Friday, September 15, 2017

Are your chickens molting? 5 ways you can help

I'm sure you've heard that chickens molt in the fall, but what is molting? Why do chickens molt and what can we do to help our chickens through a molt?

The definition of molt is:
(of birds, insects, reptiles, etc.) to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth.  
If that makes you think your chickens feathers are going to fall out, you're right. 

Molting is a natural process of shedding and regrowing feathers. New feathers start to form pushing out old feathers. The feathers fall out in a pattern from head to tail. I usually notice the loss of neck feathers first, followed closely by the body of the chicken then the wings and lastly the tail. 

molting | chickens

Molting can be mild or severe. Some hens molt slowly, just loosing a few feathers here and there over a longer period of time. Other chickens drop lots of feathers suddenly. These are called 'soft' and 'hard' molts. The black hen in the picture went through a hard molt and is starting to recover nicely. A hard molt can look like you're chicken has been plucked, but a soft molt can be barely noticeable. 

Chickens usually have their first molt at 18 months then molt yearly after that. If you bought your chicks in the spring, their first molt would be in the following fall. Hens stop laying eggs during molting as their body needs the nutrition and protein to put into new feather growth. Molting can take anywhere from 1-3 months.

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to add new chickens to the flock

Adding new chickens into an existing flock can be quite frustrating. The pecking order is very real and even the slightest upset can turn normally sweet tempered hens into cranky brats! It would be great if we could just drop new chickens into the flock and they would all get along, but it seldom works that well.

integrating new chickens

The easiest way is to introduce new chickens to the flock is to have one of the hens raise them for you. Mama hen will protect them as they grow and they will just sort of blend in with the rest of the flock eventually. There are very few squabbles between chickens this way but it's not always feasible.

Depending on the breed of chickens it could be fairly easy. Docile breeds like Silkies are usually pretty forgiving when it comes to just plunking down a new chicken in their coop. With most flocks though it's best to integrate new chickens into the flock slowly and keep a close eye on them. Even the sweetest hen can peck a chick to death if she see's it as a threat.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Does your chicken coop stink?

What do you do when your chicken coop starts to stink? Lets face it, all chicken coops are going to smell at some point. Lots of fluffy little bodies depositing poop everywhere is not exactly a recipe for pleasant scents wafting through the air like a gentle spring breeze. At some point, you're going to smell chicken poop. You can cut the smell down a lot though and that's what I want to talk about today.

You can't stop the chickens from pooping, but you can can control the chicken coop odor. I've found that simply opening up the doors and windows can air the coop out enough to remove most of the stink. A well ventilated coop will let in some fresh air even when closed up, which also lets out any bad odors that have accumulated. Allowing the chickens free range time or access to a run can also help in controlling the smell. If they're pooping in the yard instead of the coop it cuts down the smell from the source. 

Nobody wants a smelly chicken coop though, especially if it's near your house! Here are 6 things you can do to eliminate chicken coop odor.

Friday, August 25, 2017

How to hack a chicken egg to get orange yolks!

Did you know that you can hack your chickens to get orange egg yolks and a richer colored meat? It's true. Today I want to talk about how it's done, and if it's truly a hack or maybe more of a shortcut? I'll also let you know what you need to feed your hens to get orange colored egg yolks.

farm fresh eggs

Those of us that raise chickens will tell you the eggs are healthier when hens free range and/or have access to grass and bugs. These  have a higher nutritional value then commercial chicken feed. The yolks of the eggs from free range hens also have a richer color. According to Hobby Farms free range eggs have:
  • less cholesterol
  • less saturated fat
  • increased vitamins A, E and D
  • more omega-3 fatty acids
  • more beta carotene

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