Sunday, December 30, 2012

Great Reading - Great Products

I just finished reading a great article at backyardpoultry.com about changing the menu for your chickens in the winter.  Here is the link to that article:  
 
 http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/1/1-5/Lisa_Jansen_Mathews.html.

In winter you increase the calories for your flock,  because when you increase the calories it allows the birds to stay warm.  When birds are able to stay warm they are less likely to become ill or die. To increase calories you should increase the proportion of scratch. Scratch is low protein but high calorie.  I for one was not aware of this.

In spring you need higher protein because of  increased egg production. Great sources of protein are alfalfa and legumes. Another thing that I was not aware of.


You can increase protein by giving your chickens sprouts!  I'm sure that is something I could grow!  I did see on one of  my favorite chicken sites was "Chicken Salad".


Your Price: $2.95  


Our seed kit is for those of you who love to spoil your flock. Sow the seeds and, 4 to 8 weeks later, let your flock loose on them -- these are plants chickens especially love to eat! You can also plant them in containers and clip the greens for your flock. Contains: Dwarf Essex Rape, Purple Top Turnip, Bracco White Mustard, Forage Kale, Landino Clover.

I will be getting this for sure!  I thought I would plant it in saucers and place them around the pen it will not only be great for the chickens it will lend a little "decor" to the pen!  Besides the price is reasonable.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sneezing

I have two hens that are sneezing and this worries me.  Ethel our Salmon Faverolle and our Buff Orpington Henrietta.  Ethel is like this a lot so I think hers is a chronic thing, but Henrietta has never done this.  I started  antibiotics and got them a smaller waterer (2 gallon instead of a 5 gallon) which makes it easier to change water and add medicine.  My father-in-law is a large animal vet but does do smaller animals such as dogs and cats, but he doesn't really do chickens but I'm not sure what to do about the sneezing they have had 3 rounds of antibiotics this will make it four. If this keeps up I might have to call the Iowa State and see what they say about it.  I know one year we had a hen with New Castle disease and they were very helpful with that. I'll have to wait until after the first of the year since everyone is on vacation until then.

We are getting a few eggs again this is a good sign.  At least they are laying in the nesting boxes and not pooping too much in them.  I have to shovel chicken poop this coming weekend and clean the nesting boxes out and put more bedding in.  I have a bale of  hay that I will put all over the floor of the coop.  I have to MAKE the chickens go out into the cold while I do this.....this should be a whole lot of  fun!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grit and Shell Dispenser

I found a great way to dispense grit and shells to the chickens!  I want to make them for our chickens!!!  Here is the address to the website that shows you how to put it together:

http://www.grit.com/the-chicken-chick/pvc-chicken-feeder-diy-instructions-reduce-feed-waste.aspx

Copy and paste the above address in your browser 

This idea could be used in the coop or outside the coop.  If you were to use it outside you would probably want to put holes in the dish so that when it rained it would run through and not collect in the dish. I really think this idea would work so well for our chickens I actually would love to put two of them in the coop and two of them outside. I would not use as big of a PVC pipe as they used in the pictures but something about 2 inches wide I think would work really well for grit and shells.   I guess this will be my next "chicken" project!

Brrrrrrrr......

Wow, it's really cold here and the blizzard we had was just crazy.  I figured that I would not be able to get to the chickens so I gave them extra food and water.  Of course the chickens ate all of the extra food the day I gave it to them (silly me) and they acted like they had not been fed for a week which made me feel bad!!!

So far it's not been bad keeping the chickens over the winter.  Of course we are not even in the coldest part of the winter.....January and possibly February.  I'm sure I will regret keeping them when it's below zero.  Hopefully it will NEVER get to that temp.  (Major wishful thinking!)

At least I know they are somewhat warm, they have an insulated coop and we have a heat lamp on them running 24/7 in this cold weather, if it for some reason warms up a little we could probably shut off the lamp during the day.  But the temps have been so low that I've kept it on day and night.  I already burned out one bulb!!! I guess they last less than a month being turned on all the time.  I don't care because I want to make sure they are comfortable, especially Spike!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lots of Crowing

We got three more eggs from the "girls" not really sure who is laying, but we hope it continues!  I still have a hen our Salmon Faverolle, Ethel is still sneezing so I guess I will continue with the antibiotics until that subsides.

Our roosters this morning were crowing to beat the band!  All but one of them crow, Bruce our Japanese Bantam  for whatever reason just will not crow for me.  Maybe he has nothing to say!  Of course the show offs were in rare form. Spike and Chub-a-lub Jr. would NOT be quiet to let the others talk.  Finally (with a little coaxing) Big Red and Frank put there two cents in.....Usually I can get Keith to "sing" at least one time, but I totally get why he doesn't, Big Red chases him when he speaks his mind!!!

Yesterday when I went to let them out for the day, Keith decided that it was a good idea that he should just walk out the front door of the coop, it had everyone at the dental office in an uproar, they thought I didn't know that he had gotten out....he is so food driven that I knew it wouldn't take much to get him in the pen....and as always I was right, he went right in after I tossed the food!  He is so predictable!!!

Keith - our youngest rooster

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Egg Production Has Started

Our chickens haven't been laying since October when they started to molt.  I got a great surprise when I went to feed them........2 dark brown eggs!!!!  This is great news because I was a little worried that some (some) of our hens are "getting up there in age" and might not be producing eggs any longer I do know of two hens that are for sure not laying but we still have a possibility that 9 are still laying.  We have an Aracanna that lays green/blue eggs, that should be easy to figure out if she's not laying anymore.  I think things will pick-up here soon and we should be back to normal before long.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dental Office Chickens

Some of our banty chickens adopted  2012
I am a dental assistant who is also a chicken lover!!! We have chickens in the back of our dental office and I am the one who takes care of them.  This year I've decided to try and winter them here instead of sending them off to the farm of one of our patients.  This should prove interesting since Iowa weather is so unpredictable.

The Back Story: (the short version)
Philip Andersen DDS had chickens when he was very young, his father  had gotten chicks to raise and butcher.....well....Dr. Andersen ended up naming all of them and as the story goes......they became pets instead of dinner!!!  When we built our new dental office in 2001 the backside of our building butted up against farmland......well there was a covenant that prevented anyone from have "poultry" on their property.  A few years had gone by and Dr. Andersen had received a birthday gift from his wife.....a portable chicken coop!  So in 2004 he talked to the farmer who owned the land behind the dental office and obtained permission to build a pen for the chickens and that year we got our first batch of chickens and the rest is history!  We now have had the chickens for 8 years and we also have one hen, a Silver Spangled Hamburg, named Spottie (she had a twin sister named Dottie but she passed away several years ago). Our patients just love watching them mill around (and sometimes they are treated to show when our boys decided to fight). Every winter we have sent them to a farm, and all we hear during winter is:  "When are the chickens coming back?". 

We have had so many positive comments from patients about the chickens we are thinking chickens beat the heck out of watching fish swim around!  An added bonus is when the girls are laying we give patients free eggs!  Where else can you go and get dental work done and walk out with a dozen free eggs???

We have 4 banty roosters and 2 banty hens.
Last year 2011 we were talking to a patient about wanting to build a new coop one with insulation and storage.  Well, our patient returned with a drawing of a coop.  Dr. Andersen tweaked it a bit and it was on....he had the coop built and it was delivered last May, but it was such a wet spring we didn't get the chickens until late May or early June, but they loved the coop!  They even knew to use the nesting boxes to lay their eggs....of course we a had an accident or two, either the nesting boxes were full or we just had a very independant chicken who was going to be different and lay her eggs in the weirdest spots.

This year we had electricity ran out to the coop, pretty snazzy!!  I have to say our chickens live in the lap of luxury!  We are even thinking about putting in a web cam or should I say a Chicken Cam!!!  I'm sure lots of people would be watching!!!