What The Veterinary Feed Directive Means & How I’m Preparing [Video]

There’s been a lot of buzz (and wrong information) about the FDA’s new Veterinary Feed Directive, so I wanted to address it here.

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the US Food & Drug Administration released a Final Rule (regulations that will be codified into law) that removed certain antibiotics from the market, namely, antibiotics that livestock yards and industrial chicken farms put in feed and water.

 

(Full disclosure: I worked for the Food & Drug Administration for about 10 years prior to starting this blog)

 

There’s been a lot of twitter on the internet that over-the-counter injectable antibiotics will be removed from the market, and advice out there to stock up before it’s gone.

 

A lot of backyard chicken owners and livestock owners are worried about whether they will have access to antibiotics after the rule takes effect in January. 

 

After reading the Final Rule and the guidances FDA issued, I formed a different opinion about how the Veterinary Feed Directive effects backyard chicken keepers and farmers.

 

Here’s my thoughts (and how I’m preparing):

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What do you think of this new law? Leave a comment below!

A Cluckin’ Good Time: Episode 1 [Live Stream]

A Cluckin’ Good Time is a Facebook Live Stream Show that I’ve developed along with my friend, Mindy Young of Farm Fit Living.

 

We talk about homesteading, kitchen hacks, chickens, goats, livestock, and pretty much anything that we think of. Lots of audience participation!

 

A Cluckin’ Good Time airs Sunday nights at 7pm EST/6pm Central. You can view the show anytime – we leave it up on the FrugalChicken Facebook page for you to enjoy!

 

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

      • Our Thanksgiving plans (including Mindy’s recipe for simplifying pumpkin puree so it makes holiday pie making a snap)
      • Why it’s important to learn from every livestock experience
      • Our personal opinions on free ranging (and whether we free range our flocks)
      • Our funny holiday corn stories (with stories shared by our audience!)
      • My simple 2 step recipe for a homemade household cleaner using lemon and wild orange essential oils

Links we discuss:

Where to get my top essential oils for the homestead

Mindy’s new children’s book Sam The Beagle you can get for free on Amazon

I’d like to hear from you!

What was your favorite part of this episode of A Cluckin’ Good Time? Leave a comment below!

Build A Quail Hutch With Little Or No Money [Video Tutorial]

As soon as I brought quail home, I had to figure out how to build a quail hutch for them to live in.

 

At the time, our quail were too young to go outside, so they lived in our bathroom in plastic containers while they grew out their feathers.

 

Which gave us a few weeks to sort out how to build a quail hutch.

 

(If you’re interested in raising quail, I can help! Grab my 10 tip cheat sheet here.)

 

 

We could have bought one on Amazon, I’m sure, but I like to use materials on the homestead, and thanks to a large barn fire on our property, we have plenty of materials to scavenge.

 

READ NEXT: RAISING QUAIL IS PERFECT FOR EVERY HOMESTEAD

 

When it came to our quail hutch design, we knew a couple of things: the quail would live outside and we did not want it to be too tall.

 

Quail are easily frightened, and they can shoot straight up when scared, which means if they gain enough momentum, they can easily snap their necks.

 

So, I wasn’t looking to build a large coop, especially since quail don’t roost (they rest on the ground).

 

Since the quail would live outside, we knew the hutch had to be sturdy and have wind breaks to protect the birds from the wind and rain.

 

For this quail hutch, we used tin for the roof and the back, since we had plenty of it. You can buy roofing tin, or substitute another material.

 

When it comes to how to build a quail hutch, I recommend using 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch hardware cloth for at least the bottom of the coop.

 

Figuring out how to build a quail hutch with little or no money is easy. We were able to build our quail coop with only spending a few dollars and repurposing some old materials around the homestead.

 

Since quail don’t roost, they lay on the ground to rest or lay their quail eggs. The wire floor lets their manure pass right through to the ground; otherwise, you will have to clean their cage frequently.

 

Quail are about as clean as chickens, and their manure can easily lead to dirty eggs. 

 

You can place a container below the quail hutch to grab their droppings, which you can then compost into a rich fertilizer.

 

In the winter, I do add straw to their coop near the door so they have some place warm to sit and to reduce drafts. Our quail also live in a greenhouse during the winter so they aren’t too cold.

 

Quail and chickens shouldn’t be kept together, and actually have different housing needs. 

 

So, if you plan to keep quail, you’ll need to figure out how to build a quail coop.

 

To build our quail hutch, we used:

 

(2) 4x4x8 heat-treated wood posts, each cut in half

(1) 9-foot corrugated tin roofing (top)

(1) 8-foot corrugated tin roofing (back)

(6) 1x4x8 heat treated wood planks

25 feet ½”-inch hardware cloth

Roofing nails (for the tin)

2” wood screws (for the wood)

Heavy-duty staples (to affix the hardware cloth to the wood)

 

This hutch can house up to 16 quail.

 

You can use wood pallets, but make sure they’re safe for you to turn into a quail hutch.

 

READ NEXT: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR PALLETS ARE SAFE FOR DIY PROJECTS

 

Designing Your Quail Hutch

When designing your quail coop, there’s some rules of thumb to keep in mind.

 

First, plan on 1 square foot of space for each quail, so keep this in mind as you build your quail hutch. Ours is able to house 12 quail, and we currently have 9 in there.

 

You will also need a roof and some sort of wind break or way for your birds to get out of the elements.

 

Your hutch will also need a door to insert food and water or to remove a quail in need of care, and some way to clean it out if it becomes dirty enough inside (this is less of an issue with a hardware cloth floor).

 

The frame was created by first cutting the 8-foot 4×4 posts in half to create the legs. That way 4 legs that were 4 feet tall.

 

Here’s the deal:

 

When it come to wood, I’ve learned that it’s sometimes cheaper to buy a longer piece and cut it myself.

 

If you’re concerned your poultry might try to eat the wood (chickens might, quail typically don’t), then make sure you’re buying untreated or heat treated wood.

 

We then sawed two of the 1×4 planks into 7 pieces, so each piece measured 2 feet long.

 

Three pieces were meant to support the bottom of the quail hutch, and the remaining 4 became part of the short sides of the hutch.

 

The left over 1×4 planks that we had not cut yet became the long sides of the frame (where we attached hardware cloth).

 

To build the frame, we screwed each 1×4 plank to their proper place with 2-inch wood screw, then stapled the hardware cloth over the frame on the bottom and sides of the quail hutch. 

 

In some areas, to give the hardware cloth even more strength, we secured it with nails, then bent the nails into the wood so they formed an even more secure staple (you can buy large staples, but we knew the nails would work and we already had them on hand.)

 

We also made sure to staple the hardware cloth to the three support beams as well to provide a firm resting place for our quail.

 

We then created the roof and windbreak using 9-foot pieces of corrugated tin roofing. Again, we used tin because it’s durable and we already had it on hand.

 

We made sure to let the tin overhand a couple of inches to prevent too much rain water from getting into the coop.

 

When it come to the top of the quail hutch, we found that the roofing nails went through the tin easier and were less expensive than other nails.

 

Corrugated PVC roofing works for the roof as well, and you can find it fairly cheap at any big box store. 

 

If your quail will be kept in a garage or shed, or perhaps in your basement, you might choose to use hardware cloth on the top of your quail hutch. 

 

READ NEXT: HOW TO GET STARTED HOMESTEADING WITH THESE HACKS

 

Our door was simple, and we simply cut a square hole in the hardware cloth in the middle of the coop, and secured the opening with a roofing nail latch. 

 

Figuring out how to build a quail hutch with little or no money is easy. We were able to build our quail coop with only spending a few dollars and repurposing some old materials around the homestead.

 

It was simple to do and is effective. This door works for us, although you might choose to do something more formal.

 

All of our quail are kept in the same hutch because we have a good male to female ratio. If you plan to breed quails, and want to keep the males and females in smaller flocks, you can easily create separate compartments in this hutch by adding hardware cloth between the floor and roof.

 

You will have to add more doors as well so you can add in the extra feeders and waterers.

 

All told, we only spent about $50 learning how to build a quail hutch and about 2 hours of our time assembling a nice, serviceable home for our quail.

 

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’d like to learn how to build a quail hutch? How would you design it? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!

build a quail hutch

Raising Rabbits On The Homestead For Beginners

Raising rabbits on a homestead for their meat is not for everyone.

 

Realistically, rabbits are usually kept as pets, and it’s hard for some people who haven’t ever butchered rabbits to make that mental shift towards looking at rabbits as a food source.

 

But if you’re looking for a consistent, quick, easy source of lean meat, then raising rabbits are a good option for any homestead.


 

We keep several rabbits on our homestead of varying colors and sizes.

 

They’re easy to care for, have few needs beyond food, water, clean cages, and a little companionship. Rabbits are easy to breed and make hardly any noise, so they’re perfect for an urban homesteader.

 

A Note On Laws

 

Now, first a word about raising rabbits on your homestead. If you plan on raising rabbits on your homestead for their meat, first look at the laws in your state, county, and town. 

 

In some areas of the United States, butchering rabbits for their meat can land you in hot water as our society moves ever further from sustainable farming.

 

In some of areas of the country, rabbits are considered pets and not livestock. Whether you don’t care or don’t agree with the laws, the bottom line is if they exist, you need to know.

 

Lack of understanding by neighbors might cause some unwanted legal drama, so first make sure your area doesn’t have any laws that can land you into trouble. 

 

We’ve all seen social media spin out of control when a human violates local laws regarding pets, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that particular hammer.

 

Florida, for example, has laws that protect home butchering. However, I’ve seen many people get in trouble for homesteading when a nosy neighbor decides the animals “aren’t being cared for properly” (read: They object to butchering because they don’t realize that’s how meat is produced).

 

While the homestead owner was right under the eyes of the law, they still had to pay for an attorney and replace their stock after animal control seized their livestock.

 

In Missouri, on the other hand, owners are permitted by law to butcher any animal they own regardless of method. It varies by state. So know your local laws to avoid problems.

 

(As an aside, I’m not an attorney, just a keen observer. Consult an actual attorney about the laws in your area if you start raising rabbits for meat.)
Raising rabbits on your homestead for meat is a great way to have a consistent supply of lean, healthy meat. Rabbits are easy to keep and breed for even a beginner. Here's a look at our rabbits and what you need to know.

Selecting Rabbits

The first decision you’ll have to make when raising rabbits on your homestead is which breeds you want.

 

We raise mostly mixed breed rabbits with Rex, Chinchilla, Wild Rabbit,and New Zealand bloodlines.

 

New Zealand and Rex rabbits are probably the most popular rabbits for raising on a homestead because of their size and easy going natures.

 

In our area, people like to eat wild rabbits in addition to more domesticated breeds so we keep a wild-bred rabbit (one that was from a wild rabbit that was tamed).

 

When you look for rabbits for raising on your homestead, look for healthy animals that are in good flesh and don’t appear ill. You’re best off getting your breeding stock from a reputable dealer who cares about the quality of the animal.

 

If you don’t have much money to spend, then you can still easily acquire rabbits for raising. Four of our rabbits were given to us by someone who just didn’t want them anymore (raising rabbits for meat wasn’t for them).

 

If you feel prepared to give a home to a free rabbit and it appears healthy and able to breed then free is a good way to go. You will still have to feed it regularly, so make sure you’re able to bear that financial responsibility before acquiring free rabbits, however.

 

In this case, patience and time yield favorable results.

 

If you don’t want to wait, however, you can acquire rabbits for as little as $10 with the average price being between $15 and $20. For pedigreed Chinchilla male rabbits, we paid $12 each.

 

Feeding Rabbits You’re Raising

Rabbits require little specialized feeding and a regular ration that you purchase at a feed store will work well.

 

I recommend purchasing 40 lb or 50 lb bags of feed at a feed store. In our area, we can get a 50 lb bag of feed for $10, while at a big box store, they sell 5 or 10 lb bags for the same amount.

 

We offer our rabbits plenty of fresh vegetables too, and they especially love lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.

 

We also provide fresh water in large waterers that you can buy at any pet store or big box store.

 

Housing for Your Rabbits

We keep our rabbits in large cages that we have permanently placed in a greenhouse. The rabbits are able to be outside in the fresh air, but still be out of inclement weather. 

 

Anything is appropriate housing for raising rabbits on a homestead as long as the rabbit has enough room, is out of the elements, has food and water. 

Cages must be cleaned regularly.

 

We use hay and straw as bedding, which the rabbits love because they can nibble on it.

Raising Sustainable Meat With Rabbits

Of course, if your goal is raising rabbits for meat, at some point you will have to breed them.

 

While we won’t get into breeding too much in this article, large rabbits reach maturity at about 7 months of age.

 

Female rabbits have a 30 day gestation cycle, and can have litters of 1-10 kits (baby rabbits are called kits) and the average litter size is 6.

 

Rabbits breed by induced ovulation, meaning when the female is bred, she is then induced to ovulate.

 

The advantage to this is you don’t need to worry about heat cycles and making sure you mate her at just the right time, like you do with other mammals.

 

I recommend breeding rabbits with caution because it is easy to become overwhelmed quickly. We try to breed only 1 rabbit every month or two.

 

We’re raising 8 rabbits as our breeding stock,  so unless we keep a strict schedule, we can easily become overrun with rabbits.

 

Raising rabbits on your homestead as a sustainable source of meat is easy, as long as you keep some of the ideas in this article in mind.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Are you thinking of raising rabbits on your homestead? Email me or comment below!