Make your own coop cleaning dust mask

I've previously talked about how it's important to wear a dust mask when cleaning the chicken coop. It can prevent birders lung and histoplasmosis. Plus, who really who wants to breath in coop dust? It's mostly dried poop and feather dander! Up till this recent issue we're all going through, I never gave it a thought to just buying a box of masks any time I needed them...till there weren't any left! So I decided to make my own dust mask for cleaning my chicken coop.

Make a coop cleaning dust mask. pattern

Obviously a homemade mask is nowhere near the same as the ones you buy for hospital use, but they do keep the coop dust out of your nose and mouth very well. Since these masks are made of fabric, I really only need 1 or 2 since I can throw them in the washing machine between uses. This is definitely going to save me money on coop cleaning masks!

I happened to have a few medical style masks (albeit the cheap ones) so I decided to model my pattern after those. It's a very simple pattern and you can use almost any tightly woven fabric. All you need is fabric, some elastic and a sewing machine. 

Once again this is not a medically approved mask. If you want to make one of those you can find some amazing patterns online from more advanced sewers that have pockets for filters and all that. This is a very simple dust mask pattern made from one piece of fabric and 2 pieces of elastic. You can even stitch this by hand if you don't have a machine.

Protecting chickens from hawks

As if everything going on in the world isn't enough, I've had hawks circling overhead the last few days. They are watching my chickens and I'm sure they're looking for a meal. Luckily I have a few hawk deterrents around the yard and coop and they haven't been able to get their claws on one of my chickens!

Protecting chickens from raptors

That is one of the main dangers of allowing the chickens to free range...predators. We've talked about predators before as I've had problems in the past with everything from bears to snakes and raccoons. Sometimes it seems like everything eats chickens *sigh* even other birds! Birds of prey fall into this category and unfortunately if you live anywhere outside city limits you're bound to run into them eventually.

The most common bird of prey you'll see when keeping chickens is the Red-tailed hawk, followed by the Cooper's hawk. Bald and golden eagles are behind them with owls bringing up the rear of the list. Owls are less of a problem because the majority of them hunt after dark and most people have their chickens locked up in their coop by then.

Which hens lay eggs the earliest?

Every year I get at least a few emails from people who are just getting started with chickens and they ask "Which breeds will lay eggs first?" I totally get it! The wait for that first egg is soooo long! It feels like your hens will never start laying. Especially if you've picked a breed that doesn't lay till 8 months or more! There are breeds of chickens that lay at only 4 months though.

Youngest egg laying hens

One of those breeds is the golden comet. I bought my first comet at a feed store and the only reason I picked her was because I wanted a colorful chicken. I had hatched all black copper Marans and they all looked like little ravens. I couldn't tell them apart yet and I wanted something different. I think that hen was the best layer I ever had!

Actually many of the chicken breeds that have been bred to lay early are great layers. Most of them fall into a category called 'production' egg layers. Over the years they have been selectively bred to lay more often and be less broody. 

Here are some of the more common production layers.

How to raise chickens cheaply

Lots of people get chickens for eggs and then realize how much money they spent on those precious eggs! It's not uncommon to be over $1,000 dollars in before the first egg, especially if you raise your hens from chicks! I've made it my mission to find as many ways to save money on chickens as possible. 

cheap chicken keeping tips

I  have various ways to cut money off my chicken keeping expenses. I grow some of my own feed, I find cheaper alternatives to use for coop bedding, we've built our own coops and bought others off craigslist and I try to do everything pretty much myself. While I still have some chickens expenses, I've managed to cut my costs an incredible amount saving half off my feed bill alone, in just one year!

Here are my top 20 ways to save money raising backyard chickens.

How to raise chicks (for beginners)

You've decided to raise chickens and like lots of chicken keepers you want to start with chicks instead of already grown hens and roosters. It's more fun after all! Learning how to raise chicks comes with a little bit of a learning curve though. Baby chicks need special food, a waterer they won't drown in, a heat source and a special home till they are big enough to move out to the chicken coop. Don't's actually easier than it sounds.

Raising chicks for beginners

There are many reasons why you might decide to raise chicks. Many people want to raise hens for eggs or want their children to learn where food comes from. Also kids can learn a lot from the responsibility of caring for chickens without having a pet inside the house. Starting with chicks is a cute way to do this, though they usually do end up in the house till they get bigger.