Can you feed chickens eggs? Well you’re about to find out in today’s podcast.
Today is the day that I take your questions, and boy I got some interesting ones this week.
If you want to submit a question, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I might answer it on a future episode!
This week, we tackle blood spots, whether you can keep 3 day old chicks with 2 week old chicks, how to caponize a rooster (and what the heck that means), and how many chickens is a good number to start out with.
- Why blood spots happen (and if they’re an issue)
- Whether it’s okay to put day olds with 2 week old chicks
- Why feeding eggs is a good idea (and about cannibalism)
- Why you should never caponize a rooster (and what the heck caponizing is anyway)
Links we discuss:
How to caponize a rooster (WARNING: GRAPHIC. Don’t watch if you’re faint of heart)
Hi there, and welcome to session 26 of What the Cluck?!, a podcast devoted to keeping chickens for fun and self-sufficiency. I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and today is the day that I take your questions.
Now this week, we have a diverse amount of questions, but the thing they’re all common questions that I’ve had listeners ask. I think you’ll be blown away by some of the interesting information you’ll learn today.
A million thanks to everyone who submitted, and due to time limitations, I can only take 5 questions, but if your question isn’t answered today, rest assured I’ve taken note, and will try to answer them in next Tuesday’s episode.
Just as a reminder, if you would like to submit a question, you can shoot me an email at email@example.com or contact me over social media. You can find me on Facebook at TheFrugalChicken.com/Facebook.
What is a blood spot and what does it mean?
Blood spot is the terminology for those tiny spots of blood you might see in your eggs after cracking them open. Luckily, these aren’t a cause for concern, and they can happen in any egg, farm fresh or from the grocery store.
According to the Incredible Egg.org, these spots are a normal occurrence that shouldn’t worry you too much.
They are caused when a blood vessel on the yolk’s surface ruptures while the egg is forming. It can also happen when a blood vessel ruptures in the wall of the oviduct while the egg is making its journey through the oviduct.
READ NEXT: 10 ABNORMAL EGGS & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
They do not mean the egg was fertilized, in fact, the two have nothing to do with each other. The way you tell if an egg is fertilized is by a completely different method.
Typically, when it comes to store bought eggs, you won’t see many blood spots because industrial egg farms candle the eggs to make sure they’re up to industry standards, but sometimes one slips through.
When it comes to farm fresh eggs, though, most of us don’t spend our time candling eggs before eating them, I don’t, so you’ll see more incidences of blood spots because of that. You can candle your eggs if the bloodspots really bother you, however.
As far as your hen’s health goes, bloodspots aren’t usually a big deal. If you have a hen that does it all the time, you might want to consider talking to an avian vet, but if you just get the occasional bloodspot, then, well, that’s just part of farm living.
Chickens are live animals, and sometimes, weird things just happen. That’s part of the fun of keeping them.
From a nutritional standpoint, eggs with blood spots are perfectly fine to eat, and if you want, you can just remove the bloodspot before cooking them. Honestly, bloodspots have never bothered me personally.
New to chickens, how many would you recommend starting out with?
I would recommend starting out with at least two, but four or 5 is a good number. You definitely don’t want to start out with just one.
Chickens are social animals, and find protection and comfort in numbers. So, just getting one chicken is actually a pretty bad idea, unless you’re willing to put a lot of time into being its flock mate.
So, two chickens really is the minimum number you should get.
Now, back during World War II, the US government encouraged people to raise chickens in their backyard, and there’s a pamphlet from that era floating around the internet which reads that for every family member, you should have 2 chickens to make sure there were enough eggs for everyone.
So, point being, that if you’re getting chickens for their eggs, then that old timey rule gives you a good idea of how many chickens you should buy to keep your family in eggs.
Of course, not everyone wants or needs a ton of chickens, but bear in mind that chickens lay an egg every 26 hours or so, and it’s reasonable to expect 4-5 eggs from one chicken per week in peak season.
I would also recommend, especially if you’re new to chickens, to not get too many. It’s really easy to collect chickens, ask me how I know, but it’s also easy to get overwhelmed, especially when the feed bill comes due.
You’re going to have to feed them at least daily, if not twice a day, we do twice a day at my farm, and they will need constant access to water.
You will also need to clean their coop, and help them if they become injured. So, it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you collect a ton of chickens when you’re just starting out.
For a first time owner, I would still recommend getting about 5 or 6.
Can I put 3 day old chicks with 2 week old chicks?
Yes, you can. There might be a bit of a pecking order being established in the beginning, but I’ve done this many time and not had an issue.
I’ve even kept baby quail, which are very tiny compared to day old chicks, with 2 week old chicks without issue. In that case, the quail was the only one to hatch, and he needed a buddy, since like chickens, quail should not be kept alone.
If you’re worried about putting day old chicks with 2 week old chicks, there’s a couple things you can do. You can put the day olds in the brooder at night, when chickens are naturally quieter and easier to handle. Sometimes, this cuts down on any drama that might happen.
Another option is to put the day olds in the brooder, then begin feeding and watering the chicks.
If you make a lot of noise, not enough to frighten your birds but enough to startle the chicks, then it will cause them to huddle together for protection, breaking the ice, so to speak, between the two week olds and the day olds.
Because the chicks will look to each other for protection and guidance, it can reduce the chance of there being problems introducing new chicks to an established flock.
How do I feed eggs to my chickens?
So, when it comes to feeding eggs to your chickens, you can feed the egg itself, the shell, or both. Each has its own benefits.
Now, for the record, there’s nothing wrong with feeding eggs back to your chickens, and you’re not creating little cannibals. First off, chickens, given the opportunity, are cannibalistic.
For example, during one memorable instance, I entered the coop in the morning only to find that we had chickens attacked overnight, probably by a possum, and needless to say, they were ripped open.
Well, obviously, this was the first I’d seen of this, but lo and behold, some of my pullets were feasting on their friends, and yes, it’s gross. But the point of this story is that chickens are opportunistic eaters, and you won’t suddenly cause your hens to turn into cannibals by feeding them eggs.
Eggs are high in protein, and feeding them to your hens, if you want, is a good idea. I advise you to cook them, scrambling them is fine. Because things like salmonella and E. coli can be in their eggs, if you feed them raw, there’s a chance your hens might reacquire the pathogens.
Of course, hens will eat raw eggs that have broken in the coop, and you can’t always avoid that, but whenever possible, offer them cooked eggs.
Don’t put anything else in the scrambled eggs, such as salt, onions, etc. Just plain scrambled eggs are fine, with the exception of including their egg shells in the scrambled eggs. Some people like to crush the egg shells, then cook them with the eggs, and that’s fine.
Now, when it comes to egg shells and feeding them to you chickens, you should toast them first, then crush them, largely for the same reason you cook eggs – to reduce the chances your hens will have gnarly pathogens reintroduced into their systems.
But that’s not the only reason. Some might say this is an old wives tail, but I do believe this is true. In my experience, it’s not a good idea to feed hens raw egg shells because then they might start to eat their eggs.
And that’s not to say that every hen out where will turn into an egg eater if she eats raw egg shells, but I believe if your hen is predisposed to eating her own eggs, for whatever reason, she runs a greater risk of doing so if she regularly eats raw egg shells.
So, toast the egg shells, then offer them to your hens. This is also a great way to save a little bit of money.
What is a capon?
A capon is a cockerel or rooster that has been castrated to improve the quality of its meat. Essentially, it’s a neutered rooster.
While improving the quality of the meat was one benefit, because the testes were removed, the rooster has limited sexual desires, and so it’s easier to handle. There’s much less testosterone.
The meat is said to be more moist, tender and flavorful than that of a rooster or a hen, and because the capon has not been running around as much with his girls, his meat is less stringy and tough, which can be an issue with roosters.
To get the full effect of caponizing a rooster, it needs to be done before they hit sexual maturity, usually in just the first few weeks of its life.
According to the United States. Dept. of Agriculture, the practice of turning a rooster into a capon has existed for centuries in places as diverse as ancient China, and in Europe, and there’s evidence that even during the Greek and Roman empires, the practice of neutering roosters existed.
Shakespeare mentions capons in his play, As You Like It, so we have a good idea that it was around during the Tudor reign. Today, it’s still popular in Europe, particularly in France.
In the US, capons are relatively rare in the meat industry, since we largely depend on Cornish Crosses, which are ready for harvest long before they reach sexual maturity. They’re also not the type of chickens to run around, since they get so big, so their meat does not get tough and stringy.
Now, before we get into a discussion about how to turn a rooster into a capon, I would strongly advise you to not do this yourself, and if you feel you must neuter your rooster, take him to a very experienced poultry vet. This is a surgical removal, and should never be attempted by an amateur.
Now, the testes are near the back of a rooster, so to remove the testes, and bear in mind I’m not an expert at this, so take this as just general information, an incision is made in the flesh until the testes can be reached. They’re removed, then the animal is stitched up.
I’ve seen surgeries where the animal is awake, and I’ve seen ones where the chicken is put under. Again, I really, really, don’t recommend doing this at home, but it’s interesting to know about. I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can see a video of a surgery being performed.
Now the video is graphic and full of all kinds of unsanitary practices, and hopefully it will deter you from ever considering doing this surgery.
So, that’s this week’s podcast, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Now, if you’re new to chickens or maybe you’re an old hand, and want to do something fun, I have a 15 day boot camp coming up called the Healthy Coop Boot Camp.
You can sign up at HealthyCoopBootCamp.com and each day you’ll get an email with a video chock full of information you need to know to raise happy, healthy chickens.
If you’re not sure what to do with chicks when you get them home, or when to switch feeds, or if you’re interested in raising chickens naturally with things like herbs, then my bootcamp is for you.
My Healthy Coop Bootcamp is completely free. And again, that url is HealthyCoopBootCamp.com
Thanks for listening to this episode of What The Cluck?! about what kind of chickens lay blue eggs, and I’ll see you next time!
I’d like to hear from you!
Gotta chicken question? Comment below!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.