I'll be raising Buckeye layers at the neighbor's
Went with my father-in-law to talk to the neighbor and she was pretty excited about the idea of raising meat birds with us as it was getting to much for her alone so she hasn't for a couple of years. She has the coops, brooders, chicken runs, feeders, waterers, killing cones and a deplucker. All what is needed to raise and butcher about 50 meat birds at a time. We could do 2 batches of up to 50 birds each and she wants 25 for herself and we'll divide costs. My father-in-law wants 25 and my wife and I want 25. My son-in-law hasn't got back to me about how many he would like but he could have up to 25.
I brought up the idea of layers and she is all for it. She has a small 4x8 foot coop built on a single axle trailer bed we could use to house about 5 layers. That would provide ample room for the hens in the winter when they'll be spending much of their time cooped up. I asked her if we could have the Buckeye breed and said she hadn't heard of that breed but was fine with it. She wants a dozen eggs per week and with 5 layers, my wife and I can reasonably expect to get a dozen or so a week too.
She doesn't use chicken tractors as she said they don't provide enough security against the coyotes, wolves, raccoons, and foxes in the area and she's lost flocks in the past when she tried the chicken tractors. She's never seen a bear of her property but I watched one run through my yard in town a couple of years or so ago. She uses the solid chicken coops on the trailers so the birds have secure housing at night. She has a tractor to move the coops when needed, The chicken runs are detachable from the coops and they can be moved by hand.
Yesterday when I brought our dog to the vets for a checkup in another town, I stopped at the feed mill there for prices. Their costs are much then Tractor Supply's and it's half the distance. An example is that a 50# bag of DuMOR 16% Layer Poultry Feed Pellets, Calcium Fortified is $19.49 while a 50# bag of layer feed from the feed mill is $13.85. They also offer chicks from early spring to August and they are cheaper then Tractor Supply too.
The neighbor isn't expecting any reimbursement for use of the coops and equipment and will split costs of the chicks and feed. She's happy she can get a lot of help with labor.
To have a small cooperative like that. It provides for several families.
Have you considered a light electric fencing set up to keep predators out?
Out here, in Montana, people who have coops and such are finding they need electric fencing to keep bears and other creatures out. When I was a bear safety tech one of my props for public outreach events was a portable/packable electric fence that ran on a D cell battery like the one in your smoke detector, last a couple days. That was more than five years ago so I'm sure there are improvements. My former landlady has a system of portable electric fencing for her horses that is also very lightweight, plastic posts that you can pull up and move with wiring that is more like a strip of webbing or heavy ribbon. I think that was electrified by a small solar panel.
Anyway, those might be tools to consider for the coops' protection, especially from bears and anything that would break in and eat your chickens.
Good luck with that, it sounds worth the effort in many ways.
But the lady says they aren't cheap and looking at the prices, I agree with her. It would really add to the cost of the meat and eggs to recoup over some years.
It's perplexing. There may be alternative ways to repel other species, not sure what they are but I'm sure you'll find something to handle the challenges. I was just making a suggestion.
Hope it all goes well.
But I had a charger and solar panel/battery set up already from my sheep. So, all I bought was the chicken fencing. I have a stationary coop and move around the fencing for different runs.
I had 20 chickens about 3 years ago. Went out one day to feed the chickens. There were only 8 with no evidence of the missing 12. The simple chicken wire fencing (not electrified at the time) was torn down and the chicken coop hatch door was torn off.
I'm not sure what got them. There are bears around here but the torn up fencing and small hatch door didn't look big enough for a bear to fit through. Maybe a pack of hungry coyotes. Anyway, I've gone to electrified fencing since then and haven't had that problem. It even keeps out snakes.