I currently have 4 chickens, 7 quail, and 4 Muscovy ducks. It takes about 5 minutes a morning to feed and release the chickens and ducks to allow them to free-range.
The chickens are for egg production.
The quails and ducks are for both eggs and meat, though currently, the ducks are not laying. Additionally, the ducks are for cleaning up after everyone else, spilled feed is some sort of treat for them. They also have the added bonus of being GREAT fly-catchers.
The Muscovy is a tropical, clawed-foot bird. This meats that they will roost in trees. Also, being a tropical bird, they have less fat, making them less greasy. I’ve heard they taste more like beef than duck. I’ll keep you posted on that.
29 Mar 12 Clipped the right wing feathers on all 4 chickens to help prevent them from jumping the fence. I need to raise my fence height, as well as increase the privacy. I think my best option is to plant thin, clumping bamboo as a fence cover.
30 Mar 12 Had to jump the fence to get a chicken that was unable to cross back over. Hopefully there won’t be any more fence-jumping for me or the birds for a while.
31 Mar 12 Bought 4 three month old frizzle chickens for $20, 3 hens, 1 roo. Also bought 11 straight-run hatchlings for the girls to raise, per Em’s request. Penned together, there seems to be no problems with integration, though the two age groups currently run separately when free-ranging.
14 Mar 12 Built a temporary run for the 11 hatchlings.
26 Apr 12 The frizzle roo started crowing this morning. Harvested him that evening. See here for results. Consistently getting 3-4 (of a possible 4) quail eggs and 3-4 (of a possible 4) chicken eggs per day. AS soon as I start hearing the quail roo crow or see his doing his duty, I’ll be setting eggs aside to hatch.
10 May 12 Another roo started crowing. Harvested him while harvesting rabbits. Promised to my neighbor for having to put up with the crowing (and for putting up with me as a neighbor) Emily’s birds, the hatchlings purchased on 31 Mar 12, have been free ranging for about a week now. Starting to see that some are definitely roosters, but seems like the odds were in my favor, and only 3 or 4 are showing the signs. Should be getting eggs from them in about 3-4 more months, just in time for them to slow egg production down due to shortening days
22 Sep 2012 Updates 12 or so chickens, 4 quail, and 2 adult ducks, a hen and a drake. Also, last Saturday, 10 duckling hatched out.
24 September 2012 – Lost a chicken yesterday before they roosted (it was found along the edge of the fence away from where they roost). If it was predation, I’m sure I will get another visit – no animal turns down a free meal. However, it seems not much was eaten, other than the other chickens working it over…hard to tell after a day of opportunistic omnivores working over a carcass. Dammit Jim! I’m a wanna-be homesteader, not a CSI agent!