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I didn't want to interrupt another thread on chickens, but we are looking at starting to raise, keep and utilize chickens next spring. They would likely be raised free range, with support, and would be for our or family use.

I'm wondering how people decided to keep egg and/or meat chickens and the number of chickens they decided to cycle?

Most of the coops I've research on-line were much smaller than I grew up around.

Thanks, Tom
 

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We have 3 chickens. From our chickens, we average exactly 2 extra large eggs a day. That is PLENTY of eggs for the 2 of us (wife and I). The breed we decided on was Silver Laced Wyandotte. They are sort of a dual purpose bird, but good egg layers most of all. They are also very cold tolerant, with short combs and a heavy build. From what I understand, they will lay for years compared to a pure egg layer like an isa brown. This is our 3rd summer getting eggs from them and they are laying as good as ever.

Our birds have a 4'x4' enclosed coop with an additional 4'x4' totally covered (dry) outdoor area. On top of that, they have a 5'x14' run. Half the run is shaded and the other half is sun. In the winter we tarp half the run for more outdoor area for them. We use straw in the winter and wood shavings in the summer inside the coop.

We let ours out to free range as well, but only when we are home. We live in the woods and have hawks, owls, foxes and even saw an eagle a few times. We've had a fox get a mouth full of feathers from one chicken once and have had a hawk dive down in the winter and get a couple feathers off another. Close calls for sure, but we've been lucky and are more careful now.

Along with free range, I supplement their feeding with barley sprouts. I highly recommend barely sprouts for an easy fodder to grow and it ends up being extremely inexpensive per pound. I also recommend watering them with poultry nipples. I hang a 5 gallon bucket with 3 nipples on the bottom. This keeps the water situation maintenance free for weeks at a time.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
 
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