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Bathing a Chicken

10/7/2014 10:30 AM

For a variety of reasons, your chickens’ overall cleanliness may become a concern. For this reason, people often wonder if it is okay to give a chicken a bath. The answer is yes, it is even beneficial.

Bathing your chickens should be done, when possible, at the same time you clean the coop. This will help both chickens and coop to stay clean for longer. There are a lot of positive side effects to having clean chickens and coop. This will help prevent disease and poor health. It will also help fight bad odors. However, it is important to note that bathing your chickens does not need to be done as frequently as coop-cleaning, as chickens ‘dust-bathe’— roll around in the dirt to get clean then shaking the dirt off and preening their feathers. There are situations in which bathing your chicken may be beneficial, usually when it is particularly dirty or smelly, sick, injured, or has filth (such as droppings) on it.

Hen Dustbathing

Chickens 'Dust-Bathing'

Cleaning the coop has already been discussed in a previous article, but how do you clean a chicken?

Chickens can be cleaned indoors or outdoors. You will need to containers— buckets, bathtubs, sinks or pretty much any other container you can think of will work. If you plan on bathing them outside, make sure the weather is warm and sunny. If you bathe them inside make sure you are prepared to deal with water splashed all over the place.

When you clean them, use a gentle soap or shampoo. DO NOT use harsh soaps, such as dish soap or vinegar (unless it is very diluted with water); these will strip oil from the feathers. Mix a little bit of the soap with water, and gently clean the chicken. Do not scrub or rub too hard, or try to pull grime off the feathers. You can just let them sit or you can plunge the chicken up and down in the water or use a sprayer nozzle.

When they are clean, rinse them in clean water. Follow the same procedure as used when washing them in the soapy water. When they are rinsed, make sure they are dry, especially if the weather is cold. Blow drying them works well. An extremely gentle towel dry will also work. You do not want to put the chickens back out if they are wet— even if it does not make them sick it will likely make them unhappy (as well as cause them to get dirty again more quickly).

After they are clean and dry, you may want to file or clip their nails. Do this carefully. You may also want to apply some products (such as lice powder) before you return them to their coop.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

The Little Giant 9300 is completely replacing the previous 9200 model. Little Giant has made a huge upgrade by adding a digital control module similar to the GQF Genesis 1588. It reads both temperature and humidity. The temperature sensor sits on top of the eggs while the humidity sensor is towards the ceiling of the incubator. Instead of spending hours, and sometimes even days trying to stabilize the temperature with the little 9200 knob, the 9300 comes pre-set to 99.5 degrees F!

Another distinguishing feature is the way the incubator is heated. There is now a different heating element in the center of the incubator ceiling. It is a heated wire that winds around a hollow square box. The fan fits right inside the heating element box circulating the air upward and outward throughout the incubator. (The Fan kit is sold seperately).

 

 

Pros:

  • Still has the same large viewing windows, same material and shape for the container and two removable vent plugs.
  • Reads both Temp and humidity
  • LCD Digital display
  • Pre-set temp (no more messing with the little knob trying to stabilize the temperature).
  • Large viewing windows
  • Good price point for what you’re getting (Still Air is $49.99 at IncubatorWarehouse.com)
 

Cons:

  • Lower quality circuitry
  • No fan in base model
  • No Celsius reading, only Fahrenheit

 

Bottom Line: This incubator is a better, more user-friendly model at a good price point. Click here to see the product page.

Comments | Posted in Egg Incubator Reviews By Steve Boyd

When people decide to raise chickens, a common question is which breed will be the best to choose for laying eggs. This decision is based upon innumerable factors and this post could not possibly cover them all, but we will go over several of them.

First, of course, is overall egg production numbers. Different breeds of chicken produce eggs in varying numbers and with varying consistency. Before you select a breed, look into this and find out not only how often the hens will lay eggs but for what duration. At what age will they start and stop laying eggs? How consistently do they lay eggs year round? When looking for consistency and overall production, commonly recommended breeds include the leghorn variety or a high production 'hybrid' bird. (A hybrid chicken is a mixture of species bred to get particular results.)

Also consider chicken management and upkeep. By 'management' I refer to the amount of attention, care, time and other particulars the hens may need. Will I have to build or buy anything specific? How often will I need to clean their coop? By 'upkeep' I refer to financial costs of the chickens. How much will it cost to buy food? Will it be difficult or costly to keep them healthy? These two factors are very critical when deciding the best chicken breed for you.

Another factor that may be important is the durability and/or self-reliance of the chickens. This is especially important for people who live in climates that may not be ideal, who are less experienced caring for hens, or who are not as financially well off. How well with the hens hold up during the winter season, inclement weather or changes in temperature? How much of the chicken's diet will it be able to get on it's own? How resistant is the hen to disease? This is especially important because a chicken under the stress of poor health or conditions will not be as productive.

Hen

Owning docile-enough chickens is important

The chickens' temperament can also be very important. Especially if you have kids or are inexperienced with chickens, look into this factor. It is important that the chickens are docile enough for your particular needs and interests. Many chicken breeds are recommended for being docile and less 'flighty'.

The nutritional value of the eggs is also important to a lot of people. This is not usually as big a deal as many people believe, as there is not usually a huge difference in the healthiness of home-produced eggs. Some breeds may be slightly better or worse than others, but there are not often major differences. However, there is always a major nutritional benefit to getting your own eggs as opposed to buying them at a store!

The quality of the meat is an underrated factor. After your chickens have stopped consistently producing eggs, or at any other time, you may decide to use the birds for meat. Look up quantity and quality, and if you can, try to get a bird that will better produce meat. However, this is not a critical factor when looking for egg-laying birds. (Obviously.)

The looks of the birds and eggs. This is a surprisingly important consideration to many people. Many productive birds are very peculiar looking, which many people don't like. Many people do like usually colored eggs, however, and people with a wide variety of chicken species will often try for a 'colorful egg basket'. Many chicken species can be found that will produce bright and colorful eggs. However, most will produce eggs in shades of brown, cream or white.

Colorful Chicken Eggs

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

1.  The name comes from the city of Banten (or Bantam), a City in Indonesia once known as being a major trading seaport. When European sailors restocked on poultry in Banten they found the small breeds of poultry very useful and began calling them Bantams.

2.  Bantams are great egg layers. Some breeds of Bantams can lay up to 150 eggs per year!

3.  Old English Bantams used to be used for fighting in Europe.

4.  When kept as backyard pets Bantams have a higher mortality rate. Their small size makes them easier targets for smaller predators such as Hawks, Cats, and Foxes.

5.  Many Bantams make great show birds because of their beauty, such as this Dutch Bantam Rooster pictured to the right.

Comments | Posted in Poultry Articles By Steve Boyd

Upgrades, Modifications, Additions, Hacks whatever you want to call them, there are so many for your incubator. That’s why we compiled a list of the top 5 hacks to turn your boring old incubator into an extreme egg hatching machine!

1. Fan kit

This hack comes in as number one because it’s a simple addition that increases your hatch rate so much! There are many fans that you could add to your incubator but you need to be careful to get the right one. The whole idea of a fan in an incubator is to eliminate hot spots from forming inside. If you have a fan blowing too much air it could dry out your eggs. What you need is a gentle flowing fan that simply moves the air in your incubator. This is a must have modification for any still air incubator. Check out our selection of Fan Kits and see which one is best for your incubator!

2. Egg Turner

I’m not sure this can actually be considered a hack, at any rate adding an automatic egg turner to your setup will save you lots of time and hassle, especially with higher egg quantities. Building your own egg turner can be just as, if not more of a hassle. Let an automatic egg turner do the work for you! Find out which egg turner works for your incubator here.

3. Remote digital Thermometer/Hygrometer

Finding a thermometer and a hygrometer that is accurate and dependable can be quite a task. It could be even more of a task to find one that’s in one combo! A remote sensor is the cherry on top! With a remote sensor you simply insert the probe through a vent hole and you can monitor your incubator’s temperature and humidity from the outside. The IncuTherm Plus is a great example of an all-in-one thermometer/hygrometer with a remote sensor.  You can measure the maximum and minimum temperature and humidity. This comes especially handy when you want to find out how your temperature varies through time.

4. Automatic Humidity System

Let’s face it, keeping your incubator’s humidity at your desired level is difficult. It seems like you need to add water every day and the humidity still takes huge swings. This is why having an Automatic humidity system comes in at number 4.  Many people use the Plug n’ Play hygrostat and plug in their own humidifier into it. The HumidiKit is a hygrostat/humidifier combo which you simply insert the humidity hose into the incubator and the hygrostat will regulate the set humidity level of your choosing! If accurate humidity is a factor in your hatches then an automatic humidity system will make a great addition to your incubator!

5. Hatch timer

Sure, you can cross off the days on your calendar till hatch day, but a hatch timer will tell you the days, hours and even the seconds till your eggs should hatch! Then in the off-season you can use your new and improved incubator to count down the days till Christmas! An example of a great hatch timer is the p-timer. A unique feature this has is that it starts counting back up once it hits zero. This way you can accurately tell how early or late your eggs hatch, allowing you to adjust accordingly for your next hatch. The p-timer will also stick right to the top of your incubator! 

Make these additions/modifications to your incubator and you’ll be sure to have the “Ferrari” of incubators!

Comments | Posted in Product Details By Steve Boyd

In an earlier post, several commonly asked questions about hens’ egg production were discussed. In this article, we will go over a few more.

How often will a hen lay eggs? Even in conditions that are ideal and constant, egg production will depend on various factors, including breed and, most notably, age of the hen. At prime age, in prime condition, you will get an egg almost every day. When a hen first begins laying eggs, it may take a bit for egg production to get to that point. Once there, the pace should maintain until the chicken begins to get old. If it suddenly stops or slows down drastically there may be something wrong with the hen’s diet or environment. This also may be caused by seasonal factors.

When a hen gets old, will it just stop laying eggs? No, but production will slow down. The age this happens will vary by chickens. Some start to slow down at about a year old, others will go steadily until three years or older. At this point, production will decrease for five or more years until, eventually, the hen lays eggs seldom, if ever. Even a somewhat old hen should lay eggs, if less frequently than a hen in it’s prime.

 

Hen

Make sure your hens are healthy and in a good environment.

What if my hens stop laying eggs suddenly? Check their conditions. Remember, egg laying is a reproductive trait, not a survival one. In nature, survival ranks above reproduction. If hens stop laying eggs, it is usually because their health or environmental conditions are not good. For more information on ideal conditions see the preceding post.

When should I collect the eggs? Make sure to collect eggs every day, as soon after they are laid as possible. An egg that sits around may be eaten by another hen or become broken, which may then result in it being eaten by the hens. When a hen has eaten an egg, it can become a habit that not only sticks with that hen but can spread quite rapidly through the flock, jeopardizing all eggs laid by the flock. Great care should be taken to avoid this, even though it is somewhat uncommon. Try to get a feel for when your particular hens will have laid all their eggs, and collect their eggs at that time. Usually it will be mid- to late morning, between about eight and eleven o' clock a.m.

Do I have to collect all their eggs at once? It is best to. Because of the private and stress free environment that is ideal for hens to lay eggs, one should try to disturb the nesting area as infrequently as possible.



 

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Among the top reasons for owning backyard chickens is being able to harvest fresh, nutrient-rich eggs on an almost daily basis. There are several questions that often arise, however, pertaining to hens and their egg-laying capabilities, as well as how to provide. Here I hope to address a few, and clear up some facts.

 

Chicken Eggs

Eggs layed by backyard chickens will not be as white as store-bought eggs

 

When will my hen start laying eggs? This depends on several factors, particularly the breed of chicken. Each breed is different, but breeds of larger birds tend to take a little bit longer, and smaller-sized breeds tend to take slightly less time. Usually, when a poult reaches an age of between 4 and 6 months, it will begin to lay eggs. Time of year, nutrition, environmental conditions, and the birds general health are also major factors.

Should I be concerned if my hen does not lay eggs by that age? If your birds take slightly longer than mentioned above to start laying eggs, there is no reason to be concerned. If it takes significantly longer, check on their health and the condition of their environment, making sure everything is ideal. Many factors affect egg laying, including genetics and seasonal factors— it is not uncommon for hens to not lay eggs during, winter particularly during their first winter.

What conditions are ideal for a hen to lay eggs? Many things make up a good egg-laying environment. Make sure the environment is as stress-free as possible. Dogs or children chasing them around or inclement weather (even if they are protected from it) can cause stress and fear in hens and decrease egg production. Aside from offering shelter and protection, a coop will help maintain a stress-free environment (however, make sure it is well ventilated). The more securely and snugly the coop is built, the better egg production will be. It also helps prevent disease. A protected outdoor area is also important to egg production, one of the reasons being that exposure to daylight is an important component of good egg production. Many hen owners set up artificial lights during winter months to keep egg production up. If you can, also allow your hens to free-range. Make sure the coop is clean and pest-free. You will also want to provide 'nest-boxes' for the hens to lay their eggs in.

 

Nesting boxes

A Nesting Box does not necessarily have to be a 'box'

 

What are 'nest boxes'? A nest box is an area for the chicken to safely lay their eggs. If done right you will not have to search for the eggs each day. You can buy nest boxes from the store or make your own. Many people make them of wood, but this is harder to clean than metal or plastic. Each box should be built to hold one to four birds. Place the boxes around the edges of the coop a 18-24 inches above the floor, and place a thick layer of soft litter in the bottom of each box. Make sure the nest boxes stay as clean as possible, particularly if they are lined with hay, which many experienced chicken owners discourage, because it is more likely to become moldy or diseased. A nest box does not need to be fancy, and there is no specific way to build it. A nesting box doesn't necessarily need to be a 'box'.

What if my chicken won't lay eggs in the nest box? It is often necessary to teach the chicken that the nesting box is where it should lay its eggs. Most people put dummy eggs in the nesting box. The chickens see the eggs and think another bird layed them there, so it must be a good place to lay eggs. If this doesn't work, try temporarily simulating the conditions of where they currently lay their eggs, until they become used to using the nesting box. For instance, if they lay their eggs under a tree, try scattering some of the leaves in the bottom of the nest box. If the boxes are portable, you might want to try placing them above or near where the hens tend to lay their eggs. Once they get used to using the boxes, put them back where and how they belong.

How can I help the nest boxes stay clean? Most importantly, make sure the boxes are only being used for laying eggs (unless the eggs are fertilized and the hen is sitting on them). This will help keep dirt and droppings out. Nothing can guarantee that the hens won't loiter in the boxes, but there are several things you can do to help. Start by developing good habits with the hens. If they loiter in the boxes, shoo them out, and over time they will learn to stay elsewhere. Keeping the boxes in darker areas of the coop also help, as will placing a flap of burlap or canvas in front of the boxes.

What diet should my hens be on while laying eggs? First, make sure the feed your hen's diet is on is rich in protein, calories, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, particularly calcium, which will strengthen the eggshells. Make sure they do not get too much fatty food, which is a particular problem if you feed them a lot of table scraps. Some manufacturers sell specific egg-laying feed formulas. Even if they free-range, supplementing their diet with high quality feed can benefit egg production quantity and quality. Conversely, do not feed them only manufactured food-- the stuff they naturally scavenge and table scraps should make up a portion of their diet. They should have all-day access to their food. A constant supply of fresh, clean water is also vital. This affects more than just the hen's overall health, as eggs are composed primarily of water.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Many people who raise poultry birds have difficulties obtaining proper feed. Stores selling proper feed are far away from some people, others just don’t want to have to pay for it. Many people don’t want to have to buy it just so they can be more self sufficient. Making or growing your own chicken feed is possible and may be an option you want to look into. It can also be much healthier or more specific to your own birds’ needs.

One helpful component is a large pasture. If it is healthy and consistent enough, and the coop can be moved to a new area on a regular basis, birds can often forage enough to stay healthy without you providing feed. Even if not, it will likely be a useful supplement to the feed you provide. This is a very natural and healthy diet for poultry birds.

If you don’t have access to a proper pasture, or in areas with heavy winters that will affect the pasture, you can make or grow feed that can work as well as or even better than store-bought feed.

Many feed recipes are out there, and they can vary wildly. High protein diets are essential to growth; without as much protein, the birds will be smaller. However, it is important to find a balance between various nutrients.

Finding a suitable recipe may require some experimentation. When you do find a proper one, it may require some alteration.

 

Alfalfa

Alfalfa is an essential ingredient in most DIY poultry feed recipes.


Some essential ingredients include alfalfa, wheat, and other grains. Many experienced farmers and  ‘do-it-yourself’ poultry raisers advise that you do not include soybeans — try field peas instead. Most recipes should include greens for nutrition and ‘grit’ to aid digestion. Salt and meat scraps are also common ingredients. Often, specific nutritional supliments are included. You may also want to add suppliments to help balance the diet or benefit specific qualities of the birds. Remember to provide good variety and balance. Grains should be bought as whole grain then ground coarsely or ‘cracked’.

After you begin giving your birds the new feed, watch them closely. Keep an eye out for disease or delayed growth and development. These may be signs of improper nutrition or an imbalanced diet.

Remember that creating your own poultry feed is an ongoing process. It make take some time to get it right, and, even once you find a way that works, you might be able to improve it.

This link offers more useful information.

 

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Automatic Watering Systems 101

7/18/2014 2:47 PM

             It’s been scorching hot this summer! With all this hot weather it’s important to keep your flock well hydrated, and without an automatic watering system this could turn into a large task. Traditional “fill yourself” waterers can tip over and spill, they easily get filled with gunk and debris, require constant clean up and obviously require you to manually refill them. This is why I want to take you through a couple automatic watering options that we provide. Both systems are designed to be suspended above the ground to keep the birds from getting the water dirty and require very little clean up.

Little Giant Fount

First is the Little Giant Automatic Fount. This fount comes in three different sizes depending on the size of bird, but they all work on the same principle: Gravity. This fount is designed to be suspended in the air so as the bowl fills up the weight of the water pulls down the valve to shut off the water. By being suspended in the air this also keeps dirt and other debris from getting into your flock’s water and keeping them healthy. As an added protection you can also purchase a bowl guard which basically acts as a roof for your fount. One con is that the fount is made for a ½” hose connection. To connect to a garden hose it requires an adapter which we sell separately.

To see the different sizes and accessories visit our store. 

 

Nipple Waterer 

Another option is the Automatic Nipple Bucket Watering System. Unlike the Little Giant founts, this system connects directly to any garden hose and keeps a constant reservoir of water inside the bucket with three nipples for the birds to drink from. Similar to the Little Giant founts this system is also designed to stay suspended in the air. A big advantage of using this system is that the water is sealed inside of the bucket and won’t let any dust or debris from entering and requires very little cleaning. Birds will typically learn within about 3 days to drink water from the nipples.


             The nipples are made of a shiny metal which naturally attracts the birds and makes them peck at it. This causes water to fall from the nipple which they learn to come back to when they’re thirsty. Other birds will catch on quickly and soon they’ll all be watered without breaking a sweat! To learn more about the Automatic Nipple Bucket Watering System visit our store.

              Both of these watering systems are great at constantly keeping your flock hydrated without requiring extra work. Let these waterers do the work for you. They’ll keep your flock healthy and happy through this hot weather. Beat the heat for your flock this summer by using an automatic waterer.  

0 Comments | Posted in Product Details By Steve Boyd

For many people, particularly those living in suburban neighborhoods, there is the question of whether or not their neighborhood will allow them to own chickens or other poultry birds. This can not be answered with a general answer, because the rules are different in each area— you will have to find the particular rules for your area on your own. Here is what you need to do. First, use an online search engine to look up ordinance codes for your area. They may or may not be online, and even if they are online, they may be difficult to find and/or understand.

If you don’t find anything, or if you just want to be sure you are right, contact the Health and Zoning Boards in your area. Each of these groups may have rules regulating or outlawing ownership of poultry birds. Also contact a representative from your HOA, if you have one. They often have rules about owning chickens.

Try talking to a city leader or clerk. This may save some time and give you a few useful pointers. This website http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws contains many laws and ordinances for various areas. These will give you a good idea of local laws, but you will probably also want to check for yourself in the city code.

Also, remember to check the rules before you buy chickens or other birds.

Many cities and neighborhoods don’t allow poultry bird ownership, but there are many that just regulate it. It is likely that you will will find limits and rules even if you are allowed to have chickens. These specifications are not usually too difficult to meet.

If chickens and poultry birds are illegal or highly restricted by your local city code, you may be able to change it. Submit a request to the city, and ask for it to be a topic in city council meetings. Getting support from neighbors and friends will probably help; you might try putting together a petition or something like that. With enough luck and support, the rules may be changed.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson
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