Many urban farmers are turning to raising chickens as a way of improving their health and the health of their urban farm. Eggs from well maintained backyard chickens are healthier and better tasting. They contain significantly more Vitamins A and E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids than factory-farmed eggs. Backyard chickens act as natural pest control by eating insects and their droppings are rich in nitrogen. The droppings are a great source of nitrogen for your compost bin.View items...
Backyard farmers with a large available space are turning to raising turkeys for meat and eggs. The modern domesticated turkey is a large poultry bird that readily converts foodstuffs into muscle and grows to a large size. Turkey eggs make excellent table fare; however, they are not commonly sold as food. Turkeys have a lower egg output than other fowl. Backyard farmers interested in only eggs stay with chickens due to their smaller size, lower food requirements and higher egg output. Turkey eggs from industrial farms are used by commercial hatcheries to produce more turkeys. Industrialized farming has made fresh turkey meat inexpensive and readily available. That said, industrial farms are no solution for those interested in an environmentally friendly, sustainable supply of high quality food.
The primary commercial turkey breed is the Broad-breasted Whites. Other breeds of turkeys include Broad-breasted Bronze, Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Slate or Blue Slate, Black (“Spanish Black”, “Norfolk Black”) Narragansett, Chocolate, Beltsville Small White and Midget White.View items...
My niece, Lara (Fox) Gurney, has been raising pedigreed rabbits for many years. For personal reasons Elise has decided to get out of the rabbit raising business. Elise is a true expert on raising rabbits - with working knowledge of rabbit breeds, breeding, health and medical care and so forth. She would love to help others in the family raise rabbits. Elise has 6 cages, 5 nest boxes, water bottles feeders and much more for sale. If you've thought about raising rabbits this is a great opportunity to get started with equipment and help from a true expert. You can contact Elise by phone or text at (801) 491-8272. She has an ad on KSL classifieds. Here's a link to that ad http://www.ksl.com/?nid=218&ad=19976698&cat=&lpid=&search=8014918272 She also has information on her FaceBook page.
Many cities allow residents to have chickens in their backyards. It is pretty easy to care for them during the warm months, but what do you do with them during winter?
There are so many chickens in Utah cities, KSL TV did this report to help people learn to take care of them during the cold months. Below are exceprts.
Chickens can actually suffer frostbite — particularly those breeds with large single combs on their heads like leghorns or barred rocks. These breeds are popular with commercial growers because of their excellent egg production.
Breeds with rose combs like wyandottes, or pea combs like ameraucanas or brahmas are less likely to experience frostbite. Some sources say that coating combs with petroleum jelly during cold weather can help protect against frostbite.
The most important consideration in keeping chickens warm and healthy in cold weather is adequate shelter. The shelter need not be heated or insulated, but it should be dry and have adequate circulation. An airtight shelter can become too humid, which can lead to frostbite. Dry bedding like straw, hay or wood shavings can help insulate chickens from the cold, but it must be replaced regularly with clean bedding.
Chickens that forage for much of their food during warmer months need additional supplemental food during the winter.
Read the complete KSL report.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article by Geoffrey A. Fowler on heritage breed turkeys. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy defines heritage breed turkeys as follows:
Heritage turkeys are defined by the historic, range-based production system in which they are raised. Turkeys must meet all of the following criteria to qualify as a Heritage turkey:
1. Naturally mating: the Heritage Turkey must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating, with expected fertility rates of 70-80%.
2. Long productive lifespan: the Heritage Turkey must have a long productive lifespan. Breeding hens are commonly productive for 5-7 years and breeding toms for 3-5 years.
Slow growth rate: the Heritage Turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth. Today’s heritage turkeys reach a marketable weight in 26 – 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. This growth rate is identical to that of the commercial varieties of the first half of the 20th century.
The article (available here) references the latest turkey census numbers gathered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The census shows a nearly 700% increase between 1997 and 2006 in the number of heritage turkeys raised for breeding in the U.S. The growing popularity of heritage turkeys is a great example of the interest in local, sustainably produced food.
The article briefly touches on the economics of heritage turkeys and includes these excerpts:
“Heritage turkeys, which include eight breeds certified by the American Poultry Association, take about twice as long to grow as commercial turkeys and cost about three times as much to raise.”
At retail, a 14-pound heritage bird can cost $100 or more.? Says Mr. Reese: “It is the difference between feeding an athlete and feeding a couch potato."
Some diners are turned off by the heritage turkey's slightly gamy flavor. But most sing its praises. Sam Perryman, a 26-year-old health-care administrator in Oakland, Calif., is a vegetarian for environmental reasons, but last year made an exception for a heritage turkey. "Thanksgiving is an important holiday for us, and we wanted to maintain the traditional approach" for nonvegetarian family, he says.?
After doing some research, he settled on a 23-pound Bourbon Red raised nearby that cost nearly $200. The grocer "knew everything about this bird—they probably even knew when its birthday was," he says.?
It’s exciting to see individuals and local companies find success in providing local, sustainable food products people want. Unfortunately a common misperception is that locally grown food is limited to niche products that are more expensive than food grown on industrial farms and sold at big box retail stores. I don’t begrudge anyone their success but a $200 thanksgiving turkey is out of reach for most people and feeds that misperception.
People are attracted to sensational stories and news providers give us what we want. The local food movement has a lot of work to do to overcome misperceptions about the cost of locally produced food. Here’s a link to a study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Iowa State University taking this issue head-on.
Do you buy locally grown food? If so, why? And if not, why not?
Sam from Nebraska writes:
Caught a coyote sneaking up on my chickens and turkeys last night. A friend of mine had loaned me a 243 with a green laser light. I ran down to the barn, opened the back door turned the light on the coyote -- lit him up like a Christmas tree -- and shot him in the head (lucky shot). He couldn't see the green light at all and acted like no one could see him. Bad mistake.
No more dead turkeys and chickens.
Alan from Ohio responded:
Not to go all crunchy on you, but ...
Predators are very important. They manage the ecosystem. We don't. Just look at Yellowstone. When they put the wolves back, the streams came back. The wolves manage the populations, partly by culling the weak, but mostly by changing how they move. The movement lets the riparian zones recover from over grazing. If you have top predators in your area, your management job is protecting your flock, not killing off the predators. Our long term survival depends on sustainable systems, and we have ZERO skills as systems managers.
You are right to a point. Problem is, we are being over-run by coyotes and they are completely out of balance. I'm always in favor of a nice balanced system, but they don't exist any more, especially around here. I saw a picture of a pack with 24 coyotes in it a week or so ago -- taken just a few miles from my house.
They call out and kill your dogs, kill and eat newborn calves, spread rabies and other diseases and generally cause lots of problems. I help keep the balance by killing a few but we still need to kill more -- way too many for a good balance.
Around here we killed off all the dumb coyotes years ago and have selected for big, smart song dogs. The only ones left are extremely smart, completely nocturnal and determined to eat my chickens. I have a great chicken coop with doors and I will still try to kill any coyote that comes close. Which, by the way is extremely difficult -- hence the green laser light.
I had a pack of coyotes chasing one of my new born calves a few weeks ago -- at 3:00 in the morning. Had I not stepped in I would have lost a $1000 heifer. Going back to a supposed "balanced" system would mean that I have to give some of my calves to the coyotes each year and that ain't goin'a happen.
Coyotes and gophers -- kill as many as possible and there will still be too many of them.
The only good coyote is a dead one.
That's my rant,
Glen from Utah responds:
Rants are good. You make very good points. Based on Sam's description it is pretty clear he only shoots the dumb coyotes that would starve to death anyway. With all due respect to Sam... he'd never get a shot at a smart one!
OH I love a good rant!!!
Been where you are. Shot lots of preds. Changed calving season so it coincided with all the deer and elk. That one thing mostly eliminated the calf predation problem.
Here's what I learned. A population will grow to the limit of it's food supply. If it's growing, we must be doing something that increases its food supply. That's where you fix the problem. You can't shoot your way out of it. Found this true with 2000 head cow calf operation on 80000 acres in Wyoming wilderness and with beans on the edge of a corn field in Ohio.
Love to bash this one around more.
In the panhandle of Nebraska there is no public land and every inch is used as farmland or pasture and has been for over 100 years. I can't change calving season to coincide with deer or elk as we essentially have no deer or elk. Everything here is artificially managed and has been forever.
Any balance or imbalance we have -- we have created. So what you are saying is to control coyote populations I should go kill rabbits, mice and gophers. I'm in favor of that as the rabbits eat the bark off my trees. Or, I could go shoot the neighbor's cows as the coyotes have been getting some of them.
Rabbit population around here naturally cycles and the cycle has to do with weather, disease, etc. and has almost nothing to do with what the ranchers or farmers are doing. Coyote populations tend to follow the rabbit populations.
Problem is, our coyotes love to eat chickens and calves more than they love to eat rabbits and even when we have lots of rabbits (like this year) the coyotes still go after the calves and chickens and dogs.
I completely agree that you can't shoot your way out of the problem. My goal is to move the coyotes to my neighbors place. The more I shoot -- the fewer coyotes I have on my property and the more coyotes my neighbor has.
I call it survival of the loudest. I keep the coyotes away, more than anything, by shooting on a regular basis, especially at 10 or 12 o-clock at night -- even when I don't see any coyotes. Killing a few also sends a strong message.
There is no such thing as "wild" or "natural" in America, just what we create and then pretend to be wild or natural. In today's world we manage everything -- from the number of elk in Yellowstone to the number of gophers on my property.
Wild and/or natural will never exist again and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, you are right. But understanding the dynamic makes it possible to manage in a different direction. It isn't fast, easy, or maybe even "cost effective", yet if we don't move our practices to a more naturally balanced system, we will never survive. I manage my cows and goats in a totally UNnatural way except for the fact that they move pasture every couple of days, and I control health by controling mineral balance and diet. I manage my beans the same way, I fixed the mexican bean beatle problem by changing the mineral balance in the soil. Suddenly the neighbors toxic soy beans were better than my green beans. It's a long road, and we will have to shoot our way through part of it. But if we don't have a balanced, sustainable system out there somewhere as an ideal, we will go broke shooting the next pest.
The following is a list of turkey facts posted on the urban extension website of the University of Illinois. The website can be found here.
• Ben Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, proposed the turkey as the official United Statesbird.
• In 2008, the average American ate 17.6 pounds of turkey.
• 88% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
• Turkey consumption has increased 108% since 1970.
• Since 1970, turkey production in the United States has increased nearly 300 percent.
• In 2009, 250 million turkeys are expected to be raised in the United States.
• In 2007, 271,685,000 turkeys were produced in the United States.
• The turkey industry employees 20,000 to 25,000 persons in the United States.
• In 1970, 50 percent of all turkey consumed was during the holidays, now just 29 percent of all turkey consumed is during the holidays as more turkey is eaten year-round.
• In 2006, Turkey was the # 4 protein choice for American consumers behind chicken, beef and pork
• In 2007 42.6% of turkeys were sold to grocery stores and other retail outlets, 23.5% sold in commodity outlets, 17.7% sold to foodservice outlets and 8.5% were exported.
• The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
• The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
• A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
• The wild turkey is native to Northern Mexico and the Eastern United States.
• The male turkey is called a tom.
• The female turkey is called a hen.
• The turkey was domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe in the 16th century.
• Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour.
• Wild turkeys can run 20 miles per hour.
• Tom turkeys have beards. This is black, hair-like feathers on their breast. Hens sometimes have beards, too.
• Turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited.
• Canadians consumed 138.6 million kg (Mkg) of turkey in the year 2005.
• Six hundred seventy-five million pounds of turkey are eaten each Thanksgiving in the United States.
• Turkeys can see movement almost a hundred yards away.
• Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.
• Turkey feathers were used by Native Americans to stabilize arrows.
• Baby turkeys are called poults and are tan and brown.
• Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.
• It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
• In 1920, U.S. turkey growers produced one turkey for every 29 persons in the U.S. Today growers produce nearly one turkey for every person in the country.
• The turkeys produced in 2007 together weighed 7.9 billion pounds and were valued at $3.7 billion.
• United States turkey growers will produce an estimated 271 million turkeys in 2008.
• Forty-five million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving.
• Twenty-two million turkeys are eaten each Christmas.
• Nineteen million turkeys are eaten each Easter.
• 29% of turkeys consumed in the United States are consumed during the holidays.
• Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clicking noise.
• Gobbling turkeys can be heard a mile away on a quiet day.
• Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, California, Indiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Iowa were the leading producers of turkeys in 2008.
• Minnesota is expected to raise 45.5 million turkeys in 2009.
• Illinois produced 2.8 million turkeys in 2007.
• A 16 week old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster and a yearling is a year old. Any turkey 15 months or older is called mature.
• The ballroom dance the "turkey trot" was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.
• Turkeys don’t really have ears like ours, but they have very good hearing.
• Turkeys can see in color.
• A large group of turkeys is called a flock.
• Turkeys do not see well at night.
• A domesticated male turkey can reach a weight of 30 pounds within 18 weeks after hatching.
• Turkeys are related to pheasants.
• Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
• Wild turkeys spend the night in trees. They especially like oak trees.
• Wild turkeys were almost wiped out in the early 1900's. Today there are wild turkeys in every state except Alaska.
• Turkeys are believed to have been brought to Britain in 1526 by Yorkshire man William Strickland. He acquired six turkeys from American Indian traders and sold them for tuppence in Bristol.
• Henry VIII was the first English King to enjoy turkey and Edward VII made turkey eating fashionable at Christmas.
• In England, 200 years ago, turkeys were walked to market in herds. They wore booties to protect their feet. Turkeys were also walked to market in the United States.
• For 87% of people in the UK, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a traditional roast turkey.
• Turkey breeding has caused turkey breasts to grow so large that the turkeys fall over.
• June is National Turkey Lover’s Month.
• Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President does not eat the live turkey. He "pardons" it and allows it to live out its days on a historical farm.
• The National Thanksgiving Turkey has been the Grand Marshall in the Thanksgiving Day Parade at both Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the past four years.
• The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.
• Eating turkey does not cause you to feel sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of your sleepiness.
• 50 percent of U.S. consumers eat turkey at least once per week.
• According to the 2002 census, there were 8,436 turkey farms in the United States.
• Turkey is low in fat and high in protein.
• Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
• White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat.
• Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
• Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers. White feathers have no spots under the skin when plucked.
• Most turkey feathers are composted.
• Turkey skins are tanned and used to make cowboy boots and belts.
• The costume that "Big Bird" wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers.
• Israelis eat the most turkeys.....28 pounds per person.
• The caruncle is a red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck of the turkey.
• Turkeys have a long, red, fleshy area called a snood that grows from the forehead over the bill.
• The fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle.
• Giblets are the heart, liver, and gizzard of a poultry carcass. Although often packaged with them, the neck of the bird is not a giblet.
• Turkey eggs hatch in 28 days.
• The Native Americans hunted wild turkey for its sweet, juicy meat as early as 1000 A.D.
• Turkey feathers were used to stabilize arrows and adorn ceremonial dress, and the spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used as projectiles on arrowheads.
• Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2005, with 492 residents; followed by Turkey Creek, Louisiana (357); and Turkey, North Carolina (269). There also are nine townships around the country named “Turkey,” three in Kansas.
Sources: National Turkey Federation, U.S.D.A., United States Census Bureau, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, British Turkey Information Service, Canadian Turkey Marketing Association
The Salt Lake City ordinance authorizing the keeping of chickens in residential districts is available through this link http://www.slcgov.com/slcgreen/pdf/Chickens_ORDINANCE.pdf.
Salt Lake City has relaxed its ordinances related to chicken coops and raising backyard chickens. Listed below are quick facts provided by the city. The full article can be read at http://www.slcgov.com/slcgreen/food/birdsandthebees.htm.
Permit must be obtained from Salt Lake County Animal Services, $5 per animal to be renewed annually (Maximum of $40 annually). Permits must be acquired through Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Conditions for Residential Chickens:
Maximum of 15 Chickens and no roosters
Chickens must be kept in secure, enclosed area
Coop must have minimum of two (2) square feet per Chicken; six (6) square feet per Chicken if not allowed out of coop
Chickens must be kept in rear yard at least twenty-five (25) feet from dwelling on adjacent lot
Coops must be neat and sanitary
Chicken feed must be stored in rodent and predator resistant containers
Contact Pam Thompson at 801-559-1122 or 801-559-1100.
Permit must be obtained from Salt Lake County Animal Services, $5 per animal to be renewed annually (Maximum of $40 annually).
Permits must be acquired through Salt Lake County Animal Services.