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?

 

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

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.  

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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 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 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 122010
 

My chicks have been outside for about a week now and are doing great.  Their extra sturdy chicken run and chicken coop seem to be holding up well. 

I’ve had no more predator problems either lately.  I set a few traps humane around my yard and caught a few racoons and a possum.  I relocated those critters so that hopefully, none of my other hens or chicks will be killed.

Chicken care is very important to me and I like to feed all of my chickens, roosters and chicks natural treats which incluce lettuce, chards, tomatos, fruit and veggie peels of all sorts, apples, oranges, melons, etc.  If it is a fruit or veggie, they will probably eat it and love it!

Anyway, I gave my chicks a couple of really small cherry tomatos to eat.  Well, they ended up playing chick football with them.  One chick grabbed the tomato and took off running with it.  The other 7 chicks quickly took off after her.  They raced round and round the chicken run with the tomato changing beaks constantly.  This went on for about 30 minutes until the tomato was completely pulverized.

They finally collapsed and decided to take dust baths before taking a short nap.  Chicks are so much fun to watch and now that they have almost reached the four week mark, I am starting to worry about them a lot less.

If you are thinking about raising chicks to start a backyard flock, you need to give serious thought to building a very secure hen house.  Get some plans and free advice by clicking this link.



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Aug 112010
 

Are you raising backyard poultry and are wondering about egg production in poultry?  Well you are not alone.  Chicken forums are full of questions about egg production in poultry and what is normal.

  • How do you know if there is a problem?
  • Are my hens producing the right amount of eggs?
  • Why are my hens not laying eggs right now?
  • Can I increase egg production in my hens?

These questions are all normal.  Generally speaking, as long as your hens are still clucking about happily pecking and scratching and they look healthy, their egg production is probably normal.  A sick hen will not be active, will look listless and will not eat or drink very well if at all.  These are all signs of a problem.

Egg production in poultry varies due to the age of the hens, whether or not they are moulting and how hot or cold it is outside.  You will see a drop in your egg production in poultry when it is very hot or cold outside, once your hens are more than two years old and if they are moulting.

Right at this very moment, it is August and in Kentucky we are having a heat wave.  I have 14 older hens and I was getting from 4-7 eggs a day until last week.  Now all of a sudden, I’m only getting from 1-3 eggs a day.  That is completely normal and I wouldn’t be surprised if I got no eggs one day.  I have 8 young pullets that will pick up the slack next year when they start laying since my older hens don’t lay an egg every day.  I have one 9 year old hen that only lays 1-2 eggs every week.

If you want to increase egg production in your poultry, make sure that you feed them a high quality pelleted feed that you can find at your local feed store.  During the cold winter months, you can put a heat lamp in their chicken coop to keep them warm and they will lay a lot better.  In the summer, there really isn’t a lot you can do about the heat.

Also, if you really want more eggs, you will need to invest in a new group of pullets or young hens every single year.  The bottom line is that the older your hen is, the fewer eggs she will lay.  Young hens lay more eggs more often which will really boost your egg numbers.

Egg production in poultry will vary depending on the season and the age of your hens.  Unless you notice a health problem with your hens, your egg production is probably in the normal range.  To find out more about how to increase production in poultry, check this out.

Aug 062010
 

chicken runMaking A Chicken Run

The dream of many people who decide to raise backyard chickens is to have then free range. But, the sad fact is that not everyone can raise free range chickens and having a chicken run is the only viable solution to keeping your chickens alive.

Making a chicken run may be necessary for a number of reasons:

  • You live in an area where your chickens are not allowed to roam.
  • You don’t have enough room to keep your chickens safe and off the road.
  • There are too many predators and you would lose too many chickens.
  • You don’t like chicken droppings all over your yard, porch, deck, etc.

Whatever the reason, making a chicken run doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist nor does it have to break the bank.  The goal of making a run for your chickens is to give your chickens room to move around during the day and still keep them safe and contained.

When making a chicken run, the size will depend on how many chickens you have.  If you have a small flock of chickens, you will only need to make a space that is around 10 square feet.  But if you have a large flock of chickens, you will need to consider making one that is much larger so that your chickens are not overcrowded.  Overcrowded chickens are more stressed, more prone to disease and will not lay as well.

Before you start making your chicken run, you need to consider the following things.  small chicken run

  • It needs to be constructed to keep predators and pets out.  Sometimes predators will dig under your chicken run so take that into consideration and bury some of your fencing.
  • Use good quality lumber to build a chicken run that is strong and will be long lasting.  I used 4×4’s along the base when making a chicken run for my chickens and it made the structure very sturdy.
  • Consider using a hardwire mesh when making your chicken run.  It’s a great material because it’s tough, it can be bent to mold around the chicken run and predators can’t squeeze through it.
  • The hardware you purchase for doors and windows needs to also be animal proof.  Many dogs, racoons and foxes have the ablity to open latches on gates and get to your chickens.  So always buy latches that have pins or that you can put a clip through.
  • Consider intalling motion detector lights around your chicken coop as a predator proofing method when making your chicken run.  Most animals will run when a blinding light comes on.  If you can see your chicken coop from the house, you will also know when something is lurking around and threatening your chickens.

Raising chickens is a fun way to become more self reliant but it can be heartbreaking to go out in the morning and find dead or missing chickens.  Take the necessary precautions when making your chicken run so that your chickens live long and protected lives.

Check out these links if you need chicken run blueprints or just want some different ideas before you start making your chicken run.



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Jun 272010
 

I made the decision to buy some chicks a few years ago on a whim.  Now, I can’t image not having my chickens because they have given me a certain amount of self sufficiency that I really enjoy.

People ask me all the time if they pay for themselves and really, that isn’t what this is about for me.  I usually say I doubt it and I really don’t care.  This is more about my need to not be so dependent on others to feed me and my family. 

Chicken care and chick care are all about how to best take care of my family and my flock.  A broody hen is a great thing to me becaus she is ready to raise the next generation of chicks for me.

My chickens provide eggs, meat and new chicks for future egg layers and meat producers.  They also provide a lot of fertilizer for my garden in the form of chicken poop.  The chicken poop makes my vegetable garden healthier and it produces a lot more vegetables for me to feed to my family as well as sell to locals.

They also provide a lot of entertainment. I can spend hours watching baby chicks run and play as they discover the joys of being outside.  I also love to watch my hens and roosters peck and scratch around the yard.  Even when they manage to escape and cause havoc in the garden, I still have to chuckle at them.

So, to those of you considering raising chickens and making a profit, I wish you luck.  I’m sure it can be done but I’m just not that into that.  My initial goal wasn’t to be more self sufficient but it has transformed into that for me as the years passed.  I enjoy knowing that no matter what our government does or the state of the economy, I will be able to feed my family.

To learn how I figured out how to build my very first chicken coop without pulling my hair out, check this out.



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Jun 012010
 

keeping chickens

Raising Chickens In Your Backyard

So, you have decided to take the leap and get some chicks to keep in your backyard or barn or wherever.  Keeping chickens can be a lot of fun if you are properly prepared, you have enough space, some extra money and a little extra time.  I decided to start keeping chickens a few years ago and I have never regretted it.  There is nothing better at the the end of the day to sit in a chair out back and watch them run around catching bugs, digging in the yard and generally just being happy little critters. However, like anyone that jumps in feet first without doing their research, I made a lot of mistakes at first.  I don’t want anyone to go through the troubles that I had when I got my first chicks.  So let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider before you ever buy your first chick. We are going to discuss the following things:

  • Are you allowed to keep chickens in your area?
  • Do you have enough money to get started?
  • Chicken coops – Design and Installation
  • Chicken coop location.
  • Do you have any storage space?

Do Local Regulations Allow For Chickens?

Make sure that your area allows you to keep chickens in your backyard.   Some areas have very strict rules and regulations that forbid you to have chickens at all.  I know of a situation in a neighboring subdivision where a new family moved in and brought their six hens with them. In most areas around me this is allowed, however, the neighbors all quickly objected and it was discovered that this particular subdivision had rules against having any chickens. This poor family was forced to find a new home for their beloved family pets.  Do not let this happen to you.  Be aware that keeping chickens can be done in a lot of areas, but that doesn’t mean your neighbors will like it.

Financial Considerationsbuild a chicken coop

While having a few chickens is not extremely expensive, money is required especially in the initial start up.  Chickens are not picky about where they live but you will have to be able to provide a secure coop of some sort to house them in. You will also have to look at the chicken coop and run that you build.  Functionality is also very important so that you can easily care for your hens without too much trouble.  A poorly designed coop will look bad and will be a pain to work in when you have to gather eggs and clean it. Are you handy with a hammer and nails?  The cheapest way to build your chicken coop is to do it yourself.  I tend to be a pack rat and I have lots of scrap wood in my barn which made it very low cost to build the actual coop.  But, if you are not handy or just don’t have the time, you will need to hire someone to build it which will add to the cost.

Chicken Coop Location & Design

The size of your chicken coop will depend on how many hens you are going to keep and how large of a building you can afford to construct.   Even a small number of chickens have minimum space requirements.  Most of the pre-built chicken coops that I have seen online are way too small for the number of chickens they say they will hold.  If your flock is confined to an area that is too small, they will fight, it will be smellier than is should be, it will be harder to clean and the health of your flock will suffer. Remember that you will have to have electricity and water located close to your hen house.  Trust me.  There is nothing worse than having to keep a very long hose run across your yard and driveway so that you don’t have to carry the very heavy water containers from the water faucet to the coop!  Same goes for your electrical needs.  Extension cords work in a pinch but are not really intended to be run across a large area of your yard year round.  It is a huge safety concern.  So either build the coop close to water and electric or budget to install it. Drainage, sunlight and shade are also very important considerations when deciding where to build the hen house or coop.  A low area will hold too much water and flood the area which can lead to illness and just generally nasty conditions.  Too much sunlight and your chicks will suffer through the summer.  You may be forced to invest in screens or shades to provide enough shade for them to survive.  If you have a shady, well drained area, you should consider placing it in that area.

Storage

You will also need some space to store all of the things you need for keeping your chickens.  Keep in mind that you will have to keep, cedar bedding, lighting equipment for winter on hand and anything else that you might need.  If you don’t have a storage area, you will need to build one.  Convenience is always something to consider.  It will be a real pain if you keep your supplies in the garage and the chicken coop is not located close to your garage.

Conclusion

This is just a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider before you think about keeping chickens.  One thing I didn’t talk about above is time.  Make sure you have the time to commit to taking care of them.  You need to be able to check on them every day and clean the coop once a week.  Do not make the mistakes that I did. I didn’t do my homework and I lost a lot of chicks in my first attempt. My biggest regret is that I didn’t take the time to properly research the various chicken coop designs available. I went cheap and small at first.  It didn’t last very long at all (2 years) and it was way too small for the number of girls I ended up with.  A friend of mine bought a pre made coop online in June of 2013 and it is already falling apart so be sure and read the reviews before you purchase.  You don’t have to buy or build the most expensive hen house but it does need to meet your basic needs.  Talk to local people who own chickens now and visit some online forums to get an idea of some of the issues these people have faced.  It is easier to avoid these problems to begin with than to go back and try to fix them at a later date. Check out this resource for more information on building a chicken coop. Bookmark & Share

Jun 012010
 

It used to be very common for people to raise chickens in their back yard, even if you lived in the city.  The hens provided fresh eggs and meat for their owners.  They also had the added benefit of providing bug control.

Chicken keeping fell out of favor for awhile but it is making a come back as people more and more want to know where their food is coming from.  They make great pets and are fairly easy to keep, even if you don’t have a lot of room.

Benefits of Raising Your Own Chickens

  • Constant supply of fresh eggs.
  • Fresh supply of meat if you choose to go that route.
  • Insect control in your yard.
  • Their poop makes great fertilizer for your lawn and garden.
  • They aerate your yard as they scratch and peck around.
  • You know exactly what you are eating since you provide the feed for them.

Raising chickens in your backyard can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family.  Do your research so that you know what to expect and so that you are properly set up to care for your new flock of hens.

Visit this link to get more information on raising chickens . You can also sign up for a free newsletter by clicking here.

Find out how to avoid the 7 deadly mistakes when keeping chickens in your backyard and learn how to keep your chickens alive.  Click here or click the picture below and then scroll to the very bottom of the page to get your FREE report.

 



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