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
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
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
Start A Lifestyle Change And Become A Urban Homesteader

Start A Lifestyle Change And Become A Urban Homesteader

Who says that homesteading or living off the grid is a fad? I hear this from time to time but in reality being a homesteader is a growing trend and has been growing since the 1960’s. More and more people are turning to homesteading in order to separate themselves from growing government corruption, corporate America, wanting to live a similar life style and then there are some folks that are turning to homesteading in order to reduce the carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

If you are one of these people that is looking to start a new way of life then you have come to the right place. Learning how and where to start can be very frustrating and confusing. Many people including myself have jumped into projects head first and learnt the hard and expensive way and wasted a lot of hard earned money. Here we are going to take things slow in order to process the transition into living as an urban homesteader. By doing things slow the lifestyle change and the cost will not be an overwhelming experience for you and it will help you from failing.

Getting Started To Be A Homesteader

One of the things that most urban homesteading families will start with is gardening. Most people do not have an acre or two to start a garden. I highly recommend starting with a raised garden about 4ft x 8ft or 6ft x 10ft if you have the space. Don’t try growing all the food you need for a year right from the beginning, try just growing a few items and then when you’re comfortable growing these vegetables then expand and make your garden larger so you can add more items. Great resource for the Backyard Gardener .

Preserve Food

You have grown your food, you are enjoying eating what you have grown. Now you need to store some of this food for the future. One way to do this is by canning. Many people are afraid of the idea of canning. In this article: Water-Bath Canning I explain how easy it is to get started with canning what you have grown.

Form Partnerships

Many of us are not skilled at everything and some people have knowledge in one or two fields of expertise. This may be hard for many of us including me, but we need to talk to our neighbors and get to know them and find out what they are good at. Back many years ago before technology many of us knew our neighbors and we made friends with people around us. But today we may simply wave to our neighbors and I bet most of us do not even know our neighbors name. We need to break out of this mold and build some friendships and partnerships with the people that live around us. These friendships and partnerships will come in handy when disaster comes and we cannot rely on technology to save us.

Lay Your Own Eggs

Now this may sound far-fetched but have you ever considered having your own chickens in your backyard?  Many homesteaders have chickens in their backyards for supplying many things that homesteaders need to have. There are many advantages to raising your own chickens. My wife and I started about four years ago raising chickens. We started by having five baby chickens that were about a week old, we made sure that they all were hens and no roosters. In about six months we started having fresh eggs from our girls. Now besides fresh eggs we also have fresh nitrogen rich soil from our girls that we use in our garden. We give the chickens our food scraps and they just love when we bring out these treats for them. These recycling machines turn our food scraps into great compost for our raised gardens. Chickens are fun to raise and the grand kids love coming over and playing with these feathered girls of ours. In an upcoming post we will talk in depth about raising chickens and making a chicken coop.

Store Water

Living here in Central Florida one of the things we do every spring is stock-up on water. Living on a well is great for having great tasting water but when we lose power we lose the use of our well. Besides hurricanes that knock out our power we get a tremendous amount of thunderstorms that knocks out the power grid. All it takes is a lightning strike or a tree to fall and there goes the power and our water source. We could be without power for an hour or we could be without power for days, ether way you want to make sure that you have water stored for these times. The nice thing is water is cheap and easy to store. Depending on the size of your family will determine how much water you will need to have on hand. For my wife and I we will usually pick up about six to cases of bottled water each spring for the upcoming summer. Water is very important when you are considering being a homesteader.

Conclusion

Now this is not everything that you will need to be a homesteader but it will get you started in the right direction. In upcoming post we will start digging deeper into what it takes to be a homesteader or living off the grid. This post should help you get started and get you thinking of what you may need to get yourself started down the road of changing your lifestyle.

 

 

Posted by Tom in Urban Homesteader