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.
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.
Pumpkin season is upon us so take advantage. They are the best natural de-wormer there is. We take the opportunity this time of year to trade eggs for pumpkins, from a local farmer. We get his odd or broken pumpkins that would otherwise go to waste, so its a great deal for all involved. The chickens and the goats love them, so its easy to get them to eat as many as I can. When I get to many, I take the time to either freeze or can the extra. This way they get local natural pumpkin year round. The frozen pumpkin is an easy task, simply use ice cube trays, then when done place in freezer bags for summer treats. They love frozen pumpkin on a hot summers day. So take advantage of the neighbors decorations when they are done with them. Guaranteed otherwise they will be tossed with the garbage.
Author: Carrie 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