Backyard poultry - zoning law surprises : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

In addition to other preps I have taken steps to feed my family from my backyard. Visitors to my 1/3 acre residential lot are often surprised to see my chickens which I use for food (mostly eggs, meat if they crow!) and fertilizer producers for my organic garden/fruit trees.

No guarantees but some residential zoning laws will allow you to keep a small number (12 here) of chickens (usually hens only). A dozen hens (properly fed and cared for) will easily keep a small family in eggs (count on about 8-10 eggs daily per dozen hens, fewer eggs during shorter daylengths/winter). In a country that overconsumes protein to our detriment, we need to realize that this is probably enough, especially when added to a diet of grains/legumes, etc. for a small family of 3-4 to stay healthy through tough (and every day?) times. It also seems that we don't overeat/waste as much when we actually worked "hands-on" to produce it.

If any of you have any concern for humane treatment of animals you would also look at this option to stop supporting the commercial egg producers which disgusted me when I paid a visit to one.

I do keep one rooster (against the zoning law) but so far my neighbors have reacted positively for over 1 1/2 years (bribed with eggs every so often, of course!).

There are plenty of great resources for poultry raising on the web. EMail me if you need pointers to a few.

Also - chickens convert all your table/kitchen scraps, soured milk, old bread, etc. to top quality eggs and fertilizer very efficiently. I can't imagine having a toddler without also having chickens to eat all the food that would be otherwise wasted! Much less garbage to deal with.

Hope this helps stir interest in at least one person who may have previously thought this was impossible or impractical for him/her.

I also just recently purchased 2 dairy goats as well - now THAT is an adventure for another time!

Y2K or not, our lifestyle is now changed for the better.

-- Kristi (securx@Succeed.Net), May 04, 1999


Ooops....change "Y2k or not..." to "Regardless of Y2K". Must be night-night time for me!


-- Kristi (, May 04, 1999.

"ah. . . Y2K or Not to Y2k, that is the question"

-- Yorrick (, May 04, 1999.


-- Andy (, May 04, 1999.


Can you feed chickens and goats entirely on table scraps? What do you feed them when the feed stores are closed? I have hesitated to get goats and chickens because of the uncertainty of providing feed for them.

-- Jubilation T. Cornpone (HERB87@JUNO.COM), May 04, 1999.

Hey Jube:

My chickens eat about 1/3 to 1/2 scraps, etc. plus commercial poultry feed. I have a 2 year supply of dent corn, soybeans and wheat, etc. to grow in the big garden - hopefully enough to crop for family AND critters. I plan to experiment this year. Will fill plastic garbage cans with alfalfa pellets and feed this winter to cover 3 months to spring. Goats can eat shrubs, grass, untreated tree prunings, dried cut weeds (if nontoxic), winter squash, mangle beets, apples, etc.. I did purchase 5 # of alfalfa seed to convert my front yard if need be.

The key here is that these animals are very adaptable and efficient producers of food and fertilizers. They can basically eat any of the food I have stored as well as scavenge and convert it to fresh food to provide variety for us. There is not that much work involved other than being "tied down" to a milking schedule. Have found several friends fascinated enough to do that for me for an occasional weekend away.

Of course I believe it is prudent to not count on the critters because they could be stolen, killed, etc.. They are nice to have around and there should be enough milk, eggs and fresh meat come spring to barter with. By the way, the feed for the chickens has been completely offset by selling offspring and eggs and the goats cost about $30-$40 per month for two milkers and produce about 1 1/2 gallons of milk per day (except for about 2months at end of pregnancy in spring). Works for me!

Thank you for your sincere response - food for them was an initial concern for me as well. Hope to hear from you again!


-- Kristi (, May 04, 1999.

Hi Kristi,

I am very interested in following your example. Thanks for the info. I would like a 2 year supply for 4 people and 12 chickens and a goat. How much dent corn, soybean, wheat, etc. should I get to have enough for people, animals and planting, ballpark?

How much are you storing for your animals and family and garden?

I would also like to raise rabbits and I know how they like alfalfa. Do you know how much land you would need to grow your own hay?

Thanks so much for your help.


-- Lora Ereshan (, May 04, 1999.

Hello Kevin!

Let's see if I can get this right:

Young hens (pullets) start laying usually between 16 (earliest) to 24 weeks (mine usually 22-24) of age. Length of day affects frequency of laying: summertime = lots of eggs, wintertime = fewer eggs. Commercial egg ranches use artificial light (among other things) to crank up the egg production year round. This burns out the hens much faster than our backyard birds.

If you have 45 layers and only 15 eggs, something is wrong. Either they are too old, have parasites or have all been forced to moult (unlikely) or?. I have found that after about 2 yrs. of age egg production starts to decrease slightly. Of course if these hens were used commercially then they are probably not in good shape after 1 1/2 yrs or so. I have about 20 1-2 yr. hens and just collected 17 eggs yesterday. Naturally moults occur at different times but can be forced by people at times.

Your Rhode Island Reds may or may not get broody. This breed is commonly a "production" breed and therefore has the broodiness trait bred out of them. Some more old-fashioned ones may do ok. Your buffs will probably be great mommas, I have one setting right now. Another breed I have found to be broody are the light or dark Brahmas. Many more breeds to choose from.

Definitely figure out what is wrong with your 45 hens - sounds like they will eat up much more than they will produce! The average hen lays about an egg a day with a pause for a month or so each year for molting - This works out to 200+ per yr. I will forward some links to you ASAP.

Don't hesitate to write back if I may be of help.

Good Luck! Kristi

-- Kristi (securx@Succeed.Net), May 04, 1999.

Hi Lora,

First of all I don't want to pretend to be an old pro at this self- sufficiency thing - just learning myself. Here goes:

I will store 100# of commercial laying crumbles for every 4 weeks for my 20 birds, 150# of alfalfa pellets plus 150# of sweet cob mix for the 2 goats for 4 weeks. I will plan to supplement this with other things as available but I suspect I am "overstocking slightly". Would rather do this than the other way. Don't forget oyster shell (calcium) pcs for your hens as a supplement - cheap, cheap at the feed store, 50# will last a long time. Egg shells will work also but you don't want to encourage egg-eaters. I will also stock up 1 salt/trace mineral block for each mo. for the goats.

With regard to planting the alfalfa I don't know yet how much we will need to feed the critters - the seed supply told me to plant about 15 pounds per acre so..... I plan to ask a local hay grower how many bales/what weight comes off an acre. I just figure that this was a start in the right direction and could be supplemented by other things.

I am stocking heavily in dried corn & wheat, at least 50# of each for each month for my family of 3. For seed corn I just estimated and bought about 1/2 pound to get started. Now that I am thinking of it I will buy more because my neighbors would probably grow some too and that would benefit us all. I will also experiment with the corn I have purchased for food. I want to end up with much more than "enough". The goats and chickens can eat what ever is left.

Get a subscription to Countryside Magazine 1-800-551-5691 or for better info. and ideas.

Don't know much about rabbits since I haven't raised them since I was a child. We had 50 or so for meat, they ate alfalfa pellets, water and salt (and their babies if disturbed or threatened!) and needed good protection from varmints and heat. Tastes "just like chicken".....snicker, snicker...old joke, yeah... Easy to butcher but I can't bring myself to do it now. Have a hard enough time each time I process chickens - try to be as kind as possible....anyhow...

I will work to learn about quantities to grow and store this year - simply trying to make sure I get off to a good start and then will practice this year. See Countryside mag. Mar/April '99 for good information about growing animal feed and also grains for humans.

Also, don't plan on just one goat -get at least 2 or else the single gets soooooo lonely and will make you and your neighbors crazy. If noise is a factor avoid the Nubian breed of goat, sweet but very talkative (imagine screaming every time it sees you). Goats are wonderful, much like a big dog but you MUST BUILD A SECURE FENCE FOR THEM OR THEY WILL EAT EVERYTHING AVAILABLE - TO THE GROUND! Yes, I am speaking from experience. Also goat milk tastes great the first day but lousy IMHO after that so I let my extra milk sour and then feed 1-2 qts per day to the 20 hens. Lastly, there are meat type and dairy type goats - learn before you buy. I personally have an Alpine and an Oberhasli/Alpine cross.

If I missed anything, e-mail me. Let me know how things go!


-- Kristi (, May 04, 1999.

Hi Kristi, and others. One third of an are you going to feed those goats? Can you forage for them? from outside your property?

I'd be interested in knowing how you are doing your garden planning. I'm having a terrible time....if I put this here, and that there, then......So I've more or less been doing it haphazardly. Parse that word....hazard happens.....

Our garden area is about an acre...and my goal is to feed we five (four adults and a baby) three goats (2F, 1M) and the chickens.

Our chickens eat table scraps too. They are a mix of brown egg layers from MurryMcMurry. They are in their second year, and I get about 80% eggs. Nine hens. But the rooster is a dud. Last year I had three broody hens, plus eggs in a 100 degree warm box....nothing. I suspect the rooster.

I have a chicken question, but I think I will post it separately.

Back to the garden: I've been using a wide bed deep dug system and it seems to work. I am aiming for protein (beans, soybeans, corn) as well as vegetables to can, and dry, and hope to hit the fall with the cool seasons crops that will "keep" in the cool weather thru the winter.

What books have helped you?

Thanks Mary

-- Mary (, May 04, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ