Kirsty has been hatching new chooks regularly this season. Favorelles, Silver Wyandotte bantams, Coronation Sussex, and Brownies (OEG/Pekin cross). Still not that many, about 60 so far. But a big step up from keeping about a dozen chooks. I can’t imagine what would be involved keeping 500+ birds.
We have one large cage (3mx6m) which has become the grower cage. Normally we would only keep about 18 fully grown birds in here.
We have about 60 birds, aged from 2 months to 4 months. We don’t plan to keep this many birds at all times, the population will drop as they get older and we cull the roosters and sell birds. I expect that no more than 50 birds at varying ages would be optimum.
Initially water was the problem, the 7 litre waterer was running out about every 4 days. I installed a single automatic waterer and a 30 litre drum to feed it. This now lasts around 2 weeks.
As the birds have grown so have their appetites. Each bird will eat around 100grams daily, up to 150 as they get older and depending on the breed. So as a rough estimate, 60 birds will need 6kilograms of feed daily. The single hanging feeder is only be good for around three days. We need to at least get another one of these or come up with some sort of hopper system.
When we are at the farm we allow the chooks to range, which they enjoy immensely. At a rough guess they should be able to get about one third of their food from foraging.
I have constructed a simple hen house under the balcony at our suburban home. This cage can hold about a dozen birds temporarily and will be the clearing yard for birds that Kirsty sells. We will bring birds as required from the farm.
I have done some back of the envelope calculations and have determined that each bird costs about $5 a month to feed. So a point of lay pullet will owe you about $20. You can discount the price the younger they are of course. All up one would expect to net about $10 a bird. More if feed is supplemented by ranging them.
Selling 50 to 100 birds a year will not make us rich, but combined with fertile eggs, savings on meat by eating roosters and eggs and selling excess eggs at farmer’s markets it represents a modest but reasonable income stream.