Chickens are easy to raise and keep. They are mostly quite (No Roosters Please) and are easy to handle. Most breeds are non-flyers. With so many breeds available you are sure to find a breed that appeals to your eye.
Ducks Are easy to raise and keep on a small homestead or in a backyard. They are quit and easy to handle. Ducks breeds range from the tiny ornamental breeds to the heavy meat breeds. Most duck breeds are non-flyers.
Geese Are easy to raise and some breeds can reach a mature weight of 20 pounds or more. Geese are noisy and the males can become aggressive. Most geese after reaching adult weight are non-flyers. Geese are not recommended for gardeners/homesteaders with small children.
Turkey Require more hands on attention while small. Once they are 4 to 6 weeks of age they are easy to raise. Some breeds of turkeys can reach a mature weight of 45 pounds. Turkeys can be noisy and toms are often aggressive. Adult turkeys are generally non-flyers. Small children and turkeys do not go together well!
Guinea fowl are easy to raise active and alert birds. Smiling.. they make great watch dogs. Yes they are noisy birds and are not easy to handle. They are flyers. Guineas will try to roost on the highest limb of your tallest tree if allowed to roam free. To keep them in your your run the run must have a covered top. Guineas are excellent at insect control. Ticks will never be found on a homestead if you have a small flock of guineas.
Buying day old birds. Is the cheapest and in my opinion the best way to establish your homestead/backyard poultry flock. A $2.00 or $3.00 chick beats the heck out of a $12.00 or $15.00 pullet any day of the week.
However to raise day old chicks you will need a brooder of some kind. Unless you plan to raise chicks ever year or two it may not be worth the money, time and effort to raise your own day old chicks into mature birds.
I have seen brooders made from everything that can be found around the house or farm. Cardboard boxes, large plastic storage containers as well as many well built wood and wire brooders. Brooder size is important. Your brooder must be large enough for the number of chick you buy as well as having room for water and feed containers.
After you have decided what you will use as a brooder you will need something to cover your brooder top to prevent chick from jumping out of your brooder. Don’t be fooled by their size. Chicks can jump much higher than you think they can.
Last but not least. You must provide a heat source to keep your chicks from getting chilled and dieing. Use a good quality thermometer and set your heat source so the temperature 1/2 inches off the floor is about 97 or 98 degrees. Low temperatures can chill and even kill your chicks and will also hinder digestion of their food. Brooding Temperatures for Poultry Thank You ‘Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’ website.
* Don’t panic about getting your brooder temperature perfect, if your brooder is large the chicks will move closer or move away from your heat source seeking their comfort zone.
Hint 100 or 150 watt ceramic emitter heat bulb – Cost about 12.00 to 15.00 each.
*The main advantage of ceramic heat emitting bulbs is that they will last 4 or 5 times as long as ‘standard’ heat lamp bulbs.
150 to 250 watt heat lamp bulbs – cost about $3.00 to $5.00 each.
Murry McMurry hatchery Is a great source for full color pictures and a short description of many breeds of poultry.
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