Friday, November 17, 2017

How the deep litter method works for chicken coops

I only clean my chicken coop once a year. Yes, you read that right. ONCE a YEAR. The best part though, is that my coop doesn't smell. At all! In fact, by the time I clean my coop all the bedding and chicken poop are so broken down, it's like shoveling dust.

When I first got my chickens, I cleaned the coop every 2 weeks. It wasn't exactly my favorite chore, but I chalked it up to one of those things I had to do and handled it. Then I discovered the deep litter method in a chicken forum discussion. Game changer. I've been using the deep litter method in my chicken coops for about 7 years now and it's the best thing that's happened to coop cleaning ... like, ever! 

deep litter method

The deep litter method is exactly what it sounds like ... letting the coop litter get deep. In order to do that you don't clean it out from summer to spring. Just keep adding more every few weeks and stirring it up so it drys out and breaks down faster. Every week, add a little more litter and mix again. The chickens dig around in it and mix it too, so that helps the whole process. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Preparing your chickens for Winter

Now that the colder weather in setting in, it's time to get the flock ready for winter. This is the first year that I don't have any flocks to move around. Luckily, all my chickens are already in the right coops though I usually have to move them around for warmth before winter sets in. Unfortunately, I do have some coop repair to do though! The older coops get, the more I find sudden problems like loose boards. 

Chicken Care in Winter

Since Winter brings the freezing cold temperatures, I focus on getting things in the coop cold weather safe. From keeping water from freezing to blocking predators, getting winter chores done early can save you from doing it in the snow! Now lets get started... this shouldn't take long at all!

Preparing your chickens for Winter

First, check the chicken coop to make sure there are no holes, cracks or loose boards where predators can get in. As the seasons change their food is going to become less plentiful and when The predators are hungry, your chickens will start to look like a tasty meal. Take the time now to batten down the hatches so you don't have to worry about it when it's freezing out!

Friday, November 3, 2017

How to make cloud eggs

Isn't this how it always is when raising chickens? You're either desperately trying to use up all these eggs before they go bad or...nothing! I'm always looking for great egg recipes for those 'eggs coming out my ears' times. All my girls just finished their fall molt and went back to laying, so I'm rolling in eggs right now. This is the perfect time to bring out some of my favorite egg recipes.

I found this egg cloud recipe online last year and it's both eye catching and delicious. The first recipe I saw was ridiculously complex so I didn't try it. Then it started popping up everywhere with various levels of difficulty. I've experimented with it quite a bit to make it as simple as possible and this is what I've settled on.

egg clouds | recipe

Egg clouds are just whipped egg whites (as if you're making meringues) with the egg yolk gently settled inside them and baked.  There is a two step baking process for this, but I've found the one step works just as well so that's the one I use now. All you need are eggs and some cheese, or seasonings. Or both if that's how you roll!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Should I heat my chicken coop in winter?

If you live in a colder climate you're probably worried about your chickens in the coming winter. Here in western Pennsylvania it get's pretty cold and snowy for most of winter but I don't heat my coops. I actually did put a heat source in my coop the first year I had chickens, but I've since learned that it's completely unnecesary and potentially dangerous.

We all worry about our chickens getting cold but if you think about it, lots of wild animals spend the winter outside and do perfectly fine. One thing you might not know is that wild birds do not sleep in their nests. Nests are only for raising baby birds, the rest of the year they sleep in the trees. They don't even have walls or a roof to protect them from the snow or cold and they do just fine.

heat in chicken coop | winter

The main reason I do not heat my coops is that heat lamps are notoriously unsafe! Every winter I hear of coops and barns that catch fire because of heat lamps. They are ridiculously hard to secure, even with the multiple zipties and metal hooks I used to anchor it to pretty much anything near by. 

The chickens must be able to get close to it to be effective, but being close to it means they could knock it down or fluff feathers or bedding up into it which can catch fire. Plus heat bulbs burn out eventually and you might not be around or awake to change the bulb.
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