Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Taking time with your hens is the highlight of anyone’s day, and treats make it all the more special.

 

My hens come running when they see I have goodies (and sometimes jump ON me), and it’s definitely adorable watching how excited they get.

 

Suet cakes (treats made with a fat to bind the ingredients together) are definitely a favorite around here, and they’re a great treat to make sure your hens are getting enough fat in their diet as well as make sure they gobble down their herbs.

 

This week’s treat for hens is a brand new recipe that includes our old favorites, sunflower seeds and oregano, with an extra twist: lemon balm and wheat berries.

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm backyard chicken Treats

 

Why these ingredients?

I made these suet cakes using coconut oil because of its health benefits for you AND your chickens.

 

If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute tallow (rendered beef fat) or lard (rendered pork fat). You can also use leftover bacon grease (which chickens LOVE).

 

Coconut oil itself is great to help your chickens maintain their weight (has lots of healthy fats) AND it’s known for its antibacterial properties. So if you’re worried about your chickens as they free range and wander around in the dirt, the coconut oil is a great basis for any treats.

 

Oregano is also known for its antibacterial properties (it’s become the darling of the chicken industry because of it), and contributes to overall health for your flock.

 

Lemon balm (aka Melissa) is well known as a natural antibacterial and has anti-inflammatory properties – great for helping your chickens’ tummies.

 

It also has a bright, citrus scent, which will leave you feeling happy as you shred it for your chickens (if you have any left over, make it into a tea for yourself, which you can drink while spending time with your fluffy butts.)

 

So why wheat berries? Well, they’re pretty inexpensive, and chicken love them. Non-GMO and organic wheat berries are a favorite of my chickens, and I know it’ll be for yours as well.

 

Also, the great thing about wheat is you can either use it straight out of the bag in these treats OR you can sprout them for 2 or 3 days into fodder.

 

The act of sprouting makes the wheat berries more nutritious and hens LOVE them, and the sprouts are a great boredom buster.

 

If you’re not sure how to sprout wheat into fodder for chickens, it’s easy.

 

Sunflower seeds, if shelled, aren’t worth trying to sprout, but chickens love them, and they’re full of healthy fats that are great for your hens. I’ve yet to meet a chicken who DOESN’T go crazy for sunflower seeds!

 

In this recipe, I used shelled sunflower seeds, but if you prefer to leave the shells on, that’s fine as well. Be sure to use black oil sunflower seeds.

 

I like to use a mini-cupcake pan for suet cakes because it makes great single-sized servings and they’re not so huge your chickens take a few bites then ignore the rest.

 

The pans are also a great way to make sure each hen gets a treat. If you have a large flock or a bossy alpha hen, some of those down further on the totem pole might not get a chance at the larger treats.

 

Ready to make your hens some healthy treats?

 

Wheat Berry & Lemon Balm Happy Tummy Treats

Ingredients per chicken

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ tsp dried lemon balm

⅛ tsp dried oregano

2 tablespoons wheat berries

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

Mini-cupcake pan

 

(If using a regular-sized cupcake pan, double or triple ingredients, and know that each treat is enough for 2 or 3 chickens. You can always cut them down to individual portions.)

 

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Melt the coconut oil so it’s completely liquid.

 

As the coconut oil is melting, fill each cup in the cupcake tin with the dry ingredients. You want each tin to be nearly full.

 

When the coconut oil is completely melted, pour over the dry ingredients until the coconut oil reaches the top. Refrigerate until solid.

 

To remove, turn the pan upside down and knock on the bottom a few times until the treats are loosened. Serve to your chickens immediately.

 

Make yourself a cup of tea with any remaining lemon balm and drink while you enjoy watching your chickens gobble up their goodies!

Ameraucana Chickens: Know Before You Buy!

Ameraucana Chickens: Know Before You Buy!

With large expressive eyes, Ameraucana chickens could just be the inspiration for the angry hen stereotype in cartoons.

 

But there’s more to this rare chicken than their eyes, multicolored feathers, and the lovely blue eggs they lay!

 

You’ll see online that lots different types of chickens are sold as Ameraucana chickens.

 

This breed of chicken is easily confused with the Araucana chicken and Easter Eggers – especially since both breeds lay blue eggs.  

 

Araucana vs Ameraucana vs Easter Egger are common subjects in forums and threads, but Ameraucana chickens have a few stand out characteristics that separate it from the other blue egg layers.

 

From afar, you’d see a beautiful creature that does not look like the average chicken in the coop. Now, let’s inspect the Ameraucana chicken from head to toe.

 

About Ameraucana Chickens – Breed Characteristics, History, & Personalities

For a little bit of storytelling, Ameraucana chickens originated in the United States.

 

Agricultural scientists created this breed, hoping to preserve the genetics of the South American, blue-egg laying Araucana chicken – but also to eliminate its lethal gene that can kill the chick while inside the shell.

 

Eventually, the Pratt Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania got the right genes together sometime in the early 70’s.

 

And yes, most breeds of chickens are not considered “true chicken breeds” by most people until the American Poultry Association (APA) says so, and eight varieties later it was finally recognized by APA and American Bantam Association (ABA) in the 1980s.

 

Ameraucana chickens have a beautiful curved beak, large eyes, and a red “pea” comb. This pea comb, together with the wattles and the round earlobes, should be red.

 

Ameraucana chickens also appear to have a “beard of feathers” and adorable muffs that sometimes almost cover their face.

 

This makes them charming – giving you more reason to own and breed one, if the chicken gods would permit you to find Ameraucana chickens for sale.

 

If closely compared the Araucana and Easter Eggers, Ameraucanas will also have a well spread, full tail. (Araucana chickens, on the other hand, are “rumpless.”

 

This chicken breed also sports a few uncanny characteristics like having blue slate shanks and bottoms.

 

Are Ameraucanas Cold Hardy?

Most chicken breeds (like Silkies) are cold hardy, and Ameraucanas are no exception – ours have always done better in winter than summer.

 

Our Ameraucanas don’t really like going out in the snow, but because they have small pea combs and smaller wattles, they are resistant to frostbite on these areas.

 

They also lay well during colder seasons.

 

Offering your flock extra treats during the colder months can lift their spirits and provide extra protein.

 

Can Ameraucana Chickens Fly?

Ameraucana chickens can fly short distances and enjoy the view from a tree branch. They’re smaller and lighter framed than other heavier chicken breeds (like buff orpingtons and brahmas, for example), so it’s easier for them to catch some air for lift off.

 

They won’t fly long distances or even leave your farm, though.

 

How Long Do Ameraucana Chickens Live?

While backyard Araucanas can live more than 10 years, the actual lifespan of your Ameraucana chick can vary greatly depending on its diet, genetics and exposure to predators.

 

Most pet chickens live between 5-6 years if they’re given a warm shelter and a high quality layer feed, clean chicken feeders and waterers, and are protected from fox, raccoons, and other predators.

 

What Is The Difference Between Easter Eggers And Ameraucana Chickens?

Easter eggers are hybrids, usually a mix between Ameraucana or Araucana chickens and a brown egg layer, such as a Rhode Island Red.

 

They come from different breeds with one parent having the blue egg laying gene.

 

Unlike Ameraucana chickens, Easter Eggers don’t just lay blue eggs – they can lay brown, green, or even pink eggs – a veritable rainbow of egg colors.

 

If you’ve heard of lavender Ameraucana chicken eggs, you’re likely thinking of Easter Eggers. Both make wonderful pets!

 

The Ameraucana chicken egg color is blue – not lavender, however.

 

Also, they do not breed true, so even if you breed 2 Easter Egger chickens together, there’s no telling what characteristics the offspring will have. No two Easter Eggers look exactly the same.

 

Personally, I like this “grab bag” approach to breeding, but the bottom line is breeding two Easter Egger chickens together can have some surprising and offbeat results.

 

Types of Ameraucana Chickens

Be ready to have a colorful flock when you have these clucking in your coop or grazing in your backyard. Each variety come in different sets of color.

 

So, What Colors Do Ameraucana Chickens Come In?

The recognized Ameraucana chicken colors (all Ameraucana chicken breeds colors) are:

 

  1. black,
  2. blue,
  3. brown red,
  4. buff silver,
  5. blue wheaten,
  6. wheaten, and
  7. white.

 

Some breeders are also working on new varieties like black gold and also lavender! How wonderful would those be?

 

The blacks and blues are the most common Ameraucana colors.

 

The black Ameraucana chicken is purely black with shiny coal black feathers aside from the red wattles, ears, and comb.

 

The same is true for the white Ameraucana chicken – except it’s snow white and not black.

 

Don’t expect sky-blue chickens to grow from a Blue Ameraucana chicken, though.

 

The blues of this breed are more of an ashy blue. This color is derived from the black Ameraucana chicken that has been diluted with the blue gene.

 

The Ameraucana recognized variety, buff, is also quite interesting to look at, with its contrasting golden buff color and blue legs.

 

You might also be confused with the wheaten and blue wheaten color. It’s quite simple: blue feathers on blue wheatens will replace the black feathers on regular wheatens for both hens and roosters.

 

Just be aware that when you raise Ameraucana chicks, you’ll only be able to distinguish what color they will be as adults when they start feathering out. This is especially true if you get them from a hatchery, rather than a local dealer where you can see the parent stock.

 

Until then, you can only fantasize and stare at an ameraucana chicken color chart hoping they would turn out to be the colors you want to have.

 

I want the Ameraucana recognized variety blue myself.

 

Expect in general that males would have more orange tint with blue and gray shanks.

 

Anyway, no matter what color your chicks turn out to be they’re guaranteed to have blue eggs in different shades as long as they are genuine/pure breeds.

 

There is also a “standard” size and bantam size for this breed.

 

A standard Ameraucana chicken can weigh up to 4.5 – 6.5 lbs and stand up to 18” tall. Ameraucana bantam chickens are the cuter versions that grow half the size of a standard – and bantam chickens in general tend to be more cuddly with their humans than regular-sized chickens. You can buy the bantam versions from these hatcheries.

 

Are Ameraucanas Good Egg Layers?

There is no questioning the capabilities of the Ameraucana for egg production. They are one of the most productive egg laying breeds known to give at least 250 to 300 eggs a year, weighing approximately 53 – 60 grams.

 

Those are some nice, big, blue eggs!

 

Do Ameraucana Chickens Lay Eggs Everyday?

On the average, they produce 3-6 eggs a week, more in their first laying year. The exact amount they’ll lay – and whether they lay consistently – will depend on their diet and environment. It’s always best to provide a high-quality layer feed with at least 16% protein and plenty of calcium.

 

Note that chickens who do not have a good diet, or who free range for most of their nutrients, or have experienced some sort of stress, might not lay as well. You can explore reasons chickens stop laying eggs here.

 

What Age Do Ameraucana Chickens Lay Eggs?

They start laying eggs at about 6-7 months old, although it can depend on certain factors, such as the individual chicken, her diet, the time of year, etc. Pullets that reach the 7 month mark during the darkest days of winter might not lay until spring, since 12-14 hours of light is needed to spur egg production. Once your hens do start laying, offer them a high quality layer feed with plenty of calcium.

 

Some breeders would say that it’s quite a long time before they start laying, but pretty colored eggs are worth the wait. When your hens start producing eggs, make sure they don’t go through too much stress like change in environment or feeding. Stressed hens might just stop laying.

 

Their eggs aren’t only coveted for their unique and gorgeous blue color. Ameraucana chicken eggs are one of the healthiest, with low cholesterol and rich flavors.

 

Personalities

This breed can be misunderstood because there is a variety of Ameraucana chicken temperaments. Looks are deceiving for this breed.

 

A lot of breeders would testify that it is a friendly breed and easy to tame. They can be fun to watch when they start being curious and explore the backyard.

 

To give a piece of advice though, you might need to think twice about picking them up for a cuddle. These mild chickens are also easily spooked when they are not used to having humans around and can be broody.

 

The exception are well-handled bantam varieties.

 

In Ameraucana flocks, males are dominant. They protect hens when in they’re in trouble, but they can be aggressive too. It is a good practice to separate the males from females when they’re not breeding if the roosters are being difficult.

 

While they enjoy free-ranging and enjoying mother nature’s treat, this is a breed that doesn’t mind confinement. They can easily adjust and thrive cooped up, as long as their environment is set up to reduce stress.

 

You can provide them treats and toys to keep them entertained.

 

Starting to think Ameraucana chickens are for you? Let me know – leave a comment below! (Feature image courtesy of Royale Photography [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])




web statistics

Fermented Chicken Feed: Why & How To Ferment Chicken Feed

Fermented Chicken Feed: Why & How To Ferment Chicken Feed

Fermented chicken feed is gaining popularity, and it’s something I like to incorporate on our homestead.

 

It’s not for everyone, and I certainly have readers that are shy about fermenting anything. It’s understandable, but chicken feed is especially easy to ferment correctly.

 

Chickens- Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock AD (2)-min

 

Although you might be a little wary (I was once too!), if you ferment for only a brief period of time, you’re more likely to help your hens than harm them.

 

Obviously, when it comes to chickens, providing clean, fresh food – free of mold – is necessary.

 

View this post on Instagram

Where's dinner?! #chicken #backyardchickens

A post shared by Pampered Chicken Mama (@pamperedchickenmama) on

 

But here’s a reality check:

 

Particularly if you allow your chickens to free range, they will go after some gnarly food we wouldn’t dream of touching.

 

Feed you’ve fermented for 48 hours is much more beneficial than that old piece of something unidentifiable that they’re now cooing and clucking over.

 

That being said, how can you get started fermenting chicken feed?

 

Worried fermented chicken feed isn't worth the trouble? In fact, it's one of the most beneficial things you can do for your flock! Here's how and why! From FrugalChicken

 

You can ferment any feed

 

Organic, not organic, homemade or store bought, the method to ferment your chicken feed is the same.

 

You can even ferment vegetable and fruit scraps for your chickens! (If you’re making apple cider vinegar, consider tossing the scraps to your flock!)

 

How to ferment chicken feed

 

Simply create a daily ration as normal, but instead of feeding it right away, submerge it under water in a clean bucket for 24 to 48 hours. 

 

Cover the bucket with a cloth or a top in order to keep unwanted stuff out. 
After 24-48 hours, you’ll notice the feed has changed in consistency (what it actually looks like will vary depending on what you’re fermenting).

 

You might notice a film on top or some cloudy looking material in the bucket – as long as it smells and looks okay, that’s the good bacteria doing it’s job.

 

With anything fermenting, let your nose and eyes be your guide – if it looks or smells rotten, or if you see black mold, dump it. It’s not worth the risk. 

 

White or cloudy material should be okay.

 

If you’re just starting out and not sure about fermented chicken feed, 24 hours might work for you, but feed fermented for 48 hours will yield better results, according to studies.

 

If you use my organic homemade chicken feed recipe, you can even ferment the seeds for 48 hours before feeding them – the fodder seeds will still sprout under water.

 

So all this begs the question…

 

Why bother fermenting chicken feed?

 

Fermented feed has been proven to more beneficial than dry feed in several studies performed on laying hens.

 

As the water creates an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment, beneficial bacteria will start to break down the feed. 

 

As this natural process occurs, it maximizes the nutritional content, making the nutrients more bioavailable, and increases the amount of good bacteria, such as Lactobacilli.

 

This is the same stuff you see in probiotics for pretty much any species, from humans to chickens to horses.

 

A study performed by Ghent University in Belgium found that chicks fed a ration fermented for 48 hours were healthier than chickens that were fed a normal dry ration.

 

In addition, the chickens fed fermented feed were healthier, required less feed, and were more efficient with their feed.

 

In other words, they were healthier and larger, all while needing less to eat. Pretty nifty, huh?

 

But it gets better.

 

A second study performed in Denmark in 2009 showed that laying hens fed fermented chicken feed not only performed better and required less feed, but they showed signs of increased intestinal health.

 

The same study found that a natural barrier had been formed, protecting the chicken from common pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter (all of which can be spread to humans.)

 

 

 

Some things to think about

 

The study performed in Denmark also noticed that because the fermented feed was wet, it caused some behavioral issues.

 

They saw hens becoming more aggressive, losing interest in their food, and laying later (although it didn’t effect the total amount of eggs laid).

 

The first thing to remember is these were hens were not a backyard flock, and were in a different environment than homestead chickens.

 
There is much less competition between backyard hens when it comes to feed, especially if you provide multiple feed stations.

 

While I personally have noticed my hens occasionally will lose interested in their fermented feed, I’ve not noticed them acting any different.

 

In addition, the researchers concluded the aggressiveness was tied to the consistency of the wet food, rather than the probiotics.

 

Fermented feed can get mushy, especially if you use grain. In addition, chickens can be messy eaters, and might toss their feed everywhere – and mushy feed gets ground into dirt much easier.

 
One way to avoid this is incorporating other goodies into the feed, such as meal worms or table scraps, or even dry feed to provide texture if you find your flock avoiding their fermented feed.

 

Download your free audio guide

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll use fermented chicken feed? If not, why? Email me or leave a comment below!

 

 

References: 

Missotten JA1, Michiels J, Dierick N, Ovyn A, Akbarian A, De Smet S. “Effect of fermented moist feed on performance, gut bacteria and gut histo-morphology in broilers.British Poultry Science, 2013;54(5):627-34. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2013.811718. Epub 2013 Aug 8. PubMed.

 

Engberg RM1, Hammershøj M, Johansen NF, Abousekken MS, Steenfeldt S, Jensen BB. Fermented feed for laying hens: effects on egg production, egg quality, plumage condition and composition and activity of the intestinal microflora.British Poultry Science. 2009 Mar;50(2):228-39. doi: 10.1080/00071660902736722.

 

https://plus.google.com/+MaatvanUitert/posts/MZssHdWjoik

 

7 Best Chicken Feeders: Buyer’s Guide To No Waste Feeders

7 Best Chicken Feeders: Buyer’s Guide To No Waste Feeders

For most people, finding the best chicken feeders may seem like a reasonably easy thing to do, and in many ways, it is. But there’s different factors to consider before buying one.

 

In this buyer’s guide, I’ll show you the best chicken feeders, and factors to consider before you make a purchase.

 

 

Best Chicken Feeders: A Buyer’s Guide

 

** Top 7 Feeders We Recommend **

The best feeder for YOUR chickens largely depends on your flock.

 

For example, your chickens may be prone to knocking over water, fighting over feeders, and pooping all over the place. You also might work a lot, and not return home until well after dark.

 

The best, and most appropriate, feeder addresses these quirks, and helps you raise healthy chickens.

 

Where can I buy a chicken feeder?

You can buy chicken feeders from an array of locations near your hometown and even browse through an extensive selection online and have it shipped right at your door.

 

  • Amazon (ships nationally)
  • Your local farm store
  • Tractor Supply (nationwide locations)
  • Orschelns (locations in the midwest)
  • True Value (nationwide locations)

 

Why do you need a chicken feeder?

Chickens aren’t at all fussy when it comes to eating – in fact, most hens couldn’t care less if you dumped their food on the ground.

 

But the mess they create – and the vermin it attracts – means it’s easier to just invest in a reliable way to offer food to your flock.

 

A quality chicken feeder cuts down on food waste (which eases the strain on your wallet), and ensures your flock is properly fed at all times.

 

It’s also more hygienic, and reduces the likelihood that your fluffy butts will pick up bacteria from exposing their food to their own waste.

 

Bear in mind that you also might need multiple chicken feeders, especially if you have a large flock or bullies. One per 6 hens is usually adequate.

 

What to consider when choosing a chicken feeder?

When perusing options on Amazon or at your local farm store, keep the following questions in mind:

 

  • Are your chickens baby chicks or layers?
  • How many chickens do you have?
  • Do you have bullies?
  • Are your hens super messy (or do you hate messes)?
  • Do you work all the time?
  • Or, do you worry they won’t have constant access to feed?

 

This is so you can estimate the size and quantity you’ll need, as well as what features your new feeder should have.

 

Some other things to think about:

 

Strength

How much weight can the feeder hold? How much will you feed at a time. For example, if you’re planning to put 20 pounds of grain into it, make sure that weight won’t be too heavy.

 

Will the your flock’s food stay dry and fresh?

Wet and/or moldy feed can be prevented by buying a weather-proof chicken feeder. This reduces the chance your hens will eat grain full of mold and bacteria that can harm them.

 

** Best Weather-Proof Chicken Feeder **

 

Is it easy to clean?

This is especially important during summer because flies and maggots LOOOOVE old chicken feed. Note that even though metal is sturdier, plastic and PVC are easier to clean.

 

This prevents disease and abnormal eggs from being laid.

 

Are there any sharp edges or anything that can hurt your hens?

I don’t typically recommend chicken feeders that automatically close when your flock is eating. These feeders also have a tendency to tip over, causing waste and attracting rodents.

 

So, check out your potential feeder and make sure it won’t harm your flock.

 

** Safest Chicken Feeder **

 

 

How many feeders do you need?

This will depend primarily on the type of feeder. If you opt to use regular galvanized or plastic hanging feeders, then one per 6 chickens is fine.

 

However, as a precaution always keep an eye out that all your flock members are getting enough food.

 

How much should I spend on a chicken feeder?

You can spend as much or as little as you want. Chicken feeders can even be as basic as a dish or a bowl or as fancy as a golden automatic feeder.

 

If you’re on a budget, you can even fashion your own homemade chicken feeders, and there are many resources online.

 

Typically, you won’t need to spend more than a few dollars on a gravity or galvanized feeder, but automatic feeders can run a couple hundred dollars.

 

** Best Budget Feeder **

How often should I clean my chicken feeder?

A weekly clean up with warm soapy water is ideal. Grove Collaborative has wonderful all-natural cleaners that are economically priced and delivered to your door (on my first order, we got about $80 worth of free stuff).

 

You can use these in your feeders, waterers, and your chicken coop.

 

Plastic and PVC are easier to clean than metal, especially in the crevices.

 

Take note that if you buy a PVC feeder, thoroughly check that it is indeed easy to clean. Even though it’s convenient to have a chicken feeder PVC, some of the pipe feeders can be tricky to clean.

 

Should I hang my chicken feeder?

It’s entirely up to you. Hanging it keeps it cleaner because the chickens can’t poop in their dinner, and it keeps insects and rodents out of it.

 

Just remember that storing a lot of food in it will make it harder to hang well because of the weight. Always secure it to a stud or some other structural element that can support the weight.

 

How high off the ground should a chicken feeder be?

Your chickens should easily be able to reach their dinner. The point of hanging the feeder is to reduce waste, keep the feed clean, and provide a clean living environment for the flock.

 

You can also place the feeder on a cinder block to raise it off the ground.

 

However, if you have baby chicks, the feeder shouldn’t be off the ground at all as they won’t be tall enough to reach it.

 

Silkie chickens can’t fly well, so if you keep this breed, make sure they can reach the feeder, too.

 

Can it keep rodents out of my coop?

There is a possibility that it can prevent rodents from entering the coop because no-waste feeders mean that the feed doesn’t fall on the ground, and there’s no reason for them to enter the coop.

 

How do I keep rats out of my chicken feeder?

If you struggle with vermin, it’s best to use a feeder that closes right after the hens eat. Always make sure that the coop door is closed at night to stop rats and mice from entering and getting a free meal.

You can also spread herbs like PestsBGone to ward them off.

 

Do I need an automatic chicken feeder?

Like an automatic chicken coop door, having an automatic chicken feeder can make your life easier, especially if you work a lot and don’t have much time to visit your chickens, or worry that they won’t have constant access to their grain during the day.

 

Just check that it’s properly working every day, and remember that if they break, you will either have to fix it or buy a new one.

 

** Top 7 Feeders On Amazon We Recommend & Why **

 

Grandpa’s Feeders Automatic Chicken Feeder

Considered one of the best chicken feeders. Boasts a grill that stops chickens from throwing out food. Made from galvanized steel that’s built to last even during the toughest outdoor conditions. Keeps rats, birds, and mice away from feed. Can hold 20lbs of feed & can approximately feed 6 chickens for 10 days.

 

LITTLE GIANT Little Giant 17 inch Galvanized Hanging Poultry Feeder

A well-priced budget feeder that makes grain easy accessible.

 

Chicken Feeder Rainproof Outdoor -Metallic (25 LBS)

Rain proof and can hold up to 25 pounds of feed. Waterproof design, and can screwed into a wall or placed on a stand. Saves money by preventing costly feed from spilling.

 

Duncan’s Poultry 55 LB Chicken Feeder

Can hold up to 55 lbs of feed. Suitable for pellets, mash, and crumbles. Prevents roosting with a hinged gable-style lid. Made from heavy gauge galvanized metal.

 

Muddy Hill Farm Poultry Bucket Feeder for Chickens, Ducks Holds 20lbs of Crumbles, Pellet, Dry Feed.

Holds 20 pounds of feed. Includes a weather shield. Reduces feed waste. Easy assembly. Made from rubber & watertight.

 

Right Farm Products 20 lb Chicken Feeder

Can hold 20 lbs of feed. Good budget feeder. Made of heavy-duty plastic. Easy to refill.

 

Rent-a-Coop 20 lb Chicken Feeder

For chickens 12 weeks and older. (Younger/smaller chickens can crawl in the port). Weather-proof. Keeps out rats, mice, squirrels, and wild birds. 99% of feed stays in feeder. Holds 20 pounds of feed. Refill once every week for 8 hens.

 

Which is the best chicken feeder in your opinion? Leave a comment below!




Web Analytics

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

How To Keep Your Chickens Safe On Halloween

So I’m a huge fan of Halloween! I think it’s so fun for kids and I love the costumes, the pumpkins, and all of the fall decorations.

However, especially if you’re raising chickens in an urban or suburban area, Halloween can be a pretty stressful and scary time for your chickens. So today we’re going to talk about how to keep your chickens safe on Halloween.

Now the thing about Halloween, is that it’s really fun for us humans, but for animals it can be kind of a scary time, especially if you have domestic animals. There’s going to be a lot more activity in your neighborhood during Halloween and that can be very stressful for chickens and other pets.

 

Trick-or Treating People

The number one thing to remember during Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, is that not every neighborhood Trick-or-Treats at night.

Usually chickens will go in their coop at night and you’ll keep them safely cooped up all night long night, so you might think you don’t need to take any extra steps to keep them safe.

But some areas tend to have Trick-or-Treating hours during the day, or at dusk, right before sunset, which are times when your chickens might be out and about and hunting and pecking instead of safely in their coop.

So you definitely want to make sure that you coop your chickens up during the hours of Trick-or-Treating, especially if they’re during the day.

More and more neighborhoods are shifting more towards day hours to protect kids. And so younger kids who might go to bed earlier, can still enjoy Trick-or-Treating.

So definitely make sure that your chickens are cooped up. And make sure that the coops are secure. You’re going to want to make sure that other people can’t easily get into your coop. 

I would also consider keeping your chickens cooped up the night before Halloween because that tends to be mischief night. Mischief night is a big deal in some areas.

It’s not such a big deal in our area. We live in a very rural neighborhood, and I grew up in a rural neighborhood where we actually never got Trick-or-Treaters.

But in some areas that I have lived in, mischief night has been a big deal, especially if you have a lot of teenagers around or young adults who might be impetuous.

It could be a pretty disastrous situation for your chickens. So my suggestion is just all Halloween, the night before Halloween and Halloween day, and that block of time around Halloween, just keep your chickens cooped up, or if you do allow them to forage and run around, supervise them just for the sake of safety.

It’s not worth somebody possibly harming your chickens, to let them roam around free.

My recommendation is that you keep your chickens cooped up or make sure that they are being supervised, so that you can make sure they stay safe.

 

Dogs

This is another reason why you should coop your chickens up on Halloween. A lot of people, as they’re taking their kids around Trick-or-Treating, bring their dog with them. And we all know that even the most family friendly dog, when it sees a chicken, can turn into a killer.

I know this from personal experience. Our dog was a great family dog. Loved people and was so friendly, but the second he got around a chicken, he turned into a chicken killer.

Not every dog out there is going to be like that, obviously. But you really don’t want to take the chance that’s somebody’s neighborhood dog could get at your chickens. That’s just another reason to keep your chickens cooped up earlier on Halloween.

 

Predators

Because of all the candy and all the food around during Halloween, predators might be a bigger issue. Namely, things like possums and raccoons.

Raccoons are pretty nondiscriminatory when it comes to what they eat. If it’s there, they’re going to go for it.

So because of all the candy and food around, raccoons are more likely to be out than they would any other night. They’re going to be out every night, but they’re probably going to be out in droves on Halloween (and probably a couple days after too).

So I recommend that you double check that your coop is secure, so that your chickens will be safe from predators.

Traffic

Another reason to keep your chickens cooped up around Trick-or-Treat time, is because of higher volumes of traffic. I remember when we were kids, my parents didn’t want to walk with their kids from house to house. It’s not fun. It’s tiring. You’re an adult. You’ve been working all day. So what do you do? You get the car out.

The problem with this, (I’m sure you’re already put it all together) is that chickens sometimes aren’t the brightest when it comes to traffic. I know mine aren’t. We’ve actually never had a chicken get hit, but it can happen because people aren’t paying attention. They’re watching their kids. They’re watching the dog. They’re not paying attention to what your chickens are doing.

Then there’s the people who’ll hit your chickens on purpose. So best advice, during Trick-or-Treat hours, after Trick-or-Treat hours, and on mischief night, just keep your chickens cooped up.

Your chickens won’t be harmed in any way by keeping them cooped up. Just make sure that they have plenty of food and water. You can give them extra treats and boredom busters to keep them entertained, but I would recommend you keep them in their coop.

Candy

Don’t be tempted to give your chickens candy. As we all know, chickens are curious creatures, and when given the opportunity, they’ll taste anything. If you’ve been thinking about giving them candy during Halloween, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. They don’t need it.

There are plenty of other healthy treat options you can give your chickens if you want to spoil them on Halloween. You could give them corn (real corn, NOT candy corn!), lettuce, Black Soldier Fly Larvae, mealworms, or one of my treat mixes, but please don’t give them candy.

Now another thing to keep in mind, is to make sure that you keep your trash cans lidded up tightly, so that your chickens can’t scavenge in the trash cans.

For the most part they’ll pretty much eat whatever they can find. Candy can mess with their blood sugar and it can mess with a whole ton of other things.

The other thing is that certain candies, such as hard candies, gumballs, or candy corn, can be choking hazards for your chickens. Once they swallow the candy it goes into their crop. Eventually it hits the gizzard. The gizzard has rocks in it and it grinds everything up.

But in the meantime, as it’s going down the esophagus, there’s a chance that they might choke on it. Especially if it’s something big and hard.

Don’t give your chickens candy and try not to throw candy in your yard. You just want to make sure that your yard is fairly clean before you let your chickens out of their coop again.

Chances of them choking on candy are probably slim (they could also just as easily choke on a piece of hard corn) but for the sake of making things easy on ourselves, just avoid giving your chickens candy.

The final thing that I’ll say about candy, is to not give your chickens anything that’s been unwrapped. As an example of this is, some families prefer to give out healthy treats, so they’ll give out apples, or oranges, or bananas.

My suggestion is although it might be tempting to throw them in the compost pile, or to feed it to your chickens as their Halloween treat, don’t feed them anything that’s come from another person that’s been unwrapped.

It’s the same reason as we don’t give it to our children. You don’t know what somebody’s put in it. You don’t know if they’ve put poison in it. You don’t know if they’ve put pins in it.

We all hear the stories every year of somebody where someone found pins or other stuff in their kid’s Halloween candy. It can happen. My suggestion is stay safe, don’t feed your chickens any unwrapped fruit or vegetables from other people, because again, you don’t know what’s been in them.

Candy Wrappers

So as we all know, chickens are opportunistic eaters. They might very well go ahead and try and eat candy wrappers. And that’s definitely not good for them.

So just make sure that when your kids are eating the candy that all the candy wrappers get cleaned up so your chickens don’t accidentally ingest them.

Candy wrappers are something that could very easily mess with your chickens digestive system. It might not hurt them immediately, but it could cause some serious problems later on.

Make sure your chickens can’t get at any candy wrappers and be sure that you keep your trashcans lidded so that your chickens can’t get in them and dig around and accidentally ingest a candy wrapper or anything else that they really should not be eating.

It’s good to keep the raccoons away too, so I highly suggest you lid your garbage cans.

 

Can your chickens eat pumpkins or gourds?

We’ve talked about all of the scary stuff, so now let’s talk about feeding your chickens pumpkins! If you have unpainted pumpkins or other sorts of gourds, go ahead and chop them up and feed them to your chickens.

They will absolutely love you for it! If the pumpkin or the gourd has been painted, I probably would not feed the peel itself to your chickens. We don’t really know what’s in those paints so it’s not good for them. And as the person eating their eggs, you don’t want to ingest any of that either.

Go ahead and cut away the painted part, then feed it to your chickens. If the whole outside has been painted, maybe just cut it open and scoop out the interior.

There is a belief that pumpkin seeds can help your chickens with worms. I don’t really see any proof of that, but at the end of the day, the chickens love the seeds. They think they taste great and they’re good for them. And the pumpkin itself is very good for them. It has a lot of nutrients in it!

My one tip when it comes to pumpkin and gourds, is to wait to buy them until the day after Halloween. The grocery stores in our area heavily discount gourds after Halloween, so I will often buy like 10 gourds for only five bucks.

I feed them to my pigs, I feed them to the chickens. We even feed them to our goats too!

It’s a perfect opportunity for people like us to go score really inexpensive food for our chickens and the other livestock on our farm. It’s super healthy for them and they love it! They get to dig through it and they’ll just have the best time ever.

So yes, your chickens can eat pumpkins and gourds. They will love it, and it’ll be very nutritious for them. So go ahead and feed them away to your flock!

So that’s all folks, I hope you were able to learn a little bit more about how to keep your chickens safe for Halloween! Let me know in the comments below what you do to keep you chickens safe for Halloween!

Best Hatcheries to Buy Silkie Chickens

Best Hatcheries to Buy Silkie Chickens

When Marco Polo journeyed up across Asia along the Silk Road, he no doubt had dreams of tales of dragons and phoenixes, of strange tubular foods and spices. He was going to China, a land as different from the West as Thanksgiving is to Cinco de Mayo. Of all that he found, who would have thought that the most amazing, adorable, and most entertaining of all his discoveries would be a chicken?

Silkie Bantam Chickens are named from the Silk Road that Polo traveled, and this ancient breed is one of the most unique of all chicken varieties. Its feathers are as soft as down – little more than wisps of fantasy to the touch; its skin is as black as midnight – quite striking under white or buff feathering; their 5 toes sprawling; and their voices? Chatty! All the various colors of Silkie Bantams are loveable and utterly devoted to their humans. Indeed, they are one of the best possible chicken breeds for chicken owners who have small children. In the USA, no matter the size, they are bantams, which is another remarkable detail unique to these incredible birds. We know you’re interested; who wouldn’t be? So with their origins halfway around the world, do we have to follow in Polo’s proverbial footsteps on China Airways to find our own fluffy feathered fowls? Fortunately, no! Silkies are available throughout the USA. Below is a list of TEN of the best resources to get you started on your own Silkie collection. 

1. Purely Poultry (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.purelypoultry.com/silkie-bantams-p-426.html)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $5.76

As a family-owned business, Purely Poultry has some of the best customer service around. They pride themselves on their knowledge of their products, selection, and how-to details related to everything they offer, including ducks, chickens, geese, and lots of other birds! 

Located in Durand, WI, they guarantee live birds with every order, which is a good promise, indeed! They offer Black, White, Buff, and a hatchery Choice, which offers a $.28 discount!

Advantages:

  • Each order backed by live arrival guarantee.
  • Other kinds of poultry offered, too.

Disadvantages:

  • Not a huge advantage to buying multiple chicks – discounts are minimal. 
  • For shipping, 15+ bantams are required per order.

 2. My Pet Chicken (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Baby-Chicks/Silkie-Bantam-Assortment-p681.aspx

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $19.85

 My Pet Chicken got started in 2005 by Traci Torres and her husband, Derek Sasaki, two novices to the chicken world who had a dream to help other novices in their farmers’ goals. To do this, the put free how-to information on the web and offered some unique products and services. 

The website launched in 2005 and in 2006, their flock had grown to the point to where they started offering chicks for sale from their headquarters in Monroe, CT. The site has been mentioned in another of publications, and serves tens of millions of page views per year. Their Silkies can be purchased by variety: Black, Blue, Buff, or Assorted, which could also come out Splash.  

Advantages 

  • Offers Marek’s vaccinations on all standard chicks at the click of a button.
  • Consistent hours of operation. 
  • A good source for questions about ordering chickens, chicken care, and about raising chickens.
  • Full refund for any bird that has been incorrectly sexed. 

Disadvantages 

  • Limited availability.
  • Does not have a storefront
  • Sexed female Day-olds cost an additional $20.00

3. JM Hatchery (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://jmhatchery.com/shop/bantam-silkies-chicks/)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $3.75

The Martin family, based out of New Holland, PA has been running JM Hatchery LLC for generations with an eye on excellent customer service, quality product, and satisfaction that they work in accordance to their Mennonite faith. One of their goals is to ensure that their care and attention to their birds is every bit as true as their daily devotion to their Lord. The family started raising guinea keets since the 1980s, and started the hatchery in the 1990’s. They work closely with three other farms: Blue Banty Farm, which specializes in Silkies; Fifth Day Farm, Inc., which specializes in Ducks and Geese; and Freedom Ranger Hatchery, which specializes in Freedom Ranger Broilers. 

Advantages

  • Guarantee live birds with replacement for any that arrive failing to meet this criteria.
  • Ship to every US State and Puerto Rico.
  • Shipping is through USPS by zone.

Disadvantages

  • Potential ordering confusion resulting from hatchery outsourcing orders to parent farm.
  • Minimum orders from Nov. 1 through Mar. 31 is 25 chicks.
  • White Silkies are featured on website, but no mention of other Varieties available.

4. Mill Valley Chickens (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.millvalleychickens.com/chickens-for-sale.html)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $25.00

Holistic and humane, Mill Valley takes pride in the love they raise their chickens with. Indeed, they ensure that all bedding is devoid of metal wiring, that their chickens receive only the highest quality organic feed, and ensure plenty of natural lighting. With all this care and attention, they have a single goal: to get you the highest quality chicks in the best possible health. From their headquarters in Marin County, CA, they not only raise chickens, but they design coops, and offer courses on raising chickens. 

Black Silkie variety only. 

Advantages

  • All chicks are a flat rate (unless otherwise noted). 
  • Provides a number of hatching dates. 
  • All chicks come vaccinated for Marek’s Disease. 

Disadvantages

  • Cluttered product web page. 
  • Pick up or limited shipping. 

5. Feather Lover Farms (hyperlink hatchery name to https://featherloverfarms.com/products/silkie-chicks-straight-run)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $49.00

Getting their start with the rare black Ayam Cemani breed, Feather Lover Farms, based in California, has expanded their roosts to include a number of other rare chicken breeds, including Silkies, Marans, Malaysian Seram, and Swedish Isbar. They have indoor/outdoor breeding facilities which offer equal amounts of shade and warm California sun. The climate allows breeding to happen 365 days a year. 

Advantages

  • Shipped weekly!
  • Low minimum orders of 3. 
  • Flat-Rate Shipping.
  • Optional Marek’s Vaccinations.

Disadvantages

  • Max orders of 15. 
  • Black Variety only.

6. Cackle Hatchery (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.cacklehatchery.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=silkie)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $4.15

Cackle Hatchery proudly boasts that they have been hatching and shipping since 1936. A third-generation hatchery based in Missouri, their mission is to provide customers with quality poultry for showing, meat, enjoyment, and eggs. They ship throughout the USA, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They offer nearly 200 different types of chickens at all stages. 

Cackle also offers many other kinds of poultry including ducks, water fowl, game birds, turkeys, and other fowl. They are also a good source for supplies and book. Silkies are offered in Black, White, Buff, Blue, Splash, or as an Assortment Special.

Advantages 

  • Discounts if you buy male chicks
  • Vaccinations available
  • Only need 3 birds to ship (or just one for male birds)

Disadvantages 

  • Limited availability (February through August)
  • Sold as baby chicks only.

7. Chickens for Backyards (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.chickensforbackyards.com/product/assorted-silkie/

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $6.00

Chickens for Backyards is an online poultry store that ships orders from Phillipsburg, MO. It sells over 100 breeds of day-old chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guineas with orders as low as three fowl. They have a mix and match option for all breeds, which can be shipped all in the same order. 

Shipping schedules run from February through October. On their website, they offer a comprehensive FAQ page and Chick Care information. Silkies are offered in White, Splash, Buff, Blue, Black, and Assorted. 

Advantages 

  • Orders can be cancelled up to 24 hours before shipping. 
  • Free shipping on supplies.
  • Comprehensive FAQ that covers a range of questions from care, feed, shipping, sexing, local laws relating to chicken farming, and terms.

Disadvantages 

  • Offer a 90% sexing guarantee, and will refund 90% of the purchase price once the 90% guarantee is surpassed. 
  • Limited availability.

8. Northwoods Poultry (hyperlink hatchery name to https://northwoodspoultry.com/silkies.htm)

Average Straight Run Silkie Price: $10.00 

After leaving a life of Nine to Five, Charmaine and Jeff headed out into the countryside of Florence, WI to start a life of horses, chickens and trees. In the nine years since, they have built up a happy home supported by their chicken habit. They have made a point to select among some of the rarest and unusual chicken breeds to accommodate the demands of all manner of chicken enthusiast.

Northwoods offers three Varieties: Splash, Buff, and White. 

Advantages

  • Very affordable
  • All chicks are sold as a straight run.
  • 48 hour live chick guarantee.
  • Offers Marek’s Vaccine to order.
  • Mixing and matching is possible.

Disadvantages

  • Expensive shipping.
  • Requires orders of 15 or more. 

9. Meyer Hatchery (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=BUSBS)

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $4.34

Meyer Hatchery is based in Polk, Ohio, and boasts itself as the “premier Poultry Source.” Priding itself on customer service and availability, Meyer Hatchery provides a variety of chicken breeds to meet customer demands for color and diversity. They welcome mixing and matching of breeds of the same poultry type to meet minimum order requirement for safe shipping. To help with orders, they have a calendar of hatchings. 

Meyer has a variety of means of communication, including multiple phone numbers, fax, and email. They also run a blog that covers everything from breeds to plant pairing with chickens, feed, cooking recipes, fowl entertainment, and survival tips. They offer a variety of Silkie colors: White, Blue/Splash, Buff, Black, and Assorted.

Advantages

  • Website is up-to-date in real time. 
  • Accepts checks and credit cards
  • Guarantees gender of chicks either through refund or store credit.
  • Optional vaccination.
  • Member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), and provide NPIP VS Form 9-3 free of charge. 
  • Offer orders of over 100 chicks. 

Disadvantages

  • Limited store hours that change with the season. 
  • Limited availability.

10. Serenity Sprouts (hyperlink hatchery name to https://www.serenitysprouts.com/product-page/silkies

Average Straight-Run Silkie Price: $15.00

The futility of city life was abandoned for the “simpler (harder working) homestead lifestyle” of Serenity Sprouts in Strasburg, CO. There, a primary goal is providing organic quality eggs and chicken breeds to all they could. At Serenity Sprouts, they take as much joy as sharing chicken experiences they do in helping others get started with their own chicken-related lives. 

Serenity Sprouts offers Silkie Bantams in Buff, Black, White, Blue, Splash, and a “Surprise Me” option.

Advantages

  • Chick hatches can be reserved 1.5 years in advance!
  • Offer delivery to residences within 200 miles, otherwise, orders must be picked up at the farm.

Disadvantages

  • Increased rates depending on the chick’s coloring.
  • Cannot ship live animals. 
  • No refunds offered, though store credit is available in event of a faulty product.