Create The Best Chicken Brooders For Baby Chicks!

Create The Best Chicken Brooders For Baby Chicks!

Heard of chicken brooders, but not sure what the fuss is about? Getting chicks, and not sure which brooders are best? In this article, we’ll give you all the details so you can pick the perfect home for your newest pets!

Chicks! Little balls of down that are so adorable you just want to eat them up! Or maybe that’s the family cat, we’re talking about… So maybe eating them up is a terrible idea. A good idea, however, is bringing them into the family. Soon, these day-old fuzzy butts will grow into amazing full-sized chickens: hens of the greatest laying potential and roosters whose protective skills are without peer! 

The question, then, is how to ensure that these chicks do reach adulthood. What can we do to protect these helpless little bundles of cute? Where can we keep them until they are ready to join the flock? What tips and tricks can we utilize to ensure that the cat stays away from them long enough to get big enough to defend themselves?

The answer to the above questions is quite simple: you need to get yourself a chick brooder. 

What is a Chick Brooder?

A brooder is a safe environment where a group of baby chicks can stay warm and comfortable until they’re ready to join other chickens in the run. All told, a chick will spend about 8-10 weeks in a brooder. It is a relatively short, but incredibly important part of their lives. 

Anything can serve as a brooder, from a plastic bin to a pre-fabricated brooder sold on Amazon. I personally just use a plastic tote bin because they’re cheap and easy to clean. 

You can see my brooder set up in this video:

Why Have a Brooder?

In the wild, chicks have a very unique personal defense system that they do not have in the adoptive world of your family. That defense system is called a mother hen. The mother hen digs or builds a nest for her chicks and there, she sits on them, defending and protecting them from all manner of dangers: from predators to chill weather. When a person decides to take on chicks and raise them, that person volunteers themselves for the role of mother. It’s obviously not a good idea for you to sit on a clutch of chicks for several weeks – we don’t have quite the warm, protective tail feathers that mother hens have (in addition to being far too heavy). As a result, we need a safe place to keep our developing chicks. That is where the brooder comes into play. 

What Size Brooder Should I Have?

It goes without saying that those cute little chicks will grow. Because of this, you’ll want to consider two recommended sizes for a good brooder. The smaller brooder should be about 12 inches tall, and should be large enough so that each chick has about 6 inches of space when they’re day olds – 4 weeks old.. This smaller brooder will become obsolete, however, at or around week 4 of their lives. At this stage of their development, you’ll want to upgrade them to a 24-inch tall brooder that gives them 1 square foot each. This will keep them safe and in check until they complete their developmental phase.

 It is possible, however, to forego the smaller brooder for the larger one. Your chicks will outgrow the smaller one, after all. If your resources are limited, then there is much to be said for that option. 

Where Should I Keep My Brooder?

A brooder is a safe place for your chicks. You’ll need to keep it in a secure place that can hold heat and protect your hatchlings from any and all of those great dangers just lurking out in the wider world. You could put it in a barn, a workshop, a garage, a basement, or even right in the house. The key is to keep it very safe from predators, such as cats, raccoons, opossums, and rats. 

Because you will need to provide your chicks with heat, a reliable power source is key. You’ll also want your brooder to be easy to get to, as you’ll probably want to check on your chicks at least a couple of times per day. I would also strongly recommend putting some kind of cover over your chicks – a mesh one for warmer weather or a piece of insulation in colder weather. 

Chickens are birds, after all, and once their wing feathers start coming in, they just might succumb to the urge to test out those flight enablers. The other reason for a covering your chicks are the curious whims of the family cat. Or dog. Or child. As much as we might love the other beasts in our menageries, they might not have the best interests of your chicks at heart. 

How Many Chicks Should Be In A Brooder?

I personally only put between ten and fifteen full sized chicks into a brooder at a time. This helps to ensure that there is enough space for each one, at least 6 inches of space per chick. Ten to fifteen chicks is easy to keep track of (for example, if one gets sick, it should be easy enough to identify that one.) It is also small enough to start getting to know the chicks’ personalities. If you’re like me and hope that these chickens become family, then it’s best to start familiarizing yourself with them sooner rather than later. Why not start right from the brooder?

If you’re going to have a clutch of bantams, up to 17 chicks is a good number. This is mostly just to help them stay warm, as being smaller chickens, they could use just a touch more heat. But the clutch should be no more than that. Otherwise, your chicks might squash each other.

At farm stores, you sometimes see there might be 50 chicks in a big bin. Farm stores do that because the chicks aren’t going to be there for that long. Many stores sell out in a day! 

So most farm stores don’t need to worry about whether a chick has long term access to food and water. At home however, if you have a lot of chicks in your brooder, you can’t guarantee that everybody’s getting the food that they need. So stick to a smaller clutch size, and get more than one brooder if necessary.

It’s harder to keep track of everybody and everybody’s health when a lot of chicks are in one brooder. They’re all running everywhere, and you can’t look at everybody really closely. 

Smaller numbers in your brooder make it easier to keep track of everybody’s condition. Is everybody getting the food that they need? Is everybody developing correctly? Is everybody warm enough? Does somebody look too cold?

If you use apple cider vinegar, it’s easier to make sure that everybody gets access to that. If you have one waterer and a large number of chicks in your brooder, maybe not everybody’s getting enough water or the apple cider vinegar in the water that they need. This is all the more reason to keep numbers manageable in a brooder. 

What Do Chicks Need In A Brooder?

For a brooder to be 100% effective, it will need a few key components. The first is warmth. Newborn chicks are covered in down, which is lovely and soft, but not that great at providing your precious little ones with the warmth they need to develop strong, hale and hearty. In their first week of life, the ideal temperature is about 95 degrees F. You will want to adjust this as your chicks start to feather out, as feathers provide them with natural insulation against the cold. 

The 95 degrees that was good in the first week might be too hot in the second week. If your chicks are too hot, they might start panting or moving far away from the heat source. Having a thermometer on hand will help you identify whether or not your heating source is too close to the clutch. When you test the temperature, be sure to be on the same level as your chicks. You want the readings to be as accurate to your birds’ experience as possible. 

Next comes food and water. A chick has to eat, right? Provide your clutch with a couple automatic waterers and feeders. If you put them in the corners of the brooder, it will help to reduce how much waste your chicks will deposit into the feed or water troughs. Most will spend their time in the warmest sections of the brooder – especially on colder days – and will then have to disperse to fill their other needs. The water and feed should be changed daily. If your chicks are especially messy, then this could be upgraded to twice a day refilling. 

Countless chicken lovers will tell you that waterers could use an anti-drowning preventative. Chicks are just getting their legs, so to speak, and as such, they might have a mishap or two with regards to how they drink. Shallow as their drinking troughs are, there is still a risk of drowning. To prevent this, put a number of marbles into the trough. This will give your chicks full access to water, but it will prevent them from dunking their heads.

The final thing your brooder will need is bedding. Chickens of all ages have the potential to be terribly messy. 

The Best Options For Flooring And Bedding

It seems like the go-to for bedding across the USA is pine shavings. This is very similar to what horses get in their stalls, and it tends to be light, fluffy, and holds chick waste quite well. In the first couple of weeks, it will need cleaning and changing every couple of days, but as your chicks get bigger, they will start producing greater quantities of waste. If pine shavings are unavailable in your local farm store, other options include straw, shredded paper towels (for the first week at most), or newspaper. Of all of these options, pine bedding works best for absorbency and overall comfort. You’ll need between an inch and three inches of bedding for your chicks. 

What Types Of Heaters Are There?

There are a few varieties of heaters to use in your brooder. The most common are a heat lamp and heating pads. A simple heating lamp can be clamped right onto the side of the brooder or dangle above it. These then produce powerful localized heat that spread out quite well over a general area. This actually provides both hot zones and cooler zones within the brooder. In the event that the weather shifts in your brooder’s shelter, your chicks will have temperature escapes. However, I don’t personally use or recommend heat lamps. They’re very dangerous.

Heat lamps produce tremendous heat. That much heat concentrated over wooden bedding is a fire hazard waiting to happen. When setting up your heat source, be sure that it cannot fall – secure it thoroughly with clamps or a bungee. 

Heat plates are a solid pad that is elevated off the ground and provides a surface area of warmth. Their height is adjustable so that your chicks will not bump their heads on the pads. These pads more closely simulate the localized warmth of a hen sitting on her clutch, but they tend to be far more expensive than heat lamps. 

You can also use space heaters.

Is There a Do It Yourself Option for a Brooder?

Brooders are remarkably affordable or easy to make. They require some basic and easily accessible materials, and can be quite durable, usable season after season. The simplest ones can be made from a large plastic tub or a large wooden box or coop. 

When Should I Get a Brooder?

It is imperative to get your brooder before you bring your first clutch of chicks home. You will want to set it up and test it out for any problems that might arise before your chicks get into it. You can trouble shoot anything that might hinder your chicks’ development or cause them undue stress. You can also check that  there is enough bedding, the heat lamps are secure and safe, and their water and feed is all set up. The latter is very important because when your chicks arrive. You’ll want to orient them to their food and water by dipping the beak of each one. This will ensure that they know where their essentials are.  

Sharing your home with a clutch of chicks is a truly amazing experience, and it all starts with having a good brooder for them. It’ll ensure they’re healthy and safe from predators. You’ll also get lots of hands on experience with your new pets! 

What’s your best chicken brooder tips? Leave a comment below!

Alternative Feed For Chickens: Best Ideas!

Alternative Feed For Chickens: Best Ideas!

If you’re looking for an alternative feed for chickens that won’t break the bank and will help support your healthy flock, then you’re in luck – there’s an abundance of surprising alternatives!

While your hens should always have a high-quality layer feed, you might find yourself without a bag one day (and the feed store might be closed) OR you might have table scraps you don’t want to toss. You also might want to make your own chicken feed.

Nutritious feed doesn’t need to come with a golden price tag, but it does need to satisfy the hunger cravings of your beloved flock and provide much-needed nutrients and vitamins.

Whether you want to craft your own chicken feed or just want to give your flock some treats, it’s always good to know what chickens eat! In this article, we’ll discuss the possible alternatives to your usual feed – and you might be surprised at our list of ingredients!

What Is The Best Food For Chickens?

The best chicken feed for laying hens is a high-quality 16% protein layer feed with a calcium supplement. For chicks (under 16 weeks), a high-quality 18% chick starter is best. The feed should have the required nutrition and vitamins for them to stay healthy and become consistent egg layers. Most commercial feeds make it easy. If you want to make your own layer feed, you can use my organic homemade chicken feed recipe here.

How To Feed Chickens Without Buying Feed

While I never really recommend this, there’s plenty you can feed chickens without actually having to buy feed. You can feed them table scraps (there’s a table below of what human food they can eat), grow food for them (we have a leafy green garden for our flock), or raise mealworms or black soldier fly larvae.

You can learn how to raise mealworms here and why black soldier fly larvae are healthy for chickens here.

If you have a “corn hookup” you can feed them dry corn as well. One of our neighbors is a farmer. One year, his crew spilled a LOT of corn on the ground. He didn’t want to clean it up, so he asked if we wanted it, LOL!

It’s best to feed a 16% protein layer feed however – you want your chickens to be healthy and lay eggs consistently. Nine times out of ten, when a reader emails me because her hens have stopped laying, diet is the reason why.

What Can Chickens Eat?

Chickens can eat so many things – it’s probably easier to talk about what they CAN’T eat! Chickens especially seem to love protein – insects (alive or dead) are HUGE with backyard chickens. They also love seeds such as sunflower, wheat, or hemp seeds. Of course, fruits and vegetables are popular, too (especially corn)! As for leafy greens, it’s best to stick with lettuce, kale, and spinach.

Here’s a brief table of suggested treats for your chickens (not comprehensive):

Fruit Legumes Vegetables Seeds Proteins Dairy Grains
Berries Peanuts Spinach Sunflower Mealworms Milk Wheat
Cantaloupe Alfalfa Hay Tomatoes Flax Black Soldier Fly Larvae Greek Yogurt

(Plain)

Oats
Watermelon Peas Squash & Pumpkin Pumpkin Dried River Shrimp Cheese Rye
Bananas Clover Kale Hemp Eggs Whey Millet

What Can You Feed Chickens If You Run Out Of Feed?

Alternative feed for chickens if you’re out of feed are whole grains like wheat, corn, flax, cooked rice (NOT UNCOOKED!), and raw or cooked oatmeal. Protein-rich foods like cheese, plain greek yogurt, and sunflower seeds are also good choices. Most table scraps you have on hand will also be suitable as an alternative. Bugs like black soldier fly larvae (which are remarkably easy to cultivate), worms, and crickets are options as well. Just be sure to steer clear of beans!

What Do Chickens Eat Naturally?

What chickens eat naturally (and that will cost you next to nothing) is food you can produce in your backyard, such as green plants, vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Chickens will also naturally hunt for insects such as earthworms, slugs, grubs, black soldier fly larvae, and other creepy crawlies. This alternative feed for chickens is cost-effective, full of protein, and can be found in their natural habitat.

However, before attempting to use any of the above as dinner for your flock, you should be aware of what food can harm to your flock if you’re considering an alternative feed for chickens. Bad food such as salt, sugar, coffee, or liquor and any uncooked raw or dried beans, raw green potato skins (which can contain a poison called solanine). Onions also are a poor food to give to chickens.

What Scraps Not To Feed Chickens?

What foods are toxic to chickens? Well, plenty. For starters, chickens should never consume anything moldy or rotten because it can make them sick. The chart below lists various foods and scraps that chickens shouldn’t eat:

Vegetables Fruit Legumes Grains Other
Potato skins Avocado skins & pits Dried beans Dry rice Salt
Onions Apple seeds Uncooked beans Chocolate
Chards Peach pits Lots of sugar
Rhubarb leaves Coffee

What Is The Cheapest Way To Feed Chickens?

The cheapest alternative feed for chickens would be using table scraps that don’t include anything moldy or rotten. Other free chicken feed ideas are insects such as grubs, mealworms, or black soldier fly larvae (or crawfish, if they’re in your region). Mixing your own non-gmo organic chicken feed is another option, especially if you can bulk buy ingredients at a lower cost. We have an article about making your own homemade chicken feed here.

Do Chickens Need Food And Water At Night?

Chickens typically only eat food and drink water when they are awake during the day. At night, chickens prefer to roost and get some sleep. However, there’s nothing wrong with leaving food and water in the coop overnight (especially water) if you don’t have a rodent problem. You should always make sure the feed won’t attract predators. A chicken feeder that automatically closes at night is always a good option.

What Vitamins Are Good For Chickens?

Like people, chickens need all the vitamins they can get. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can produce numerous health problems for chickens (including poor egg production), so it’s important to feed them a balanced poultry diet enriched with vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, Biotin, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Choline, Folic Acid, and Pantothenic Acid. Also, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, phosphorus, and, manganese are important. Most commercial chicken feeds have all the vitamins and minerals your hens need. To ensure your flock has enough calcium to produce good eggshells, you can offer an additional supplement like oyster shells.

What Can I Grow For Chicken Feed?

You can grow garden cover crops such as alfalfa, clover, buckwheat, and annual rye. In your garden, you can grow tomatoes, leafy greens like kale or spinach, wheat (can be sprouted into fodder), bell peppers, sunchokes (boil and mash to feed), corn, and herbs. Just remember that you will need to feed your chickens year round, so if you want to grow feed for your chickens, have a plan to preserve some. Other chicken feed ingredients you can grow are wheat and millet.

If you’re wondering what to feed chickens to lay eggs, it’s important to give your flock plenty of protein. So, if you really want to grow your own chicken feed, it’s a good idea to also raise mealworms or other insects so your hens have plenty of protein.

How Much Should I Feed My Chickens?

Ideally, you should feed your chickens about 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. Environmental conditions, such as whether it’s very hot or very cold, can also effect how much you should feed your flock. In the winter, you’ll likely want to increase their rations so they can produce enough body heat. If your flock isn’t laying eggs consistently, you’ll want to increase their diet, as well. Typically, chicken feed 50-pound bags are sold at stores to make it easier.

Are Oats Good For Chickens?

Yes! You’ll read varying opinions about this, but oats are perfectly fine to feed your flock. You can feed them dry or made into a mash. Quick oats and instant oats are fine as well – just make sure they’re plain, and without any extra preservatives or ingredients. During very cold nights, many owners make their chickens oatmeal to give them extra energy at night. In the summer, you can mix oatmeal into frozen suet cakes.

Will Chickens Eat Roaches?

A great alternative feed for chickens are bugs – chickens love them! While there are many critters hens love to eat, cockroaches are one of them! If you raise cockroaches, then you’re in for a treat. Chickens love chasing them, and they’re full of protein.

Is Peanut Butter Good For Chickens?

While peanut butter (natural, no salt, no added ingredients) is okay for chickens to eat, it’s not the best for them. A high-quality layer feed is better. However, there’s nothing in peanut butter that will hurt them, as long as it’s 100% natural with no salt or added ingredients. Honey is also healthy for chickens, so you can mix it with honey if you want!

Summary

There’s a lot of alternative feed options for backyard chickens. However, it’s important to make sure your flock has the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. Otherwise, you might not get as many eggs!

What’s your favorite alternative feed for chickens? Leave a comment below!

Answers To Every Question You Ever Had About Baby Chicks

Answers To Every Question You Ever Had About Baby Chicks

If you just got chicks for the first time, you probably have a million questions. Last year, I did a free YouTube series that answered the most common questions I get about raising baby chicks. Below, I’ve compiled all those videos into a single easy-to-use resource!

This page is easy to use. Just use the table of contents to scroll to the best spot, and watch the video that answers your specific question!

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered yet, please reach out to us at [email protected] and I’ll make a video especially for you!

Feeding Baby Chicks

Can My Chicks Eat…..

Giving Water To Chicks

Nutritional Supplements For Chicks

Brooders & Keeping Chicks Warm

Common Health Questions

When Can Chicks Go Outside With Adult Hens?

Are My Chicks Male Or Female?

How To Raise People-Friendly Chickens

Protecting Chickens From Predators

When Do Chicks Start Laying Eggs?

Where To Buy Baby Chicks

FAQ


Raising Backyard Hens For Eggs Is Easy!

Raising Backyard Hens For Eggs Is Easy!

If you’re thinking about raising chickens for the first time, you might feel a little bit intimidated by the process. You may even be asking yourself, “how do I get started raising chickens?”

Luckily, chickens are some of the easiest animals you can raise – but it’s important to learn how to do it correctly. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most important information you need to know in order to get started. 

Why Raise Backyard Chickens?

In these uncertain times, a lot of people are concerned about food security. Raising chickens means always having a supply of fresh, organic eggs (even as the prices in the stores skyrocket). 

Chickens are easier to care for than dogs or cats. They only need:

  • A home
  • Food
  • Water
  • Protection from predators
  • Veterinary care as needed

Unlike dogs, you never need to walk them. You can also leave them alone for a couple days (with food, water, and protection from predators) if you need to leave town for a few days. Hens are quiet, and like parrots, these birds can provide companionship. They’re also a great pet for kids!

How Do I Get Started Raising Chickens?

Buy the Chickens!

Your first step in raising chickens? You’ve got to buy the chickens, of course! Don’t rush out to the feed store to purchase your chicks right away. Make sure you have a brooder set up and ready to go so that you have somewhere to put the little fluffy butts. This should include a heat lamp and plenty of food and water. 

If you plan on raising adult chickens, you can skip this step. Otherwise, keep reading – we’ll give you more information on where to buy your chickens below.

Feed

You are also going to need an ample supply of feed to give your chickens. We’ll talk more about this later in the article, but make sure you have your feeders ready to go. 

Waterers

The same rule applies to waterers. You are going to need a water for your chickens so they can stay hydrated at all times. Invest in good water because they can last for quite some time when cared for properly.

A Coop

Last but not least, you’re going to need a coop in which to house your chickens. It doesn’t have to be huge, but there are some considerations you will need to make.

Where Can I Buy Chickens?

The first thing you need to do is purchase your chickens. Decide on your breed first. If you want your chickens to be pets as well as egg producers, some friendly breeds that give lots of eggs are Australorps, Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, Brahmas, and Cochins.

Next, start the search for your birds. Hatcheries are often chosen by beginning chicken keepers because they raise and ship chicks in a safe, humane fashion. Yes, that’s right – you can get mail-order chicks!

When you order from a hatchery, the chicks are sent at one day old and sent directly to the post office. You’ll pick them up there. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of breeds. If you;re not allowed to have roosters in your neighborhood, you have the option to purchase only hens (female chickens). 

There are hundreds of hatcheries out there, but it’s important to find one that is reputable. We use Cackle Hatchery, but other good options including Murray McMurray and Meyer Hatchery. Do your research and make sure your hatchery of choice has plenty of positive customer reviews! 

You may also want to check out local farm stores. Most people are familiar with shops like Tractor Supply, Rural King, and Orschelns. The only downside to purchasing chicks from a farm store is that you are often limited to what they have in store. That said, some stores allow you to place an order ahead of time in which you can specify how many and what breed you are interested in buying. 

A final option is to consider local breeders or even your neighbors. The internet is a glorious invention that makes it possible for us to find chicks for sale just about anywhere! Just remember to inspect your chicks carefully before you bring them home to make sure they are healthy. 

Want to learn more about where you can buy baby chicks? Here’s a helpful resource to get you started.

How Much Should I Pay for a Chicken?

In most cases, a baby chick will cost less than $4 apiece. Often, that price is quoted by hatcheries with all expenses – including shipping fees – rolled in. After all, buying chicks should not break the bank! 

Hatcheries will sometimes offer discounts if you buy in bulk – with discounts usually given for purchases of 25, 50, or 100 birds – or if you purchase unsexed chicks. 

You can also purchase adult chickens that are ready to lay. While the price of these can vary widely depending on the breed and age of the bird, try not to pay more than $10 to $20. It’s very easy for you to find yourself scammed or overcharged!

If you want to buy adult chickens, keep an eye out for free birds on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and via other Facebook groups. Again just be aware of scams and don’t be afraid to ask for health records for the birds!

What Do Chickens Eat?

Chickens are easy creatures to feed, but you will need to pay attention to what you are feeding them – especially in the early days.

Young chicks (those under the age of 16 weeks) need to be fed a chick starter ration. This contains 18% protein and all the nutrients your chicks need to be healthy. You can purchase chick starter from your local farm store. If you want it shipped directly to your home, you can purchase chick starter from our website here. 

Once your chickens get a bit older, you’ll need to provide them with alternative feed. Laying feed is fine for laying hens – it contains extra calcium – while broiler feed is best for meat birds. If you want layer feed shipped directly to your door, visit our store here

Now, chickens are some of the best backyard pets you can raise because they are incredibly versatile creatures that can be fed a wide variety of scraps and leftovers. If you want to read a full list of what chickens can and cannot eat, be sure to check out this post

frugal feeds chicken water feeder hacks

What Type of Waterers Are Best?

Having plenty of fresh, clean water at all times is just as important as having plenty of fresh feed. Although you can use basic waterers from Amazon (here’s some options), or even just a dog bowl with water for your adult chickens, you’ll need to be more careful about how you give water to young chicks. 

Chicks can easily drown in open bowls of water, and while some people simply put rocks or pebbles in the bottom of their adult chicken waterer to prevent this, accidents can still happen. Therefore, you will want to use a mason jar-style waterer, which tends to be much safer to use. Here’s a video that will walk you through everything you need to know about chicken waterers. 

What Type of Coop is Best?

You can purchase your own chicken coop on Amazon or you can build your own chicken coop. Here are some free plans to help you get started. There are all kinds of styles you can choose from, including coops that are portable and meant to be moved every day, those that are designed for small flocks, and those that are best for oversized breeds. 

Either way, remember that you will need at least six to ten feet of space per bird in your coop. You’ll need even more than that out in the run, so make sure you leave plenty of outdoor space for your birds, too. 

Also in the coop, you will need to leave room for nesting boxes and roost bars. The roost bars should be no more than a few feet off the ground and positioned away from the nesting boxes. 

You can purchase a coop for as little as $200 on Amazon. But remember that any structure can serve as shelter, as long as it’s dry, draft-free, and provides protection from predators. So, if you have a garden shed or even an old play house that’s no longer used by your kids, you have the start of a great coop!

How Much Room Do Chickens Need?

Experts recommend 10 square feet of space per chicken. So, if you have 3 hens, then your coop should be 30 square feet. Your flock will also need a fenced-in run so they can get sunshine and exercise! If you can’t build a run, don’t worry. While it’s not ideal (due to predators), you can allow your chickens to run around your yard part of the day to stretch their wings.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I keep my chickens safe from predators?

There are all kinds of creatures that like munching on chickens! From raccoons to coyotes, weasels to foxes, your chickens need to be protected from these threats. The easiest way to do this is to build a strong, secure chicken coop that can withstand any threat. Make sure it has no openings or gaps through which a predator can sneak and lock your chickens in each and every night.

You can find more tips on how to make your chicken coop predator-safe here

What temperature is best for baby chicks?

As with all baby animals, young chicks are extremely susceptible to temperature fluctuations when they are first born. Baby chicks need to be kept in a warm place until they have all their feathers. 

The brooder should be at least 95-100 degrees for the first two weeks of their lives, and then reduced five degrees each week until the chicks reach four weeks old.

Not sure if your chicks are too warm or too cold? Here’s a video that will tell you quick ways you can figure it out. 

What kind of nesting boxes do I need?

You can build your own nesting boxes or you can purchase some prebuilt ones from the farm store or Amazon. Whichever you choose, make sure you have at least one nesting box for every four chickens. You’ll Want to fill it with fresh, clean bedding and check it at least once a day to keep it from becoming overrun with eggs.

Here are some more tips on what to look for and consider when researching nesting boxes. 

When do chickens start laying eggs?

Wondering when all of your hard work is going to pay off – and your chickens are going to start laying eggs? If you’ve purchased layers, they should begin laying eggs right away. 

You can learn more about when chickens start laying eggs by watching this video, but as a general rule of thumb, baby chicks start laying when they’re six months old. Some breeds, like White Leghorns, Sex Links, and Australorps start laying as early as sixteen weeks old, but others can take up to eight months to start laying.

How often do chickens lay eggs? 

Most hens lay four to five eggs each week, but some breeds (like Production Reds) lay more and some less (such as Mille Fleurs). You can encourage better laying patterns by feeding a high-quality feed. Check out this article for more information!

Final Thoughts

Getting started with backyard chickens is very easy – and chickens are simple to care for! As long as they have shelter, food, water, protection from predators, and appropriate veterinary care, they’ll do great! If you do decide to dive right in, we have all the resources you need on this website! If you’re not sure, and have a million questions, then reach out to us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Preserving Bananas Is Easy With These 9 Genius Ideas

Is there anything better than a nice, ripe banana? I don’t think so!

But if you live where I live – in one of the colder areas of the world to say the least, and one where bananas definitely do not grow in the wild – you need to get creative when it comes to storing those tasty fruits past their normal period of ripeness. 

Even if you’re lucky enough to grow bananas on your own property, you may feel overwhelmed with an inundation of the fruits come harvest time. 

Interested in preserving your own bananas at home? Here are several ways to do it so that you can continue to enjoy these tasty, nutritious fruits long past their harvest. 

How to Store Fresh Bananas Properly

There are several studies out there arguing whether bananas ripen quicker together or separately – and although the difference is subtle, the truth of the matter is that bananas left attached in an original bunch tend to ripen more slowly. 

Therefore, you should avoid separating your fresh bananas whenever possible. This will help them last a bit longer without requiring you to do anything else! You should, however, always store your bananas at room temperature – there’s no need to refrigerate them.

Hanging the fruit is another good rule of thumb.t his will allow air to circulate around the fruit and will prevent bruises from developing as the fruits essentially crush each other. 

If you can’t hang your bananas once you bring them inside, at least wrap the ends of the stems in plastic. This will release the escape of ethylene gas – something that you must do because as the fruits release more gas, they will ripen more quickly.

You can store your fresh bananas with other fruits if you don’t plan on preserving them, but remember that storing bananas with ripened fruit will hasten their ripening while storing them will unripened fruit will slow it down.

Store in the Refrigerator 

You should try to avoid storing unripened bananas in the refrigerator. Not only will it slow down the ripening process, but it can impact their final flavor and texture. 

However, if your fruits have ripened and you aren’t quite ready to eat them – yet don’t have time to try one of these other methods of preserving bananas – then you should put them in a plastic bag that can be sealed and stored in the refrigerator. This will give you at least one more week before the bananas need to be eaten up. 

Wrap in Plastic 

We already mentioned the benefits of wrapping the stems of your bananas in plastic, but did you know plastic wrap is another great method of preserving bananas all on its own?

If you have a leftover piece of a banana or even a whole banana whose stem and peel is no longer intact, consider covering the open pieces with plastic wrap. You may want to store it in the refrigerator, as it will get mushy and attract fruit flies otherwise. You can use the peel in your garden.

Store Slices

Have some banana slices to store? Don’t worry! You can either flash freeze them (which we’ll detail below) or you can cover the slices in a bit of lemon juice, vinegar, or pineapple. When stored in the refrigerator this way, the lemon juice or other additives will help prevent browning and keep them fresher for longer.

If you store your bananas in some kind of acid, remember that you don’t necessarily need to saturate the banana. This will make your banana taste sour. Instead, provide the fruits with a light coating-  usually, a gentle brushing is all you need. 

If you find that the acid flavor is still overwhelming strong, keep in mind that you can use sweeter – yet still highly acidic – alternatives such as apple juice or pineapple juice. You can also simply soak the bananas in a water solution that is made with crushed vitamin C tablets.

Make Banana Leather

Who doesn’t love those roll-up fruit leathers that we feed to little kids all the time? You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the taste of fruity banana goodness! All you need is a dehydrator. 

To make your own banana leather, you will need to process your bananas into a puree. You can elect to combine them with other ingredients, like Nutella, strawberries, or cinnamon if you so choose. Once you’ve pureed the mixture, you will roll out the blend on the trays for your food dehydrator (layered in parchment paper to reduce mess and cleanup, if you’d like). 

Once in the dehydrator, it will take about three or four hours until your leathers are complete. They will then last for several months without any refrigeration or special storage.

Flash Freezing 

Freezing is a great method of preserving bananas. Not only will it free up space on your kitchen counter, but there’s nothing more delicious than a frozen banana in the dog days of summer. 

Always freeze bananas with the peels removed. It is very difficult – if not impossible! – to peel bananas when they are frozen, and doing so after they have thawed can be even more challenging. 

You can throw them whole into a freezer-safe container, or you can flash freeze them first. To flash freeze, peel the bananas and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for twelve hours, then remove the bananas and place them in a bag. This way, they won’t stick together. 

Once placed into a freezer-safe bag, your frozen bananas will stay good for up to one to three months. They can be eaten frozen or consumed in dishes like smoothies, banana bread, and other recipes. 

Use a Solar Oven 

If you’re lucky enough to have a solar oven, here’s a great way to preserve your bananas (you can build your own with this article). It can take some time to dehydrate bananas using the solar oven, but really all you have to do is slice the bananas into slices before putting them inside. Then, you’ll have an unlimited number of banana slices to last you long into the future months!

Dehydrate Them

Don’t have a solar oven? No problem. If you read our article about preserving apples, you might know that dehydrating fruit is a great option. You can easily dehydrate bananas using a regular oven or a home dehydrator, too. 

Dehydrating bananas is a great way of preserving them because they can be stored for up to a year and don’t take up any freezer space. Plus, dehydrated bananas taste great as a snack while hiking, mixed into trail mix, or even just eaten by themselves while you’re relaxing on the couch at home! 

Whether you dehydrate your bananas in a kitchen dehydrator or do this in the oven, make sure you slice your bananas evenly. This will help you make sure they can all be done at the same time. It’s not a bad idea to put a bit of lemon juice on the banana slices first, too, as this can prevent browning. 

If you use a dehydrator, you will need to process them for about six hours. They will be crisp and crunchy by the time they are done. 

If you choose to do this in your oven, you should preheat your oven to 225 and lay your banana slices on a baking sheet layered in parchment paper. Try not to let them touch. You will bake the slices for three years, turning them every thirty minutes so that they cook evenly. 

When they are done being dehydrated, there will be no moisture left. You can store them in an airtight container.

Bake Your Bananas

When all else fails, don’t worry – there are still plenty of methods of preserving bananas in recipes, too! From banana bread to banana muffins, there are all kinds of options out there for you to use up these tasty (albeit expiring) treats.

Canned Bananas

Canning bananas is not recommended for safety reasons (bananas produce a puree-like consistency that is generally regarded as unsafe for home canning). However, that’s not to say that you can’t include bananas in your favorite canner-approved banana recipes! Some of the best include banana jam and banana chutney. You can learn more about canning fruit in this article.

Try a Variety of Methods of Preserving Bananas at Home

Depending on your taste, space, and time preferences and availability, you may find that you don’t love all of these methods of preserving bananas equally. A banana that has been frozen will taste quite different from one that has been dehydrated!

As a result, you should experiment with the many methods to find the ones that you like best. Bananas are not only inexpensive to buy or grow, but they’re also good for you. You shouldn’t have to worry about how you are going to store them if you find yourself lucky enough to have a ton at home – these methods are all great options for you to try!