Chickens are awesome, and not for just living in the country. There are a ton of benefits beyond just getting eggs everyday, but those are good too.
I recommend everyone try having chickens at least once not only for all the things they can do for you, but for the life experience and skills they give you.
Give this episode a listen if you are curious what you can get beyond eggs and meat from owning and raising chickens.
If you prefer to watch:
Hello and welcome to the 18th episode of the BudDIY Podcast. I’m your host Buddy Lindsey. Today, we’re going to talk about have you ever considered getting some chickens either a lot or a little bit? But before that, if you haven’t visited the website and subscribed to your email newsletter, do that at buddiy.net and just subscribe on the homepage there. With that, let’s just jump into what’s been going on this week in the shop. Well, I have finalized my two projects. I got my wife’s table in the house and it is set up and it looks really, really nice. I think it’s going to work out really well. We’ve actually decided to expand it a little bit and create a couple of stools at some point and then it can kind of be a place for the girls to eat when they get a little bit bigger.
On the other project, I got it done finally with the third project in The Weekend Woodworker Course and that is the paper tray. I actually have that in my office currently, and I’m using it for exactly what I wanted to use it for, just a couple of miscellaneous papers and then just to catch different remotes that I have in my office and other various little things. I just dump in there and I can move it around at will. It’s working out really, really nice. The thing I’m not really a fan of is that it’s made out of oak, but I wanted to follow the instructions on the video. I probably would do it at a walnut again if I did it again and give that a go because I liked that darker look better.
I ended up going with a lacquer finish on it like in The Weekend Woodworker Course. I’m not 100% sure what I think about it. I think that the glossy look on the oak just doesn’t like pop as much as I personally like. I’ll just have to try to figure it out from there. I’m definitely going to try lacquer again in the future. Just not 100% sure what I think, but definitely check out my Instagram this week as I have a series of pictures and then a final build video on Friday that’s going to come out. Looking forward to that. The other thing that I’ve done is I went ahead and ordered my SawStop.
I am getting a three horsepower professional cabinet saw that has 36 inch extension-fence on it and I’m going ahead and just going to plunk out the money and get the foldable outfit table with that as well so that I just don’t have to worry about trying to make something, which is going to save time and energy at the moment just to get that done. I’m hopefully going to get that this week and going to put it together. I’m hoping to kind of make a full length video on all the steps that I had to go through to put together the SawStop and I might actually put that on YouTube, which also leads me, I have done an IGTV, Instagram TV, build video of the table I made for my wife. I’ve actually decided at some point this week I’m going to upload that same build video to YouTube.
Now, it’s not the greatest video in the world because I didn’t actually intend to do that, so some of the shots aren’t that great and some of the selections aren’t that great because I didn’t have good video available of it. However, I have had that intention to do both with the paper tray build. I think it’s actually lot better of a build. It’s going to be a lot better of a video as well. It’s actually not all that long and I think it’s going to be fun to watch. I’ll post those both on YouTube and Instagram TV as well just to see what goes on. I figure, if I’m already creating the content, why not upload it from multiple places for people to consume it as well? That’s going to be fun and I’ve actually learned a lot in doing so. This week was kind of fun, kind of intriguing, kind of exciting.
I got stuff done. I’m moving on and getting a new tool, so that’s going to be interesting. This next week is going to be all about getting that tool up and running and dialed in and hopefully creating some really good stuff so that I can start on the next project, which is a table. It’s a coffee table that I’m going to modify for our girls. With all that said, let’s go ahead and jump into our main segment and that is have you ever considered getting chickens? Chickens are actually really, really cool. With the coronavirus and quarantine and all this crap going on recently, it’s brought back kind of a resurgence in people doing gardening as well as getting chickens.
I know that several hatcheries around our area, and when I say around our area, I mean, within five or six hours, have basically had a huge demand on chickens like never before. People are getting into them more because they’re a great animal to have and to actually keep and utilize. They’re great. I didn’t realize how great chickens were until I actually started researching them and understanding the ways and the people use them now. I don’t know if I’ll ever not have chickens because they’re just so awesome. Once you get going with them, they’re so little work as well, but they just have a lot of benefits. With that, I’m going to go through a few things that I find that I think are great about chickens.
The first one is the most obvious and the thing I think a lot of people jumped to right away is you get eggs. Eggs are great, getting that constant supply of fresh eggs. Depending on if you’re free ranging or depending on the feed that you’re getting, you can get really highly nutritional eggs that are a lot better than the store bought eggs. The other really cool thing about chicken eggs is if you don’t wash them right away, you can actually just leave them on your counter for a month and they’re not going to go bad, whereas you can’t necessarily do that when you put them in the fridge.
It’s because whenever they come out of the chicken, there’s this coating on them that you can’t see and you can’t feel it or anything, but it’s on the outside of the egg and it keeps the porous shell from accepting anything to come into it. Whereas when you wash the eggs, it kind of gets rid of that layer and now the shell becomes porous and so now you need to refrigerate them to keep them longer. It’s great to walk out, get the eggs, put them in a basket, and then just put them on the counter in the house and use them as we need. I know we personally have about 17 chickens, so we’re getting a little over a dozen eggs a day. Yeah, that’s a lot of eggs. We kind of store them not just on the counter, but we also have other storage as well. When we get to them, we just rotate through.
We eat the oldest first. The other thing that chickens are great of is something that everyone does all the time and that’s for meat. Especially raising meat chickens is a great thing to do and you can actually do quite a bit In urban, suburban environments to raise meat chickens because really the breed that is used most commonly for meat chickens is called the Cornish Cross. They grow from being a little baby chick to full size ready to process in eight weeks. You’re just like boom, boom, you’re there. It’s only eight weeks of effort. I know in the biggest city closest to us, you can have up to 20 chicks under eight weeks at a time in the suburban area. That means over that eight weeks you can raise 20 chickens in your backyard and you can do three sets of those a year.
You can raise and process 60 chickens a year, and you could have a fresh pasture-raised in a sense chicken one day a week that you raised. You’re not only going to save yourself a lot of money, but you’re also going to have a lot more of a nutritious chicken that you’re going to eat than some of the stuff that you would buy at the store. Plus, it makes you more reliant upon yourself instead of the food system. As we saw from the coronavirus, you can put a lot of stress on the food system if just one thing happens and everything kind of just disappears overnight. You can become more self-reliant on your own and just do the chickens yourself. That’s another thing I really like, but you don’t necessarily have to go the meat chicken route.
That was just something that I chose to do because I didn’t know if I wanted chicken, so I started out with a batch of meat chickens because it was an eight week process. I knew if I hated chickens after eight weeks, I never had to deal with them again. But I ended up liking them and continue to do laying hens and meat chickens as well. But that’s also not to say that you can’t use your chickens that you have laying hens because most chickens will lay about a thousand eggs over their lifetime, most of those in the first two to two and a half years of their life. After that, you’re going to spend more money trying to produce eggs than you would actually get back in savings from the eggs. Generally, at two and a half years is about the time you want to cull your flock.
When you do that, you get a bird that you would want to eat at that point. However, it being so old, it’s not going to be the best tasting, tenderest chicken you’ve ever had. What I’ve seen online is a lot of people put them in soups and stews so that they cook for a really, really long time and they become super tender for you to actually eat. You get the flavor of the chicken and other stuff into the chicken as well. It generally goes pretty good. I’ve not gotten that far along in my chicken raising journey, so we’re going to see how that works out, but that’s just something that I’ve read online specifically. Most of the stuff I’m talking about now I am going through personal experience. This is firsthand knowledge.
That particular piece on what to do with two and a half year old chickens is something I’ve read online. Another element and the great thing about chickens is they’re actually kind of entertaining. Little kids love them and they’re a lot of fun to just kind of watch and see what they do. I mean, most of the time though they just scratch the ground and eat bugs and other stuff, but hey, they’re kind of fun to watch do that, especially when a bug flashed through the air and they’re like, “Ooh, what was that,” and they start chasing each other trying to get that bug. They’re just a lot of fun to watch. Depending on the breed that you get and depending on how social you are with your chickens, they’ll actually act like pets and kind of just jump up in your lap and let you pet them and feed them out of your hand.
I’m not that social with my chickens because I have so many, so I don’t have that except they know who I am and that I have food, so they really, really like me. I’m just not a chicken petting person. I kind of made it through some of the surface level things that are kind of the more known and more understanding things. Now, we’re going to get to some of the utility side of chickens. This is the part that kind of goes like pooh, like blew my mind that this is something that existed with chickens that I had not known anything about and that it turned out to make them great to have. The first one is scratching as they actually kind of aerate your lawn a little bit. Because of how chickens eat, they scratch the ground, look inside, they see what’s there, and they eat what’s there.
They scratch a little more, look at what’s there, and they eat a little more and then they move forward. Scratch, look down, eat, move forward. Over an area they’ll just scratch up an area. You won’t necessarily notice it unless you leave them there too long, but it help aerate that land and kind of open it up so other organisms can get in there, more oxygen can get in there and other things can happen. Just really help your land and help your property by doing that. Without keeping everything so condensed on all those grasses, it lets things flourish more and get more like water penetration and nutrient penetration into the system, into your grass, and into your ground so you have a better lawn for it afterwards. The other part on the scratching is fertilizer, chicken manure.
They poop it out and it kind of soaks into the ground. When the rain comes, it kind of dissolves the poop into the ground. After they’ve scratched in that area, that nutrient that’s there is going to soak into the ground and add more nitrogen to the ground and help everything grow just a little bit better. If you rotate your chickens through your property and let your ground rest, over time you’re just going to build up a really nutrient rich grass and system in your yard. It’s just going to look amazing. The only thing you have done to get this great yard is you have fed chickens and eaten eggs. Pretty awesome in my opinion. It’s super, super duper cool and like didn’t realize how amazing chickens were in that process.
The next thing is with the scratching and fertilization of an area is you can actually use them to clean out your garden beds. Last year, we had nine month old baby and we just kind of were like, “Uh, so tired.” We just let the garden go. We just let it grow up. I mean, we had grass and weeds and stuff that were like four foot high and we’re like, “There’s no way these chickens are going to take care of it.” We were wrong. We put our perimeter fence, our electric perimeter fence, around all of the beds and put the chickens in there. They had so much fun going through and they cleared that entire garden bed of everything and got it down, fertilized it. It was amazing. We didn’t have to go out there and by hand pull all the weeds and get it all trimmed down like we were afraid we’re going to have to.
The chickens did it, and the only thing we did was give them our table scraps and the food we buy from the feed store. Super amazing. Plus, again, they’re fertilizing your garden bed while they’re cleaning it up for you. Amazing use of chickens. We’ll definitely be doing that every single year that we have a garden. This year we’re doing better in our gardens so far. Let’s hope we keep that. But again, the chickens are going to be used at the end to continue to clean it out and provide their extra fertilization. The other side on the fertilization is we raise our chicks from baby chicks. Another thing that we did was we took all of the pine shavings that the chicks laid on and they would poop into and it would start doing like…
We started breaking down those pine shaving because it’s nitrogen and carbon putting together. That means we’re starting to get compost out of them. That’s really cool because you can compost with the off waste of the chickens as well. All of that stuff we just kind of dumped into the gardens and added more mulch to it and added a bunch of water and it composted everything down to add more nutrients to our garden. Our garden is actually doing really well this year. We also have another compost area that we have and we’re just adding stuff to that to build up compost. Another thing you can do is you can get a big blob of mulch, throw some of your scraps from your house in your garden into that mulch, let it sit there for a couple of days, and then let your chickens in there.
They’ll scratch and spread that mulch around and they’ll poop in there and do all their other stuff. It’ll start doing a compost of that as well. You just kind of mush back all of the mulch again and let them go spread it out again. Over time, they’re basically working your compost pile and creating compost for you to put it in your bed or put it in other places so that you can have good high nutrient soil wherever you need it. The only thing you’ve done in this case ever wise was feed your chickens, move them, and put some mulch for them to spread around. Super amazing. High efficiency in being able to spread nutrient around your yard and the areas that you need it. Another one of the benefits I kind of hinted on earlier is chickens eat bugs. They eat insects.
They eat little bitty snakes too. They eat anything. Not only will they eat bugs and other things like that that you don’t necessarily want, they’ll even eat wasps if one will fly down and they can catch it. They keep your tick and bug population down and kind of is a natural predator to that, but they’ll also eat your food scraps as well. You can actually reduce your costs of what you feed them by feeding them all the scraps or most of the scraps that you have that come off of your table. We do. We take all of the excess vegetables, some of our leftovers that we didn’t eat, put them in a bucket and dump it out for the chickens. They eat it right up. Same thing with your eggshells.
If you’ll just crush them up, put them in with the thing and put them out there, they’ll eat those and it gives them good extra calcium. You don’t have to go buy any calcium supplement if their eggshells are getting a little weak. Lots of things that you can do. Chickens eat almost everything and there are tons of ways to supplement their feed and just making them all that more productive and help save you time, money and effort in a lot of different areas. I am super excited that they help also eat the bugs and keep the bug population down. The final thing that I want to hit on that chickens can provide and that is a second side income so that you can supplement not only what you’re doing with chickens, but maybe make a little bit of extra money.
Let’s say your family would need say three eggs a day and that’s about all you need. You’d probably want to get about five chickens. Well, if you’re an area that can allow more chickens, then you might get 10 chickens and then you might sell all those extra eggs and that will help cover the cost of feed that you might have and make your chickens basically free at that point. Not only do you get all the benefits that I mentioned more that all costs money to do individually, but now you’re doing it all for free just with a little bit of effort on your side, or you can take and you can raise meat chickens. Say you want to do meat chickens and you want 60 of them, so you get say 90 of them, and you sell 30 of them for some cash.
You basically can sell that in such a way that it negates all the costs of the 60 that you raised as well. You can negate all the costs. If you want to go bigger even, you can start selling it and you can make a profit as well. Another thing that you can do is you can start little baby chicks and let them grow out after a few weeks and then you can sell them to other people for a little bit of a profit because a lot of people don’t necessarily want to start them from chicks. They’re not that bad to start. Starting chickens as chicks are not hard at all. It just takes a bit more effort than what it takes at the end as they get a little bit older, but it’s another way that you can make money.
Another possibility is that you can hire out your services if you learned how to process chickens and people can pay you to come process chickens for them on their farm or at their house. That way they don’t have to deal with some of the stuff around that. There’s opportunities here and there to be able to make a little side income as well and spread how amazing chickens can be. It’s a win-win-win-win for everybody. Plus, it helps you engage with your community more and it helps you to be more self-reliant and people around you be more self-reliant too. Again, you don’t have to worry about the food system that exists. You can do this all yourself. Finally, let’s get into kind of what does it take to take care of chickens, how much time. In reality, it doesn’t take all that much time.
Most of your time that’s going to be taken is you learning in the beginning. That’s it. I know I spent a year learning about chickens before I actually got any, and I don’t feel like I should have taken that long to actually jump into it. There were some certain situations in when I was going to start that caused me to wait a year, but in reality, most of what I needed to know I could have learned in about a month reading stuff off and on online. The biggest learning experience was just jumping in and doing it. That’s where I learned the most of everything that I needed. I just jumped in, did it. I was all the better for it because now I know how to do it. It’s a repeatable step. It’s just something that… It’s a skill set that I now have and I’m definitely going to continue to use.
As of today how much time do I spend? I spend about five minutes a day, we’re dealing with the chickens every day, and that’s it. I get up in the morning. I go let the chickens out of their coop, and I make sure they have water. I give them their food. That’s it. They’re done. Then at night I go out there, I make sure they’re in their coop. I go out just slightly after dark, lock up the thing because they’re already in there and boom, I’m done. Sometimes I go out and midday to collect eggs. Sometimes I’ll do it first thing in the morning. It just depends. I’ll get eggs as well. I’ve developed a little bit of a process so I reduce the amount of contact and stuff that I have to do. Then about every two weeks I actually move our chickens to another part of our property.
I have an electric net knitting fence that I just kind of move. Yeah, it’s great. That takes about 20 minutes. 20 minutes every two weeks, 10 minutes a week, so you’re looking at 40 minutes a week to deal with the chickens. To me that’s a great return on investment with the amount of eggs that we get and all the other benefits that I’ve talked about. It’s just totally worth it time wise and financially to have chickens. Lastly, let’s jump into some of the downsides of having chickens. One is you now have chickens, you now have an animal, you now have a creature that is relying on you. What that means is you don’t necessarily get to go on vacation just at the drop of the hat. You can’t necessarily leave for a weekend right away, unless you have a few things in place for that to happen.
Some people have automatic feeders and automatic open and close on their coop, depending on the time of the day, and they have a constant feed of water in their stationary chicken coop. That means they can leave for a few days and they don’t really necessarily have a problem. Us, we move it around for a week so we get a lot more of the fertilization benefits. We live on two acres of land, and so it’s kind of a different equation. I have to pay somebody to come over a couple of times a day and take care of them. Not that big of a deal, but it is something to consider you.
You do lose a little bit of your freedom, but you gain a lot more in my opinion than the hassle of trying to find someone to come watch your chickens two times a day because it’s totally doesn’t take a lot of time and most people can take care of it. One of the other downsides is it depends on what you want to do with the chickens when they die or when you need to process them. Fortunately, you can compost the chicken when it dies, if you walk out one day and a chicken dies because death is a part of owning animals. I came out one day and I had a full sized chicken, it was just dead. No idea why. I looked the chicken over, couldn’t figure it out. I don’t know why it died. It just did. I went and put it in a compost pile and it turned into compost, which turned into more fertilization.
That is a downside is what are you going to do? The other side is when you’re ready to process chickens, what are you going to do? Are you going to do it yourself, or you’re going to hire somebody to come in and do it, or you can take it to a facility? Unfortunately, based on regulations in the industry, processing industry, it is really hard to find somebody that will do a small amount of chickens. If they will, they will probably charge you quite a bit per bird quite a bit. It’s not like $30 a bird. It’s like $4 bird instead of $2 a bird. Because to meet all of the regulations that need to be met, they have to have a really, really, really big facility in a lot of cases to handle a lot of processing. It just costs a lot of money, and so they need to charge.
What they want is they want to tie some chicken. They want to be 50,000 birds a day through their process so that they can maximize their income. There are smaller people that will do it. You just have to find them. Sometimes they’re easy to find. Sometimes they’re hard to find. It just depends on your area. I know several of our local places have gone out of business. The other side is you can go the route that I go and you can process them yourself. It’s not actually that bad. It sounds worse than it is. But the thing is you are taking the life of the chicken yourself, which in all honesty I recommend because you know when you do it you’re going to do it right. You can learn the way to do it where they don’t feel any pain.
Basically they just kind of go to sleep and they just pass on and they’re not going to feel pain. Then you can make sure to process the chicken the best way you know how. Whereas if you take it to a processing facility, they don’t necessarily do it the best way. I recommend doing it yourself, learning how to do it. Plus, you now have a skill that you can hire out if you need to or you have that skill and you know how to do it. You have more respect for the animals when you care for them and take care of them and eventually take their life and eat their food. You just have more respect and more understanding of that animal. That is a downside of having chickens because you have to deal with that eventuality. However, again, it’s not really that big of a deal.
Once you’ve been through it once, you understand you have an understanding of what’s going on. With that, I think we’re done with our chicken section. I highly recommend chickens. No matter what you do, no matter how you do it, no matter how many you get, definitely check your local regulations to see how many you’re allowed to have because chickens are weird in the whole space of regulation. Some places are super highly regulated because they’re farm animals, like what the crap, they’re a bird. You know? In other places they’re like, “I don’t care.” It really depends. I definitely think they would be a great addition to your household for the many benefits that I have brought up. They’re a great DIY thing to do and you can help educate other people about them as well because they are an amazing animal.
They’re an amazing bird. They are dumber than a box of rocks as well, which also has its own entertainment value, but they are an amazing animal when you put them to work, doing the things that you need them to do that I’ve outlined today. On that note, let’s jump onto the final segment and that is my failure of the week and that would be on my paper tray. I was actually making two paper trays at one time. One was out of pine and when one is out of oak. The pine one was my test piece. When I got really close to the end, I was like, hey, this is cool. I have an extra one. I think I’ll stain this one like a walnut or something, so I can have a dark colored one because I prefer that darker hue to my paper tray.
I was doing the last couple of cuts, which is to do 45 just to add a little extra flare to the paper tray, and I did it and I’m like, oh, that’s a little too much that I have on there. I moved the saw a little bit what I thought was the right direction, did the other side, and man, it took a lot of material, a lot more material than I wanted it to. I just totally ruined it. Fortunately, I did it on my test piece before I did it on my final piece, but man, that really stunk because I was kind of hoping to have that second piece. I still look at that paper tray every now and then, seeing how I could maybe figure out how to recover from that. We’ll see, but it’d be really cool if I could figure that out.
Yeah, definitely I think what I did is I had an assumption in my head on what was going to happen when I moved the fence one way or the other and I took the time to figure out how I was going to cut because that’s what I was concentrating more, trying to make a safe cut. I didn’t take the time to fully think through how much material was going to be cut off whenever I made the cut that I was going to make. It’s a measure twice and cut once situation in this case. I didn’t measure and I just went for a cut. Live and learn. I’ll do better next time. With that, I thank you for your time. I thank you for your attention. Visit the website at buddiy.net. Subscribe to us on YouTube and be sure to subscribe to us in your podcatcher of any sort that you have, and we’ll see you next time