“Time Oat!” The Problem with Oatmeal for Chickens + 2 Healthy Alternatives March 4, 2020 No Comments

During the cold winter months, many of us like to offer a warm bowl of oatmeal for our chickens. While there really is little benefit to providing a warm meal, it certainly makes us feel better to do so for our feathered babies on especially cold mornings.

Oatmeal for chickens on a cold morning.
A warm treat in the cold months will be welcome, but oatmeal for chickens isn’t the best choice!

What’s wrong with oatmeal for chickens?

Oatmeal for chickens is controversial, and for a good reason. Oats contain beta glucan, which chickens digest poorly. Studies have shown that beta glucan can cause a thick gel to form in birds’ intestines, preventing vital nutrient absorption.

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February Backyard Chicken Checklist: 7 Tips to Help Your Flock February 1, 2020 No Comments

We are halfway through winter and spring is on the horizon! Our February backyard chicken checklist will help you and your flock push through the last of the winter blues.

1. Enter our Instagram Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Okay… This one won’t really help your flock. But it’ll perk you right up! Follow all the chicken fun on our Instagram and check out the Valentine’s day giveaway we’re hosting from February 10th-13th. The winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. You can win an assortment of colorful egg cartons to hold your fresh eggs or be adorned with carton stampers and carton labels. The cartons can also be used for many other uses including bath bombs, baked goods, cupcakes, candles, and more!

You can also use egg cartons for Valentine’s Day crafts.

2. Keep the backyard chicken coop extra clean.

Freshen your chicken coop or barn with First Saturday Lime. This is a perfect solution if you’re looking for an all-natural alternative to pesticides that is safe for your children, pets, animals, and organic farming. If you order a 20-pound bag of First Saturday Lime from us between February 9th – 15th, 2020 we will include a FREE bag of nesting box herbs with your purchase!

3. Add a mirror for entertainment.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fluffiest chicken of all? Chickens love to look at themselves in the mirror. It can be great entertainment for them–and for you! A mirror will help keep them occupied during the winter days when they are cooped up.

Buff Orpingtons chicken chat in the mirror.
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January Backyard Chicken Checklist: 9 Tips to Help Your Flock January 10, 2020 No Comments

Start the new year off right and keep your backyard chicken flock clean and organized with our January backyard chicken checklist. Learn about chicken care tips and must-have products to help your flock get through winter.

A Blue Favaucana and an Exchequer Leghorn enjoy a snow day outside.

1. Give your flock outside access.

Even if you think it’s too cold, give your chickens access to the outdoors. They’re smart enough to decide for themselves how cold is too cold. You’d be surprised at how well chickens do in the cold when allowed to acclimate naturally, with the changing seasons. Provide them access to their run, and let them decide where they’d like to spend their time.

And if there’s snow on the ground, consider throwing spent shavings, wood chips, straw or hay on top. This will make the ground feel warmer to their tootsies, and your flock is more likely to give it a go!

2. Order your spring additionsbefore our most popular breeds sell out.

We offer an awesome selection of exclusive, ultra-rare, and heritage breeds. Often they’ll sell out for the entire year within just a few weeks of going online, so don’t wait—shop now!

Don’t worry, though—if your favorite breed isn’t available, there are 5 secret ways to get sold out breeds.

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How To Keep Chickens Warm in Winter: 7 Ways to Help Your Flock. December 18, 2019 No Comments

Honey, it’s cold outside!

Chickens can take the cold better you would think, and in most cases don’t require heating at all. We know you’re worried about how to keep chickens warm in winter, but for the most part, you don’t need to. Read about how to know when to — and when not to — heat your chickens. 

Still, there are a few things you can do to keep your chickens more comfortable in winter, especially those very young and senior chickens.

If you’d like to review our past winter preparation top 10 list, it has some wonderful options we’ll build on in this post. Our 2014 winter list is here.

 Chickens roosting in winter

Worried about how to keep chickens warm in winter? They need less help than you think.

7 ways to keep your chickens comfortable in winter:

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5 Secret Ways to get Sold Out Breeds December 16, 2019 No Comments

When you’re in the notoriously tricky business of counting your eggs before they hatch, the “counting” is more of an art than a science…

Many of you have stalked our website for months to get that day-old chick breed you really want. Maybe you wanted chocolate or olive eggs in your basket, or that sweet bantam pet for your little one. But who has time for stalking? If you don’t want to reserve your 2020 chick order now, I can at least help you to stalk more strategically. Here are the 5 best ways to get just the breeds you want!

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Chicken Run Ideas: Simple Shade and Wind Block November 6, 2019 1 Comment

Whether it’s sun, wind or rain, our flock has limited protection in their run. On the worst days, our chickens will hide in their coop and not come out at all. Maybe, like us, you’ve tried planting a tree, and found that it’s too slow-growing and doesn’t protect much from the rain and wind. Or maybe you’ve used tarps, only to have them disintegrate on you after a year or two. After several years of testing different chicken run protection ideas, I’ve finally got a great solution.

Silkie got caught in the rain.
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Tragedy to Artistry: Appreciating Chicken Feathers October 11, 2019 No Comments

It was crisp and cool, with the pleasant smell of fall in the air, as I walked to my chicken coop. The sun was shining, birds were chirping and the leaves were just beginning to morph into stunning shades of red, gold and orange. What a fantastic morning! My daily routine begins with a quick rake of the run before letting my girls out. As I opened the door to do this, I stopped dead in my tracks. There were chicken feathers EVERYWHERE!

Chicken feathers in the run
Chicken feathers all over my run
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The Story of Little Chicken Explorer July 31, 2019 No Comments

Once upon a time, there was a little chicken. She was young and her world quite limited by the barn and walls of her run. Little Chicken had many friends inside her coop, but she dreamed of the world outside with sunlight, bright green grass and delightful, skittering bugs to chase. “Stay inside where it is safe,” advised her sister. “There is nothing out there but danger – hawks, owls, raccoons, and opossums. Here it is safe and nothing can hurt you.”

Little Chicken thought, and thought, and thought about what her sister said, but it didn’t seem all that dangerous looking out at the big, wide world through the windows of the coop. In fact, it looked downright appealing, she thought as she watched a swallowtail fly past the window in the early morning light. “Why do they settle for this little coop when so much more is right outside?” she wondered.

Little Chicken decided to look for a way to get out and go exploring. The fence was high, a full six feet or more, but she was a determined little bird and flapped her wings hard, taking a running start. She managed to get halfway to the top before she hit the fence, falling to the ground in a humph of ruffled feathers. The others stopped looking for bugs and bathing and laughed at her, calling her “silly bird” and “ruffled butt”, however, this only served to make Little Chicken more determined to succeed.

Little Chicken Explorer escapes the fence
Up Up and Over! Little Chicken Explorder’s Great Escape.

Again and again Little Chicken tried to fly over the fence. She was making one last attempt when she flew a bit too upright and her chest hit the fence – her toes grabbed at the fence as she flapped her wings desperately so she wouldn’t fall again, and, as she did, she began going up! Her toes grabbed at the fence and her wings gave her lift as she went up… And up… And over!

With a little squawk of joy, Little Chicken was suddenly FREE! Finally, she thought, I’m not Little Chicken anymore… I’m Little Chicken Explorer! Only… It was a bit scary and lonely out here and she suddenly didn’t feel so safe as a dark shadow passed over her. Little Chicken quickly ducked under a blueberry bush in the garden to hide, grateful for the cover.

Little Chicken Explorer in the vegetable garden
Little Chicken Explorer enjoying her garden adventures.

For a time, Little Chicken scratched and chased bugs and nibbled on the garden veggies, but she was always having to run and hide. “This isn’t so much fun after all,” she thought. “I miss my sisters and our safe little coop.” Little Chicken huddled by the coop as the sun began to set, listening to her sisters arguing about who would get the best spot on the roost that night, wishing she was with them instead of lonely and cold.

Suddenly, Little Chicken heard the familiar “crunch, crunch, crunch” of the farmer’s feet coming to tuck the flock into bed. “What have we here?” the farmer exclaimed, peering down at Little Chicken and back up to the top of the six-foot fence. “We have a Little Explorer today! It looks like you have had your fun and would like to go back home, don’t you?” the farmer murmured as she reached down and gently scooped up Little Chicken. Cradling Little Chicken in her arms, the farmer carried her into the coop, sitting her on the roost with her sisters. Little Chicken was so happy to be back home and safe that she clucked and cooed gratefully to the farmer.

Little Chicken Explorer in her nest box at home.
Little Chicken Explorer is happy to be home and snuggling with her sister hen.

After that, Little Chicken was much happier in her coop and run with her sisters, but every once in a while, when the sun was shining bright, she would venture outside for a while knowing her farmer would come and tuck her back into the coop at night.

This story inspired by hens in Forest and Jordana’s flocks, “Merry” and “Gertrude”. Do you have a chicken in your flock who loves to escape and go on adventures? Comment below and share.

4 Ways to Prepare for Incubator Hatching March 28, 2019 No Comments

I know what it feels like to anxiously stalk tracking info so you’ll know the very minute your hatching eggs arrive. The wait is awful! Quite a lot of prep and planning goes into successful incubator hatching. And because I’ve done this a few {cough} times before, I thought I’d share my four simple steps to successful incubator hatching.

First thing you need for incubator hatching: fertile eggs!
First thing you need for incubator hatching: fertile eggs!

Step 1: Read, read, read

If you’ve never tried incubator hatching before, your first step is to do some research. While it’s more gratifying to just grab some eggs and stick ’em in an incubator, that rarely leads to a successful hatch. Remember, you’re planning on developing living creatures that need special care. It’s not quite the same as baking a cake that doesn’t turn out. A great place to begin your research is on our free Guide to Incubation and Hatching.

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Raising Waterfowl for Eggs March 26, 2019 No Comments

While you might think that chickens are the easiest way to backyard egg laying success, ducks and geese also produce tasty and nutritious eggs. With their own distinctive qualities, duck eggs and goose eggs can add a unique flair to your farm stand or small egg business, or they can just make breakfast a little bit different. Read on to learn about the best duck and goose breeds for egg laying.

Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs
Duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs
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