27 October 2011

Local Feed and Seed Sources - Updated - Fall 2011

For those interested, I thought I would update my list of Feed and Seed sources.  I've gotten recommendations from friends and I have a few personal experiences to share.

First of all, this past spring and summer I spent a lot of time driving to Tractor Supply Co. in Summerville.  I know - they're sort of a big box version of a feed and seed, but they are really convenient.  When I was looking for fence panels to make trellises, I was able to go online and figure out which one I might need before going to the store.  Most other stores close around 5pm, which doesn't always work for me.  Tractor Supply is open until 8pm every day except Sunday, when they close at 6pm.

For spring and fall vegetables, I've been in the habit of going to one of the feed stores outside of Summerville, either 17-A Feed or Dorchester Feed.  My friend Gretchen pointed out to me that Red Top Feed on Savannah Highway is closer than those.  Being in North Charleston, Summerville seemed closer, until I went to Red Top recently.  It was a quick drive on I-526 and 17 South and I was there.

I've had friends that have been to Cordray's on Johns Island in the past, but recently I called them about fall vegetables, and they really didn't have any.  Either they had sold out of most of their plants, or they didn't have a lot to begin with.

I've contacted Cainhoy Feed in the past looking for veggies, and they have never had any.  I never bothered to ask why until recently.  I called them up and found out they specialize more in farm animal supplies rather than in vegetable and the like.  So, if you need chicken supplies, they might be a good source, but I would call first.

I saved the worst for last - 17-A Feed and Seed - I had been there in the past to buy onion or potatoes.  At the time I didn't have a real preference for any particular store.  I finished building our chicken coop on Memorial day and we couldn't wait to get chickens.  I called six stores and they were the only one open, but they were closing at 2pm so he could go fishing.  We got out there and on our way through the store to the outside to the chicken coop, we seed a brooder with baby chicks in it - one is dead.  While we're trying to grab some chicks out of the pen, we see a rooster in another pen that has something wrong with one of his legs.  While we were buying supplies, I felt like he gave us some bad advice as far as what to feed them.  Months later, the "hens" turned out to be roosters.  When we bought them, he said we could return them, if they were roosters, but when I called later, they asked if I had my receipt.  Then they said that I would be taking a chance on the replacements, because they didn't know if they were hens or roosters either.  Later, friends went there and told me how bad it was - I think they even filled up the chickens' water bowl.

So here are my recommendations:

Red Top Feed and Tackle Shop
3815 Highway 17, Charleston
(843) 763-6651
Friends like it and it's the closest.

Tractor Supply Co.
1672 North Main St Ste 5, Summerville
(843) 821-5386
Good selection of feed, bedding and other chicken supplies.  No plants or seeds, to my knowledge.

Dorchester Feed and Supply
10310 Highway 78, Summerville
(843) 875-9776
I've only been here for cool-season vegetables, but I'm sure they have everything Red Top has.

Cainhoy Feed and Seed
1925 Clements Ferry Rd # 3, Charleston
(843) 884-8787
As best as I can tell, they sell mainly horse and chicken supplies.

Cordray's Grocery and Feed
3455 Maybank Highway, Johns Island
(843) 559-0102
I'm sure they have what Red Top has, but it's farther and they were sold out of what I needed.

17-A Feed and Seed
2026 North Main Street, Summerville
(843) 832-0540

22 October 2011

Housing (and Feeding) Two Flocks

After getting our second "flock" of chickens recently,  Gretchen suggested that we think about keeping them separated from the others, because they were being fed medicated starter feed.  I kept everyone together for the first few days - by necessity - until I could build another little coop for the new birds.  Once they were in their new home I felt good about everything - I could feed them their medicated food safely, they had a home of their own.  In theory it seemed perfect - until they were separated.

Once that happened, they wanted nothing more than to be with the rest of the chickens.  I would let everyone out for a while in the evening and the new chicks would end up in the hen house at dark.  I spent a few nights grabbing chicks from the roosts and putting them in their new home.  I couldn't do this anymore, so I put everyone together and started trying to figure out how to feed them so they get the proper nutrition.

Presumably - feeding starter to everyone wouldn't be bad, except the laying hens might need more calcium for their eggshells.  Feeding layer rations might be fine too, but the young birds might be stunted.  I did some research and had a hard time finding solutions to this problem.  What I found out about feeding chickens was informative.  This is in no way definitive, but it sounds good:

When to switch from starter/grower feed to layer feed:
Some people switch around 20 weeks of age.  They think it's good to get a head start on the extra calcium, so, when they do begin laying, they're ready for it.  Other people did thinks differently.  Some didn't think there was an exact time to switch.  I read a post where someone recommended that when they start laying, to finish off the bag of starter/grower before switching to layer feed.

People do have strong opinions about feeding layer feed to chicks that aren't laying yet.  Young chicks don't need the extra calcium that is found in layer feed.  Apparently it has some negative health consequences - affects bone development.  Makes sense.  The one recommendation that I saw the most was to feed everyone starter feed and put out crushed oyster shell for the layers who need the extra calcium.  That seems like the best idea to me.  So I'm off to the feed store to get starter/grower feed and some crushed oyster shells.

21 October 2011

Our New Flock

Along with getting rid of a rooster last week, we had plans to get a couple more hens from our neighbors, Scott and Fred.  We also had other neighbors Gretchen and Haley, who had been raising some young chicks, offer us a few.  All of us were in contact with each other and the plan was for Gretchen and Haley to give Scott and Fred a couple, and they were planning to give us a couple that were closer to laying.  That's what we were expecting when Haley showed up at our door with a box of chicks.  What can you do when someone shows up on your doorstep like that?

I left them in the box, but put chicken wire over it, to give them some air, but to keep them from getting loose.  We've had trouble in the past introducing new chicks to our flock, so we waited until it was very dark to try it.  We did the same thing we have done in the past - we put the new chicks on the roost in the hen house and wait to see how the others react.  Our chickens were a little curious, but they adjusted well to the new additions.  I'm looking forward to watching them grow up.

13 October 2011

Little White Rooster

I found out recently that our roosters were bothering our neighbor behind us.  I tried several times to talk to her, but she never answered the door.  I would see her mom cutting the grass, but she would be gone before I had a chance to talk to her.  I finally saw her mom at a recent plant swap, introduced myself and asked her about the chickens.  She told me that they wake her daughter up every morning - if this was really the case, I would hope she would say something.

To be fair, I did locate the chickens as far away from our house as possible, and hidden behind our garage - which puts it maybe a hundred feet from our neighbor's bedroom.  So, it was time to get rid of a rooster or two.  Unless it was a big problem, I wasn't going to get rid of our silkie - as I've mentioned before, we all like him and he amsues us when he runs.  So that leaves only the little white rooster.  I had some success giving away roosters on craigslist, but I had heard that some of the people who respond to these ads were planning to eat them.  I was concerned about this when I got rid of the first two roosters, but was happy when the guy showed up with his kids.

I had similar concerns this time, but my fears were allayed when I met the person.  It's a little quieter at our house - it was especially noticeable after the first two roosters.  I feel like we're down to our core flock now - one rooster and five hens, plus four new hens that we just got.  I don't expect any more, but you never know.

Postscript:  I had recorded him crowing before we got rid if him, and I just got around to editing it and posting it online.  Here it is: