Friday, May 19, 2017

Convert a playhouse into a cute chicken coop!

All of my chicken coops are quite different from each other and today I want to talk about my Silkie coop. We converted a plastic playhouse into a chicken coop. It's so stinking cute, that every time I post a picture somebody says "wait, that's really your coop? I thought it was from Pinterest!" lol Truth is, I can't take much credit for it...it was made that cute. I just added the chickens!

When I was looking to get a coop for my silkies, I had some very definite ideas about what I wanted. I knew it had to be tall enough to walk in. I knew it had to be super cute and I knew I didn't want to do wood again. We already did a wild west themed coop for our first coop so I didn't want a rustic look. Besides, wood coops are very difficult to keep clean. In any coop, poop and dirt end up pretty much everywhere. Walls ceilings...nowhere is off limits. Because of this, I like to power wash my coops yearly. The wood is just a giant pain in the butt to dry out each time you do that. 
                                                                               
Playhouse chicken coop

I was looking for a plastic coop and I had looked at several different sheds and storage units when I came up on a kids playhouse on Craigslist. When we went to look at it, I just fell in love with it. I could absolutely see my silkie chickens living here! It was a Victorian style playhouse with two bay windows, a set of double doors and two single doors. It had cute little porches on the front and back and window boxes for flowers.

The playhouse disassembled fairly easily. Two men took it apart and loaded it onto the trailer. We brought it back here to reassemble it but first we decided we needed to make a base for it. It's a standard wood platform sized exactly to the coop. It's nothing fancy, but it is sturdy.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Should chickens free range?

It's a debate that sparks heated arguments: should you allow your chickens to free range or not? On one hand you have the chickens who absolutely love to be outdoors playing in the grass and chasing bugs. On the other side, we all want the best for their safety and chickens have a lot of predators out there. So what do you do? Do you free range your chickens and take the risk? Or do you keep them cooped up and play it safe?

Over the years I have done both. I've kept my chickens inside their coop and covered run all day and I've let them out with unlimited free range time. Whether I let my chickens free range or not depends on the  current situation. Anytime I feel there is a threat of predator attack I keep them in. I've also done supervised free range which isn't as simple as it sounds.

free range chickens

The idea behind supervised free range hens is that you would obviously be right there watching them. This works in theory but it also depends on how many chickens you have and how well equipped you are to handle predators.

Chances are a predator would stay away if they saw you out there with your chickens. Probably. Unless it's the neighbors dog or a stray cat, then they would more then likely be unfazed by you. I've also had wild predators attack when I was less then 50 feet away. A bear grabbed a chicken when I was in the yard and a fox snagged a duck in the 30 seconds I walked into the house to grab a flashlight.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Can I catch Histoplasmosis from chickens?

Today I want to talk about an illness that you can get from keeping chickens, but you've probably never heard of it. It's called histoplasmosis and you can get it from breathing in the spores of a fungus (Histoplasma capsulatum ) found in bird or bat droppings. Yes it's all birds, not just chickens. However since keeping chickens entails things like cleaning the coop which stirs up chicken poop and bedding dust, you have a higher chance of catching histoplasmosis from your chickens then from random wild birds. 

histoplasmosis in chickens

Now before anybody panics, most people who contract histoplasmosis from chickens will have no or very few symptoms. In fact, many people that do contract histoplasmosis will think they have a mild cold or the flu. Only about 10% of the people that contract​ histoplasmosis will develop serious eye or lung problems.

Friday, April 28, 2017

How to raise Guinea keets

You've decided to raise guinea fowl and like most people, you've decided to get started with guinea keets rather then adult guineas. (smart move!) Guinea keets are about the cutest little things you will ever see. They have bright orange beaks and legs and scurry around like crazy little bugs! Luckily raising guinea keets is almost the same as raising chicks so if you've raised chicks before, keets will be just as easy.

Raise guinea fowl keets

The brooder set up that you'll need for guineas is the same as it is for chicks. You can see my recommendations here in Brooder Basics. I like to raise guinea keets in their own brooder separate from regular chicks. Since keets are so small, they can easily be trampled or squashed by bigger chicks. The only illnesses I have seen in guinea keets is spraddle leg and pasty butt so they are pretty hardy for as small as they are.
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