Debbie Vornholt

Sep 182014
 

Free Chicken Coop Plans

Let’s face it.  

The biggest start up expense if you want to stChicken Coop Designart raising backyard chickens is buying or building the chicken coop.

Cheap Chicken Coops



You don’t have to spend a lot of money to build a great chicken coop.  Keep in mind, the more chickens you have, the larger your structure will have to be.  If you have any DIY ability, the cheapest way to get a chicken coop is to either modify an existing structure to suite your needs or you can build your own chicken coop.  If you are anything like me, you probably have old scraps of wood, nails, etc laying around just waiting to be used! I know several people that ended up with GREAT chicken coops that cost very little money by using an old play house, a dog house, a horse run in or just used the stuff they had stored in a barn!  Either way, you will have a unique structure that you can modify or build to suite your chickens needs.

 

Free Chicken Coop Plans

Have you tried going on line and looking for free chicken coop plans that actually had the plans?  I know I have and guess what . . . most of the sites you click on DO NOT have “free plans”.  It drives me crazy!  You can find great pictures online of these fabulous chicken coops but where to you start?  How much wood do you need?  Etc, Etc.  It is very annoying.

One place that I found that actually has FREE CHICKEN COOP PLANS is on Pinterest.  Who knew?  I didn’t but it has turned out to be a great resource.  Click on the chicken house below to see the free plan I found.  Browse around and you will find several different chicken plans that are free and they actually have directions!  Imagine that!  I also found a free plan for the chicken coop below at BarnGeek.com.  You can click the link to the left or the picture below to check it out.

Free chicken coop plan

Chicken Coop Plans

If you can’t find what you want, you can always buy a book of chicken plans that you can either build yourself or give to a contractor to build for you.  A good contractor will be able to take a basic design that you like and either make it smaller or bigger.  I love custom built chicken coops because they are unique and have character.  You are going to be looking at this chicken coop for a long time so why not build something you love!

Are you short on time?  Travis Sago will help you build a chicken coop in just 3 days!  Click here to learn how to get the job done fast.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this – building a chicken coop doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  The fewer chickens you plan to keep, the cheaper it will be to provide adequate housing for them.  Keep in mind that most people who start with just a few chickens, tend to branch out and get a lot more!  So plan for that day if you can.

Have fun!

Aug 202014
 

Hens That Lay Blue Colored Eggs

Easter Egger

Easter Egger – Notice the olive colored legs

Chicken keeping is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds and it’s not unusual these days to find out that your neighbors have a few hens.  One of the fun things about chickens is that they don’t all lay the while eggs that we commonly find in the grocery store.  Ever read the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham”?  Believe it or not, there are hens that lay green colored eggs and/or blue colored eggs instead of white or even brown eggs.  Anyone who has ever tasted a fresh egg will agree that they are the best eggs they have ever tasted.  It can be really hard to go back to store bought eggs after you have had a “real” egg that was freshly laid.

I love all of my chickens but the hens that lay blue colored eggs are my favorites.  I give eggs to my family and friends and I’ve had several people ask me why I dyed the eggs!  There are a number of different breeds that lay different colored eggs and many are readily available here in the United States.

Chicken Breeds That Lay Blue Colored Eggs

The Araucana breed lays blue tinted eggs and they are very commonly confused with the Americauna breed of chickens.  The Araucana is a pure breed bird and is not commonly found at hatcheries.  This being said, it is very common to find hatcheries selling “Araucana’s but they are actually “Americaunas”.  In order to find pure bred Araucana hens that lay blue colored eggs, you usually have to find a breeder that specializes in them.

Ameraucana

Ameraucana

The Americauna on the other hand is very common and are usually found in the “Easter Eggers” selection that are commonly sold in chicken hatcheries. Easter Eggers are very popular as they lay blue / green eggs in various shades.  There is no way to predict what color eggs these hens will produce until they actually start laying which I think is half the fun.

Three breeds, the Marans, the Banyelders and the Welsummers lay very rich dark chocolate colored eggs that are truly stunning.  Cochin hens lay eggs that have a slight tint that can range to a yellowish brown egg.  Naked Neck and Turkens will lay eggs that are a creamy light brown or sometimes even have a yellow tint.  It is not unusual for Plymouth Rock hens to lay pinkish tinted eggs.  The Catalana and Aseel breeds also lay eggs that are tinted.  The Egyptian Favoumi hens will lay eggs that are an off white.

Are Chickens That Lay Colored Eggs Right For You?

Before you decide to purchase any breeds just for their color, make sure that they meet your needs.  Some breeds of hens are not prolific egg layers which is a problem if you want regular egg production.  Other breeds are known to be flighty or not very friendly which could be a problem if you want hens that you and your family can interact with.

Find out more about hens that lay blue colored eggs and how they can be a wonderful addition to your backyard flock.  CLICK HERE to buy chickens that lay colored eggs.

Aug 202014
 

Formex Snap Lock Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House

If you have or are planning to get chickens, one of the basic requirements is a chicken coop and chicken run to keep them in.  Chickens require very little but they do need a sturdy, predator proof house and run as well as food and water.  When you start looking at chickens coops online, you will notice that there are a large number of chicken coops to pick from.  However, if you take the time to read the reviews, many customers were very unhappy with the quality of the chicken coops that they purchased.

Common Complaints About Chicken Coops

Customers that have bought other chicken coops had common complaints which included:

  • Cheaply made
  • Hard to assemble
  • Didn’t last
  • Pieces arrived broken
  • Coop was smaller than stated
  • Coop would not hold as many birds as advertised

Highly Ranked Chicken Coop – Nicer Than The Others

But that doesn’t mean that all of the chicken coops that I found online are the say way.  As I was looking at the different coops, one of the, the Formex Snap Lock Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House is highly rated and has 30 reviews.  What was different about the reviews for this hen house is that most customers were very happy with this chicken house.  It was sturdy and was large enough to hold 4-6 Large Chickens or 6-8 Bantams on average which is pretty good.  Reviewers were very happy with how easy it was snap together.

You will need to add your own chicken run as this one does not come with one.  That is not a bad thing as most of the chicken runs provided with other chicken coops are not large enough in my opinion and are only good enough for the chickens to use until you get up and let them out into a larger area.

Specifications and Features

  • No tools required
  • Impact resistant
  • Ultraviolet resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Chemical resistant
  • Maintenance free
  • Removable litter tray
  • Larger Adjustable ventilation
  • Easy access for egg collection
  • Insulating, double-wall construction
  • Predator resistant, lockable access
  • Self contained and light weight
  • 4 Nesting spots with removable dividers
  • Three 36″ roosts
  • Room for twelve standard breed hens
  • Made in the USA

Overall Dimensions

  • 64″ X 39″ X 42″ inches

Overall, this chicken coop looks very nice and is one of the better chicken coop designs that I have seen.  If you are looking for a chicken coop to house your chickens in, this one seems to be a great choice.

GET MORE DETAILS ABOUT:  Formex Snap Lock Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House 4-6 Large 6-12 Bantams

 

Aug 182014
 

Chicken Coop Security

Chicken coop security

Morning – Let us out!

  My non chicken coop friends kind of chuckle at me good naturedly when I talk about the lengths that I have gone to keep my chickens safe from chicken predators. These non chicken people love to watch my chickens run around my back yard and they certainly enjoy the fresh eggs that I dole out when I have too many to eat. But, they don’t have a clue how hard it can be to keep your chickens safe or how heartbreaking it can be when you fail to keep your chickens safe. Chicken coop security is a very real and serious problem for anyone who currently has backyard chickens or is considering buying a few hens for eggs.

It sounds simple enough. Buy some chicks, put them outside in your wonderful chicken coop when they are old enough and then sit back and just collect their delicious eggs.  Right?!?!  Ha, ha.  The joke is seriously on anyone who doesn’t understand that anything that can catch your chickens will kill them and possibly eat them.  Not every predator will eat them by the way.  Some only delight in the chase and the kill and then will walk away and leave the body of your poor dead hen just laying on the ground while they run off for some new adventure.  It’s just really sad.

Over the years, my unlucky chickens and those of my chicken raising friends have become the unfortunate victims when a gate was accidentally left open, the coop was not properly secured, the wood became rotten enough for a motivated predator to chew threw it or there was a hole in the fencing that no one noticed until it was too late.  I am sure that all of you that have backyard chickens can add hundreds of stories to this blog about the various and often unique ways you have lost chickens over the years then your chicken coop wasn’t secure. Chickens cannot protect themselves and can be killed all too easily by a huge variety of animals in your area.  Accidents happen all the time and all you can do is learn from them and move on.

How To Secure Your Chicken Coop

But, there is no reason for your chickens to die because you have not properly secured the chicken coop.  New chicken coops are great but make sure the latches securely fasten. My friend’s new coop had very cute but very flimsy little heart shaped pieces that were intended to be pushed up and hold the upper door closed.  But, a raccoon was able to easily touch them and they flew down and the door magically opened.  None of the other latches were very secure either.  We spent a couple of hours adding new latches and some strips of wood that would open and close but would securely latch the doors closed. Another friend discovered that the coop, while pretty heavy, was very easy for a predator to gain access to by tunneling under it.  After that disaster, we pounded small posts into the ground and secured the coop to the posts.  We then added a wire apron, that was approximately 12 inches wide, around the bottom of the coop to prevent predators from digging under it.

Smalls things that increased the chicken coop security immeasurable but that none of us considered until it was too late. Old chicken coops present their own set of problems.  Regular maintenance is a must to keep your chicken safe and secure.  Wood rots over time and can warp and separate which can provide an easy way for a chicken predator to gain access.  Wire doesn’t always age well and can rust, develop holes and also detach from the structure.  It is very important to regularly inspect your chicken coop and run and take care of issues as they crop up.

Free Range Security

Do your chickens free range?  This can be a security nightmare because it is much harder to secure a larger area.  My chickens free range in a roughly one acre back yard that is completely fenced.  But, that being said, some of them are not smart enough to stay behind the fence.  One rooster and his harem of hens love to hop over the fence very day and take a jaunt over to the neighbor’s yard.  My neighbor doesn’t mind thank goodness but I have lost two of the hens to a local dog.  Clipping their wings helps keep the contained better but as soon as they are able, they roam again. For the chickens that have enough sense to stay put, I have planted ornamental grasses in groups and have strategically planted bushes that stay green all year long. This gives them areas to run for cover whenever a hawk flies over looking for an easy meal to grab.  They also love to lounge under these protective areas during the heat of the day and dig in the dirt.  They are heck on the landscaping but at least they are safe!

chicken coop security

Free Range Chickens – Fences don’t stop us!

Conclusion – Securing Your Chickens

Chickens depend on us to keep them safe.  They are in the environment that we created for them and it is up to us to provide a secure chicken coop and run to keep them safe.  If your flock free ranges, consider implementing some of the things I suggested above.

Chicken Coop Security

Chicken Coop Security

Chicken Coop Security Download Word

Chicken Coop Security PDF

Chicken Coop Security PDF

Chicken Coop Security Download PDF

Aug 112014
 

Buy A Chicken Coop Online

Chicken coop bought online

Raising chickens in  your backyard can be a fun and exciting venture.  I have been keeping chickens in my yard for years now and I still get a thrill every year when the new chicks start arriving.  They are just so darn cute!  All of my chicken coops to date have been either made by a contractor or bought locally.  But, I ended up needing a new coop pretty quickly and decided to take a chance and buy a chicken coop online.

The selection of online chickens coops is pretty overwhelming to say the least.  I did some general online searches and ended up at Amazon just because they have a huge selection of chicken coops that can be purchased online and then be shipped directly to your house.

The reason that I needed a coop so quickly is that I ended up taking in a batch of chicks that were mailed to the post office and they couldn’t figure out where to deliver them to. These poor baby chicks were sitting in the post office still in their box and had no where to go.  So, their journey finally ended at my house and because there were already two batches of young chicks that were different ages occupying my other coops and these chicks were way to young to be put with them, I needed somewhere to house them once they outgrew their little water trough that I start all of my baby chicks in.

Advantages Of Buying An Online Chicken Coop

Lots of selection to pick from.

Quick and easy to buy.

Delivered right to my driveway!

 

Disadvantages to Buying A Chicken Coop Online

I couldn’t see it, feel it, touch it before buying.buy a chicken coop online

Assembly was required – by me!

A little more costly than having it built locally.

 

The chicken coop that I chose online was one of the more expensive models but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to house my chicks for a few months.  It was sturdy enough to protect the new chicks from other critters and the elements.  There were several models that were cheaper but I have found that they are really too small to hold more than a few chickens.  Chicks grow very fast and there were 16 chicks that survived and I didn’t want them to be crammed in a space that was too small once they started getting bigger.  There is no way to keep that many chickens in it once they are full grown.  This bigger model provides enough room for the chicks to move around when they are smaller. It also gives my free ranging chickens time to observe the newbies and accept them long before I ever turn them all loose together.

Keep in mind that I am fairly mechanical and I can follow directions well enough to assemble most anything. Unpacking the darn thing was a pain and it took some time to get organized enough to actually start putting it together.  The directions were decent and along with some common sense I had it together in a couple of hours. It does require at least two sets of hands so I did enlist the help of a friend of mine. My 13 year old niece was also on hand to hand tools to use and hold pieces in place while we secured them. If you don’t have the skill, time, patience or tools to tackle this project, then be sure you line up someone ahead of time.  I have found that lots of pizza and some beers can be helpful!

economical chicken coop

Economical chicken coop

There are a lot of different designs, colors and sizes available online.  There are many cheaper chicken coops that are more affordable if your budget isn’t very big.  But, the smaller coops will only comfortably hold anywhere from 3 to 6 hens so keep that in mind.  When I first started keeping backyard chickens, my plan was to only have 6 but I now have more than 40 hens and 2 roosters!

The one problem that I had with it is that the latches are not very strong.  My friend had an incident recently where she lost several chicks because the latches were a piece of cake for a raccoon to flip open and gain access to the chicken coop. I always re-enforce these latches for my own peace of my and the safety of these innocent little babies.

It is also very important to somehow secure these chicken coops to the ground. A determined chicken predator can easily dig under these structures and gain access.  The cheapest and easiest way to secure these is to put a wire apron around the bottom and cover it will either some dirt or sand.  Personally, I always extend the apron out a foot.  That way the predator will dig and dig but won’t be able to get through the wire and tunnel under the hen house.  The apron is also secured with “U” clips or pins so that it is even more secure.

Buying an online chicken coop can be a great option if you don’t have want to hire a contractor to build your own.  It’s easy, convenient and pretty much fool proof.

 

See great chicken coops that you can buy online here.

 

Buy A Chicken Coop Online PDF

Buy A Chicken Coop Online PDF

Buy A Chicken Coop Online

Buy A Chicken Coop Online Download

 

Jul 072014
 

Do Chickens Make Their Own Nests?

do chickens make their own nests I have been asked this question many times.  Chickens DO NOT make their own nests like other birds do.  Wild birds will gather materials like twigs, twine, fabric, grasses, mud etc. and will actually construct a nest in a tree or a corner of a building or any other number of places.  Every different type of bird will build a nest specific to their breed.  Some nests are very simple and some are quite elaborate depending on the bird.

Chickens do not run around collecting materials to actually construct a nest.  Given that you want your chickens to lay their eggs in the same place every single day so that you can collect them, you need to provide nesting boxes for your hens.  Different hens will prefer different types of nesting material in their nests so I provide a variety of nesting materials in the different boxes.  Some like hay, some like straw and others prefer shavings so you just need to figure out why works best for you and your chickens.  My chickens have me well trained and I provide all three!

Nesting Problems

If your chickens don’t like the nests that you have provided, they will look for other places that they like better.  I have found eggs in an old car, under a low hanging bush and up in the hay loft.  The chickens will make their own nests of sorts by hollowing out an area in the dirt or the hay or anywhere else that they can so that the eggs will stay in place and won’t roll out and break.  I personally don’t consider this as making their own nests as they are not collecting nesting material and actually building a unique nest.

Chickens that don’t lay eggs in the nests that you provide can be a problem.  If you have a rooster, your chickens may sit on these hidden eggs and you will end up with surprise chicks.  This may not bother you if you have the room to house these extra chicks but other people may not be able to have more chickens than they already have.  Also, if you want the eggs to eat or sell, you will end up with a lot less eggs over time. So, it is very important to figure out why your hens aren’t using the nesting boxes that you provide. nesting box

Solving Nesting Problems

If you have new hens that can’t get with the program, one of the easiest ways to help solve nesting problems is to confine your chickens to their chicken house for a week.  This will force your chickens to lay eggs in their own nests that you provided.  Chickens tend to be creatures of habit and it typically won’t take more than a week to reset their behavior.

Make sure that you have enough nesting boxes for your chickens though or they will start looking for a new place to lay their eggs once you turn them loose again. Chickens have a pecking order and fighting can occur if you don’t have enough nests for your chickens.  The more dominant hens will get first choice of nesting boxes and the lower ranking hens will be forced to find another place to lay their eggs.

Try changing the nesting material if you have one or more chickens that don’t want to use your nesting boxes.  You may try this if your hens prefer to lay their eggs on the ground in the coup instead of in the nesting boxes.

Conclusion

Do chickens make their own nests?  I personally say no, not in the typical sense that other birds do.  So it is very important to provide nesting boxes that are easy to access, provide privacy and that already have nesting material in them.

PingMyUrl.com

Jun 262014
 

How To Build A Chicken Coop Cheaply

how to build a chicken coop cheaply

 

I am assuming you are here because you need to a chicken coop and you are trying to figure out how to build a chicken coop cheaply. Anyone who has gone online and looked at chicken coops knows right away that they are not cheap.  And, quite frankly, some of the coops that you can buy online do not look very sturdy and in most cases are only good if you have 6 or less chickens.  Personally, I don’t like my structures to look just like everyone else’s out there. But, I also don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on any structure, even if it’s for my laying hens.  As long as you are not in a rush and can take the time to look around, you should be able to build a great chicken coop that is cost effective, functional and that you won’t be embarrassed to have in your yard!

DIY Chicken Coops

One of the best ways to save money building a chicken coop is to do it yourself.  If you know how to use even a skill saw, a hammer and a drill, you should be able to build an affordable chicken coop that will keep your chickens warm, dry and safe.  There are tons of paid and free chicken coop designs online that you can get to help you build a hen house of your very own.  If you aren’t very creative, just follow the chicken house plan and you will have the structure built in no time. If you are more creative, you can made some additional tweaks to the design and have something completely unique.

Now, if you are like me, you have some unused wood, nails, screws and possibly some wire and / or roofing materials.  My garage is a treasure trove of left over building materials because I am a pack rat!  Several of my friends have been able to make nice chicken coops and runs with materials that they had laying around too.  If you don’t, hit up some of your friends and see what scraps they may have laying around that are just collecting dust.  Chances are, they would be happy to donate to your cause, even if you have to trade them some of your future eggs!

Bartering For Your Chicken Coop

Not handy?  Shuddering in horror at the thought of doing this project on your own?  Now, before you click the back button, just take a minute to listen to what I have to say.  Even if you don’t know how to build anything or let’s say you know how but don’t have the tools, I am sure you know someone who has the skills and the material to help you out.  Stop and consider what kind of skills you have to offer and see if someone you know would be willing to barter his or her skill in exchange for yours.  Two of my friends are the “bartering queens”!  They are amazing and manage to barter for all kinds of services.  It just takes a little bravery and the ability to negotiate and you can end up getting stuff done for almost nothing.  I always say “You can’t receive if you don’t ask!”  Lose your shyness, practice a script with a friend first and then start talking to people who can help you with your project.

Used Chicken Coops

Buying a used chicken coop and/or run is a great way to get a bargain coop for your chickens.  Many people buy chicks and all of the supplies that go with them and lose interest in the project.  While chickens are pretty easy to maintain, some folks just don’t have the time or the small amount of money it takes to feed them and take care of them.  Sometimes they will sell you their chickens as well.  It is a win – win for everyone involved.  You become a problem solver in this case by helping them get rid of items they no longer want or need and you get a used chicken coop for your hens.  You can check local Craig’s List listings, online forums in the area or even post an ad saying “used chicken coop wanted”.  You never know what people are looking to get rid of.

Re-purpose An Old Structure

Ever thought of taking an existing structure either on your property or someone else’s and converting it into a hen house?  Creative people do it all the time and end up with some great little hen houses in the end.  Look around your property or those around you to see if there are any suitable buildings.  You could also convert a corner of an old shed or take part of a garage or barn and enclose an area.  If you don’t have a lot of chickens, you don’t need a huge chicken coop.

Conclusion

Figuring out how to build a chicken coop cheaply doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.  It may take a little effort on your part but if you are willing to put in the work, you will be rewarded with a chicken coop that is affordable and functional.

 

 

 

 

Jun 232014
 

coon proof chicken coopBuild A Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop

This post is very timely and unfortunately too late for a friend of mine who just lost 6 of her chicks to a raccoon last night.  We spent several hours yesterday re-enforcing her chicken coop and failed to consider the flimsy, cheap and completely un-secure latches on the doors.  The coon was able to easily open the latch and 6 chicks that were about five weeks old died as a result.  It has understandably upset everyone because they were so young and so cute.

On one hand, we are all mad at the raccoon for killing these cute baby chicks, but on the other hand, it was only doing what predators do each and every day – trying to stay alive too.  The key is to build a raccoon proof chicken coop so that future chicks do not fall victim to predators of any kind.  Unfortunately, that is easier said that done but we are sure going to try!

Now, this chicken coop was only going to be used as a temporary home until the new chicks were big enough to be introduced to the existing flock of chickens.  My friend has had a lot of chicken predator problems over the last year and has lost a lot of her flock.  Every time we fix one problem, another one crops up.  It seems like it is never ending.

  • The first thing we did this afternoon was to install stronger latches on the two doors and the two hatches to make them harder to open.  This is a small, free standing chicken coop that was pre-made and that came in eight panels that had to be assembled.  The side panel was also loose so we re-enforced that so it wouldn’t slide apart.  The end result isn’t pretty, but it is much stronger and safer.
  • The second thing we did was to surround the entire area with a secondary temporary fence, since the second batch of chicks that are left will only be in it temporarily.  This first batch of chicks wasn’t healthy and more than half of them died so the hatchery sent her a replacement batch of chicks that are about three weeks younger than the chicks that were killed.  We also secured wiring over the top of the fence so now the entire structure has a top.
  • The third thing we did was to install an apron around the entire bottom of the coop to prevent any animal from digging under the temporary fence.  We also put a piece of plywood under the small chicken coop and secured it to the coop to prevent something from just lifting the entire thing up and getting in that way.

We are not going to put the new chicks out til this weekend so that we can monitor the security camera and make sure that this second clutch of chicks doesn’t suffer from the same fate as the others.

Predator Control

Predator control is a major factor when you are considering getting chickens.  As my friend has learned first hand, they strike fast and they can wipe out an entire flock very quickly.  We had never seen any foxes or raccoons out there but that doesn’t mean they weren’t out there.  She also has a lot of owls and hawks on her property, both of which can easily kill a chicken.  Always keep in mind that when you add a flock of hens to your yard, they will draw predators to the area very quickly.  After all, most animals know that they are easy prey to take down because they are not equipped to fight off any kind of attack.

Most predators will strike at night when your hens(and you ) are sleeping.  The poor chickens won’t even know what hit them.  There is nothing worse than going out one morning to check on your girls and find out that some or all of them are dead.  It is just terrible.  Predators will strike during the day though so if you are home, be alert for any commotion in the area of your hen house.  Many times you can save your hens from a predator if you act quickly enough.

Fencing For Chickens

One of the easiest way to keep common predators like dogs, foxes and coyotes away from your chickens is to keep them behind a chicken fence.  If your chickens free range, consider fencing the area that they free range in.  Limiting their roaming range will go a long way towards keeping most of your flock in one area.  Another friend of mine was able to keep most of her chickens in her yard but there are always the adventurous souls who just can’t resist flying up to the fence and perching briefly on the top before hopping down to freedom on the other side of the fence.  Most of the time, most of the chickens, led by a rooster, make it home but sometimes one or more never return.  The only options in this case is to keep them completely locked up or allow them their freedom to live how they want while they can.

Chicken fencing is very important and it’s one of the keys to keeping your flock alive and well.  Chicken wire is great because is a smaller mesh and it is safer for such a small animal.  The downside to chicken wire is that is is not as strong as some of the other types of fencing that is available and sometimes can be broken.  One of the strongest types of wiring that can be used is hardware cloth.  It is very strong and durable but it can also be costly to use in a large area.  You can also use graduated mesh fencing that has smaller openings at the bottom that gradually get bigger at the top part of the fence.  There are many different types of fencing that can be used to keep your chickens safe and contained.  Look around in your local stores and online to see what options work best for you.  Some are more expensive than others but keep in mind that the fencing will last for a long time and will keep you from having to replace your flock if something gets to them.

High Tech Predator Control

We do live in a high tech age and there are options if you want to use something more high tech to help keep your chicken flock safe. There are units that you can purchase and install by your chicken coop.  They emit flashes of light which will startle and scare off night predators.  These units automatically come on at dusk and switch off at daylight.  These units are also solar powered so you don’t need to plug them in and are easy to install.

Conclusion – Build A Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop

Predator control is something that all chicken owners face on a daily basis.  Keeping your chickens safe from raccoons and other predators requires you to install proper fencing, a secure chicken coop and constant vigilance on your part.  Chicken coops can develop holes, the wire can come loose from your run or a variety of others things can happen that make your coop not as safe as it could be.  Have a friend come over and take a look at it for you to give you fresh eyes.  You will have to address each problem as it occurs.

Jun 172014
 

 

Chicken Care In The Summer

It is mid June here in Kentucky and the temperature is expected to soar into the mid 90’s this week.  Most of us humans can retreat to our air conditioned homes to get out of the heat.  But what about caring for backyard chickens when it is hot?

While I would not suggest that you take them inside or even provide them with an air conditioned coop, you do need to take some steps to make sure that they don’t suffer needlessly and possibly die.  If you haven’t built your chicken coop yet, I would strongly recommend that you pick and area that has some shade, especially during the hottest part of the day.  However, most of the time you will realize this too late or maybe you don’t have any shady areas where you can locate your chicken coop.  So, what can you do to provide shade and keep your flock protected?

 

Shade For Your Flock

Ashade sail friend of mine had this problem.  Her chicken coop was located in an area that got no shade at all.  Now, her backyard chickens free range but they had their nesting boxes in the coop and they would often be sitting in there panting like crazy.  It would also still be extremely hot when the chickens went to bed for the night since it would bake all day.  They were just miserable.  She ended up purchasing three Shade Sail Canopies and they work great.  They hang them in the spring and them take them down in the winter.  They are easy to hang, provide great shade and turned out to be very durable as they lasted for years before they had to be replaced.  They also help hide the chickens from flying predators which was an unplanned for advantage.

 

She also planned ahead and planted some trees, bushes and tall grasses that grew tall around the chicken coop.  It has taken a few years, but now the chicken coop has some natural shade that has improved the overall look of the area around the chicken coop.  The bushes also provide some cover for the chickens to lounge around under during the heat of the day and also provides some predator protection for them.  She planted varieties that stay green year round so there is a touch of green no matter what the season.  They also provide a wind break in the winter and snow tends to not accumulate under them either so the chickens can hide under them year round.  predator protection

Water Your Flock

Your chickens will go through even more water than normal when it is hot.  Be sure and change the water often as it will go bad quickly, especially if they kick food into it.   My chickens love to play in the water too and cool off.  I put out shallow rubber horse feeders and filled them with water.  It was hilarious to watch them hop in a either just stand there or in some cases, splash around.  They really enjoyed it and it was a great way for them to stay cool.  Some of my braver chickens even stood on the edge of  the sprinkler when it was out and got misted.

Chicken Coop Ventilation

One way to keep your hens cool when the weather is hot is to make sure that your chicken coop is properly ventilated.  I have vents installed along the top of the chicken coop and I have screened doors installed so that air flow through it all the time.  This keeps it cooler and keeps the coop dry as well which will make for healthier chickens.

 

Enjoy The Heat

I try not to worry about my ladies too much because the heat sure is a welcome break from the long, cold winter that we had.  They don’t seem to stress out too much and they know when they need to crash under a tree or bush and take a nap for awhile.  Keep an eye out for any hen or rooster that seems unusually lethargic though because they can experience heat stroke the same as you or me.  Caring for backyard chickens when it is hot is just simple common sense.

backyard chicken care

Jul 312013
 

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

chicken breedsPicking the best backyard chicken breeds can be difficult to do.  Many first time chicken owners are surprised and overwhelmed when they look through a chicken catalogue for the very first time.

Anyone that has ever looked through a catalogue knows that there are hundreds of different types of chicken breeds to pick from. Deciding which chickens are the best backyard chicken breeds can be subjective and cause a few arguments.  But there is no denying that several breeds are more popular than others and they are definite standouts among chicken breeds.

When you are looking for a breed of chicken, be sure to know what you want it for.  In other words, are looking for the best backyard chicken breeds
that are outstanding egg layers, are great meat birds or do you want chicken breeds that are considered dual purpose birds?  That will help you to narrow down the number of breeds you need to consider and the task won’t  be so overwhelming. Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds – Top 5 Breeds

The Jersey Giant:  The Jersey Giant is well named as it is by large one of the largest breed around.  It can weigh up to a whopping 13 pounds. They are one of the best backyard chicken breeds available for anyone that wants to raise chickens for meat. They come in several varieties and are all about the same size.

The Plymouth Rock: The Plymouth Rock is definitely one of the best backyard chicken breeds around.  This breed of chicken can be found in several varieties, the most popular varieties are barred and white — is a calm, sweet breed that is very friendly and is a sturdy chicken that is a great bird to start with. This breed is hefty at up to 9.5 pounds, which makes them excellent meat birds. They lay brown eggs.  As they are good meat birds and good laying birds, they are labeled a dual-purpose breed, which means that it is a breed that can be used for either meat or egg production.

The Rhode Island Red: The Rhode Island Red is a rust-colored chicken breed that is very popular and is commonly found in backyards.  This chicken breed is not as stout or large as the Plymouth Rock, but they are also considered to be a dual-purpose breed and lays brown eggs.

The Leghorn: The Leghorn is hands down one of the best backyard chicken breeds for anyone that is keeping chickens just for their eggs. They are originally from Italy and were specifically bred to be the best egg layer of any other chicken breed.  This breed tends to be a little more excitable than some other breeds.

Ameracaunas:  Ameracaunas are one of the best backyard chicken breeds if you want chickens that lay blue colored eggs.  They are beautiful birds that have cute fluffy feathers around their heads.  The are best used as egg layers and are good as a pet bird as well.  They do not make a good meat bird.

The best backyard chicken breeds listed are just a few of the favorites around. Unless you intend to become a serious chicken farmer, there are many others that may suit your needs just fine and may work out best for you and your family.  Not everyone is concerned with egg production or meat.  Many chicken breeds are very unique looking and will add a unique flair to your flock.  Each will become a beloved member of your flock.

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds Download Word Doc

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds

Best Backyard Chicken Breeds Download PDF

 

Jul 292013
 

How To Chicken Farm In Your Backyard

chicken farming

 

Learning how to chicken farm is not difficult.  You do not need to own a hundred acres of land and have millions of dollars to invest if you decide to look into how to chicken farm.  There are many families, just like yours that decide to buy baby chicks and raise them to provide eggs for their family.

Is It Legal To Keep Chickens?

So, where do you start in your quest to learn how to chicken farm?  First, check your local ordinances and make absolutely sure that you are allowed to keep chickens in the area that you live.  Some areas outright forbid keeping any type of farm animal at all.  Other areas allow them with restrictions.  Usually there will be a specific number of hens that you can keep and almost all areas have a rule that says “No roosters allowed”!  I personally love roosters but your neighbors may not as they crow, not just when the sun rises, but all day long.

Do You Have A Budget?

Before you ever learn how to chicken farm, you need to decide if you can financially afford to keep poultry in your backyard.  This endeavor can be low cost or you can spend a fortune, it is entirely up to you.  You need to know how much money you can spend before you ever start.   I have a friend who recently had a chicken coop and a large chicken run built.  The only thing she had to actually buy was the wire and she had to pay someone to build everything, but she everything else that was needed in a barn.   If you are handy and can build whatever you need and / or you have some materials already on hand, it will not cost nearly as much.  But, if you have to buy everything or pay to have something built, it will obviously cost more. Then you have the cost of the chickens, the feeders, water dispensers as well.  These things are one time purchases though so if you can afford to buy them, they should last a long, long time.  Poultry feed will be the only other major expense that you will have on a monthly basis.

 Free Range Chickens - Fences don't stop us!
Free Range Chickens – Fences don’t stop us!

Do You Have The Time?

How much time do you have to devote to learning how to chicken farm?  Baby chicks need a lot more care than full grown chickens.  Flocks that are allowed to free range need a lot less care than birds that are kept confined. You need to decide before hand how much time you have to commit to taking care of your girls.  The coop will need to be cleaned at a MINIMUM of once a month and that is a bare minimum with just a few chickens.  Most chicken coops must be cleaned more often.  The chickens will have to be let out of the coop in the morning and locked back up at night.  They also need fresh food and water every day.

  • Can you do that every single day of the year?
  • What about when you go on vacation?
  • What about if you get sick?

While chickens are pretty self-sufficient, they still need some daily attention.

Chicken Coop Basics

Once you have determined that you are allowed to have chickens where you live, you need to prepare for your chickens to arrive.  DO NOT run out and buy a bunch of chicks and work backwards.  Figure out the best location in your yard to place the chicken coop.  You need a place that has good drainage and that is safe from predators.  You may also consider it’s location to water, to your food storage location, how far it is from your home as well as a dozen other personal considerations.  You also need to determine how many chickens you can have as this will impact the size of the chicken coop you need and the amount of money you need to spend.  A large chicken coop will need more room than a small one and it will also cost more money.  You should also buy all of your chicken supplies before your chicks arrive.  To find out what supplies you need to have a chicken farm, click here.

Where to Buy Chicks

Chicks can be bought from a number of places. If you are serious about learning how to chicken farm, you need to figure out what kind of birds you want and find a reputable place to buy them.  You can always order baby chicks online and have them shipped directly to your home. There are a lot of advantages to this.  Click here to find out more about where to buy chicks.  Or, depending on the time of year, you may be able to get some from a local feed store like Tractor Supply.  The selection isn’t as great but the chicks will be alive when you pick them up.  You can also check Craigs list in your area and find chicks that you can buy locally.  There is really no right or wrong answer here as long as you get healthy, disease free chicks.

Room To Roam – Free Or Caged

You also must decide if you want to keep your chickens confined or you will allow them to free range.  Free Range means that when you open up the chicken coop in the morning, the chickens are allowed to roam at will.  The biggest danger here is that you will lose some of them to predators in the area.  Keep an eye out and notice what types of animals come and go through your yard.  If there are a lot of unwelcome visitors, you will need to securely fence your yard or keep  your chickens confined.  Some people decide to build a large chicken run and others decide to use what is called a chicken tractor.  Either method will work if you should decide to not allow your chickens to free range.

Unexpected Problems

There has been a lot of press lately about people deciding to learn how to chicken farm and then realizing that it is not for them.  Make sure you know what you are getting into before you ever start learning how to chicken farm.  You don’t want to figure out that keeping chickens is more trouble than it’s worth AFTER you have invested in chickens and their supplies.  Not many people want to try and integrate full grown chickens into an existing flock so they can be hard to find homes for.

Free range chickens can also be destructive.  They love nothing more than to scratch around in flower beds and gardens. Unfortunately, your plants do not always survive!  They also leave a trail of chicken poop behind them as they wander around your yard, so keep that in mind.

Remember, chickens can live upwards of 10 years and they will not lay eggs once they get older.  Many books say that they quit laying somewhere between 2 – 4 years old but I have had ladies lay up to 7 or 8 years old.  No, these older hens do not lay every single day but they produce a few a week.  I love their eggs but I don’t keep them solely for their eggs.  I have a retirement home of sorts for my really, really old hens and a rooster to protect them from the younger chickens and they seem happy.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that a lot of chickens are ending up in animal shelters or just abandoned when the people that originally got them figure out that they are too much work or they cost too much.   Learning how to chicken farm is not difficult and a little homework will help you determine before you get started if you even want to bother with keeping backyard chickens.  I love my chickens and don’t mind the time I have to take to see to their needs.  Unless you love the chickens, it is a whole lot easier to buy your eggs at a store or a local farmers market. You will pay more for the fresh eggs at a farmers market, but it will be less than if you become a chicken farmer!

 

 Chicken Fencing Tips

Jul 232013
 

Predator Protection – Chicken Coop Predators

Predator protection from chicken coop predators is imperative as your backyard chickens could end up as dinner to any number of predators roaming around your property looking for an easy meal.  It is not something that any of us want to think about but there are many chicken coop predators that would love to have our chickens for dinner.  Chickens are cute, are fun to watch and lay great tasting eggs, but they cannot protect themselves at all.

Predator Protection

The main defense in predator protection is always the chicken coop and chicken run. Most predators prowl around at night looking for food and sleeping chickens are easy to kill if they can get to them.  A sturdy structure that is not easy for a predator to gain access to will help ensure that your chickens live to see morning.

A strong chicken run is a must if you do not allow your chickens to free range. You need to inspect it often to ensure that there are not gaps or tears anywhere. Chicken coop predators do not give up easily and they could be working on making a hole in your wire or digging a hole underneath for days at a time.  Constant vigilance is a must to protect your flock.

Chicken Coop Predators

Chicken coop predators come in all shapes and sizes.  Unfortunately, backyard chickens are not equipped to defend themselves at all and they are very easy to kill.  There are what I call “domestic” predators like dogs and cats, possibly your own pets, that love to chase and kill.  One of my dogs has been impossible to train not to chase my girls so he is not allowed anywhere near them.  I lost several of my birds one year to a stray feral cat.  I ended up trapping him, having him fixed and found him a new home.

Other common chicken coop predators are raccoons, possums, foxes, large birds and any other four footed animal that may roam your area.  Raccoons are a particular problem in my area and they are a huge problem because they don’t scare away as easily.

Chicken Fencing

Chickens that free range especially need predator protection which can be difficult.  I have fenced my entire back yard with heavy duty wiring secured to four board fencing.  This helps keep the neighbor’s dogs out of my yard which is important since one of them kept attacking my chickens before I installed the wire fencing.

LandscapingPredator Protection

I have also provided heavily landscaped areas strategically around my yard using large grasses and grouping plants together.  This not only provides needed shade for my flock but allows them to take cover from an assault from above. Since they tend to lay around under the plants during the day, they are impossible to see from above as well.

Solar Nite Eyes

Predator protection has risen to a new level at my house since I discovered a solar powered unit that has flashing lights that are activated by movement at night. Predators are very aware of their environment and want to hunt undetected.  This unit is great because it makes them feel threatened and they leave the area.

I started off with four units because I have three chicken coops in use but ended up adding two more to provide good coverage and better predator protection at night.  The solar nite eyes have worked great so far.  I have a real problem with raccoons attempting to break in and get my chickens. They haven’t been successful in a long time but that doesn’t mean they don’t keep trying!  Since I installed the solar nite eyes, I haven’t seen any raccoon tracks around my chicken coops or runs.

They are relatively inexpensive at $23.49 for a single unit (at this time) and are easy to use.  They are well worth the money and allow me to sleep better at night.  I love them and they are just one more way for me to provide stellar protection from predators for my chickens.

Check out the Predator Protection Nite Eyes for yourself below!

Solar nite eyes single pack =>Nite Guard Solar NG-001 Predator Control Light, Single Pack
Solar nite eyes double pack =>Solar Predator Protection Nite Eyes 2 Pack

Solar nite eyes four pack => Solar Predator Protection Nite Eyes 4 Pack

 

 

Jul 192013
 

Building A Chicken Coop  

Building a chicken coop will be one of the best decisions you’ll make in your life.  A chicken coop is a necessity because it will allow you to provide safe, secure  housing for your hens so that they can get on with the business of laying daily fresh organic eggs for the kitchen.Building A Chicken Coop

All chickens need shelter to protect them from the elements and keep them safe from predators.  A chicken coop will provide shade during the heat of the summer and provide protection from the cold in the winter. Your flock will also need a quiet place to lay eggs when they are ready.  If you don’t provide such a place, your hens will go in search of a place that you may not like as much!

Keeping a flock of chickens is also a great way to recycle your families food scraps and produce high quality fertilizer for your garden. Building a chicken coop with your own two hands can be very rewarding and your family will be proud of the coop that you created.

It just makes perfect economic sense to consider building a chicken coop yourself instead of buying an expensive pre-built chicken coops. Pre-built coops have to be assembled anyway, you’re really just paying hugely inflated prices for the material. A friend of mine just build a great chicken coop and a huge chicken run with materials that she had in her barn from an old deck.

Don’t get too caught up in having the “perfect chicken coop”. Building a chicken coop is about letting your creativity to run free as well as creating a safe haven for your chicken flock.

CLICK HERE for more chicken coop designs that you can easily put together.

Jul 172013
 

Poultry – Consider Raising Bantam Chickens

Raising bantam chickens is something you consider if you are thinking about keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard.  They are one of the best backyard chicken breeds to raise if you want to raise chickens that are smaller in size.

Size Matters With Backyard ChickensBantam Chicken

The great thing about raising bantam chickens is that they are a lot smaller than other chicken breeds which means they need less room than your average chicken.  You can usually keep 2 or 3 bantams in the same space that you would need for one larger chicken. Because they are smaller, they also cost less to feed.

Be warned though, because while all chickens can “fly” to some degree, the bantam chicken can fly a lot better due to it’s small size. So, unless you want your small chickens to be roaming about, they will need a fully enclosed pen.

While the smaller size of the Bantam makes them a popular choice to keep in your backyard, it can be a drawback too.  Because these small fowl only weigh a fraction of what a larger fowl bird does, they are much easier for smaller predators, like crows and other small birds to take. It is essential that they have a safe enclosure to keep them safe from these types of animals that would kill them.

Mix and Match Your Flock

They come in a variety of colors and fancy feathers.  They are very curious and friendly which is a major consideration if you want backyard chickens that will interact with your family. You can add a few bantams to your flock of larger chickens too without any problems.  Raising bantam chickens can provide great variety in your backyard flock.

The bottom line is that before you buy any chickens for your backyard, know what you want them for. If you want a lot of eggs, then the bantam chicken is probably not for you.  If you are looking for a lively, fun backyard pet, then raising bantam chickens is a great idea!

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Worming Chickens – Is It Necessary?

 

Jun 192013
 

Chick Care

Once upon a time, a family walked into a local Tractor Supply and heard the musical sound of chicks chirping.

Like millions of people before them, they were filled with wonder at the site of row after row of shiny metal water troughs filled with chicks of many different breeds and colors.

The chicks were so cute and cuddly!  They decided to take some home with them right then and there.

They purchased everything they thought they would need (except a chicken house) for their 14  baby chicks and happily hauled everything home.

I wish I could say that the story had a completely happy ending but it doesn’t.  Like any spur of the moment purchase that millions of people make every single year, they were ill prepared to take care of the chicks they took home that day and many of the chicks paid the price.

The young chicks were small enough to keep in a small rubber made container for about a week and then were moved to a horse water trough.  The chicks continued to grow rapidly and quickly outgrew the bin they were living in.  This is a great family that is very responsible but also very busy and they didn’t realize how quickly the chicks would grow.

They quickly found out that chick care in a space that is too small is a lot of work.   The chicks kept spilling their water and their living area was wet a lot of the time.  The chicks eventually starting hopping out of the water trough they were living in and wandering around outside which was not good.

The search for an affordable chicken coop started in earnest since is was obvious the chicks had outgrown the area they were living in.  But, chicken coops that are pre-made can be very expensive when you need one large enough for 14 chicks.    Eventually, a coop that was built for 6 chicks was selected for their 14 chicks.

The chicken coop was bought and when it arrived, it was assembled quickly.  While the chicken coop was cute, it was cheaply made, poorly designed and is kind of flimsy. It would not take much for a predator to break into the chicken coop and kill all of the chickens.  It is also not going to last for years and years.

The chicks – now almost full grown pullets, were moved into their new quarters. They were happy to have the run of the yard during the day and adapted very quickly to their new living arrangements.

But, they were stuffed into a too small chicken coop at night.  The chicken run was too small for all of the chickens to stand in at one time so they were allowed to roam at will during the day which really wasn’t safe for them.  There is a lot of acreage around and there are a lot of predators looking for an easy meal.

The family took a vacation and had a friend watch all the animals for the week. Unfortunately, one pullet disappeared the second night they were gone.  Then five turned up missing about four days into their trip.  No one was ever able to figure out what happened to the six missing chickens.  There were not signs of any struggles – they simply vanished.

There are five remaining hens and they seem to be doing well.  There is now plenty of room in the chicken coop since it was designed for six chickens.  The last five girls stay close to the house and never venture off too far and so far so good.  The story ends well for the five remaining girls and they are very happy.

Remember, chickens make great pets to have around the yard but they do need some care.  Young chicks are very cute and chick care is pretty easy if you are prepared.   They need to have room to grow and they need to be protected from predators.  It can be very hard to resist buying those cute little chicks when you see them.

Before you buy any chicks, ask yourself:

  • Do I have time to take care of these chicks?
  • Do I have the money to buy what is needed for the care of chicks?
  • Do I have a safe place to keep them protected from predators?
  • Do I know someone that will watch them if I have to leave for a few days?

If you are determined to buy chicks, then make sure you are set up properly to take care of them BEFORE you bring them home.  A little preparation will go a long way towards making this adventure stress free and ensuring you lose less chicks.

Chicken coops are not cheap to buy.  Most of the ready made kits are expensive and are cheaply made. They will not last for years and years which means you will have to replace them all the time.

A better alternative is to find a great design and build one yourself. You can build it to meet your needs and the needs of your chickens. It also costs a lot less to build one yourself and it will last forever if you use quality building materials.

Check out these chicken coop plans. You can take a look at everything for $4.95 for 21 days and if you don’t like it, you won’t pay a penny more. These are great designs and are easy to follow.

 

Jun 192013
 

worming chickens  Worming Chickens – Do You Need To Worm Backyard Chickens?

Worming chickens is not a pleasant topic to discus but it is necessary.  I have my chicken flock on a regular worming schedule but apparently, not everyone realizes the importance of regularly worming chickens.

There are 6 different types of worms that can be found in chickens.

  1. Hair worms – Can be found in the crop, oesophagus, proventriculus and intestine.
  2. Round Worms – Can found in the birds digestive system.
  3.  Gizzard Worm – Can be found in the gizzard, mainly in geese.
  4. Tape Worm – Not very commonly found but are in the intestine.
  5. Gape Worm –  Can be found in the lungs and trachea
  6. Caecal Worm – Usually do not cause a lot of damage but can be given to turkeys.

A worm infestation will make your birds weak and sick and in a worst case scenario, possibly even lead to death.  It is much easier to prevent worms in your chicken flock than it is to treat your chickens once they have them.

How To Recognize A Worm Infestation

So, how will you know if your backyard chickens have some type of worms?  The most commons signs of worms in your chickens is the actual condition of your individual birds.  Any of your birds that are losing weight, failure to gain weight, eating more than usual, eggs that have a pale yolk, diarrhea and in severe cases, anemia.  By the time your chickens have anemia, their combs and wattles will be very pale and there is a very good chance that they will die.  When in doubt, you should consider worming your chickens.

If your hens are actually over loaded with worms, you will be able to see them in their droppings.  Once they become visible, you have a very serious worm infestation.  But, if you can’t see them, one of the best ways to know for sure if your hens have worms is to take a fecal sample to a local vet.  The test itself if pretty cheap and will tell you for sure whether you have worm infested chickens or not.  The vet doesn’t have to know anything about chickens as the parasites are pretty much the same as in dogs and other animals that they routinely see.

How To Treat Worms In Chickens

Most products promise to kill 100% of the worms which is great when you are worming chickens, but that only means the worms are killed, not the eggs.  Remember, parasites have a life cycle and the worm is the adult stage of the cycle.  More eggs will hatch if the worms were not killed before they were old enough to lay eggs and will re-infest your chickens.  The life cycle of the different worms varies, but it is usually between 2 and 8 weeks.  Worming your chickens on a regular schedule will ensure that you don’t have to ever manage the life cycle of these nasty critters.

Best case scenario, you know which parasite your chickens have so that you can taylor your treatment plan. But, assuming you aren’t sure, it is best to take a more aggressive approach to getting rid of chicken worms. Always follow the directions of the product that you use and if you have any doubts, contact your local vet for more specific instructions.

Flubenvet and Ivermectin are two of the most common chicken wormer products used to get rid of worms.  Ivermectin is also great for treating other parasites like mites.

Conclusion

Worming chickens on a regular schedule is the best way to ensure their continued health.  Always follow the directions when using chemicals on your birds.  Usually, you have to confine the chickens for a day or two to get them to actually ingest the wormer as they will not like it!  No one said that worming chickens was fun but it is absolutely necessary.  I always throw away all eggs for at least 14 days after I treat the chickens.  Be sure and read the directions so that you will know when it is safe to eat the eggs again. For me, it is much easier to worm the hens when they are molting.  They are not laying very many eggs during this time so I don’t waste so many eggs.

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CLICK HERE To Find the Best Wormers

Oct 042012
 

Chicken Hatchery – What Is A Chicken Hatchery?

The word “Chicken Hatchery” is bandied around a lot but I have found that not everyone knows what that is.  A chicken hatchery is a company that hatches chicks in incubators in large numbers to sell to the public.  

Chicken hatcheries are big business in the United States and they hatch millions of chicks.  The hatch and ship millions of baby chicks to chicken batteries and backyard chicken enthusiasts every single year.  There are a lot of horror stories related to the chick producing business but it is still by far the most popular place to purchase chicks online.

Why would you consider buying baby chicks from a chicken hatchery?  Well, there are several reasons to consider.

  • 1. There is a large number of chicken breeds to pick from.
  • 2. Day old babies will be vaccinated for common chicken diseases.
  • 3. Large numbers of chickens can be bought.
  • 4. There is a a discount if you buy larger quantities.
  • 5. They can be very accurately sexed so you get mostly hens which is a huge advantage when buying from a hatchery.

But, there are several other things to consider as well before you buy chicks from a chicken hatchery.

  • 1. The hatchery will ship directly to you so you need to home when they arrive.  If the post office cannot locate you or there is a dely in picking them up, they may die.
  • 2. Ideal weather is a must because if it is either too hot or too cold, they will die.
  • 3. Many people find the process used to hatch the chicks to be distasteful.  There is also the matter of most of the male hatchlings being “disposed of” as they have almost no market value.

There is no doubt that buying from a chicken hatchery is the most popular way to buy chickens for your flock these days. But, what do you do if you don’t want to buy from a hatchery?  What other options do you have?

One of the best ways to find young chickens in your area is to check out Craigs List.  I have found that I can find a variety of chicken breeds this way.  You can also check out towns or cities that are within driving range to find more selection.  One of the biggest problems you may have with buying chicks this way is that there is no way to know for sure that you are getting pure bred chicks.  If this is important to you, then this is not the way to buy your chicks.

You can also check out local feed and tack stores in the spring.  Many times they have several different types of babies for sale.  You can also check online forums and see if anyone in your area is offering any for sale.

Remember, you don’t have to buy your chicks from a chicken hatchery.  It may take a little more time and effort to find them locally, but you may find it more rewarding.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.  Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

 

Learn How To Introduce Chicks To Your Chicken Flock

Aug 152012
 

 

Introduce New Chicks To Your Chicken Flock

I have been asked how to introduce new chicks to your chicken flock a few times.  If you look on the internet, anyone that has ever hand raised chicks will have a different opinion on how to introduce new chicks to an existing flock of chickens.  I will tell you what has worked for me.

Introduce New Chicks Early

I personally start putting my hand raised chicks outside for a couple of hours each day in the afternoon when they are about four weeks old. They are very active and love having more room to run around.  I made a 12’ x 15’ fenced area for this purpose with chicken wire.  This is assuming the weather is warm.  I introduce new chicks to the flock early (weather permitting) by putting them in an enclosed area where the existing flock can see them but can’t get to them.  The older chickens will watch them from a distance at first and will gradually gather to check the new chicks out.

Introduce New Chicks Gradually

I don’t actually allow the chicks loose in the same area with the adult chickens during the day until they are at least half their size.  For the first few days, I keep a very close eye on everyone.  Usually they just do their own thing and except for an occasional peck from an older bird, everyone tends gets along.  I only step in if the chicks are really being harassed.

I personally do not ever attempt to put them together at night until the chicks are about the same size as the older hens.  I put up a partition using wire in my larger hen house and add the chicks on one side when it gets dark.  That way none of the hens can get to them if they decide to object to them being there.  I watch the situation over a week or two and when everyone seems to be getting along, I take the wire partition out.  Make sure each side has food and water.

Monitor New Chicks For Trouble

It is very unusual to have too many problems introducing new chicks as long as there is enough room for them to get away. I have found that they usually form their own flock and go off on their own and avoid the main flock.  I still round the chicks up at night and separate them from the main flock at night for the first few weeks after they are introduced.

Every so often when I introduce new chicks to the flock, one or two hens will not leave them alone so I move the objecting hens to a different hen house.  (I have 3 hen houses.  One large and two small).  Assuming you only have one hen house, you may need to get rid of any hens that won’t accept the new chicks.  But this doesn’t happen very often as they usually adjust pretty quickly and will either avoid each other or get along.

Now, if your hen has raised the chicks on her own, that is a different situation.  She should protect them from the other hens so you should be able to introduce new chicks to the flock with her and keep everyone together without any problems.  At least, that has been my experience.  I have also had good luck slipping newly hatched chicks under a broody hen and getting her to raise them as her own.

Be aware that if you have roosters, there will probably be ongoing problems when you introduce new chicks that are roosters also.  I recently had an older rooster killed by one of my young roosters that I hatched last fall.  He was originally introduced to the flock with no issues and one day out the blue, my older rooster was dead with no warning.  The 3 older roosters had a pecking order and they all got along fine.  I didn’t realize until it was too later that the young rooster had gotten so aggressive.  So keep a close eye on the boys and get rid of any roosters that cause problems when you add new chicks.

Multiple Chicken Coops

I get a lot of questions about why I have 3 chicken coops.  The answer is because I have about 40 chickens at any given time and it seems like there is always one that needs some special care.

Having extra chicken coop and runs allows me to separate any chickens for whatever reason. Sometimes, a hen needs a break from an aggressive rooster or another hen. Unfortunately, sometimes one of them is injured by a predator and needs time to recover. Or, when I have new chicks, I can separate them from the main flock at night so that no one gets bullied

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 What Is A Chicken Hatchery?

Jul 132012
 

Introducing New Chickens To The Existing Flock

When I got my first batch of chicks, I never thought that I would be adding new chicks to the existing flock so quickly.  My first attempt at raising chicks was a disaster to say the least.

I ended up having to get more baby chicks and they were a couple of months younger than my original chicks.  Silly me . . . it never occurred to me that there might be a problem trying to get both sets of chickens to get along.

Boy was I wrong!  Much to my dismay, the older chickens immediately starting picking on the younger chickens.  They chased them around mercilessly, pecked them whenever they got the chance and just generally made them miserable.  After running around frantically trying to capture the younger chicks, I realized that I had to figure out how to get everyone to get along . . . fast!

Separate The New Chickens

After I separated the baby chicks from the older chicks, I had to figure out how to integrate them peacefully.    The first thing I did was hop online and do some research.  Luckily for my chickens, it was relatively easy to get them all to get along.

The first step was to keep them separated by a fence so that both sets of chicks could see each other and interact without actually being able to cause any harm.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, they all settled in and got used to being next to one another.

As they got more comfortable with each other, I then allowed them to start mingling for a couple of hours during the day for about a week.   Since I was worried about them fighting like last time, I monitored them very carefully.  But other than a peck or two from the more dominant pullets, this time the introduction went much more smoothly.  Before long, everyone was happily scratching around with no issues.

Distract Your Hens

Backyard chickens have very short attention spans and it is typically pretty easy to divert their attention with treats.  I used several methods to keep them distracted including hanging a head of cabbage, broccoli and some large pieces of melon strategically around the chicken run and the yard.  Soon, they were all busy trying to grab their treats and didn’t pay any attention to anything else.  All of this activity also wore them out so they were just too tired to start trouble.  It was actually quite fun to watch them!

I have horses and the chickens in my backyard love to dig through the manure.  Sounds disgusting, I know, but they were in heaven.  My flower beds were pretty much done for the year so I piled manure in the beds and the chickens happily scratched it up and churned up my beds for me.  It kept them occupied and they actually helped me out!

Surprise – You Have Chicks!

Over the years, I have added new chickens to the existing flock without much trouble at all.  One trick that I love is to get several of my hens sitting on wooden chicken nesting eggs and then when the new chicks arrive, stick them under the hens in the middle of the night.  Believe it or not, this trick works very well.  The hens think their eggs have hatched and the chicks are just naturally accepted.  The hens typically keep the chicks away from the other birds at first anyway but the existing flock doesn’t try to bother them as long as they are with mom.

If I don’t have any broody hens, I keep the chicks in a brooder at night inside for warmth and safety.  Then, during the warmer days, I put up a temporary chicken run to serve as a baby pen and allow the chicks outside for a couple of hours during the day.  The older chickens can see them and hear them but can’t harm them.  That way, when the chicks are old enough to join the older chickens, they are used to them being around.

Conclusion

Any time you add new chicks or older chickens to an existing flock, there will be some minor skirmishes, but they usually manage to work it out.  Keep in mind that the new birds will have to figure out the pecking order and some squabbles are normal.

Keeping chickens in your backyard is an adventure.  Your flock is unique  so you need to keep in mind that you may need to get creative and modify these suggestions to keep your flock happy.

Jul 042012
 

Chicken Tractor

A chicken tractor is a great way to keep your chickens safe and your yard in good shape. There are many free chicken tractor plans available online that are easy to build.    What is a chicken tractor you might ask?  A chicken tractor is a portable chicken coop and run for your chickens.

There are many reasons that you might want to have a chicken tractor instead of a standard, non-moveable chicken run.  The biggest advantage of a chicken tractor is that it is portable which means your chickens can always have a fresh area to scratch around in.  You can imagine that if your chickens are left in one place all the time, the area would become trampled and muddy with no grass for them to scratch around in.  This one area of your yard would become completely ruined and nasty.  A chicken tractor allows you the luxury of moving it around every day or so and a different patch of your yard will be fertilized every day.

Chicken tractors come in almost any shape and size and there are a number of free chicken tractor plans to be found online.  Many people make their own out of materials they have laying around.  Just be sure and not build a chicken tractor that is too large or you will never move it which is the whole purpose of having a chicken tractor. You can find some free chicken tractor plans online that are easy to build.

Why do you need a chicken tractor? There are several reasons why you might need a chicken tractor.

  • Chicken safety If predators are a problem in your area, a chicken tractor will keep your flock alive while still allowing them some freedom.
  • Containment.  Chickens tend to roam when they are not contained.  Even if predators are not a problem in your area, your chickens could get hit by cars if they run onto roads.  Your neighbors may also not appreciate their flower beds and vegetable gardens being dug up by your chicken flock.
  • Controlling chicken poop.  This is a big one for some people.  When chickens free range, they aren’t concerned with where they make deposits.  I routinely find chicken poop in my garage, on my car and on the kids swing set.  Keeping them locked up will keep your yard and belongings a lot cleaner.

Chicken tractors are not very complicated to build and there are a few free chicken tractor plans on line.  You can build a small one for a few chickens or a larger one that will house more chickens.

Just remember, the bigger the chicken tractor is, the harder it will be to move.  If it is hard to move, you will not move it which will defeat the purpose of having one in the first place.

FREE Chicken Tractor – See One Built

Get chicken tractor plans here.

Apr 262012
 

Quality Chicken Coops & Chicken Runs

how to build a chicken coop cheaply Quality chicken coops & chicken runs come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices.  Whether you have a small chicken flock with just a few hens or a large chicken flock with dozens of hens, you can find a chicken coop that will fit your needs.

  • Chicken coops can be one story or two. 
  • They can be fixed in place or can be movable.
  • They can be big or small.
  • They can be plain or downright fancy!

Chicken Coop Basics

Before you run out and buy just any chicken coop, you need to stop and think about what your needs are.  You need to stop and answer the following questions first.

  • How many chickens are you going to keep in your backyard?
  • Are your chickens going to free range or will they be kept in a chicken run?
  • Is the drainage good where you intend to build your new chicken house?
  • Do you have water and electricity easily accessible?
  • What types of predators are common in your area?

quality chicken coopThese are just a small fraction of the questions that you need to be able to answer and consider before you ever start looking for a chicken coop and chicken run.  Quality chicken coops are not cheap and neither are the poorly constructed ones!  A well built hen house will last you for many years without much care or upkeep as long as you get a good one.  It has to be large enough for the number of chickens you want to keep.  Free range chickens will not need a large chicken run.  Chickens that are kept confined 24/7 will need a lot more room or they will fight and their area will be very hard to keep clean.  If the drainage is poor where you build your chicken coop, it will be wet too much which will lead to sick chickens and again, an area that is almost impossible to keep clean.  It is no fun to be trying to water your chickens in sub zero weather with a long hose that will freeze up if you leave it outside.  Caring for your backyard chickens will also be no fun if you have to do it with a flashlight!

To Build Or To Buy?

If you are handy, you should have no trouble building a quality chicken coop for your hens.  You will have a chicken coop that is well constructed and with a little imagination, one that doesn’t look like every other hen house out there!  Building your own coop is much cheaper and you can build something that exactly meets your needs.  I recommend checking out some online chicken care forums to see what challenges other chicken farmers have face while designing and building their own coops.

Not handy at all?  No worries!  You can find quality chicken coops and chicken runs in kits online that you can have shipped to your home and then have a handyman construct them for you. Depending on your situation, a kit may be just the thing you need to get started.  Typically, if you can read and follow directions, you can assemble it yourself.  But, sometimes the million pieces that they come in is just too much trouble to mess with unless you hire a professional.

  • The advantage of a kit is that it is usually pretty easy to put together.
  • The disadvantages include cost, quality and lack of durability.

5 Popular Chicken Coops and Chicken Runs

Below are 5 popular examples of quality chicken coops & chicken runs that are available to purchase.  Click on each slide to view pictures of the chicken coops and their prices.  Even if they don’t meet your needs, you can get an idea of what type of design you like best and have someone build one with your own unique twist.

[SLIDER-ZONE-(1)]

If you are at all handy, you should seriously consider building your own chicken coop.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of quality chicken coop designs available on the internet.

The advantages of building your own chicken coop include instead of buying a kit:

  • Able to build a much larger chicken coop for less money.
  • Custom build it to meet your specific needs.
  • Materials you use are of higher quality.
  • Unique design that thousands of other people don’t have.
  • Satisfaction of doing it yourself.

You can try out as many chicken coop designs as you want for 21 days for just $4.95.  It’s a cheap and easy way to see if you can build your own chicken coop.

Mar 232012
 

Start Raising Backyard Chickens

Start raising backyard chickens

I was surfing the internet this morning and ran across a great article on how to start raising backyard chickens.  This article provides some excellent tips for anyone that is thinking about raising backyard chickens.  Check it out below.

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by guest blogger Jean Nick, author and sustainability expert

When I was perhaps 10 years old, a lone Rhode Island Red hen wandered out of the woods and into the yard. We figured, given that she was a long way from anywhere, she must have fallen off a passing truck. My mother never turned away a needy animal, so Henny Penny joined the menagerie, spending her nights snug in an old rabbit hutch given to us by a neighbor.

Come spring, her mind turned–as hen’s minds are wont to do–to motherhood and she went broody, sitting glassy-eyed and inert on her nest eggs (which were in fact, milk-glass eggs my mother unearthed and tucked in so Henny Penny wouldn’t notice we were taking her egg each day and hide a nest somewhere else). Lacking a rooster on the place, she wasn’t going to get anywhere even sitting on her own eggs, so after a few weeks my mother couldn’t stand such hopeful and doomed devotion any longer. She had my Dad stop at a local hatchery and bring home a pair of lovely fluffy New Hampshire Red hen chicks, which she tucked under Henny Penny that night–much to the delight of everyone involved the next morning. And that was the start of my first brood of chickens.

==>  CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

Mar 212012
 

I was online and ran across this interesting article making a connection between urinary tract infections and chickens. 

Chickens are a huge part of the diets of Americans and this is something I had never heard of before. 

Check out the article below:

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Chickens may be ultimately to blame for the majority of urinary tract infections in the U.S., according to new research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers have long believed that urinary tract infections (UTI) were caused by E. coli bacteria in a person’s own gastrointestinal tract.

But after analyzing genomes of the bacteria in women with UTIs, the study’s authors found that the strains of E. coli in the women matched strains of E. coli found in retail chicken meat.  According to the researchers, the bacteria did not come from any contamination during the preparation process, but from the chicken itself.

The CDC also analyzed strains of E. coli from other types of meat, including beef and pork, but those retail meats were significantly less likely to have the same strand of E. coli found in those with UTIs.

A major concern listed in the research revolved around the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in the last decade, which the researchers found in some of the samples they tested.

“The management of UTIs, which was previously straightforward, has become more complicated,” the CDC said on its website.  “The risks for treatment failure are higher, and the cost of UTI treatment is increasing.”

The scientists have proposed a possible intervention into modern farming methods to help reduce the risk for contamination.

Click here to read more from the CDC.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/20/chickens-possible-cause-urinary-tract-infections/#ixzz1pl0HSsy5

Mar 022012
 

Spring is around the corner and now is the best time of year to consider either start raising a backyard chicken flock or add to an existing backyard chicken flock.

So, where is the best place to buy chicks?  My answer is “It depends on why you want to buy chicks”. 

  • Are you starting a brand new flock of chickens?
  • Do you have an existing flock that you want to add a few new chicks to?
  • How many chicks do you want?
  • Do you want to a specific breed of chicks?

There are obviously more reasons than the ones I listed about but they are a good place to start a discussion on where is the best place to buy chicks.

The best place to buy chicks in large numbers or in pre-sexed groups is online.  There are chicken hatcheries like California Hatchery that you can get catalogues from or go online and place an order.  If you are starting a brand new flock of chickens, you first need to know how many you have the room to keep. The California Hatchery will let you order as few as 3 chicks which is unusual because you usually have to order at least 24 chics from most places.

Advantages and disadvantages of buying chicks online are:

  • Large selection of bird breeds.
  • Birds can be sexed with about 99% certainty.
  • Birds are usually guaranteed.
  • Ability to purchase large numbers of birds which is both good and bad.
  • Birds are shipped to local post office and have to be picked up.

If you are only looking to buy a small number of chicks, one of the best places to do that is to look locally.  I have found a number of people online on Craigs List where I can go to get a few chicks.  buy chicks online

Advantages and disadvantages of buying chicks locally:

  • You can get a few chicks instead of having to buy two dozen or more.
  • Buying locally allows you to meet the person you get the chicks from.
  • Selection may be limited.
  • It is possible that the birds are not purebred which may be a problem for some people.
  • Since it is not a large commercial operation, the birds may or may not be vaccinated.

The best place to buy chicks is something you will have to do some research on. There are a lot of options out there for buying birds and you have to know what you want before you begin this process.

I have purchased birds locally and online through a hatchery and have not had any problems with either.  The biggest problem that I had was when the birds were shipped to my local post office and someone forgot to call me.  This was disastrous for the chicks.

I would strongly recommend that if you order chicks via mail, be sure and warn your local post office that they are coming. Make sure they have all of your contact information and make sure that you know exactly where to go to pick them up.

Buy Chicks Here

Update:  The Kentucky State Fair has started here and I have learned that at the end of the exhibit time, many of the animals are either sold or given away.  You may be able to visit the local fair in your area and get some very unique chickens to ad to your flock!  Here is a great article on chicken fair hygiene.

 

 

Feb 292012
 

 Problems Related To Raising Backyard Chickens – Rats

 

Many people that have backyards chickens will have issues with mice or rats.  They can be a huge problem when you have any type of farm animal like backyard chickens, rabbits or even goats.

Raising backyard chickens is not that complicated but the majority of people don’t stop and think about the pests that you might draw when you acquire your new chicken flock.  You might ask, “What are you talking about?”  I am talking about RATS!  Rats can be a huge problem when you have backyard chickens.

Think about it.  Your chickens need food and you have to store that food somewhere.  Given that chicken feed comes in 50 pound bags, most people opt to keep their chicken feed close to the chicken coop for convenience.  Rats can smell a potential food source from very far away and can become a huge problem without proper planning.  Rats are ugly to look at and gross most people out.  But the biggest problem is that they carry diseases that can be transmitted to your flock and you.  Given their small size, they also have very little trouble accessing their chosen food source.  They can chew threw many types of material to gain access and they don’t give up easily!

Securing your food storage:

You should ensure that all your chicken feed are secured in a container that pests such as rats, other vermin, or even insects would not be able to go to. You can do this by purchasing an airtight container that you should always try to close when not in use. I personally like to use large aluminum garbage cans.  They cannot be chewed through light plastic or rubber garbage can and you can use a rope or bungee cord to help secure the lid to the handles on the sides.

Cleaning:

Chicken are messy animals and it seems like I am always cleaning up their messes.  They are not neat eaters and tend to fling food everywhere.  I rake up the old feed once a week and throw it away so that it doesn’t attract mice and rats.

Be sure to properly secure the entire coop to help stop rats from setting up house and raising a family.  Make sure your fencing is buried at least a foot underground to help discourage rats from digging underneath and building a nest under the chicken coop.  Rats are usually big enough that they are a little easier to keep out than mice.

Rats and chickens seem to go hand in hand but they don’t have to.  You know what they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Don’t create a hospitable environments for rats and they will not set up house with your chickens.

Get more answers to Raising Backyard Chickens.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

 

 

Rats and Backyard Chickens

Rats and Backyard Chickens

Problems Related To Backyard Chickens – Rats WORD Doc

 

Rats and Backyard Chickens PDF

Rats and Backyard Chickens PDF

Problems Related To Backyard Chickens PDF

Feb 282012
 

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

I found this article online about chicks making kids sick.  It is very interesting and really emphasises the need for proper hygiene when handling chicks and chickens.  Raising backyard chickens is a lot of fun but you do need to be aware of the potential that they can make you sick.

  • Always wash your hands after handling chicks or chickens.
  • If you can’t, then have hand sanitizer near the chicken coop.
  • Be extra cautious when handling chicks or chickens that are new to your flock.

Read on to find out more about this serious health issue.

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Backyard Chicks Make More Kids Sick

by Mary Rothschild | Jun 30, 2011
Infected chicks and ducklings have sickened 71 people — more than half of them younger than 5 — in a growing multistate outbreak of Salmonella that now involves two different strains of the bacteria.
In an update on the outbreak tied to backyard poultry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that the number of Salmonella Altona infections is now up to 49 cases in 16 states, while another 22 people in 12 states have been infected with Salmonella Johannesburg.
Eighteen people have been hospitalized with severe diarrhea.
Most of those who are ill, or whose children are ill, reported buying the live poultry for either backyard flocks to produce eggs or as pets.
Traceback investigations have indicated that the chicks and ducklings were purchased from multiple locations of a national company, Feed Store Chain A, which says it obtained the poultry from the Ohio-based Mt. Healthy Hatchery.
More than half of the 71 people are younger than 5 years of age.
Here’s the breakdown on the number of illnesses by state:
As of June 27, a total of 49 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona:  Georgia (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (5), Maryland (4), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), New Hampshire (1), New York (2), North Carolina (8), Ohio (9), Pennsylvania (5), Tennessee (3), Virginia (4), Vermont (1), Wisconsin (1), and West Virginia (2).
As of June 27,  a total of 22 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Johannesburg: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Georgia (2), Kentucky (2), Maine (1), New York (3), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (2), Vermont (2), and West Virginia (1).

Feb 262012
 

13 Frequently Asked Questions About Chickens

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Curious About Raising Backyard Chickens?

1. How long does a chicken usually live?  On average, your hens will live from 6 – 8 years but they can live up to 10 years. Egg production slows and eventually stops as they get older.

2. How long does it take for an egg to hatch? 21 days – give or take a day or two.

3. What is the difference between white and brown eggs?  The only different in the color of the egg.  The taste or quality doesn’t differ at all. But, what you feed your chickens and how you care for them does make a difference. Generally speaking, the darker the yolk, the better as far as taste and healthiness.

4. Will chickens come back to their coop at night? Don’t worry.  Your chickens will gradually migrate back home as it gets dark.

5. Are hens as noisy as roosters? No.  Hens are actually pretty quiet unless they are scared or under attack.  On the other hand, roosters can be very noisy which can really upset your neighbors.

6. Which animals will injure or kill chickens? Unfortunately, the list of chicken predators is long.   The most common predators of backyard chickens are raccoons, dogs, foxes, owls, hawks and coyotes. Any of these predators will eat your chickens if they are given the chance which is why your chickens need to be safely locked up each and every night. If you allow your chickens to free range, be sure that they are behind a fence that will stop predators, like dogs, from getting in.

7. Do I need a rooster for hens to lay eggs? You DO NOT need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, but they wont be fertile. If you intend to raise chicks, you will need one.

8. How many chickens do I need to provide eggs for my family?  You need about 2 hens per person on average. But, it you normally do a lot of baking or have a family that really likes eggs, you should probably have at least 3 hens per person.

9. Can I get just one chicken? No, you should not get just one. Chickens are flock animals and they do best when kept at least in pairs.  Also, a single rooster will run a single hen ragged with his sexual habits. A rooster is best kept if you have a flock of at least 8-10 hens so he can “spread the love.”

10. Can I have more than one rooster? I will say “Yes” but only if they were raised together and you have the correct hen-rooster-ratio.  I have also found that you should not lock up more than one rooster in a chicken coop because you run the risk of one of them killing the other.  I just had this happen a few weeks ago.  I put a  young rooster in with an older rooster and I found the older rooster fatally injured the next morning.

11. Can I save money raising my own chickens and eggs? I doubt it, but if you want healthier meat and eggs, raising your own is the way to go.

12. How long before my chickens begin to lay eggs? Generally speaking, they will begin to lay eggs at 5-6 months of age.

13. What is a capon? A capon is a castrated rooster. A capon will usually grow larger and will have a higher fat content than a normal rooster at butchering time. They are raised to be roasting chickens and because of the larger size and higher fat content, they are self basting.

These are commonly asked questions about raising backyard chickens.  CLICK HERE to get more answers to raising backyard chickens.

 

 

Feb 142012
 

Installing Chicken Fencing – Tips

 

Installing chicken fencing is pretty straightforward and there are plenty of how-to guides online.  Anyone that is handy should have no trouble designing a chicken run and installing the fencing.  But there are several things that you need to remember as you are installing your chicken fence.

There are 3 main reasons you install chicken fencing. 

  1. Let’s face it, most chickens are free spirits and without chicken fencing, they are free to wander anywhere they want.  Not all of your neighbors appreciate your flock’s ability to completely turn a flower bed under in 10 minutes flat!  Installing something to keep your chickens confined is a must.
  2. Also, since most of us want the eggs that our lovely hens produce, we need to have some control over where they lay their eggs.
  3. And last but not lease, I don’t like it when predators get into my chicken area and my chickens are killed.

Before you start installing chicken fence, let’s talk about some things that you need to think about.

* What type of chicken fencing should you install?  The most commonly used types of wiring are the chicken or poultry wiring or the smaller mesh with the very small square openings. Either one should work just fine.

* I always strongly recommend putting up a double layer of wiring because I have had chickens pulled through just one layer of poultry wiring.

* Stretch the wiring as tightly as possible between the posts so that there is no give in the fence.

* I would also recommend burying the fence at least a foot in the ground and some people recommend that you bury it at least two feet in the ground. Many predators are very determined and will dig down and go under the wiring to get to your chickens.

* Another idea is to burying the fencing is to create an “apron” of sorts. You bend the fencing along the bottom so that it is an “L” shape. You can secure the apron portion to the ground using landscape anchors and also allow grass, plants and weeds to grow up through it. It will be very secure and you won’t have to dig any trenches to bury your fence.

* Make sure that there are no gaps anywhere in the fence after it has been installed.

* And lastly, be sure and check your fence periodically for holes, loose areas or damaged wiring.  I am paranoid about the safety of my hens and I tend to check the fencing at least once a month but do whatever works best for you.

These are all common sense things to think about when you are installing chicken fencing.  Different areas of the country have different predators to worry about so you may think of even more things to add to the list.

 

Learn How To Build Your Own Chicken Coop

 

Feb 132012
 

Chicken Fencing Basics

20140802_120057
Keeping chickens in your backyard is so much fun.  While they are cute and make great pets, they have zero ability to protect themselves. Installing the correct type of chicken fencing is ESSENTIAL if you want to keep your chickens alive. Chickens, while normally very hearty animals, are not able to protect themselves from chicken predators that see your hens as their next meal!  They are pretty low maintenance animals but they do need a secure place to sleep, lay their eggs and scratch around during the day.

Poultry Fencing

There are a variety of chicken fences that you can use to protect your chickens in their chicken run. The most common type of fencing that you will find is poultry fencing. The biggest advantage of poultry fencing is that the mesh has very small openings so it is difficult for predators to reach through and grab your chickens. One the other hand, it is not as strong as some of the other wiring that is available.  I’ve seen poultry fencing that was stretched and /or chewed through by determined chicken predators like raccoons.

Welded Mesh Fencing

Another type of chicken fencing that I love to use is welded mesh fence. I have found this fencing to be much sturdier and it stands up to attacks by predators much better. This type of fencing is strong and I think it looks good.  It is also long lasting.  But, it will need to be stretched securely and

Chain Link Fencing

I would have never thought to use chain link fencing to keep my chickens safe but it actually works very well.  It is too strong for any type of animal to stretch or chew threw and it is long lasting.  You can buy it is convenient panels that you just have to secure together so it is easy to use and no stretching is required.  You do have to be careful to properly secure the panels together so that there are no large gaps that could allow a small predator to get through. If you have chicks, you will need to install some type of small mesh wiring along the bottom to keep them contained until they get too big to run through the holes. Although, of you use it to fence off a chicken run and it isn’t covered on the top, this type of fencing does little to stop cats or animals that are adept at climbing from entering your yard.

Other Considerations

I protect my chicken flock by installing chicken fencing in layers. I use the welded mesh fence on the interior framing of my runs and place a second layer of poultry fencing on the outside framing. This may sound like overkill but I have lost a lot of chickens over the years and I hate going out in the mornings to find chickens maimed, dead or missing.  I recommend installing a wire apron along the bottom to make sure that predators can’t dig under the wiring.

Chicken fencing is not complicated to install but be sure that you install the correct type of fence for your chickens because their lives depend on it!

Learn how to build a predator safe chicken coop for your chickens.

Feb 092012
 

How to Clip Chickens Wings

  • Do your chickens “ignore” your chicken fencing and pretty much go where they want to?
  • Are you worried that predators are going to kill your free ranging chickens that ignore their boundaries?
  • Do you want to STOP your chickens from wandering off your property?

One way to limit your flock’s mobility and prevent them from flying across fences is by clipping your chicken’s wings. Clipping a chicken’s wings is an owner’s way of saying “You can’t go anywhere.” It is the best method to prevent backyard chickens from fly anywhere they want. Some people think that wing clipping is inhumane, and they don’t mind that chickens fly over fences and go where they want to. But, as a person who has seen many of her chickens needlessly killed, I see it as more of an advantage than a disadvantage.

One of the basic advantages of wing clipping is that if you keep your chickens in a free-range status, you significantly decrease the abilities of your chickens to fly anywhere they want and say “So Long!” If you wanted to keep your chickens inside their boundary area and keep them alive, you have to adapt to certain measures no matter how unfair it may seem.

For those who agree that the idea of wing clipping is one way to better protect your chickens and who want to learn the proper way to clip the wings of their chickens, it is easier than you think. If done properly, there is NO bloodshed involved and the chickens are none the worse for having their wings clipped.

The only part that you need to clip are the long primary feathers. For first timers, ask for assistance from someone who knows how because if you don’t, things might get messy between you and your chicken. There is a definite knack for holding onto the chicken and properly clipping the wings. For me, it is a two person job because it is just to hard to do this by yourself.

Clipping chicken wings may be a hassle and you definitely need to know what you are doing, but it is the best way to outsmart your chickens. If done correctly, you can take away the balance and flight coordination thus making them want to stay even if they are dead set against staying their area.

Things you will need before you begin:

1.Sharp scissors with a rounded tip.
2.Pliers
3.Used towel
4.First Aid Kit
5.Your vet’s number

Procedure:

a. Which chicken should you pick first? The perfect candidate for wind clipping is the chicken that has her wings growing very prominently. Usually these are the chickens you see who fly proudly above other birds. Catch the bird by the feet. This is the most ideal way of getting her under your grasp.

b. Hold the chicken by the legs and support the body by holding her underneath using the palm of your hands to stop her wriggling. Use the towel to wrap it around your chicken’s body to avoid any unnecessary movements. Leave either the left or the right part of her wings free.

c. Spread the wing displaying the entire feather section that needs cutting. The feathers must be the primary ones. From the tip of the longest wing feather, estimate at least 5 inches then start cutting at that point. Use very sharp scissors so that the process will not be that agonizing for your chicken to take.

d. You know you’re done if you see that the clipped wings are already on ground and the remaining ones are aligned in proportion. In cases of mistakes, mistakes that made your chicken bleed profusely, either call the vet and ask for an advice or rush her to the nearest animal clinic for treatment.

Stop losing your chickens to predators.  Find Out More

Feb 082012
 

How To Introduce New Chickens To An Existing Flock

Introducing chicks to the flock

Introducing chicks to the flock

 

I’ve seen this question asked in a lot of forums: “How do I introduce new chicks to an existing flock of hens?”.  My chickens free range in a very large area.  My back yard and front yard are almost three acres so everyone has a lot of room to roam.

I’ve had both hen raised chicks and hand raised chicks.  To date, I’ve never had any trouble introducing the new chicks to my existing flock of hens.

How Old Should The Chicks Be

There really isn’t a set age that you can go by to put your new hand raised chicks in with the older chickens.  Weather permitting and space permitting, I personally think it is a good idea to put the chicks in a safe enclosed area inside the main chicken run every day at a very young age even if it is just for 30-40 minutes at a time.  The chickens get used to seeing and hearing them and will eventually just ignore them.  The older chickens can be very aggressive when they first notice the new chicks and it is very common for them to run up and down and “fuss” at the new kids.  I have one chicken in particular that makes awful noises at them and gets really upset for a few days!  Most of the other hens and roosters are calm and will check on them several times a day without showing any aggression.

As time passes, you will notice that they seem to be making friends through the safety of the fence which is a good thing.   It is safer to wait until the chicks are roughly the same size as the rest of the flock before you start putting them out together.  They will usually be around six months old when I actually turn them loose together for the first time.  But, I do NOT leave them together permanently until the rest of the flock has completely accepted them.  They may be used to seeing and hearing the new chicks but things can change rapidly when they invade the established flocks territory the first time.

Your chicks will be able to tell you when they feel ready to run with the big kids.  When I first introduce them, typically the babies will hide out in the chickens hen house and will be scared.  As they get more acclimated, they will start exploring the new hen house and will eventually venture outside.  I always lock the older hens out of the chicken house at first until the babies are more comfortable and there is a wire door that I close that will allow the new chicks to peek outside and will allow the hens to see the “intruders”.   The first time you put them together is usually the most dangerous so watch them carefully and be ready to jump in and rescue anyone that is in trouble.   I monitor them very closely the first few times I put them out together and as long as there are no major issues, I will gradually leave them for longer periods of time until everyone is comfortable and I don’t have to separate them anymore.

Hen Raised Chicks

I’ve currently got three roosters and each one has their own flock of hens.  Some of the hens “float” from flock to flock and some stick with only one rooster.  That is totally up to them.  But I have noticed that when one of my hens raises chicks, she tends to keep them away from the other hens and roosters when they are young.  As her chicks get older, she tends to gradually migrate back to her original flock and brings her babies with her.  As the chicks get older, they do their own thing and eventually join one of the existing flocks or make up a new one.  They tend to be more easily accepted because they are will an established hen.  I do not like to separate the hen from the main flock when she has chicks because the chickens can see her as an “intruder” when she is allowed back in with the flock.
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Common Problems

Over the years, I’ve never had any major problems introducing new chicks to an existing flock of hens.  You will see some chickens chasing the new chicks around or some pecking, but I have never personally had anything worse than that happen.   I currently have one very motherly hen and she tends to “adopt” the new chicks which tends to be very helpful.  But even if you don’t have a mommy for the new chicks, don’t worry.  Typically, everyone just goes with the flow and the new chicks eventually find their own way in the flock.

Common problems introducing new chicks can include:

  1. One hen or rooster chasing the chicks around.
  2. Pecking on a chick that gets in an older chickens space
  3. Refusing to allow the chicks access to food or water
  4. Refusing to allow the new chicks to roost
  5. Worst case scenario – an adult chicken can kill a chick

 

Extra Chicken Coop

I get a lot of questions about why I have 3 chicken coops.  The answer is because I have about 40 chickens at any given time and it seems like there is always one that needs some special care.  It is always a good idea to have a second area, even if it  is very small, to isolate any chicken that is injured or sick.  I don’t use it a lot, but it is very handy when I do. Having extra chicken coops and runs allows me to separate any chickens for whatever reason. Sometimes, a hen needs a break from an aggressive rooster or another hen. Unfortunately, sometimes one of them is injured by a predator and needs time to recover. Or, when I have new chicks, I can separate them from the main flock at night so that no one gets bullied.  There are a lot of good reasons to have at least two chicken coops and runs. You don’t need something fancy or expensive.

Check out these 19 chicken coop designs that you can build yourself.  

==>>  FREE TRIAL

 

Feb 082012
 

Most chickens lay eggs that are similiar in size and shape over their life time. Young hens tend to lay smaller eggs and older hens tend to lay larger eggs. I just ran across an article online about a jumbo chicken egg. Check it out below. It’s amazing! CLICK HERE to go to the page and watch the video.

———————————————————————————————–
By msnbc.com staff
SAN FRANCISCO, Colombia — A farmer hopes his hen’s enormous egg will make it into the record books.

The farmer’s daughter got a real surprise recently when she found the egg weighing 8.6 ounces, or about four times the normal weight of an egg.

The farmer, Hernando Niño, from the Cundinamarca region, says he plans to contact Guinness World Records as he’s never seen in his 20 years of farming anything like what his 5-year-old hen, named Franciscana, laid.

“The egg will stay in a glass case for people to see and so it is preserved,” Niño said.

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Aug 192011
 

How To Keep Your Chickens Cool

Any weather extremes can be a challenge for any animals that have to live outside.   We all want our animals to be as comfortable as possible, but short of installing a heater for the winter and an air conditioner in the summer, sometimes there are limits to what you can do.

My chickens free range during the day and I lock them up at night in their chicken house to keep them safe.  One problem that I consistently have every summer is that most of the hens prefer to roost up in the barn or in the trees or even on top of the coop.  I don’t blame them for wanting to stay outside because even a properly ventilated chicken house is still very hot when the temperatures soar over 100 degrees.

Chickens, while not very smart, are very stubborn and they want what they want.  My chickens decided that they were happier outside.  At first, I tried rounding them up every night but, trying to catch these renegade chickens got to be a real chore so I just figured “what the heck” and started allowing them to stay out.

Boy was that a huge mistake. 

I lost two hens in one night to marauders!  I was so upset and I was back to rounding up all of the hens that decided to sleep outside and putting them back in their chicken run.

While this keeps them safe, the biggest problem that I’m facing is that they are hot and unhappy.   They were very vocal and restless. One poor hen keeps pacing for hours wanting to be let back out.  I decided enough was enough and something had to be done.

I talked to a contractor friend of mine and we went back to the drawing board.  While we originally thought there was enough ventilation, it obviously wasn’t enough.  Our approach was two fold.  We added bigger windows on two sides to increase air flow and then we added a small chicken run to accommodate the hens that want to sleep outside while keeping them safe at the same time.

We raised the height on one end of the chicken run and installed perches for the hens higher up closer to the windows for better air flow.  I’ve lost hens in the past when they were grabbed through the wire so I made sure to double fence this new area of the run to prevent that from happening.  We also added perches and one large dead tree branch that was perfect for perching so the chickens that preferred to be outside could sleep safely.

Now my hens are happy because they are cooler inside and anyone that wants to, can sleep outside where it is somewhat cooler.  I’m happy because they are safe and more comfortable.

As a side note, I also provide water is shallow rubber horse feeders.  This allows them to hop in and stand in the water when they want to.  Believe it or not, they do!  Many of them actually love it.

Mar 182011
 

It’s March here in Kentucky and one of my hens has gone broody.  I didn’t really want her to sit on eggs this early but she refused to budge.  Since the weather here is pretty warm, I ended up letting her keep four eggs to hatch. 

One common problem that I have when my hens go broody is that the other hens attack her and try to chase her off the nest so that they can lay their eggs in her nest.  I always mark the eggs that she is sitting on and just remove the extra eggs.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of nests to lay eggs in and they have lots of other areas around the horse barn where they lay eggs as well,  but they always want to lay in the one with the broody hen.

However, this time the poor embattled broody hen was fighting back!  She very aggressively defended her nest and refused to leave.  I was horrified to discover her covered in blood when I went out to let the hens out one morning.  I felt really bad for her and she was being such a good mother.

To prevent any more bloodshed, I ended up moving the nesting box into the tack room to protect her from the other hens.  I closed the trap door to the hay loft to prevent racoons from getting in there and killing her.   I have to go in and out of there twice a day to feed the horses but she doesn’t seem to mind at all.  She only gets aggressive if the other chickens try to enter the tack room.

My broody hen that was being attacked is now living like a queen.  She has her very own supply of food and water should she decide she needs it. She was a little nervous at first but she settled right down and is happy as can be.  This broody hen has raised chicks in the past and has proven to be an outstanding mother. 

Anyone that has this problem should consider trying to move the broody hen that is being attacked to a more isolated area so that she can brood her eggs in peace.  This is the second time I have moved a broody hen and so far this move has been successful just like the first one was.

Let me know if anyone else has had to resort to moving their broody hens that were being attacked.  I would love to know if anyone has had luck doing this or if the hen just abandoned the nest.

Jan 272011
 

Chicken Health Problems

Common Chicken Health Problems And Chicken Illnessess

When you have a flock of chickens in your backyard, you need to know how to prevent and recognize common chicken health problems and chicken illnesses.

So, you have come home from work and you run out to take a quick peek at your chickens and make sure they are doing ok.  As you are taking care of business, filling feeders and waterers and maybe cleaning up a little, you notice one of your hens hanging out in the chicken coop while the rest of the flock is outside.  You watch her a little more closely to see if she is sick or maybe just broody.  How do you know?

Chickens are pretty hale and hearty birds when kept under ideal conditions.  But, even when kept in ideal conditions, you can still have chicken illnesses, parasite infestations and injuries.

The two keys to preventing common chicken health problems and chicken illnesses from taking hold are to provide dry, draft proof housing and conduct regular checks on your chickens.  Solid chicken housing will help prevent some of the most common chicken health problems.  Chicken coops that are drafty, that leak or that are not clean can lead to a whole host of problem.  Regular observation of your flock will allow you to be able to quickly identify and resolve any chicken illnesses that crop up.

What are the signs that you have a sick chicken or sick chickens. 

  • Make sure your flock is busily scratching around their area.
  • Any chickens that are not moving around need to be watched.
  • Are any chickens holding their wings or tail down?
  • Make sure they are all breathing normally.
  • Look for any discharge from the eyes or nasal passages.
  • Check any odd looking chickens for parasites.

What do you do if you notice that a chicken or several of your chickens appear to be ill?

  1. Capture and isolate any chickens that look sick as quickly as possible.  Separating them from the rest of the flock is vital to helping prevent the spread of any illnesses.
  2. Consult a vet in your area if you are not sure what the problem is.  Birds tend to hide illnesses so chances are that by the time you notice you have a problem, it may be too late to save the bird.
  3. Take precautions so that you do not spread the illness yourself.  Change your shoes and clothes when you leave the area your sick chicken or chickens are being kept in.  Do not go around your well chickens without putting on different clothes and thoroughly washing your hands.

Common chicken health problems and chicken illnesses can quickly get out of hand if they are not handled quickly.  Your whole flock can be affected and in some cases, it can result in the death of a lot of your birds.

Find out what it takes to keep your chickens alive. Click the link below and scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. Get your FREE report on the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens at home.

Nov 172010
 

DSCN1009 Common Foot Problems In Chickens

If you keep chickens long enough, you are going to have to deal with some type of foot problem eventually.  Raising backyard chickens is usually pretty straightforward and easy.  As long as you provide clean living spaces, shelter, food and fresh water, you should be on your way to raising happy, healthy chickens.  But there are some common foot issues that you may have to deal with.

Foot problems in chickens are not uncommon at all.  Remember, they only have to legs and feet so if one or both of them have a problem, then it is going to affect the mobility of your chicken.  But, most chickens tend to be able to adapt pretty well to any handicaps that they may have.

What causes the common foot problems in chickens?  Some foot problems are genetic or may be caused by growth that happened too fast. When chickens grow too fast, too much pressure is put on the still developing feet and problems result.  A friend of mine has a hen that has one foot that we are not sure if it is deformed or the toes were broken. They are not normal for sure but she gets around just fine.

But other foot problems in chickens are a result of nutritional deficiencies and poor living conditions.  Scaly leg mites can be a huge problem for example because they dig under the leg scales and make your chickens lame.  The scales are raised and it is very uncomfortable for your chickens.  It can be difficult to treat but one of the best remedies I have found is Vetrx Poultry Remedy – Vet-Py-2Z-X – Bci,2 fl.oz.  If you have this problem, give this product a try.

Old hens are also prone to developing arthritis which can be very painful.  Their feet get very thick and don’t want to bend very well. You will need to make accommodations for these chickens when this happens.  These hens as I said are usually old which means they don’t move as quickly and don’t really want to move around as much as the younger chickens.  What I do to make their lives easier is to separate them from the main flock so that they don’t get harassed by the hens and roosters.  They also don’t have to struggle for food and water.  I have lower perches, thicker perches and I also have nesting boxes with thick bedding that some of them prefer to sleep in at night.

How can you tell if your chickens are having foot problems? 

The best way is to take some time and just watch your chickens every day for any signs of problems.  Chickens are fun to watch as they scratch around so it shouldn’t be too hard to do.  If you notice any chickens that aren’t moving around like they should or any that appear to be lame or holding a foot up, they need to be looked at more closely.  Look for swollen feet, obvious cuts or injuries, scabs on the foot, etc. Take care of any problems that you notice immediately so they don’t get worse.

  • How can you help prevent foot problems in chickens?
  • One of the best ways is to practice good hygiene in your chicken houses, chicken runs and any other areas your chickens are allowed to roam.
  • If there is a large drop from your chicken house to the ground, then provide some ramps because constantly dropping down to the ground can cause injuries.
  • Make sure that your chicken flock has soft ground, grass or hay to stand on to cushion their feet.
  • Only give your chickens high quality feed to ensure that they are getting the proper nutrients that they need.
  • Provide different sized perches with different surfaces to help prevent arthritis from developing and to make it more comfortable for your birds.

Birds that have foot injuries should be isolated from the flock until the problem resolves itself.  That way your chicken will be to eat, drink and roost without having to compete with the other chickens and possibly injure itself further.

Another thing to keep in mind is that birds with foot problems should not be bred because there may be a genetic component. You don’t want an entire flock of birds with foot deformities or foot problems.

Get 9 tips to help you raise your backyard chickens and find out how your chickens can contract parasitic worms by CLICKING HERE. 

Nov 172010
 

 

Chicken Hazards

Common Chicken Hazards That Can Result In Lost Birds

Whether you have decided to keep one or two chickens in your back yard or you have a flock of 30 or more plus birds, there are always chicken hazards that you need to think about.  Checking for chicken hazards in your back yard will save you from losing chickens unnecessarily.

If you only have a few birds, it can be devastating to lose even one of them.  Even if you have a large flock of hens, it is still sad to lose a bird if you could have prevented it.  I cannot tell you how many chickens that my friends and I have lost over the years.  Sometimes it was due to something unexpected that couldn’t be planned for and sometimes it was just bad luck.  Chicken hazards that are left unfixed can lead to the loss of several of your beloved birds every year.

Predator control is one of the top chicken hazards you must address.  Predators like dogs, cats, raptors, raccoons, possums and foxes just to name a few, can decimate your chicken flock in no time flat.  The areas that you keep your chickens in must be securely fenced and predator proof.  If your chickens don’t free range, you need to do daily checks on the fencing to make sure that nothing has dug under or has chewed through the fencing or the chicken coop.

A fox can decimate your entire flock in under five minutes just because they love the chase.

Gates that are not properly secured are common chicken hazards.  Check out your gates and make sure that they all close securely.  Many gates are loose at the bottom and it is possible for a predator to squeeze through and get to your flock.  Gates can also be dug under so you may want to bury some wire or some rocks in these areas to help keep your chickens secure.

If you have free range chickens, you are going to have some losses no matter what you do.  One of the best things you can do is to fence your free range chicken area with a small mesh fence or chain link fencing.  This will help keep some of the predators out.  The most effective thing I ever did was to plant tall grasses and ever green bushes to provide cover for the birds year round.  I lost a lot fewer birds by doing this one simple thing.

Make sure that common chicken hazards like water buckets and ponds are not in your bird area.  I recently had a rooster drown in a water trough that I had put out for my horses.  The poor guy must have perched on the edge of the trough and fallen in.  Unfortunately, hens and roosters can’t swim.

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Keeping backyard chickens can be so much fun but I hate it when I lose a chicken to a common chicken hazard that I could have prevented.  You can get more tips on chicken keeping, worming and different chicken breeds by CLICKING HERE.

Oct 152010
 

Backyard chickens are usually pretty hale and hearty creatures.  But if you have your own flock of chickens, you may find that you have to deal with some chicken health issues from time to time.  Cannibalism in chickens is one of those problems that can crop up under certain conditions.

Generally speaking, most chicken health issues can be prevented with meticulous care of your birds living areas and by providing quality feed and clean water.  But, even if you provide the best of care for your backyard chickens, it is still possible for chicken health issues to crop up.

Under certain conditions, your chickens can turn on each other in cannibalistic behavior.  The flock will pick one bird to cannibalize and then move onto another one when that one is killed.  Some chicken breeds like Barred rocks and California Grays are less prone to cannibalism than others.  If you are worried about this problem, you can talk to the hatchery you are going to get your chicks from and ask them to only give you the non-cannibalistic chickens breeds.

While some birds are just more naturally prone to cannibalistic behavior, there are some things that can increase the chances of you having the common chicken health issue. 

  • Overcrowding your chickens is one thing that can really cause a spike in cannibalistic or feather picking behavior in chickens.
  • Not providing enough feeders and waterers for your chickens can cause excessive competition for “scarce” resources.
  • Birds that are malnourished will also turn on each other very quickly.
  • Cages that have wire floors increase the chances that your chickens will become cannibalistic.
  • Using sand on the floor of your chicken house and chicken run will also cause increased incidences of feather picking or cannibalism.  You should only use shavings or straw in these areas.

There are several things that you can do to help reduce this common chicken health issue. CLICK HERE to find out what you can do to help stop this problem.

Oct 122010
 

Raising egg laying hens is a great family project that everyone in can enjoy. Most people keep hens in their backyard for the fresh eggs they provide.  Chicken egg laying problems can be very upsetting for families that depend on their eggs. But it is a fact that if you are going to keep chickens, you are going to experience chicken egg laying problems at one point or another.

Chicken egg laying problems can cause panic in new chicken owners and can frustrate chicken owners who really need maximum egg production every day from their hens. Usually you will find that chicken egg laying problems aren’t the result of anything actually being wrong with your egg laying hens.  Chicken egg laying problems tend to be a natural reaction to a variety of conditions.

One of the most common causes of chicken egg laying problems is the diminished number of daylight hours that occurs in the fall.  When there are not enough daylight hours, your hens will naturally start laying fewer eggs.  This isn’t really a chicken laying problem and is more a rhythm of nature kind of occurrence.

I allow my hens to take a break during the shorter winter months because I just use the eggs for me, my family and some friends.  It gives my hens a rest and I worm my hens during this time.  I have to toss any eggs I get when I worm my flock so less eggs or even no eggs during this period of time is not really a problem for me personally.

If you really need your egg laying hens to increase their egg production back to summer levels, then you will need to provide around fourteen hours of “daylight” to get them to kick back into optimum egg production. 

As far as chicken egg laying problems go, this one is easy enough to solve.  Just hang a heat lamp or two in your chicken house to increase the amount of “daylight” your egg laying hens get every day.  The heat lamps will also make the hen house warmer which is another important factor in egg production.  It’s also important to note that the colder the exterior temperature, the fewer eggs you will get from your hens.  It’s best to put the light on a timer so that it doesn’t run all the time.

Your hens will probably take a few days to a week or more to adjust to the new “daylight” hours but once they do, your egg laying should ramp back up again.  Lack of enough daylight hours is just one of many chicken egg laying problems that you may encounter with your egg laying hens.

This is but one of many causes of chicken egg laying problems.  There can be many other reasons that your chickens are not laying eggs. To learn more about the common reasons why your hens are not laying eggs, CLICK HERE.

Oct 112010
 

Have you ever wanted to move to the country and become more self sufficient? If so, you are not alone. More and more people are choosing to move out to a more rural setting and acquire some land.

You don’t have to go crazy and buy 10, 15 or 29 acres. Even 5 acres will allow you to live a country lifestyle and become more self sufficient. You have your land, now what? The first step you need to take to become more self reliant is to grow your very own garden. If you have never gardened before, small may be better the first year. Any garden can be a lot of work and a very large garden can be a huge amount of labor so be sure you know what you are getting into.

Once your garden is lush and producing abundantly, you should consider learning to preserve your harvest. There is really no sense in growing lots of veggies if you can’t have them through the winter months. You can also talk to your neighbors and maybe trade some of your abundant veggies for some you didn’t grow this year. It is also possible to learn to harvest your own seeds to put up for next year.

Living in a more rural area usually means that you can find wild fruit trees and berries like black berries, cherries, plums, apples, etc. You may also check with your neighbors to see if they have any fruit trees that they don’t mess with or that maybe have an overabundance of fruit. This is a great free way to be able to put up jambs, jellies and juices for the winter months. Just be sure that you don’t “steal” from your neighbors by getting permission first.

The next thing that all small farms need to become more self sufficient are livestock. Chickens are perfect animals to start with because they are small, easy to care for and they can provide eggs and even meat for the not faint of heart. You will need some chicken fencing, a chicken coop and a chicken run if you have a lot of predators.

Depending on how adventurous and strong of stomach you are, you can also try your hand at raising a few rabbits, goats and hogs for meat as well. The goats are also a great source of milk that you can drink or you can sell in your local area.

You can live a country lifestyle and become more self sufficient. Living this kind of lifestyle can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

CLICK HERE to get more ideas on how to become more self sufficient.

Oct 112010
 
Backyard Chickens

Backyard chickens. "Violet" the rooster with two of his ladies.

Keeping backyard chickens is very popular these days.  Chickens are easy to keep, even in a small area and the eggs and meat you get from them taste wonderful. Anyone that is keeping backyard chickens needs to be aware that internal parasites can be a real problem.  Many people prefer to try a natural or herbal chicken parasite remedy before they move to the harsher chemical wormers.

I personally don’t know how effective natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies are at eliminating an existing parasitic worm infestation but I think they can be effectively used to help prevent infestations in the first place.

First, to help prevent parasitic infestations in your existing flock, quarantine any new birds that you buy for at least 30 days.  Do not let them near your flock and take fecal samples to a local vet for testing.  Treat these birds if you need to and make sure that the parasites are under control before you let them around your flock of chickens.

Second, if you think you have a parasitic worm infestation in your established flock, take fecal samples to your local vet to find out what types of parasites you have to treat for. 

Whether you use natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies or chemical remedies, you have to remember that all parasites have a life cycle.  Even if you manage to kill the adults with your first treatment, there will still be eggs inside your chickens that will hatch and start the cycle over again.  The typical cycle of most parasites is 2 -8 weeks so be sure and treat more than once during this period of time.  Then take more fecal samples to your vet to be sure that the parasitic worm load is under control.

There are some natural remedies that many people swear by.  I still worm my birds once a year with chemical wormers but I do also use the more natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies throughout the year.

Garlic in your chicken’s water is touted as being very effective at controlling internal parasites when used in conjunction with worm repelling plants like wormwood and mintPumpkin seeds that are chopped up or ground up are supposed to help control tapeworms in hens.

Effective pasture management is the only way to effectively control parasites on your land at the moment.  The best way to keep chemicals out of your pastures is to rotate your chickens from field to field. That will allow the parasites to die when your chickens are not in these areas. 

Planting natural plants that help repel parasites can also be done.  Wormwood is a decent sized bush and peppermint is a creeper.  You chickens will use both as natural hiding places.  They will also pick at the leaves and brush against these plants which will help get rid of internal and external parasites.  Citronella or lemon grass grows in large clumps that have great smelling leaves. It is supposed to help keep flies, fleas and mites away. 

Other plants that are recommended for your chicken areas are:

  • Dandelion
  • Yarrow
  • Sage
  • Nasturtium

 These are just some suggestions to help minimize the parasite load in your chickens.  My belief is that natural or herbal chicken parasite remedies have their place in parasite control.  These plants provide cover for my chickens, add color and scent to my yard and help fight the battle against chicken parasites.  But, they only grow in the warm months so the rest of the year you are left without their parasite protections.  For that reason, in my opinion, it still makes sense to ensure the health your chicken flock by using a chemical wormer once a year.

To learn more about chicken keeping issues, CLICK HERE.



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Oct 082010
 

The sustainable living movement is gaining momentum across the country but it is not something new or unique.  Sustainable living is something that many people are picking up for a lot of reasons.

If you are lucky enough, you had grandparents that raised their own food and maybe even had a cow for milk.  Many young children these days don’t have any idea where their eggs and meat come from and have never even seen a cow or chicken up close. 

You might remember that if your grandparents could not grow it or make it, then they traded neighbors for it.  Their carbon footprint was minimal. 

Having a sustainable life means that you value your resources and use them in such a way that the resources are not depleted or damaged. 

Sustainable living is achievable for anyone, even if you just take small steps.  By applying sustainable tactics to your home and any land that you own, you will have a  sustainable living homestead.

For more ideas on sustainable living and how you can have a more sustainable lifestyle, CLICK HERE.

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Oct 062010
 

Parasitic worms in chickens are more common than most chicken owners know.  It is very easy for your chickens to pick up parasitic worms on the ground.  These eggs then grow into adult worms inside them.  The infected chicken then sheds these worms through their droppings and infects more birds in your flock.

Why Should You Worm Your Chickens?

Many poultry owners either don’t know they worm their flocks or they decide to rely on “natural” herbal treatments that are ineffective.  The results are a chicken environment with a very heavy parasitic worm load.  This will lead to birds that look bad, poor egg production and can lead to the death of your birds eventually.

 How Do You Kill The Parasitic Worms In Your Chickens?

There are several products on the market that you can try.  Be aware that most advertise that they kill 100% of the worms and while that may be true, parasitic worms have a lifecycle.  The products do not kill the eggs left behind so new worms will hatch and re-infest your birds.  So you will have to treat your birds more than once.  The typical lifecycle of most parasitic worms is from two to eight weeks.  So you need to repeat your treatments during this time frame to be sure and get rid of as many parasitic worms as you can.

 The other way to reduce parasitic worm numbers is to rotate your chicken turnout areas.  You need to have a couple of places for your chickens to roam so that you can “rest” one area at a time and rotate your chickens as needed.  Keep your grass cut short which will allow the sunlight to reach the ground and kill any eggs laying there.

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Parasitic worms in your chickens can be a real problem and you may not even be aware that your chickens are infested.  The best way to find out if your chickens have internal parasites is to take fecal samples to your local vet to have them tested. Your vet can tell you what types of parasites your chickens have, what you should treat them with and how often. If you don’t have a vet in your area that will do this, it is best to assume that they do have parasites and treat them with a broad spectrum wormer at least once a year.  Remember to allow for the life cycles of the worms and treat more than once during this time frame. 

For more information on chicken care and common chicken parasites, CLICK HERE.



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Oct 062010
 

 

Parasites in backyard chickens are very common and it is very easy for chickens to pick up parasitic worms.  The popularity of poultry keeping is on the rise these days and many beginner chicken owners have no idea that they have to worm their birds regularly.

 How can your chickens get parasitic worms?

  1. If you buy birds from someone, it is possible that they may already be infested with parasitic worms even if there are no visible signs that they have worms. 
  2. Wild birds can also be infested with parasitic worms.  When they visit your backyard, they can then pass them onto your chickens.
  3. Earth worms can also carry parasitic worms and chickens love to eat worms.

The infected chickens, wild birds or worms carrying the eggs pass them into the environment via eggs that are contained in their droppings.  Then the worm eggs that are laying on the ground are picked up, eaten and then hatch into their adult form inside the bird that has just eaten them.  It can be a never ending cycle of infestation.

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Do you know what some of the common chicken parasites that you may have to treat are?  Click here to find out .



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Oct 042010
 

Your cute baby chicks are now almost full sized pullets that are starting to lay their first eggs.  So how do you go about caring for egg laying hens to ensure that they are happy and healthy ladies.

Most pullets will be mature enough to start laying their first eggs around the age of six months.  Babies start to grow combs and waddles when they are young but they don’t have any color and are not very large.  When they are ready to begin laying eggs, their combs and waddles will grow larger and become bright red.  Once this happens, you will start to find very small eggs in your nests.

In order to keep your young pullets in healthy and in prime laying condition, there are some general house keeping duties you should perform on a daily basis.

  • Give fresh water and feed.
  • Collect eggs
  • Observe your flock every day to make sure your pullets are healthy.

 There are some chores you should do every week or two.

  • Change the bedding in your hen house.
  • Change or freshen the nesting material in your nesting boxes.
  • Clean and sanitize all food and waterers.

 There are also some jobs that need to be done once a year.

Once a year you need to remove every single item from your chicken coop and completely sanitize it.  This is a good chance to check for any parasites that might have taken up residence in your chicken coop.  I always use a bug bomb once a year and once a year I spray the entire area with malathion to help prevent any pest infestations.  Be sure and read the directions because you will have to keep your chickens out of these areas for a few weeks or toss the eggs.

Worm your chickens once a year to help keep their parasite load down.  It is almost impossible to completely get rid of all internal chicken parasites, but you need to keep their numbers down. 

Keeping your egg laying hens healthy and happy is pretty easy to do.  A clean, pest free environment and clean food and water go a long way towards keeping the ladies happy and laying eggs for you.

CLICK HERE to learn more about egg laying hens and how many eggs are normal.


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Oct 042010
 

There are a number of chicken health problems that can crop up seemingly overnight.  Common chicken health problems include chicken fleas and mites which can suck the life out of your chickens.  Many people commonly misdiagnose the two.

I have a friend who has been raising chickens for years.  She called me the other day completely freaked out and said there were tiny parasites in her hen house and she didn’t know what they were.  When she went out to clean the bedding out, the parasites were crawling all over her, her kids and upon close examination, her chickens. 

She doesn’t do well with bugs so she asked me to run out there and take a look at them and help her out because she was so grossed out by the parasites.  When I got there, we caught a few of the chickens and we figured out that they were covered with chicken fleas, not mites as she first suspected. So we had to figure out how to get rid of them. 

The important distinction here was that these parasites were chicken fleas because they live on the birds themselves, not just in the hen house and chicken run.  Red mites only come out when it gets dark to feed and they pretty much hide out in the hen house.  Where as chicken fleas crawl around all over the place and will crawl all over you when you get within range which is how they spread.  I had to be very careful that I didn’t take them home to my flock!

After some research, we found out that we had to do a complete kill of everything; the hen house, the chicken feeders, chicken waters, the perches, the chicken run, etc. with malathion.  We used a flea bomb first in the chicken house and we gave the chickens a malathion bath.  This is just what we decided to use however, there are several products that you can use to kill the chicken fleas.  They have a lifecycle that you have to interrupt so you have to treat for them every four days until they are gone.

She was lucky in that her husband is very handy and it was warm outside.  He put up a quick, ugly temporary “shed” for the birds for a few weeks.  It was made out of some old plywood and chicken wire that he had.  Then he tore it down after the chickens were moved back to their original home.

The key to preventing chicken health problems is to regularly dust your hen house, chicken run and your birds so that you don’t get this type of infestation.

Click Here  to get more information on common chicken health problems and raising healthy chickens.

Do you want to build your own chicken coop?   Click Here to get more information on chicken coop designs and chicken coop blueprints.



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Sep 132010
 

Raising backyard chickens has become more and more popular these days.  With the recent salmonella scares, chicken eggs being contaminated and thousands of people getting sick, it’s no wonder raising chickens has become so popular.  If you are considering raising chickens, then you will need to know where you can find the best chicken coop blueprints.

While there are a lot of standard chicken coop blueprint designs available online, not everyone wants the same old chicken house that the neighbor down the street has.  Given that a large, well constructed chicken coop can cost a lot of money to build, you need to know what before you get started.  Having a very detailed chicken coop blueprint before you get started can make the whole process a lot easier.

Before you start building a chicken coop for your backyard chickens, you have to take a few things into consideration.  Chicken coops may look fairly easy to build but a very good question to ask yourself before you start is, how handy are you?  Are you a DIY warrior who can build anything you set your mind to or do you not know one end of a hammer from another?

Assuming you are a DIY expert, go out there, get chicken coop blueprints that you like and build your own unique chicken coop.  If you are not so handy, you will need to either hire someone to build a chicken coop for you or get a ready made kit that is pretty easy to assemble.

Before you start building your chicken coop, you have to stop and think about the following things:

  • How many chickens you are going to raise?
  • What chicken breeds have you chosen?
  • Will your chickens free range or will you need a portable chicken coop and run?
  • How much room you have for your chickens?
  • What type of fencing you need for predator control?

 After you answer the questions above, you will also need to consider things like:

  • Where to locate your chicken coop for proper drainage, air flow and sunlight.
  • Create easy access areas to allow you to clean, gather eggs and do maintenance.
  • Decide where to install access doors for your chickens.
  • Doors and predator proof latches for your doors.
  • Your structure needs proper ventilation for the health of your chickens.
  • Where are you going to place your nesting boxes?

You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out some of the things listed above but a good chicken coop blueprint will already have take some of this into account.  If you decide to design your own structure, be sure and consider the things listed above.

Anyone that is fortunate enough to be very handy and owns a lot of tools will be able to go online, locate a couple of chicken coop blueprints and modify them to design your very own, unique chicken house.  I can tell you from personal experience that the pride you feel when you watch your hens scratch around in their new chicken house is second to none.

Assuming you are not so handy with the tools, you can still go online or visit a store like Tractor Supply and find some great chicken coop kits that you can buy.  Usually, they tend to be easy to put together, even if you are not very handy.  But if you don’t feel you are up to the job or you don’t have the right tools, you can always hire someone to build you a chicken coop.

The size, shape and special features of your chicken coop will be impacted by your budget.  The larger your chicken coop is and the more special features you add, the more it will cost to build.  But, the flip side of that is you only have to build a hen house once.   Chickens are not destructive by nature and will not usually deliberately damage your hen house.  So build the biggest and best chicken coop you can the first time around and it will be there for years to come.

Check out these chicken coop plans. You can take a look at everything for $4.95 for 21 days and if you don’t like it, you won’t pay a penny more. These are great designs and are easy to follow.

Aug 262010
 

Are you tired of these headlines yet?  Do you worry about the food you feed your family?  Find out how to become more self reliant and quit worrying about the food you eat.

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  • August 26, 2010, 9:29 AM ET

By Katherine Hobson

You might think that the two producers at the heart of the recall of more than half a billion eggs are tossing out fresh ones as fast as the hens can lay them. But as the Associated Press reports, the millions of eggs still being churned out by chickens at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms are destined for pasteurization facilities, where they’ll be turned into the liquid eggs sold in cartons or will be used in processed foods. Let’s be clear — these are not the same eggs that were recalled (those will be discarded), and these fresh eggs being diverted to so called “breaking plants” are being screened for possible salmonella contamination, CNN notes. And pasteurization would kill the bacteria in any case.

So, if you’re a consumer, will buying organic or farm stand eggs better protect you from salmonella? That’s unclear, says U.S. News & World Report. While being allowed to range freely improves a hen’s quality of life, “studies haven’t shown that well-treated hens are any less likely to carry and transmit salmonella to the eggs they lay,” reports USNWR, citing a Cornell food microbiologist. In fact, those hens may pick up bacteria or chemicals from the dust and soil they peck at, USNWR says.

Wright County Egg was identified by public health officials as a possible source of salmonella-contaminated eggs “at least two weeks” before the Aug. 13 recall, reports USA Today. The CDC waited to issue even a general public warning about the dangers of undercooked eggs until the FDA had fully sussed out the situation, the paper reports. An FDA official tells USA Today the agency needed time to verify the source of the outbreak before contacting the producer.

Meantime, the Washington Post continues its coverage of the history of the producers involved in the recall, reporting that the farmer who owns Wright County Egg once sued the state of Maryland for trying to close a facility that sold possibly contaminated eggs across state lines. He won his case, which argued the state had no power to regulate the sale of eggs not sold in Maryland, the paper says. The story illustrates the problems with the patchwork of authorities and laws overseeing food safety, the WP writes.

The FDA has a list of affected brands of recalled eggs.

Photo: Getty Images

Aug 242010
 

What ‘free-range,’ ‘cage-free,’ ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ truly mean. Are they really safer?

In the wake of the nationwide recall of eggs for contamination with salmonella, many consumers may be wondering what types of eggs are healthiest and safest to buy?

More than 90 percent of U.S. eggs come from caged hens. These birds have a space smaller than the size of a sheet of paper to move around, and live in filthy conditions. Aside from animal welfare concerns, that’s bad for our health, too, Pennsylvania State University shows, because researchers recently found eggs raised on pasture are much more nutritious than eggs from their caged counterparts.

6 things food industry execs aren’t telling you

Penn State’s study, published recently in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems found that pastured hens—ones kept outside on different pastures where they can exhibit natural behavior and forage for bugs and grasses—boasted higher vitamin and omega-3 fatty acid levels when compared to their commercially fed, battery-cage-kept counterparts. Eggs from pastured hens contained twice as much vitamin E and 2.5 times more total omega-3 fatty acids as the eggs from caged birds contained.

12 reasons to buy only organic

What it means
There are dozens of claims that manufacturers can make on egg cartons. Some of them are meaningful, but others are just ways to trick consumers into thinking they’re buying eggs from happy chickens. (Remember, 90 percent of chicken eggs produced in this country come from the worst type of production system—battery cages.)

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In an ideal situation, you would purchase your eggs from a local farmer in your area who raises chickens on pasture with plenty of space per bird, and uses moveable, open-air chicken houses, sometimes called chicken tractors, to protect the birds from predators. (You can look for this type of farmer on LocalHarvest.org.) Of course, you could also raise backyard chickens, if you have what it takes.

Eliminating cruel chicken cages is a matter of human health as well as animal welfare. The farther you take chickens away from their natural behaviors, the worse the quality of their eggs or meat.

“When you put four or five chickens in tiny cages, they can’t engage in normal chicken behavior—pecking in the dirt, dusting. If they’re in a cage, they can’t do any of these things,” explains chicken expert Gail Damerow, author of the classic Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens (Storey, 2010). (She hasn’t purchased a store-bought egg since 1982.) “The pressure of the wire cages against their feet causes infections, their feathers rub off on the side of the cages. Basically, they’re just totally frustrated. They’ve got nothing to do. They can’t run around and eat flies and take dust baths. They just sit and lay eggs—what kind of life is that?” One result of all that stress and cruelty is that confined birds’ eggs contain less nutrition than eggs from hens with room to roam.

Why organic eggs are worth the cost

What the labels on the egg carton really mean:

“Cage-Free” “Cage-free is certainly not like Old McDonald’s farm,” explains Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States. But it’s a lot better than battery cages, where most eggs are produced. “Cage-free” means that animals are not kept in cages, but generally they are kept inside in an enclosed building. While this is less than ideal, at least this setup gives animals a chance to spread their wings and lay eggs in nest boxes, which is closer to their natural behavior. Cage-free does not imply antibiotics were not used on hens.

“Free-Range” or “Free-Roaming” Usually these types of operations allow chickens outside of cages in barns or warehouses, but they aren’t required to provide the animals any specific amount of time outside—or even exposure to sunlight indoors. There’s no third-party inspection required for free-range claims, and the chickens can be debeaked or forced into molting through starvation, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

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“Organic” A USDA-certified organic label means the eggs came from hens that were not enclosed in battery cages, and that must be offered access to the outdoors. However, this doesn’t guarantee that the animals ever go outside. Organic eggs come from hens that were fed certified-organic feed, free of antibiotics, pesticides, and other animal products. Forced molting and debeaking are permitted in certified-organic production. Annual inspections are required.

“Natural” This means that the finished product hasn’t undergone certain unnatural processes; in this case, that product is the egg. However, just because eggs are labeled natural doesn’t mean a hen wasn’t pumped up with antibiotics or other unnatural substances. And it certainly doesn’t mean the chickens were raised in clean, humane conditions. For all intents and purposes, natural means nothing.

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“Pastured” Pastured chickens should be housed on grassland in portable shelters that are periodically moved to give the chickens fresh pasture, but there’s no third-party inspection required to ensure that’s what’s really happening. Your best bet is to buy eggs from pastured hens at a local farm that raises the hens organically, ensuring they’re not exposed to pesticides, animal by-products, or antibiotics.

“Omega-3-Enriched” This means hens were fed feed with an increased amount of omega-3-rich flaxseeds. However, pasture-raised hens are already higher in beneficial omega-3s, and they get to be outside. Technically, caged hens could also be fed flax feed, so don’t equate this label with better living standards.

“Certified Humane” This means birds are not kept in cages, but they can be kept indoors. They at least have the space to perform natural behaviors. The program of Human Farm Animal Care sets limits on the number of birds that can be contained in the same area, and outside inspectors perform audits. The program does not, however, require that the animals eat organic feed.

“United Egg Producers Certified” Shapiro says this, along with “natural,” is one of the most misleading claims made on an egg carton. While forced molting is prohibited under this certification, debeaking is allowed, along with other cruel and inhumane practices, such as the use of battery cages.

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Aug 242010
 

CLICK HERE to see more information on the egg recall. 

The egg recall is spreading every single day, putting more and more people at risk for salmonella poisoning. 

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WASHINGTON | Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:44pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner on Monday said there may be more recalls of eggs in the salmonella outbreak and the agency did not yet know how the eggs and chickens were contaminated.

“We don’t know exactly how the contamination got into the chicken population, into the egg population, and we’re not yet fully sure the extent of the recall that will be necessary to protect consumers,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“We are in the midst of probably the largest egg recall that has happened in recent history,” she said.

Her comments came after federal regulators on Friday said a second Iowa egg farm, Hillandale Farms of Iowa, voluntarily recalled eggs as part of a U.S. salmonella outbreak that is linked to almost 300 illnesses across the United States.

The Hillandale recall involves 170 million eggs, said Julie DeYoung, a company spokeswoman.

The other potential source is Iowa egg producer Wright County Egg, which recalled 380 million eggs last week.

That brings the total recall to 550 million eggs that were distributed in 22 states.

“We’re continuing to investigate aggressively to determine the exact source of the contamination,” Hamburg said on NBC’s “Today” show.

“As we move forward with the recall, we may see some additional sub-recalls over the next couple of days, maybe even weeks as we better understand the sort of network of distribution of these eggs that are potentially contaminated,” she said.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain and sometimes more serious illness or death.

Hamburg’s advice for consumers was to prepare food properly, keep the eggs refrigerated, wash hands before and after handling eggs and cook the egg thoroughly.

“No more runny egg yolks for mopping up with toast,” she said.

The Hillandale Farms eggs were sold under various brand names including Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek.

The Wright County eggs were sold under the brand names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, Kemps, James Farms, Glenview, Pacific Coast, Alta Dena Dairy, Driftwood Dairy, Hidden Villa Ranch, Challenge Dairy, and Country Eggs.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Bill Trott and Marguerita Choy)

CLICK HERE for more information


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