Spring finally seems to be here, so in the first semi-dry weekend, we cleaned and inspected the year-old chicken coop. We use the “deep-litter” method for managing coop sanitation, which basically means putting down a 4” layer of pine shavings (the “litter”) mixed with a little diatomaceous earth, adding more pine shavings as the ratio of droppings to shavings gets too large, and cleaning in the spring and fall (see Deep Litter & Healthy Chickens). For the health of the birds, it’s important not to let ammonia levels get too high, so it’s a good idea to clean before spring [...]
Continue reading Semi-Annual Chicken Coop Cleaning & Evaluation
The more I learn about chickens, the more I think they are truly remarkable creatures. Just before laying an egg, the hen adds a protective layer called “bloom” or cuticle to the outside of the egg. This coating seals the shell pores, prevents bacteria from getting inside the shell, and reduces moisture loss from the egg – all designed to make the egg last longer.
Unfortunately, because of conditions at some large egg operations, commercial eggs are washed right after collection to make them appear clean and presentable. Of course, this destroys the protective egg bloom. To try replacing natural bloom, [...]
Continue reading Egg “Bloom”
Getting day-old chicks and raising them is fun and rewarding; they seem to grow while you watch, and their behavior is fascinating. But they’re a lot of work too, and it’s not a job that should be taken lightly. They require frequent monitoring and care for the first five weeks, so someone needs to available every day. There are no vacations or days off during those critical first few weeks. I’ve debated over writing about the experience, it’s been written about well and often before; but there are some important concepts I never picked up on until actually doing it – so [...]
Continue reading Raising Day-Old Chicks
On Thursday, we got 30 Buckeye peeps (they actually hatched last Sunday), and put them in a brooder in the barn. We’ve waited along time for these Buckeyes (see Buckeye Chickens)!
The brooder is actually made from a TV armoire we found sitting beside the road, waiting to be hauled off as trash (yes, we asked before we took it!). We took the shelves and drawers out, and set it with the back on the ground – just perfect for a little brooder. For the first two days, we put the chicks on paper towels so they’d learn where their food was [...]
Continue reading Baby Buckeyes Are Here!
Thirteen Weeks Old
I picked up one of the chicks last night, and did a double take. She was a lot heavier than I expected – those sneaky little girls are growing up!
We don’t know exactly how old they are (they were a surprise with the new coop), but think about thirteen weeks. We got them at five weeks, and first kept them in an old Eglu while we painted the coop interior. At eight weeks, we slowly transitioned from the medicated starter feed they were being fed to non-medicated grower feed, and didn’t observe any problems.
At nine weeks, they moved [...]
Continue reading Growing Pullets
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?