Friday, June 15, 2018

Chicken breeds to raise for pretty eggs

When I got my first chickens 10 years ago, I hung out on chicken forums an awful lot. It seemed like everyone in there was obsessed with having a 'pretty egg basket'. Chicken breeds were selected carefully by what color egg they would produce. Blue egg layers and chocolate brown egg layers were the crowd favorites, though green egg layers were favored over the standard brown.

I didn't pick my chicken breeds that way.

Multicolored eggs from backyard chickens

I bought whatever they had at the feed store to round out the Marans my husband wanted and the silkies I wanted. I ended up with easter eggers and buff orpingtons because that's all that was left when I got there. I acquired olive eggers when a Marans breeder sent me extra eggs just to fill the carton. Accidentally, this made for a beautiful range of farm fresh egg colors!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Poultry auctions. What to expect

Poultry auctions can be a great place to buy new chickens or to sell a few chicks. They can also be intimidating if you're not sure what to expect at a poultry auction. I've been to quite a few poultry and livestock auctions and since we've already discussed what to expect at a poultry swap, I thought I should tell you what to expect when you buy or sell at a livestock auction.

If you've ever been to any type of live auction then you'll have a good idea how a poultry auction is run. Most auctions are run in a similar manner, though adding cages of chickens to the mix can get a bit confusing. Not to mention smelly!

Poultry auctions. What to expect when you go

Poultry auction: What to expect

Registration: When you get to the auction you'll need to register. They'll ask for your identification and you'll fill out a form with your information. You'll be assigned a buyer or seller number. Some places use the same number for both. 

The auction I go to has only required me to register once and my number has been good for the last 6 years. Other auctions ask you to register each time, so check to see how your auction does things.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Preparing your chickens for Summer!

Now that the days are longer and temperatures just keep going up, it's time to get the chickens ready for summer. Summer sounds like such a lovely, fun and easy time to be a chicken but in reality it can be deadly! Heat stress and dehydration are very real dangers but can easily be avoided by taking a few precautions. This is how we get ready for summer...

Chickens in summer, getting them ready for the heat

Check out these 14 brilliant ideas for keeping chickens cool in summer.

As usual, inspecting the coop is always first on my list. We are in the coop every single day, but how much do we really look around? Take this chance to stop and look carefully at everything. Pull on boards, try to reach through ventilation holes, yank on hardware cloth. I like to do this every season so I can catch small problems before they become big ones. 

Preparing your chickens for Summer

Check the coop: Give the coop a quick once over and check for holes or loose boards that may let predators in. Check the roof for new leaks and make sure windows and doors can open fully to let cool breezes in. Make sure ventilation holes are unblocked as it's essential that the hot summer air be able to escape at roof level. Check the ventilation holes for wild bird nests and spider webs that are blocking the air flow. Spider webs might not seem like a problem, but once they get thick with chicken dander and catch a few leaves or feathers, they can completely block air flow.

Provide shade: One of the best ways to cool off in the summer is by lounging in the shade, so make sure your chickens have plenty of it! Hang tarps across the run, or on the side of it to provide shade. Make sure there are shady spots all day long. As the sun moves across the sky morning shade areas can quickly become full sun.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Free chicken feed sources, the ultimate list!

Saving money while raising chickens is one of my favorite topics with feeding my chickens for free being my ultimate goal. (I know, talk about this a lot!) Of course cheap chicken feed ranks pretty high on my list of favorite things too! Everyone wants to feed chickens without buying commercial chicken feed, right? But what do chickens eat besides chicken feed?

I went in search of every free and cheap chicken feed source I could find and I found a lot of common advice and several outside the box amazing ideas for feeding the chickens for free, or cheap!

Frugal chicken feed options. How to feed your chickens cheaply (or free!)

Many of us have the same free chicken feed ideas and some of the advice I saw often was: 

These were the methods that everybody had tried and had great success with. Of course I already use those ideas, so I was looking for new substitutes for chicken feed.