There is a lot of debate on the right way to introduce new chickens into your flock. We have tried a few different methods over the years. Here is what we have found to work the best. We are lucky enough to have a few spare coops around the property. We always start with complete confinment for a two week period, this allows us to monitor for illness. The next step is allowing them into a closed safety run, where they can see and chat with the other birds, but no fights can commence. This stage takes a week or two normally, Before they are ready to be let free to range with the flock. They continue to sleep in separate coops for another few weeks. Then they are added into the large flock housing at night. When we are dealing with babies the same steps apply just at a slower rate of time. We have found this method to work nicely for us. If you do not have extra housing available, you can always separate the coop into sections. We have even used children's playpens to segregate chicks of different ages. Placing pens close to each other for safe interactions.
Here on our farm we try very hard to be as natural as possible. Most of our effort goes into preventative care, in the hopes of insuring natural products and animals. The number one lesson any new farmer needs to understand is clean is healthy. Your pens, houses, pastures, coops, feeders, and waterers must be maintained daily for good animal health. Clean houses, pens, and coops help fight disease, parasites, and infections. Making sure not only they are clean but properly vented, built well, and given prior thought to design will go along way to insuring healthy happy animals. A poorly built or designed structure can add to higher infection rates. By not considering space per animal and proper ventilation one will add risk of respiratory and parasite infections. We have found weekly exams of our facilities has helped immensely in fighting against illness and injury. We walk through the pastures looking for any down trees, rubbish, or fence repairs. Check each structure for any needed repairs lose boards, screws, or nails popping. Anything that may cause injury. Check all feeders and waterers weekly to maintain repairs or replacements as needed. The feeders and waterers are scrubbed and disinfected at this time to maintain cleanliness. All the housing is cleaned daily here from simple pooper scooper sessions to new straw and bedding as needed. Fresh feed and water is given daily or more often if needed. We check all the animals three times a day for water, food, or attention needs. The goats and cow are brushed out daily, hooves checked and maintained monthly, vaccines given annually or as needed. The chickens and ducks are looked over and accounted for each evening. Our poultry is given apple cider vinegar, probiotics, DE and electrolytes for over all health. In the rare occasion an animal gets sick enough for antibiotics, they are officially retired from producing any future food products, they live out their lives as beloved pet. We are strong believers in knowing your animals, we know instantly when someone is not feeling or acting right. We have Dr. Dean on call ready to head out when needed. If you don't have the time to maintain a healthy clean farm you should either downsize your animals or higher help. Never stop learning better ways to manage and care for your animals they deserve it.
With spring right around the corner it's time to start planning where you're getting peeps from this year? Do you have your breeds picked out? How many are you adding this year?
1 Hatchery mail order stores are one of the most common methods of purchasing new stock. We have had both great luck and disappointment from these companies. The quality of the stock seems to fluctuate yearly even within the same companies. The major upside is being able to pick from so many breeds as well as ordering only pullets.
2 Farm Stores are extremely popular each spring, as they fill the stores with sounds of peeping chicks echoing threw out. You are simply getting Hatchery mail order chicks, but atleaset you get to physically pick them out. Watch out for the straight-run bins they can bite you in the butt with rooster ratios. Make sure to check the conditions you don't want to bring home disease or illness.
3 Hatch your own peeps with an incubator. This is definitely a fun method for the whole family. Sounds easy enough and technically it is, but this method also comes with downfalls. What are you going to do with all the roosters? You must also be ready to except, you will have to dispose of the ones who didn't make it out of the shell, or passed away in the process. You can also skip the incubator and use a broody hen. Always a great option nothing cutier than watching a mama and her babies roam the yard.
4 Local purchase is a great option. You can find anything from rare breeds to wonderful farm mixs. Always check out the farm conditions and the people raising them. Ask if they have a rooster return program. For us we sell a handful of peeps locally each spring. We always take back unwanted roosters for our customers at no extra charge.
We have tried it all over the years and have enjoyed each experience. We love raising our own on the farm more than anything. We do however order a few chicks each year to introduce new bloodlines.
A Guide to Gifting
1. A good pair of boots can go along way around the farm. Sloggers found its place in the hearts of women everywhere. Choices of heights, styles, and adorable designs are sure to make finding the perfect pair extremely simple. With great pride they have produced an amazing waterproof boot, that comes with great comfort insoles. I love that The Sloggers Company manufactures their products right here in the USA. The Muck Boot Company has made their name by producing strong waterproof boots that withstand the rugged country life. Their boots offer varying degrees of insulation and are sure to satisfy any climate. Women are a huge part of clientele for boot companies that once catered to men, but now have expanded their colors and patterns to meet the needs of a country girl.
2. Carhartt is a brand made for a country girl that needs rugged outerwear. Carhartt has been around since 1889, they remain the premier outdoor clothing line for country folk. Their hoodies, flannels, and jackets will last years in the roughest of conditions and keep you stylish and warm in the process. They offer everything from flannels, hoodies, coats, hats, gloves, and let’s not forget overalls. You can't go wrong with any of their products and will be highly satisfied with any purchase.
3. Kitchen and bakeware is another great choice for that special person in your life. From baking pans to cast iron, biscuit cutters to rolling pins, kitchen and bakeware can meet any budget and make a great gift. Anything to help make a ladies kitchen time a bit easier will be much appreciated.
4. Sleep wear is another great option. We love to start the day in warm comfy pajamas while sipping a cup of coffee next to the fire or watching the morning news. After a hard day’s work, there is nothing better than jumping into comfy soft sleep wear. Whether it's a pair of warm slippers, a plush robe, or pajama pants, it's a great choice for any girl.
5. Last but not least, sticking with the warm and fuzzy theme, a new blanket is always a win. Can you ever go wrong with a blanket? I for sure don't think so. Blankets can be purchased in such varieties as micro-fleece, flannel, cotton, or even angora. Lets not forget about all the colors and patterns there are to choose from. The women in your life will love a fuzzy blanket to curl up on the couch at night. To read her favorite book or watch her favorite show while cuddling in one of the blankets you purchased for her!
The true art of gifting is simple, GIVE IT WITH LOVE!!. Showing that special lady that you see and understand her paticular needs. Whether you buy off the shelf or make by hand, if it comes from the heart with great thought, the gift will surely be special. With this being said, don't forget just because a girl works hard under extreme conditions doesn't mean she doesn't want to do so in style!
Author: Carrie Miller
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.
If you have a barn it's a pretty good assumption that you have a barn cat or two, or in our case three. They serve a fundamental role in homesteading, farming, or simply country life. Ollie Wallie, Mo Mo, and Baby Kitty definitely pitch in around here and earn their keep. They each came to us under unique circumstances. Ollie moved with us from our last home his mom was a stray that showed up at the door pregnant and hungry. We took her and her babies in and found them all homes except Ollie who stayed with us. Mo Mo showed up at our new house the week we moved in and he simply never left. Baby Kitty found my husband and son in the middle of the woods while they were out hunting. The cats help in many aspects with a few standing out above the rest. They keep the mice population down in all the out buildings, protecting the property and livestock from unwanted predators, and serve as amazing companion animals. For all they do for us we must be diligent in taking care of their health.
I feel the most important thing you can do for your cats is to spay or neuter them. We get this done as soon as a new cat decides to make this his home. There are a lot of great organizations out there to help with low cost spaying and neutering for stray, feral, or barn cats. It helps to deter the males from wondering off, fighting, and acquiring diseases. Spaying your female cats cuts down on unwanted litters and also disease control. We always have the cat either tattooed or their ear cropped so if they leave organizations will know they have already been fixed. We don't want to add to the cat population problem at $15 a cat we will fix everyone that shows up. opportunity
It is of the upmost importance that you keep them healthy. Their rabies shots need updated and treat them routinely for both round worms and tapeworms. We also look over our cats often to watch for ticks that may need removed. We choose to use flea control during the summer months as an extra precaution. Simply knowing your cats personality will help you spot when somethings not right. Wether a simple splinter in the paw, abscess, or a cold it's a good idea to keep a few things in the kitty section of the animal medicine cabinet. We keep peroxide, bitter animal wrap, tweezers, and syringe with no needle for wound care. opportunity
We call our cats in each night before we head to bed. It gives them a chance to sleep in the garage or outbuildings if they chose to. We find this especially important in the winter months. It gives a great opportunity to see they are ok and that no one is missing. Even though they scavenge for lots of food its essential to give them a good quality cat food as well. It helps them maintain high protein, vitamins, and minerals they need to survive a long healthy life. Giving access to fresh clean water at all times is imparative. Most of all love them, show them gratitude for all the hard work they put in to the farm.
If you own backyard chicken at some point you will be asking what killed my chicken? I hear this question a lot there are a few clues that can help to determine the culprit. With chickens being easy prey you will deal with a few of these predators along the way. Each predator will leave its own mark, wether a smell, a print, or a simple clue very few can leave without a trace. If you notice the entire chicken has gone missing and your left with only feathers or no signs at all you're dealing with a hawk, fox, or coyote. If you find a mangled or decapitated bird it's a pretty good guess its and owl. Bite marks or removal of the breast, thighs, and abdomen should point you towards opossum, skunk, or raccoon. The skunk may leave behind its all telling odor to help you in your quest for truth. Small bites taken from neck, body, and back of the neck is an indication you're dealing with a mink or weasel. The mink is known to leave behind a very distant musky smell. When baby chicks go missing your best bet is the snake, cat, or rat. Did you stumble upon one that had its rear end eaten or the intestines pulled out? You're more than likely dealing with a martin. If you know the predators that are common in your area this alone will help you narrow down your choices. Prevention is the best means to fighting off these predators. Keeping a clean dry coop will help to fight many of the culprits. Having a secure coop will save more than just a few chickens. During heavy times of migration chose to keep your birds in a safety run where the hawks can't get to them. Making sure your chickens are locked up tight each evening before dark is maybe the most important preventative. One of the biggest mistakes I see is the use of chicken wire. Chicken wire should be used to keep chickens in, not expected to keep other animals out. It is simply not strong enough to fight of most predators you are better off to use a heave gage welded wire. Even then don't expect it to keep all predators out, it will only help minimize the risk. There will always be loss but you can minimize the devastation with these few tips.
In this article we will break down key terms you need to know for raising goats. Wether you are new or an aspiring goat parent this list is sure to give you a leg up. Some terms may seem self explanatory and others a bit more confusing. We hope by the end of this article you will have better understanding of your new furry friends. When there is so much to learn its hard to know just where to start. Always feel free to start with us.
Have a question that's not answered here contact us through our contact page.
Baking Soda: This mineral is to be given free choice to your goats, to help prevent bloat and other rumen problems.
Bloat: An accumulation of gas in the rumen and reticulum, this requires medical attention asap.
Buck (Billy): A full grown sexually matured male goat.
Buckling: A young male goat who is not sexually mature.
CDT:Vaccination given to build up antibodies against Enterotoxemia type C and D. and tetanus vaccination.
Cud: Partly digested food returned from the first stomach (Rumen) to the mouth for further chewing.
Dehorned: A goat who has their horns removed.
Deworming: The process of removing intestinal worms by use of medication.
Doe (Nanny): A full grown sexually matured female goat.
Doeling: A young female goat who is not sexually mature.
Free choice (Ad Libitum): Feed or supplements made available at all times so they can eat whenever and as much as it chooses.
Freshen: When a doe gives birth and begins to produce milk.
Gestation: The period in which a doe is pregnant (average 150 days).
Heat (Estrus): The period in which the doe is ready more mating.
Kid: A goat less than one year old.
Minerals: Wether in a lick or a loose powder form a must have for all goats.
Open: A female that is not pregnant.
Polled: A goat born with a gene that make it so they will not acquire horns.
Rumen: The first compartment of a goats stomach containing microbial population that breaks down forages and roughages.
Wether: A castrated male.
Yearling: A male or female sheep or goat that is between 1 and 2 years of age.
This is by no means a complete list of goat terminology just a few of what we consider the most important..
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.