Friday, March 24, 2017

Getting new chicks: should you hatch or buy?

If you're anything like me you get chick fever every year! It seems like ever time I turn around there are cute little chicks right in front of me. I see them hopping around in tubs in feed stores, pictures on Facebook, chick sale emails coming directly to my's constant! Chick days, chick sales, chick events and chicken swaps. No matter how much I tell myself I'm not getting any more eventually I wear down and get a few. Is buying chicks really the way to go though? Or should I be hatching them?

new chicks

There are several really good reasons why you should hatch your own chicks. There are also several really good reasons why you should buy them already hatched. If they're going to be your first chicks then I would buy them already hatched just to skip the incubation learning curve the first time around (wish somebody would have told me that years ago!) If you're adding to your flock it may be easier to get fertile eggs and let a broody hatch them for you. That way you can skip the brooder hassle. Lets look at the different reasons you might want to buy vs hatch your own chicks.

Friday, March 17, 2017

What does a goose coop need?

I've had many questions about the details of my goose coop over the years. I've been asked why I built a separate goose coop, what does a goose coop need and was it difficult to build? I decided to answer those questions. The coop was built specifically for my 2 Sebastopol geese. It eventually became the duck coop then the banty coop (with a few adjustments) We built the goose coop back in 2011 and it is still going strong. It's a very simple design, as I'll explain later, and the run also features a sunk-in pond. A duck or goose coop is fairly easy to build because they don't need a lot of the things chickens do, in fact they don't need much at all.

Goose coop.

Ducks can be housed with chickens but I didn't always have luck with that, especially when trying the deep litter method. Ducks really destroy the deep litter system! I also had a problem with them sleeping in the Silkies nest boxes. I had some really low nest boxes for my Silkies since they can't fly to get up to the regular nest boxes. One of my ducks liked to sleep in the nest boxes. One night she climbed into the nest box a broody Silkie was occupying. She crushed my sweet little Silkie. I also had a boy duck that was overly fond of the girl chickens. He needed to be separated for obvious reasons. As you see there can be different reasons why a separate coop might work out best for your ducks or geese and luckily it's really easy to build.

Friday, March 10, 2017

How long do chickens live?

Have you ever wondered "How long do chickens live?" This question came up the other day while I was feeding Sally her favorite treat, mealworms! Sally is an Olive Egger hen and she came from one of the first eggs I hatched in an incubator. I realized a year ago that Sally was the last chicken left from that first flock. That makes Sally almost 8 years old. There are various reasons why we no longer have the others from her flock. Most of the boys became dinner, we had a fox issue one year, one hen fell sick etc etc. 8 years later, only Sally remains.

Life span of chickens

According to The Guinness Book Of World Records Matilda the hen was the first chicken to receive the title of Worlds Oldest Living Chicken in 2004. She died almost 2 years later at age 16.

Friday, March 3, 2017

4 Ways to keep your chickens from sleeping in the nest boxes

All winter long my chickens have been trying my patience with their sleeping in the nest box antics. I do mean all winter long! Of course you never want chickens to sleep in the nest boxes because they poop in them. Poop in the nest boxes gets on the eggs which is sorta well, gross. Sleeping in the nest boxes is completely different then a broody setting on eggs in a nest box because a broody doesn't poop. A sleeping chicken does. Yes, I know that's weird but some things chickens do really are quite weird! I have had to deal with this problem in the past and I have several different methods that usually work. 

how to keep chickens from sleeping in nest boxes

The problem this time was the placement, mounting and type of nest box made it difficult to use any of those other methods in this situation. I finally decided to put an end to this nest box sleeping thing and out of desperation I took all the nest boxes out of the coop!
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