Friday, February 17, 2017

How to treat an injured chicken

As chicken keepers we see our fair share of injuries in the flock. Whether it be because of feather puling, bullying or predators we often have to take care of their wounds at home. Finding a chicken vet can be difficult if not impossible in some areas! I live in farm country and my closest avian vet is over an hour away down in the city (so weird, right?) We have to know how to deal with wounds at home. I always keep a chicken emergency kit on hand to help deal with these issues. Luckily the steps are very simple and chickens heal quite quickly.

chicken, wounds

Stop the bleeding: Apply gentle but firm pressure with paper towels. You can use blood stop powder if necessary. Cornstarch works also.

Asses the injuries: Check to make sure there are no other injuries on the chicken. Look under wings, part feathers and check her all over. Puncture marks can be hard to find but easily get infected, so check very well. It's easier to treat them when they're fresh then try to treat them after they've become infected.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How and why to break a broody hen

I've had Silkies for as long as I've had chickens. I had heard they were great at raising chicks but I really didn't have a clue how determined they could get. When a Silkie goes broody she just doesn't give up! She will decide to hatch some babies and turn into an egg stealing, cranky butt! My other chickens can usually be talked out of being broody pretty easily. A few days in a wire bottom cage and they throw in the towel. The Silkies just look at me like "is that all you got?" The last one was broody for almost 3 months. I thought I knew how to break a broody, but I sure learned a lot from these little fluffballs.

broody hen
First things first, a broody doesn't just get that way by a quirk. It's a hormonal change. As much as I know that's true there's also something viral about it because when one catches it, they all do! My coop can go from zero to six broodys in one week. Ok, so maybe that's just a coincidence or maybe one hens hormones are triggered by seeing another one trying to hatch chicks. Whatever it is, the best way to prevent hens from going broody is to take away their eggs daily. The hen accumulates a clutch of eggs in order to hatch them and by taking them away each day they never accumulate a clutch. This doesn't always work to keep them from going broody but it seems to help, at least in my experience. I've also heard that if you want to encourage a hen to go broody, leave the eggs in the nest box and hopefully that clutch of eggs will trigger her hormonal change to get her started setting. I've had eggs sit in the coop without a broody for weeks and I've had hens go broody on nothing at all, so you're results may vary. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Why I finally started fermenting chicken feed.

I have heard about fermenting chicken feed for quite some time now but was hesitant to try it. I had a fermented foods issue years back that left my kitchen smelling horrible for a week! I did not want to repeat that again, so I completely avoided the idea until about 2 months ago. I had bought my usual 5 bags of layer pellets from the feed store and one of them was about half dust. It was accumulating in the bottom of the feeders, largely getting ignored, and basically being wasted. I started looking for ways to feed it to the chickens since I didn't want to throw it out, and what started out as looking for mash recipes ended up a fermented feed experiment!

Fermented chicken feed

Friday, January 27, 2017

Are Guineas cold hardy?

I get asked all the time how my guineas and chickens handle the cold and snow we get every winter. Guineas are quite a bit different then chickens. For one thing, they are nowhere near as smart. I know it's hard to believe, after all I'm sure we've all seen chickens do some dumb things. Trust me when I tell you, Guineas are not the sharpest tool in the shed! They can be trained to a point though. They'll come running when I call them, and they get the general idea behind herding. One sticking point with Guineas though is sleeping in the trees. This isn't a problem in normal weather. Sometimes in the summer every single free ranging Guinea sleeps in the trees! They get an early start to tick eating every morning so I don't mind. Even in cooler weather it's not really a problem. For warm climate birds they can tolerate some pretty cold temps. They do all tend to sleep inside the coop when it's snowing. The rain doesn't bother them. They will spend the whole day and night in the rain and be no worse for wear. The real problem comes with changing weather patterns.

Here in Western Pa, our weather can be quite irregular. Yesterday it was in the 50s, today its 22! Oh and it rained a bit last night before it got cold enough to snow. This is what greeted me this morning:

Guineas in winter

Those are ice coated feathers on their backs. I wasn't home to chase them in at dusk, I was working. It was too warm for them to want to go in themselves, so 6 of them slept in the trees. Luckily everyone made it through the night and had a warm breakfast and are now huddled in their draft-free coop warming up. Had I been home though, I would have certainly tried my hardest to get them in. Obviously they're not in any sort of distress about it.

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