Friday, May 25, 2018

Ultimate list of free feed sources for chickens

How to save money while raising chickens is one of my favorite topics with feeding the chickens for free being my ultimate goal. Of course cheap chicken feed ranks pretty high on my list of favorite things too! So 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!

Feeding chickens for free. 200 ideas for cheap or free feed.

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.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Chickens owners can vacation! (printable instruction sheet!)

When I first got my chickens, I didn't go away at all! I was just too worried to trust someone else with the chicken care for a week. I didn't know where to find a farm sitter and wasn't sure how all that worked anyway. It was about 6 years before I took my first vacation away from my chickens. It took me another year to come up with a system I'm happy with, and now I go away for a few days whenever I'd like.

Taking a vacation while you own chickens is not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. It does take a little pre planning to make sure the chickens needs are met while I'm gone though. Many people like to hire chicken sitters, or have a neighbor come check on them. I only do this if I'm going to be leaving my chickens for a week or more.

Chicken keepers on vacation.

When taking a short trip of just a few days, I've found that the chickens are fine left in their coop and run with enough feed and water. There are a few things that make it easier like automatic doors and special treats in case they get bored. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Is my chicken fat? Why a hen's weight is really important

Chickens can get fat. Of course chickens often look fat because of their fluffy feathers, but sometimes they can actually be overweight under all that fluff. Unfortunately when chickens get fat, it can be fatal. 

A hen who gains excess weight can develop fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome. That is exactly what it sounds like. Fat accumulates around the liver and abdomen, the fatty liver hemorrhages and obviously the chicken dies. This often occurs as a hen is straining to lay an egg and often has no prior symptoms. It can be avoided though by making sure your chickens are at a healthy weight.

Hen that may be overweight.

So how do chickens get fat? Same way we do. Too many calories in and not enough calories out. This is usually a problem for hens confined to cages or their coop/run for the majority of the time. Free ranging chickens are less likely to develop extra body fat simply because they get enough exercise. They also fill up on plants and other natural food sources.

The culprit is most likely all the treats we feed the chickens. We all love to give our flock treats and chickens make excellent 'garbage disposals' finishing up all our dinner leftovers so they don't go to waste. Plus it's so cute to see them come running when we have the bread bag or treat bowl! How much is too much though?

Friday, May 4, 2018

Why is my chicken eating charcoal?

A few days ago I went outside to find 2 of my chickens in the fire pit. They were picking through the cooled ash and eating stuff. We only burn wood, brush or paper in there, so I know they weren't finding food...but what were they eating? Charcoal. My chickens were eating charcoal!

I stood there and watched them just to be sure. Each chicken would dig through the ash until they found a small piece of charcoal and eat it. My chickens ate charcoal for like, 15 minutes.

A white chicken in the firepit eating charcoal

Weird, but I've seen chickens eat styrofoam so weird chicken stuff is not uncommon around here! I was really interested in why they would do such a thing though, so I looked into it.

We all know that in humans, activated charcoal is administered in certain poison situations. We also know that animals tend to know what they need, like when laying hens eat oyster shell for calcium but roosters don't. I just needed to figure out how these 2 facts fit together in this situation.