A new little flock (26) of baby Buckeye chicks arrived at Bramblestone Farm this weekend – they’re about two weeks old and just starting to feather a bit, so are just about at maximum cuteness.
These Buckeye chicks come from Crains Run Ranch, and were bred by Mr. Jeff Lay. In 2002, Mr. Lay began breeding Buckeyes for improved egg production, and today the “Lay” strain of Buckeyes are known for their excellent egg production. They were developed from Buckeyes from the Brown (OH), Rhodes (MA), Pierce (RI), and Urch (MN) flocks.
Our previous Buckeyes were from the American [...]
Continue reading Baby Buckeyes Are Here!
Chickens will eat insects, fruits, vegetables, greens, and just about anything else – including their own eggs (they’re omnivorous). But having chickens that eat their own eggs is obviously a problem for chicken keepers – we want the eggs!
Chickens can develop a taste for eggs in a number of ways, perhaps they lay a weak egg, or they are startled and accidentally break an egg, or they become calcium deficient and try supplementing their diet with egg shell. However it happens, they can quickly learn that the inside of the egg tastes great. Once one bird learns to intentionally break and eat [...]
Continue reading Egg Eating Chickens?
After finally finding Local Hens™ egg cartons (see Finding Egg Cartons) to help promote our egg sales, I took advantage of their offer to create a farm page for Bramblestone Farm. It was free, easy to use, and for a short time – we’re the “Featured Farmer” at Local Hens.
The Local Hens website promotes small farms, homesteads, and backyard chicken keepers trying to bring fresh and wholesome eggs to consumers. Local Hens products offer small-scale producers (like us) professional grade packaging, and provide resources like the Local Hens website to help farmers and consumers connect.
The small farm and local foods movement [...]
Continue reading We’re the “Featured Farmer” on Local Hens!
Springtime is definitely the best time of year to get new chicks; and for us getting them in early May is probably optimal. Many breeders and hatcheries have sold out of birds early in recent years, so now it the time to get chicks on order if you want to be sure of getting your picks. I was trying to compare options from several hatcheries but couldn’t find a condensed listing of them, so came up with this one for easy reference.
These are all larger, reliable hatcheries that also have catalogs you can request or view on-line; but, this isn’t a listing of breeders. It depends on what you want the chickens for to determine whether to get [...]
Continue reading Time for Chicks – Free Hatchery Catalogs/Links!
In the last post (see Finding Egg Cartons), I identified that Ohio law requires that eggs be packaged in new (not used) egg cartons if they are going to be sold off-farm. I said this because when attending the class “Farmers Markets, Cottage Foods, & Food Processing Establishments ” last year, an ODA (Ohio Department of Agriculture) representative identified that re-using cartons was not allowed because of possible contamination from salmonella, etc. However, the idea that re-used cartons are not permitted in Ohio (for small farms with less than 500 layers) generated a lot of controversy – it seems that many small [...]
Continue reading Egg Cartons – “New” Not Required in Ohio
We sell our excess eggs (and they go as fast as the girls can make them), but to comply with Ohio law, the cartons must identify the size and grade of egg, the farm name and address, and the date the eggs were packed. I thought that finding reasonably priced cartons for our eggs that met these criteria would be easy – boy was I wrong!
First of all, our girls produce mostly Jumbo eggs, but they’re not all Jumbos and we don’t grade them. Ohio allows you to sell ungraded eggs of mixed sizes as long as you don’t specify that they’re of a particular grade and specify [...]
Continue reading Finding Egg Cartons
I’m so excited, Better Hens and Gardens and Bramblestone Farm are featured in the current issue of Chickens magazine! The editor contacted me last fall to see if we’d be interested in being featured in their Chicken Keepers column, and of course, I said “Yes”!
Chickens magazine is a bi-monthly print magazine that says ”The popularity of egg-laying, meat-providing and easily entertaining chickens is on the rise—again. What once was commonplace on most farms and in city backyards is finding a new generation of people who want to reclaim their attachment to nature and become more sustainable. Take a look inside the current [...]
Continue reading We’re Featured in “Chickens®” magazine!
One of my favorite chicken magazines, Your Chickens, is produced in the UK and has been largely unavailable in the US. I’ve been reading it for awhile (well reading whatever I could get my hands on anyway), and have enjoyed every issue. So, I was happy to learn that starting mid-February, Your Chickens will be available in the US!
TSC (Tractor Supply Company) will begin carrying the magazine, and in recognition of the US launch, the first several issues will feature US henkeepers. I was asked to contribute (which of course I did), and am told that the information on the Bramblestone Farm flock will be in the March or April issue!
Continue reading Your Chickens Launches in the US!
The arrival of the 2013 “Backyard Biosecurity” calendar from the USDA (instructions for ordering a free one are here), and the issues my Farm Chick friend has been facing with bird disease made me think that it was a good time to remind everyone with backyard birds – they need to be PROTECTED. It’s so easy to think that it won’t happen to you and let up your guard, but disease can be brought in many ways and can destroy your flock. We learned the hard way several years ago when we brought in two barred rocks from a ”reputable” source. The birds brought Infectious Bronchitis (see story here) with them and our flock had [...]
Continue reading Protect Your Birds!
To help educate backyard poultry owner’s about infectious poultry diseases and protect their birds, the United States Department of Agriculture is again offering a free calendar for 2013, called: Backyard Biosecurity: Keeping Your Birds Healthy.
The calendar features full-color photos of birds like the one shown below, and can be ordered at: https://web01.aphis.usda.gov/PRTDIST/WebOrder/WOEIS.nsf You can order up to two per individual address, and it always takes awhile for mine to get here – they say to allow six to eight weeks for delivery.
The USDA is getting the calendar out late this year, but it offers good advice on biosecurity that’s [...]
Continue reading Free 2013 Bird Calendar
Every year, as the weather turns cold, my husband starts closing down the windows of the chicken coop. He means well, but every year I go through an explanation of why it’s very important to keep the chicken coop well ventilated, and why it’s even more important in cold weather. Chickens generate a lot of moisture, ammonia, and heat – so it’s absolutely critical to ventilate well to remove the excess from the coop. The more time your chickens spend indoors, the more important it is to supply good ventilation.
Why Coops Need Ventilation
Chickens generate lots of water vapor, from both [...]
Continue reading Keep Coops Ventilated – Especially in Cold Weather!
Don’t throw those Halloween pumpkins, decorative gourds, or dried corn cobs out - feed them to your favorite chickens instead!
Feeding pumpkins or gourds to chickens is as simple as cutting them in half, and setting them cut-side up in their run. They devour them; and seem to really love having access to fresh vegetables after everything else has stopped growing. Dried corn on the cob is even simpler, just throw it in the run – they’ll pick the cobs clean. Of course, treats should always be fed in moderation.
We grow and store quite a few pumpkins and gourds to feed the chickens throughout fall and winter; and we’re always on [...]
Continue reading Fall Decorations = Chicken Treats
As I talk with chicken keeping friends, I’m surprised that some don’t know that most chickens will cease to lay eggs when day lengths fall below 14 hours in the fall. As we move further into fall and shorter days, chickens will naturally reduce egg production. They lay eggs based on day length; long days and increasing day length mean spring to a chicken – time when they should be producing many eggs and raising chicks. The declining day length and harsher environment in fall and winter aren’t optimal for raising chicks; so chickens will naturally stop egg production, molt, renew their egg laying resources, and [...]
Continue reading Maintain Winter Egg Production – Add Artificial Light
In our part of the country, we had a drought for most of the summer and then suddenly rain. The rain was very welcome, but caused some monster zucchini in our garden – much larger than I really wanted to use. So, what to do with all those monster zucchini – feed them to the chickens. They’re very happy to have them.
It’s seldom that we see the roosters taking a break and laying down, they’re usually on the alert for predators and food all the time. So, we were amused to see that even they were willing to sit down, take a break, and enjoy the [...]
Continue reading Monster Zucchini? Chicken Love Them
Even though we’ve had chickens for a while now, it’s still a thrill to find that first egg. On Monday, I found this little egg in a nest box; so our latest batch of Golden Buff pullets has started laying. We got them as day-old birds (there’s a story on that here) on Thursday, May 10th; so it was 16 weeks and 4 days for the first girl to lay an egg. The egg is tiny, but that’s ok – we know they’ll get bigger with time.
The combs and wattles of chickens turn red (from hormones) when they start laying, so it’s possible to distinguish who’s [...]
Continue reading First Pullet Egg!