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!
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
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 2012, 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: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/s: You can order up to two per individual address, and it always takes awhile for mine to get here so I recommend you send for it now – they say to allow six to eight weeks for delivery.
In the US today, we’re being offered more and more choices in food quality; and it’s because many of us are demanding locally grown foods that are antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide free. In terms of eggs quality, it’s not clear sometimes what the choices mean – here’s a rundown on the different types of eggs:
Commercial or “Factory Farmed” Eggs
These are the standard grocery store eggs; and unfortunately, the “farms” that produce these eggs are typically poultry houses where the hens are housed indoors in tiny metal cages. They’re routinely debeaked (part of their beaks are cut [...]
Continue reading Choices in Egg Quality
In addition to practicing Biosecurity to protect chickens from disease, vaccination is an effective way to prevent or reduce specific diseases in poultry. Since we’ve had issues with Infectious Bronchitis (IB) in the past and it’s extremely contagious for poultry, we decided to vaccinate our chickens against it. Although we plan to maintain a small-closed flock thereby minimizing possible exposure, IB can “jump” relatively large distances, so we decided to vaccinate anyway. Anyone who takes birds to poultry shows, or buys from hatcheries or other sources and adds them to the flock; should definitely consider vaccinating for this and other common diseases. [...]
Continue reading Vaccinating Chickens Against Infectious Bronchitis/Newcastle Disease
Ok, this post may be a bit “deep” (sorry for the pun), but I’ve been researching chicken litter management. For the past couple of years, our chickens were either housed in an Eglu (with a pull-out shelf for dropping removal), or in a barn stall, where we could shovel dirt and bedding in and out as necessary for sanitary control. However, now that we’ve got the new coop (see New Coop), I’ve been investigating the “deep litter” management method.
What Is It?
The “deep litter” technique originated in Ohio in the 1940’s, and was an important development in poultry management because it [...]
Continue reading Deep Litter & Healthy Chickens?
We kept our chickens in a 10’ x 10’ stall in the barn; but, since we’ve ordered 25 day-old chicks and are planning to give the stall to some Dwarf Nigerian goats, new chicken housing is in order. There are so many options it’s hard to choose what to buy or build, but there are a few things I think should be considered (books told me I needed roosts, nesting boxes, ventilation, etc. but didn’t necessarily mention these things):
Chickens are dusty! And our entire barn is now incredibly dusty due to the chickens. I never noticed that every [...]
Continue reading Chicken Housing Basics
Free Ranging Pullets
Since we just went through the ordeal of culling our flock (see Painful Chicken Lesson), and then choosing another chicken breed to raise (see Buckeyes), I have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of getting a few chickens for the backyard.
What to Start With
You can start with eggs, day-old chicks, or pullets. Hatcheries offer eggs and day-old chicks from many breeds, but pullets are usually only available in the egg layer breeds (leghorns, black sex-linked, golden buff, etc.). Breeders often offer eggs, day old chicks, and pullets (but may be limited on quantities or times).
Basically, chickens are bred for egg-laying, [...]
Continue reading Getting Started With Chickens
We decided that our next chickens will be Buckeyes – we like this breed because they were developed specifically for Ohio conditions, are the only chicken developed by a woman, and are very cold hardy. They’re described as vigorous, resilient, and disease resistent, and are a dual purpose breed – meaning they can be used for both meat and eggs.
Buckeyes are big enough for a generous portion of meat, yet are also relatively good layers. They’re described as having stout, muscular thighs, and a broad, well-rounded breast. The hens lay approximately 200 medium-sized, brown eggs per year. Hens weigh around 6 [...]
Continue reading Buckeye Chickens
Wrinkled Egg – IB Symptom
Back when I wrote about introducing new chickens into a flock (see Introducing New Chickens), I missed one important step, and we’re learning a painful lesson as a result. It wasn’t enough to ask if the new chickens were vaccinated, we should have kept them separate from our flock for 30 days to make sure they couldn’t introduce disease.
Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
As it turns out, Bab and Will brought Infectious Bronchitis into our flock, and it’s destroyed the Golden Buffs ability to produce eggs (it does not affect humans). Infectious bronchitis is a virus, it’s the [...]
Continue reading Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens
I’ve always fed the hens grape treats, and as a result, they’re quite friendly (they’ll crawl in my lap if I let them). But, when Will joined the flock, he made it apparent he had no use for grapes, and didn’t appreciate me feeding the hens either.
The hens were still enthusiastic about grapes, but Will would try to call them away, and when that didn’t work, he’d growl at me! Now, he’s generally a nice rooster, so I was puzzled. It finally dawned on me that Will knows he’s head rooster, and didn’t appreciate the competition for his hens.
After this [...]
Continue reading Rooster Psychology 101
Randy did a terrific job building a new nesting box for the hens, and Spice had to check it out.
New Nesting Box and Spice
We put it in the corner of the chicken’s pen and added golf balls to give them the right idea.
Installed Nest Box with Golf Balls
The Golden Buff hens got the message right away, they love the new nesting box.
Ginger Checking It Out
Will, Gold Dust, Ginger, Eggnog, and Babs posing in front of the nesting box.