Raising mixed flocks: Farming Turkeys, Chickens, Pheasants, Guinea Fowl

Raising mixed flocks

Diversity in raising poultry? Hmmm…

As I said in our introduction blog post, we currently live in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. I have wanted to have a small flock of chickens for yearssss but we aren’t zoned for any type of poultry raising. (psst, that didn’t stop us from raising a flock of 6 ducks while we were homeschooling, but that’s a story for another day!)

When a family begins to homestead, Most will start with chickens and expand from there but having a plan at the jump is the best idea. If you’re just starting out, it’s understandable why you’d want to start with just one species such as a duck or a chicken. Ducks and chickens are clearly the first choice for most homesteaders or the traditional small farm. They’re the birds we’re most familar with. They’re birds that children’s books and fairytales surround. When you think of a traditional farm, you think of chickens or ducks.  They’re the most common and there’s the most content available on them to learn from out there on the internet, in books, blogs and podcasts.

Raising mixed flocks:Lemme just say, I’m a go big or go home (homestead? lol) type of girl. I don’t do much in moderation, so knowing that about myself that is something I need to work on when it comes to this farm dream of mine.I understand it is going to take time and patience to achieve any of our homesteading goals.

Sooo… I’m thinking of jumping right in with both feet and raising a mixed flock once we get to our little farm .

 

But Why?!?!….

Raising mixed flocks

 

 

 

After studying The Biggest Little Farm (a documentary film that follows two dreamers and their beloved dog when they make a choice that takes them out of their tiny L.A. apartment and into the countryside to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete coexistence with nature)

Based on what their traditional farming consultant, Alan York taught them I’ve come to understand that diversity in traditional farming is absolutely king.

Every plant and species has something to contribute. Some birds control insects well, some control certain kinds of insects better than others. Some kinds of poultry control weeds really well, Each bird’s manure is different and contributes different benefits to your compost or soil.  Diversity is good for your homestead or farm’s eco-system. It is what brings the natural order of creation and nature into harmony.

My daughter likes to play devil’s advocate and argued the point with me that we should raise a few chickens the first year and then expand from there. She then suggested this:

“what if we invest in a diversified flock with turkey, pheasant, duck and chicken… and in a one night during a rogue fox or coyote raid, they are all wiped out?”

She thinks we’d be losing more money and chickens are less expensive to use for a trial run. (Please Don’t get it wrong, we feel any loss of life of animals would not be a good thing and we’d do everything we could to protect them from the predators found in northern Illinois)  But with that being said, she’d rather get our poultry raising experience with the less expensive options,  chickens.  She would rather master chickens before moving on and introducing new animals/birds to the farmstead. I don’t agree with her.

What do you think?

Would YOU consider raised flocks for your homestead or small farm?  Have you raised mixed species in the same space? If so we’d love to hear from you!  Drop us a comment and let us know your experiences, thoughts, and ideas.

Source: Finding your flock Cindy Gibson, Guinea Fowl International, Podcast Guest Listen to the whole Mother Earth News podcast here

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