Chickens !!!!

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Zasso Nouka
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Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

We just bought some more chickens to add to our flock and I thought it might be a good time to start a thread on them.

Here are the ones we bought yesterday, 12 female Okazaki Ouhan's and 2 male Nagoya Cochins.

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Once these are a little bit bigger and have more adult feathers they will join our flock living in the forest. We currently have three breeds of chickens.

Okazaki Ouhan
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These are a cross between Barred Plymouth Rocks and Nagoya Cochins, good dual purpose birds that lay plenty of eggs through the year and are also quite tasty when invited as the special guest to Christmas dinner. They are quite hardy birds and seem to enjoy the outdoor life, they carry on regularly laying eggs for the first three years and then slow down each year after that.

Nagoya Cochin
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Another dual purpose bird, lays somewhat less eggs than the Ouhan but they are an attractive pink colour. As a result of the slightly lower weekly egg production they do lay for slightly longer than Ouhans. They tend to be somewhat more placid than Ouhan's and they are also a little larger, maybe leaning slightly more towards meat than egg laying. They are definitely really tasty when roasted or deep fried.

Boris Brown
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These ladies are real troopers when it comes to egg laying, sometimes producing 8 eggs a week. They really only lay regularly for 2 years and drop off in egg production fairly rapidly after that. Boris's are also quite a bit smaller than the other two breeds but they should really only be considered as egg laying birds and aren't really for eating at all. I will say that Boris Brown's really are quite amusing birds following you around the chicken run and really keen to see what you are doing all of the time, for such small birds they really do have bags of character.

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

You are going to need somewhere safe for the chickens to sleep at night and lay eggs during the day. There are lots of good plans on the Internet but we opted for the Purina Mills coop. It is fairly simple to build and is raised up off the ground to protect from predators that can burrow and protects the plywood from rain splash.

We made a few modifications like making three sides hinged to facilitate easy cleaning and also constructed two which were bolted together and have since added a third module to accommodate our expanding flock. We also found it got a tad warm in their during the summer so added some shade netting over the totan roof
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You can easily adapt this design to the number of chickens you have and make it smaller or add several together for more chickens. We used pressure treated wood for the legs and also treated it with a wood preserver and then stood the legs on top of blocks so they weren't continuously in contact with damp soil
Purina Mills Plan.pdf
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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

One thing that became tiresome rather quickly was always having to be around to open the door in the morning and close it up again at night so we invested in an automatic door opener. At last the ability to have a lay in on Sunday mornings and not to have to rush home in the evenings if you are out somewhere and also being able to make onsen trips without worrying about the chickens.

There are quite a few different models available on the net, the one we ordered operates from a light sensor and batteries, I wouldn't recommend a clock based device or you would be continuously fiddling with the timer through the year. It also has an external light sensor on a short lead so that the device itself can be mounted inside the coop to protect it from the elements and it has several sensors that detect when the door is fully closed or fully open so switching the motor off.
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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Security, if you life where there are any predators and your chickens are fenced in an electric fence on the outside of a net fence can save a lot of heart ache. We've had a variety of energisers and friends found many of the Chinese manufactured ones for sale in Home centres to be fairly short lived. We also had a solar powered one for a few years but the cost of replacing the battery with a new good quality deep cycle one can be nearly as much if not more than the cost of a new energiser so we forked out for 100m of cable and trunking and bought a new New Zealand manufactured model that runs off the mains.
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This little puppy puts out 11,000v and I'd seriously urge caution if approaching it with wet trousers as it can deliver a very surprising shock to your tenderest parts when damp trousers touch a wire as I found out one time :o . That was one experience I'd never care to repeat, only I did a few weeks later :oops: but now only ever approach the fence with dry trousers.

Although these are quite expensive they should last for many years and get good reviews online. They can be ordered either from abroad or from http://www.farmage.co.jp/ up in Hokkaido.

A few safety points to consider with the recent tragedy in Shizuoka in mind. Keep the fence well away from rivers or streams and make sure there is a breaker fitted on the supply and also ensure you have some signs attached to the fence warning people.

Hawks can be another issue, we lost quite a few birds too them but at first couldn't work out what was managing to get through the netting and electric fence until we realised the hawks were merrily sailing over the top of both to feast on the chickens inside. They were obviously birds of good taste as they invariably choose Nagoya Cochins. The first netting we put up wasn't strong enough to prevent hawks from punching through it to reach the chickens inside but it was strong enough to stop them making a clean getaway and untangling a frightened hawk can be a painful experience without strong gloves, as we found out the first time. After replacing that with a much stronger net we haven't suffered any losses.

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by paradoxbox »

Hey there! Thanks for inviting me to this place.

I just moved to a rural area in Ome, Tokyo and I have a moderate sized plot of land (Around 11x40m) but with around 4-5 times that in unused land surrounding it, which I can probably negotiate to my own use after I get friendly with the neighbors.

Questions for you, how noisy are these things? I really want to have my own chickens for eggs and for the meat, but there are houses next door with people living in them and I'm guessing they're the thin walled old style Japanese traditional style type where you can hear a pin drop from a mile away.

How many do you recommend for a plot of land like my size? Ideally I'd like to have 1-2eggs per day, plus eat chicken once a week-ish, but I understand that might require a large flock of birds...still, would like to hear from someone who's doing it.

Also, what's the feed bill like per kilo? I.e. how fat is the bird when you take it for meat and how much in feed did it cost to get it there, and how long did it take to get from chick/egg to the plate?

Any trouble with raccoons, rats, foxes, inoshishi, other pests or diseases etc?

Where do you get the chicks, or are you incubating them from eggs? Are they naturally hatched or ??

Finally, how do you deal with winter temperatures?

Grateful for your response! Sorry for so many questions - I've never raised chickens before.

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by paradoxbox »

Should make myself clearer - I would like at LEAST 1-2 eggs per day, but I wouldn't mind having more and then just sell or give away the rest to my neighbors.

I'd also REALLY like to be eating chicken regularly - it is my favorite source of meat / protein so .. Yeah. How many chickens do I need to keep myself eating chicken a few times per week?

What's the cost of "day old chicks" and can they be shipped or do you have to go to some shop somewhere and pick 'em up yourself?

Thanks again!

James

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

paradoxbox wrote:Hey there! Thanks for inviting me to this place.
Glad you could join and thank you for taking the time to sign up, we really appreciate that.
paradoxbox wrote: I just moved to a rural area in Ome, Tokyo and I have a moderate sized plot of land (Around 11x40m) but with around 4-5 times that in unused land surrounding it, which I can probably negotiate to my own use after I get friendly with the neighbors.
Shouldn't be a problem, most folk seem quite happy to rent land they aren't using rather than see it completely abandoned. Once people get to know you rental prices seem to be very cheap indeed
paradoxbox wrote: Questions for you, how noisy are these things? I really want to have my own chickens for eggs and for the meat, but there are houses next door with people living in them and I'm guessing they're the thin walled old style Japanese traditional style type where you can hear a pin drop from a mile away.
Females tend to squawk a little immediately after laying an egg but that does vary from bird to bird, some don't make any noise at all others are a little more enthusiastic. Males on the other hand really go for it specially just before sunrise and then at random intervals through the day and boy are they loud, you can hear them quite some distance away. Like maybe up to a kilometre depending on terrain, we found that some folk in our village like hearing a rooster first thing in the morning but it might be a problem right next door as rooster really can be very loud.
paradoxbox wrote: How many do you recommend for a plot of land like my size? Ideally I'd like to have 1-2eggs per day, plus eat chicken once a week-ish, but I understand that might require a large flock of birds...still, would like to hear from someone who's doing it.
For eggs I'd go with maybe three or four Ouhans or Boris Browns, chickens like being in a group. Boris's give the best economy in relation to food consumed/eggs produced but they aren't a meat bird and likely to be quite tough with very little meat.

For meat you are going to need quite a large flock, 1 bird per week. Broilers grow quite fast and are ready at around 12 weeks but tend to be quite bland. If you really are interested in meat production and can find some land later on away from houses I'd investigate Sasso Chickens they are bred for flavour. Sasso ship worldwide but obviously check with your local customs office for importation procedures, it's often quite a hassle when you import something new the first time but subsequent shipments go through normally without a hitch.
paradoxbox wrote: Also, what's the feed bill like per kilo? I.e. how fat is the bird when you take it for meat and how much in feed did it cost to get it there, and how long did it take to get from chick/egg to the plate?
Currently chicken feed is around 1,180 - 1,380円 a 20 kilo sack from Home Centres with layers consuming around 100g a day but that can vary considerably if you supplement their feed with kitchen scraps and weeds. Also Boris Brown's eat somewhat less than larger breeds. Right now Komeri seems to have the cheapest feed but prices do vary between different stores.
paradoxbox wrote: Any trouble with raccoons, rats, foxes, inoshishi, other pests or diseases etc?
We have hakubishin, tanuki, anaguma, itachi, snakes, hawks and Hunting Dogs (during the hunting season) to contend with so for us a net fence backed up with an electric fence and mesh over the top of the enclosure is essential. If you a dog or houses close by with dogs then many of those predators might not be an issue for you, probably worth checking with your neighbours for what lives locally.
paradoxbox wrote: Where do you get the chicks, or are you incubating them from eggs? Are they naturally hatched or ??
Joyful Honda carry the three breeds we have, males are around 480円 and females around 1000円 but you can probably order online if there isn't a Joyful close by. We also hatch our own chicks or rather one of the hens decides she want to be a mother and starts sitting on a clutch of eggs and we leave her to it. We do replace the roosters each year so we don't have to worry about inbreeding problems.
paradoxbox wrote: Finally, how do you deal with winter temperatures?
Hasn't been a problem so far and it gets pretty cold here, they all huddle up inside the coop at night. You might have to defrost the water each day in winter.
paradoxbox wrote:Grateful for your response! Sorry for so many questions - I've never raised chickens before.


Honestly no worries at all.
paradoxbox wrote:Should make myself clearer - I would like at LEAST 1-2 eggs per day, but I wouldn't mind having more and then just sell or give away the rest to my neighbors.
Better to occasionally have more eggs than you need and your neighbours will love any you don't need, little gifts like that are really appreciated.
paradoxbox wrote: I'd also REALLY like to be eating chicken regularly - it is my favorite source of meat / protein so .. Yeah. How many chickens do I need to keep myself eating chicken a few times per week?
You'd need one or two chickens per week depending on how much meat you want to eat. A large bird such as a Nagoya Cochin would probably give the average family several meals or one very large roast if you were inviting friends or family over. Given the amount of noise young roosters make I'd look to renting some land away from any nearby houses and do that once you've been fully accepted into your local community.

Many people think chickens are going to be extremely smelly because of what they see with really large chicken farms so my advice would be start small and let folk become accustomed to free range chickens being practically smell free then slowly expand. When we first got ours practically everyone from the village wanted to come see them and they all said "They don't smell !!!! I thought they'd be really stinky" and then we expanded after that.

For slaughtering and preparing your bird for the table there are lots of instructional videos on Youtube that will take you through the whole process. We don't bother dipping our birds in hot water as we found the feather generally come out quite easily if done immediately after dispatching the bird.

General age Cochins & Ouhan males are ready for the table for us is around 5 to 6 months so that is quite a bit more expensive than shop bought chicken meat but the flavour is incomparable.

sorry, forgot to say don't feed young chickens layer's feed as it has too much calcium for their kidneys to handle and you can get kidney problems later. Cainz Home sell a full range of 20kg sacks of chick food that has gradually lowering protein content and doesn't contain excess calcium needed by laying hens.

Hope that helps

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Eric in Japan »

About chicken economics.
I had chickens and turkeys about five years ago.
I perhaps should have researched more, and built a more secure enclosure.
It was not economic for me, despite the free and cut price birds.
You can read about it here:
http://japanhomestead.blogspot.jp/search/label/Chickens

I got all my birds (except for the Hinai jidori) from http://www.piyokan.com/ .
She had lots of selection and gave me some male Plymouth Rocks for the cost of shipping.
"... so, the cucumbers said to the cabbage, `Lettuce Go.`"

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Awesome link Eric,

I'd really like to order a few male Plymouth Rocks from them as they form the basis for so many utility birds and it would be great to try some crosses with our current breeds, also it's really nice to support smaller breeders.

I do remember reading about your turkeys and was saddened when they disappeared, we also learned the hard way about providing protection from predators and lost quite a few birds when we first started. I'd always wondered where you got your turkeys from so seeing that link was fantastic, not quite sure how to make them pay but possibly with a lot of thinking it might work out.

As for the economics if you have enough birds selling the eggs alone can make a small but tidy profit. We sell nearly all of our eggs locally to regular customers and are currently increasing our flock with some another 12 females this autumn and another 10 or 15 in the spring because we have several potential customers who want our eggs but we can't supply enough. We found older folk like the fact there is a rooster present and will pay a good premium fertilised eggs, apparently they reckon those eggs have more 'power' or something.

Producing your own birds for meat is probably never going to compete with the supermarket but as 50% of the eggs that hatch are going to be males what else are you going to do with them and they do taste so much better than your average broiler. We found they are at their best from about 6 - 12 months, after that the meat is very tough and really only suitable for stock or slow cooked stews.

Would you give it another go ever ?

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Re: Chickens !!!!

Post by gonbechan »

Oh Eric, I love you long time for that link. They have horohoro chos.
I know we are far from having space for birds, but ideally when we do, I would like some horohoro cho around (guinea fowl).
They are really good with snakes and gang up on them and often just kill them.
Apart from that, they are the ideal veggie patch patrol bird.
They will not eat your greens, but just eat the bugs and also scare off things like takenoko dorobo.
They are amazing watchdogs.
Their eggs are a little small but still tasty, and the bird itself is very edible.
They are also monogamous, so an excess of male birds will not throw your flock out of whack but rather keep it in balance.
My dream is for a large, enclosed (read hawkproof) veggie field with resident guineafowl.
They are rather noisy though, so one would need some space between one and the neighbours.