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Aug 15 12 7:37 PM

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Does anyone on the forum have one of these or any experience with one ?
I think there should be a good market for them here …….if you could make and sell them 
for more like $50.

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#1 [url]

Aug 15 12 8:59 PM

I do, for sure, but have to say that you can't build one that will withstand the climate in the tropics for that kind of money. It needs stainless steel components and some real robust goings on. I think one could be built for 200 bucks very nicely, but 50 is unreasonable unless it's a hobby sort of machine. 'course hobby sorts of machines should be discouraged, really, as:

1) There's nothing sustainable about raising eggs as a financial loss. and

2) Here locally, gluts the market with 401lk farmed eggs, that drives real egg farmers out of business, and

3) Is just silly bad practice, as it's probably a lot more sustainable to just buy your eggs!

Exceptions, of course, do apply. And if anyone just loves chickens as pets, that's fine too. . .We here are thinning our flock way down, 'cause, we can't compete with farming at a loss for tax benefits/fashion/weed growing cover/or whatever. It suits our purposes just fine, but eggs cost 6 bucks a dozen to produce if they're any good and, well, we don't produce elsewise.. We don't cheat. We're not organic, 'tho we probably could get certification-- there's no lies, baloney, or whatever, and I promise you you'll be profit flat at 6 bucks a dozen, even if you're ingenious-- and count a dozen eggs different than I do -- which would be AA Jumbo exclusively-- pastured, which is not rated in the US. Free range has confinement, but isn't in cages. "Pastured" as a grade definition has no confinement at all. And yup, sometime a yolk will break when you crack an egg because they're too fat to support their own weight in a pan.

I think commercial poultry here will have a future, but it's tough right now as it's fashionable again, it seems it's about a 4 year wave. But feed costs will flatten the market finally this last time and I'd recommend keeping a flock small and planting feedstock so at least one doesn't go backwards.

I personally think an automated feeder is worth investing in. I built one, but haven't had the time to really install it yet. A movable device that encourages the flock to feed multiple places rather than just peck the hell out of the ground by the door. . .it's a scavenged food processor with a fan on top and a feed chute above. It must fling corn at 200 mph. . .LOL. not really kidding though.

Ultimately, back to the door closer--  I don't think its necessary here really. . .

First, a very good roost, up very high, as chickens will roost at 10 feet or above if they can get there. You stair step the roost up to that height. They'll climb, as it's about flock status.  Don't clip wings!  It's good, to my mind, to encourage the flying behavior if one has space-- and besides, one will get better quality meat. The roosts?  I'd weld these out of steel tubing now, and they'll last forever. Nothing will climb them if they don't have wings, and I think doors are probably unnecessary if the birds are that high.  

Mongoose don't feed at night-- if one loses birds at night it's either dogs or cats-- and fortunately neither wild raccoons or coyotes/foxes, which are vastly more inventive.  Another bonus of the steel rack is you could charge it with a fence charger, you +/- every other rung landing, and I promise no body will be sniffing around much after the first investigation. And, the really nice chargers have an alarm, so you know when someone has been bit. Neat. It could turn on a 1000 watt infrared spotlight, if you were interested. A first class piece of equipment for any homestead.

This area has unique needs, that's for sure. . .if anyone has need for info on the above, let me know.

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#2 [url]

Aug 16 12 8:58 AM


Are you running your numbers as a business (looking to resale, so you have labor costs, marketing, distribution, waste, reinvestment for downtimes/expansion etc) or for self supply?

I ran my numbers from a self supply point of view and I'm producing at $1.42 per dozen (mostly just the cost of pellet to supplement feeding) when running a dozen birds. This doesn't count the cost of initial set up but also doesn't count the free meat after X years.

To keep this on topic I recently built this coop (my own design though obviously influenced by what I've seen out there).

There is a small door for entry (the back panel is open so you look right through the coop in this picture) is elevated which makes it harder for mongoose/rats (haven't had an issue knock on wood) and the roost also keeps the sleeping birds up off the ground. I replaced the thinner roost steps with 2 x 4 (was trying to keep the cost down but the 1 x 3's where just too flimsy). I plan to add wheels to the back legs so that you can move it easily by picking up on the front step of the roost. Automatic waterer and feeder make it pretty much maintenance free.

We layout out 3' high chicken wire in an area we want to keep the chickens in. This is to 1) keep the chickens from roosting on the back steps of our house during the day making a landmined walking path and 2) to keep the peacocks and other birds out of the automatic feeder. They could fly over the fence but for some reason don't. Our chickens will sometimes fly out but then fly back in after an hour or two.

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#3 [url]

Aug 16 12 3:58 PM

Hi Dwedeking-- that's a worthwhile question, and I beg that a little bit. Included in the cost is of course the time involved in tending with the birds, even if it's 15 minutes a day-- because it terms of strict "sustainability" that's a cost that must be borne elsewhere if not compensated. Of course as scale increases time becomes more efficient as it takes about as much effort to deal with 100 birds as 10. And as well that's graded for resale so one has the production losses of sorting out blemishes, the odd cracked egg and all that-- stuff that one may not need to deal with if one is only using eggs coop to fry pan. I do think, however, in general people do a very poor job of accounting the true costs and unintended consequences of attempts at "sustainability" which is unfortunate and not very helpful-- my point in my rather disjointed diatribe is to encourage people to take their efforts seriously, not cook the books, and really ask the hard questions. I apologize for the hard edge of the post, but my modem died last night in the process of editing(er, taming down) my rhetoric and it's just now that I'm back from Hilo with a new one.

But yup, I'd be counting the cost of 1) labor 2) feed inputs 3) losses 4) infrastructure and 5) real estate. This is an unpopular analysis, but one the up and coming generations need to take seriously as everything they do, in that future of scarcity, must be run as a business and I doubt they'll have the luxury of trying stuff that doesn't pay.

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#4 [url]

Aug 16 12 4:23 PM

I have to agree with a lot of what Jay says. There is a reason the only fresh
egg farm on the island went out of business. Feed costs make it impossible to 
make money selling eggs here. 

 I keep a few chickens because I love the fresh eggs
and the chickens are fun. Occasionally I will hit a month where I sell enough eggs to
pay the feed bill but most of the time I am losing money. Therefore I try to keep my flock down to a 
dozen or less chickens. 

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#5 [url]

Aug 16 12 4:24 PM

Didn't think your post was harsh at all, and agree with both of your posts for the most part.

I 100% agree that many people (and from talking with kids at UHH just in conversation, especially the youth of today) completely ignore the complete cost of doing business. That could be a diatribe all in itself. In light of the public's ignorance towards things like that I see no problem skewing your numbers to promote the fact that it needs to be accounted for.

On the other hand I think when delving into the details of whether something is sustainable, you have to take into consideration the differences between running a business vs providing basics for yourself. Is taking 15 minutes away from posting on facebook/forums to produce food, really a cost? lol.

But it's just splitting hairs, I just wanted to make sure I knew where your numbers were coming from.


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#6 [url]

Aug 16 12 4:59 PM


I think it's nearly impossible for any small business to thrive in the current economic/political situation. Large corporations have too many advantages in the form of scale, regulations/laws, and resources. I've owned small businesses and would never own another one (above the table anyway) in the US until a lot of things changed.

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#7 [url]

Aug 16 12 5:21 PM

A lot of whether a business can thrive or not depends on the business and how it's conducted.  Raising 100 chickens means feed input, gathering, grading, washing and boxing eggs, then taking them to market and the costs of the market.  There is also the labor, fuel and as Jay mentions, the land.  Obviously, the 100 bird egg farm model doesn't pay.  Yogi tried it and went bust pretty quick awhile back.  If one scales up to the size where it would pay enough for wages, feed, etc., etc., it's a huge operation and runs afowl of many regulations.

However, chickens are extremely sustainable and everyone should have a few if they can.  If you keep the numbers of chickens to the level of what the area they are in can support, then it all works out.  You get gets, fertilizer and the occasional chicken dinner.  You may get enough eggs to swap for something else or to sell for enough to cover the feed inputs.  I doubt you'll get enough profit to cover the cost of an employee, fuel, boxes, going to market, etc.  So, sustainable chickens can do a lot of good in a sustainable lifestyle, not so good as a small business.

I don't think there are any more commercial egg farms in the state.  The big one in Kawaihae closed several years ago, mostly due to cost of imported feed, is what I'd heard.  However, there are a few small flocks here and there where folks have a few extra eggs to be sold in a few small markets and farmer's markets.  But the egg sales are not their primary source of income, just a bit of "egg money" income as it were.  That level of business is sustainably supported on the island.

I think to have things work on this island, instead of small business we may need to consider "micro-business".  Something as a supplemental income, not as a primary income.  Or get a very base level living situation and multiple streams of income from micro-businesses and you might get by.  Of course, the whole required health insurance thing is really gonna make that difficult real soon if it is implemented.

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#8 [url]

Aug 16 12 6:16 PM

It's an incredibly difficult business environment, and viable business plans are so few than they're often pounced on by a whole host of would-be entrepreneurs which guarantees that they all starve each other to failure. The tax structure is terribly burdensome for the small self-employed sort, who must pawn his or her hours off piecemeal, and it's tough to get beyond that level as there's a lot of incentive for people with deep pockets to farm business at a loss simply to protect other investments. 

Chooks is right, the health care thing is going to be hell-- it's likely just easier to pay the fine.

In pure academic interest, it is an open question as to just how long such "uneconomic growth" can be cooked up. As stuff fails, and it obviously is around us, bit by bit-- one wonders how long one can maintain the status quo. I can't imagine we'll make 2020 without looking a lot more like Greece at least on a state by state level. The right kinds of events could make it happen sooner--I can envision nothing that would turn the boat around.

But, on the other hand, let me tell ya! 4G is awesome!

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#10 [url]

Aug 16 12 11:05 PM

This is why my income is voluntarily 60% less than it was in 2006 and why my outlay of money is 50% less than it is in 2008. There is no reason for me to develop a business or to build anything.

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#11 [url]

Aug 17 12 8:10 AM

Chooks I agree that a lot of small businesses are run inefficiently which obviously affects their success rate. I've done small business consulting for the last 12 years so I get to peak "behind the curtain" so to speak and it's scary at times lol.

But it is factual that there has been an increase in the last 50 years (at least) in regulation limiting start ups (you have to get a license to cut hair is how ridiculous it has become). And there are many regulations just at a federal level that kick in at 15 employees designed specifically to keep a successful start up from getting past a certain level of scale. I read Thomas Edison's biography and was amazed at the ease in which he started a business at the age of 14 which was successful. There would be no way to do the same start up today.

I come from a family were all the extended households owned small mom and pop businesses. In 2 generations we've gone from entrepreneurs to everyone but myself and 2 others out of 25 cousins/aunts/uncles are employed by .gov at some level. I brought this subject up and all agree they are just taking from the system, but when you looked at work vs reward, the .gov in the short run had more reward with a lot less work.

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#13 [url]

Aug 17 12 12:26 PM


More than likely your are correct.

On a personal level I'd rather see corporation laws change to really limit (and I mean REALLY limit) their powers as a legal entity. I realize that the small business owner may not be the most efficient way of delivering goods to the public but I believe the corruption would be less (not that a small business man is any more or less moral than a corporate CEO, but when you have to face the people you screw over locally it makes you think twice) and the independence provided by the business model is more in line with my libertarian ideals (which means shit in today's world lol).

Me personally I can't work in the large corporate hive world. I am not political enough to not say what's on my mind, dislike how the "equality in outcome" translates to a rush to mediocrity, and how you are limited in promotion by the structure. I've loved owning the micro businesses I've owned, the freedom to make the decisions and pride when those decisions are right (and overcoming the set back when those decisions are wrong). But that period of American history is dead unless there is some catastrophe that makes producing things locally financially viable again.

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#14 [url]

Aug 17 12 10:29 PM

I agree, but expect that "individuality" that I enjoyed may become a relic of a moment of an era of abundance and affluence, and the future may not be able to bear such costs. Most "individualists" are wrong.

None of this makes me happy of course. I'm here in Puna chasing the last bit of frontier life, with its individualism and all. 

But climate change is killing the koa that I planted even 5 years ago in one big crunch-- and can see the future coming faster than even I, the radical. the extremist,  thought it would.

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#15 [url]

Aug 18 12 3:37 AM

Ooopers, Jay, you're gonna lose your radical extremist label and become MAINSTREAM!   Ack!  Does that mean you aren't a pirate anymore or does that mean pirates are now mainstream?  (Actually, I think pirates can be anywhere in the stream they wanna be.) 

Yup, we're all in a handbasket fer sure.  So, what are we going to do about it?  Perhaps, a better starting point would be what CAN we do about it?  Then the next question would be what SHOULD we do about it?  That will really narrow down the options of what we are gonna do about it.

For us, it's mostly grow, build and make what we can.  The less we have to use dollars to buy stuff the better off we are since we have more time to make stuff than dollars at this point.  Live on less, try and produce something for sale although getting it sold can be a problem all by itself.

Getting things marketed and sold is quite difficult when it gets down to where the rubber meets the road.

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#16 [url]

Aug 18 12 10:12 AM

At present I can see jay becoming anything like mainstream:)
mainstream is a little funky on close observation whereas jay just gets cooler IMHO;)

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#19 [url]

Aug 19 12 3:00 PM

Hey, what's with these pubic displays of affection? Made me look away and blush. ;)

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions - Confucius

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#20 [url]

Aug 19 12 5:09 PM

Hey Punafish, either you are missing an 'L' or you saw something I did not see!!!!

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