Meet the Peeps from My Pet Chicken: Tanya January 13, 2022 No Comments

Welcome to My Pet Chicken’s “Meet the Peeps” blog series! We lovingly call our My Pet Chicken employees, “Peeps!” You’ve interacted with us by phone, chat, and email…now it’s time to “meet” us. My Pet Chicken is very unique in that ALL employees are poultry keepers ourselves so we offer a wealth of experience and wisdom. Here is your opportunity to see how we became “crazy chicken people”.

Tanya, a white woman with short brown hair, smiles while holding her Blue Copper Marans chicken. They are both outside and the photo is cropped to just see their face.
Tanya and her pet Blue Copper Marans chicken, Violet

Tanya – Customer Service Email & Chat Peep

1. How Long have you been part of the MPC family? What is your position?

I have been a part of the MPC flock for almost 3 years since the spring of 2019 and I work in the chat and email departments.

2. What is your home state and your favorite part about living there?

I live in west-central Wisconsin, right on the Mississippi River! I love the four seasons and of course our delicious cheese curds!

3. How long have you been a chicken keeper?

I have been keeping chickens for almost 5 years, since 2017.

4. What was your first breed(s) of chicken?

I received 12 different breeds from My Pet Chicken when I first started, along with some Easter Eggers and a few other breeds that I purchased locally.

5. How many chickens do you have? (Real numbers…not what we tell our family members!)

I currently have 44 hens and 1 rooster.

6. Do you have any other animals besides chickens? If so what and how many do you have?

We have two kitties and a very sweet 70-pound dog.

7. What is your favorite chicken breed? Why?

That’s a very tough question! My Favorite breed is the Buff Orpington, along with several other breeds of course. The Buffs are just so friendly, in my experience.

Tanya, a white woman with short brown hair, smiles slightly while holding her Buff Orpington chicken.
Tanya and her pet Buff Orpington chicken, Marmalade

8. What is your favorite part about chicken keeping?

I love their personalities. They are beautiful, so entertaining and are very funny sometimes. They are peaceful to watch and listen to and I love them more and more each day.

9. What is your least favorite part about chicken keeping?

Well, one of my least favorite parts, I suppose would be morning chores or maybe waiting for them to go to bed! I personally like to “roost” early and morning chores speak for themselves. Even more so than chicken chores, the loss of a pet chicken is of course my least favorite part of chicken keeping.

10. What is your best pro tip for a newbie chicken keeper? The best pro-tip for newbies would be to have a full, well-stocked first aid kit and a space to put your bird when caring for her, such as our Hen Pen Pop-Up Brooder or a large wire pet crate. When you have somebody that has been injured or sick, the last thing you want to worry about is scrambling to find what you need to help your bird.

11. What is your favorite chicken-keeping product and why?

I have lots of favorite chicken-keeping products that I cannot be without. Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher (aka zeolite) and First Saturday Lime are the best for the droppings boards. I use a long-handled kitty litter scoop for cleaning the sand in the chicken runs daily. Vetericyn products are also great! Some of my favorites are the Wound & Skin Care Spray and the Foaming Pet Wash for Fine Coats in case anyone needs a booty bath.

12. What is your favorite chicken-themed quote, or joke?

I love all the old sayings such as “madder than a wet hen,” “like pulling teeth from a chicken,” ” rule the roost,” “ruffle your feathers,” “mother hen,” and on and on. There are hundreds that ring very true…if you know anything at all about chickens!

Closing thoughts from Tanya

I’ve loved chickens my whole life, even though I didn’t grow up around them. I always thought they brought serenity and warmth to any space. But it wasn’t until 5 years ago, that I decided to have my own flock. Someone told me, “You should get some chickens,” and that was that. I’m now obsessed with talking about chickens to anyone who will listen and I also really enjoy helping people care for their birds when they are sick, injured, or have special needs.

This past summer, I was lucky to adopt a couple very special girls, from a fellow MPC Peep. Liddie is blind chicken and she gets along just fine in life with a little extra supervision. The other chicken, Penelope has had both feet amputated, due to a severe frostbite incident many years ago. We built a wheelchair for her to sit in, just to change things up for her once in a while. She and Liddie, the blind hen live on my back porch in their very own coop. Penelope, whose feet are amputated lays a beautiful blue-green egg a few times a week, and on occasion, Liddie crows; yes crows! She only crows when she hears my one and only rooster crow…and only when she feels like it. They are the best of friends and are such sweet girls.

Tanya’s back porch chicken coop – Home Sweet Home!

One very unique and “eggciting” occurrence worth mentioning, happened the first year I had chickens. I had a young Golden Buff hen lay an egg inside an egg! She laid a fully developed hard-shelled egg, inside a much larger fully developed hard-shelled egg. Although this is quite rare, it does happen.

Having a flock has been eventful, brought immeasurable joy, and has kept me on my toes. I’ve learned a lot in the mere 5 years I’ve had chickens. I’ve laughed and grieved and have never done anything so enjoyable and rewarding – except maybe working here, at My Pet Chicken.

DIY Garland for your Pet Chickens December 23, 2021 No Comments

Making a DIY garland for your pet chickens is a fun way to share the spirit of giving with your flock!  Here’s an easy, fun, and healthy way to show them you care… a festive holiday treat garland!  It’s also a fun project to do with kids or family members.

Materials you will need:

  • Large embroidery needle
  • Cotton kitchen twine
  • Foods of your choice (see list below)

Optional:

  • Gloves
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pliers
A bag of cranberries, Brussles sprouts, a ball of twine, and needles lay out on a granite kitchen counter.
Simple supplies are needed to make this garland project

You can use a variety of festive foods.  I like to stick with foods that are red and green.  Alternating the colors and patterns as you string them together will produce a beautiful garland.  Some food choices are:

  • Cranberries
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Red Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green grapes
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Spinach leaves
  • Air popped pop corn

I like to use a large embroidery needle and cotton kitchen twine.  You could use a smaller diameter string but there’s a chance it could break and become a choking hazard.  You’ll want to ensure the garland is tied securely to your run fencing and provide close monitoring of your flock so that they cannot get tangled, break or ingest the string. Safety while snacking!

A section of twine lays in a pink bowl as olive oil is being poured on it.
Soaking the string in oil can help when stringing the vegetables on.

Depending on the foods used, sometimes coating the string with a bit of vegetable oil can ease the string through.  Use sparingly and be careful that you don’t slip with the needle! Work gloves can also come in handy to protect your hands against accidents, and a pair of pliers may help pull the needle through tougher foods such as brussels sprouts.

Assembly Directions for DIY Garland for your Pet Chickens :

  1. First, cut a desired length of the string.  I usually like to cut 10 foot sections…anything longer can sometimes become tangled if you’re not careful during the assembly process. You can make as many sections as you’d like to adorn your run.

2. Then, tie a knot on one end of the string and thread your needle.

Fresh cranberries are being pushed into a needle to be thread on the twine.
String your vegetable of choice through the needle and string

3. Begin stringing your selection of fruits and veggies, alternating between red and green in whatever pattern you’d like.  I chose 1 brussels sprout to 3 cranberries for my pattern.  While you don’t have to use a pattern, it does make your final product a thing of beauty.  Realistically the chickens don’t care and will gobble down your masterpiece in a matter of minutes!!

A garland made of Brussles sprouts and cranberries hangs on the side of a chicken coop
A beautiful string of garland made for a lucky chicken flock.

4. Finally, hang up your garland and watch your flock enjoy and gobble it down!

This Barred Rock enjoys the holiday garland with her flockmates.

DIY Salt Dough Chicken Print Ornament December 22, 2021 No Comments

DIY salt dough chicken print ornaments are a fun and easy craft to make any time of year using common supplies that are usually found around the house already! This makes a beautiful and personalized homemade gift to share with family and friends.

Salt dough chicken print ornament hanging from a Christmas tree with white lights.
Salt Dough Chicken Print Ornament

Materials you will need:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Baking pan
  • Parchment paper (for rolling out dough)
  • Drinking Straw (used for cutting holes for string)
  • String or twine
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutter (I used a mason jar lid, which made a really good size)
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1/4 Table salt
  • 1/3 Cup of water

Mixing Tip – If the dough comes out a bit sticky after following the measurements above – add a little more flour and salt to get the consistency that is not sticky and is easy to roll out.

Directions for making your Salt Dough Chicken Print Ornaments

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Place the rack in the middle of the oven for even baking.
  2. Mix the flour and salt gently in the mixing bowl and then pour the water in (slowly, trust me!)
A clear mixing bowl with a flour, salt, and water mixture. A wooden spoon is placed in the bowl on top of the mixture.
Mix the flour and salt gently

3. After the dough gets to where it’s moist, but not sticky – knead it by hand for a bit and form it into a ball.

A pair of hands holding a dough ball. Crumbles of dough lay on a piece of parchment paper in the background.
Form dough into a ball

4. Place the ball on the parchment paper and roll it out until it is “1/4-inch” thick. You may want to make it a bit thicker so the chicken foot imprint does not go through the dough piece.

5. Cut the dough into circles using the jar lid. Whatever dough is leftover, roll it into a ball again, roll it out, and cut it out to make additional ornaments.

A hand is holding a jar lid after just imprinting the rolled out salt dough with it.
Cut the dough circles using a lid of a jar

6. Now that the circles are made, use the straw (I used metal straw for ease) to poke holes in the top of the circle, where the string will go later.

7. Separate the dough circles and select a volunteer chicken. You will want to clean her feet and trim nails if needed. (I mean what girl doesn’t like getting pampered with a mini pedicure!) I made several ornaments using a bantam bird, a standard breed, and a duckling. The size of the foot will dictate the size of your circle. I utilized a second set of hands when it was time for the impression. I placed one circle of dough on the parchment paper and with the assistance of my helper, we pressed the bird’s foot into the dough using gentle pressure.

A hand gently holds and pressed a ducklings foot into a salt dough ornament to make an imprint.
Don’t forget your waterfowl imprints too!
A hand gently holds and pressed a bantam chicken's  foot into a salt dough ornament to make an imprint.
Bantam chicken footprints make the cutest ornament!

8. After the imprinting was done, move the dough circles back to the baking pan and place them in the oven for an hour. Bake in 30-minute intervals for a total of 1-hour baking time. Since baking time will vary depending on thickness and oven variances, you’ll essentially bake them until they are dry and a bit firm to the touch.

A salt dough chicken print ornament placed on a piece of parchment paper.
This ornament is ready to bake in the oven.

9. When baking is complete, remove it from the oven and let them cool.

10. At this point you can decorate your salt dough chicken ornament with craft paint or glitter, add a holiday message or name with markers, or add a clear craft sealant if desired. Let your creativity blossom! The final step is to add string, twine, or ribbon of your choice through the hole for hanging on the tree or even use as a one-of-a-kind gift tag!

Meet the “Peeps” from My Pet Chicken: Judi December 16, 2021 No Comments

Welcome to My Pet Chicken’s “Meet the Peeps” blog series! We lovingly call our My Pet Chicken employees, “Peeps!” You’ve interacted with us by phone, chat, and email…now it’s time to “meet” us. My Pet Chicken is very unique in that ALL employees are poultry keepers ourselves so we offer a wealth of experience and wisdom. Here is your opportunity to see how we became “crazy chicken people.”

Photo of woman smiling while standing next to a bouquet of flowers and a chocolate cake with a 7 and 0 candle that are lit.
Judi celebrating her 70th birthday!

Judi – Customer Service Phone Peep

1. How Long have you been part of the MPC family? I started working at MPC in March of 2014 as a Phone Peep. I can hold a 2-way conversation with a fence post so being a Phone Peep is easy for me!

2. What is your home state and your favorite part about living there? I live in Jacksonville, NC, home of Camp LeJeune – USMC. I’ve lived here for 40 years as of next year and still love it as much as the first day I moved here. I like to ride my bicycle and the land is very flat here so it makes for nice long rides!

3. How long have you been a chicken keeper? I got my first chickens in 1982 when I got my first horse. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and it was always my dream to live on a farm and have my own horse so I guess you can say I’m living my dream!

4. What was your first breed(s) of chicken? I don’t even remember anymore but over the years, I’ve had lots and lots of different breeds.

5. How many chickens do you have? (Real numbers…not what we tell our family members!) Up until about 4 weeks ago, we had about 50 chickens, then a fox/coyote dug under the outside pen and we now only have about 20.

6. Do you have any other animals besides chickens? If so what and how many do you have? I also have 2 donkeys, Rocket Man and Ida Blue, plus about 15 pot-bellied pigs, 14 goats, 12 geese, 10 ducks, 10 guineas, all out at the barn, plus 3 dogs, and 1 cat in the house.

7. What is your favorite chicken breed? Why? Tolbunt Polish! They remind me of a calico cat, tri-colored.

8. What is your favorite part about chicken keeping? Seeing them run up to you all excited because you are coming to see them (and bring them treats!)

9. What is your least favorite part about chicken keeping? Feeding early in the morning or after dark. I’m always afraid I’ll find a snake in the nest box and they scare me to death!

10. What is your best pro tip for a newbie chicken keeper? Relax and enjoy your chickens! The more time you spend with them, the friendlier they will become, and they are a great way to get rid of the leftovers in your fridge!

11. What is your favorite chicken-keeping product and why? When I have chicks in a brooder, I use a plastic tote because it is so easy to keep clean. Since chicks like to put EVERYTHING in their water, i.e. food, pine chips, poop, etc., I hang a Bunny Bottle on the outside of the tote with the nozzle coming into the brooder thru a hole. I show 1 chick how to drink the water from the Bunny Bottle, and she will show all the others, thus eliminating me from having to clean their water bowl out 10 times a day!

Closing thoughts from Judi…I used to breed Tolbunt Polish and Ayam Cemani. I sent the owner of My Pet Chicken a dozen eggs of each, which she hatched, and then used the chicks in some pictures for MPC like the Jungle Gym. My big claim to fame is what she did with the chicks after the photoshoot… She gave them to Martha Stewart so I have chickens on Martha Stewart’s Connecticut Farm!!!

Chicks including Ayam Cemanis & Tolblunt Polish hanging out on jungle gym

Cold weather chickens – 8 things NOT to do to in winter December 6, 2021 221 Comments

How to prepare your chickens for winter isn’t especially intuitive. In fact, many people may take steps that can actually make things more difficult for their flock rather than helping them to become cold weather chickens!  Choosing cold-hardy breeds (if you live in an area of cold winters) is certainly an important first step! But presuming you’ve already made good breed choices, you’ll also want to know what NOT to do for your cold-weather chickens.

chicken in winter

Cold weather chickens – 8 things NOT to do to in winter

1. Don’t keep your chickens closed up in their coop when it’s cold.

Good cold weather chickens can be allowed to decide when they want to stay in or come out. You might think that your chickens won’t want to go outside in the snow, and sometimes that’s true. Some of your chickens will hate it, and will stay inside most of the day, but others won’t mind it at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the “Peeps” from My Pet Chicken: Amy November 30, 2021 No Comments

Welcome to My Pet Chicken’s “Meet the Peeps” blog series! We lovingly call our My Pet Chicken employees, “Peeps!” You’ve interacted with us by phone, chat, and email…now it’s time to “meet” us. My Pet Chicken is very unique in that ALL employees are poultry keepers ourselves so we offer a wealth of experience and wisdom. Here is your opportunity to see how we became “crazy chicken people”.

Amy smiles while holding her Green Queen Easter Egger hen.
Amy and her Green Queen Easter Egger hen

Amy – Customer Service Phone Peep

1. How Long have you been part of the MPC family? Since 2016

2. What is your home state and your favorite part about living there? California, the weather of course!

3. How long have you been a chicken keeper? I started keeping chickens in 2013, soon after I left my career in education. I jumped in and never looked back!

4. What was your first breed(s) of chicken? Lavender Orpington

5. How many chickens do you have? (Real numbers…not what we tell our family members!) 67 and counting!

6. Do you have any other animals besides chickens? If so what and how many do you have? Right now, only my grumpy senior Shih Tzu, Nene. But while I had the farm in CT we had as many as 32 goats, a llama, quail, and a pair of Sebastapol geese.

7. What is your favorite chicken breed? Why? Very hard question but I would have to say Buff Orpington. I tell customers all the time that they are the Golden Retrievers of chickens. They are sweet, friendly, lap sitters… and they even lay eggs when they are not being broody! LOL

8. What is your favorite part about chicken keeping? Sitting in the coop after I have finished cleaning it and just letting them take turns jumping in my lap. There may or may not be a tasty beverage at that time as well.

9. What is your least favorite part about chicken keeping? Diagnosing what is wrong when a chicken is not well. They can’t tell you where it hurts and despite all my experience and training, it is still very challenging. There is a lot of trial and error involved. But our friends at VetTriage can offer help for almost any problem. They are trained, licensed veterinarians who are on standby 24/7/365 and willing to provide telehealth services for your poultry (or any other bird) for a very reasonable fee.

10. What is your best pro tip for a newbie chicken keeper? Don’t forget to have fun! They are chickens and the more time you spend with them the more personality they will show you. Don’t get all bogged down in the details.

11. What is your favorite chicken-keeping product and why? Automatic waterers! Once you have set something up so you don’t have to change the water and keep it clean all the time you will never go back. Invest in a system that fits your needs or make one yourself, and you will thank me.

12. What is your favorite chicken-themed quote, or joke? I like to tell people that I am a professional Chickenista!

Closing thoughts from Amy: I have had house roosters for over four years! First, was my beloved Old English Game Bantam, Monroe, who traveled across the country with us in our Airstream. When he passed, we got Pancho, also a gamebird bantam. Both boys have worn diapers and had free range of our house when not in their inside cage. They have brought so much joy to our lives and I can honestly tell people that I have a pet chicken.

A photo of Monroe, a small Old English Game Bantam rooster posing in the sand on a beach with mountains in the background.
Pet rooster, Monroe, living his best beach life!

A Guide to Building a Chicken First Aid Kit August 17, 2021 1 Comment

Owning a chicken first aid kit for your flock is a must! Let’s face it, no matter what level chicken keeper you are, there will eventually come a day that an illness or accident happens and you will need medical supplies for a member of your flock. As luck will have it, these events notoriously happen after hours, on weekends, or holidays when stores are closed. Inevitably leaving you frantically running around searching for supplies like a chicken with its…(well, you get the idea). Preparing for the worst now will surely save you much stress, time, and grief later.

Photo of the front of a chicken first aid kit
My Pet Chicken’s Ready-Made First Aid Kit

So what supplies do you need for a chicken first aid kit?

It’s best to think about the most common types of injuries or illnesses you’ll be treating for. Predator attacks or pecking injuries are some of the most common types of trauma you’ll see, so supplies for wound care are a must! My Pet Chicken has made it easy by offering a ready-made First Aid Kit for your convenience or you can certainly build your own.

Planning ahead can save critical time when you have a sick or injured bird. First, you will want to separate the patient from the flock to prevent further injury and give her a quiet, safe, stress-free, area to recover. Some options for a hospital cage can be our Hen Pen Pop-Up Brooder, a large pet carrier, or a wire dog crate. Depending on her injury there should be enough space for her to move around, but not too much space that she will further injure herself. Having a hospital cage at the ready will most certainly save you time.

A sick chicken sits in a hospital cage
A hospital cage is essential for a sick or injured bird.

Having Veterinary resources is a must!

As a former veterinary technician, I’m often asked what is a “must-have” in MY chicken first aid kit. My answer surprises people and is often overlooked. It’s a list of local veterinarians that treat chickens since not all veterinarians are knowledgeable about chickens. As backyard flocks are becoming more popular and people are treating them like any other pet, more vets are adding them to their patient list.

Call your local small animal vets, farm vets, or avian vets and ask if they treat chickens. In multi vet practices, ask if all the vets will see them or only specific vets. Your list should include the name of the hospital, address, vet names, contact information, and hours. While treating some minor issues at home is fine, having a go-to list of vets in your area when you need it is invaluable. It’s also important to update this list once a year…checking current contacts and possibly adding any new ones.

Another great option My Pet Chicken is offering is VetTriage. VetTriage gives you instant video televet sessions with a licensed and experienced veterinarian to advise you and your pet on the next step in a time of need! They are open 24/7/365 and are ready to provide telehealth services for your chicken or any other bird for a reasonable fee.

A sick chicken is being held by a Veterinarian for an exam.
Veterinary care for your flock is invaluable

Can I make my own chicken first aid kit?

Absolutely! If you’ve had chickens for a while you probably have the beginnings of a kit already! I like to keep all of my first aid supplies together in a small plastic tote. A small toolbox or fishing tackle box also makes a great way to keep your first aid supplies together, organized, and ready to grab whenever you need them.

Where do I find supplies?

Most of the supplies listed below can be found at any pharmacy. Budget-conscious shoppers can score big at your local Dollar store whether you are creating a first aid kit from scratch or restocking your existing kit. My Pet Chicken offers many products made specifically for poultry. You can often find some of them at your local feed store as well. Putting together a first aid kit can be quite expensive so I recommend starting with essential supplies and adding items from the advanced and optional supply lists over time as your budget allows. Adding just one new item per month will have your kit well-stocked in no time!

Chicken first aid kit essentials

  • Surgical Gloves
  • Syringes of various sizes with and without needles
  • Eye dropper
  • Nail Clippers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Elastic Bandage material (i.e Vetwrap, Flexwrap)
  • Gauze pads
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Medical tape
  • Old Towels (use as bedding for ill birds or wrapping/restraint)
  • Hospital Cage
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Veterinary Contact Info

Advanced chicken first aid kit supplies

  • Poultry Vitamins
  • Electrolytes
  • Probiotic
  • Epsom Salts (soaking injuries or egg bound etc)
  • Salve or Vaseline (frostbite prevention, leg mites)
  • Betadine Solution (dilute 1:10 with sterile water/saline for flushing wounds)
  • Vetericyn Solution (or other wound spray, Blue Kote not recommended for open wounds)
  • KY/sterile lubricant
  • Tums/Calcium Supplement (egg bound)
  • Saline Solution (flushing eye injuries)
  • Styptic Powder, Dust On!, Cornstarch, or Flour (broken nails, minor bleeding combs/wattles)
  • Vet RX (respiratory)
  • Antibiotic Ointment (without pain reliever)
  • Corid/Amprolium (Coccidiosis treatment)

Other chicken first aid kit items to consider

  • Super glue (beak repair)
  • Preparation H (without pain reliever, to help reduce pain/swelling with prolapsed vent)
  • PRID drawing salve (bumblefoot)
  • Nutridrench
  • Polyvisol (without iron)
  • Activated Charcoal (suspected poisoning)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (to clean/sterilize instruments, not wound care)
  • Small notebook/pencil for treatment notes
  • Medication chart including dosages, purpose and withdrawal times
  • Chicken Medical Book such as Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
  • Basin or small tote for soaking
  • Scale (to weigh bird for accurate medication dosing)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Popsicle sticks, Tongue depressors or paint sticks for splints or splay leg treatment
  • Chicken Saddle
  • Pinless peepers
  • Sugar/Honey (added to water to give weak chicks a boost of energy, honey has natural antibacterial properties to help heal wounds and sugar can reduce prolapse swelling by osmotically drawing out the fluid.)

But how do I use these chicken first aid kit supplies?

As every successful flock owner knows, it’s not a matter “IF” you will ever need a poultry first aid kit it is a matter of “WHEN” you will need it. No matter how safe we try to keep them, our feathered friends will find a way to get themselves into trouble from time to time. It’s not only important to have first aid supplies but to learn basic first aid skills as well. My Pet Chicken has an extensive help library on how to manage many illnesses and injuries as well as the aforementioned VetTriage. PoultryDVM is also a great resource for reliable information on poultry health issues and common treatments.

If you take steps to prepare now, when illness or injury strikes your flock, you will be much more adept at staying calm to handle the situation and your bird will have a greater chance at recovery.

Herbs for Chickens -Top 6 to Grow for your Flock August 6, 2021 No Comments

If you’re growing a garden, consider adding herbs for chickens. Their benefits are two-fold, because they’re good for your birds and you! Herbs are notoriously easy to grow and maintain. They’re not picky and can be grown in almost any soil and will adapt to almost any situation (except being waterlogged). You can even add them near your coop and run for easy access for your chickens.

Photos of beneficial herbs to grow for your chicken flock including: rosemary, lavender, mint, oregano, basil, and sage.
Herbs are beneficial to grow for your chicken flock.

1. Mint for Use in Chicken Runs and Nesting Boxes

Mint is probably the herb that most folks can call to mind easily. It comes in a variety of flavors and fragrances and has unlimited uses. Think candy canes at Christmas courtesy of peppermint or mint juleps during the Kentucky Derby courtesy of spearmint.

It’s a perennial that’s easy to grow and given to spreading, so if you don’t want it everywhere, be sure to grow it in a container to keep the plant from spreading roots.

Peppermint is a great herb for chickens in the coop since it can be used as a natural insect and rodent repellant. Hang peppermint to dry in the coop and grow it near the doors and other areas where rodents may enter. You can also add it fresh or dried to the nest boxes. If it’s added fresh, be sure to remove it promptly so it does not rot.

Photo of mint.
Mint is a great addition to your chicken coop nesting boxes

2. Lavender Herbs for Chickens

Bug repellant may not be the first property you associate with lavender, but this lovely scent does repel insects! This is one of the many reasons it’s popular as a sachet for drawers and closets and it can be used the same way in the chicken coop. Grow it decoratively near the coop doors and most folks will just think it’s pretty, but you’ll know better. Lavender can also be added dried or fresh to nest boxes.

3. Oregano Herbs for Chicken Health

While famous for being used in pizzas and spaghetti sauces, oregano has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It should not be used as a replacement for proper veterinary medicine and poultry hygiene, but having it available in your herbs for chicken’s arsenal can be helpful to support a healthy immune system. You may find oregano is the herb your chickens will peck and eat in small quantities daily if they are allowed access to it near their coop and run. Chickens know what’s good for them! FYI – If growing herbs isn’t high on your list, oregano does come in supplements specifically for chickens.

4. Basil Herbs for Chicken Health

Growing basil is a win-win for your chickens and you. Think pesto! High in vitamins and antioxidants, basil can benefit the circulatory and respiratory systems. Basil also contains xanthophyll, a plant pigment that helps keep your chicken’s egg yolks bright orange.  

Basil can become leggy and go to seed during the hot summer months. Be sure to keep it pruned back for a full, healthy plant.

Photo of basil.
Basil can help keep egg yolks bright orange

5. Rosemary Herbs for Insect Repellant

This piney-scented herb is a native of the Mediterranean. In the southern United States, it can be grown outdoors year-round and in northern areas, it needs to be grown as an annual or moved indoors before the first frost.

Similar to Lavender, rosemary can be used as an insect repellant in the chicken coop. Make an easy coop insect spray with water and rosemary essential oil. Spray it throughout the coop regularly. Insects will hate it, you’ll love the smell. Just be sure not to make the bedding soaking wet, a light mist will do.

6. Sage Herbs for Chickens

In the garden, sage can be a reminder of Thanksgiving, but it’s more than just a holiday herb. It is high in vitamins and antioxidants which help support a healthy immune system and fight off diseases. Sage grows best in a sunny spot and its spring flowers are perfect for early pollinators. Sage can become woody and leggy over time, so be prepared to replace or propagate new plants as needed.

Three chicks perching on the edge of an herb harden bed.
Fresh herbs are beneficial for all ages in the flock

The bottom line is that growing herbs for chickens isn’t a cure-all for pests and illness, but it’s fun and it can certainly take your chicken-keeping to the next level. Do you have an herb garden in your yard? Share in the comments below.

How to Pick the Best Chickens for Hot Weather July 23, 2021 No Comments

Picking the best chickens for hot weather is a crucial step to keeping a successful flock. We humans can head into the air conditioning or take a swim in the pool to cool off. Chickens rely on adaptations and behavior to make it through hot weather and to stay cool and some breeds are better at it than others. So, if you live in an area that experiences hot weather, it’s best to pick chickens that can handle the rising mercury!

Best chicken breeds for hot weather

Our Breed Selector Tool Can Help!

If picking the best chickens for hot weather proves tough since there are so many choices, My Pet Chicken can help! Our Breed Selector Tool can help you narrow things down. Here you can input chicken attributes that are important to you. It includes everything from heat-hardiness to cold tolerance, broodiness, egg-laying ability, size, egg color, and rarity. The selector tool will calculate your answers and give you a list with breeds that match.

The best chickens for hot weather also lay green, blue, and brown eggs. Eggs are arranged in a pulp egg carton.
The best chickens for hot weather also lay beautiful eggs!

Colored Egg Layers

Colorful egg baskets are popular and these two varieties will keep yours full of green and blue eggs. The Olive Egger and Easter Egger are both hybrid birds that are hardy, friendly, and good egg layers. Because these are designer birds, they come in lots of color options from Partridge Olive Eggers to Super Blue, Green Queen, and Blue Easter Eggers.

Photo of a White Leghorn looking at the camera.
White Leghorns are a heat-hardy chicken breed

Leghorns

While there are lots of breeds that do well in hot weather, the best hot weather breed award has to go to the Leghorn. This famous breed (remember the cartoon Foghorn Leghorn!) originated in the Mediterranean, so it’s no stranger to hot weather and its body is built to handle the heat. The Leghorn’s distinctive large floppy comb and large wattles allow body heat to circulate, be exposed to the air, and cool before reentering the body. These white egg-laying birds are at the top of the list of best chickens for hot weather. They are available in three varieties: White, Light Brown, and Exchequer. The White is the most prolific layer of the three (they can lay almost every day of the week) but the other two varieties aren’t far behind.

Best chicken breeds for hot weather. Photos of a Heritage Barred Rock, Welsummer, and two Silver Penciled Rock chickens.
The best chickens for hot weather that lay brown eggs.

Brown Egg Layers

If brown eggs are a must-have along with hot weather tolerance, there are plenty of breeds to fit this bill. Below are two fan favorites:

Plymouth Rock – The popular Barred Rock is available in large fowl and bantam varieties and is one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens on small farms today. They’re very friendly and great layers of large brown eggs. Other varieties are White, Partridge, and Silver Penciled. No matter the variety, this American breed does well in hot and cold weather.

Welsummer – This dark brown egg layer came to American via Holland and is available in large fowl and bantam sizes. They are famous for their deep reddish-brown egg color; many of the eggs are also speckled! Welsummers are good foragers meaning you’ll save on feed if you allow them to range freely!

As you’re picking your new flock members, be sure to keep the best chickens for hot weather in mind. They will provide a solid base for a happy and healthy flock.

Top Five Summer Treats for Chickens June 30, 2021 1 Comment

Summer treats for chickens can provide mental stimulation, nutrition, and a cooling break for birds during the season’s heat. A cooling break? Yes! A fun trick for your chicken’s summer snacking is to chill or freeze what you are providing. Just like humans, chickens will appreciate a summertime chilly snack.

Check out these top five summer treats for chickens that can be just the ticket for comfort and fun!

1. Watermelon Treats for Chickens

Who doesn’t love a good watermelon in the summer? Chickens are no exception which is why it’s considered one of the top summer treats for chickens! First, chill a watermelon, then cut it in half and give it to your birds. You don’t even need to buy the seedless kind of melon since your birds aren’t picky and will appreciate the seeds too. If you hit a watermelon sale and have too much to use all at once, don’t worry! You can scoop the watermelon using an ice cream scooper and freeze the individual scoops. Pull them out on a hot day and your chickens will love you. Besides the cooling effects of these chilled treats for chickens, watermelon also provides your birds with extra hydration during the heat.

Chickens enjoy eating a frozen watermelon.
Chickens love a frozen watermelon slice in the hot summer.

2. Berry Treats for Chickens

Although berries with all their yummy goodness don’t stick around long, be sure to hold a few back and chill or freeze them as treats for your chickens. Blueberries and raspberries aren’t packed with calories but are packed with nutrients that can be beneficial for your birds. Freeze the berries with water into ice cubes and then let your flock pick the ice cubes as they melt to reveal yummy bites.

Raspberries and blueberries frozen into ice cubes.
Frozen berries are packed with nutrients that are beneficial for your flock.

3. Frozen Garden Greens

This time of year, gardens are at their fullest, so share that bounty with your chickens. Leafy greens like lettuce, carrot and beet tops, kale and broccoli leaves freeze quickly and provide your birds with xanthophyll which is a naturally occurring plant pigment that helps keep your chicken’s egg yolks nice and orange.

4. Frozen Garden Veggies

Cucumber, summer squash, and zucchini are abundant this time of year and chickens love these veggies. You can serve them whole and let the chickens peck to their heart’s content. Or chop them up and freeze the bits with water into ice cubes. Let your flock pick the ice cubes as they melt to reveal yummy bites.

5. Corn on the Cob

This is a human and chicken favorite! There’s nothing better than fresh corn on the cob! If you’ve got access to lots of corn, feel free to pick it right out of the field, shuck it and give it to your birds. They’ll quickly get busy cleaning every morsel off the cob. If you’re having a grill out, give your birds the leftover cobs from dinner; it’s guaranteed they’ll find the bits that you missed!

An Olive Egger and Svart Hona hen eye a piece of frozen corn on the cob.
Frozen Corn on the Cob makes a perfect summer treat for your flock!

Pro Tips:

While chilled and frozen treats for chickens can provide a welcome respite from the heat, be careful with giving too much all at once. This can cause shock to the system and be harmful to your birds.

Feed treats in the morning and late afternoon/early evening and try not to disturb your chickens during the hottest part of the day. During that time, you’ll probably find them sticking to the coolest parts of your yard and trying not to be too active.

Remember, hot weather is harder on chickens than cold weather, so keep your feathered friends in mind as the mercury rises. Along with treats for chickens, keep them supplied with fresh, clean water throughout the day. If your chickens are free-ranging in the yard, be sure they have shady spots to rest and also have a nice dust bath. If your birds are confined, make sure all the windows to the coop are open and there is ample shade to keep the coop from heating up.