Chick Journey 1.5 Months

Our chicks are currently 1.5 months old and loving their lives outside!

They are permanently outdoors 24/7, living in their chicken tractor. The bottom floor space of the tractor is 8’x8’. This is plenty of space for 7 teenage chicks, but after one whole day, they are ready to be moved onto fresh grass.

Having them in a movable tractor works amazingly well! Each morning I quickly check on them, move the tractor, and give them about 2 cups of crumble. The feeder is hung on a rope, so it doesn’t touch the ground, but instead hovers about 5 inches from the ground. This is very important to keep ants out of the feed. I prefer just giving them small amounts of feed daily, instead of filling the feeder up. That way, there isn’t any leftover crumble leftover for nighttime rodents! I use a large, 3 gallon waterer, so it doesn’t need to be filled daily, just checked.

Moving the tractor a everyday gives them a clean, fresh place to explore. It also fertilizes the soil. Here at our little hobby farm, we allow native grasses and plants to grow on our lawn. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a freshly cut yard, and we do cut our grass weekly. However, just having Bermuda grass isn’t beneficial to our animals and wildlife. We allow for “weeds” like clover, hen bit, dead nettle, and wild onions. Our chicks love plucking the tops off new grass and this is definitely their favorite treat!

Chick Tips


Time for Treats! At this age, the chicks are now old enough to eat and enjoy table scraps! Imagine the amount of biodegradable waste we can give to our chickens, instead of tossing it in the trash! After grocery shopping every week, I love to clean out the fridge. This is the best day of the week for my farmyard babies! Leftover cooked rice, old bread, old fruit, and leftover cooked beans are always on the menu.

Expand Upwards! It’s very tempting to let the chicks out of the tractor on a bright, sunny day. In fact, I did let them out one day recently. It was literally 2 minutes later that my yard rooster, Chimp, sounded a hawk alarm! A swift Cooper’s hawk darted through the air space right above the chicks! Immediately, the chicks were locked right back up. At this age and size, they are the perfect prey for hawks. One way you can bust their boredom is by adding a perch! Find a thick branch and rest it in a corner of the tractor. A bigger perch is more comfortable for roosting and they’ll love this new toy!

At this age, the chicks are almost totally covered in feathers, instead of down. They may still change colors a little, but now I can almost 100% assess their breeds!

Missy- she is still a mystery to me- what do you guys think?

Starling- Mystic Onyx

Rose- Olive Egger

Dotty- Cuckoo Maran


There will be a time coming when they WILL be ready to completely free range! This is a tricky transitional time, as they move from tractor to coop. Check back in 2 weeks to keep following their story!

What is Marek’s Disease?

Have you ever heard of Marek’s Disease? If not, today is your lucky day! You’ll learn all about the causes, if it’s treatable and how to sanitize your coop after Marek’s strikes your flock. This way you won’t have an unnecessary panic attack like I did the first time I thought I had a chicken with Marek’s.

What is Marek's Disease?
Sweet Georgia my Barnevelder

It was a few summers ago and our daughter came running to the house telling me she thinks Georgia (my precious Barnevelder) was dying. I ran out of the house and down to the coop to find Georgia lying on her back with her legs in the air. I have no idea why Marek’s was the first thing that entered my mind, but it was!

I got Georgia up off her back and brought her directly to the small kennel in our garage. After a few hours of observation, I realized Georgia was just fine! She was at the bottom of the pecking order at the time and sadly, I think, she was trying to play dead so the others would leave her alone. To this day, she’s a happy and healthy chicken and no longer at the bottom of the totem pole!

What is Marek’s Disease?

Marek’s disease is a highly contagious viral disease found in backyard and commercial chicken flocks. It is named after Jozsef Marek, a Hungarian veterinarian. Marek described the disease in 1907. It’s actually a chicken herpes virus that can wreak havoc on your flock. The good news is that humans can’t contract this highly infectious disease. Marek’s affects the chicken’s central nervous system and can cause paralysis. This is why I thought Georgia had it because she was stuck on her back. Marek’s can cause blindness, and causes tumors on organs, muscles and even the follicles of feathers. All in all, it’s a horrible virus.

What is Marek's Disease?

What Are the Symptoms of Marek’s Disease?

Chickens may show signs of pale combs, weight loss, dehydration, diarrhea, depression, paralysis and loss of appetite. These symptoms can be found in other chicken diseases as well, so if you do have an ill chicken, don’t just assume it’s Marek’s, but be quick in separating the sick chicken out away from the flock.

Is Marek’s Disease Treatable?

Unfortunately, Marek’s is not treatable and if your chickens catch this, it usually moves pretty quickly through the flock regardless of the vaccination status of the birds. Marek’s can be spread through chicken dust and dander, and we know there is never a shortage of that in a coop! Unfortunately, the virus can live dormant in chickens, but once the symptoms occur, it will likely be too late to save your chickens.

Is it Important to Clean My Coop After a Marek’s Outbreak?

Keeping a clean chicken coop is always important! But, if there is disease outbreak, lice, mites or other yucky things plaguing your coop, deep cleaning is of utmost importance! This is a great article on Marek’s and how to properly clean and disinfect your coop if you have been unfortunate to have this disease strike your flock. You basically need to deep clean and disinfect everything in your coop…even electrical outlets! It’s quite a process, but necessary to be able to keep chickens healthy. I clean our coop out 2-4 times a year. I’d rather stay on top of the coop hygiene to do our best to keep our flock healthy. I also give our chickens Strong Animals Chicken Essentials to naturally fight off sickness and disease by keeping their immune systems strong!

With knowledge comes power, and that is especially true when it comes to raising backyard chickens. By being aware of potential diseases like Marek’s, hopefully you can stop them from spreading and keep your flock at its healthiest!

Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

What To Do with Frozen Eggs and When Do You Freeze Eggs?

You come home from a long winter day at work or school and visit the coop to collect the day’s eggs. They’re cold.  Really cold with hairline cracks in some of their shells.     That’s not surprising. Those eggs have been sitting in the nest for hours on a subzero day.


Egg whites and yolks contain plenty of water but are loaded with dissolved solids.  These lower the egg freezing point to about 29 degrees. Eggs rarely freeze in moderately cold weather but if the temperature drops like a stone eggs freeze and crack in just a couple of hours.


In many ways eggs are the perfect product.  They are delicious nutrition packaged in a protective shell and membrane that keeps bacteria and dirt out.  Unfortunately, that tiny crack in a frozen egg can be an ideal passageway for dirt and microbes to enter.   Eating that contaminated egg could be a health risk.


What do you do with a frozen egg?  The best solution is to never let it happen.  It’s wise to collect eggs often throughout the day, but when the mercury drops toward the bottom of the thermometer it’s essential. Collecting eggs every couple of hours makes it unlikely that any will freeze. Unfortunately, when chicken keepers are stuck at work or school all day, they can’t saunter to the coop often to gather their eggs.  A few eggs are likely to freeze on a frigid day. For those who cannot collect regularly, some heat in the coop can keep eggs from freezing.  Even, enclosed nest boxes can maintain some warmth and possibly prevent eggs from freezing.


What’s the safest thing to do with a rare frozen egg?  Either toss it somewhere so night time raccoons or opossums can snack on it, or mix it into the compost pile. It may seem like a waste but it beats getting sick.


Purposefully Freezing Eggs


Deliberately freezing eggs for future use is far different from finding frozen eggs in the nest.  A frozen egg is one that was in the nest too long on a frigid day. To be safe, toss it out. Freezing eggs purposefully in the freezer is a way to store them for months.   Almost any family who keeps a flock of hens has times when eggs build up in the refrigerator and days when there just aren’t enough for baking and cooking. A solution is to freeze them when they are abundant. It’s easy. Crack them into a container, scramble them up, seal the container and freeze. They should last about a year.


For information on egg freezing, safety, recipes check these websites:   www.incredibleegg.org or www.eggindustrycenter.org.

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


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.

Poultry Watering Systems

Poultry watering systems come in many shapes and sizes these days, and your local feed store will have several options. So, which one is right for you?

There are advantages and disadvantages to any product, so choose the one that is best suited to your situation. As I tell any farmer, beekeeper, or gardener: “Do what works for you!”

Some of your choices for watering systems are:

-Metal founts

-Plastic founts

-Water troughs

However, my personal preference is poultry nipples. While the founts work, I found not only did they have a tendency to get dirty, but they would also often develop a tiny leak that would cause the whole thing to dump out, leaving a wet spot in the coop. If we didn’t catch it on time, the flock would run out of water. If you are going to use a fount, I recommend building a stand to keep it up off the ground and minimize some of the contamination issues.

The main advantage to poultry nipples is that the water you are giving your birds stays clean and cool as long as it stays in a shady place where the chickens can have constant access. They are also inexpensive and can be installed in a variety of ways to suit your needs.

For mobile coops, you can simply install them on the bottom of a five-gallon bucket and suspend it inside your coop. This setup should be sufficient to keep a small flock of backyard birds well-hydrated for a week without needing to refill.

If you have a larger flock in a mobile coop, you can attach the nipples to a PVC pipe by drilling the recommended size hole and screwing them in. I like to have at least one nipple per six birds, spaced out every 12 inches along the pipe. This pipe can then be attached to a 30- or 55-gallon drum as the water source. Fill your drum with water weekly and your chickens will have plenty of cool clean water to drink.

For a more permanent coop, you can use a set up a similar system using a PVC pipe attached to a water supply. If you are going to go this route you will also need a pressure reducer to take your pressure down to below 1 PSI. These are available to order, just be sure to look for the reducers specifically designed for poultry nipples. For the DIY enthusiasts, you can also build an inexpensive reducer by putting a stock tank float in a five-gallon bucket. Then hook the PVC pipe up to the bottom of the bucket and allow the water to feed into the line using gravity.

A few recommendations I have no matter which system you choose:

-Always plan on having a way to clean out the system. For the PVC pipe design, this can be as simple as a ball valve at the end of the line that allows you to flush the system. I like to run a bit of bleach through the lines at least every 6 months to keep things sanitary.

-In colder climates, plan on keeping your system from freezing by using heat tape.

-Train your birds to use nipples from the youngest age possible. I put them in the coop along with a fount when the birds are about a week old, then I raise the bucket as they grow and can reach up higher.

-Make sure your waterer stays in the shade on hot summer days.

-Have fun raising your birds, take time to observe their daily activities, watch and listen as they peck at the watering system to fulfill their needs. They are fascinating creatures, especially ducks!!!

Drew Erickson is Farm Manager for Rodale Institute Midwest Organic Center in Marion, Iowa. Learn more about Rodale Institute and their work in the Midwest at RodaleInstitute.org/Midwest.