Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Re-purposing a used Chicken

Well the inevitable happened. One of our chickens, the brown leghorn, went broody about 5 months ago. After several attempts to rehabilitate her, we made the decision to part ways with her. Here are the options we discussed.

1. Throw her in the trash. (Complete loss of a resource. We felt like the chicken might have opposition to this idea also.)

2. Compost her. (Partial loss of a resource. We felt like the chicken might have opposition to this idea also.)

3. Dinner. (Complete recapture of a resource though messy. We felt like the chicken might have opposition to this idea also.)

4. Let her sit on fertile eggs we buy for her. (We already have 26 chicks in the garage, not viable for us but the chicken loved the idea.)

5. Let her sit on fertile eggs for someone else. (Partial loss of a resource. Chicken loved the idea!)

A quick listing on, four offers to do business with people in third world countries to relocate their cars and/or complete a business transaction, and two offers for a broody chicken later, we shipped Swoope off to live with another family where she will hopefully be the proud mother of a clutch of Plymouth Rocks. We recouped half the expense for this hen this way and all parties including Swoope made out in the deal. Oh how I love to repourpose things. - Jason


  1. I am going to miss that little girl, but,
    all-in- all, a happy resolution to your problem!

  2. I know this sound crazy, but I read on another blog that the way to break broodiness is to lower the hen's body temperature. This is done by a dunk in cold water! I haven't tried this myself, but several others claim it works. (I think yours was a better solution though).

  3. What Pigs Don't KnowFebruary 25, 2011 at 3:42 AM

    Anonymous - Yes, a happy resolution for all, indeed! We feel like a weight has been lifted (do you know what a pain it is to go out to the coop & force a broody chicken out of a nest 10+ times a day?). Plus, her new owner couldn't be happier - we've contacted her and Swoope is sitting on "her" 6 eggs like a champ!

    Leigh - Right before we put the ad on craigslist I did yet another fact-finding mission and read about the cold water dunk. Somehow I had never heard about that before. I think in summer that may have been an option, but we have still have some quite cold nights (35-38ish) and I felt too bad to do it. I think if we hadn't had any responses we would have been forced to give it a go. The other thing is it seemed to me that it didn't work for most people - only a few of the many I read about had success. But yes, an option to try nonetheless. Thanks! -Carrie

  4. What Pigs Don't KnowFebruary 25, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    We felt like the chicken might have opposition to this idea also. - Jason

  5. Remind me again how many chickens you have and approximately how many eggs you harvest a week. Also, how much feed do they require? I'm still afraid of taking on the responsibility of chickens. I also have the problem of zero available space for them.

  6. .09 - All good questions. We encourage everyone to get a few. It sounds so cliche - but they really have brought alot of joy into our lives. We never expected that!

    To answer your questions:
    1)We now have (are you sitting down?) 33 chickens - up 30 from our original 3 we started with only 9 months ago. Of those many aren't of laying age. So we only have 5 that should be laying. I say "should be" b/c one (our Barred Rock) hasn't laid since October 1, 2010 - so no eggs from her for 5 months. Grrrr....... So we have 5 official layers, of which 4 are laying, and we get anywhere from 2 to 4 eggs per day.
    2)A small backyard flock of 3 or 4 chickens doesn't require a huge amount of feed. Especially if you supplement with kitchen scraps. I believe we went through a 50 pound bag of feed about every 8 to 10 weeks when we just had 3. A 50 pound bag of conventional feed costs anywhere from $8-$15, whereas an organic 50lb feed bag usually costs $40-$50. Huge difference.
    3) The day we brought them home I think we (at least I) kind of freaked out and was thinking - what in the world have we gotten ourselves into? But 3 backyard chickens is a breeze - it literally only takes less than 5 minutes per day to care for them, and probably an hour or so per month to clean out the coop. Nothing horrendous. And all of that poop makes great fertilizer after composting it - (most places say to compost chicken poop for 6 months to 1 year before placing in your garden beds).
    4) As for space, a few birds don't take up much. I believe the minimum is 4 sq feet of coop space per bird. Of course you should have a run (though the bigger the run probably the healthier the birds will be). I think the recommended space for a run is 10 sq feet per bird.

    There are many good books out there both on chicken keeping and coop making. I suggest getting some from the library.

    We've also written alot of posts about our chicken keeping - just click on "Chickens" under "Labels" to read more. -Carrie

    Oh, and one more thing: If your goal is egg production, in my experience and research the best chickens to get are as follows:
    Best (most productive) White Egg Layer: White Leghorn
    Best (most productive) Brown Egg Layer: Rhode Island Red
    Close second in the brown egg laying group are the sex links: Black and Red being most common. You will need to do your own research and decide what breed of chicken will work best for you. They have different personalities. Of course each bird is different, but in general as a breed some are known for being docile, some more hostile (both to people & other chickens), etc. Then again you may just want to go for specialty breeds b/c they look cool or are endangered.

    We personally prefer the sex-links. Our black sex link has been a consistent layer through the hottest and the coldest days; has very uniformly shaped large brown eggs; is a nice sized bird - not too big, not too small; has a great personality - not your best friend ever, but totally not afraid of you and will come to greet you when you walk up to the run.

    Good luck!