Thursday, November 8, 2012
Not much going on in our coop these days, just a lot of feathers falling out. The molt is on and they don't seem too happy about it.
We've been cleaning out our gardens and raking up leaves. It is a good time to mix some greens and browns in the run to let them break down and create some compost. There is a method of composting called the "Deep Litter Method" that helps create heat for the hen house. I have read articles by people who swear by it, I try to do it be able to add it to my gardens but I can't say that it creates much heat. I just haven't verified it. The theory is, chicken poop is full of nitrogen, the wood shavings are carbon, you need both to create compost. What I don't see in the mix is some type of moisture which I have heard accelerates the process. Oxygen is another component that microbes need to break down the materials so turning the mixture periodically will help.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
DIY Tumbling Composter
The link above has a materials list and step by step instructions...something even a non-handyman like myself could pull off.
The blog I got this from often has great ideas for those of us with backyard chickens. If you would like to subscribe to their emails, go on over to http://ipost.com/communitychickens/prefs and fill out the form.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
|Rosie (front) and Red (rear) my RIR hens|
When she went to bed, I prepared a plastic tub of warm soapy water and went and got her. I sat her in the water and it was not something she was too happy about! But, luckily she was very tired and remained fairly calm. I had to hold her in the water to soften much of the poo and then I proceeded to gently clean her. I have to admit, I wasn't able to get all the poo out of the feathers but I got almost all of it off her vent and her protruding guts.
I had read a couple articles earlier in the evening about how people helped their hens recover, they are easy to find on the net, but in short, here are the steps I took.
- prepare warm soapy water for a bath
- clean her as good as possible
- gently reinsert the intestines into the vent...That being said, every time I did, and I moved her they came back out.
- put her in a separate cage or pen to keep her safe.
- cover the pen somewhat to reduce light and keep her from laying an egg until she has had time to heal.
Now, this happened to Red because she was constipated. She had large grass balls trying to come out but were unable to exit. I manually eased them out in pieces until she appeared empty. Some hens prolapse when an egg cannot exit. That is a scary situation because if it breaks, the shells can cut her.
I gave her water with some molasses in it since I heard it can act as a laxative and I don't want her straining. So now I wait and watch for her to pass feces normally and keep her separated for a week or so until I feel she has recovered.
I came home from work last night and checked on Red. I was shocked to find she had laid an egg AND her prolapse had not returned. I'm thinking she can go back with the flock this weekend. I do have to give her another bath though.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I just read a great article with photos titled "9 Point Comb to Toe Checkup and DIY Antiseptic Ointment" on how to monitor the health of your chickens.
The article outlines 9 things to look for when analyzing their health. You can find it at the following website: http://communitychickens.blogspot.com/2012/07/9-point-comb-to-toe-chicken-check-up.html#.UA_-PKOO4_g
It has lots of good information!
Friday, July 6, 2012
My original intent on raising chickens was to raise them for about a year and slaughter and start over. I wanted a cycle of eggs and meat and wanted the experience of providing a small portion of my own food from beginning to end (aside from my garden). Well, needless to say, as soon as my family saw the hens, they became pets and were removed from the menu. I wasn't too disappointed, I had pet chickens as a kid and found them to be a very rewarding pet.
|Sam, came and took a nap watching me fix a sprinkler.|
|Wheezy came and sat on my lap while working on sprinklers.|
Despite my love for chickens and admiration for their beauty, entertainment value and companionship, I have no hesitation in consuming fried chicken. I've commented to my wife before that if I ever lost self control, I could end up being the guy they found with a KFC bucket in his lap dead from over consumption of fried chicken. It is not just KFC that would do it. I enjoy fried chicken from almost any source!
|Not my chicken coop, but I have always loved this design!|
So, here we are in July, a perfect time to have a plate of the best potato salad ever (my wife's ...just ask anyone who has eaten it!) with some crispy, juicy pieces of fried chicken. I eat it mine in the back yard to remind my hens who's in charge. :)
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I just downloaded the android app for blogger and am testing posting from my phone. It may be convenient at times but it is definitely not comfortable.
I'm in Garland today assisting with the primary election (in a tech-support role). I like the rural towns because you get to see more chickens or chicken related items out by the farms. I drove past an older home today with a well manicured lawn and saw several hens and a rooster enjoying the shade of the trees. It reminded me of the nickname chickens had about a hundred years ago here in the states. People often called chickens 'yard birds' because almost every household had some in the yard supplying the family with fresh eggs and renewable meat.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Which brings me to today's topic...HEAT. Weather here in Utah is inching up (sometimes jumping) and this can be a shock on chicken's bodies...I have noticed a drop in egg laying (especially by my brown layers for some reason) as the heat crept upward. I did a lot of reading and to counter the higher temperatures, I have made a few changes in how I treat the girls in the back yard.
|Check out the size of that middle green egg!|
Second, I change their water more often. In the cooler weather, the water stayed cool and they would drink until the waterer was nearly empty. Now I dump it and put fresh in about every other day. They have liked that alot.
Third, I have hung a fabric on the east side of their run (the west is protected by the hen house). This has kept temperatures in the run cooler while letting air through. I let them free range in my backyard in the evenings and they really appreciate finding cool shady areas to rest.
Now, instead of copying the whole post, I want to encourage you to go to http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/03/beating-heat.html. Fresh Eggs Daily has some great ideas and photos for how they beat the heat as well.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Saturday, June 23 - Saturday, June 30
Various events and locations
Here's something fun I stumbled on that you might enjoy:
- Reduced feed costs – When chickens free-range, they eat bugs, grasses, seeds, leaves and other treats they find outside, and that means they eat less feed.
- Higher quality eggs and meat – Check out this article from Mother Earth News to find out what a big difference free-ranging makes in the nutritional content of eggs. http://www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.aspx. Free-ranging provides benefits to chickens that are raised for meat as well. According to The Sustainable Table (http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/pasture/), “free-range chickens have 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat and 28% fewer calories than their factory-farmed counterparts." Simply put, eggs and meat from free-ranged chickens are healthier for us.
- Insect control – Chicken love to eat a wide variety of insects. When they free-range, they are able to find and eat more insects. Many people let chickens free-range in their gardens during the winter to help control grubs and other insects that could harm their plants later in the year.
- Fertilizing and aerating the soil – all that scratching, pecking and pooping in the soil does a great job of keeping the dirt loosened, fertilized and aerated.
- More natural – When chickens free-range, they are able to do what nature intended them to do. They can scratch and dig in the dirt to find bugs and leaves and to forage for other things to eat. They can run and exercise their wings by flying short distances. They can snooze in the sun or find a nice place to take a dust bath which is essential in controlling parasites and conditioning their skin.
Dangers of free-ranging
- Predators - The biggest challenge of free-ranging is protecting the flock from predators. While well-constructed fences may keep out some dogs, coyotes and other 4-legged predators, many predators can (and do) climb or dig under, jump over or navigate their way through fences. Flying predators (owls, hawks, etc.) are a common danger for free-ranged chickens. It’s difficult to protect your flock from overhead attacks.
- Weather - Another danger to free-range chickens is the weather. A covered shelter or access to their coop (permanent or portable) is necessary in case of heavy rain, hail or other weather-related threats.
- Chickens may find “unusual” places to lay their eggs - While this isn’t a “danger,” it is an inconvenience you may experience. When chickens free-range for a large part of the day, they will often lay their eggs in a cozy-looking place outside rather than in the nest boxes in the coop. Sometimes you can find caches of 20 or more eggs that have been laid in a hollow in the ground, under a bush, or anywhere else that appeals to the chickens. If you keep the chickens in the coop for the first week or two, they become accustomed to laying in the nest boxes, and they’ll hopefully continue returning to the nest boxes to lay even when they’re free-ranging. You can also provide nest boxes outside for your hens. Despite efforts to encourage them to lay in nest boxes, there’s no sure-fire way to prevent them from laying elsewhere. If you have a sudden decrease in the number of eggs each day, observe your hens as they free-range to see where else they might be laying.
- Landscape damage - If you have a favorite flower bed that you don't want destroyed, devise some way to keep your chickens out of it. Chickens seem to have an uncanny ability to zero in on any area where you don't want them to forage. Their natural instinct to scratch, peck and take dust baths can spell disaster for gardens and mulched areas. At one time I kept a leaf blower handy, and as soon as the chickens were back in the coop, I blew all the mulch back into the shrubbery area. Whether or not this is a concern for you depends on the area where your chickens will free-range.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Hopefully the resources posted on the right, along with insights I may have learned over the past few years will be helpful to those who visit. I am grateful for the information I received from many websites as I undertook this project.
In doing so, I have been very happy with chickens as pets. The social dynamic that a flock has is very interesting. They are rewarding pets each with different personalities.
Monday, May 7, 2012
|Gluing and Stapling the walls in place|
|Adding some blocking to keep wood chips in place|
|Henriette was the first to try out and christen the box|
|Sam quickly took her place.|
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
When I built our current hen house, I purchased a cheap 2 shelf book shelf and used it as the nest. They say hens need about 12 inch square and 18 inch deep. This was a little bigger but they have been happy enough with it. It has had some problems that I wasn't happy with and with the use (and abuse) over the past couple years, I decided it was time to upgrade.
I have wanted one built on the outside with the hinged lid and the easy-access nests and had my self convinced to proceed in that direction. There are pros and cons to having boxes on the outside. Building them seems more complicated, keeping weather out becomes an issue. I'm not a great builder and rely on the skills of a long time friend who has had a career in house construction. On the Pro side, you have ease of access and added room inside the hen house.
I have spent some time looking at what other people had done and I think I have found the best of both worlds. That would be nest boxes that reside internally, with only an access hatch on the outside! In my searching, I found a blog where someone had done just that. I stumbled on foxhavenjournal's blog which had nice pictures and details about what they did.
So now I have an idea in mind, I need to come up with dimensions and a rough plan. My 6 hens have had a hard time sharing 2 boxes, I think I'll expand to 3. With a rough plan and a promise of exchanging some IT work with my contractor friend, I can see us getting some work done!
Monday, April 9, 2012
|Chicks in a brooder with heat lamp, food and water|
I've only done this once, so I am not an expert. That being said, by following some simple directions, raising chicks at home can be a fun experience for adults and children. I will outline some advantages and disadvantages and then refer you to resources that will be able to give you proper instructions and things to watch out for in the process.
- You pick out the chick and are involved in the process. Different breeds have different characteristics; from egg laying ability to cold hardiness to personality or temperament.
- The chick is dependent on you for its safety and health. The first month of its life is critical. (This could also be seen as a disadvantage).
- The chick gets to know you and recognize your voice and learn its name. Granted, this gets harder if you are purchasing a flock. Our one chick that was raised by us knows its name when we call it and comes to her name.
- Brooding (raising chicks from hatchling) gives you a deep-dive course in poultry. You will develop an understanding of their needs and this will help you as they grow up.
- They are so darn cute
- A little knowledge is necessary before getting started.
- Some equipment is necessary for chicks (heat lamp, special feed, brooder that can grow if you get a bunch of chicks etc.)
- A little more time and effort intensive.
- Mixing them in an existing flock can be problematic as a new pecking order is established. Chicks will need to be safe and it may not be a pleasant experience for your family if you don't know what to expect. New chicks or hens are not immediately accepted as members of the flock. Yes, blood can be shed.
- There's a good chance some chicks will die. Some don't get water or get walked on by the others or some don't get the right amount of heat. You can regulate these to minimize your loss, but some just don't make it.
OK, on to the resources. Utah State Extension has a great list of guide sheets for beginning your experience with raising backyard poultry. Go to Poultry Fact Sheets for a list of guides that can help with a wide variety of subjects. Brooding Fact sheet speaks specifically about raising chicks from scratch. There are many reliable resources on the internet. Take a look at the list to the right of this page or google "brooding chickens" for a list of resources
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Ok people, it's time for some pre-preparation...I doubt that is even a word but here's what has been rolling around in my head (and the head of my wife).
We have attended Salt Lake's Tour de Coops the past couple years (Salt Lake will do their 2012 tour on June 23rd and June 30th. Go to http://wasatchgardens.org/calendar for more information). We think it would be great if the chicken enthusiasts of Brigham City, join together next year and do our own Tour de Coops. I think we should have 6-10 of us willing to share our yards on one particular day during mid to late June. This will give us all time to get the yards in shape and coops cleaned out. This will be an opportunity to share our interest, educate our friends and neighbors and promote the benefits to raising chickens in Brigham City.
In order to do this, we need more people to read this blog or contact me so I will know if there is interest in this event. Spread the word, evangelize, proselytize, advertize and hopefully by 2013 we'll have a fun successful event!
Below are some pictures I took from last years Tour de Coops in Salt Lake City to get you excited:
Monday, March 19, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Go to http://www.eggcartn.com/ to see their selection. They have a couple nice Youtube videos available that show their product in greater detail.
They seem pricey to me (but I'm pretty cheap), but their features seem pretty great. I liked that they could be enclosed, that would help with our cold winters...but I would want to make sure they had some airflow to minimize fumes from droppings and build up of moist air which could lead to frostbit combs.