Edible Flowers for Chickens

Spring is a wonderful time to add fresh freebies to your flock’s diet! Here are some flowers that are safe for your chickens to eat, and chances are, you already have them growing in your yard!

Chickens are omnivores and need nutrients from both animals and plants to thrive. If you let your hens out to free-range, they can usually find these goodies themselves. You can let your flock free range without worry. Chickens like to test everything, but they seem to know what’s good, and what’s not. One little bite and they know instinctively if a plant is safe. If you prefer to leave your birds up in the coop, you can still supply them with edible flowers, it just takes a little more work. The flowers and soft leaves of these plants will be the most palatable for chickens. Chopping the foliage into bite size chunks helps too.


One of the very first plants to pop up in yards during the spring is henbit. Henbit, as the name implies, is a favorite of nibbling hens. Henbit is a member of the mint family. It has small, purple trumpet- shaped flowers. The stems are square shaped.

Dead Nettle

Often seen growing alongside henbit, is dead nettle. This hairy member of the mint family also sports purple flowers. The leaves fade from purple down to green in an ombre fashion. Dead nettle does not sting, hence the term, “dead.” A “dead” nettle has lost its ability to sting or cause irritation. Both henbit and dead nettle are full of vitamins, a free source of greens, and both possess anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities! Both of these plants will re-seed themselves each year, so you don;t have to replant them!

Clover Blossoms

This favorite of pollinators is also a great source of calcium for free-ranging chickens. Clover is part of the legume, or bean, family. All parts of the plant are edible for chickens, although they prefer the flowers. Clover contains niacin, which is a necessity for waterfowl. (If you order ducklings this year, give them clover!) The most common type of wild clover is white clover. Most all varieties are safe for chickens to eat. If you have your chickens up in the coop, try offering them a few cups of clover chopped finely. Clover does contain an anti-coagulant that can cause negative effects if too much is consumed. Luckily, chickens will in general know when they’ve had too much!


A colorful, often with orange/red flowers, nasturtiums are beautiful as well as nutritious for chickens. Several years ago I planted some in my flower garden. It didn’t stand a chance and the chickens soon found it and pecked the whole stalk down to a nub! For this reason, I do recommend planting your nasturtiums away from your flock until it has become large and established. Many claim it can be a natural dewormer, though this has not been scientifically proven. It has been proven, however, to be high in vitamin C (helps immune system), vitamin A (helps grown strong bones and make strong egg shells), and acts as a natural antibiotic.


These beauties not only are perennial and easy to grow, but also can repel pests in garden. The yellow pigment responsible for the flowers’ color is called zanthophyll. The pigment exists in the highest quantities in the flowers themselves. It is an anti-inflammatory, increases blood flow, stabilizes respiratory health- and makes egg yolks yellower! Some egg companies even feed dried marigolds to their layers for this very purpose. You may notice extra yellow beaks and feet on your chickens if they eat lots of marigolds. Marigolds are one of my favorites because they are perennial. By collecting the dried seeds, you can easily increase your garden size year after year! The chickens like the flowers, and my goats love the stems! No part of the marigold plant goes wasted around here!


Tip- plant your flower garden out of reach of the chickens. While it may be tempting to plant your flowers in with your chickens, it is not recommended. That’s simply because they would most likely eat the young shoots before they ever get the chance to grow and flower! I like to donate a space for growing flowers, and pick them as needed. The edible nutrients are mostly in the petals.


Let your yard grow wild this year, and get some free flowers for your flock!

Best Breeds for Hot Climates

Summer’s dog days are miserable. Plants droop in the heat as wildlife retreat to shady places. On scorching days people sequester in the comfort of their air-conditioned home. But, what about the poor chickens out in the coop?


Chickens feel the heat. That seems ironic since the species evolved in the steamy tropics of Southeast Asia.  Despite their origin more chickens die of heat stress than from the frigid cold of a northern winter.


Heat can stress or kill chickens nearly everywhere, not just in the deep south. North Dakota and upstate New York, both famous for frigid winters, often see the mercury climb to 100 degrees in summer. On some days it is hotter in Bismarck than Baton Rouge, LA, but the south has many more hot days than up north.  Its hot season arrives sooner and lingers longer.


What are the best breeds for hot climates?  Check the data chart toward the back of the Hoover’s Hatchery catalog. It indicates which breeds are heat or cold adapted. Most are hearty in both hot and cold climates, however, there is a general rule that can help select the best breeds for different climates.

Think radiators. The job of a radiator in a home is to release heat generated by the furnace into the house.  A chicken’s radiator is its comb. The bigger the comb the more heat the bird can shed from its body. Most white egg laying breeds, like Leghorns, have huge combs and relatively small bodies that help them release body heat. In contrast large fluffy breeds, like Brahmas, have tiny combs that release little body heat.    Leghorns have an edge over Brahmas on searingly hot days, but on winter day tall combs shed body heat that a poor chicken needs to stay warm. Large combs can also get frostbite.


Hot Weather Flock Management Important

Managing a flock during summer is likely more important than selecting a heat tolerant breed. Here are some tips to help keep the flock comfortable on scorching days:


Water: Chickens don’t sweat. When it’s hot they pant. Evaporation from their mouths and throats helps cool them. Always keep plenty of cool clean drinking water in the coop and run.


Shade:  On hot days chickens love shade as much as people. Situating the coop under a shade tree helps keep it cool. Trees in the run also are appreciated.  If there’s no shade in the run, consider building a “chicken ramada”.  A salvaged pallet spanning two sawhorses creates a pool of shade beneath it. Even placing a picnic table in the run gives the birds shade under it.


Dirt:  On hot days chickens love to nestle down into cooler soil.  Keeping loose dirt under shade helps the birds stay cool.


Breeze:  Chickens love breezes on hot days. Keep coop windows open during summer. Covering them with mosquito netting and heavy wire mesh excludes hungry insects and raccoons while letting breezes visit.


Spraying down the coop: Spraying water on the coop’s roof and exterior siding will usually cool it a few degrees.


Insulation:  A well-insulated coop is cooler in summer and warmer in winter.


Keeping calm:  Moving chickens on a hot day can stress and kill them. It’s best to keep the birds as calm and quiet as possible when the mercury soars.


Although chickens evolved in a hot climate, remember that heat kills. Selecting a heat tolerant breed and managing the flock carefully can keep the birds comfortable on the hottest of summer’s days.

The Best Eggshell Crafts

Spring is so close here in Minnesota, we can almost feel it! It’s been a long winter here, and we’re looking forward to warmer days. With these longer days, come more eggs!

Chickens need 12-16 hours of light to produce an egg. So, the girls are coming out of their winter rest and we are getting an abundance of eggs once again.

I was scrolling online and found some really cute eggshell crafts and thought I’d share with you some ideas I’m thinking about trying myself. I’m not a crafty person, but I have kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews that all enjoy a fun and easy craft. I’ll list these crafts in order from easy to a little more difficult.

You can find directions for this first cute little eggshell family over at Bloesem Kids. This is a more simple project, but could get a little messy! Adult supervision will be needed, but fun will be had by all! They’re like little chia pets. The best part of raising plants in an eggshell? You can plant the shell and plant right into your pot or ground!

The next craft I found is inexpensive and so much fun! Honestly, you wouldn’t even have to color the eggshells if you have a backyard flock with mixed color eggs. They’re already colored! But, if not, go ahead and dye those Easter eggs. You’ll likely have the stuff you need at home for this one already.

You can find the directions for this cute crushed eggshell craft over at Momtastic.

The Best Eggshell Crafts

Another spin off the crushed eggshells is this cute little project that will cost you almost nothing if you have backyard chickens. It’s something cute and fun for Easter! Grab some crushed eggshells, a pencil, paper and some glue. Draw any picture you’d like, outline with glue and sprinkle your eggshells on the glue. This project can take as little or as much time as you’d like with minimal set up and clean up. Now, that’s my type of project! This idea brought to you by makeandtakes.com.

The Best Eggshell Crafts

The last eggshell craft takes a little more time and preparation, but the results will be worth it! This is maybe more of an older kid/adult project. There is a saw involved! These cute little eggshell vases would be an adorable hostess gift or Easter centerpiece. If you end up making one of these, I’d love to see a picture! You can find directions for this project on gratefulprayerthankfulheart.

The Best Eggshell Crafts

What I love about raising backyard chickens is that I feel like nothing goes to waste. Everything from table scraps to eggshells – it can all be used! Whether you’re making something simple or a little more advanced like an eggshell vase, crafting with eggshells is inexpensive and a lot of fun!

Happy crafting, friends!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

An Egg’s Epic Journey to the Frying Pan

The delightful fragrance of sizzling bacon fills the kitchen as freshly cracked eggs plop into the frying pan.  Along with whole wheat toast topped with English marmalade, few breakfasts are more delicious than eggs fresh from the backyard coop.


Before those eggs enter the pan, they’ve undergone a remarkable journey that starts in the hen’s ovary.


When a female chicken hatches she has two ovaries but one gradually shrinks and becomes unfunctional.  The other gradually matures to generate all the eggs she’ll lay.  When she’s about 20 weeks old, give or take a few weeks, a hen begins ovulation.  It is the start of an egg’s formation and journey to the frying pan.

Good healthy layers ovulate every 24 to 26 hours. Then it takes about 26 hours before a complete egg enters the nest. After leaving the ovary the forming egg enters a part of the oviduct called the infundibulum…..a big word that means funnel.  If a rooster is present fertilization takes place there. Lacking a rooster, the egg continues on its journey but will never be fertile.  After about a half hour the egg moves into the magnum where the albumin, or egg white, forms. Three or four hours later it moves to the isthmus, where the inner and outer shell membranes form and the albumin completes development. Then it’s on to the uterus where the hard shell forms and a bloom is added.  Finally, it moves to the hen’s vagina and exits her body through the cloaca, or vent.  It leaves her body and enters the nest big end first.


That is quite a journey. Because it usually takes a little more than 24 hours to form an egg, even the most prolific layers skip a day every once in a while.


Eggs are one of the most nutritious human foods, but the protein and minerals people gain from eating them comes at a cost to hens.  An extra-large egg weighs about 2.3 ounces. If she lays six eggs a week that’s almost 14 ounces of egg. That is nearly a pound, or about a fifth of her body weight. To keep laying and remain healthy hens must have nutrient and energy packed feed.



That chickens lay 200 to 300 eggs in a year is unusual in the bird world.  Most bird species lay few eggs. Chickadees, wrens, cardinals, and robins nesting in suburban yards follow a common laying pattern. They make a nest in spring, lay a clutch of three or four eggs, and raise their babies. Sometimes they’ll raise two clutches a summer, so a female lays only a handful of eggs a year.


Pheasants, quail, and wild turkeys are closely related to chickens but still only lay a couple of dozen eggs a year during a limited mating season. Chickens evolved in the warm tropics and never had to deal with frigid winters. That may be why they don’t have a strong mating season and can lay throughout the year. For example, feral chickens in balmy Hawaii nest and raise chicks year-round.


Chickens have one other trait that helps them lay more eggs. Baby chicks, like those of pheasants, turkeys, and quail are considered precocial by ornithologists. This means the babies can walk, explore, and feed themselves soon after hatching. In contrast, most small birds have altricial babies born blind, relatively undeveloped, and unable to walk or find food on their own. Their parents must give them extended care that includes finding their food.


Parents of altricial babies must be workaholics and devote so much care to their babies they aren’t able to lay many eggs. Chicken parents have it easier and only need to show their babies where food is, keep them warm, and protect them from danger. They don’t need to gather food for their chicks.


If chickens were only able to lay a few dozen eggs a year, enjoying a savory breakfast of bacon, toast and eggs would be expensive and unusual.  People are fortunate that hens lay almost every day.  Every egg is the result of an epic journey through her body.

What is Water Belly?

I remember when our son, Jett, decided to raise a few broiler chickens. He did all the right things and took care of them diligently. Yet one day, a couple weeks in, there was a chicken who didn’t look so well. She moved slow, was lethargic (yes, I know we’re talking about broilers here!) and wasn’t as “active” as the others.

My First Experience with Water Belly

What is Water Belly?

Broilers, as they get closer to their end date, usually aren’t overly active. However, this seemed extreme, and we could tell she wasn’t healthy. Jett ended up culling her because we were worried, she was sick and didn’t want her to get the others sick as well. Upon some investigation and research, we assumed she had what most backyard chicken owners call “water belly” or in more scientific terms, “Ascites”. I am not a veterinarian or scientist, but I will tell you about my experience with this miserable disease.

What is Water Belly?

According to Poultry Health Services, Water Belly or Ascites Syndrome Ascites is a term that describes abnormal fluid accumulation in the belly, hence the term ‘water belly’. This term is used to describe pulmonary hypertension syndrome in broiler chickens; a combination of clinical signs and changes within the bird has increased fluid in the abdomen. It’s a non-infectious condition which cannot spread from bird to bird. While this is a good characteristic of this condition there is, unfortunately, no treatment for birds that are affected.

The fact that water belly isn’t curable is the sad part. It can make the chickens miserable and as the owner, you won’t really know they have it until they get miserable.

My Second Experience with Water Belly

A bit into our backyard chicken raising, I ended up having a little Silkie get water belly. When I got Nugget as a chick, she had Wry Neck. We got her through that and then as she grew and was a couple years old, I noticed she was a bit off one day. At first thought she had gotten into something outside and ended up with sour crop and a full belly. I ended up separating her for a couple of days, cleaned her crop (ick!) gave her Flock Fixer and minimal food, and she came out of it! She did really well for a couple months and then ended up with the same issues again. Nugget was more lethargic and had a very bloated belly. So, I gave her Flock Fixer again and it helped bring her out of it for over a year!

Some people will take a syringe and take some of the fluid out of the belly. I wasn’t comfortable doing this, so I stuck with what I knew. However, one day I went out to the coop, and she had it for the third time. This time, she sadly didn’t recover. Again, there is no known cure for Ascites, but I truly believe Flock Fixer allowed her to live a bit longer and improve her quality of life.

What Causes Water Belly

Water Belly can be aggravated by many different things. Genetics, poor diet, hygiene issues with water, an infection, sour crop untreated, mold, elevation, rapid growth, excess sodium, and the list goes on. I take very good care of our flock, so I’m not exactly sure what caused it in my sweet Nugget.

How to Identify Water Belly

I do a flock health check on a regular basis. I check their eyes, beaks, combs, wattles, legs, feet, feathers and bellies. I’m looking for anything that may cause an issue or is one already. Unfortunately, with Water Belly, it’s fairly easy to identify. You will feel their very full, bloated bellies and they will be pretty slow.

They’ll start to distance themselves from the flock and hunker down. I felt so bad for Nugget. She was miserable until I gave her Flock Fixer. I was hopeful when she snapped out of it twice! However, I didn’t want her to suffer either. These decisions in raising backyard chickens are the hard ones

Diseases like Ascites, Bumblefoot, lice, mites, sour crop, among other icky things are the not-so-glamorous parts of raising a backyard flock. However, it’s important to talk about these things too, so we all have a general knowledge and understanding of how to best help our flocks thrive.

Praying you are having a healthy flock and great start to your spring!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

What to Do With Aging Hens

It’s springtime! And for many of you that means the exciting time of bringing home new chicks and eventually integrating them into your flock. The joy of new life, new egg colors and new personalities in the coop is so fun, isn’t it? But what about the hens that have been around for a few years?

I actually get this question quite often. What will I do when my hens stop laying eggs? My answer is always the same, “My girls will spend their later days and years toddling around the coop and run and keep everyone else in line”. Haha!

What to do With Aging Hens

I have no intention of using any of my hens for meat, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to do so. I just have a hard time eating anything I’ve named. (Insert cringe here).

What’s considered an “old hen”? Usually, hens are done with their prime laying years by the time they’re 5 years old. They can occasionally pop out an egg here and there after that, but they won’t be considered productive. You’ll have to decide at this point if you’re willing to continue feeding these sweethearts, even though they may not give you eggs.

What to do With Aging Hens

So, what should you do with aging hens? There are two ways to look at it. If you’re like me and you allow your chickens to live their full life with you, there are things you can do to make their lives a bit easier. Or, if you’d like to use them for meat purposes, there are ways to do that humanely and that is perfectly acceptable, too. Let’s talk about the section option, first.

We call killing a chicken “culling”. I have no idea why; I should probably look that up. Most people do this humanely by quickly chopping off their head. Yikes! This sounds tough, but it’s actually quick and painless for them. If this isn’t something you are able to do on your own, you’ll likely find a local farmer or processing plant that is willing to help you out. Most older hens really aren’t good for eating. They’re a bit tougher and more “gamey”, but you could always try! Some people swear by low and slow…if you cook them on low and slow, you can make anything taste good! If you’re not up for that, you could cook them and then use the bones for bone broth.

Okay, now that we talked about the harder stuff, let’s talk about ways we can make the last years of our hens life more enjoyable! I’m not saying you need to start implementing these ideas at any certain age, but you know your chickens the best. If you see signs of aging in your flock, here are some good ideas to incorporate.

1. Lower the roosting bars. Chickens love to roost as high as they can! It’s not the getting up high that’s a problem, it’s the jump down. All chickens, not just older ones, can get injured from a high jump. But as they age, injuries can be even more prevalent. Lowering the roosting bars will help with this leap to the ground.

2. Feed them crumble feed. I love using pellets for my flock. I feel like there is less dust and less waste. However, as they age, providing your older gals with some crumble will make it easier for them to ingest and digest their food.

3. Let them teach the younger ones in the flock. My first “flock boss”, Bitty, was the BEST. She would take the younger ones under her wings (no pun intended!) and show them the ropes. She’d protect them from the bullies, and really took care of the flock as a whole. I miss her. Allowing the older hens to teach the younger hens where the best dust bathing spots are, how to hide from predators, where the best bugs are (a great reason to keep them around!), and that the Wing Lady is actually very nice (ha!) has been one of my favorite things to watch. Sure there is pecking order to be worked out, but once they figure that out, it’s so fun to watch a flock.

4. Provide your hens with a well-balanced, healthy diet and plenty of fresh air and sunshine. A healthy diet is extremely important to the health of your flock no matter what age they are. It’ll impact your chicks, egg-layers and your elderly chickens. Fresh air and sunshine is not always easy to do in the winters here, but on nice days we open up the big doors and allow the fresh air and sunshine to pour in. That makes everyone feel better, doesn’t it?

5. Make sure your dust bath areas are easily accessible for everyone. Chickens are particular about their hygiene. They like to stay as clean as possible, and they roll around in the dirt to do it! It sounds counterproductive, but it’s how they’ve always done it. If you’d like to add an additive that helps with this process, I recommend Preen Queen. This dust bath addictive contains organic peppermint and citronella essential oils and diatomaceous earth to help remove excess oil from your chicken’s bodies and keep their feather clean and pristine. It’s a natural pest deterrent and my girls love it!

What to do With Aging Hens
Me and my girl, Happy. She’s the reason I love chickens. ❤️

I started this journey just for the sake of having eggs. And I had no idea I’d fall in love with these silly birds! Chickens have their own personalities and I’ve enjoyed getting to know my girls so much. I’ll happily provide them with a home as long as they are healthy and happy.

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

Starting Chicks

Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick, chick! Eeeee! Before you go grabbing all the cute little baby chicks you see at the feed shops, big box stores or even your amazing local breeders are you ready for this amazing adventure you’re going to embark? If not, or kind of, that is ok! We can help get you prepared and make sure you are ready. BUT BEWARE! Chicken math is a serious thing! What is chicken math you ask? Well, it happens when you go to buy chicks or chickens, planning for 5? Well, purchase a coop for double… You will understand as time goes. What you plan for is never what you will end up with. Chickens are like tattoos, once you get one you want more and more!

When someone comes to me and is interested in starting a flock, I always make sure they have already installed their beautiful coop. Please, please, please, make sure it is safe from predators. Fencing in the ground at least a foot or two, IF your coop is on soft ground and not concrete. Make sure the locks cannot be wiggled open by hungry raccoon hands or pushed open by a wild fox. This brings me to the things you will need when starting this adventure.

Starter List

  • Starter/Grower Feed

  • Medicated or non-medicated

  • I choose non-medicated (I will share why later)

  • Waterer and feeder for chicks

  • Brooder tub or tote for the chicks to live in until they are coop ready!

  • Size will vary based off of quantity of chicks

  • Heat lamp or chick brooder heater plate

  • The plates work amazing, but I have personally used heat lamps.

  • If you choose a heat lamp, make sure to get the clamp and the bulbs, sometimes these are sold seperately

  • Bedding for the brooder

  • Wood chips or flakes, paper towels, newspaper. I use newspaper is it is much easier to clean. Roll it up and toss it in the trash can.

  • Electrolyte/probiotic packet

  • Add to the waterer the first day chicks come home to help them adjust and reduce stress on the body from the constant change of environment

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

  • You can add once the chicks have drunk the electrolytes and you provide new clean water

  • Oregano Flakes and Ground Cinnamon

  • If you choose non-medicated this is a MUST!

  • Coop – double in size what you want! (I promise I have good reasoning)

  • Extra hardware cloth to put over any areas deemed unsafe on your coop

  • If a racoon, fox or weasel body part can reach in and grab a chicken it is unsafe

  • Live Traps for outside (if living in a predator known area)

  • At least 2 sizes, small and medium ones usually come in a pack together


When shopping for your chicks it is important to have these items ready. I know you are thinking that you don’t need to waste the money on a live trap set now, but it is important too because none of us have ever planned on having a predator get our chicks or chickens. Sometimes crap happens and we have to be responsible pet owners for the chicks that survived the attack. Plus, it’s a huge relief when we are able to catch that predator. I do recommend relocating the predator to your local hunting grounds in your area. Especially opossums, because they eat A LOT and by a lot, I mean over 3,500 a season! Your local hunters will be grateful!

Now, selecting a coop is important. I know a lot of people think in the beginning they only want a few chickens, but I am telling you, YOU WILL WANT MORE! An example I have for you about chicken math is myself and my experiences. I went to the local feed shop where I ordered 6 chicks. They had a batch of 4 that the buyer decided to not take and 2 guinea fowl that were extra, as well as 3 ducks… what did I do?… I took everyone home with me! I figured “ahh what’s a few more?” Well, a few more went from 10 leghorns 6 years ago to now 40+ chickens, 4 ducks, 3 guinea fowl, 3 quail and soon to be over 30 quail this May (thank you Hoover’s Hatchery, hehe) and I have 16 baby chicks in my basement spare bathroom also! So, let me tell you… chicken math can get crazy quick. And with all that crazy, comes money to spend on them. Which brings us to the next part… feed… (don’t worry in the picture below the toilet paper near the lamp was removed after this photo was taken.. I promise!)

Choosing a starter/grower is simple for some and not for others. I chose to question everything from ingredients to where it was made. I am a very honest person and there are some brands out there that just do not deserve to be put in your chick’s body. It is your job as the owner to see where feed is made and the creditability of that company. ALSO! This is a HUGE NO, NO! DO NOT get chickens and then choose to feed the cheapest food available. I understand you may want 10 chicks, but can only afford to feed the cheapest due to income. If this is the case, please purchase 5 chicks and feed a better-quality feed. The purpose of feeding a good quality feed is what they eat, goes to you! The nutrients in the food will nourish their body and provide you with a healthy egg and later if you choose to butcher, then quality and healthy meat is on your table. Feeding lower quality feed will result in poor egg production, flavorless eggs, gray or pale egg yolks, soft shells, poor health in your hen, harder molting season and more.

Many also wonder whether they should do medicated starter or non-medicated. Well, I am here to tell you that the choice is yours BUT! If you choose to get vaccinated chicks then the medicated feed is not necessary. If you choose to not vaccinate for Coccidiosis then medicated may make you feel better. I personally never vaccinate my chicks for Coccidiosis ONLY because there is a holistic remedy that has worked long before and has yet to fail me. This is where the oregano flakes and ground cinnamon come into play. Amprolium is the main medication used to prevent coccidiosis. It stops the chickens body from making use of thiamin in the bacteria, doing so prevents the chicken from getting the disease. What I do instead, my old wise-man trick, is when I purchase my NatureServe starter/grower that is non-medicated, I simply add oregano and ground cinnamon to the food. Their feed also has essential oils of oregano, cinnamon and white thyme to help boost your chick’s immune system. These help balance the immune system and have a great response from the gut to prevent loose poop or pasty butt and will help firm up poop immediately. It is important to guide the gut health for your baby chicks. Their immune systems at such young ages rely on their gut and lungs. NatureServe feed is an amazing brand, so I do not have to add a lot per feeding. I add 1 tablespoon of each herb to 2 cups of food.

I am also a firm believer in apple cider vinegar being added to the water. This helps boost their metabolism into gear and pushes them to drink and eat healthy. It also helps expel any bacteria already in the body. So please keep their brooder area clean. I also want you to know that organic is the best way to go when purchasing ACV. It is important to not use products that contain pesticides when chicks are so small. These pesticides have several side effects which I’d love to get into, but that is for another blog on another day!

If you have very stressed chicks that were transported in poor weather conditions, it is smart to add the Apple Cider Vinegar to water, but you can also use an electrolyte with probiotic. This will help boost their energy and relax the tummy. The constant change of environment can get crazy! Changing the environment from incubator > housing > then shipping box > transport to store> new brooder> another shipping or transport box >to new home brooder! IT’S A LOT OF TRAVELING!

SO! I hope this helps guide you on your adventure with raising chicks! I know this will be amazing for you. A few last-minute pointers!

  • Make sure to hand feed your baby chick’s snacks once they are over 2 weeks.

  • Pay attention to who’s moving quickly verses slowly,

  • Keep the water clean! We add a tile under the waterer to keep any bedding from getting in it.

  • Any chicks showing weakness and not moving and hiding in corners or standing still falling asleep for long periods of times, be sure to separate and give the electrolyte powder and a warm rice bag to lean on.

  • If a chick is really not acting itself, try adding a little honey in their water and let them drink it. It can take time to heal over anything that comes in their path. They may be tiny, but they are strong.

  • If they get poop stuck to their bottom make sure the heat lamp is not too close to them. Soak bottom with warm wet wash cloth or paper towel so that it can loosen off of the feathers and is not pulled off. Pulling can cause redness and can be fatal if the poop pulls the vent area out. So, you could add some coconut oil to the area the poop was stuck to prevent more poop sticking.

OKAY! I think I covered most! Let me know if you feel there is anything I should add to the list to inform friends and new chicken owners!


Your Chick Friend/Mama,

Amanda B.

Pride of the Granite State -The New Hampshire Red

Ask a major league baseball manager what team member is most valuable and he is likely to answer, “my utility player”. Rarely a famous media star, a utility player is a flexible athlete who can, at short notice, skillfully play many positions. If a star player is sick or injured a utility man fills the gap.


New Hampshire Reds are the “utility player” chicken breed. They may not be the absolutely most prolific layer, the fastest growing broiler, the most beautifully colored chicken, or the very best broody hen. But, they are darn good at all of them. That may be due to their heritage.


New Hampshire Reds have characteristics of the Granite State, the place where breeders developed them about a century ago.  Although a small state, New Hampshire ranges from the lofty White Mountains to the sandy Atlantic seashore. Its climate varies from bone chilling winters to hot humid summers. Until relatively recently it was a land of small farms owned by rugged, independent Americans who raised crops, made maple syrup, and tended sheep, cattle, hogs, and chickens. That varied landscape and climate helped form one of the most versatile of chicken breeds.

New Hampshire Red breeders may have envied fellow New Englanders in nearby Rhode Island. They had developed the Rhode Island Red, a breed that quickly gained worldwide fame for its amazingly laying ability. New Hampshire poultry breeders decided to create a breed with a different purpose, one that would grow faster than the Rhode Island Red yet still produce plenty of eggs. They succeeded, and the New Hampshire Red was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1935.


Before the development of the Cornish Rock and other fast-growing chickens, the New Hampshire was the champion broiler. It grew faster than most other heritage breeds and was the center of many delicious Sunday dinners.


Although meat production was the goal, New Hampshire Reds are not laying slouches.  They are a versatile backyard bird. Hardy and hardworking, hens lay at least 200 eggs a year. Bred to thrive in small flocks in New Hampshire’s varied weather they thrive in backyard flocks anywhere. New Hampshires are decent layers, pleasant to be around, and fast growing.


Although both the New Hampshire and Rhode Island Reds share the same-colored feathers, their shades of red are different. New Hampshire’s have a light hue, almost rusty or honey colored, while Rhode Island Reds are more of a deep mahogany red. A few New Hampshire’s strutting around the backyard can look golden in the sunshine.


Hoover’s Hatchery offers a strain of the New Hampshire Red that’s tough to beat in a backyard flock.

My Hens Are Going Bald

Late winter. It is cold. Why in the world are my hens losing their feathers when they need every single one to keep toasty warm?  Feather loss could be caused by age, molting, crowding, brooding, an overactive rooster or, gulp, lice or mites.

Just before they begin laying, hens that hatched four or five months earlier look like they just stepped out of a chicken spa. Their feathery wardrobe is gorgeous and covers everything but their legs, feet, and heads. Then life’s stresses begin taking a toll.  After months of laying,  patches of  feathers disappear revealing reddish bare skin.  Although that often happens during midwinter’s chill, feather loss is common and usually does not impact a hen’s health. Here are baldness causes and ways to reduce it:



Just like with people’s hair, over time some feathers just drop out. Combined with egg laying, which puts an enormous nutrient drain on a hen’s body, remaining feathers look ragged. The best solution is to give the hens a high-quality feed formulated for layers. It should have a protein content of around 17% and contain all the nutrients they need.    Nutrient packed treats include sunflower seeds, mealworms, shrimp shells, and bits of cheese. Feed treats sparingly.




After a year or more of laying a hen needs a vacation, called the molt.  Her first molt usually starts about 18 months after she hatched. She will stop laying and shed her old feathers. New ones quickly regrow. After five or six weeks she’ll sport her new wardrobe and again look like she  just emerged from the chicken spa. Then she’ll start laying and molt again next year.




Every once in a while, a hen opts for motherhood.  A broody hen stops laying, fluffs her feathers, changes her voice, eats little, and spends all day and night sitting in the nest.  The feathers she has shed from her chest help her keep the eggs beneath her warm.  Broodiness is a natural process.



When mounting a hen, roosters often scratch off some of her back feathers. If mating is frequent a hen’s back often is bald. If the ratio of roosters to hens is high, feather damage is increased. Reducing the number of roosters in the flock can reduce the problem.


Like humans, crowding stresses hens and can cause them to be aggressive to their flock mates.  They will pick off feathers. Heavy breed hens, like Rhode Island Reds, need at least four-square feet of coop space per bird, but more is better.  If hens squabble and pick at each other either reduce the flock or expand the coop’s size. Having plenty of interior space and an outdoor run helps reduce social problems, like feather picking.




Skin parasites can cause a hen to lose feathers. Birds suffering from heavy infestations of lice or mites are listless and rarely lay eggs.  Lice live on their bodies, while mites live in cracks in roosts and coop walls and pester chickens after dark. To check for parasites, enter the coop after dark, gently lift a sleeping hen, flip her over and shine a flashlight beam inside her feathers and on bare skin. Lice are easy to spot.  Mites are smaller.


Hens rid pests by taking luxurious dust baths.  Fluffing feathers in dusty soil may suffocate mites and lice. Fortunate chickens have an outdoor run with dry soil where they can fluff. They’ll also dust if the litter inside the coop is loose dry sawdust. Farm stores sell pesticides that can be applied to chickens and roosts, but an organic way to solve a parasite problem is to make a dust bath for the hens and sprinkle some diatomaceous earth in the dirt. Tiny spikes of ancient diatoms puncture and kill pests without the use of chemicals.


Feather loss may seem alarming but it’s normal. Hens thrive with patches of bare skin, but a combination of nutritious food, healthy living quarters, and no external parasites minimizes baldness.


All About the Lavender Orpington Breed

I remember the first day Rosie came to our house. I had been doing some research on different breeds to figure out which ones I was going to add to our backyard flock. I was so excited to have a wider color variety wandering around the yard, but wanted to make sure I was getting a breed that was a good egg layer yet docile and hearty. The Lavender Orpington was of my top picks.

The Lavender Orpington is, in my opinion, one of the most gorgeous breed of chickens. Their plumage is so light and fluffy and they’ve brought a really fun dynamic to our flock. I’ve since added two more to our coop and have enjoyed learning more about this incredible chicken.

All About the Lavender Orpington Breed

I found this awesome chart over at the Happy Chicken Coop to give us a good overall snapshot of this breed.

Lavender Orpington Breakdown


Orpingtons are a standard breed although this color is not recognized




Calm and friendly bird





Heat Hardiness

Need plenty of shade and water during the summer months

Cold Hardiness


Space Per Bird

4-10 square feet per bird

Beginner Friendly


Eggs Per Year


Egg Size


Egg Color

Light brown

Dual Purpose


Mature Weight

Male: 160 oz (10 lbs.)

Femail: 128 oz (8 lbs.)

Comb Type

Single, five point

Heritage Breed


Processing Age Ready

Between 16-20 weeks


8-10 years

​Cost of Chicken

Between $4-$8 per chick depending on sex

My Experience With Orpingtons in My Flock

What I love about all three of my Lavender Orpingtons is their gentleness with their flock mates. They are not at the top of the pecking order, nor are they at the bottom. They like to stick together but will accept others into their little group within the flock.

They lay a nice medium, light brown egg and lay anywhere from 170-200 eggs/year.

Orpingtons in general are known to be broody, but I haven’t had a problem with mine yet. Time will tell as they grow, but so far, they’ve been fairly easy to break in the broodiness department!

All About the Lavender Orpington Breed

Their feathers are so big and poofy, they look like they may be heavier than they actually are. They aren’t overly vocal or noisy which is nice. I know…they’re sounding pretty perfect, aren’t they?

All About the Lavender Orpington Breed
Florence doing a little sunbathing as a chick.
All About the Lavender Orpington Breed
Rosie is one of my only chickens that doesn’t mind the snow!

History of the Orpington

According to Home, Garden and Homestead, the first Orpington chickens were bred by William Cook in the 1800s, who named them after the small town of Orpington, England. Cook bred them to be the perfect dual-purpose bird, meaning great egg layers and great meat birds for the dinner table.

Cook took his prized Orpingtons to U.S. poultry shows, and the breed was an instant hit. Before long, the original black-colored Orpington was joined by several other colors, including white, red and the American favorite: buff.

During the mid-20th century, when small homesteads were replaced by large-scale poultry farms, the Orpington breed fell out of favor. Orpingtons were eventually placed on the “threatened” breed list. But during the past 30 years or so, the breed has seen a resurgence as a family and show breed.

Today, Orpington chickens are more popular than ever. Lavender Orpington chickens are a more recent addition to the Orpington family. The color, introduced in the late 1990s, is technically a very diluted black. It resulted after decades of breeding in the U.K. This color breeds “true,” so two Lavender Orpington chickens will produce all Lavender babies.

Where to Buy the Lavender Orpington

Honestly? If you’re looking for a great start up chicken, the Lavender Orpington (or any Orpington!) is a great bird. They are so sweet and friendly to both other chickens and people. They are hearty and handle extreme weather decently well. I highly recommend adding this all-around great breed to your flock!

If you’re looking to add this beautiful breed to your flock, check out Hoover’s Hatchery. I’ve had great success using Hoover’s and receiving my chicks via the mail. It might seem scary, but don’t be worried. It’s simple and the chicks arrive safe and sound. Don’t forget though, they’ll be a little dehydrated and fragile when they arrive. Make sure you have the Baby Chick Care Kit on hand to get them rehydrated and off to a strong start.

Happy chick season, friends!


Until next time,

-The Wing Lady