How to protect your chickens from raccoons

Raccoons are a problem for almost all chicken keepers. While only those of us in rural settings have to deal with things like bears or bobcats trying to eat our chickens, raccoons are literally everywhere. Also, they are quite smart. Raccoons can remember the solution to a problem for at least 3 years. That means that if a raccoon figures out how to open your chicken coop, he's not going to forget any time soon!

Protect chickens from raccons with these easy steps

While predator proofing your coop and run is always important, predator proofing for raccoons is a little more difficult. They're smart, can dig well, can climb almost anything and are very skilled with their front paws. Plus raccoons in high density areas tend to socialize in groups, often meeting at feeding grounds. So if one raccoon finds your chickens, more are often close behind. 

The best course of action is to avoid attracting raccoons to your chicken coop to begin with. A predator proof coop and chickens that are securely closed in at night when raccoons are most active are your best lines of defense against these midnight bandits.

Easy ways to keep snakes out of the chicken coop!

When discussing poultry predators, snakes are often labeled as more of a nuisance than a threat. Many people believe that snakes will only eat eggs and since they also eat mice, it's great to have them around the chicken coop. Many see snakes as basically harmless to full grown chickens.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Over the past 2 years I have lost 2 grown hens, a few chicks, and some eggs to snakes. Unfortunately since I live in the woods, I have more snake encounters than the average chicken keeper...but that also means I have more opportunity to test out snake repellent methods.

Snake in chicken coop

A snake will kill a full grown chicken even when it's glaringly obvious that it could never swallow a chicken that size. Many chicken keepers have found a deceased chicken with a wet looking head and neck. That happens when a snake kills then tries to eat something that is too big. It gives up and spits it back out.

In  my situations both of the hens that the snake killed had chicks with her. I found both with the snake still wrapped around the hen and it's my theory that she was trying to keep the snake from the chicks. She may have even pecked at it to try to make it leave. The snake couldn't get past the mama hen so it decided to kill her first. I don't think the snake would have even attempted to swallow the hen, but we'll never know.

Caring for a chicken with cross beak

Unfortunately I had a chick with cross beak hatch a few weeks ago. This has happened a few times over the years, but this is actually the first time I've ever seen it in a guinea! Cross beak is when the bottom and top beaks do not align properly. This can cause problems for the chick but with proper care and attention she may still be able to live a long and happy life.

Cross beak, also known as scissor beak, is a lateral beak deviation. Meaning the bottom beak deviates to the side and the top beak remains in it's correct position. Or vice versa, actually. It could happen either way, though in my experience the top beak is generally the one in the correct position.

Caring for a cross beak chicken

According to Poultry DVM Beak deformities occur somewhat commonly in chickens, and can be congenital or acquired. They can be caused by a number of different factors, including poor diet, genetics, trauma/injury, disease/parasites, tumor growth, and inappropriate incubation technique.

Scissor beak can vary in it's severity with the mildest cases being barely noticeable. Moderate cases can be managed with proper feeding and trimming of the beak to help it align more closely. Severe cases can require hand feeding and many chicken owners chose to cull in these situations.

Raising mealworms for free chicken feed

Over the years I've raised mealworms for chicken feed many many times. In fact, I do it almost every spring/summer. It's when winter hits that I never wanted to bring them into the house so I'd give them all to the chickens. My chickens love the mealworms, and raising them is much more frugal than buying last year I finally started raising them in the house during the winter. It's not so bad.

Raising mealworms for chicken feed, cheaply

Mealworms are small, quiet, don't smell, don't take up much room and require only a few minutes of time every few days once established. A mealworm farm can be kept in an aquarium or plastic tote. You don't have to worry about them getting out since mealworms cannot climb up the sides of glass or plastic containers. 

But lets talks about the free feed aspect which is one of my favorite topics! A container of mealworms is around $5 to get your mealworm farm started. You'll need oats (dollar store) or wheat bran for bedding and some fruit or vegetable scraps for food. They get all the moisture they need from their food so you won't need to give them water. 

I use plastic bins from the dollar store, but an old aquarium or rubbermaid tote works fine too. As you can see it's pretty cheap to set this up. I spent around $10 to start my current mealworm farm and it's been producing treats for my chickens for almost 18 months! I would have gone through at least 2 bags of mealworms by now, and at about $25 a bag....that's a big savings!

How to clean fresh eggs

If you just started raising chickens then I'm sure you're wondering how to clean fresh chicken eggs when your hens start laying. Well, there's a long answer and a short answer but don't worry I'll tell you both! Gathering fresh eggs from the chicken coop is one of my favorite chores and usually, that's all there is to it.

However, there are times when the eggs I gather from the nest boxes look dirty. Then there are other times when I'm picking eggs up off the coop floor because a certain hen was hogging the favorite nest box. *sigh* Pretty certain those are a bit dirty too, even if they don't have visible dirt on them.

Cleaning fresh eggs

Let's start with the short don't have to wash fresh chicken eggs. If the egg was laid in a clean nest box by a chicken in good health then the egg should be fine as it is. Eggs have a protective covering called the bloom. This natural coating seals the eggshell pores keeping bacteria out of the egg.