Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas treat cake for chickens!

The holidays are coming and what better way to show your loved ones how much you care then by making them homemade treats? While you're baking for your friends and family, why not throw something in the oven for the chickens too?  

This Christmas tree cake is actually cornbread which is much lower in sugar then cake. It also has all kinds of healthy chicken favorites included in it, like pumpkin and yogurt! So don't feel too guilty about making them a cake ... It's actually good for them! Plus, it's super easy. Just start with a store bought mix, make a few substitutions and chop a few things for garnishes. 

To add nutrients to this cake, I swapped pumpkin for the butter called for in the cornbread mix. Pumpkin is a great source of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin A which is an essential vitamin for chickens. If you were going to make this for human consumption you would want to leave at least some fat in it to make the texture and consistency palatable. When swapping out all of the butter or oil for pumpkin it'll be a slight bit drier than we would like, but the chickens don't care! Besides, it's getting covered with yogurt so that will make up for the moisture issue.

Friday, December 1, 2017

How to prevent (or stop) an egg eating chicken

Many chicken keepers only have chickens for the eggs. Imagine the dismay when you find that the hens are eating the eggs before you can! Egg eating is not terribly common in backyard hens but it can become a huge problem. Once a hen starts eating her own eggs, she may move on to eating all the eggs. Since chickens are of the 'monkey see ~ monkey do' variety, once egg eating starts with one hen you can very quickly end up with an entire flock with egg on their faces! 

Luckily there are a few simple steps to prevent egg eating in chickens. It's a little harder to stop egg eating once hens have started, but it's possible. Obviously though, it makes more sense to try to prevent egg eating then to have to stop egg eating in chickens. While it's not bad for your chickens health to eat their own eggs, it's certainly counterproductive for the chicken keeper!

Prevent egg eating | chickens

Let's begin with why chickens eat their own eggs. Generally it starts with a broken egg. Whether it falls onto the floor, or they just smash together and break in the nest box ... once a hen sees what deliciousness is inside, she's sure to gobble it straight down. That's not to say that one dropped egg will start your flock on the road to egg eating. Repeated incidences could though. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Modern homesteaders guide to keeping geese. Book and a giveaway!

Throughout the years I've had many different types of poultry. I've raised everything from chickens, to quail. The ones that were the most fun to be around though were my Sebastopol Geese. They were the funniest critters ever, and grew more attached to me that any other poultry I've ever owned! 

My ducks could have cared less where I was at any point in time. 90% of my chickens felt the same way, unless I had treats! The geese though would follow me all over the yard. They wanted to be right by my side at all times and if I wasn't outside, they spent a good part of their time waiting by the back door for me to come out. They even learned to "knock" by tapping the glass with their bills to get my attention! 

How to guide | geese

Geese are a lot of fun but being my first large waterfowl, there was a bit of a learning curve. I spent a lot of time looking for answers online and specific information on geese is harder to find than chickens! Thankfully, someone finally wrote a book about raising geese and I was lucky enough to get a copy to check out early. The Modern Homesteaders Guide To Keeping Geese by Kirsten Lie-Nielsen.

While chickens preen in the spotlight, geese are the historic unsung heroes of small farms and homesteads. Providing weed control, large eggs, and entertainment, and acting as "security" over other animals, geese are the ultimate modern homesteading companion.

The Modern Homesteader's Guide to Keeping Geese covers everything you need to know to raise geese, including: 

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.