Friday, April 8, 2011

Protein Sources: Fish, Chicken or Both?

During one of our conversations regarding Urban Homesteading, the topic arose regarding protein sources of food for our home.  At first, we were thinking about chickens, but we live in a relatively conservative neighborhood, so if it is to be chickens, it has to be low profile.  Then the conversation came up regarding fish.  I never thought in a million years I would be considering raising fish in my yard!  Having spent some time online looking into chickens and fish, I came up with some pros and cons of both.

1) Easy to maintain.
2) Hardy animals to stay outside.
3) With a "chicken tractor", they naturally aerate and fertilize the yard!
4) Regular egg production.
5) Entertaining for the kids.

1) It would require my building or buying this chicken tractor.  
2) Not readily accepted or embraced by the more conservative neighbors.
3) Can sometimes be loud.
4) Might attractive some larger predators to the yard (coyotes and hawks). 

(For us- the best are likely Trout or Tilapia)
1) Quiet and low key
2) Entertaining for the kids
3) This sets me up for a Hydroponics/Greenhouse add-on (will explain later).
4) Rapid growth and reproduction. 

1) Requires temperature monitoring and controls (cold for Trout and warm for Tilapia).
2) Plumbing and water filtering mechanisms are required (not my strenghs).
3) Possibility of "fish kill" where entire school dies because they can be temperamental.
4) Trout have omnivorous diet (plant and smaller fish). 
5) Will likely require a greenhouse to protect from various climates and predators (Raccoons are known to invade).  This affects lot planning.
6) Painfully regular feedings.

I've chewed on this for a while, but I think the answer is really a combination of both.  This way we don't have to go overboard with a lot of chickens (I think Cobb County only allows for 6 anyway) or a lot of fish.  You don't have to read much to see that too many fish in a tank can stress them out.  This applies more to Trout than Tilapia as Tilapia typically swim in tight schools. 

**Use what you have. I have a lot of spare wood from a piece of the deck we had to rip out and I will likely use that for the chicken tractor.  Also, it is a little unusual, but we moved into a house with a broken jacuzzi.  So, we will likely try to put our trout there.  I now wish I hadn't drilled holes in the bottom to make it a storage unit!!  I'll have to plug those now... Also, when in a general conversation with my neighbor, he happened to have a fish pond and pump he was about to throw away!  So, yay, I have two containers for both fish!!

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