Backyard Chicken Farmer December 2, 2015

My name is Judi and I work for My Pet Chicken, one of the best companies ever—especially if you’re a backyard chicken farmer like me! A lot of my fellow My Pet Chicken employees write for our blog so I thought why not try it, too?

Copndoc Acres

My farm sign–as you can see, we also keep horses. 🙂

I wasn’t always a backyard chicken farmer, though. In fact, you never would have guessed I’d eventually grow up to be a backyard chicken farmer based on my background or family. I actually grew up in big city Pittsburgh, PA , and I never even ate a piece of fried chicken until my mother remarried and we moved to Richmond, VA when I was 15 years old.

Sometimes the apple falls far from the tree

My mother is about as “non-country” as you can imagine. I’ve never seen her dirty—never, and she is 86 years old! 

I was different, though. As a kid, I used to be shipped off to my aunt’s house in Womelsdorf, PA for the summer. Occasionally I went to camp instead, which I really liked. But I loved going to stay with my Aunt Naomi (Omie) even better.  It’s kinda funny, but when anyone in the family talks about me, they always say “I got ALL the Womelsdorf genes.” But they say it with the hushed tones that treat a “love of the outdoors” as a dirty secret. But how can that be a bad thing?  I grew up loving all animals (except snakes), and I’m finally living my dream on a small farm on the coast in North Carolina.

The animals of our backyard farm

My husband and I have seven acres and a ton of animals—literally!  We have two Thoroughbred geldings, one of which raced at Philadelphia Park in his younger days; two pot-bellied pigs named Ella and Miss Pickles; three turkeys; two peacocks; 20+ guineas; 10 ducks; 15 assorted geese; six dogs; two cats; three bee hives… and (naturally!) lots of chickens–more than 100 right now.

Backyard chicken farmer breeding pens

My chicken pens

Although I count myself as a backyard chicken farmer now, I’m also a retired paramedic (21 years).  My husband is a retired State Highway Patrol trooper, hence the name of our farm, Copndoc.   I thought my blog post could be about what life is like on a small hobby farm and what my chores entail during the year.

My Start as a Backyard Chicken Farmer

About 33 years ago, I started with chickens.  I had married and moved to the coast of North Carolina, and since one of my dreams–it must have been all those Womelsdorf genes–was always to have my own horse, I immediately got a black Morgan mare named Diamond Lil. But owning a horse quickly lead to buying chickens and becoming a backyard chicken farmer, too, since chickens and horses go so well together. Chickens love to scratch around in the horse droppings and spread it out so it goes back into the earth, and they also pick up any grains or feed the horses may drop.

I had never been around a chicken before, but found them to be fascinating creatures.  They are very self-reliant, eat just about anything, and have a strict hierarchy in their little feathered society.  Chickens are omnivores which means they eat meat and vegetables, both.  Their diet was easy to master–and chickens even convert kitchen leftovers into eggs! There are only a few foods that you have to avoid offering your flock, like avocados and green potato peels.

Why I love being a backyard chicken farmer: treats

I take out leftovers to them every morning, and they scuff it all down.  I even have a Speckled Sussex hen named Speckles that jumps up on my work table and steals the treats from me.

Today they had pumpkin, which they adore.  In October each year, I like to give them fresh pumpkin every week for four weeks.  Pumpkin seeds contain a natural dewormer, and anecdotally, I’ve never found my flock to have a problem with worms. Besides, they just love the taste of fresh pumpkin.

Backyard chicken farmer problems

Speckles is teaching the flock how to steal treats!

What treats do your chickens love?

6 Comments
Penny From Atlanta Georgia December 8th, 2015

This is soo very cute! I really hope to purchase 2 chicken and 2 horses one day just like you.:)

Judi December 9th, 2015

I hope you get to follow your dream like I have! I will be posting more in the future about our little hobby farm. Thank you for reading my blog!

Mitch February 22nd, 2016

I’ll have to grow some pumpkins.

Susan August 15th, 2016

greetings, my question is this,…I presently have a few chickens,…..2 are 1 yr old and the rest are 9 wks old,…I have now mixed them all together and they are doing great,…..all are being fed chick grower because I read that you should not give the young ones layer mash because of too much calcium,…so now my 1 year olds have stopped laying eggs, is that because they are not eating the layer mash,….when will they lay eggs again?…..how long do I feed the grower to the young chicks,…..thanks for your help…….LOVE MY CHICKENS!!

Lissa August 17th, 2016

It could be a number of things, of course. If it is related to feed–and that would not be unusual at all–make sure you’re offering something like oyster shell free choice so they can ingest calcium as they need it. (The little ones may taste it, but they don’t usually keep eating it.) Sometimes the grower formulas have a different protein level than the layer, which can affect things, too. Using the grower formula for a mixed flock is the same technique I use. Unfortunately, it does sometimes result in a drop in laying, but it’s temporary, and seems to me to be the best way to make sure the little ones are getting a balanced diet. But just to be safe, do check for other possibilities like egg-eating pests, ifestations of mites/lice/worms, or signs of illness. At this time of year a drop in laying can also be related to a molt.

Judi August 17th, 2016

Susan – It could also be the time of year that is causing them to stop laying. It is very hot where I live (coastal NC) with temperatures in the upper 90’s and heat indexes at 110 degrees like today. When it is hot like this, they will stop laying. I always think it’s because of all the effort that goes into it. And like Lissa said above, I’ve also noticed that the annual molt has started. When chickens molt (shed) their feathers, they also stop laying because all of their nutritional resources are going into growing the new feathers before the winter comes. They will start laying again after the molt, but not quite as much as spring and summer. When the days get shorter, they don’t get enough light that is required to daily lay an egg. They need 14 hours of light (sunlight, incandescent light, fluorescent light, etc.) for the whole internal process to produce an egg. I hope I’ve helped!

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