DIY No-Waste feeder! October 5, 2015 1 Comment
I have an embarrassingly large number of chickens who eat quite a bit of food. (Let’s not get into actual numbers of birds I may or may not have, because then the chicken math I keep in my head starts to break down.) So when my friend Judi showed me her DIY No-Waste feeder, I had to make one, too!
Embarrassed by my chickens October 2, 2015 2 Comments
I’m embarrassed by my chickens–yup! I won’t show you any pictures of them right now because I’m too mortified by the way they look. It’s a shame, too, because there would otherwise be some cool photo opportunities. For instance, I have a mama hen and a bunch of baby chicks that we are raising outside a brooder enclosure for the first time–they’re just in the pasture with the rest of the chickens (so far so good on this). Seeing little puffs of down in the grass is pretty adorable! I’d love to show you my broody hen and her chicks… but I won’t.
Instead I’ll show you a photo of a silkie mama and brood, courtesy of our customer Sole Riley:
Why am I embarrassed by my chickens ? Fall is molting time. Nearly every chicken Read the rest of this entry »
Chicken Bloopers September 30, 2015 1 Comment
Chickens are not always the most cooperative subjects to take pictures of, as we’ve discussed before. Sometimes, you get chicken bloopers.
We wanted some great chicken pictures for our website of our newest breeds and assortments of hatching eggs… and we did get them, eventually. As with any photo shoot, there were some unique (and hilarious) shots—our chicken bloopers—that we wanted to share with you!
The goal of the photo shoot was to get pictures like this:
However, we also ended up with lots of hilarious chicken bloopers. For instance, some hens became camera shy and made a run for it!
Garden Helpers September 28, 2015 No Comments
How many of us have some unwanted garden helpers? I may have a few chicken garden helpers here and there.
Likely story, Nugget. No one is buying it.
I could put in a higher fence, as even my fattest hens can easily scale my low, 4-foot fence when the motivation is free reign of the garden… but if I did, then my feathery garden helpers wouldn’t have the opportunity to tear up my newly planted vegetables or eat all the tomatoes and squash, right?
More on Keeping Multiple Roosters September 18, 2015 No Comments
My post about the Five Rules for Keeping Multiple Roosters is one that tends to get a lot of interest—and that makes sense! After all, if you’re hatching your own chicks at home, unless you have divine powers, you’re more or less guaranteed to hatch too many roosters for a laying flock. You typically want your flock to be at a ratio of about 90 percent hens and 10 percent roosters, but chicks hatch out at a 50-50 ratio.
Even where you are not hatching at home, but instead you’re purchasing female chicks from a hatchery… well, because sexing baby chicks is not a black-and-white question, you’ll still run into that problem. It’s uncommon to get a sexing error, sure—but it’s just not as rare as… ahem. Not as rare as hen’s teeth.
A good question was posed by a reader recently in the comments. I thought I’d go ahead and share the answer as its own blog post, because it’s a question so many others are likely to have. Her question had to do with multiple roosters raised together in the same flock. The flock was slightly off of the recommended 10 – 1 hens to roosters ratio, and she was concerned because her two roosters at five months old seemed to be fighting a lot. She was worried about bloodshed, and wondered if there was anything else she could do other than rehoming one of them.
If this is a problem you’re having, too, here is my answer:
First, consider that Read the rest of this entry »
Lovely Old Birds September 15, 2015 2 Comments
One of the best parts about working at My Pet Chicken is being able to talk about chickens, all day long, with people who like talking about chickens! We discuss young birds, and old birds and everything in between. If you’ve just caught the chicken-fever, you know what I am talking about when I say not everyone wants to hear so much about your flock! So I love talking to our customers.
When I’m on the phone answering questions about chickens, two of the most common questions I get asked are, “How long will chickens live?” and “How long do chickens lay eggs?” We address those in our Chicken Help pages, but sometimes people like to hear it from personal experience, too.
And from my experience, the answer is… it depends. The lovely old bird pictured below is currently the oldest hen in my flock, and she lays an egg every day.
Every. Single. Day.
Egg Snobbery September 6, 2015 3 Comments
We’ve had chickens for many years now, and I didn’t realize until recently what a ridiculous egg snob I had become. I know most of us chicken keepers will brag about how dark our chickens’ egg yolks are, how the yellow is almost orange, and how they won’t break when you drop them in the pan. Because you’re eating the tastiest and most nutritious eggs all the time (rather than tasteless, less healthy grocery store eggs), there’s a certain amount of egg snobbery that happens naturally… egg snobbery you’re not aware of. It creeps, you see. It takes you unawares.
But even so, I didn’t know how much of a secret danger it was, or how much my family and I really preferred the eggs from my pastured girls.
A little backstory: Read the rest of this entry »
Biosecurity: Difference between cleaning and sanitizing August 14, 2015 No Comments
Biosecurity for your flock means both cleaning AND sanitizing. But a lot of people don’t necessarily realize there’s a difference, or why you should be doing both. So let’s talk the basics of biosecurity.
CLEANING is simply removing the gunk. When your chickens kick up dirt, bedding or other detritus into their waterers or feeders, you clean it back out, maybe with a scrub brush or an old washcloth. But even when thoroughly cleaned of gunk, unless you sanitize your equipment, there will be some bacteria, viruses and spores still living on the surface of the equipment. This is why you’ll need to take another step for biosecurity.
Think about it: imagine, for example, that you thoroughly clean the dried up food off your dishes… with your toilet brush. Or maybe your mop. You can make your dishes shiny and pretty, and stick them in the cabinet. When you take them out, do you want to eat on them? No? Absolutely ugh, right? You need to do more than just clean off the surface gunk to achieve good biosecurity.
SANITIZING by contrast actually Read the rest of this entry »
Salmonella, the CDC, and Handling Pet Chickens July 17, 2015 5 Comments
We have always advised practicing good biosecurity with your birds. When you handle them, make sure to wash your hands—make especially sure your children wash their hands. Baby chicks look like adorable, kissable little fluff balls… but of course they are walking and pecking around in poopy litter. Erg.
While backyard pet chickens are not the “disgusting, dirty birds” commercial hens in battery cages are forced to be—battery hens live their lives in about the same space as a sheet of notebook paper, unable to ever stretch their wings—pet chickens carry germs just like pet cats and pet dogs do.
The CDC is blaming a recent salmonella outbreak on backyard poultry owners’ affection for their birds. We find some of their advice a little disingenuous, though. Of course kissing your birds is not the most sanitary thing you could do—we advise against literally kissing your flock. After all, if they do have any bad bacteria to give you, putting it directly on your lips with a big smooch is one of the quickest ways to get sick. But Read the rest of this entry »
Strangest Egg Color I’ve Ever Gotten June 26, 2015 2 Comments
If you’ve kept chickens for any period of time, you’ve probably seen some unusual eggs. When hens first start laying their eggs may be quite small or even quite large double yolkers! They may be shell-less. Egg color can be stunning, too. In addition to white and brown, egg color may be green, chocolate, blue, olive, pink, cream, and colors in between, depending on what varieties you keep (and this is certainly strange to people used to white grocery store eggs!). Hens from time to time will lay tiny, yolkless “fairy eggs.” Then there are the eggs that have a funny shape or texture.
Unusual eggs are not usually a cause for concern, particularly if it’s just a temporary situation. Being stressed out can cause your hens to lay eggs that are smaller or larger, or to have ripples or waves in the shell. Textural differences in parts of the shell can cause color to be heavier or lighter in places, usually in mottled speckles, spots or stripes. And some differences aren’t caused by stress at all. Some breeds’ eggs naturally have a satiny sheen, while other breeds produce eggs with a dull, matte finish. Really, the variety is wonderful!
But one of my hens—and I’m not sure who, since this is not her usual egg color–has given me the strangest I’ve ever seen before… at least in person.
Her egg has swirls.
Now, contrary to popular belief, the color of the shell doesn’t indicate an egg’s healthfulness. My grandma used to tell me Read the rest of this entry »