How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

Duck Eggs: Nutrition & Buyer’s Guide

Duck Eggs: Nutrition & Buyer’s Guide

Blame it on the huge amount of nutrients or their deliciousness: It’s undeniable that duck eggs are becoming more and more popular for health nuts.

 

While most people think of chickens when they eat eggs, duck eggs are gradually making their way to kitchen tables everywhere.

 

And why not? They’re low in calories, great for skin and hair, and, according to science, might be edible even if you have a chicken egg allergy.

 

In this article, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of duck eggs, along with their health benefits, how to cook with them, where to buy them, and how to make sure they’re fresh!

 

Eating Duck Eggs

Duck eggs are full of nutrients, and some researchers claim they’re perhaps even healthier than chicken eggs – especially for those with egg allergies.

 

Duck Eggs Nutrition Facts*

Compared side-by-side with chicken eggs nutrition facts labels, duck eggs provide important nutrients you might not get from just eating chicken eggs.

 

duck egg nutrition facts

Duck Eggs Nutrition Facts

Chicken eggs nutrition facts

Chicken Egg Nutrition Facts

 

Advantages of Duck Eggs

  • Higher in omega-3 fatty acids
  • More protein, riboflavin, folates, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin B, & selenium
  • Larger yolks, which means more flavor
  • Creamier baked goods
  • Better quality of life for poultry, if purchased locally
  • Possibly edible if you have egg allergies (check with your doctor first)

 

Disadvantages of Duck Eggs

  • Harder to source
  • More expensive ($6-$12 per dozen)
  • Possible fishy smell if the ducks aren’t fed a high quality diet

 

Are Duck Eggs Healthy For You?

Yes! Duck egg nutrition data indicates this food is a good source of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B12
  • Selenium

 

Duck eggs are full of omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re 67% fat. But don’t let that fool you – that’s “good fat” that’ll help you stay healthy and possibly lose weight if you follow the keto diet.

 

They’re higher in protein than chicken eggs, thanks to the albumen, which has more proteins in it than chicken eggs. The yolks are bigger, which means they contain more essential vitamins and minerals.

 

They also might stay fresher for longer due to a thicker shell. Part of the reason their shells are so thick is because the chicken egg industry doesn’t provide sufficient calcium to battery hens. Since duck eggs aren’t produced on such a commercial scale, they tend to have better diets.

 

Duck eggs purchased from a local source also might still have the bloom, which is a natural coating on the shell that keeps it fresher for longer periods. However, if you want to wash eggs you bought from a local farmer, you can read this article for advice.

 

If you’re not sure whether the eggs you purchase are fresh or not, you can try the fresh egg float test.

 

Are Duck Eggs Safe To Eat?

Yes! Duck eggs are safe, and very delicious. Just like chicken eggs, there’s a small possibility of salmonella. To avoid this, purchase your duck eggs from a local source that provides a high-quality diet for their ducks. High quality diets can reduce instances of salmonella and e-coli infecting the eggs since the duck’s digestive system is healthier. Also be sure to fully cook the eggs so all bacteria is killed off.

 

How Long Do Duck Eggs Stay Fresh?

Up to 6 weeks if refrigerated. It’s always best to purchase your eggs from a local supplier so they’re as fresh as possible. Eggs purchased at a supermarket can be nearly 60 days old. You can learn more about how to tell if an egg is good or bad here.

 

You can also watch this video to learn about why supermarket eggs are not likely fresh:

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How Many Calories Are In A Duck Egg?

According to the Egg Nutrition Center, duck eggs have about 70 calories each. Whether you boil them, poach them, or scramble them, the calorie count remains the same.

 

What Do You Do With Duck Eggs?

Duck eggs are delicious when fried, poached, steamed, or boiled. You can cook them exactly like chicken eggs, so there are many recipes for scrambled duck eggs. They’re great to bake with, and yield a creamier texture to cakes. In recipes, you can swap out chicken eggs for duck eggs – just use 1 duck egg for every 1 chicken egg (for example, if the recipe calls for 1 chicken egg, just use 1 duck egg).

 

For duck egg recipes, Jamie Oliver has released many popular ones that are easy to follow, such as a basic tutorial on how to boil duck eggs.

 

If you raise ducks, you can feed the eggshells back to your flock, or even scramble eggs for them.

 

Can You Eat Duck Eggs Raw?

Nutritionists and doctors recommend to not eat raw duck eggs to avoid possible salmonella infection. As a precaution only use duck eggs in recipes that can be thoroughly cooked. Note that duck eggs and chicken eggs have the same chances of carrying salmonella.

 

Can Someone With An Egg Allergy Eat Duck Eggs?

Possibly. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, nearly 2% of the population is effected by an egg allergy. However, duck eggs are different than chicken eggs (since they come from 2 different species) and some people with egg allergies CAN eat duck eggs. A doctor can help you determine whether you can eat duck eggs if you’re allergic to eggs in general. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, your doctor might provide tests to see if you’re also allergic to duck eggs.

 

Are Duck Eggs High In Histamine?

Like chicken eggs, duck eggs are considered to be low in histamines. Eggs in general are good to eat if you have a histamine intolerance. According to one study performed by researchers, the way you cook your duck eggs has no effect on the histamines you consume. You can also eat duck eggs with certain fruits and vegetables to consume minerals that will help your body release histamines.

 

Can You Eat Mallard Duck Eggs?

Yes, you can eat mallard duck eggs. Some people even use these eggs for baking, and they say it makes the cakes fluffier. To cook with mallard eggs, simply substitute duck eggs for chicken eggs in the same quantities called for in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 chicken egg, use 1 duck egg. Be sure to only use eggs purchased from a local source – do not disturb wild duck nests for their eggs.

 

Is Duck Egg Good For Hair?

Duck eggs are great for healthy hair! They’re they are high in protein and contain biotin, which is essential for scalp health and hair growth. A diet high in egg proteins can also lend your hair a healthy shine, and since duck eggs are also high in lecithin, they might help moisturize your locks (lecithin is a fat used to moisturize the hair, and is even used in commercial hair products.) Additionally, key constituent of duck egg yolks is sulfur, which is important for healthy hair follicles. You can eat duck eggs or even mix them with oil and wash your hair for healthy, strong locks.

 

Why Do Duck Eggs Smell Fishy?

If your duck eggs smell fishy, it’s possibly caused by high levels of choline in the egg. According to this study, choline can cause high levels of trimethylamine (TMA) that results in that fishy odor in eggs. However, this is less likely to happen if ducks eat a good commercial feed, so if you’re purchasing eggs and they smell, ask your supplier about their flocks’ diet. If you purchase them at the supermarket, try a different brand. Another possibility is the eggs are rotten or weren’t stored correctly. If your duck eggs smell fishy or bad, throw them out.

 

Is Duck Egg Cholesterol Good Or Bad?

 

Duck Eggs Vs. Chicken Eggs

What’s The Difference Between A Duck Egg And A Chicken Egg?

In most cases the nutritional value of the chicken and duck eggs don’t vary that much, however, duck eggs have higher fat content, higher protein, full of omega 3 fatty acids, and have more cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol) than chicken eggs. You might notice that duck eggs have very large yolks compared to chicken eggs – in fact, duck egg yolks comprise 42% of the total weight of the egg! That’s a lot of nutrients in one small package!

 

Some people report that duck eggs might have an earthy or denser taste to them, although most people say they taste the same.

 

Why Are Duck Eggs More Popular?

Duck eggs are better used for pastries and for diet recipes as duck eggs considered healthier than chicken eggs.

 

Do Duck Eggs Taste Different?

Nope! Duck eggs and chicken eggs taste the same. You might notice that your duck eggs make cakes, pastries, and other baked goods taste creamier. Duck eggs also tend to have bigger yolks, although the yolks taste the same as chicken eggs.

 

How Do Duck Eggs Taste Compared To Chicken Eggs?

Some people report that because of their higher fat content and bigger yolks, duck eggs have a slightly richer flavor than chicken eggs. However, duck eggs and chicken eggs usually taste the same. You might notice that duck eggs enhance the flavor of baked goods because the larger yolks make baked good creamier.

 

Which Is Healthier Chicken Or Duck Eggs?

Neither is healthier than the other. Their nutritional value will depend on your dietary goals. Duck eggs are higher in fat (because the yolks are bigger) than chicken eggs, however, they’re higher in omega-3 fats, which are a good fat. They’re also higher in protein, and are an excellent source of folic acid, Vitamin B, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, iron, and other essential nutrients. If you’re allergic to chicken eggs, you might be able to eat duck eggs.

 

Both chicken and duck eggs are low in histamines, so they’re both great to eat if you have histamine issues.

 

Do Duck Eggs Have Cholesterol?

Yes, duck eggs have about 620 mg of cholesterol, which is significantly higher than chicken eggs. However, there’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. If you’re worried or trying to avoid cholesterol, then check with your doctor about whether adding duck eggs to your diet is advised.

 

Where To Buy Duck Eggs

You can purchase duck eggs to eat from:

  • A supermarket like Whole Foods
  • A local farmer or duck keeper
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Etsy (shipped duck eggs)

 

Duck eggs usually cost about $6 per dozen, although prices do vary. While you can purchase them on Etsy, it’s simpler to find a Whole Foods or a farmer’s market in your area.

 

Why Are Duck Eggs So Expensive?

Duck eggs are more expensive than chicken eggs partly because they’re larger, and partly because there’s no real industrial production of the eggs (which keeps costs low, but sacrifices quality). This is a good thing: If you purchase your eggs locally, from a farmer or someone who has a flock, you can be sure the ducks have a happy life and have been fed a high-quality diet.

 

Does Whole Foods Sell Duck Eggs?

Yes, Whole Foods sells duck eggs. According to their website, you can purchase Mary’s Duck Eggs. The price will vary depending on the store. Please do your homework and make sure the duck eggs are sourced from a reliable and humane wholesaler.

 

Cooking with Duck Eggs

How Many Chicken Eggs Equal A Duck Egg?

You can substitute 1 chicken egg for 1 duck egg in recipes. Baking with duck eggs is easy, and you might find the duck eggs yield a creamier and fluffier baked good because of the larger yolk.

 

Duck Eggs Recipes

You can find a full list of 50 different egg recipes here. You can easily substitute duck eggs in any of these recipes. You can also find a list of ideas to use up excess eggs and eggshells here.

 

Scrambled Duck Eggs Recipe

Whisk 2 duck eggs with 1 tablespoon of cream. Add a pinch of basil. Cook on medium heat until thoroughly cooked.

How to Boil Duck Eggs

Hard Boiled Duck Eggs Recipe

Add 2 duck eggs to water at a rolling boil. Remove after 4 minutes. Immediately sink into ice cold water and leave until cool. Remove shells and enjoy.

 

If you want to try something a bit different, soak your hard boiled eggs in tea to make delicious tea eggs.

 

Soft Boiled Duck Eggs Recipe

Add 2 duck eggs to water at a rolling boil. Remove after 2 minutes. Immediately sink into ice cold water and leave until cool. Place in a bowl or egg cup. Remove the top portion of the shell to eat with a spoon.

 

Boiled duck egg calories: Approximately 70 calories per duck egg

 

Poached Duck Egg Recipe

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Crack 1 duck egg into a separate bowl. Quickly stir the boiling water so it creates a cyclone in the center. Add the duck egg immediately. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove the duck egg, and put it on a plate. Repeat for the remaining duck eggs.

 

Fried Duck Eggs Recipe

Heat a cast iron pan until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of butter so the eggs don’t stick. Crack 1-2 duck eggs into the pan. Fry until the whites are opaque and no longer liquid. Transfer to a plate to enjoy.

 

Baking With Duck Eggs

When baking with duck eggs vs. chicken eggs, you can simply substitute 1 duck egg for 1 chicken egg. An easy recipe to start out with is English Custard.

 

Raising Ducks for Eggs

Which Ducks Lay The Best Eggs?

Khaki Campbells or Runner ducks lay the best eggs – about 300 per year. Pekin ducks also lay consistently, although their eggs tend to be larger than Khaki Campbells or Runner duck eggs, which can cause them to taste rubbery if overcooked. To get the best eggs nutritionally and avoid a fishy smell, it’s best to purchase eggs from a local supplier who gives their flock a high protein commercial feed. You can learn what ducks eat here. You can also see a full list of abnormal egg types to avoid here.

 

Do Ducks Lay Eggs Everyday?

Ducks will lay about 3-5 eggs a week depending on the individual bird. To ensure your ducks lay consistently, offer them a high protein diet of at least 16% protein. You can also add herbs to their diet to support a healthy digestive system, which will help them maintain or improve egg production. If your ducks aren’t laying eggs at all, and they’re the right age, then this article can help you figure out what’s going on.

 

At What Age Do Ducks Lay Eggs?

Ducks tend to start laying eggs at about 6 months. However, if your ducks become 6 months old in the winter or during very hot summers, it might take them longer to start laying because of the weather. (Cold, heat, or fewer daylight hours can effect egg production).

 

Can Ducks Lay More Than 1 Egg A Day?

No, eggs only lay 1 egg during a 24 hour period.

 

What Color Are Duck Eggs?

Different duck breeds lay different colored eggs. While most ducks lay white eggs, they can also lay off white, cream tinted, green, blue, or black eggs. Here’s a chart that shows you which breeds lay different colored eggs:

 

Breed Egg Color Eggs Laid Per Year
American Pekin White 200
Ancona Green 200
Appleyard White 250
Black East Indie Grey, charcoal grey 200
Call Duck Green, white, cream 300
Cayuga Black, charcoal grey, light grey 200
Crested Duck White 200
Indian Runner Duck Green, blue 300
Khaki Campbell White 280
Muscovy Off white, cream, speckled 200
Magpie White, bluish green 280
Mallard White, greenish white 200
Orpington White 300
Rouen White 250
Saxony White 200
Swedish White 200
Welsh Harlequin White, blue 300

 

For better eggs, there’s a lot you can feed your ducks. You can find out what to feed poultry for better tasting eggs here. If you end up with more than you know what to do with, you can read how to preserve eggs here.

 

Hatching Ducklings

How Do Duck Eggs Get Fertilized?

After the drake mates with the hen, the sperm goes up the oviduct, and fertilizes an egg yolk that was released from the hen’s oviduct. The yolk and albumen then descend down the oviduct, where they are encased in the shell and finally laid by the duck hen.

 

How Can You Tell If A Duck Egg Is Fertile?

If you don’t intend to incubate the egg, you can crack it open and see if the egg has been fertilized. You should see a “bullseye” in the yolk, which indicates fertilization. If you want to incubate the egg, and you know your duck hens have been mating with a drake, then incubate the egg (you can learn how to incubate eggs here). After 10 days, candle the egg – if you see a dark spot around the middle of the egg with spider like veins beginning to form, then it is fertile and you have a duckling embryo growing. You can learn which incubators we recommend here.

 

How Do You Know If A Duck Egg Is Alive?

Candle the duck egg. If you see clear and distinct veins, then the egg is developing a duck embryo. Proper incubation is important for it to fully develop. By day 12, you should start to see signs of movement inside the egg. Alternatively, after Day 12 of the incubation cycle, you can gently place the egg in water and see if it wiggles. The water causes the embryo to react, which produces the wiggle.  However, this method might disrupt embryo development, and I don’t recommend it.

 

How Do You Take Care Of Duck Eggs?

If you spot duck eggs in the wild, it’s best to leave them alone. But if you have an abandoned nest on your property (for example, if you know for certain the hen was killed by a predator, or your domestic duck abandons her nest), then you can complete the incubation cycle with an incubator. The incubator temperature should be 99.5 degrees F, with 50% humidity inside the incubator. Duck eggs take 28 days to develop and hatch. Around day 10, you should start to see veins and other signs of development, if the eggs are fertile.

 

Once the eggs hatch, you’ll have baby ducks. You can learn how to raise ducklings here.

 

Where Can You Buy Duck Eggs For Hatching?

Some places to look are:

  • Hatcheries 
  • Local breeders
  • Ebay
  • Etsy

 

Note that hatching eggs you purchase and are shipped through the mail isn’t that easy. The post office is rough on the eggs, and even the most careful breeder can’t control what the post office does. My recommendation is to purchase ducklings from a local breeder or farm store rather than buying hatching eggs. If you do want hatching eggs, you can check big, established hatcheries like Cackle Hatchery.

 

You can also learn how to properly store hatching eggs here.

 

Can A Rooster Fertilize A Duck Egg?

No, a rooster is a chicken, which is a different species than ducks. So, a rooster cannot fertilize a duck egg. This scenario should be avoided because roosters can easily harm duck hens by placing too much pressure on the duck’s back.

 

*The information in this article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The nutrition facts labeling on this site is an estimate. Always consult a qualified professional regarding your diet. The theoretical egg nutritional values included on this article are based on the following references:

 

  1. 21 CFR 101.9 Nutrition labeling of food
  2. Staggs, CG et al. J Food Compost Anal. 2004;17(6):767-776.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. Database #01123.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels Questions and Answers Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars, and Declaration of Quantitative Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals. November 2018.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels Final Rules. May 27, 2016.
  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Total Diet Study. April 2014 revised April 2017

 

Are duck eggs for you? Leave a comment below!

 

The information in this article about duck eggs was reviewed by a licensed physician.

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds That Are Also Great Pets

You might be surprised at the largest chicken breed, or you might already have an idea of the winner.

 

Giant chicken breeds are a great addition to any backyard flock! They have presence, they’re usually very beautiful, they definitely resemble tiny dinosaurs, and you’ll enjoy watching them!

 

With each of the breeds in this article, you’ll have the finest selection of dual purpose kings or egg-cellent egg layers.

 

If you’re considering adding some gentle but big chicken breeds to your flock, then this article is for you. You’ll discover the largest chicken breeds that are also great egg layers – and despite their size, they’ll easily fit into any backyard flock!

 

Top 10 Largest Chicken Breeds

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

Jersey Giant

The Jersey Giant chicken is one of the biggest chicken breeds out there. However, they are more than just their size: Docile and mellow, they’re also great pet breeds! Jersey Giants are a heritage chicken breed that was developed in New Jersey in the 19th century as an alternative to turkeys. They’re good layers at 150 to 200 large eggs per year. The Jersey Giant egg color is brown.

 

How Much Does A Jersey Giant Chicken Weigh?

What Is The Heaviest Chicken Breed? The Jersey Giant! The roosters can weigh up to 15 pounds (they’re called Jersey GIANTS for a reason), with the black variety usually just a pound heavier than the white.

 

How Big Is A Jersey Giant Chicken?This huge chicken breed is usually between 16 to 26 inches tall.

 

Cochin

Cochin chickens are fluffy giants who are also one of the most popular chicken breeds. They’re friendly, cold hardy, and lay eggs consistently. If you add one to your flock, you can choose between a full-sized Cochin or the bantam variety (or get both. Definitely get both).

 

Standard sized Cochins are about 5 pounds, and are well-loved for their fluffy, soft feathers. They do have feathers on their feet, giving them a fun and unique appearance. They do like to be handled, especially the bantam variety (which weighs about 2 pounds – perfect for children.)

 

All Cochins love treats, and you can expect about 160 eggs per year. You can learn more about Cochins here.

 

Brahma

How Big Can A Chicken Get? Brahmas are well known because of a video of a giant rooster that went viral (owned by a man named Fitim Sejfijaj, based near Kosovo) and boasts the title of “Biggest Chicken In The World” (Guinness Book of World Records). Suddenly, everyone wanted Brahmas!

 

There’s several different varieties of this chicken breed, including:

  • Light
  • Dark
  • Buff
  • Bantam

 

In terms of their size, there’s no difference between a light and dark Brahma, although the bantam version won’t get very big.

 

When it comes to a Brahma vs. Jersey Giant, the Jersey Giant is usually bigger than a Brahma. However, both types of chickens make great pets.

 

The full size Brahmas are an old breed that can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends largely on the breeder). Many people love that Brahmas are feather footed. They’re also great egg layers, and lay up to 300 eggs per year.


You can learn more about Brahmas here.

 

How Big Can A Brahma Chicken Get? How Big Is A Brahma Chicken?

Some can grow to around 30 inches tall, however, this will vary from chicken to chicken and breeder to breeder. Because of its size, it’s sometimes called the “King of Chickens.”

 

Cornish

Developed in the UK during the 19th century, the Cornish chicken as a squat, square body and weighs in at around 10 pounds. They come in several varieties including:

  • Dark
  • White
  • White-Laced Red
  • Buff
  • Black

 

They’re also the parent stock of modern Cornish Rock chickens, which are bred to grow extremely quickly for their meat (Cornish Rock chickens also make docile pets, if you can keep them alive long enough. They tend to have heart issues).

 

Orpingtons

The Orpington chicken breed is a heritage strain of dual-purpose chicken that was developed in the town of Orpington, in the UK. This type of chicken comes in several varieties, including:

  • Buff
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Chocolate Cuckoo (unrecognized)
  • Jubilee (unrecognized)
  • Lavender Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Columbian (unrecognized)
  • Lavender (unrecognized)
  • Chocolate (unrecognized)
  • Splash (unrecognized)

 

This docile and friendly breed is great for families because they’re calm around children and is laid back with confinement. They’re large, topping out at about 10 pounds. The hens tend to go broody, so they’re great for families that want to hatch chicks (if your hen doesn’t go broody, you can see the incubators we recommend here.)

 

As some of the best egg layers out there, you can expect about 280 eggs per year. You can read more about Orpingtons here.

 

Malines

Originating in Belgium in the 19th century, this chicken breed is one of the largest in the world (rivalling Jersey Giants for heft). The roosters can reach 12 pounds, and both male and females sport cuckoo-patterned feathers. These chickens have a calm temperament, and don’t mind being picked up. They’re fair layers that produce 150 eggs per year. While there is a bantam variety, they’re not readily available.

 

Malay

What Is The Tallest Chicken Breed? The Maylay! While not as hefty as the Jersey Giant, the Malay chicken IS considered the tallest chicken breed in the world, reaching 30 inches in height. (Although the current “Tallest rooster in the world” record is held by a Brahma). Developed in Europe from local chickens and birds from India and the Malay peninsula, they became popular because of their height. Maylay roosters weigh about 9 pounds, and the hens are fair layers. You can expect about 100 eggs per year. Today, they’re mostly kept for ornamental purposes.

 

Langshan

Langshan chickens originated in China, and made their way Westward in the 19th century. They’re feather footed, and lay dark brown eggs. They’re a hardy black chicken breed that’s heat tolerant, and is friendly towards humans. They can weigh up to 9 pounds, and lay about 180 eggs per year.

 

Barred Rock

With sharply defined barred black and white feathers, Barred Rocks are an old American breed that’s been popular since the 1700s. The roosters weigh about 7 pounds, with friendly personalities. As great egg layers, you can expect about 280 eggs a year.

 

Dong Tao

Also known as the “dragon chicken,” Dong Taos have a very unique appearance. Weighing in at about 12 pounds, members of this breed sport enlarged legs and feet. They originated in Vietnam, where they’re prized for their meat. Their big legs make it difficult to lay eggs and move around, so they’re not kept for their eggs.

 

Other Large Chicken Breeds

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Red chickens are one of the most popular and well known breeds available. Although they’re fallen in popularity the past few years in favor of ornamental breeds, they’re very cold hardy, and aside from regular feed, water, vet care, and housing, they require little care. Roosters weigh approximately 9 pounds.

 

Note: There’s two types of Rhode Island Red breeds: Industrial strains, which are bred for high egg production, and heritage strains, which trace their roots back to the first Europeans in America. The heritage strains tend to be bigger, while the industrial strains are bred with only egg production in mind.

 

Delaware

Delaware chickens are also popular, and are very easy going. They’re not the heaviest birds out there, topping out at about 6 to 8 pounds. They’re great egg layers, and you can expect about 280 eggs per year.

 

Australorp

Australorps are gaining popularity (especially black Australorp chickens) because they’re excellent layers. Originating in Australia, they’re parent stock are Orpingtons, Its name is a mixture of “Australia” and “Orpington.” Males weigh up to 10 pounds, making them fairly heavy. The average hen will lay about 300 eggs per year.

 

What Is The Most Aggressive Chicken Breed?

While you will likely hear different opinions from different owners, the Silver Laced Serama rooster is fairly aggressive, and not recommended for children. Hens can become aggressive when they’re broody and their nest is disturbed. Roosters can become aggressive in the first year of their lives (when hormones kick in) and in early spring. However, most roosters chill out as they age.

 

What Chicken Lays Largest Eggs?

Breeds that lay large eggs include:

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer

 

What Are The Largest Chicken Breeds?

  • Jersey Giant
  • Cochin
  • Brahma
  • Cornish
  • Buff Orpington
  • Malines
  • Maylay
  • Langshan
  • Barred Rock
  • Dong Tao

 

What Chicken Breeds Lay Extra Large Eggs?

  • Rhode Island Red
  • Barred Rock
  • Jersey Giants
  • Orpingtons
  • Langshan
  • Marans
  • Welsummer
Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Sunflower microgreens are a delicious addition to your recipe collection, and they’re easy to grow in your kitchen.

 

Once “mature,” you can harvest your sunflower microgreens, and their rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture fit into every meal of the day. They pair particularly nicely with eggs at breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and wraps at lunch, and alongside meats and grains at dinner.

 

Chock full of vitamins, protein, and lecithin to break down fatty acids, sunflower microgreens are not only delicious, they also pack quite a nutritional punch. Growing them yourself is economical, satisfying, and fun. It’s an easy crop for children to plant and grow and makes a great addition to their favorite meals, including pizza, tacos, and alphabet soup.

 

An as an added bonus, your chickens, ducks, other poultry, and rabbits will also jump at the chance to down some sunflower microgreens as part of their diet (and you might even save some money at the same time!)

 

Are you ready to exercise your green thumb by growing your own sunflower microgreens this planting season? Follow these ten easy steps!

 

Start by purchasing quality sunflower sprouting seeds.

 

You don’t need to purchase the most expensive seeds, but you do want the black oil sunflower seed variety. Make sure the seeds you purchase are for sprouting – organic seeds are best so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

 

Click here to buy organic sunflower sprouting seeds on Amazon

 

Then purchase a growing pad, organic soilseedling tray, and plastic cover, and set them aside for later use. (You can make your own organic soil as well).

 

Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours

 

Grab a mason jar and pour in enough seeds to cover your grow tray. Because we’re growing microgreens, space isn’t as big of an issue so be generous – you want a large enough harvest to make the effort worth it.

 

Be sure to keep the seeds covered as they soak to keep dust, bugs, etc out of the jar.  This will speed up germination, and let you harvest the sunflower microgreens faster. You’ll also waste less seeds.

 

If you don’t want to go through the soaking process, then you can just plant the seeds directly in the grow tray.

 

But if you want to soak your seeds, then…

 

Drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water, then repeat the soaking process.

 

Again, use warm water and soak for an additional 12 hours. It’s very important to rinse the seeds thoroughly so they don’t get moldy.

 

At this point, you should start to see the seeds begin to sprout. It will look like they’re growing tiny tails.

 

Pour potting soil into your grow tray and spread the seeds very thickly.

 

You can cover the seeds very lightly with additional soil, but it’s not strictly necessary. Cover the tray with the plastic top so moisture is retained – make sure there is some ventilation, and remove the top if the seeds begin to mold.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy addition to any meal!

Water your sunflower microgreens by placing the tray inside a larger tray or tub.

 

This allows the seeds to receive water from the bottom without disturbing them from the top. You don’t want to displace any of the dirt or disturb the seedlings’ root structure.

 

As the seeds grow and start to push up, move them to a sunny spot (like a bright window) and continue to water them regularly.

 

You CAN use a grow light if you want, but it’s not strictly necessary, since your sunflower microgreens will be harvested in a few days.

 

In a week to a week and a half, the sunflower shoots should be about 4” tall.

 

Harvest your sunflower microgreens!

 

Once they’re about 4″ tall, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Cut your sunflower microgreens right above soil level and store them in a sealable plastic bag.  They should last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.

 

To use them, pull out the amount you need for each recipe, and rinse them carefully under cool, running water.

 

Use this easy method to grow these tasty greens whenever you want them. Because they’re ready to harvest so quickly, they don’t require a ton of planning ahead, and because they last for 4-5 days when refrigerated, they can also be ready to use when you’re ready for them.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy snack!

Ideas to use your sunflower microgreens

 

Try your first harvest in a simple summer salad:

Mix sunflower microgreens with peeled and cubed blood oranges and avocados, peeled and shredded carrots, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Dress with a light vinaigrette dressing and add slices of crusty, homemade bread for a delicious summer meal.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to use sunflower microgreens? Leave a comment below!

How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How Many Chickens Are Too Many?

How many chickens are too many? No really. This is a real question.

For some people, it is the question. But not for reasons one might think. Chickens play such an important role in the lives of people who love them. For some people, it makes sense to have many chickens, especially since hens are amazing at producing eggs. A single chicken is like a cute feathery gift that just keeps on giving. How could someone say “No” to them?

Well, it just so happens that there actually are a few good reasons why it sometimes is important to say “No.”

Reason #1: Space

Keeping chickens has become almost en vogue around the USA. As of a 2017 survey, about 1% of the entire USA keeps chickens. For an era where mass unsustainable farming methods of the past seem to be on the decline, this is quite a remarkable number.

If so many people are keeping chickens, and they’re not running large farms, then where are they keeping these hens? Not every home has space to keep a chicken coop. Well, our concept of chicken homes has to change a bit. Often, owners keep chickens in a small backyard or even inside their apartment.

The space question is perhaps the most important question to consider. Each chicken needs about 10 square feet of coop space to live comfortably. It’s also important to provide a run. Not all homes have the space for them to scratch, peck, and uncover bugs and other goodies. So what then?

When space is tight, the question about chicken numbers becomes essential. If your entire property is less than 1000 square feet, it would be almost impossible to house more than a few comfortably.

Reason #2: Money

Here’s the scenario: a friend has the option to add a new animal to their home. One option is a fluffy young chicken. The other is a 17-hand horse. Both need space and attention. Both will need food and water and shelter. Both will be amazing additions to the family, and the family would enjoy either one. So which one is the better choice?

Well, compare the cost to keep a chicken or a horse. In this case, chickens are a far more economical option. No two ways about it, a horse is far more expensive than a single chicken.

But chickens still cost money. Setting up a coop and providing bedding will cost money. Preparing for adequate waste disposal will cost money or time. Feed will cost money. Health checks, worming, and pest control will cost money. Buying incubators to hatch chicks will cost money. Each of these small costs will add up. Before long, you’ll realize that 50% of last month’s expenses went towards your chickens!

So, the question of what is “too many” chickens boils down to the responsible question for any pet owner. You’ll need to ask yourself, “Do I want to devote part of my income to a pet?” If the answer is yes, then that is some great news! It just might be time to increase the flock! “Too many” chickens would just be that point where the balance in the ledger crosses the line from black to red.

Reason #3: Death

Of course, this is the least enjoyable reason to add another chicken to your flock. But it’s worth considering anyway. Death is one of the hardest parts of life, but it’s unavoidable. When it happens, it can gouge away at one’s heart in ways that might not be readily apparent.

With the loss of a pet, it’s only natural to want to replace that void with a new life. This is normal, and acquiring a new pet can very often lead to a smooth recovery – or at least as smooth as one could find. A new life can add so much to a grieving heart; it is incredible.

The problem is that sometimes, we overcompensate. It’s like stress-eating. You’re overcome with stress, and cope by filling your body with food. You’re momentarily less stressed and have some much-needed energy. This can easily result in a little too much and instead of easing the stress, we gorge. The body doesn’t really need all the calories that we give it. Our coping mechanism ends up putting extra stress on the body.

It’s very easy to slip into, and it can happen after your pet dies. In such an event, there must be a limit. You don’t want to end up with too many birds to easily maintain. If you need to replace your lost friend, consider just getting one. At least for a while.

Reason #4: Family

Family is great. In part, adding a chicken to your home enlivens the family. With each chicken you add to your flock, your family becomes richer in experience. Each hen brings with it their own personality, and part of the excitement is getting to know what makes her tick (peck?).

The Flocking Family

If a chicken is added to a flock, it joins a complex organism that has a pre-established pecking order. It will be difficult for that bird at first, but before long, she will settle into the habit of the barnyard. She will make friends and find her own little spot on the roost.

What could possibly go wrong?

One potential problem is a particularly aggressive chicken. Chickens in general are docile creatures and interested in their bellies and the production of eggs. But there is the occasional rooster or hen that feels the need to pick on others. There might be some safety for the bullied chicken in the larger pack, but that is not always the case. If this happens, about the only possible escape is separating the birds. If warring hens gets too extreme, you might have to find a new home for either the bullied or the bully.

Reason #5: Reproducing

Probably the biggest reason for an increase in flock size is also the most obvious one: reproduction. It happens when there are both roosters and hens living together.

When springtime comes around, roosters might do a little dance that shows a lucky hen that he’s interested. This could result in a clutch of fertilized eggs.  If these fertilized eggs are incubated, they’ll result in a new batch of cute downy chicks. Once this happens, the owner then has to deal with the same question again: keep them or sell them?

There are many ways to keep chickens from reproducing. The simplest way is to have just hens. They’ll lay eggs regardless of the presence of a rooster. Alternatively, you could remove the eggs and not incubate them. This would result in no new generation of chickens.  

Reason #6: The Human Family

One spouse wants more, the other does not. Maybe the kids do, or they are even divided on whether to add another chicken or *gasp!* a dog. Or maybe the kids are begging the parents for more, but such conflict can put stress on the family. It’s important to think of others before adding more chickens to your flock.

Fights can happen. A strong-willed individual could get their way. But this sometimes can create resentment in the household. Resentment is a dangerous thing. If there is too much stress in the household, believe me, your chickens will pick up on it.

Like with the addition of any family member – 2-legged, 4-legged, 3-legged, 2-winged, etc. – the best approach is to discuss it. This gives everyone an equal chance to consider how the addition would change the family. It lets the unit consider both pros and cons. Sometimes an answer of “Not right now” is enough.

The best thing about “Not right now” is that it implies that “soon” another chicken might be added to the flock.

Is there a “right” answer to the idea of whether or not there are “too many” chickens? No. There are so many variables that this is an almost impossible issue. Perhaps most important to the prospective chicken owner is self-knowledge. They’ll need to ask themselves “How many is too many for me?” I’d recommend some serious consideration before the urge to add more chickens takes over.

I would recommend this, but then… I just might have given in to the urge to the flock once or twice. For me, personally, it’s a matter of space and time. Do we want to build another coop? Do we want to spend the extra time making sure extra chickens are all healthy? Or, do we just want to concentrate on the ones we have, and make sure their lives are as happy as possible? That’s how I decide “how many are too many”!