Sprouting is a huge hit with my feathered friends. I find it super important in the winter to add to their diet. It supplies them with much needed fresh nutritious greens that become hidden beneath the snow during our cold Ohio winters. You can choose any whole grains or seeds for the most part. I normally use my scratch grains that I get from our local feed mill or straight sunflowers. Sprouting can help you stretch your food and lower your feed cost as well.
Soak in water for 12 to 24 hours, cover with a towel. Mix around a few times try to keep them in a darker area during this step. You will not need to keep covered after step 1.
Fun Fact: Did you know what the difference was between sprouting and foddering? The length in which you allow yours to grow. Under 5 inches sprouting, above 5 inches Foddering. Foddering takes longer and also caries a higher risk of mold growth so I chose to stick with sprouting.
Rinse and drain your seeds and grain. Set them in a sunny warm location. Mine end up on the dinning-room table, keeps them from getting in the way. These aluminum buffet pans work great I just feed the girls straight from the pans. Simple to clean and reuse a few times.
1. Brahmas are considered a large breed dual purpose chicken. Rooster weigh in about 12lbs and the hens 9lbs. They come in three recognized colors Light, Dark, and Buff. They are gentle giants with wonderful feathered feet. They lay all winter unlike so many other breeds, you will get 3-5 large brown eggs a week. I have found the roosters to be gentle, tame, and sweet.
2. Australorps this large heritage breed is also a great dual purpose bird. They lay wonderful large light brown eggs. You can expect to get eggs all winter from these girls as well. The average egg production from these ladies is 4-6 eggs weekly.
3. Plymouth Rocks are an amazing dual breed, known for having tasty meat and large brown eggs. The Plymouth Rock's come in seven recognized colors Barred, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Partridge, Silver-penciled and White. I find them to be docile, but a little skittish, other than my rooster who is extremely affectionate.
4. Wyandottes raised for both meat and great egg production, coming in a bit smaller than my top three. They appear in many colors, the most popular being Gold Laced, Silver Laced, and Blue Laced. Wyandottes often can be seen used as show birds thanks to their gorgeous markings.
5. Orpingtons also a wonderful hardy dual purpose breed. They are know for being broody and making great moms. They are often found in the show market as well. Orpingtons produce medium to large light brown eggs 3-4 a week. Black, White, Blue, Splash, and Buff are the most common colors you find.
We have been raising chickens for quite sometime now and I have only had a handful of sick chickens over the years. Prevention is everything in keeping your flock healthy and happy. Here's some of my best tips and tricks.
Never introduce new chickens into your flock without at least a 30 day quarantine period. I don't care if they come from a stranger or your best friend you never know what they have been exposed too. I will leave them completely excluded to the point of I don't even want them to see the other flock.
A well thought out prevention plan is key.
Summer prevention prepare a few special treats. I keep pumpkin froze cubes in the freezer at all times. I also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to each gallon of water. I change and keep cool water available a few times a day in the summer. Make sure the chickens have plenty of ventilation in their coop. As well as much needed shade should be available. Another important heat tip is to add electrolytes to the water. (my homemade electrolyte recipe is available under the chicken category of the blogs page)
Winter Prevention is a little different. You need to make sure the coop is not drafty. A drafty home is easily the most dangerous to your chickens health. Ventilation would be second make sure you have enough. To little and the humidity goes up and illness will run amuck. Keeping their water unfrozen and clean is super important. On super cold days give them a warm breakfast they love oatmeal.
A clean home is a healthy home. You must keep their home clean and do deep cleanings a few times a year. Make sure to clean their food and water containers weekly. You never want them to have access to spoiled or moldy food.
4. Be a Spy
Always be on the lookout. Know your chickens if you know their personalities then you know when something is wrong. If someone is ill remove and quarantine them always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Keep them happy
Happy chickens are healthy chickens. We spoil ours they get daily treats, plenty of free range time, and a ton of fresh vegetables and fruits. We do not vaccinate or give antibiotics, we choose a all natural environment for them. They have swings, toys, and hanging treat feeders available to play and enjoy.
I have encountered a few illness's and injuries over the years. I have had one get egg bound she sadly did not make it. We had one injured from a hawk we babied her and treated her wounds and she recovered in a few weeks. We also had one get bumble foot sadly we let her enjoy her life till she looked to be uncomfortable and we euthanized her. We tried to treat the bumble foot but without success. Considering we have had 100's of chickens I feel as though we have done well with preventing illness. We have many chickens that are 8+ years old and still running around healthy and happy.
1. Drafty areas need to be caulked, spray foamed, boarded, or somehow covered. The last thing you want is you chickens to be shivering from a cold draft hitting them. This can cause all kinds of illness in your flock.
2. Proper venting is super important if you have to little the coop will become humid, high humidity can cause Upper Respiratory Infections. As well as it can cause frost bite on the chickens combs and other sensitive parts.
3. Heat? I do not heat my coops. I tried it one year and we almost caught the coop on fire never did it again. We do however use the deep litter method to add some warmth/insulation into their coop. It provides a bit of heat in a safe way.
4. Fresh Water, this becomes more difficult depending on the climate you live in. For us we freeze a lot. So we are using Harris Farms Poly Plastic Drinker on their Heated Base this year. In the past we have tried many other heating systems some worked ok some not at all. Either way we always ended up wet, cold, or worrying about if we going to burn the coop down.
5. Roost bars are essential in keeping your chickens warm and comfortable. We have learned over the years to place good sturdy roost in. We use 2x4's we place them to where they give the chickens the widest spot to stand on. This allows them to lay securely snuggled in while being able to lay upon their entire feet to keep them warm and toasty. We do have a few girls that choose not roost at night for them we have milk crates filled with straw for them to sleep in.
CHICKENS.........A DRUG? As I am sure many can attest to, chickens are the gateway drug of many homesteaders these days. You will not read about it in the newspaper or hear the evening news discuss chickens as a drug, nor should you, but chickens seem to be leading the way for a culture trying to get back to its roots.
Many people across the United States and throughout the world have dreams of owning some land, building a house, planting gardens, and raising some livestock. They are yearning for that simple life and want to raise their own food for themselves. Unfortunately, many new homesteaders have no previous experience with many of the daily chores that are associated with homesteading. What experienced homesteaders and farmers already know, living off the land is very hard work and failures will happen but can be the best teacher.
So how are chickens the gateway drug? What is the first livestock animal that nearly all homesteaders start with......chickens! Why you might ask? Chickens are usually the first livestock animal on a homestead because they readily available, inexpensive to start, easy to raise, and have a relatively learning curve on how to care for these lovable creatures. If you ask many homesteaders what the first thing they did on their homestead, besides buying the land or building the house, most will tell you they bought chickens. Even before they planted a garden or had any type of housing ready for the chickens. The reason behind this is many of our local feed supply stores have baby chicks days in the early spring and these baby chicks are irresistible to any new homesteader. Without a second thought, we purchase the baby chicks, some food, and a heat lamp and rush back to the homestead. As many of us know, we get the chickens home and think "What did I do?" We have no housing and were not quite ready for these yet but there is no choice but to build a chicken coop. A simple trip to the feed supply store turns into your first livestock animal on your homestead.
Most new homesteaders will master the skills of taking care of their chickens this that will give them the confidence to eventually lead to other livestock animals such as goats, sheep, or even cows. Therefore, I am convinced that chickens are the gateway drug for any new homesteader. Once you have a few chickens you will yearning for additional animals for the homestead.
Author: Scott Miller
Homemade electrolytes cheap and easy!
In 1 cup of warm water add
2 tsp of white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
Then I like to add some fresh mint if I have it.
1cup of mixture per gallon of water
Make ahead of time and refrigerate in larger quantities if needed. Or freeze into ice cubes and add the cubes as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar has been given to chickens for many years, since it has numerous health benefits. It also supports the immune system. It is particularly good at times of stress, when the immune system is low. ACV is full of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. It helps lower the pH level in the stomach, helping digestion, and making it less friendly for harmful pathogens. ACV detoxifies the blood and helps remove mucous from with the body. This is particularly useful since chickens are particularly prone to respiratory problems. ACV can be of benefit in helping birds clear their airways. It is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and trace elements found in apples. Its especially rich in potassium. It will normalize pH levels in the stomach, improve digestion, and the assimilation of nutrients. A few more benefits of apple cider vinegar reduces intestinal and fecal odor and aids in digestion. Helps break down minerals and fats. Assists the animal to assimilate protein. Assists the animal to convert food better.
*1 tablespoon per gallon is recommended dose for a healthy chicken if they are sick I add a little extra
Step 1. Get everything you need 2liter bottle, chicken nipple, plumping tape, and wire/rope.
Step 2. Get the following tools needed Drill, 3/4 drill bit, 21/64 drill bit, and a bit just bigger than your wire or rope.
Step 3. Drill 3/4 in hole in bottom of 2liter for filling.
Step 4. Drill 2 small holes across from each other about 2 inches down from bottom to place wire or rope threw for hanging later.
Step 5. Drill 21/64 hole in the cap.
Step 6. Wrap chicken nipple with a little pipe tape and screw into hole.
Dirt free cheap water for peeps.