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What is a Turken?

If you’ve spent any time watching cooking shows, you may have heard of a turducken. However, have you ever heard of a Turken?

 

Yes! A Turken is a real thing, although it is not as it sounds. A Turken is a special breed of chicken that lacks feathers on its neck and vent area. It is not actually part turkey. Turkeys and chickens are unable to breed and produce offspring. (Although guinea fowl and chickens can!-but that is a story for another time!)

 

Along with being a great conversation piece, Turkens actually make quite amazing backyard chickens. Turkens, or Naked Necks, are said to have first originated in Romania, although no one knows for sure. They were originally called Transylvanian Naked Necks. Today, they can be seen all over the world, with a high population living in South America. In addition to having nearly no neck feathers, they also have almost half the body feathers of a normal chicken. This feature makes them extremely hot tolerant and hardy in Southern climates, like my home in Alabama! Despite this, Turkens are also very cold tolerant and can do well in Northern climates as well!

Here are some great reasons to add them to your flock!

They make good chickens to raise for meat.

Although on the smaller size, Turkens can be raised for meat. They are often eaten in South American countries. Their necks, upper chest, and lower torso actually completely lack any feathers at all. It isn’t immediately noticeable from looking at them, but they are already nearly naked when you pluck them. Some researchers think this is part of the reason for their creation. A bird with less feathers makes a much easier cooking bird.

 

They are fantastic layers!

Turken hens lay a light tan, medium sized egg. They are just as prolific as Rhode Island Reds and Australorps, but smaller in size, thus requiring less feed. In the fall, during molt, they will need less feed than an average chicken to grow in a new set of feathers. They also have a medium tendency to go broody. They are fiercely protective mothers who teach their chicks how to survive.

 

The roosters are very protective over their flock.

At my place, we have about 30 chickens (-last I checked- you know how chicken math works!)

Our main rooster in charge happens to be a 2 year old Turken named Chimp. Chimp takes very good care of his ladies! He always puts them first. He is very protective, but not mean. He is constantly busy sharing his feed with his ladies and keeping an eye out for predators in the sky. With any luck, one day we will have some little Turken bitties running around!

They are tend to live longer than other breeds.

Although each chicken is an individual, in my experience Turkens have outlived almost all my other breeds. This is due partly to the fact Turken hens tend to be overly cautious. Much like a Leghorn, Turken hens can be nervous and flighty. They are always the first to spot a hawk in the sky, and the fastest chicken to run for cover. Our oldest living chicken to date was a Turken hen my mother-in-law once gifted us. She lived to be probably 7 years old. She was impossible to catch, thus the reason for her long survival!

 

They are truly unique!

In addition to looking a little like a vulture, Turkens can come in pretty much any color you can imagine. The naked neck gene is dominant, so if you have one Turken, chances are it’s offspring will carry the gene. This means you can breed any type of chicken with them to produce a rainbow of colors! The most genetically pure Turkens will have a completely naked neck. Those that are half breeds will often have a little patch of feathers at the base of their neck. This is called a “bib.”

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this definitely applies to Turkens. Whether you find them fascinating, or just odd, give Turkens a try the next time you order chicks! Chances are,

Managing Dust

Dust and chickens go together like macaroni and cheese. Flock Owners know their hens produce eggs for the kitchen and manure to make garden vegetables thrive.  A less recognized and valued hen byproduct is dust. It needs to be managed.

 

According to Dr. Susan Lamont, Iowa State University C.F. Curtis Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, dust comes when chickens shed dead skin and from material shed from the base of the feather shafts. It’s called dander. Other dust may originate from litter and feed.

Dust fluffs off birds, spirals into the coop’s air, and rains down everywhere as powdery particles as fine as what originates from some volcanic eruptions. It coats shelves, containers, and any other horizontal surface. If ignored it piles up to a quarter inch depth or even more.

Clearing away dust and cobwebs and occasionally tidying up the coop is important.  Anyone with a backyard flock and occasional human visitors is an ambassador for chickens. A clean, odor free coop invites others to begin a chicken hobby. Even if there aren’t visitors, a clean coop is a pleasant place for both chickens and their human caregivers.

 

De-dusting

 

As Dr. Lamont stated the dust from chickens may contain bacteria and viruses.  Remember not all viruses and bacteria are dangerous to humans. But it is a good idea to keep from inhaling dust and to clean up after. Wear a dust mask when cleaning to avoid breathing them in. Thoroughly wash hands after a cleaning.

 

Most people immediately reach for the blower or vacuum cleaner to remove dust, but they create a problem. Chicken dust is so fine that blowing it off a shelf just puts it back in the air to settle back down again. Sucking it up in the vacuum cleaner sounds better but the dust is so fine it clogs the machine’s filter.

A simple short dust brush is handy for sweeping it off horizontal shelves but also can swirl it back into the air. Building custodians have a solution. They use a material called sweeping compound to remove dust from buildings. Sprinkle a handful on surfaces and tiny particles of chicken dust will cling to the sweeping compound instead of swirling into the air. That allows sweeping the material into a dustpan and disposing of it in the trash.  Sweeping compound can be bought in home care and hardware stores. One box lasts for years.

A sponge and bucket of soapy water also work well. The wet sponge picks up the dust without allowing it to rise back into the air. The resulting dirty water can be poured on a lawn.

Cobwebs

Cobwebs, like dust, are common in coops. They are made by spiders but aren’t strictly spiderwebs. Cobwebs are a loose connection of sticky fibers that are designed to trap insects. Spiderwebs, in contrast, are spun in a pattern of sometimes fuzzy fibers that are not sticky but trap insects. Often cobwebs get covered with chicken dust and frequently are in high hard to reach areas of the coop. They’re easy to remove with a dust mop or broom, but usually dust flies off them. Wear a face mask.

Keeping the coop relatively free of dust deposits and cobwebs makes it a more attractive place. Dusting should be on the regular maintenance task list.

All About the Mystic Onyx Breed

The Mystic Onyx breed was originally developed by Hoover’s Hatchery in very recent years. Their beautiful feathers and black skin are striking. While they were created to be a meat bird, they are taking backyard flocks by storm!

The Mystic Onyx breed is absolutely gorgeous and make a great addition to a backyard flock. These chickens were created by combining a Silkie and a meat production bird. Because of this, they carry unique characteristics such as 5 toes, an occasional feather tuft on the top of their heads, and black skin.

While they look very similar to the Ayam Cemani, they can have orange-red flares in their feathers. Ayam Cemani are all black while Mystic Onyx can kick out some reddish feathers. They can also have an iridescent green sheen to their feathers as well.

All About the Mystic Onyx Breed
Dottie out “enjoying” the snow.

Mystic Onyx are great egg layers and lay up to 225 light brown, medium sized eggs per year. They will do well in the winter as well as the summer and keep their production up in the winter months. They are docile, but active. They love to be in the middle of all the action!

All About the Mystic Onyx Breed
Frankie is my all-black Mystic Onyx and is a crowd favorite!

I have two Mystic Onyx chickens. I got them as chicks from Hoover’s Hatchery. It’s really fun because Frankie is all black while Dottie has redder feathers. This makes it much easier to tell them apart! Haha! They have been a welcome addition to our flock.

Mystic Onyx chickens reach anywhere between 5-6 lbs. and rarely go broody. They have a single comb and are very low maintenance. They have done very well for me in the winter months as well as the much warmer seasons.

All About the Mystic Onyx Breed
Frankie as a chick.

When I’m adding to my flock, I care most about the breed’s personality. I want nice, docile chickens who love me right back. Next, I look for egg color and feather color. There is something so satisfying about looking about and seeing multiple colors sprinkled about the chicken run. And honestly? There’s nothing better than having a bright and colorful egg basket sitting on the counter! Mystic Onyx chickens lay a beautiful light brown egg. It’s not a showstopper by any means, but their plumage makes up for it! Great job Hoover’s Hatchery for creating this multipurpose breed that is a very reliable egg producer!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

If you’re new to raising backyard chickens, you may think I’m a bit crazy. However, if you’ve been doing this for a while, you will completely understand me! Haha! I currently have 47 chickens and I know each one by name.

That’s right! All of my chickens are named, and I know them all apart. I have multiple different breeds, but most breeds I have at least 2 chickens. Chickens are incredibly fun! And what most people don’t know is that chickens have different dispositions and personalities just like we do. I have happy chickens, crabby chickens, shy chickens, silly chickens and loud chickens. Each one is special to me. But the biggest way to tell each of them apart is by spending time with them.

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

I love to sit out in the coop (thanks to Coop Recuperate!), and just watch them. They can be kind to each other, and they can also fight their way through the pecking order. It just depends on the day. So, how do I tell 47 chickens apart? Today I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks so you can tell your flock apart too!

 

Chicks

When I receive new chicks, I allow them to get acclimated to their new home. They stay warm and safe in their brooder, and I don’t handle them much at all the first day or two. After a couple of days, I start interacting with the chicks. I hold them, observe them and take notes on their different markings. This is a bit harder because as they grow, chicks lose their soft chick feathers and trade them for their new feathers. As they grow and I can start noticing personalities, I like to name them.

 
How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

I really have no rhyme or reason on how I name my chickens. Sometimes I have a list, sometimes I let my family name them and sometimes I let the internet name them!

Once they’re named, I use little, tiny hair rubber bands of different colors. I put a different color around each chick’s leg and keep a running list of who is wearing what color. This is obviously not necessary if you have only one chicken of all different breeds. However, when I started, I had 4 Barred Rocks. They were almost impossible to tell apart right away without the leg bands. Now, it’s easy for me! Which leads me to the next tip…combs!

Combs

 

The comb of a chicken is the usually bright red flap on top of their head. There are many different shaped combs, and each chicken breed is consistent with their comb type. For example, my Barred Rocks have a single (straight) comb while my Brahmas have a pea comb. Within these breeds however, the combs vary slightly from chicken to chicken. This makes it pretty easy to spot your different chickens at first glance. My favorite chicken, (shhh…don’t tell the others! haha!) Happy, has a very nice straight comb. Below her is LouLou and LouLou’s comb is just a bit bigger and slightly different shaped than Happy’s comb. They’re both super sweet and love the extra attention.

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

Markings

Another way to tell chickens apart is by their markings. Markings can include feather markings, feet or leg markings or the size of the bird. Notice the different markings in these two boys below?

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

Reba and Barbara Jean (below) are the exact same breed from the same group of chicks, but they’re just slightly different colors. Can you see the lighter flecks in Reba?

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

Reba

How to Tell Your Chickens Apart

Barbara Jean

Voice

Annie, did you just say “voice”? I sure did! Chickens all have their own sounds they make. I can spot Happy’s voice from a mile away. I always know when Tango laid her egg, and I can never say no to Reba’s sweet requests to be held. I’m not kidding!

Spending time with your flock will allow you to hear their sweet noises and you will know them just by their sounds. A really great resource on this is How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey. It’s a quick and really fun read!

Knowing your chickens by name makes backyard chickens that much more fun! Telling them apart isn’t that hard if you put a little time and effort into it. If you have any other ways you tell your flock apart, I’d love to hear them!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

Top 5 Things to Know Before Ordering Chicks for Spring

Spring is a time of new beginnings, and for many people that means welcoming baby chicks into their homes. If you’re thinking about ordering baby chicks this year, there are a few things you should consider beforehand. In this blog post, we will discuss the five most important things to keep in mind before placing your order. We’ll also give you some tips on how to choose the right breed of chicken and how to be prepared for their arrival!

1. Choosing the Right Breed of Chicken

When it comes to baby chicks, not all breeds are created equal. Some chicken breeds are better suited for egg production, while others are better for meat production. You’ll need to decide what your primary purpose for raising chickens is before you can choose the right breed. If you’re looking to produce eggs, consider breeds like the Rhode Island Red or the Leghorn. If you’re looking to raise chickens for meat, consider breeds like the Cornish Cross or the Plymouth Rock.

2. Be Prepared for Their Arrival

Before your baby chicks arrive, you’ll need to make sure you have everything set up and ready for them. You’ll need a brooder, which is a heated enclosure where they can stay warm and safe until they’re old enough to go outside. You’ll also need to purchase some chicken feed and water containers. Make sure you have everything set up and ready to go before your baby chicks arrive!

3. Place Your Order Early

If you want to ensure that you get your baby chicks when you want them, it’s important to place your order early. Many hatcheries begin taking orders for spring delivery in February or March. By placing your order early, you’ll increase your chances of getting the baby chicks you want, when you want them.

 

You’ve taken the time to choose your breed, so make sure that you’re getting exactly what you want.

4. Know How Many You Need

Before you place your order, you’ll need to decide how many baby chicks you want. It’s important to have enough hens to meet your needs for eggs and enough meat chicks to grow into harvestable meat birds if you’re planning on harvesting your birds.

 

To determine how many egg chickens you need,  estimate how many eggs your family usually consumes in a week.  Depending on the breed, some hens will lay almost daily, while others may lay every other day or as little as a couple of times per week.  You may also need to check and see if there are restrictions in your area for the number of chickens that you can own.

 

There are minimum requirements for shipping poultry from Hoover’s.  If you don’t need that many, consider splitting an order with a friend.

5. Choose a Reputable Hatchery

When you’re ready to place your order, it’s important to choose a reputable hatchery. There are many different hatcheries out there, so take some time to do your research. Make sure you read reviews and compare prices before making your final decision.

 

Hoover’s Hatchery is a well-known reputable hatchery that has over 75 years of experience raising healthy chicks and creating satisfied customers.

 

By keeping these five things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to ordering baby chicks this spring!

How to Build a Winter Dust Bath for Your Chickens

Have you ever seen chickens rolling around in the dirt? That’s known as a dust bath, and it helps chickens keep their feathers clean and dry. But what happens when temperatures drop below freezing? Your chickens still need to dust bathe in order to stay healthy and clean!

Fortunately, there is a way to keep your chickens cozy and clean this winter with an indoor dust bath. Read on for tips and steps on how to assemble the perfect indoor dust bath for your backyard flock!

 
How to Build a Winter Dust Bath for Your Chickens

Step 1: Gather Supplies

The first step to creating an indoor dust bath is to gather supplies. Some of the supplies you will need include:

  • Sand

  • Dry dirt

  • Wood ash (from an outdoor fire pit or fireplace)

  • Preen Queen™ dust bath booster which contains diatomaceous earth, zeolite, peppermint and citronella essential oils.

Step 2: Select a Dust Bath Container

Once you have gathered your supplies, the next step is selecting a container for your indoor dust bath. A kiddie pool or galvanized tub can be used if you have one available; otherwise, any large wooden crate or plastic bin should work just fine. If you have access to an old tire that fits at least two of your chickens at once, that would make a great container too—just make sure it’s strong enough so it won’t break under the weight of the birds! Lastly, if all else fails, consider repurposing a kids’ sandbox into your dust bath container instead.

 

Dust bath container ideas:

  • Kiddie pool

  • Galvanized tub

  • Large wooden crate

  • Sturdy plastic bins

  • Old tire

  • Lids sandbox

Step 3: Assemble Dust Bath

Once you’ve selected a container for your indoor dust bath, the next step is assembling it! Start by putting the dust bath container in your coop—this should be easy enough if you chose something like a kiddie pool or galvanized tub. Then fill it up with about two inches of dry dirt and sand with some wood ash sprinkled on top for added benefits.

 

Don’t forget to add some Preen Queen to further remove excess oil from your chickens’ bodies and help keep pests like mites and lice away. Finally, let your birds loose in their new indoor paradise and watch as they happily roll around in their own personal spa day!

 

Overall, the best part about having an indoor dust bath is that it allows you to provide year-round comfort for your birds even during the cold winter months. So, don’t wait until summertime rolls around again—start setting up an indoor dust bath today so that your chickens can take can take advantage of this therapeutic activity all year long!

 

Until next time,

 

The Wing Lady

Preventing Frostbite

With the cold weather officially here, the danger of frostbite rears its ugly head.

Frost bite occurs when moisture in the air freezes. This moisture tends to settle on the faces and combs of our chickens. As the chickens are sleeping, their breath is released, creating moisture in the air. Chickens with larger combs are more likely to get frostbite for the single reason that they have more unprotected surface area on their faces. Parts of the body covered in feathers are protected from the settling moisture. The freezing particles of water burn the skin and actually cause tissue damage. The affected tissue dies and turns black. If you start seeing black specks on the combs and wattles of your birds, it may be time to take preventive measures.

There are 3 simple steps you can do to prevent frostbite in your flock.

 

1. Move all water sources outside the roosting area.

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to frostbite. Please remove all water pans or poultry drinkers from the interior of the coop. Water molecules that evaporate, can collect in the air. This humid air then rests on the walls, perches, coop floor, and the chickens themselves, resulting in frostbite.  I totally understand that cracking ice everyday is a nasty chore. Even though having your water in the coop lowers the chance of it freezing, it actually can be causing a bigger problem for your chickens. I suggest a heated water source outside the coop, perhaps in the run.

 

2. Provide ventilation inside the coop.

 

You want to keep your coop airtight and warm for your chickens, but if it is too airtight, this can actually lead to frostbite. When the chickens are huddled up, asleep, they release moisture from their breath. This moisture needs to escape. By leaving a small door to the run open, or by having a window with a screen on it, you can easily reduce dampness. There needs to be an equal balance of shelter and air flow inside the sleeping area.

3. Assemble roosts as high as possible.

 

Chickens love to roost as high as possible naturally to avoid predators. Roosting high also provides the added benefit of more warmth. Heat rises, and if the chickens are huddled up close together in a shelter with a roof, they are getting all the warmth possible. The warmer they are, the less chance of frostbite they encounter. Try staggering your roosting perches, with each perch getting higher each time. That way the chickens can easily jump from roost to roost, until they reach a comfortable height.

 

Treating Frostbite

 

Sometimes, despite efforts to prevent frostbite, some chickens will get it. Hens, and especially roosters, with large, upright combs are usually the first to be affected. If you have a chicken you particularity love, you can apply petroleum jelly to its comb at night.

If the comb becomes covered in black spots, I would suggest moving the bird to a temporary pen at night- that is much warmer. ( like a garage, garden shed, or barn). Antibiotics, such as topical sprays, should be applied to the frostbit areas for 4-5 days. Their comb may never be the same, but at least you can save the chicken and prevent further suffering.

 

The Best Time of Day to Collect Eggs

There are many factors to consider when collecting eggs, from the breed of chicken to the time of year. But one of the most important factors is what time of day you collect them. According to science, there is a best time of day to collect eggs – and it’s not when you might think! In this article, we will compare the best time of day to collect eggs with less than-ideal times and explain the difference. We will also discuss the benefits of collecting eggs at the best time of day!

 

So, when is the best time of day to collect eggs? The answer may surprise you – it’s actually in the evening! Chickens are most productive in the late afternoon and early evening, so this is when you will find the most eggs. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on collecting eggs in the evening. First, chickens tend to roost in the evening, so you will need to be careful not to disturb them too much. Second, it may be difficult to see the eggs in the dark, so you will need to use a flashlight.

You may be wondering- “but what if my flock lays first thing in the morning?” This is something that many flock owners wonder because they often hear their hens’ ‘laying songs’ early in the morning.

 

If you can’t collect eggs in the evening, don’t worry – there are still plenty of times during the day when chickens are productive. The early morning is also a good time to collect eggs, as chickens typically start laying around sunrise. Hens tend to choose one particular laying box that they prefer, so you may notice a line of hens waiting to get to their favorite laying box.  If you have enough hens, this might mean that some of your hens won’t get to lay until later in the morning.

 

Eggs are also laid with a protective coating called a bloom. This natural coating is water-resistant and helps to keep the egg fresh. It will keep the eggs fresh by preventing bacteria from entering in to the shell.  Even if your hens lay eggs in the morning, and you collect them in the evening, your eggs will still be fresh.

 

If you collect your eggs in the evening, you’ll likely get all of the eggs for the day.  If you collect eggs in the morning, you might collect them before all of your hens have had a chance to lay.  When a hen lays often times has to do with where she stands in the flock pecking order.  The higher up in the pecking order she is, the earlier in the day she may lay.  Hens higher in the pecking order tend to get first dibs on laying boxes.

 

So, there you have it – the best time of day to collect eggs is in the evening or early morning. But don’t forget, even if you can’t collect eggs at the perfect time, there are still plenty of times during the day when chickens are productive!

 

Who’s Laying

One day, on my way to work, I had customer call me at our family pet store and say, “I have all these chickens I don’t want. They are young, do you know anyone who could take them!?” My only thought was ME ME ME! Annnndddd that is exactly what I said. My husband had mentioned that in the future he would love chickens and I took that as in, today was the future! Hehe, so on my way home for $10, I got a box of 10 White Leghorns. They were so cute! They were not tiny chicks, but my heart exploded with joy! I picked up a bale of straw and bag of feed on my way home from work and when my hubby got home he was like, “Why are you so happy!?” Clearly, he knew something was up because I am usually very happy but I am telling you…I WAS ON ANOTHER LEVEL OF HAPPY!

I ran him out to the barn and said, “Look inside the whelping room!” FYI: Our home was previously owned by an amazing, A-MAZING German Shepherd breeder named Fred Migilore. He had a beautiful whelping room that I decided was the perfect space for chickens! Plus, it had a doggy door that went out into dog runs under a lean-to off of the barn. IT WAS PERFECT! He opened the door and said, “Wow, you put straw in here, it looks great.” (Full of sarcasm too!) I kept smiling and said “Do you see anything in the straw!!!!!!!” I was so excited, BUT his face went white… as white as the chicks’ new feathers and he was like “OH MY GOSH MANDIE! I SAID FUTURE! NOT NOW!” And smiling I said, “Technically this is the future, to when you told me.” Hehe, he just

laughed and said “Well now we are chicken owners!” Little did he know, our chicken numbers would go from 10 to 75 and I would get ducks, guinea fowl, quail and pheasants! I have been so blessed to have the home we have and the land to have our tiny farm and I am sure Fred is rolling around in heaven laughing at all the things I put my husband through! Sometimes I feel like I can hear him or my mother saying “Mandie, ask for forgiveness instead of permission; if it brings you joy and will bring your children joy, DO IT!” So… I do! Let me tell you, I drove home once with a 1-week-old baby cow in the back seat of the Buick Enclave and sent a video of it to my husband as a way of saying, “YAYY BABY COW OWNERS!!!” But anyways, I am getting distracted! One thing I never did as a chicken owner was look into who lays the most eggs and who could handle the winter weather! I just wanted chickens, cute little raptors running around my yard eating all of the bugs and scraps! I knew this would make my heart happy, but I wasn’t thinking about what would fill the fridge with eggs! So, I am going to share with you who I feel are the top breeds and based off of Hoover Hatchery in Rudd, Iowa and who’s laying the most!

Below, I will list who lays the most, color eggs and size, if they can handle the colder weather and if they are great if you have children. BUT I am a bit biased I do believe every chicken breed is good with children, it depends how much you expose your children to them while they are young. It is so important to do this! Have them helping feed, help clean, grabbing eggs and just enjoying the chicken’s presence.

My mind was blown when I saw how many some hens lay per year!

300 to 325 Eggs Per Year (so crazy!!!!!!)

1. White and Brown Leghorn

a. Large white eggs

b. Not a bird for meat for they are fast and lean

c. Do very well in the winter at least in Mid-Michigan temps.

d. These are good with kids, but they are fast and not the cuddliest breed.

2. California White

a. Large white eggs

b. Hardy, dual purpose

c. Same with kids as the Leghorn

 

3. ISA Brown

a. Large Brown Eggs

b. Hardy in cold weather

c. Great with children, they are very chill and very easy tohold and have a lot of personality

4. Amberlink

a. Large Brown Eggs

b. Great in cold weather

c. Great with children

d. I love their colors, personally

 

280 to 290 Eggs Per Year

1. Smokey Pearl

a. Large brown eggs

b. Hardy in my opinion, do great in Michigan temps

c. Good with children

2. Cream Legbar

a. Medium blue eggs, so pretty!

b. Hardy

c. Great with kids and full of personality

3. Starlight Green Egger

a. Large brown or olive-green eggs, 5% of this breed will lay brown or shade of brown olive-green color eggs

b. Hardy and fun in the snow

c. Great with kids

 

4. Sapphire Splash

a. Amazing colors

b. Large brown eggs

c. Hardy in my opinion

d. Great with kids

5. Sapphire Gems

a. MY FAVORITE!

b. XL Brown eggs

c. Hardy for extreme cold

d. AMAZING with kids

e. They are so much fun to have around the farm!

 

6. Calico Princess

a. Large brown eggs

b. Hardy

c. Friendly all the time, so great with kids and very calm

These are my top 10! They are amazing birds to have and all of them are great with kids, just some are not into the whole pick me up and cuddle me, that kids love to do! I hope this helps you as a chicken owner and someone who wants to raise birds. Not all of these breeds are dual purpose. Some are strictly layers, but if you do have to cull one it will still make a great soup.

I personally love the sapphire gems, because we have 3 children and they literally will just walk up to them and just let them pick ‘em up! It is so comforting knowing this and the XL eggs are always appreciated.

Our farm consists of a lot of breeds and I am excited to see our Barnyard mixes this year. We have so many breeds and they always hatch eggs in the classrooms at our children’s school, so OF COURSE we bring some home! Last year, my oldest brought home 3 and guess what…it was 2 roosters and 1 hen! Pshh, stinkers! BUT! I do have to say they are so friendly and so wonderful! AANNNDD BEAUTIFUL!

This year I will be supporting Hoover Hatchery, because they use the same essential oils that’s in the feed I use, NatureServe Layer Pellets! I love their set up and they even give virtual tours online on Youtube and have a very open curtain policy, with not hiding the way things are done at their hatchery. I will be purchasing California Whites, Brown Leghorns and Amberlinks from them.

 

Be sure to request if you would like your chickens to be vaccinated. They provide 2 types of vaccines.

 Cocci Vaccination

 Marek’s Vaccination

We have never requested any, but I do believe I will be requesting the Marek’s this year. I have such a beautiful flock; I do not want to take any risks losing anyone. The cocci vaccine covers coccidiosis and if you feed medicated feed, you do not need to get this vaccine, but if you do not, then it would be a good idea to or simply purchase Corrid.

Corrid is specifically designed to only treat coccidiosis and only needs to be added to water for 3 to 5 days. It can be found at your local feed shops and larger box stores.

Anyways! Please, please, please keep me posted and leave a comment on what your favorite breed is, even if it doesn’t lay a bunch of eggs! I want to know! This blog ismy way of sharing with you, so NEVER hesitate to share with me! We are here to support each other!

Talk soon!

Your Crazy in Love with Chickens Friend,

Amanda B.

Comfy Nests

Perhaps the greatest joy that comes from keeping backyard chickens is the wonderful gifts hens leave in their nests. Some are huge. Others are small. One may be long and skinny, while others are nearly round. They might have light or dark brown, white, or even blue or green shells. An occasional one may sport speckles. Those eggs are beautiful, diverse, fresh and nutritious.

 

Providing clean, safe and comfortable nests encourages hens to lay where eggs are easy to collect. That involves putting enough nests in the right places and collecting eggs often.

How Many Nests?  How Big?

 

A rule of thumb is to provide a nest box for every three or four hens, but chickens are quirky. Put four nests in the coop and sometimes three hens will cram into one, leaving the others vacant. Go figure!  Individual hens often prefer a particular nest and return to it every time she lays.  If other hens are in “her” nest she’ll cram right in.

 

Full size Hamburgs or Leghorns only weigh about four pounds, but a Jersey Giant can tip the scales at ten pounds. Generally sizing a nest to fit mid-sized breeds, like Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks works. Bigger breeds may need to squeeze in but they’ll manage, while smaller breeds have plenty of room.

 

There is no perfect nest size or shape but one about a foot wide and deep works fine. Farm stores sell wire or plastic manufactured nests, but making them from scrap wood is an easy basic carpentry project. A homemade nest is merely a wooden box with one end open for the hen to enter.  Five-gallon plastic buckets also work.

 

Placing Nests

 

Most coop plans show nests placed inside the hen’s living quarters. Hens love them but collecting eggs means a person must enter the coop. That takes time and may scatter the flock. There’s an easier way. Positioning nests so the opening is flush with the coop wall but the body of the nest extends outside the coop makes collecting easier.  A hinge and handle make it a snap to open the nest from the top and collect eggs.

Chickens don’t mind if the nest is high or low, so if children often collect eggs, placing the nest low makes the fun task easier.  Bending over can be a problem for people who haven’t been children for many years.  Positioning nests higher makes collecting easier.

 

Some nests are made so eggs roll out into a tray.  It makes collecting a snap and keeps eggs clean and unbroken, but chickens may avoid them.

 

Privacy

 

Like people, every chicken is an individual.  Many hens crave privacy when they lay.   Stapling a curtain over the top half of the opening lets them sit quietly in the darkness.  Other hens don’t seem to care if their nest is private or not.  Some will let a person reach under her and retrieve previously laid eggs. Others don’t like that a bit and peck or squawk.  It’s best to collect when all hens have left the nest.

Cushioning Eggs

 

Forcing chickens to lay delicate eggs on bare wood, plastic or metal is a recipe for breakage and a nest mess. An inch of wood flakes or straw on the nest’s bottom provides plenty of cushioning.  A one-inch-high board, nailed across the bottom of the nest opening keeps the cushion from being pushed out by hens. Soft carpet, cut to fit the inside of the nest, also works.

 

Collecting

 

On traditional old-time farms, collected eggs were carried in wire baskets. They still work fine but are far too big for the half dozen, or so, eggs laid in a typical backyard coop. Those beautiful eggs deserve an attractive basket or decorative pail to transport them from the nest to the kitchen.

Eggs are delicate. During summer’s sweltering heat they can spoil, and winter’s chill freezes them quickly. Also, a hen sometimes breaks previously laid eggs when she enters a nest. Collecting eggs often and storing them in a safe refrigerator solves the problems.

 

Well placed nests are a key to keeping freshly laid eggs clean and easy to collect.

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