Lehmans.com has pretty much everything for the small homestead (including canning supplies) But more to the point... it has supplies for chickens. Punch "chicken" into the search engine, and go there!
Search their catalog:


The Farm at Morrison Corner

Type in "chicken feeder" good source of supplies for the patient
Omlet, the art of keeping chickens!
Very neat chicken housing for a micro flock

Did you watch the PBS show Frontier House?

Keeping Chickens; coops, chicks, eggs, supplies... everything you need to know to get started (without a panic attack) from the Farm at Morrison Corner.

Chickens have got to be the easiest, most forgiving, creatures for a small farm to manage. While any book you pick up on chickens would have you believe that they can suffer from any number of perfectly horrible parasites and problems, the fact is... there's nothing to them. They'll call the shabbiest accomidations home (a friend of mine kept hers in an old truck cap for years), make dandy pets, are virtually self-feeding during the summer... will even reproduce themselves for you, if you provide them with even the most basic shelter and protection for them to set in. What they won't do is make you money (beyond the scope of this site). But they'll more or less break even, and provide you with fine fertilizer, fresh eggs, and hours of cheerful entertainment. But... having said this, we've added a new Flock of Your Own: Sheep In Your Backyard guide to our sister site woolandfeather.com, join us there if you're interested in raising sheep.

PBS's Frontier Valley show aside, economics of keeping chickens are pretty dubious. The henhouse, is built for about a dozen birds (Department of Agriculture specifications) and cost us about $800 to construct (windows are from the cottage in Cabin Cam!). We've stuffed 20-24 birds into that space, and had some pecked birds because of it. Over the winter, 20 birds will go through a $6.85 bag of layer pellets in about 10 days, about $2.00 worth of cracked corn, and another $2.50 in straw. We sell the eggs for $1.00/dozen because that's what the grocery store charges for eggs. Ours are "better" but our customers can't afford to pay more, and if we couldn't sell them, we'd either feed them to the dogs or be forced to throw them away. Over 10 days, the hens produce about 12 dozen sellable eggs. Our "profit" is $.65, or about $2.50/month. Which doesn't cover the cost of new chicks, or any equipment which needs to be replaced.

Our economics aside, we have friends with a flock of about 40 birds who do make money with their birds. They charge $2.50-2.85 per dozen for eggs. During the summer they go to farmer's markets with their eggs, and any extra eggs are turned into 10 egg quiches, which fly off her table. They rotate their birds more often than we do, and she slow cooks the meat and turns it into chicken pot pies, which she sells from the freezer at her local grocery store.

So obviously, if you're willing to work at it, your chickens can make you money. But it takes her several hours a day to process her eggs into the products she sells, clean the coops, take care of the chicks, etc. It literally takes me less than 15 min a day to care for my flock, even when we're raising chicks. Making them the perfect addition to anyone's busy life.

After a couple of years of trial and error we've settled on 8 hens and 2 roosters as the right sized flock for our household. The two roosters are important. While you don't need roosters for hens to lay eggs, they provide an important role in the social structure of the flock, and if you don't provide a rooster, one of the hens will stop laying, and start acting like one! Again, a commercial operation would cull her, and cull the next one that did it, on down the line. But we like our roosters, they're colorful and have neat personalities.

Our roosters have defended the flocks from dogs, led them to safety in a storm, and are downright colorful little personalities. However, they do crow. Loudly, and with style. Something which might not be appreciated by your neighbors. We treat our roosters like pets, and our pet roosters stick around for quite a while.

During the Frontier Valley program they showed several disturbing images of slaughtering chickens. If the thought of killing your birds bothers you... don't! First of all, there is always someone who will take a flock of older birds for free because they do a dandy job of bug control, even if they aren't laying up a storm. Secondly, if you turn your birds into pets, do you really care if they are pumping out an egg a day? Probably not. So don't worry about it. We live in a very rural area and regularly there are ads offering flocks to give away or cheap... you are under no obligation to eat your chickens unless this is something you want to do.

We do eat our chickens... we don't eat our pets. So we have a couple of roosters who will probably die of old age. They're amusing, cute, and it isn't nice to eat your friends.

Let's start with acquiring a flock.

By request: how we slaughter birds

Visit Us... We're in Stowe, Vermont!

A Flock of Your Own: sheep in your backyard.

Now, on Ebay...

 

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