chickens

Should I Be Feeding Chickens Table Food

Should I Be Feeding Chickens Table Food

Feeding Chickens Table Scraps

Feeding chickens table scraps is a topic that many people on the internet debate about. We will take a look at some of the pros and cons of feeding chickens table scraps and offers some suggestions if you decide to spoil your flock with human food.

Most experts agree that feeding your chickens properly is a key to their overall health and longevity and will produce more eggs from your hens. For most backyard hobbyists, feeding your chickens a high quality commercially produced chicken feed is all you really need, but chickens are like other pets they love a treat now and then. These feeds are specifically designed to meet the needs of your chickens depending on the stage of development your hens and roosters are in. A good quality chicken feed is not that expensive and can be purchased at any store that sells animal feed and supplies.

However, I personally do feed my hen’s food scraps especially fruit and vegetable scraps. I do not feed them any meat products or bones. Believe it or not chickens do love potato peels and they love egg shells. I find feeding them fresh vegetables like spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and watermelon seems to be their favorite fruits and vegetables they love to eat. Most green’s like spinach and collard greens keep the yolk of the egg a deeper shade of yellow.

Table scraps should never take the place of your regular chicken feed, however. Table scraps simply do not contain the needed nutrients your flock need’s in order to keep them healthy and to live longer. As an occasional treat giving them scraps is fine, but you should never try to sustain your flock over a long period of time with just table scraps.

It is very important to also understand many forms of table scraps can actually be harmful. For example, feeding your chickens table scraps that contain a lot of spices or salt can be very harmful to their overall health. I never give my flock any sort of fish since there can be hidden bones in fish that could injure the birds. Also, like dog’s I never give them any chocolate to eat.

It is important to monitor your flock after feeding them scraps. If there is any leftover food on the ground, you can be sure they do not enjoy that particular meal. You should clean left over table scraps up as soon as possible as this material is almost surely going to spoil and will most likely attract wild animals that could hurt you birds.

Conclusion

Feeding your chickens is ok to do (In my opinion), just be careful not to give them anything that could harm them. That is why I stick to mostly fruit and vegetables. Chickens are pets just like dogs and cats, so you do not want to harm them by giving them something that will make them sick. Make sure that if you give them table scraps you only do it as a treat and not in place of chicken feed that contains the nutrition they need to be healthy and produce good quality eggs.

Posted by Tom in chickens
Should I Raise Chickens In My Urban Neighborhood?

Should I Raise Chickens In My Urban Neighborhood?

To Raise Or Not to Raise Chickens in the City

Should I or should I not raise chickens in my urban area?

For everyone that cannot decide whether or not to raise chickens in my local ne9ighborhood, let me assure you, it is not only beneficial in that you can get free eggs and other nice benefits, like free fertilizer, and keeping the yard bug free, it is also tons of fun as well as easier than one might think. All it takes is a little bit of research and some planning to get started. One of the first things that should be kept in mind and considered is that chickens are social animals and require the company of other chickens so, if you do decide to raise chickens in the city, you should get at least two chickens.

Here are some of the questions that you will need to answer first, and probably the most important, do the city ordinances, in the city I live in, allow me to raise chickens in the city limits? If the ordinances do not allow for chickens you will end up having to try to get rid of the chickens you have purchased, so before you purchase anything check the ordinances of not only your city but if you live in a deed restricted community you will need to check with the home owners association.

The next question, which will determine along with your local ordinances (some city’s limit the amount of chickens you can have), will determine how large a coop you can build or purchase. If you haven’t guessed it, the question is “How much space, do I need for a chicken coop?” The size of your coop will partially determine how many chickens you can keep because, overcrowding your chickens will adversely affect them, especially if you are raising chickens in the city for their eggs, unhappy or crowded chicken’s will not lay eggs on a regular basis.


Speaking of eggs brings us to the next question, “Why, do I want to raise chickens to begin with, is it for their eggs or is it for meat?” This question is important when determining what breed of chicken is best for you. Chickens bred for meat will reach slaughter weight in about twelve weeks and as with most chickens, will lay eggs at around six months old however, since bred for their meat the egg production may be spotty at best. Now on the other hand a chicken bred for her eggs will begin to produce around six months old and if kept happy and stress free, will lay at least one egg per day for many years to come.

Now you are probably asking yourself do I really have the time for taking care of chickens if I do decide to raise chickens in urban neighborhood? For my wife and I the chickens take less time to take care of them does my family dog or cat.  If you allow your chickens to roam freely in your backyard, they will keep the yard bug free, between feeders that will have to be refilled every two to three days and the bugs in the backyard, feeding is fairly easing. The only thing left is to make sure they have plenty of fresh water, we usually will give them fresh water every day. A clean place to bed down for the night that is secured so they do not get attacked during the night from wild animals. In our case we have two guard dogs that keep wild animals out of the yard from harming the chickens.

Conclusion

Chickens are fun and economical to raise. Just check all the ordinances where you reside to make sure you will not be breaking any laws. My friend lives in a gated home community and she was told that she could not have chickens, she has 10 chickens on her property and the way she has their coop designed no one in the community even know she has chickens. So if you are thinking about raising chickens just do a little research and if your city or home owners association frowns on the idea of raising chickens do some research I bet you can find a way to have chickens without anyone knowing you have them.

IF you have any ideas or thoughts on this drop us a comment.

 

Posted by Tom in chickens, Urban Homesteader
Should You Wash Your Chicken Eggs?

Should You Wash Your Chicken Eggs?

Do eggs need to be refrigerated?

Here in the United States it is uncommon to find eggs at the grocery store that are not washed and refrigerated. Even as a child I remember that eggs were sold this way also. What if I was to fill you in on a little secret, most of the world do not wash or refrigerate eggs that are for sale.

I found this out this past year when we took a trip to Europe. Walking through the stores I saw that the eggs were sold where the canned milk and baking goods were sold. Business Week article on eggs sold in Europe.

Here in the States the FDA states that eggs need to be sterilized and chilled in order to reduce any chances of salmonella getting into the internal part of the egg. With the way our culture is worried about diseases and bacteria we have come accustomed to washing and refrigerating our eggs when we purchase them. Many articles online state the reason why the FDA insist that the eggs produced here in the United States needs to be washed and refrigerated has to do with the way the mass produced egg factory farming is done here in the states.

Now if you are like me and have our own hens that supply us with eggs than I disagree with what the FDA has to say about how the eggs are handled. Here in America once the egg is popped out of the chicken the large chicken egg factories put the egg in a fancy machine that washes them with hot soapy water which makes the shell pretty and clean. It seems here in the United States we are a little spoiled in that we want everything supper clean and pretty.

But in reality washing eggs compromises the egg by washing about the barely visible natural protective coating that keeps the egg safe. Egg shells are porous and they have a membrane that is called a bloom that is put there naturally to protect the environment of the egg.

If you raise your own eggs and you feel the need to wash your eggs just remember that washing eggs removes this protective coating and invites bacteria to be drawn inside the egg. If you still feel that you need to wash your eggs wash them in hot water not cold since cold water creates a vacuum affect which will pull unwanted bacteria inside. If the eggs are really dirty I will only wash the eggs that I am going to eat at that time and I will let the others sit on the counter until I am ready to use them in a recipe or have them for a meal.

How do you feel about washing or not your own chicken eggs, we would love to hear from you.

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Posted by Tom in chickens
The Strange Fairy Chicken Egg

The Strange Fairy Chicken Egg

Eggs come in all different sizes and colors, but I bet you have never heard of a “fart or fairy” egg? These eggs can also be called dwarf egg or wind egg. Fairy eggs are more common from pullet chickens but older hens may lay yolk-less eggs also. The fairly eggs are eggs without a yolk and will and usually will appear when the pullet chicken are young and first attempting to lay eggs. A fart egg is small and round and will resemble a grape or marble but could be as big as a ping pong ball. The color of the fart egg is darker and more vibrant since the smaller egg will receive an extra dose of dye from the slower journey through the oviduct. Fairy or fart eggs are nothing to be concerned about; it just means that the hen has not released a yolk (ovum) yet in her body during her production of eggs phase mainly due to lack of maturity in the hen.

The question does arise, can fairy eggs be eaten? Personally I do not eat them since most of he nutrition from eggs is in the yolk of the egg and that is what fart eggs are missing. I have read that people do eat them, for me I use them for education purposes. I use these eggs to help explain to newbie back yard chicken farmers the production cycle of young hens laying eggs for the family.

Have you ever received a fairy chicken egg from your flock before? We would love to hear from you.

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Posted by Tom in chickens
Best Type Of Chickens For Being With Children

Best Type Of Chickens For Being With Children

Chickens around families and children

If you are new to being a urban homesteader then you’re likely to have the urge to raise chickens in your backyard. Most urban families that are getting into homesteading will usually have one of their children wanting to raise chickens. Raising chickens can be fun for the whole family but it does take work and some knowledge. Just going to the local farm store and coming home with baby chicks is just the beginning.

Depending on what you are wanting from the chickens is going to be the first thing that you are going to want to ask yourself. There are many different breeds and they all have different styles of personalities. If you are looking to have chickens for laying eggs and being around young children then you will probably want chicken hens that are calm. I know when my grandchildren are at our house they love to chase the chickens around the backyard, pick them up, holding them and feeding them by hand. If you are going to be having children or grandchildren handling your birds you will want to have birds that will not be aggressive and nervous and protective of their feathered friends. Some breeds can be mean and aggressive, knowing which are the more calm and less nervous type will help from your children getting hurt or scared.

Calmer chicken breeds

Some of the more popular chickens that are good for families and are more calm are the Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks, Cochins, Delawares, Faverolles, and the Sussex. The reason I like these feathered friends is that they tend to be larger and are not skittish and are great egg layers.

The famous Rhode Island Red is a great bird but it is more aggressive and is not a good chicken to have around small children. Also most urban chicken raisers will have mixed flocks of chickens and the Rhode Island does not do good with other breeds of birds.

Chicken personalities

The one word of caution, even though you may pick a breed of chicken that tends to be more calm and easy going does not mean that you may have one that is more nervous or skittish. Chickens are like children, they have their own personalities. You never know what you will be bringing home from the store until they get about four to six months old. If you have several that are the same age when bringing them home you will quickly figure out who is going to be the dominant one of the flock and which ones are going to be the nervous little hens.

Children handling chickens

With children it is best that they learn from day one how to handle the chicks. Also teach the children to be calm and slow moving around the chickens. Our grandsons tend to be like normal little boys and run, scream and chase the chickens all around the yard and in the hen house. They love catching the chickens and carry them around the yard. Luckily we have taught them to handle our girls with delicate grips so they don’t hurt the birds.

My wife and I love having chickens, they are like our children since our girls have all grown and moved away from home to have their own families. We love to spoil our hens and give them special treats and they come running when we go out to the back yard.

Let us know what breed of chickens you have and how are they around children.

 

Posted by Tom in chickens
How to Trim Your Chicken Beaks, Claws, and Spurs

How to Trim Your Chicken Beaks, Claws, and Spurs

Here is a great article that I just came across that I thought would be interesting to share.

A chicken’s spurs, toenails, and beak are made of keratin, the same substance as your fingernails and toenails. And like your nails, they continually grow. Chickens evolved in an environment in which their claws and beaks naturally wear down as they grow. But in backyard confinement, sometimes chicken beaks and claws grow too long and need to be trimmed. A rooster’s spurs, too, can grow too long for the bird’s comfort or safety.

A chicken uses its claws to scratch the ground for food and also to scratch an itch. When a chicken doesn’t have hard surfaces to scratch against, the nails continue to grow until they curl, and then the chicken can’t walk properly.

Dorkings, Faverolles, Houdans, Sultans, and Silkie chickens all have five toes, with the extra toe growing above the hind toe and curving upward. In most cases this fifth toe never touches the ground, therefore has no opportunity to wear down. Nails that don’t naturally wear down need to be periodically trimmed. Cocks may need to have their claws trimmed to prevent injury to hens during breeding, and chickens groomed for showing must have their nails neatly trimmed to successfully compete.

Read the entire article here: Click Here

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Posted by Tom in chickens
Raising Chickens In The Backyard For The Beginner

Raising Chickens In The Backyard For The Beginner

Raising chickens for beginners

Chickens are great for people that are looking to get back to nature. My family and I love nature and we love living in small town USA in the heart of central Florida. Chickens can be great pets, supply you with an ample supply of eggs, can be a great source of meat when need be, and can add a little extra income to the family if you decide to sell the eggs.

At our home we have nine chickens at the present time. They range from two months old to five months old. We started this batch of chickens from when they were one week old. We built our own coop and chicken run from scratch and it cost us about $150.00 and then I put on another chicken run to give the hens more room to move around when we are not home. This cost about another $50.00. So for $200.00 we have a large hen house and two chicken runs for them to play around in.

Disclaimer: I am not a chicken expert; my family and I am novice at raising chickens.

Raising chicken from babies

When we purchase our chicks I waited until I could purchase then when they were sexed. This means that there is a very good chance that I will not be purchasing a rooster. Where I live my neighbors probably would not enjoy hearing a rooster at sun up or any other time of the day. I have been fortunate so far that I have not brought home a rooster yet. Where I purchase my chicks I always ask to make sure that they feel confident that there are no roosters in the mix.

Chickens first few weeks

For the first three to four weeks after they come home we keep the chicks in a large rubber made storage container, depending how many you bring home will determine how large of a container you will need. They are way too young to put in the coop when they first arrive at home. While in the storage container I have a bed of pine shavings or shredded newspaper about two to three inches thick for them to run around on and to sleep on at night. Being here in Florida we do not need any heat lamp for them to stay warm but depending where you live you may need to purchase one to help keep them warm till they are a couple months old.

Chicken feed

For the first three months chickens need what is called chicken starter food or sometimes called starter crumbles. I personally purchase starter crumbles that has additional nutrients mixed in for healthier chickens. Most starter crumbles contain about twenty percent protein. Starter crumbles can be purchased in both medicated and unmediated varieties; I personally use the medicated formula. Chickens can get an intestinal disease very easily that can be deadly and this is where the medicated feed comes in to help protect the chicks from catching this deadly disease.

When chicks get about eight weeks old then I switch them to grower chicken feed which contains less protein usually around 16 – 18 percent protein. I will keep them on this till they reach about 18 weeks old, this chicken feed is not medicated.

When the chickens reach about 18 plus weeks old I will switch them to layer feed. Layer feed is 16 – 18 percent protein but it also contains calcium the calcium is for helping with eggshell production.

I may catch some flak from some of you readers out there but I do give my girls cracked corn with their feed, about a 50/50 mixture. I have done this with all my hens from the time they reach about four weeks old till present. We also give them treats like meal worms and food scraps from the dinner table. We are not production farmers and we do have good solid and healthy chickens that are spoiled.

Chicken treats

You will see all over the internet about giving your chickens treats. Some people are in favor of giving them treats and others will say that it is not good for their diet. In our home we do give treats to our girls. Treats can range from various items but we give ours insects that we come across in the yard or we give them dried meal worms that we purchase at our feed supplier.

Chicken eggs

There is a question that I get asked all the time, “do I need to have a rooster in order to have eggs”? The answer is simple – NO! If you are wanting to increase your flock by having baby chicks from eggs then you will need to have a rooster, but No rooster is needed for just having eggs. The first time that I went to cook an egg from one of my chickens I could not believe how much richer and tastier it was than the eggs that I use to purchase at the store. You will really love the eggs that your girls will leave you when you start raising your own chickens.

You’re yard

If your families are the type that have a manicured lawn you may think twice about having chickens. Chickens will destroy a yard in no time if they are left free to run around. Chickens love to dig, just like dogs. Chickens will scratch and dig everywhere looking for insects they love to take dust baths. Now don’t let this discourage you from raising chickens, there are ways to keep them contained from ripping apart your lawn.

Now if you are like us and don’t care as much about our backyard as we do our front then chickens can be your best friend. You see chickens eat anything and everything, our back yard has a tremendous amount of weeds, ants and other insects. Our girls feel like they are in heaven when we let them out to run around, they love eating the weeds, and digging up any hills but we do have to be careful because they will eat other things that are not has healthy for them like trash.

My babies

Many of you may think that I am a little crazy but you will see if you decide to raise chickens you will get attached to them like your own children. You will find yourself naming them and talking to them just like your children and of course you will spoil them.

Raising chickens is not rocket science but it does take a little trial and error before you figure out what is best for your girls. Just like having children, you can read books and get advice from people but the best way to find out what to do is just jump right in and go for it. Here are some good resources for getting started raising your first flock of chickens.

       

 

 

Posted by Tom in chickens, Homestead
Chicken Manure Is Great For The Garden And The Environment

Chicken Manure Is Great For The Garden And The Environment

Gardening can be a lot of fun and a great way to save money and be part of the urban homesteading community. Doing things like gardening and composting is a great way to teach your children how to get back to nature and give back to our environment. Some composting enthusiast call compost “black gold”. Nothing can be better than chicken manure.

Gardening Seasons

Depending where you are located you may have one season for gardening or if you are like my family living here in Central Florida we have two seasons for growing vegetables. The only issue with having two seasons is that you have to rotate the crops that you grow. If you don’t then the nutrients in the ground will get depleted over time. What I usually do, is after the season is done I will rototill the old plants into the soil which will compost over time and help feed the soil.

Adding Chickens

About ten years ago before I got into raising chickens I was visiting some friends and saw some of the most healthy looking vegetable plants in my life. My friend told me the secret to his gorgeous garden was chicken manure. He would go to a local farmer yearly and pick up a truck load of chicken manure and let it sit for the year to breakdown the nitrogen and then spread it over his garden area.

Having chickens especially hens are fun and enjoyable and they are great for gardens. When my tomatoes and other vegetables start getting attacked from insects I let lose my chickens and they clean up the pest that are eating my wonderful plants. Pest and insects are a fantastic treat for chickens, here in Florida we have these nasty critters called wood roaches and palmetto bugs. When I come across these or grubs in my lawn I give them to my chickens and they think they are in chicken heaven.

Chickens and Their Manure

Let’s get back to chicken manure and composting for your garden. The age old question is, what components make a great compost? There are four components that a compost needs in order to good rich soil compost. First is nitrogen material “green”, this would be items like grass clippings, thatch, chicken manure, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps or rotted fruit and vegetables, egg shells, human or animal hair. The second item would be carbon material “browns”, these items would be fallen leaves, twigs, wood shavings, and sawdust. Item number three is water and item number four is air. You will want to keep your compost moist and turn it over once a week to stir up the ingredients.

For my chicken coop I put in fresh hay once a week in the hen house. On Saturday or Sundays I clean out the hen house of all hay and chicken feces. Putting this directly on a garden is NOT good. The manure is way too high in nitrogen and will burn your garden and kill the plants. Each week I will take the hay and manure an add it to my compost, I will keep it moist and turn it once a week for about sixty to ninety days until the compost materials are broken down and feel like soil texture. When I am ready to plant I will take the compost and till it into my raised garden beds until the ratio of the beds are three parts natural soil to one part compost.

Composting is great for the environment and my family feels good that we are giving back to nature what we don’t use. That with the chicken hay and manure is helping to provide rich organic vegetables for our family and friends.  

         

Posted by Tom in chickens, gardening