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2014 Grit's Guide to Backyard Chickens - coverChickens, ducks and turkeys are wonderful additions to any backyard flock. In a growing community, people in rural and urban areas are putting up a henhouse, building chicken tractors and incubating and raising chicks, all in an effort to be more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Considering chickens? Looking for new plans for a chicken tractor or coop? Hoping to find inspiration for your own chicken-producing niche business? The 2014 GRIT's Guide to Backyard Chickens holds the answer, and more.

The fifth edition of this popular special issue contains a bit of everything for both novice and experienced flock keepers. Turn the pages to learn the basics of keeping chickens in your backyard, find advice on how to incubate eggs and add to your flock, try recipes for eggs and grassfed chicken meat, consider using a deep litter management system in your coops, and to learn more about turkeys and ducks in a backyard flock.

You can also discover directions on building a cardboard brooder, a chicken feeder, a predator-proof coop, a portable chicken tractor, and chicken plucker.

A little something for everyone; click here to order your copy today!

DIY chicken tractor

Build the Perfect Chicken Tractor

These adaptable plans for a simple, inexpensive chicken tractor will have your flock freely foraging in no time. A "chicken tractor" is a portable enclosure that allows chickens to be rotated across a pasture in a controlled pattern. It also helps protect your flock from predators and provides shelter from severe weather. A viable chicken tractor must be durable, lightweight, animal friendly and inexpensive. Finding a way to balance all of these qualities to fit your needs is the key to building a chicken tractor that will work for you. Daniel Olson has all the information you need for the rewarding DIY project.

The Stanton brothersThe Eggs-traodinary Stantons

A pair of brothers on a family farm runs a large-scale niche business focused on local eggs and laying hens. Dustin (left), 20, and Austin, 17, run their own business on the Stanton Family Farm.

For the past couple of years, author Jack Wax has made a point of buying a dozen or so eggs from two young farmers who are regulars at the Columbia, Missouri, Farmers' Market. They looked like brothers, still in high school, earning a little extra money on their parents' farm. Jack was right about their ages, but he was completely wrong about the "little extra money" idea.

It turns out that the young farmers are the owners of Stanton Brothers Eggs, which, according to the USDA, makes them one of the largest independent free-range egg producers in the United States. Last year, the brothers raised 12,000 free-range chickens that laid upward of 1 million eggs.

Their philosophy is to find the demand for their eggs, and then create and build a supply. Their parents help out with the egg biz, and the sons swap labor in the field for milo and other grains for their chicken feed. The entire family is involved in egg gathering, washing and packaging.

roosting hens at the Stanton family farm 

 

DIY cardboard brooderChicken Brooder in a Box

An easy-to-make shelter for growing chicks has a few other benefits, too.

Raising chickens is not a new phenomenon, nor does it need to be difficult. The needs of chickens are relatively few: food, water, shelter. Ideally, that shelter will include a perch on which to roost.

Young chicks, though, have a slightly different set of requirements. In addition to food and water, they need to have an adequate heat source and be protected from drafts. Here's the catch. Baby chicks grow really fast, so you have to make sure your housing solution is large enough to handle them comfortably for the first few weeks.

Fellow backyard flock enthusiast Paul Gardener details how to make a brooder from cardboard boxes.

 

Quiche recipeCooking With the Backyard Poultry Flock

Your backyard flock keeps growing, and you have more eggs and chicken meat to cook with than you do recipes – or you did until now.

From her book, Homegrown & Handmade, Deborah Niemann offers a few egg and chicken recipes that will soon become family favorites. Try one of these delicious treats: Crème Brulee Pie, Quick Quiche, Stewed Chicken, Chicken Soup, Turkey Stroganoff, and more.

In addition, Jennifer Sartell, a blogger with our sister site, CommunityChickens.com, demonstrates how to debone a chicken, with helpful directions and photographs.

 

Backyard Duck Keeping Made Easy

Add waterfowl to your backyard flock for eggs, ducklings and entertainment.

A duck is hardier, lays more eggs, has a longer and more productive life, and is funnier and more charming than the popular backyard chicken.

Ducks are also messier, more willful, and require a different management style, but almost anyone who has ever been owned by a duck will agree that they are worth it.

Learn more about from a duck-owned homesteader, Heather Head.

 ducks in a row

Talkin' Turkeyturkey

Nine facts about the unsuspecting turkey that you might not know, from Jennifer Sartell, a turkey enthusiast with a penchant for research about her favorite birds.

When we first decided to raise turkeys, I thought it would be similar to keeping large chickens. And, granted, many things about their care are similar. But the personality of a turkey – particularly their quirky, gentle nature – is much different.

Did you know turkeys don't scratch? Or that turkeys dance?

Check out these turkey-isms that may surprise you.

 

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