coturnix quail, there are some types that are larger, but I can't raise those here without a permit.) I like raising them for their eggs. These you can use several ways, but my favorite is to hard cook them and then shell and pickle them. YUM!

I would love to raise ducks, but they need a constant pond - less critical in frozen winter, but the rest of the time they do. The stream on this property is too far away for me to tend to daily. I still want to work on guinea fowl (yes, they are NOISY, but I can deal with their noise better than dogs barking all night long). Turkeys are a thought, but not a serious one here. Geese are downright nasty.

I am in the situation of deciding if I want to have larger mammalian livestock here, but I am getting older (turned 68 last month) and not sure I could handle wintertime needs of sheep, goats or alpaca. Haven't ruled out one of those species just yet, however. There are portions of my dreams I don't want to let die just now.
Im in Canada. The greatest threat to everthing and everyone is geese. They are all about causing destruction. They have super cute babies that attract the unknowing person. They walk up to see the cute little yellow fluff only to get the wrath of the flock. Im certain they do this on purpose because they're evil.

OK, SOUS-VIDE....tell me about it. here in Canada they wanted $300 for a sous-vide machine and the nearest as I could tell is you stick a product in an air tight bag and boil it until the absolute perfect temperature. Take food, insert into bag, suck air out, seal, put into sous-vide. Sounds expensive, time consuming and like a lot of work. Is it worth it?
 

caseydog

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Im in Canada. The greatest threat to everthing and everyone is geese. They are all about causing destruction. They have super cute babies that attract the unknowing person. They walk up to see the cute little yellow fluff only to get the wrath of the flock. Im certain they do this on purpose because they're evil.

OK, SOUS-VIDE....tell me about it. here in Canada they wanted $300 for a sous-vide machine and the nearest as I could tell is you stick a product in an air tight bag and boil it until the absolute perfect temperature. Take food, insert into bag, suck air out, seal, put into sous-vide. Sounds expensive, time consuming and like a lot of work. Is it worth it?

We have several Sous Vide threads on the forum. Do a search on sous vide. Here is a good thread to start with.

Do you have a Sous Vide?

BTW, I cook sous vide, and love it for certain foods. You can get a good immersion circulator for about 100-bucks USD these days.

CD
 
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