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 them...so 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 answer....you 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.

It's easiest to just start with clean eggs, so make sure the eggs in the nest boxes are clean. Good nest box habits like not allowing your chickens to sleep in the nest boxes definitely help, but sometimes messy nest boxes happen.

Make a feather candle holder

Lately I have been very busy making chicken crafts. I've made crafts in the shape of chickens and crafts out of feathers. Since many other chicken keepers also like to make crafts I thought I would share them with you. This week I made feather candle holders and I think they turned out really cute!

For these candle holders I used some feathers that I had held onto after my favorite chickens passed on, and other feathers that I had just picked up from the yard when the guineas dropped them. The great thing about owning chickens is that I always find tons of feathers in the yard to craft with! You can buy feathers in the craft store though or even dye your own if you have a certain color scheme or 'look' you want to go for.

Feather candle holders DIY

Each feather candle holder took me about 30 minutes to make from start to finish but a lot of that was drying time. I made 4 candle holders with feathers this time, but I think I may make more for Christmas gifts!