Let’s Talk Chicken

Let’s talk chicken…I know you know what I am talking about. We all have those rough days where we just walk out to the coop and look at that one chicken and just let it out. We spill the beans and tell them how life got to us and sometimes it can be therapeutic and relaxing and even liberating to get it off your chest. Have you ever thought about what they may be saying while you’re just, yah know, spilling your beans.

Chickens communicate in so many different ways from a fluff of a feather, kicking grass or dirt, a twitch in the head, and even a noise that to us sounds like something a dinosaur would make. I have owned chickens now for 5+ years and watching them and being around them has been some of the most relaxing moments in my life.

If you are home every day at the same time or not, I challenge you to grab a snack for you AND THEM. Don’t be rude and eat in-front of them without sharing something. I am not kidding, you will surely lose your snack and some of their respect. Those little 2 leggers have an appetite like a piggy and we are their suppliers. So, back to my challenge – grab snacks and for an entire week RAIN OR SHINE, sit with them and feed them, watch them, and talk to them. You will learn all these things I am going to tell you and it will make things more fun for everyone and let’s be honest we know you have chicken friends who will love to hear this and think “you’re their go to chicken friend because you know so many random things that are just kind of cool!”

Many people that have purchased baby chicks this year even if the bin said pullet, received a rooster. If you didn’t, tell me where you shopped, because this chicken mom got 9 out of the 30 pullets I purchased. I am a sucker too for wanting to keep them because I think they are strong and they communicate the most with us. If you have baby roosters don’t shun them or cast them aside, hold them and spoil them. Most likely by 2 years old their hormones develop differently and they become a smidgen more territorial. Do not worry, this is all fixable and I’ll share that with you too.

While you do your challenge you will see your roosters dance. Watch their feet, they move quick and they go back and forth and side to side. This is to help them find larger pieces of food and kick it back to their hens. It is also a way to always be on guard and move quickly if a predator is near. If your rooster is too close, never swat at them! Just click with your tongue louder and louder and walk in their direction. This is an actual form of communicating with them to tell them, I won’t hurt your ladies and please move. Stand your ground and sit where you want. If your rooster spurs you simply pick them up and hold them with your snack. I use cracked corn for my birds. I place a bucket between my legs and hold my rooster. Let him see he is welcome to the bucket while you hold him. It may take a few minutes to calm down and realize this. This helps them realize you are here to enjoy their company. After doing this for a week, all the birds will KINDLY come running like baby velociraptors toward you.

Roosters also show their crow by standing tall and extending the neck, allowing them to increase their vocal cords vibrations and make for a louder crow. The first crow is to signify that it is morning and to tell his hens to gather near for foraging will begin soon. Another crow that is loud but not as high pitch is to demand territory. This is to tell predators in the sky that they live here and to back off. Or your rooster may feel threatened by you and vocalize this to you.

When a hen is popping her eggs out she will cluck loud to warn the flock that she is laying an egg, this is also to let other hens know so that the younger hens are welcome to lay there as well. Multiple hens lay in the same box to ensure their egg is safer and to allow themselves to be safer during the process from any predators. Being new layers is a big deal so learning from the older hens is a healthy process for your flock.

Chicken ears are located on the side of the head, looking almost like a hole. When talking to your chickens they will turn an ear toward you to show they hear you. Don’t think they are ignoring you moving on, they will stretch their necks up and turn their heads and listen to you. During snack time or free ranging time you will notice a twitch in their heads after they have had their fill of food. This is nothing to be alarmed of. They are simply doing it to clear their crop and allow food to pass through. It can also be something done if they hear an insect coming. A chickens hearing is much better than ours, they can hear 10x stronger than we can. So an insect’s vibrations from wings are much louder. But be aware this sensory can easily be tuned out when they are asleep. Sleeping for them is more of a meditation time to heal and rest. So they detach themselves from the world and get lost in their dreams. Have you have heard your hens cluck/ chicken bark when they are laying eggs? Well add a grumble and screech and you have yourself a broody hen.

Doing a snack time and being around your chickens will help bring your broody hens out for some food. But for those who are first time chicken owners, a broody hen will show so many signs that she is ready to be a mom and wants her space. While she eats, she will fluff her neck and side feathers out. Think of the tiny dinosaur on Jurassic Park that attacked the man with the glasses when his vehicle broke down – his gills shot out around his head like an umbrella. Well, hens do that with feathers around their neck to tell you “these eggs are mine to protect and hatch or please give me space, no touchy.” Depending on whether she is in her nest box or on the ground, those would be a round-about idea of what you will see and hear. The grumble and screech is also to warn the rooster that something is coming for her eggs and to come help!

Hens will also squeak and lightly cluck near close friends, the hens that they enjoy their company by. It will be an honor when they do it for you during your routine snack time with them.

Look at all your chickens closely at these times. You will see so much communication between them and you. You will be so surprised by who wants to trust you so much that they come feathers length from you. Roosters will surprise you by being so interactive with you and their flock.

Always keep an eye out for chickens secluding themselves from the flock, see who is molting ok and who is not, look at eyes and ears as they pass by. You will learn so much about each breed by doing this and making sure your flock is safe and healthy.

We have 30+ hens and 9 roosters and I have been doing this challenge for 2 weeks, my roosters are by far my most interactive in the flock. They will sit on my lap, sit near me, come up to me and just eat as close as they can to me. I hope this challenge brings some peace into your life and builds some love and trust with your flock. I only do it for about 10 to 30 minutes depending on if the turkeys and ducks join the snack time. I have been building as much bonding time with my turkeys due to my fear of turkeys. So it has been so wonderful for me doing this.


ALSO!!! If you have not already read my blog on starting a garden for the chickens, I recommend it because this can come in handy once it’s time to harvest these veggies and fruits. They can be the snack you provide your feathered friends. I hope you enjoyed todays blog and you accept my challenge. If you have children or grand-children, I encourage you to bring them in on the challenge. Your chickens would love to meet them on a ground level and see just how amazing they are!

Talk soon everyone! Big Hugs!

Amanda B.

Published by Amanda B.

Our family homestead began 6 years ago when we decided to buy a home in the country in the beautiful state of Michigan. I was on a mission to have it all but no idea where to begin. So, our dream house found us! I know, I know, that doesn’t sound right, but it did! An older gentleman that shopped at our local pet food store had approached my family about having a home for sale and once we saw it, we knew there was no way we could get approved for the amount he was asking. BUT this man was an angel disguised as a human here on earth. We called him up and he met our daughter (my mother’s 1st of 3 grandbabies) and when I explained to him the sad news he simply said, “I have known your family for a long time, your mother worked at my kennel and holds a piece of my heart and I do not care how much you get approved for. I want that little girl (pointing to my dear Abby who was 6 months old) to have a forever home. When you get approved by a loan company come find me and buy my home.” With tears of joy and tears of so much weight being lifted off my shoulders I hugged him with the biggest and hardest hug I could gather up and we went through the home buying process. 6 years later, I am here in this very home to share my love for poultry and homesteading. That entire step of homesteading started with chickens! We have always been in love with animals and nutrition is my number one priority for my animals. My family’s business is Holistic Pet Store, feeding raw, dehydrated raw and the finest foods for pets and holistic and homeopathic supplements for people and pets. We take nutrition to a different level. So, finding a poultry feed that fit in was my task and I was up for the job. I of course brought in organic, soy free, and even things to add such a safflowers and sunflower seeds, but as my family grew, this $48 per bag of feed for 30+ poultry was not in the budget plan. We went from a family of 3 and a couple dogs and chickens to a family of 5, 4 dogs, 7 cats, 3 guinea pigs, 20 rabbits, 4 goats, 2 cows, 30+ chickens, 20+ ducks, 3 turkeys and 1 pig. So, I took my knowledge of feed and started fermenting everything. (I’ll explain this process to you soon in another blog post, it will blow your mind!!!) Every animal’s feed had been fermented and costs were minimized tremendously and it seemed as though nothing could go wrong…but it did. The Words that Changed Everything When Evie my 3rd beautiful baby girl came into our world, my job was on hold which meant my money used to pay for the animals’ feed was no longer available. Things became solely on my husband’s shoulders. He was prepared and had budgeted for most of it, but money just seemed to disappear. So, we did what it was time to do. We sent the cows for butcher and rented the goats out for parties and events, and cut costs where we could. Which sadly meant buying the cheapest feed. We did the usual big box store brands. We thought this cannot be too bad and everything will be fine. The first few months everything was okay but we slowly noticed our chickens lost their shiny feathers and softness. They even had weaker immune systems and we had lost chickens more than we ever had the years prior. We had no sign of Avian Influenza, but we had chickens dying at random moments for no reason. I truly felt it couldn’t get worse and then I started cracking eggs and the yolks were gray, the beautiful orange yolks dwindled to flavorless, bland grays and pale yellows. At this time, I felt like the odds were against us and was about to sell everything I owned and when I was able to work, I would start up with a new flock. The next day we had our wonderful truck driver from our distributor, John A. Van Den Bosch, come in. When I told him the news and was to my wits end, he said the magic words that changed everything, “Have you ever heard of NatureServe?” At first, I thought to myself maybe, then quickly realized I never had. He told me about the company and how Van Den Bosch carries them and that he truly feels it is the perfect fit for what I am looking for. When I looked them up, by golly-gee he was right! NatureServe was everything I was looking for, they used fermented probiotics and digestive enzymes and ESSENTIAL OILS. Combined, it was an immune system booster created by man with 100% of natures bounty. I was blown away. HOW DID I MISS THIS! I am sure if you are reading this you may think I am kind of crazy but let me fill you in on a life of one of my chickens. They receive fresh water every other day with essential oils in it to help prevent respiratory issues, as well as keep the immune system stable. They have free access 24/7 to almost 200 pounds of feed that is mixed with safflower and sunflower seeds. As a treat we chose fermented broccoli sprouts or flaxseed sprouts. They have almost 11 acres of grass and wild herbs and flowers to rummage through and a medium sized pond to find some yummy tadpoles, baby frogs, and crickets to eat. But when winter hit, it was fermented sprouts and feed they relied on the most. To find an affordable but not breaking the bank food that fit my lifestyle and ethics was hard until that magical day I was introduced to NatureServe. NatureServe is a company based on family and faith. They use the highest quality ingredients while going above and beyond with what they are putting in their feed. For example, they use: Fermented pre/probiotics and digestive enzymes to support your flock’s digestive tract Flaxseed for a safe form of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber Alfalfa, THIS ONE I LOVE! Reduces seasonal depression in chickens, helps hens lay all winter or during a usual off season, and is an amazing protein source Diatomaceous Earth is a natural de-wormer, and with its main ingredient being silica it will help give your poultry a healthy heart Marigold may be the best ingredient added to this feed! Marigolds help the skin’s ability to heal faster as well as reduces eye infections from even starting. This flower is also a natural anti inflammatory which is wonderful for chickens that free range on several acres all day Oregano and Thyme to support immune system The feeds are produced through Belstra Milling in DeMotte, Indiana. With NatureServe’s ingredients being the safest and the healthiest, I know what I am putting into my flock is of the highest quality. After all, don’t we do this so we can feed our families the healthiest meat? As a homesteader we use the whole chicken. The chicken’s meat is for food, the bones and certain organs are used in stocks and broths. Why feed a food that is destroying an animal’s immune system when you can feed a layer that can excel your poultry’s life and not only improve their way of living but your own. What change came since being on NatureServe Stronger flocks Longer egg laying duration Strong shells No issues with blocked eggs or eggs breaking inside the chicken due to optimal nutrition Golden orange yolks Healthy chicks, poults, and ducklings Nutritionally satisfied poultry (no aggression due to lack of nutrition or hunger) Beyond beautiful feathers and colors I can’t wait to touch base on more topics with you! Keep your eyes peeled for more fun blogs by yours truly, Amanda B.