A Survivalist’s Guide To Keeping Chickens

By on August 15, 2014
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Before the dawn of battery farming and the industrialization of agriculture, it was common for people in both town and country to keep a chicken coop, provided they had enough space to build one. Nowadays, it’s rare to find hand-reared chickens in any urban area, after all what’s the point when a whole, fat bird can be brought in a store for just a few bucks? Raising chickens, however, can make a huge difference for the prospects of any determined survivalist, and takes only a little effort and expense to get set up.

It’s worth remembering that chickens should be kept in order of their eggs, not meat; at least until the bird becomes unproductive. No matter how varied a supply of canned, dried and preserved food may be, having a source of fresh eggs provides an excellent source of protein, minerals and energy, and also adds variety to the menu.

1A productive chicken can produce a couple hundred eggs per year, so even a modest coop containing a few birds will provide an adequate supply of eggs for a small family. Those in the countryside who also grow their own vegetables and herbs will benefit from having an endless supply of first rate fertilizer. Fresh, organic and easy to preserve (plus nice to barter with if things really go south), these eggs require only a handful of feed for the birds a day to produce.

Chickens are happier and more productive when allowed to roam during the daytime, but they need to be kept in an enclosed, fenced or walled off area. Come sundown, they will usually make their way back to the coop on their own or with a little shooing, but it’s imperative they are securely locked up overnight to keep predators at bay.

A good coop is simple to build; the easiest way to build one is to convert a shed or similar structure to a coop by replacing one side with good quality chicken wire which allows air to freely circulate (often, this is incorporated into the door as well). Chickens tend to hunker together quite snugly, so they don’t require too much space – just a few shelves with a little hay to encourage them to lie.

2If the birds are kept enclosed, use the wire to make a spacious roaming area outside of the structure so they can exercise. The exact dimensions depend upon the number of birds and available space, but try to aim for a couple of square meters roaming space per bird if possible. Scatter wood chips on the ground if possible.

Chicken feed is very cheap especially when built in quantity, but it’s likely there may be bigger priorities if space is limited. If so remember that chickens need the following to thrive:

Water – two cups per bird, per day.

Grains – oats, wheat or corn

Protein – insects and bugs (a big advantage in letting the birds roam)

Greens – spare vegetables, grass and weeds

Chickens aren’t too fussy, but they do need to eat plenty, so should feed be unavailable or, combine wheat with dried seeds, beans, oats etc. for a homemade solution.

The only downside to keeping chickens is that they make a great deal of noise if flustered; if your plan is to breed them, remember there’s nothing like cockerel making loud screeches to give away your position. If security isn’t a major issue, then keeping chickens should be near the top of any survivalist’s check list.

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