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I wanted to put out a guide for preppers who are interested in keeping chickens or other poultry for long term food security reasons. This is a discussion of important concepts for improving self sufficiency in flock management, not a guide for basic animal care. Please add your thoughts/comments/additions!
1. Select the right breeds and flock mix
For preppers, I recommend going with a mixed flock of hardy, dual purpose breeds that are bred for egg production levels of about 200+ eggs/yr. These birds are big enough to make a good soup/stew bird when their laying days wind down and produce higher amounts of larger eggs than fancy and bantam breeds. You want a bird that can forage well, and safely manage all season conditions without heaters or other special care requirements. Popular breeds in the dual purpose category include barred rocks, Rhode Island reds, New Hampshires, orpingtons and australorps, among others. Hybrid production/efficiency birds like ISA browns/red stars can be added to amp up egg production. I also recommend keeping a couple hens of dual purpose breeds that tend to go broody, like brahmas, in the event you want/need to produce chicks without the aid of electric incubators and brooders.
2. Size your flock for your anticipated long term needs
Egg production varies by breed, age of hen, the animal’s health, and environmental/seasonal conditions. Birds under 2 produce more eggs than older hens past their prime, and the dark days of winter can dramatically reduce egg production on a cyclical basis. Even very high temperatures in summer can throw a bird’s laying schedule out of whack. This means that a very small flock of only 3-4 birds is unlikely to produce enough eggs for a family over time, even if they produce enough when they are at their peak. So if you want 3-4 eggs a day from your birds, you will probably need about 6 hens to consistently achieve that.
3. Buy vaccinated chicks from reputable hatcheries/breeders
Many backyard keepers buy, sell, and trade the chicks they produce at costs that are much lower than big hatcheries. The trouble is that most small keepers and breeders dont manage their lineages for health and performance (they just breed whatever rooster they have to whatever hens they have) and more importantly, they ususally don’t vaccinate their chicks for Mareks (https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/neoplasms/marek-disease-in-poultry). Every year, I see backyard keepers on chicken forums looking for help with sick and dying birds infected with Mareks. Many times they lose multiple birds, and the surviving birds become permanent carriers (which means they will infect any unvaxxed new birds the keepers try to get to replace the dead ones). In my opinion, for preppers, it is especially important to maintain a vaxxed flock if at all possible because you don’t want to be losing your birds in a time of food/chick shortages. A 100% vaxxed flock also means that if you want or need to breed your own birds without access to the vaccine, those new birds will be safe. You also don’t want to be contributing to the spread of Mareks in backyard flocks in your region if you sell your birds to others, as that can destabilize the local food supply when you need it most.
4. Use a multi-flock/purpose 20% protein feed in anticipation of changing flock needs
There are a number of different bird feeds out there – chick, grower/raiser, maintenance, layer, etc – and it can be hard to know which one is best. I recommend going with a 20% protein all-flock grower/raiser as your standard feed for your birds once they are off chick crumble for two reasons. First, a 20% feed can be used at all stages of life and for a wide variety of birds – meat, layer, males and females, winter, birds in molt, birds without access to forage, turkeys, ducks, etc. Conversely, layer-specific or general adult maintenance pellets don’t have enough protein for the rapid growth required of young and meat birds, have too much calcium for male birds, and often don’t have enough niacin for waterfowl. This means that if you have your hens on layer pellets and then you get a rooster, now you need to switch feeds. Or if you get ducks, or turkeys, or broilers. You get the idea. Second, as preppers, you should be storing extra feed. If you don’t know how your flock might change over time, you want to make sure whatever feed you have stockpiled will work for everyone in the future, or else you could end up with hundreds of pounds of food that is poorly suited to your animals.
5. Plan on rotating in new layers to keep production consistent
Due to the natural decline in egg production over a hen’s lifetime, your flock’s production will dramatically decrease after a few years if you don’t keep resupplying it with younger hens. Many keepers follow the 1/3 rule: replace/add 1/3 of your flock size every two years to keep egg production high. So if you have 6 hens in 2020, that means you should plan to add 2 new birds by 2022. Older hens do continue to lay, just at a reduced rate, so if you don’t plan on culling older birds to make way for the new additions, be sure to make your coop big enough for a larger flock than you start with.
6. Have a multi-faceted backup feeding plan in the event of feed shortages
The obvious first line of defense for feed shortages is storing enough feed for your animals to get them through at least a couple of months without needing to resupply. Long term situations though, like a complete collapse in the supply chain, will require mutliple other backup food sources in case you can’t resupply when you run low. Fostering a healthy pasture environment for your animals to range is one important strategy. This means preferably offering your animals something more than the typical lawn, and adopting grass/property management strategies that maximize seed production and insect populations (basically the exact opposite of what most suburban lawn care seeks to do). But even with a good pasture available, poultry need supplemental feeds. You can make your own scratch feed by grinding/crushing a mix of dry corn and grains from your own food stores, and you can crush/powder cooked animal bones, eggshells, and crustacean shells for calcium supplementation. Kitchen scraps can help round out the diet. A mix of pasture, kitchen scraps, homemade scratch feed, and carefully rationed amounts of dwindling commercial feed is hardly ideal, but it should hopefully allow you to keep your birds alive longer in a true crisis scenario than if you don’t take advantage of all these methods.
7. Have a backup bird resupply plan in the event of chick shortages/shipping issues
When the pandemic hit, there was a run on chicks and hatcheries were overrun with a surge of orders (https://blog.cacklehatchery.com/the-pandemic-triggers-a-run-on-chickens/). But eggs hatch on their own time frame regardless of how many humans want birds and why. So the orders got backed up, important production breeds sold out, and many people had to wait far longer than usual to get the animals they did manage to order. Issues struck again just recently when problems with the USPS resulted in serious shipping delays, causing thousands of chicks to die enroute to their destinations (https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/20/farmers-chicks-arrive-dead-usps-399372). USPS is the only shipper of live birds in the US. If they can’t get the chicks to farmers and keepers, then only people/businesses local to the hatcheries can get birds from them (and there aren’t many hatcheries). These problems highlight the importance of having a backup plan to restock your birds as needed. Keeping a rooster in a laying flock can be a major PITA but it has the major advantage of allowing you to make your own chickens without relying on the agricultural supply chain. If you live in an area where you can’t have a rooster, or if you really don’t want to deal with their general ridiculousness, you can still plan on hatching your own eggs by connecting with other local keepers who are willing to sell/trade fertilized hatching eggs or chicks to you (the pro of hatching eggs vs chicks is that they are cheaper and you don’t have to worry about disease introduction, the con is that hatch rates can be dodgy).
I’ve been thinking about adding communication board or cards in my Level 3 first aid kit. Does anyone have any experience with them, and if so, what are you using?Read More
The state of our physical fitness impacts our ability to survive and cope with a crisis.
When I met my husband, he was 6′ 5″ and 400 lbs. Medication side effects, illness and inactivity had taken him to that point.
He was so large that when requiring an MRI, he was referred to a veterinary clinic as veterinary equipment could accommodate a person of his size.
For anyone horrified by that, don’t be. It is common practice to refer persons to veterinary clinics who are larger than hospital or clinic MRI’s can handle. Just like railway scales are used to weight people who are unable to get an accurate weight otherwise.
What matters is getting the results be it for life threatening conditions via a MRI as was my husband’s case or finding a way to become more fit.
He was so physically unfit that he was unable to make the short walk to the street from his home and frighteningly out of breath.
In a crisis, how could he move fast enough or long enough to save his life?
The situation took a horrible turn when he ended up in cardiac ICU and was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. He was placed on insulin and oral medication for the diabetes and had developed a cardiac arrhythmia which required another medication.
I didn’t care what he looked like. I already decided that I really cared for him because of the person he is and I was terrified he could die early because of the morbid obesity.
Here’s how he became fit.
First, we worked as a team and together were educated by the diabetic nurses in a two session information and management course. We learned that diabetics with high sugar experience ravenous hunger. It is very real to them, but is a phantom hunger created by the high blood sugar.
We formulated strategies to deal with high blood sugar hunger. He drank water. I distracted him when he said “I’m so hungry” and I knew it was his sugars.
We put his diabetic healthy eating chart front and centre on the fridge door. It listed how he should build each meal with protein, carbohydrates, starches, and fats. It also showed him how many servings of each category were allowable for each meal.
I met with dieticians and received recipe booklets for healthy eating for diabetics. Most of the booklets were based upon legumes and healthy grains. I learned to cook healthy meals using the new methods they gave me. He loved the food!
The legumes and brown rice also are a big part of our pre staples today.
Next, we had to tackle his physical conditioning which would be the other component of managing his blood sugar aside from achieving better fitness.
When we began, it was hard for him to walk far. He had been crushed in a work related accident years before, and there was residual effects from that. His feet hurt, and he was easily fatigued and out of breath.
I found a way to make movement fun for him. There was an empty lot not far away at the end of a road. I would drive us there sometimes and we would waltz under the moonlight, very slowly. But he was moving and having fun. Getting fit should be fun, not a chore!
After we moved into our house, we adopted our first dog, a Samoyed, and she became his walking buddy. He could only make it to the end of the block, but the two of them kept going.
Little by little, they went farther as they could manage and soon he was walking over an hour twice a day. When she passed, our rescued border collie took her place at his side on his walks.
His cardiovascular improved. He wasn’t so winded at the slightest exertion.
And the best part, the weight was coming down as was his insulin dose. It didn’t take long until he was off insulin and the oral medication!
Our family doctor was amazed and told him that he was the first patient he had who had actually followed the medical advice for managing diabetes. My husband’s diabetes was in remission! About a year later, he was off the cardiac medication.
He also got a new wardrobe as his weight decreased.
There was no magic formula to how he achieved fitness. It was determination to survive that kept him motivated. His feet hurt at the beginning when he walked, but he pushed through that pain because he understood why it was happening and that once his weight was down, the foot pain would be eliminated.
He went from a size 56″ waist to a size 38″ waist and he did it in a healthy, sensible way. He went from 400 lbs to 225 lbs. He became fit.
He had to have another MRI, only this time, he had no problem getting it done at the hospital.
I told you how my husband became fit, because it is a part of prepping. We talk about possibly having to walk in a disaster or carry packs. We may have to defend ourselves in hand to hand combat. We may have to forage for food or haul water.
Many disasters invoke the need for labour intensive tasks. A physically fit prepper can do it. A physically unfit prepper can hurt themselves or worse, give themselves a heart attack.
I shared my husband’s journey to become fit to help anyone here who is struggling with achieving fitness. It can be done sensibly. Get educated, get resources, make the changes you need to make.
Last year, my husband hand dug and lowered a berm on the front of our property. People stopped and commented how fit he was and couldn’t believe his age.
He became a healthier person. He became fit. And if you are struggling, you can do it, too.Read More
Evaluating information is a really important prepper skill! I would love to see The Prepared do an in-depth article on it. Would anyone else like to see that? While I’m not the person to write it, here’s an outline of what could be covered just to get the idea out there!
WHY IT MATTERS: There are many threats and crises where correctly evaluating conflicting sources of information can be vital. Is this a real threat or hype? Is this rumor or fact? What sources can I trust? How reliable is this recommendation? Do I believe this politician, or this government agency, or my cousin on Facebook? Do I act on this information or should I wait?This is the case in particular for situations that develop over time, like a pandemic, economic or political crisis, civil unrest or war. During these times misinformation and rumor are everywhere, and trust in institutions declines. But even in very fast moving situations (“Is the fire heading my way or not?”) it can be very relevant.
BEING AWARE OF COGNITIVE BIAS. Understanding things like normalcy bias and confirmation bias and how they affect our own thinking are very important. Be aware of our own ways of tripping up and recognize when others around you are doing it.
MEDIA LITERACY. Understanding the reliability of different sources, how to fact check, what the motivations of different sources are (are they invested in journalistic integrity, or are they sensationalist), being willing to look at sources from opposing views and different countries, and also seeing the limitations and biases of traditional journalism. Social media literacy is an important subset – understanding its strengths and weaknesses, the motivations of those who spread misinformation and how and why fake news spreads faster than the truth.
SCIENCE LITERACY. Understanding how science builds knowledge (peer review, it’s not about one study, and it can be slow in response to a fast moving situation), that studies can be flawed, that science-y language doesn’t make it science, what cherry-picking is, that expertise is real and the serious limitations of “doing your own research”.
TRUSTING INSTITUTIONS. We are in an era of increasing mistrust of institutions (the government, the police, the CDC, journalism). These are all reliable sources of information to varying degrees but none are at all perfect, and it is valuable to have a nuanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Examples are the slowness with which they react because of bureaucracy, the challenges of messaging, the mission to communicate correct information but also shape public behavior (e.g. avoid panic), and the influences of politics and profit.
WHEN AND HOW TO RELY ON FAST INFORMATION. Science and journalism take time and in a fast moving situation, sources like early scientific studies, Twitter, and first hand accounts may give you an essential edge if you can evaluate them correctly.
UNDERSTANDING POLARIZATION. The more politically polarized we are, the more misinformed we tend to be. When we are politically or culturally at war, we distrust anything the “other side” says simply because they said it, we believe everything “our side” says without question, we believe everything bad about the other side and good about our side because it feels right and we are emotionally invested, and things that ought to be neutral somehow get drawn into it when they become vaguely associated with one side or another. All of this can lead to being poorly informed and vulnerable to blind spots, misinformation, and conspiracy theories.
SHORT CUT RECOMMENDATIONS. It’s great to learn all the above stuff about evaluating information but it is a lot of work. An article like this could conclude with some shortcut recommendations on specific trustworthy sources and strategies.
Those are my thoughts!Read More
I just ran across this article and offer it here as food for thought:
The Pandemic is Only Beginning: The Long COVID Disaster
The ideas are still percolating in me and I’m curious to hear other people’s reactions to it.Read More
Seeing as how the demand for firearms is at an all time high, and the number of new gun owners is exponentially increasing, I figured it would be good to open a thread for anyone new or inexperienced with firearms to throw out any questions they might have. So fire away (see what I did there?) I’m here to answer any questions and I’m sure Thomas can drop in as wellRead More
I’d like to know the current, best IYO (in your opinion) survival knife/tool. I’d like to keep this under $100, and less is good! To me, I’m thinking the Rambo knife is still the best option for everything. I’d like to see any options, pros and cons, best deals, and tell me what you’d depend on for outback living in the wild. Your best finds and prices for the “Rambo” knife are greatly appreciated.
It is Christmas Eve, the sun is out & the temp is 70 degrees. I’m home alone, as my wife stays with her 100 year old mom several days a week. So what to do? How about head down to my home range & do some shootn’! Today I’m shooting my favorite rifle… my 300 Blackout.
So to begin with, it is a SBR… short barrel rifle. The barrel is 11.5 inches long, as opposed to a standard 16″ carbine barrel. To have such a barrel, I had to apply to the government, the ATF, to get checked out & approved. The approval form is called a stamp & it costs $200 to apply for one. I like to shoot SBRs because I also shoot with a suppressor. The added length & weight of a suppressor to a carbine length barrel is just excessive for me. The gun just isn’t balanced. But put a suppressor on a SBR & it just feels & looks natural to me. Oh, by the way, you have to get a stamp for each suppressor too.
300 Blackout ammo is relatively new. What I like about it is that it shoots a much larger & heavier bullet than a standard 5.56 AR. This gives it really good knock down power. This ammo also burns all its powder completely when shot thru a short barrel. And best of all, when using subsonic ammo with a suppressor, the gun is rather quiet. Not silent by any stretch… but quiet enough you don’t need hearing protection. The down side is that this ammo is not well suited for long range shooting. At my age, I won’t shoot anything past 100 yards, so that is a non factor for me. I mostly shoot subsonic ammo as it is much quieter than high velocity ammo. With high velocity ammo, you get a very loud crack as the bullet passes thru the sound barrier. By using ammo that stays below the speed of sound, you don’t get that loud crack… plus the ammo itself is a bit quieter.
This rifle, as with any AR styled rifle, is exceptionally easy to shoot. There is almost no kick, it is very quiet with the suppressor attached, and it is simple to aim. I use an Aimpoint Pro red dot sight with backup iron sights that fold down when not in use. The Aimpoint will run for around 3 years on a single battery, but if the optic were to fail in a crisis, the backup sights pop up & you can see them thru the nonfunctional Aimpoint. This is called a co witness. In the pics below, note the backup sights down and then up.
For this rifle, I use a Saker 7.62 suppressor with quick detatch.
Since 300 Blackout ammo & 5.56 ammo is so similar, I use solid black magazines for my 5.56 and use the translucent (see thru) magazines for 300 Blackout. And with the 300 Blackout, I use 20 round magazines for the subsonic ammo & use 30 round magazines for high velocity ammo.
The upper is an AAC SBR 300 Blackout upper. I use a Stag lower. And below, is pictured my home range located in my bottom pasture.Read More
Looking for any advice or learned lessons on navigating our healthcare system when you have something more than a minor illness. I know many of us have gone through this and would like to hear some of the things you have learned.
Any trustworthy apps to keep track of your medical records so you have it on hand for each doctor?
How to deal with the insurance company when the code given is ineligible or incurs extra cost?
How to not eat through your savings?
When to recognize a test is necessary or unnecessary?
How and when to get second opinions?
How do you research doctors you are referred to so that you get one of the best for your case?
Anything I haven’t mentioned please feel free to offer ideas.Read More
A wildfire destroyed the historical town of Lahaina, former royal capital of Hawaii, on August 9, 2023. Many people burned alive in their homes, unaware that a fire was approaching. Others burned in their cars, stuck in traffic while trying to evacuate, or drowned while trying to escape into the harbor. Bodies are still being counted (93 so far), but the death toll could be up to 1000.
As fires become more common and more intense, we need to learn fire emergencies like Lahaina so that we can prevent them, or at least reduce the loss of life in the next fire emergency. Please join me in collecting information about what went wrong and what could have been done differently. What challenges did the people of Lahaina face as they tried to escape the flames. What could individuals have done differently to improve their odds of survival? What could the community have done differently to prevent the town from burning or to get people out in time?Read More
Facing the worst air quality in recorded history (and my air purifier temporarily inaccessible in storage) I built my own today using Eric’s COVID Air Defense System kit, also known as a Corsi-Rosenthal Cube. It works for wildfire smoke as well as for Covid.
I followed these instructions to build it: https://encycla.com/Corsi-Rosenthal_Cube
I was able to have the MERV 13 filters delivered the same day by Instacart so I didn’t have to leave my apartment.Read More
Hi! I’m currently doing my undergraduate dissertation on the role of women within the prepping community. My project aims to celebrate the contribution of women and highlight their significance. I am looking for participants to interview. The interview will be held over microsoft teams and last no longer than 30 minutes. Please email me at preppin[email protected] if you are interested. Thanks so much.Read More
I’m sure we all have chores we don’t really care for. The thing I dislike the most, which I did Sunday, is cutting the bottom pasture in the heat of the summer. The feel like temp was around 110 and I was out in the full sun sitting on a hot diesel tractor. Being on a homestead, especially when the wife is off caring for her 100 year old mom & 102 year old aunt, well there are plenty of chores & lots of animals to feed.
One chore I love this time of year is taking the dogs out for a final bathroom stop before bedtime. We currently have 8 dogs living with us. This time of year is special around 8:30 at night. The sun has set but it is not yet dark. The sunset has faded to muted colors of normally salmon pink & light blues. It is still warm out but not oppressively hot. Actually, rather nice. And at this time of day, as I sit on the back patio overlooking the back of our property, waiting on & watching the dogs , I get to watch the bats perform their acrobatics as they hunt down mosquitos. They put on quite the show! Kinda like watching the bald eagles… it feeds my soul. With it seems like the whole world going to hell, it is nice to just slow down and appreciate nature. The time of evening I’m talking about:
Anyone else have some chores that you really enjoy?Read More
Hi all! With the recent wildfires in Maui, I realized that I never made any plans to help preserve the originals of important documents at home from a fire. While they are backed up to the cloud, I think it’s still important to save the originals if possible. I purchased a small fireproof safe (the recommended choice from the NY Times Wirecutter site; the review link is below), but I’ve noticed this doesn’t seem to be a topic covered by many prepper sites.
Anyone else have suggestions or recommendations for this issue?
I enjoy reading and collecting prepping books (nonfiction). I’m also making a prepping journal (supplies, gardening, what to do kind of stuff). I have collection of magazines (Mother Earth News, Grit, Country Side). Hardcopies are beneficial for me and my grandkids in case we ever loose power for an extended period of time, i.e., SHTF. The below pic is most of my books. Please recommend books you find useful. Thanks very much.Read More