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Survival and Preparations Long and short term survival and 'prepping'.

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  #1  
Old 07-10-2012, 5:36 PM
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Default Raising Chickens for Meat

Chicken watch 2013 Begins on page 6, post #206



2012
I've noticed a lot of interest in the last few months about growing your own food in gardens and as livestock, so I thought some of you might like to watch the progress of our meat birds.

We currently have 5 Cornish Cross that we will be slaughtering within a week or two, which are the industry standard for meat birds in the US, they grow extremely fast and get very large( they make up 95%+ of the commercial meat chicken flock). Because of these characteristics and the way they are bread they have inherent problems, they usually will not live past 3-4 months of age and often will not make it that long, they grow too quickly for their internal organs. Not problems for the commercial grower.

That being said they are still a great choice for meat birds, however in this thread I will show you our experience using heritage breed roosters for meat over the coming weeks. We have decided to try heritage breeds because they can naturally reproduce, they are very good scavengers, they have no problem living many years if you don't get around to slaughtering them on time. Heritage breeds do take longer to get to slaughter weight and will not get as large as Cornish Cross, but supposedly have better flavor. We want to eventually breed our own meat birds.

I have grown up raising chickens for eggs and sometimes meat, in recent years we have decided we want to know exactly where all our meat comes from. So we are not new to chickens but we are new to raising heritage breeds for meat.

We ordered 25 roosters or various breeds from Murry McMurry Hatchery http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/index.html, they arrived at the post office on Monday July 9th at about 8:30 am. All chicks arrived alive and in great health, all were very lively and had lots of energy and where eager to eat and drink water immediately. The hatchery even threw in 2 extra meat birds and a "rare exotic chick" for free. So total of 28 birds, probably will keep the top hat chick that they threw in for free, so 27 meat birds.

All chicks are roosters, roosters typically grow faster than hens and will be slaughtering weight before they start crowing and fighting. And roosters are dramatically cheaper than hens.

We chose the following breeds based on much research, all of these breeds were popular choices for meat birds before the introduction of the Cornish Cross.
We have as follows:

5 Silver Gray Dorking
6 White Rock
6 White Wyandotte
5 Delaware
5 Dark Cornish

Feel free to ask any questions and I will do my best to help you, I am no expert but I have been around chickens my whole life.
Picture Taken 7/10/12 Chicks are 4 days old


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Last edited by toyotaguy; 04-13-2013 at 5:46 PM..
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Old 07-10-2012, 7:36 PM
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Old 07-10-2012, 7:39 PM
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Looking forward to a great thread. Thanks!
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:09 PM
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Couple of questions:
Would that many chickens be fairly noisy? Just the rooster(s)?
How many chickens can one have, or limited to roosters, in a city like LA?
Will they interbreed?
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:30 PM
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Good Luck on your endeavor. I have Black Giants and Rhode Island reds. We harvest the roosters out of a hatch at 8 months and we allow the hens to produce eggs for one complete year before harvesting. We incubate only because we get the birds a lot cheaper by collecting our own eggs. I have one or two hens a year that sneak off and have a clutch but they won't roost at night in the secure house and the fox and raccon have a pretty good harvest rate themselves.

We raise almost 80 percent of our meet and still drink unpastuerized milk. Flavors are so different than store bought.
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:33 PM
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Also, because you got better birds, the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids will be lower or equal to the amount of monounsaturated and saturated fats. It should also have higher protein content, if it gets to eat many bugs.
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georound1 View Post
Couple of questions:
Would that many chickens be fairly noisy? Just the rooster(s)?
How many chickens can one have, or limited to roosters, in a city like LA?
Will they interbreed?
Chickens can be rather noisy, although once you get used to them they are quite a hoot to watch and listen to, even the hens, they like to announce that they have just laid an egg or if something disturbs them, some breeds are much quieter than others and you may want to seek those out if noise is a concern. As babies you can hear them chirping from quite a distance and they like to talk alot especially if they are hungry or thirsty, when content they are fairly quiet, the roosters once they start crowing can be quite loud, your neighbors probably wouldn't be bothered by hens, but a rooster crowing at 5am may bother your neighbors. We lock up our chickens at night in their hen house and don't let them out until 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning so as not to bother our rental guests. (Roosters will crow at the full moon sometimes)

The limits on livestock varies city to city, so I dont know for sure about where you live, but some areas allow only hens, others dont allow any at all. However based on a quick google search, it appears that LA is chicken friendly! As long as the birds are at least 25 feet from your dwelling and 35 feet from any other building. I would call your local county extension office, or zoning office and check to be sure though. http://ucanr.org/blogs/losangelesagr...gname=chickens


By interbreed I assume you mean will the different breeds mix, and yes all heritage breed chickens(non hybrid) can and will breed with each other, if you want to raise your own chicks and keep them true to their respective breeds you must separate the hens from the roosters of all but their own breeds when you want to hatch the chicks, but they can live together most of the year except for a couple of weeks while you are letting the hens lay eggs fertilized by the specific rooster you want. You only need to separate the hens from the other roosters for like a week to get any fertilization from the others out of their systems.

If you don't care about keeping the breeds separate you can just leave them all together all year, some breeds are much better mothers than others and will hatch and raise their own young. Certain breeds will not hatch their own chicks, so incubators or hens of other breeds can be used to hatch those chicks. We have used both hens and incubators, i prefer using hens because they don't require electricity or your constant attention.
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
Good Luck on your endeavor. I have Black Giants and Rhode Island reds. We harvest the roosters out of a hatch at 8 months and we allow the hens to produce eggs for one complete year before harvesting. We incubate only because we get the birds a lot cheaper by collecting our own eggs. I have one or two hens a year that sneak off and have a clutch but they won't roost at night in the secure house and the fox and raccon have a pretty good harvest rate themselves.

We raise almost 80 percent of our meet and still drink unpastuerized milk. Flavors are so different than store bought.
Glad to hear we aren't alone!
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Old 07-10-2012, 8:52 PM
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Also, because you got better birds, the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids will be lower or equal to the amount of monounsaturated and saturated fats. It should also have higher protein content, if it gets to eat many bugs.
Also if you let them free range in grass or other green forage their meat will contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for you!
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:19 AM
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Definetly interested in this thread.

I have a question. Since you said the roosters are real loud I couldn`t have one in my nieghborhood. But I was thinking of just buying the chicks and raising them. How much do the chicks cost and where would I buy them?
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Old 07-11-2012, 6:25 AM
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I just got a few chicks this past March at TSC. They cost $2-3 each, as I recall. They just started laying last week and can be a bit noisy when they are working on an egg, but quiet most of the time. Ours are basically just for eggs and entertainment.

I am in a rural area and my neighbor has about 100 roosters (not for meat), they make noise all day and all night. I have gotten used to them over the past 15 years and honestly don't even hear them anymore. I guess it would be like living next to a freeway. After a while, you just tune out the noise of the traffic.
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Old 07-11-2012, 8:58 AM
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I have got a really stupid question that I have wondered about my whole life (off and on), but never bothered to research to find the answer. So, here goes: How are chicken eggs fertilized?
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Old 07-11-2012, 9:03 AM
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Originally Posted by toyotaguy View Post
Also if you let them free range in grass or other green forage their meat will contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for you!
I've been reading a lot about this lately! Rotating them amongst pasture also gives the land time to heal. Apparently they will stay close to their coop and will not run away, is this true? Here's a neat video I saw recently.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOpAjKE0cLk
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Old 07-11-2012, 9:03 AM
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In TEOTWAWKI, with no way to buy feed, do you think they could survive by scavenging bugs for food? It just doesn't seem like it's possible to raise chickens without buying feed...
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:01 PM
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Great topic!
Thanks for sharing.
I find this incredibly interesting, even though I doubt I'd try it. (but ya never know)
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by HokeySon View Post
I have got a really stupid question that I have wondered about my whole life (off and on), but never bothered to research to find the answer. So, here goes: How are chicken eggs fertilized?
Somebody screws them, hopefully a rooster.

Chickens are a great way to turn weeds into eggs. As a protein source, they are a waste of time, unless you have a couple hundred. I don't think any city person can imagine the amount of forage or feed that many chickens can put away.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:12 PM
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In TEOTWAWKI, with no way to buy feed, do you think they could survive by scavenging bugs for food? It just doesn't seem like it's possible to raise chickens without buying feed...
Actually it is very easy as long as they free range (on a side note of that, we have not had any rattle snake problems since we got the chickens either, I have seen my birds play tug a war with more than one). We toss our 22 birds some table scaps every now and then, but they do real well other wise. All of ours are Americanas, I went with that breed mainly because they can fly to avoid preditors. We currently have two hens that are nesting and so for 2 chicks have hatched in the past week, a first for us. We have not bought eggs in two years. We mainly raise for eggs, we have butchered two roasters, mainly just to then the flock a bit.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:18 PM
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Actually it is very easy as long as they free range



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Old 07-11-2012, 1:05 PM
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Old 07-11-2012, 1:51 PM
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Somebody screws them, hopefully a rooster.
So this screwing process occurs before the egg is laid? That was my main question. Thanks.
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:20 PM
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So this screwing process occurs before the egg is laid? That was my main question. Thanks.
Yes. The rooster mounts the hen and delivers his load.

The hen has a "sperm depository" within her egg construction assembly line.

The yolk is made first, then fertilized if available. Then the white and membrane is added, with the shell coming last just before laying. She completes this process about once every 24 hours during her prime. Pretty freaking incredible, actually.

If the hen has been fertilized, she may become "broody", meaning she will lay a bunch of fertilized eggs over the course of several days, and when done will begin to sit on them. The fertilized eggs will not begin to develop until they all reach a certain "broody" temperature. This insures that they will all hatch around the same time, even if laid days apart.

Fertilized eggs will not develop if removed from the coop and put into the refrigerator. They are just like any other egg when it comes to cooking and eating them.
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:26 PM
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Pretty freaking incredible, actually.
Having butchered some hens, it really is. They have 6-7 eggs in them at one time, todays, tomorrows, etc.
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MudCamper View Post
In TEOTWAWKI, with no way to buy feed, do you think they could survive by scavenging bugs for food? It just doesn't seem like it's possible to raise chickens without buying feed...
If raising for meat, some added protein would suffice. Chickens are omnivores, so there are lots of options.

For eggs, a steady source of calcium would also be beneficial (for shell creation).
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:48 PM
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I've been reading a lot about this lately! Rotating them amongst pasture also gives the land time to heal. Apparently they will stay close to their coop and will not run away, is this true? Here's a neat video I saw recently.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOpAjKE0cLk
In our experience the chickens can be easily trained to return to their coop at night if they are kept inside and get used to roosting in the same spot every night, our laying flock gets to free range in our yard several evenings a week, aside from the yard inside their coop. They will all go to bed before dark so there is typically no wrangling needed.

Many people let their birds free range all day every day, this doesn't work for us as my bird dog likes the chickens a little too much.

Video, Polyface farms does some really really cool stuff, and they have some great videos of the chicken butchering process from start to finish.

Last edited by toyotaguy; 07-11-2012 at 4:53 PM..
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:49 PM
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If raising for meat, some added protein would suffice. Chickens are omnivores, so there are lots of options.

For eggs, a steady source of calcium would also be beneficial (for shell creation).
The chickens do get a certain amount of calcium from eating green grass, plus they are more than happy eat their own egg shells after your done with them, as well as any and all table scraps.
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:56 PM
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Definetly interested in this thread.

I have a question. Since you said the roosters are real loud I couldn`t have one in my nieghborhood. But I was thinking of just buying the chicks and raising them. How much do the chicks cost and where would I buy them?
Female chicks usually cost $3-6 each depending on breed and where you buy them. You should still be able to find them at your local feed store, or your local tractor supply may have them, but it is getting late in the year for them to be in stock, otherwise you might try contacting your local 4h club and see if they know anyone selling baby chicks.
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Old 07-11-2012, 4:58 PM
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hey are more than happy eat their own egg shells
Yeppers.
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:05 PM
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The chickens do get a certain amount of calcium from eating green grass, plus they are more than happy eat their own egg shells after your done with them, as well as any and all table scraps.
Yeah...hesitant to give them egg shells in case they decide to peck the just-laid eggs. Although I guess I could grind up the shells and mix them in with the layer feed and they would never know where they came from.

They do like bananas, cabbage and other greens. Anything resembling fresh meat entering the run doesn't last long. Beetles, worms, frogs, snakes, etc.
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:10 PM
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in with the layer feed and they would never know where they came from.
Because they can't read?


Animals are cannibals. While we are at it., Fido will be has happy gnawing on my leg bone as any other. And I hers, if push comes to shove.
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:27 PM
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it appears that LA is chicken friendly!
Careful in LA, my brother in law (to be) had his rooster stolen from his yard.
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:35 PM
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If raising for meat, some added protein would suffice. Chickens are omnivores, so there are lots of options.

For eggs, a steady source of calcium would also be beneficial (for shell creation).
yep, we feed ours their shells right back to them, they eat them up like popcorn.

Last edited by xgi1991; 07-11-2012 at 5:52 PM..
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:38 PM
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Yeah...hesitant to give them egg shells in case they decide to peck the just-laid eggs. Although I guess I could grind up the shells and mix them in with the layer feed and they would never know where they came from.

They do like bananas, cabbage and other greens. Anything resembling fresh meat entering the run doesn't last long. Beetles, worms, frogs, snakes, etc.
they do not get the association, they will leave their eggs alone till you bust one in front of them.
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Old 07-11-2012, 5:55 PM
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Because they can't read?


Animals are cannibals. While we are at it., Fido will be has happy gnawing on my leg bone as any other. And I hers, if push comes to shove.
After watching our hens tear into a frog that wandered into the run, I told my wife they would not hesitate to eat US if the opportunity arised. Amazing animals.

Still, not encouraging them to eat their own eggs.
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Old 07-11-2012, 7:32 PM
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My uncle has a chicken farm, sells eggs where ever he can drive.
makes a few k a month.

Be careful of city ordinances, some cities dont allow chickens. theres a site called backayardchickens.com goto http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws/tag/64448/
http://www.batchgeo.com/map/5415c78a...37531ae6683df6
I went to my cities meeting and they told me they will need at least 6 months before even starting any study to move forward to allowing citizens to have chickens.

another uncle has a few hens for eggs, I just got a few chicks 1.5 months ago they are growing bigger and bigger.
My hens are pretty quiet though for now. I built a chicken coop 3x4x3 and a chicken run thats all enclosed with chicken wire.

Feed is about 20$ or so a month and can last 3-4 hens 1-1.5 months

Chickens eats bugs, good for your home area, chicken poop is good fertilizer, your eggs will be fresh, healthy as your chickens wont have growth hormones or steroids.
Rhode Island Red, Americana, and black astralorp
all lay 5 large brown eggs a week Americana lays 3 blue green eggs.


Last edited by Darklyte27; 07-11-2012 at 7:39 PM..
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Old 07-11-2012, 9:24 PM
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Thought you all might like to see our Chicken coop and our egg laying flock. They got to free ranger for a few hours this evening while the dogs watched through the screen door.


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Old 07-12-2012, 6:08 PM
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My son raises 5 hens in Oakland, 5 max hens no roosters. He would let them free range in the yard a couple hours a day. They removedmost vegitation within reach, No free range during vegetable growing season. My Grand kids love feed and collect eggs.

The sound they make is not a factor to the neighbors.
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Old 07-12-2012, 9:17 PM
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nice set up toyotaguy. how big is your lot ?
im in city limits in Livermore. we have 7 hens ( in livermore up to 10 allowed, no roosters), for eggs. we get between 2 and 7 eggs a day. my 2 kids eat 3 a day between them 7 days a week. we give away eggs to our frineds and family. a 10# sack of crushed oyster shell will last a long time. a 50# sack of Purena crumbles lasts about 6 weeks and we also throw them table scraps, but no chicken meat. they free range, and i just have my garden protected. i had to buy a pressure washer to keep the patio cleaned, I blast the chicken crap every few days. my great grandfather was a commercial egg rancher in the 1900s in hollister, my grandma says they had a flock of about 700-1000. he would deliver eggs all the way to san fran. we had birds when i was a kid growing in san jose in the late 70s and 80s. fresh eggs are so much better.

every few days i get the salad bar fixings the guys are throwing out from the cafe in my building in downtown san fran and cary home a glad trash bag full of greens on BART... the birds will eat it all in a day. i also dump all my lawn mover trimmings in my bird pen and they will eat it all in a day or 2.
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Old 07-12-2012, 9:26 PM
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Cool thread for sure.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:32 PM
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Another stupid question: if you are only allowed hens, how do the hens lay eggs? Haha do you have to rent a rooster for a few days to fertilize your hens?

Nice setup guys
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Old 07-13-2012, 3:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzz415 View Post
Another stupid question: if you are only allowed hens, how do the hens lay eggs? Haha do you have to rent a rooster for a few days to fertilize your hens?
Hens lay eggs until they run out, no rooster necessary.
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