Friday, February 16, 2018

Chicken waterers, how often should you clean them?

How often do you clean your chickens waterers? If you're anything like me you try to do it fairly often, but sometimes it doesn't get done as often as it should. Especially the big drinkers that hold enough water to last a week. I mean really, am I supposed to empty it every day just to clean it and refill it? 

If you've ever gone to change the waterer and noticed a slimy sort of substance on the inside of it, you're not cleaning it often enough! I used to think it was just some sort of harmless water residue or debris accumulation and I would clean it out and not worry about it. It's actually something called biofilm and it's a slimy film of bacteria that stick together to adhere to a surface. 

Cleaning chicken drinkers

There can be many different bacteria in this biofilm including (but not limited to) E coli, salmonella or even bordetellaIf the color of the slime is slightly pink or light rust colored, that indicates the presence of a nasty bacteria called Serratia Marcescens aka pink slime and yes, it's as gross as it sounds! 

Since most commercially available waterers are red, it's not always easy to see. These bacteria can also accumulate in the threads that screw the two pieces together, inside the water container, or inside the base of the waterer. You'll notice a slightly red tinged film. You may also feel a slimy sort of coating if you run your fingers inside the water container.  I have good news though, all you have to do is clean it!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Comparing different types of eggs

An egg is an egg is an egg....or is it? We all know that eggs fresh from the farm or your own backyard dwelling chicken flock are higher in nutrients then store bought eggs. Is that it though? Actually, no. It also depends what kind of egg you're eating.

Did you know that a guinea egg has more than twice the protein as a same sized chicken egg? Or that 5 quail eggs have almost the exact same nutritional content as 1 chicken egg, but are higher in calories? Or that ounce for ounce, duck eggs have more fat than goose eggs? Weird, right? 

differences in farm eggs

I spent a few hours crunching the numbers and I figured out how all the different types of farm fresh eggs, stack up against each other. Why? Well....I find it fascinating. Plus I was bored, but that's irrelevant! The point is, whether you raise chickens, ducks, geese, guineas, turkey or quail their eggs are all sort of the same, but kinda different.

Friday, February 2, 2018

You should raise silkies!

Every once in awhile I like to do a mini profile on one of the breeds I raise and today, I'd like to discuss the silkie chicken. I started raising silkies about 8 years ago. I think they are the darn cutest thing ever, though many people don't agree with me! I think they look like fluffy muppets though and just adore the dozen or so I always have. 

I started raising silkies because I thought they were super cute. With their fluffy feathers, they almost resemble rabbits more than chickens. They are very soft and have the sweetest temperament of any chicken I've raised. Silkies also won the hearts of all the children that visited, letting themselves be carried around and petted for hours...and you'll want to pet them when you feel how soft their unique feathers are!

Raising silkie chickens

Though they are small in stature, silkies are big on personality! My silkies especially are total characters and are actually pretty smart. A silkie roo was the first chicken I trained to walk on a leash and I often took him to events to teach people about raising backyard chickens for eggs. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

How to treat frostbite in chickens

Last week we talked about preventing frostbite, but in the event that's it's too late (it has been awfully cold lately!) I want to talk about treating frostbite. Frostbite is pretty easy to identify. It generally affects the comb, wattles and feet of chickens. The affected comb or wattles will be grey, white or even black. Feet will often turn red and it can appear swollen or develop blisters. Frostbite affects the combs and wattles of roosters more often than hens, simply because of their larger size. 

Frostbite is very painful and may affect the birds behavior and appetite. If your chicken is acting lethargic, you'll want to add some electrolytes to his water to give him a little boost. Add a little pedialyte or gatorade, just make sure you water it down as they probably won't drink it full strength.

treating frostbite in chickens

When you notice frostbite on one of your chickens, the first instinct is probably to bring him in and warm him up right away. That's a great idea, however if he's going to go right back outside to the same freezing temperatures it will only make it worse. Thawing then refreezing can cause even more damage to the affected area.