Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us
by Dave Robinson
Originally published March 23, 2013
I just purchased 22 baby chicks in hopes of starting some kind of productive (and successful) poultry program. This is not my first attempt at chicken farming. (Or is it ranching?) The first year I started with nine and lost them over a period of months mostly to murderous raccoons. I woke up on the morning of December 24 and discovered the last five had all been killed the night before. Two months later, determined to get it right, I ordered another batch. (Did you know they’re shipped through the U.S. Mail?) This time I started with nearly two dozen chicks. Over the next several months they were slowly picked off by raccoons, but mostly by the neighbor’s dog. The final ones were killed sometime around the first of the year. This time I think I’ve got all the holes plugged in my fence and the neighbor’s dog seems to be no longer a factor, especially since mine weren’t the only chickens he feasted upon. No further comment. So maybe the third time’s the charm?
If you’re interested in disaster preparedness, then maybe you should consider chickens as a part of your plan. First of all once they mature, they provide a steady supply, and sometimes an overabundant supply, of fresh eggs. Everybody knows once you’ve had farm fresh eggs, it ruins you for the store-bought variety. A little bit like home-canned tuna versus store bought tuna. Some folks even get a rooster and work at hatching theirr own chicks, thus perpetuating your flock. No you don’t need a rooster to get eggs, only if you want those eggs to hatch into baby chicks. If that confuses you, then you need to ask your mom to review “the talk”!
Then some raise chicks especially to butcher. There are some varieties that gain weight very quickly and can be butchered in six to eight weeks time. Certain breeds are better for laying eggs, and still some are a good cross between both types. The feed store where I bought my last batch of chicks orders in the most popular breeds, among which are Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons. If you research what kind of chicks you want, the feed store will order them for you or you can order them directly and eliminate the middleman. Some hatcheries require a minimum order so if you’re just testing the waters, you may want to start small and buy from the local feed store. Another advantage to doing business locally is they have the waterers, feeders and the proper feed to start your little peepers. Most chickens start laying in 20 to 24 weeks so there is a pretty fair time lag to production. Once they start laying you might just wind up with more than you can eat so you’ll find your neighbors, relatives and fellow church-goers are happy to take them off your hands.
As always send your comments, questions and chicken stories to me at email@example.com.
Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.
additional columns by Dave Robinson