Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Broody Hen

I always knew this day was coming, I just didn't know when.  Well, this week, one of my Buff Orpingtons decided that she wants to be a mom.  I don't know how much she decided and how much her hormones were in the right place at the right time and decided for her.  Well, when a hen decides she wants to be a mom her behavior changes dramatically.  The first thing you notice is she seldom leaves the nest. 
Feathers down and relaxed

She may sit on eggs laid by another hen or try to keep other hens from laying.  Another thing you may notice if you go to pick her up is that she doesn't want to be picked up.  She will raise her feathers and may act aggressive or make very interesting noises.

Raised feathers when I go to remove her
When you do pick her up, her breast may feel bare.  When hens go broody they will pluck feathers from their breast to provide a more direct heat source to the eggs.

There are two main thoughts on how to break a hen from being broody.  First, let nature take it's course.  You would do this by finding someone who has fertilized eggs, place them under her and let her hatch them.  I am at my limit of chickens and can not have more so this is not an option.  If you choose this option, incubation is a 21 day process.

The second method is to keep them away from the nest.  This is easier said than done.  I have read many people who use a wire poultry or rabbit pen or dog crate to seperate the hen from her nest.  Thinking that this process may take a week or so I felt like the pens I had were too small.  I chose to seperater her from the nest but place her next to our existing run so she can have a little more space and still see her friends.So, I just had to enclose two sides and top to give her a temporary run of her own.

a run of her own

I did this yesterday and she was not happy about it.  The other hens were foraging in the back yard and she found a way out of her new enclosure that I had not noticed and within an hour was out and back on her nest in the hen house.

Later yesterday evening, I sealed up the escape route and today at lunch, placed her back.  One thing to keep in mind when you seperate the hen, make sure she's protected from predators and has a good supply of food and water.

I'll let you know how long it takes for her to snap out of it.  I have read posts of people who said it was a matter of hours to others saying it took days to a week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Backyard Chickens in Perry?

If you're like me, you probably thought that Perry Utah already allowed backyard chickens.  Because of it's rural nature and agricultural heritage, I made that assumption.  That is until Matt Firth, Perry resident and backyard chicken enthusiast contacted me.  Matt has met with the Perry City Planning Commission and is working on making Perry a chicken friendly place to live.

Matt put together a fantastic presentation full of information to educate the planning commission and city counsel as well as people who may be interested in raising their own chickens.

Because of the width of the embeded PDF and the constraint on the blog width, I recommend that you click the down arrow to download the document and view it full screen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Aging Chickens

As far as chicken's lives go, I think mine have it pretty good.  Very slim chance of preditors, food, water, I am sure they would enjoy more free ranging than they get, but they get let out each afternoon, earlier on weekends and spend the time around the yard looking for things to eat and sitting in the shade or sun.

One of my oldest hens is my Polish.  I was quite surprised to have her laying so well this spring.  Polish hens aren't known for being prolific layers but getting 2-3 eggs per week made me happy.  She has slowed down as the weather has gotten warmer.

It has been interesting to see her resting in the yard and reminds me of old ladys you see that fall asleep in their chair while life moves on around them.  One moment, her head is up and she is looking around.

And the next moment, she has drifted off to sleep resting her head on the ground.

I don't know how long she'll live.  She was grown when I got her and we've had her since I started this chicken-keeping endeavor many years ago.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Farewell to Henrietta

Last Monday morning, I found Henrietta had passed away.  Her symptoms started as lack of balance. She walked like she was drunk.  She still had plenty of energy and the rest of per personality was normal.  I saw no other symptoms.  No runny nose, sneezing or irregular droopings.  The last week she began being listless and her comb became quite dark.  I separated her from the other girls and gave her food and water with antibiotic in it but she passed within two days.

Hen was a white leghorn.  She was flighty and didn't like to be held but would still eat from my hand.  She was a prolific layer as other leghorns are.  We had her for many years.  Because of the personality, I am not sure I would get another leghorn.  There are others I would like to have.

Henrietta would often jump up on the railing to our back stairs when she would hear us in the kitchen hoping to see what was going on inside. 


Thursday, April 3, 2014


For anyone who is looking for information on what breeds of chickens to get, look to the right under RESOURCES and look for "Henderson's Handy Dandy Chicken Chart".  This is a great resource that lists over 60 breeds alphabetically and tells you information like egg size, quantity, weather hardiness, and behavior.  It also has links to give you more information.

The direct link is http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html  For 12 years this information was available from Ithaca college.  They have decided to let someone else act as repository and maintainer of this info and so it is now at the link above.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Community Meeting at Brigham City Library

I was excited to find out that there would be a backyard chicken class held at the Brigham City library this week.  I went tonight and was even happier to see a full room and my friend Dan Fox teaching the class!

Dan gave lots of great information from brooding chicks to harvesting meat and everything in between.  Dan knows his stuff and his information is very reliable and shows not only the book smarts but real world experience.  Some things you just don't learn until you go through them!

I was excited to see so many people interested in having their own chickens.  The benefits are plentiful.  From delicious eggs to companionship of a great pet, chickens can't be beat.  Obviously, I am partial and their are drawbacks at times.  It can be a low cost, low work experience and you can find out if this is for you.

This is the time of year when chicks are easy to come by at South Fork Hardware, IFA, Bear River Valley Coop or other places.  Just do some research ahead of time to know how to take care of the chicks...they are a bit more work when they are young.  But there is plenty of resources available.

Now, if you are reading this blog, don't hesitate to leave comments.   If we chat about our experiences we can learn from each other!  This blog has a corresponding Facebook page...some people enjoy communicating that way so if you do, head on over to Facebook and look up BrighamCityChickens and I'll add you.  The direct link is https://www.facebook.com/groups/brighamcitychickens/.

I recently acquired three additional hens.  Someone who is part of the Facebook group needed to get rid of them.  I knew there would be some transitional stress as the new girls were assimilated into my existing flock.  What I anticipates was that the three younger (pullets) would be picked on and at the bottom of the pecking order by the existing older flock.  Boy, that was not the case.  They came in like they were in charge and were pushing the other hens around.  I was shocked.  It took a month or two  but things have settled, no one is picked on anymore...at least not in excess.  I just needed to provide some supervision initially to make sure no one got hurt.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

DIY Links!

This post is going to be dedicated to some of the cool DIY posts I have seen on other websites...so pull up a chair and click on:

DIY Feeder/Waterer

Chicken water and feeder buckets DIY

A different style feeder, using PVC

Being in Utah, the winters are cold and snowy.  Thawing water daily was a pain.  My first attempt at a water heater was using a light bulb in a metal electrical box.  This is a lot easier: (although, I think I would put bricks under the base just for a layer of fire protection.)

DIY Water Heater (youtube video)

When it comes to housing, the chickens are very grateful and never complain about how you provide for them.  Some basics are needed to give them shelter, roosting location, a run.  Keeping in mind that even in the winter, they need air circulation to cut down on fumes and water vapor.

Here is a link to how I started housing my hens and where I am now.
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