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Chicken economics

Agriculture.com Staff 05/31/2007 @ 8:00am

I'm having some problems with my livestock operation.

Let me reprise the situation. We had five chickens, which meant three eggs a day, which was just right. Eggs and bacon when I wanted them and an angel food cake every now and then. Life was good.

Have you ever noticed how life never stays perfect for long? Some critter broke into the chicken coop and made off with all five chickens. I don't know what it was - five raccoons, a family of coyotes, Sasquatch, maybe aliens. Doesn't really matter what it was, the chickens were gone and so was my high-quality, egg-based diet.

Keep in mind that all I want out of life is the chance to get up in the morning and go gather a couple of fresh eggs for breakfast. Nothing more.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to a farm store to pick out some new egg producers. The first problem came up when I realized she saw them less as future egg producers, and more as chicks - cute, adorable, little baby chicks.

The store offered about a half dozen different varieties; we picked out a couple of each and, quite truthfully, went back again a few days later and got six more.

Eighteen chicks. Which is too many. Twelve seemed okay - it doesn't take much to kill a baby chick so it made sense to have a few spares, but eighteen is too many. A dozen eggs a day is going to launch me into cardiac arrest. And I naively thought that was my problem.

I had beefed up the chicken coop after the first massacre, but evidently not well enough. A couple of days after my surgery, my wife went to do chicken chores and found a hole forced in the chicken wire and seventeen traumatized chicks huddled in the corner.

I was still a little groggy from anethesia, and wasn't supposed to lift anything, but after a breakfast of green tea and four hearty teaspoons of beef broth, I went out to help her reinforce our defenses. I acted mainly in an advisory capacity, which included going back to the house for a short nap, but by nightfall we had fixed the holes and fixed every weak spot we could find.

And, we had. The next morning my wife found sixteen even more traumatized chicks, running in circles screaming (If a chicken can scream, they were screaming.). A hole had been chewed in the chicken wire, and the remaining chick was outside the pen, running back and forth along the fence, with the look of a serial killer survivor in its eyes. Evidently, chewing through the fence had dulled the teeth of whatever creature that saw my egg producers as its smorgasbord, to the point that its selection of a midnight snack was able to make its escape. At least that's what we think happened - we haven't been able to get a word out of the chicken.

You can see where this is going, can't you? This means war.

We fixed the hole in the wire and spent most of the afternoon stringing a four strand electric fence around the perimeter. This should work, but if it doesn't, I can always get more chicks. Of course, if I need more chicks, I'll also be investing in a motion detector, flood lights and a concealed sniper.

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