Doubling Our Flock
A couple weeks ago we went and picked up ten chickens plus a coop from a lady here in town that couldn’t take care of them anymore. Actually, they were very well cared for, but she and her husband were having to do a lot of traveling due to an aging mother in Alabama. It’s usually pretty easy to find someone to take care of a dog – pretty much everyone has the experience necessary to let a dog out and fill up some dishes a few times a day. Even though chickens aren’t too hard to take care of, it’s definitely more of a tall order to get someone to come over and check on them while you’re gone.
We got a really, really good deal. $150 for the coop and chickens, which are less than a year old. Originally we asked about just the chickens and they wanted $50 for all ten. To be honest, we could’ve bought the chickens and then later that afternoon probably sold them all for at least $150. And probably $150 or $200 for the coop, because it actually is pretty well built….but we wanted the chickens.
They’re all a red hybrids, which tend to be very good layers and docile. We planned on getting some more interesting breeds this spring, but I was happy to get in on this deal. It also saves us the hassle of raising chicks this spring, which is kind of a pain in the ass.
Sometimes introducing two flocks can be tense, but honestly it was about as seamless as you could ask for. There were a few little dust-ups, but at this point both flocks coexist fairly well. There’s one “new” chicken that joined the old flock right away, so I have one group of 9 and then one group of 11 – although this group of 11 can divide into 5, 5 and 1 between my oldest chickens, the ones from last year that often hang together and then this oddball that joined up.
My older chickens have really slowed down egg laying over the winter, but these new ones are almost at an egg per chicken a day….so I’m getting anywhere from 10-14 or so eggs a day.
This is nice because for a while we’ve pretty much only had enough for our own consumption and had to buy regular eggs from the store for the dogs (they get one a day). Now we can feed the dogs and give some to the neighbors. I think this is an important thing to do because it keeps the neighbors happier about the fact my backyard is full of chickens and in a way makes them kind of involved in the process. The guy behind me often throws his spilled birdseed over the fence for them, they always come running whenever he opens his back door and comes out.
In addition to all the eggs we can get and a few for the neighbors, we’ll probably have enough to sell a dozen or two a week. While not a huge source of income or anything, it’ll help offset some of the cost to feed them, which isn’t too much in the grand scheme of things. A bag of food that will last the chickens about a week costs around $10 so selling the excess will cover about half of that. Then once spring breaks, they’ll be foraging bugs and plants most of the day and eating less commercial feed.
When I first wanted chickens, I wanted about four or five. That turned to ten. That turned to fifteen (then back to ten, thanks to predators) and now I’m up to twenty. Funny how those things work.