Tag Archives: Chicken coop

6 Great Ways to Get Your Chicken Coop Ready For Winter

When it starts getting cold, the chickens need a little extra T.L.C. to keep up egg production. Winterizing your coop can help keep the chickens happy, healthy and producing.

How you winterize your coop depends on your geographic location. For instance, those that live in the Midwest will see temperatures dip into the negatives, and their coops will need more care compared to those who live in the Pacific Northwest or the South.

No matter where you live, you will have to do some winter chores to keep your chickens clucking merrily along.

6 Ways to Winterize Your Coop

1. Clean Bedding

Ensuring that the chickens have fresh bedding such as straw or wood shavings to lay and roost on will prevent frost bite. For our coop, we like to use hay for our bedding, especially in the wintertime because it retains heat better. This will keep them more active during the day as well as control the smell of chicken droppings until your Spring cleaning. Move all soiled bedding to the compost pile to compost down for Spring or Summer gardens.

2. Coop Inspection

Check out the coop to ensure that predators have not found an entry in. Predators are usually more desperate to find food during winter and you want to protect your flock. During this time, I also like to check the roof of the coop to make sure there aren’t any cracks or holes. As well, check out the roosts and any other furniture to make sure it is still in good condition.

3. Batten the Hatches

During the warmer summer months having vents and hatches on the coop’s roof and floorboard assist with airflow, help to reduce humidity and any toxic ammonia from the hen house. During winter it is best to fasten the vents and hatches to reduce any cold drafts. Another solution is to wrap a portion of the coop with a tarp or plastic sheeting. This keeps moisture out of the coop, protects it from wind and further insulates it. 4-mil polyethylene film is low cost and readily available. Secure it to the chicken coop to ensure that moisture and wind cannot get through. Again, we want to ensure that the chicken’s body temperature stays at an optimum temperature.

4. Heat Lamps

Keep in mind that young chickens will require more body heat compared to a fully grown chicken. Further, the avian reproductive cycle, which is how a hen produces eggs, is stimulated in poultry by increasing day length. 14 hours of light is what a chicken requires to lay eggs and usually get these results during the warmer months. Having a light bulb hooked up to a timer can assist in continued egg laying. An added benefit to this is it creates added warmth to the flock. To provide some warmth, but not too much light, we use a 250 watt bulb in our coop. One heat lamp per 30 chickens will be sufficient. Light fixtures in the coop should be placed above feeders and waterers, and care should be taken to avoid having areas in the chicken house that are shaded from light.

5. Continued Flow of Water

For those of you who have to deal with frozen water trays in the coop, you’re not alone. This continues to be an issue for many keepers of chickens. One solution is to purchase a heated base for the waterer and run a heavy duty extension cord into the chicken coop. Another solution is to check on your chicken’s water more frequently. Bringing warm water out to replace the frozen water will be very welcomed.

6. Dietary Supplements

Adding grains such as corn in addition to their regular diet can add more fat to their bodies and at the same time provide more insulation and energy during winter. Grains shouldn’t replace their entire diet. We usually do 70% scratch and 30% corn. We also continue to supplement their diets with vegetable and fruit scraps for added nutrition.

Signs of Trouble

Check on your flock a few times per day to ensure the outside temperatures are not too harsh. If your chickens are huddled in a corner or making a lot of noise, take some time to make them more comfortable. Further, if chickens are lethargic or not moving, they may be ill and should be cared for.

Frostbite of the feet and combs are very common in winter months. If signs appear, thaw the affected area with cold water, slowly warming it to room temperature. Then apply a coating of petroleum jelly to isolate it from direct contact with the cold. Reapply two to three times during the day. Warming lights are especially helpful to prevent this.

Another sign to look out for during the cold months is a condition called “pasting.” This occurs when their anuses are blocked with droppings. If caught early enough, you can prevent the chicks from dying by slowly and gently removing the blockage with the help of warm water.

With a little extra attention, your coop will stay very happy during the cooler months. All it takes is some time to get it all prepped and ready.

by Tess Pennington See more at: http://www.naturalblaze.com/2013/11/6-ways-to-get-your-chicken-coop-ready.html#sthash.dkXxpScK.dpuf

The future of chicken coops?

chicken coop, chickens, coop, prefabricated chicken coop, prefabricated construction, prefab, israel, peleg/burshtein, wind turbines, solar panels, renewable energy, ventilation, eco design, green design, sustainable building

If humans can have off-grid, prefabricated structures, who says livestock shouldn’t get the same eco-treatment. A recent competition held by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked for an upgrade to inefficient and polluting family-run chicken coops in Galilee and the winning design was this sleek, prefabricated, renewable energy powered chicken coop by Peleg/Burshtein Architects and landscape architect Nathan Gulman. Their winning design incorporates all the necessary functions of a chicken coop into one building, provides its own renewable energy and processes its own waste in a closed loop system.


Source: Sustainable Prefabricate Chicken Coop Generates its Own Power | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Rebirth of the Guinea Hens

Brian Stauffer

There don’t seem to be enough great articles written about poultry at the moment, and especially the less obvious game breeds like quail and guinea hens!  Fortunately, I found a brilliant writer and this great article about keeping and raising Guinea Hens by Mark Bowden, which I know you’re all going to love.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY is not for sissies. It has now been more than a year and a half since my wife, Gail, and I first brought a box of chirping, week-old guinea fowl home to our small Pennsylvania farm, and began diligently rearing them. We built them a luxurious coop, and provided them with warmth, food, drink, and 16 acres to roam.

Deer ticks were infesting our acreage, thanks to a Malthusian proliferation of their white-tailed hosts, and we were assured that the guineas would make short work of the little bloodsuckers. An organic solution! We never got a chance to see if it worked, because when our rambunctious flock of 25 was turned loose, the birds proceeded to defy all predictions of guinea-fowl behavior—that they would not wander far from the coop; that they would establish a predictable daily routine; that they would return to the safety and warmth of the coop every evening; that they would fly up to a tree branch to avoid danger.

Ours made haste to their own demise. They showed no skill or even inclination to avoid the onslaught of neighborhood carnivores, and were thus dispatched, one by one, by foxes, hawks, and that most deadly scourge of local poultry, Amber, the ever-cheerful chocolate Lab who lives next door—a course of events that I documented for this magazine (“The Great Guinea Hen Massacre,” December 2009).

By winter our hand-reared flock had been cruelly whittled down to just two, one white and the other gray (the type is called a “pearl”). We decided to keep our two survivors safely cooped up, and then give them away come spring, hopefully to someone in a more peaceable spot.

It turns out to be hard to give grown guineas away. When the weather grew warm, the two survivors clamored ever louder each day to be turned out. They are insistent birds, and they can make themselves very loud, as in scare-the-horses-and-annoy-the-neighbors loud. We relented one morning, and against our better judgment opened the coop door and bid them adieu.

Then an amazing thing happened. They came back! Not just the first evening, but the next, and the next, and the next. They stayed right on our hilltop property, just as all the books and Web sites promised they would, and just as all their more headstrong feathered brethren had not.

Intelligent behavior in guineas, it seems, is an inverse function of their number, a truth long known about human beings. The large flock was good at only one thing: panic. Confronted with a threat, its members acted out a perfectly choreographed charade of a nervous breakdown, full of fluttering feathers and high-decibel clatter, and then succumbed to whatever had alarmed them.

Our survivors still panicked, but they also evaded. When one of our dogs took off after them, they would squawk with annoyance and fly to the nearest roof or high branch, hurling fowl invective down at their tormentors. Conscious of danger from above, they would move swiftly when crossing a pasture or yard, and mostly keep to tree lines, tall grasses, or brush. These two, the white and the pearl, almost a year old, seemed to have figured things out.

We still refused to name them, anticipating their certain extinction, but despite ourselves by early summer we had grown quite attached. I loved to see their wattled, bobbing heads pop up unexpectedly from our gardens, or watch them flee in loud panic when the lawn mower scared them from a thicket. There is something innately comical about them. Sure, two birds weren’t enough to be useful for tick control, but they were a charming and (in their own way) beautiful addition to our farm.

Then the pearl stopped coming back. One night it was just the big white waiting outside the coop, and we assumed the worst. It was a sad but unsurprising turn. Except, the next day, the pearl reappeared, frantically racing around with the white, as if feeding in double time. That evening, again only the white waited outside the coop. The answer was apparent. The previous summer’s massacre had fortuitously left us with a male and a female. Our pearl was a girl. She had built a nest somewhere in the woods, filled it with eggs, and was now sitting on them.

Every scrap of intelligence about guineas, who are native to much of Africa, assures you that their offspring are not likely to survive in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Eggs and newly hatched keets need a steady dry temperature of 95-plus degrees, the experts say. Besides, the hen, exposed outdoors overnight for weeks on end, is, to borrow an expression, a sitting duck.

So we stalked the pearl one afternoon, crawling through underbrush and lurking behind trees, following her to the hidden nest. It was on the ground in a deep thicket of grass and brush, so cunningly placed that had we not watched her wriggle into the spot, we might have stood right over it without seeing it. Twenty-two eggs were in her nest.

I shooed her off with a broom, which she pecked at valiantly, while Gail collected all the eggs. The pearl was vocally unhappy about the theft for about 30 seconds, and then promptly went off in search of her mate. They went right back to their old routines. We went to the local grain-and-feed store and bought an incubator.

The pearl built and filled four nests last summer. She laid upwards of 80 brown-speckled eggs. We incubated three of the batches, enthusiastically but inexpertly. I had ambitions for replacing the entire original lost flock, but we ended the season with 14 new birds. The coop was once again a noisy, lively place.

It wasn’t easy. Some of the keets popped right out of the egg after 28 days, as though arriving on time at the train station. Once out, most were hardy and fast-growing. But nature is neither clean nor perfect. Some got stuck in their eggs and didn’t make it, so we listened to them chirp plaintively for days, trapped and dying. We learned the hard way that helping them out is ill-advised—if they can’t make it out of the egg, they are usually doomed.

A few of our hatchlings arrived damaged. One was born with the long orange toes of one foot curled. Taking instructions from a Web site, I straightened the toes and taped them firmly to a small square of cardboard. The keet stomped around unhappily on the makeshift flapper for about five hours, and—voilà! Straight toes! But even after the foot was fully restored, he remained suspect, for some reason, to his fellow hatchlings, a fact that was not immediately apparent.

We now had three groups of birds. There were the older two, the parents. Then came the first batch of offspring, hatched in early July, whom we now considered teenagers. And we had a batch of toddlers, hatched in early September. As with all the other issues we faced in this saga, we turned to our not-so-trusted adviser, the Internet, for how best to integrate younger birds with older ones in the coop.

Some Web sites stated flatly that it was best to introduce the younger birds when they were still small, because they would naturally submit to the authority of the teenagers and adults. If you waited until they were more mature, the new birds would be more likely to fight back, which could get ugly.

Others argued that the right way was to place the smaller birds in the coop inside their own cage, so that the flock could get used to them over time without being able to attack them.

We initially opted for the first approach, which went fine for all except the one white keet whose foot I had straightened. There was nothing different about him anymore to my eyes, but the teenage birds attacked the little guy mercilessly. I found him one afternoon jammed into a corner of the coop with his head hidden in a narrow opening between a pipe and the wall, where the other birds could not get at him. I rescued him and nursed him back to health.

I then attempted, with him, the second approach. I put him back inside the coop in his own cage. He was in with the rest of the flock, but they couldn’t attack him. This apparently just built resentment, because when, after a few weeks, I decided to let him back out, the teenagers waited until I left and then pecked the poor little guy nearly to death. I found him bloody and unconscious, with what looked to be a hole pounded into the top of his head.

He survived, and I ended up giving him away with the one bird that hatched out of the third batch of eggs we recovered. The newly hatched sibling seemed to think his older brother was hunky-dory, and they got on famously. Both are reported thriving.

As for the dozen new guineas we kept, we don’t plan to let them leave the coop until the spring, when they will be about the same age their parents were when they demonstrated a knack for survival. We are hoping they will follow the example set by their elders—the eternal hope of parents everywhere.

The two adult guineas, the male white and female pearl, have names now. Our son Ben dubbed them Adam and Eve, although we prefer the more pedestrian Mr. and Mrs. They are inseparable. Next summer, when we turn their offspring loose, we do not plan to hunt down every last nest and egg, nor do we plan to go through the sordid business of incubating and integrating another batch.

We are instead going to test the theory that guineas cannot successfully breed in the wild in these parts. Internet advice has been iffy about everything else. My money is on the birds.

Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/rebirth-of-the-guinea-hens/308375/

Love Chickens But Hate Commitment? Try Renting

Everyone loves a summer chicken. But come February, when you’re schlepping food and water across the snowy yard, getting your PJs wet, cursing your kids who promised to help, and not getting any eggs for your trouble, the romance of the backyard chicken may start to wane.

Enter Rent-a-Chicken. Leslie Suitor started the company in Traverse City, Michigan as a way to spare you from cold weather trauma. ”We get hellacious winters up here,” she said. “Who wants to slog through snowdrifts to get to your coop?”

Suitor’s operation is part of a mini-wave of chicken rentals, companies that soften the risk in chicken-rearing. Australia has been renting chickens for years (Rent-a-Chook was the first), but the trend is just catching on here. Companies like Coop and Caboodle in Alabama, Lands Sake in Massachusetts, and Rent a Coop in Maryland offer some variation on the model.

“For your first chicken, you don’t want anything flighty, flaky, or mean.”

For many customers, it’s a test run. Becky Kalajian, a stay-at-home mom in Traverse City, loved the idea of raising chickens. At least in theory. “I’m a total foodie, and I really wanted to use my own eggs,” she said. “But actually owning chickens? Terrifying.”

Kalajian rented two of Suitor’s chickens and became a “total chicken nerd” within months. She now owns two coops, spends hours on chicken forums and just bought an order of chicks.

The standard rental is two hens and a moveable coop, but prices and timeframes vary. At Lands Sake, $100 buys you two weeks. Rent a Coop is $160 per month. And Rent-a-Chicken charges $250 for a whole season (roughly between “when the forsythias start to bloom” and sometime after Labor Day).

Riley Truog inspects a rented chicken

Rent a Coop founder Tyler Phillips is a recent business school graduate. Phillips’ hens come with all-organic feed; cute coops hand-painted by his girlfriend Diana; andGolden Comet hens, a breed that keeps laying through the cold months. Soon, Phillips will stock the top five breeds from theBackyard Chickens forum. “I get requests from people all the time, like ‘Get me the kind with the feather sticking right out of its head’ or ‘I want blue and green eggs,’” he said. “Golden Comets are great, but you have to give people what they want.”

(For ideas on what chicken you want, check out Modern Farmer’handy guide.)

At first, Suitor only rented out Buff Orpingtons and Black Australorps. “I chose gentle, docile heritage breeds that take confinement well,” she said. “For your first chicken, you don’t want anything flighty, flaky, or mean.” Responding to customer demand, Suitor is now renting out Ameraucanas; they lay blue eggs.

Fresh eggs are the obvious draw, but some renters also learn what good pets chickens can be. Laura Byer of Potomac, MD, said her rented chickens were hilarious. “They follow you around, and come running if you have grapes,” she said. “They all have these funny little personalities!”

Source: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/04/love-chickens-but-hate-commitment-try-renting/

More than 700,000 Brits now keep chickens

NEARLY 700,000 Brits now keep chickens — a rise of 80 per cent in three years, figures reveal.

The largest increase in poultry-rearing since World War 2 has come as households try to cut grocery bills by producing their own eggs.

Brian Mott, of birdseed suppliers Nature’s Grub, said: “We’re seeing a return to 50 years ago, when it was usual to keep half a dozen chickens in the back yard.

“Over the past few years more Brits have started growing their own fruit and veg — and the next step seems to be having their own eggs.”

The figures by the British Hen Welfare Trust have helped push the value of the coop industry to £1billion a year.

Tesco said sales of poultry pens had nearly doubled since 2008. They sell chicken coops in the Tesco Direct catalogue.

The store’s Clodagh Corbett said: “The surge in demand for chickens and coops shows how keeping hens has become a hobby for many.”
Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3725935/700000-Brits-now-keep-chickens.html#ixzz2ScfrX5To

Providing Suitable Dust Bath Areas for Your Chickens

OK, so chickens don’t wash with water the way we do. They use soil to clean their plumage instead and it is vital to their health as it is the method by which they remove lice etc. Plus, they enjoy it and happy chickens produce good eggs! Outdoor chickens can usually find plenty of soil to fulfill this purpose but if you have to keep your chickens indoors for such reasons as cold weather or protection of predators, it is a great idea to include a dust bath for them. This is a great little article about dust baths.  Click on the picture or the link below to go to the original article.Featured Image

Providing Suitable Dust Bath Areas for Your Chickens.

Goblinproofing your chicken coop!

A book offering advice on how to protect chicken coops from goblins has won the Oddest Book Title of the Year award, organizers of the contest said on Friday.

“Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop” by Reginald Bakeley and Clint Marsh attracted 38 percent of 1,225 online votes to beat craft manual “How Tea Cosies Changed the World” with 31 percent to win the 35th annual Diagram Prize.

Third place went to a book by Tom Hickman titled “God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis”.

Also shortlisted for the award this year was a study of Adolf Hitler’s health titled “Was Hitler Ill?”, “Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts”, and a guidebook titled “How to Sharpen Pencils”.

Philip Stone, coordinator of the prize run by industry publication the Bookseller, said the award might seem just fun but publishers and booksellers were well aware that a title can make all the difference to the sales of a book.

“It spotlights an undervalued art that can make or break a work of literature,” Stone said in a statement.

He cited books such as “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian”, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” as owing part of their success to odd titles.

“The kind of niche, off-beat publications that often appear on the Diagram Prize shortlist might not make their writers or publishers rich beyond their wildest dreams, but the fact writers still passionately write such works and publishers are still willing to invest in them is a marvelous thing that deserves to be celebrated,” Stone added.

The Diagram Prize was founded at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1978, and past winners include “Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice” and last year’s “Cooking with Poo”, a Thai cookbook by Bangkok resident Saiyuud Diwong whose nickname is Poo.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51282325/ns/us_news-weird_news/#.UW6zK34tDS0