So you want chickens? Here are the first 4 rules of chicken farming. March 24, 2020 2 Comments

Does Coronavirus have you thinking about producing your own food? Sweet. But take a sec and think this through, please

Yesterday I was chatting with a good friend who works at our local feed and seed store. They’ve been swamped with customers clearing out seed packs, buying up gardening supplies, and scooping up hens. That’s awesome, on two levels.

One, mom-and-pop feed stores like theirs have been hard hit by chain feed stores (you know, the ones that make you lug 50-pound bags of feed into your trunk yourselves). Two, people are about to experience the simple pleasures of producing their own food for the first time.

But then my friend told me about this one customer who came into the store to buy chickens and demanded that she write down everything about chicken care on a piece of paper.


This, plus the fact that our own business is up 400%, inspired me to write down these 4 rules of chicken farming. Please at least clear these rules before you explore this obsession hobby further!

Chicken Farming Rule #1: If you don’t have time to learn how to care for chickens, you don’t have time to care for chickens.

Chicken care is so easy. We’ve dedicated the last 15 years to teaching people just that. I wrote this free how-to chicken care guide that takes about 30 minutes to read, no strings attached. You don’t have to sign up for anything, or give us your email address, and we never sell your data, anyway.

If you don’t have the time to read that, or any number of other online how-to guides, you don’t have time to care for chickens. Period.

Chicken Farming Rule #2: Be prepared to deal with death

This is a sad one, and it’s tempting to gloss over, but it’s important. Being a farmer means having to put on our big girl pants when it comes to losses.

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Coronavirus Chicken Checklist March 22, 2020 No Comments

How to breeze through the apocalypse with your flock

So you’re hunkered down, doing your patriotic duty to stop the spread of coronavirus. What next? I’ve come out with this coronavirus chicken checklist to help you make the most out of it.

1. Get the necessities: food, grit and shavings/bedding

Agriculture and feed stores won’t be forced to shut down — but still, others will be stocking up, and you don’t want to get into a situation where you can’t find any locally.

I’d like to tell you to buy from us, online, and we appreciate every order. But mom-and-pop feed stores are hurting right now, so if you can, give them your business first. If you don’t want to have to go into the store, maybe you can call in your order in advance and have them load your items right into your car when you arrive.

(If your feed store is out of stock, or there isn’t one nearby, of course we’re here to help!)

How much food?

Chickens eat, on average, a quarter pound per bird, per day. So if you have 10 hens, you should go through a fifty pound bag of feed in 20 days. If you want to have a 2-month supply, you’ll need to get 150 pounds of feed.

How much grit?

An average flock through a 5lb bag of grit about every other month. (Why grit is necessary.)

How much shavings?

That depends; how often does your coop get dirty? We go through about one bag per large coop per month, and one bag for every three small coops per month at our house. The good news is, shavings are inexpensive, so they’re easy to stock up on!

More on shavings and bedding

2. Share your extra eggs

If you have extra eggs, sharing them with the less fortunate is next on your coronavirus chicken checklist. So many people are feeling the hurt financially right now. Grocery store shelves are empty. Be the good! Put any eggs you can spare outside your door; post on Facebook; make a sign and put it by the side of the road. (Not like I need to tell you; chicken keepers are the best group of people I know.)

3. Get some babies!

If you have to be shut in, let some babies soothe your soul. ‘Nuff said.

(Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays is when you can get the best variety of chicks at MPC, including breeds that are sold out months in advance, because that’s when we count the difference between how many eggs were egg-spected vs. actually collected.)

Alternately, what about hatching? You could borrow an incubator if you don’t have one, or stick some eggs under a broody hen. There’s nothing like watching babies “unzip” out of their shells home… or like watching a fierce mother hen protect her brood.

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Agriculture & feed stores remain open per government order March 21, 2020 2 Comments

Feed stores will remain open

Are you concerned that if you order a new flock of chickens, you won’t be able to source feed? Don’t be: your local ag and feed stores will remain open! Agriculture stores won’t be forced to shut down per Presidential Policy Directive 21.

Even as governors shut down retail businesses and ask people to shelter in place, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designates the Food and Agriculture industries as “critical infrastructure.”

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Share eggs & get your stingy town to (finally) legalize chickens March 19, 2020 1 Comment

Give away your eggs so your town stops stomping on backyard chickens
Give away your extra eggs: One strategy to get chickens legalized

Do you live in a town you wish would stop stomping on backyard chickens? Have you tried to legalize chickens and failed? Does your town council or zoning commission seem to want to control your every move? Do they force you to pay for a permit for the privilege of raising a few hens? In other words…

…does your town think it’s too “classy” for chickens?

Well, now’s the time to show them that we chicken keepers are the true class act. It’s time to show them once and for all why they need to encourage chicken-keeping — for everyone’s benefit.

In this challenging time, folks all over America are coming together and helping one another in beautiful ways. Knowing what I know about chicken keepers, you’ve been helping people for years.

(Yes, chicken keepers, I see you: you, fostering kids in need; adopting the “unadoptable;” homeschooling; volunteering for Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and a million other causes; gardening because you don’t want pesticides in your food, and donating your extra veggies. You are a special bunch and you deserve recognition.)

In reality, backyard chickens are a positive good for your town.

In my town, the grocery stores were all out of eggs a few days ago. I know because neighbors and friends were texting us begging for a dozen. We were the only people they know who kept chickens. Of course, we shared.

Empty egg shelves in grocery stores
Empty shelves at a grocery store in Chicago

In doing so, we realized that there had to be many more who not only needed eggs for their recipes, but might be so desperate financially that a dozen eggs could be a God-send. This alone was reason enough to give away our extra eggs. So we did that, too. We made this cute little sign and we are putting eggs out for free whenever we can.

The coronavirus provides a salient, timely and in-your-face example of how we chicken keepers can benefit the community. In reality, though, every time we gift a dozen eggs to someone less fortunate, we’re helping our community. Yes, you, me, all of us: we’ve been giving away our extra eggs for years — our towns just never gave a hoot (or a cluck?), because eggs were readily available in the stores.

Now, maybe they’ll finally pay attention.

Give away your extra eggs
Our daily egg take is an embarrassment of riches

So give your eggs away for free (like you do anyway) to get chicken regulations re-written.

Go on with your lovely selves, find someone in need, and share your extra eggs—just like you always do.

When life returns to normal and it comes time to once again fight your town to legalize chickens, or to ask yet again that they loosen restrictions from the preposterous one-chicken-per-acre rule (or whatever such garbage zoning code your town employs to make it all but impossible), you can remind them that in its time of need, chicken keepers showed up for their neighbors.

Our ability to help in meaningful ways is all the reason our towns should need to finally write reasonable regulations around the the keeping of chickens.

If they don’t, they’ll have egg all over their faces.

Don't forget to document it!
Remind your town why they should permit chickens

(PSST: Don’t forget to take photos to prove it!)

Evidence is key! They won’t take your word for it. So don’t forget to take photos of your good deeds. Post on social media, #shareeggs. Get the word out. Keep those 501(c)3 receipts from your local food bank. Ask your egg takers to come to those future zoning meetings, if they can, to speak up for you — you who had their backs when they were down and out.

Three cheers for all us backyard chicken keepers. Let’s do this!

My Pet Chicken is open for business! March 13, 2020 1 Comment

With so much uncertainty around you-know-what, with schools and businesses closing, we want to let you know where we are. And as of today, we are open for business! Here’s what you need to know:

We are ppen for business
Chicks are shipping!

COVID-19 does not affect birds as far as we know

Our understanding is that birds do not carry COVID-19 and that they cannot communicate it to humans.

The CDC says “There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19.”

Read the latest animal-related COVID info from the CDC, here.

Products are shipping on time

  • Our partner breeders and hatcheries are still hatching and shipping chicks, waterfowl, started pullets and hatching eggs.
  • Our product fulfillment centers are still open, and shipping coops and supplies on time, for now.
  • Some of our chicken coops are quite low in supply, however, and it may be a few months until we receive more. Affected products are marked as such, so you won’t have to guess. If you think you might need a chicken coop, in other words, you are best to purchase soon.
  • As of today, we have no word of post offices shutting down, but that could happen, so if you’re expecting an order of chicks, it’s best to call your local post office in advance for pickup instructions (which we always recommend, in any case).
  • Coronavirus can survive on cardboard shipping boxes for a short time. Read about that and how to disinfect surfaces.

Our staff is staying safe

  • My Pet Chicken has always been a virtual business. Our staff work from their own homes around the country. Therefore our operations remain “business as usual.”
  • Our partner breeders and hatcheries have their non-essential staff working from home, and essential staff taking extra precautions to stay healthy.

While this time is a bit scary and uncertain for everyone, we at My Pet Chicken, and our partners, will continue to do the very best we can for you as we remain open for business. Thank you for your trust in us. Please stay safe!

March Backyard Chicken Checklist: 5 Pro Tips March 5, 2020 2 Comments

Spring has almost arrived! March 20th, 2020 is the spring equinox and we will all soon be enjoying more sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets. (Thank goodness….) Here’s my March backyard chicken checklist to help you prepare for spring with chickens.

1.Incorporate chickens into your garden plans

Gardening is the whole reason I got into chickens in the first place, so it ranks first on my March backyard chicken checklist. Keeping chickens can seriously contribute to gardening success: after all, chickens eat plant pests. Their droppings and litter make for some truly amazing compost. They can clean up your beds in fall and take care of those extra veggies when you have more than you can handle. But they can also cause destruction and eat your garden in the blink of an eye! Here are the top 5 ways to combine raising backyard chickens and gardening while saving your plants from being eaten.

Backyard chicken tip 1: plan for gardening with chickens
Backyard chicken tip 1: Plan for gardening with chickens

Don’t forget, though, when you’re planning your spring garden, that some plants are poisonous to your flock, and choose alternatives accordingly. Chickens are foraging birds by nature. They will take a small taste of most plants to determine what is good to eat and what is not. While they seem to have a pretty good ability to determine what to stay away from, it’s always better safe than sorry, right?

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“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: 6 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. 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. Spread it around your coop’s floor and run to repel and deodorize your chicken coop, and reduce ammonia smells.

Buff Orpingtons chicken chat in the mirror.

2. 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.

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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 additions before 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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