The tip of the day has always been a very popular post and many have commented on how helpful those little tidbits of information have been. I have kept a log of those tips for some time now with the intention of compiling in one easy to read document. Below you will find many of our tips and this will be an ongoing list, as we add more tips to the repertoire. By no means will this be an exhaustive list, nor a set in stone list.
It is our intention to be informative and to educate. We do not pretend to be experts, though we have over 20 years of personal experience raising chickens and were raised on a farm with chickens and other livestock. We share what we know based on that experience and current research. We raise over 300 laying hens and hatch hundreds of chicks annually. JFA is not just a backyard hobby, it is a working poultry farm. What we do not know we research extensively to bring you the best and most comprehensive information. We have a common sense approach to raising chickens, not a fanciful approach that has no scientific or true expert research data to found it on. If we recommend anything, it is because either we use it ourselves or because there is enough evidence to prove to us that it is worthy of sharing. We always recommend and encourage that you research your local county extension, State Agriculture University or contact your local Veterinarian or State Veterinarian for any and all information. Do not rely upon social media, or random blogs to obtain your information, no matter how convincing that information may seem. Just because a person has good marketing skills and a fancy website, does not make their information accurate or even safe to use.
JFA Tip of the Day: The most important and valuable thing you can do for future generations is to share and teach the skills that you have developed. Engage your children and grandchildren in canning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cooking, gardening, and raising the chickens. It is these skills that are the foundation in life, it's not sports, it's not cell phones or computers or the latest movie or reality show.
By engaging children, you are showing them that you care about them and are taking the time to be with them, not shoving them off to school or day care or to a theater to keep them occupied.
What you teach your children and grand children today is what they will remember into the future to share with their own offspring. If you have not developed these basic skills it's definitely not too late to learn and while you're learning, share those skills with others to reinforce what you yourself are learning.
It's way past time our society got back to the basics rather than relying on department stores and super markets or the latest gadgets. If you have no children or grand children, take your skills to others in your neighborhood or community. We are all teachers, even if we do not have a degree in education, we can all teach and share what we know.
JFA tip of the Day: Lion's tooth; Priest's crown; Swine's snout; Taraxacum officinale, or better known as the weed from Hades by people that don't know all the benefits of Dandelion. Chock full of vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc. This may be a weed to some, but those are gold nuggets of deliciousness to chickens. If your chickens free-range you'll notice them gravitate to the dandelions, but even those that can't free range can benefit from all those nutrients when you're weeding or mowing. Leaves, flowers and roots are all edible. Just dole them out a little at a time; they can cause diarrhea. Freeze some to make frozen summer time treats. Steep some of the dandelion in hot water like making tea, this releases nutrients and you can cool that, and freeze it or cool it down as water for the chickens now and again.
JFA tip of the day. Though this should go unsaid, it is an important message. If you are handling your chickens or gathering the eggs, then going in to cook a meal or tend to a small child or elderly family member, be sure to wash your hands and either change clothing or wear a removable apron so pathogens are not entering those fresh foods or affecting those that may have compromised immune systems. Always safe food handling and hygiene is a must with all meats and fresh uncooked produce. Most food borne illness is caused by improper food handling.
JFA tip of the day: There are many chicken breeds that lay brown eggs or varying shades of brown. Eggs are white, until the last stage of the egg laying process when the brown pigment is added prior to lay. For more information about brown egg layers, refer to the link.
JFA tip of the day: Are you looking for ways to tenderize tough cuts of meat? Do you know what makes meat tender and flavorful from a Chinese Restaurant? It's called Velveting.
Egg white, White Wine, and Corn Starch together.
Marinate the thin sliced meat in the mixture, then boil a few minutes and add to the stir fry or other dishes. Refer to the link for the procedure:
JFA tip of the day: For those of you in the deep freezes this season, watch for signs of distress; If you see any of your chickens showing loss of coordination, or shivering, get them to shelter quickly and warm them up in a bath towel. These are signs of hypothermia and chickens can succumb to that quickly as the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, and that deep cold sets in. Keep the chickens active, or sheltered and provide windbreaks if they are brave enough to be out in the weather.
JFA tip of the day: It's still winter and if it's been especially cold with snow in your region, predators are likely looking for a meal. This morning our flocks set up quite a ruckus as they all headed for their safe place. With 20 some different breeds, when they set up a fuss, there's no way to ignore it. Of course that alerts us and Tess the chicken herder to investigate the situation. Nothing appeared out of order, no feathers as evidence of an attack and Tess seemed satisfied that there was no immediate danger from a ground predator, but it may have been a Hawk or Eagle that flew a little too close for comfort and the boys sent their flocks into hiding. In observation, you'll notice that a rooster sets off a different alarm for ground and aerial predators, and they even have a different sound for a variety of predators. A good rooster is indispensable and your best defense against predators, whether they free range or in a chicken run. He will sacrifice his life to spare his ladies.
JFA tip of the day: If you are in the snow zone during winter, remove that snow load. Each year I hear reports of collapsed barns, coops and even commercial buildings. That snow is heavy and has to be removed or risk damage and or injury to your chickens and other livestock.
JFA tip of the day: If you have tarps over the chicken runs, it's very important to have a good foundation under them to prevent collapse from snow or rain. When the snow or rain collect it gets very heavy, so any support beneath needs to be very secure. Even with a secure support, you must remove that snow or collected rain from the tarps to prevent the structure from collapsing under the heavy weight. Removal of snow from the roof of the coop is also very important. Each year we hear about collapsed coops after heavy snowfall. If you heat or light your coops and there is a roof collapse that can be a deadly combination. Best advice, BE SAFE. See our link for Winter preparations: http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chicken-coop-chatter-blog/winter-storm-preparations
JFA tip of the day: If you have pumpkins that you used for decoration, don't toss them out. Be sure to render them for puree' to make your holiday desserts and freeze some for the chickens to dole out through the year. Members of the Cucurbita family store well for months if you can keep them out of direct sun and frost free. Outdoors on a porch, in a cool basement or if you are fortunate enough to have a fruit cellar are all options for keeping them for use in baking. Save the seeds, for roasting and/or planting next season. Just wash the seeds, lay them out to air dry then package and label. Follow the link for instructions to prepare cucurbita for puree. justfowlingaround.weebly.com/recipes-for-self-reliance/rendering-squash-and-pumpkin
JFA tip of the day. Do you use the deep litter method in your coops? In Autumn, there's plenty of organic material to add to that deep litter. The best deep litter is one that is layered with small limbs, bedding materials, dried leaves and even small fir or pine boughs. The combination of carbon and nitrogen materials helps the litter to compost more readily, and helps clean up the debris in and around the yard, while it also provides rich soil come spring when you do the spring coop cleaning. Not to mention that a deep litter method in winter time helps keep the coop warmer, and keeps odors down.
JFA tip of the day. When you take your Christmas tree down, consider putting that in the coop or run. If you do a deep litter method in the coop, the boughs added will help keep the deep litter fresh smelling and help to aerate the litter to compost more evenly. In addition you can add the tree to the run for roosting area to keep the chickens up out of the snow, mud or ice and give them something to keep them active through the remaining winter months. Be sure to remove any adornment from the tree. If you choose not to add the tree to the coop or run, just remove the boughs and toss into the compost pile, and cut up the trunk for burning. If you do not have the means to do this, there are several youth organizations that will pick up the tree for recycling.
JFA tip of the day. If you are exhibiting at fairs or poultry shows, you should have your birds vaccinated, quarantine upon return from those shows and the utmost bio-security in place to and from those shows. This applies to livestock and pet swaps as well. Do not wait for an official to make it a rule, you make it a rule. And when you leave the fair after visiting the poultry barns, change and wash your clothes so you are not inadvertently bringing any pathogens back to... your flock. We cannot express how very important bio security is in your own flock and especially any that are taken too and from exhibitions. We are very aware that some of you do not subscribe to the notion that you should have vaccinations, but every pathogen has a source and it's a matter of time before those pathogens run rampant and completely destroy your flocks. Most of these pathogens have 100% mortality rate, and with some, you can never have poultry in that location again because the pathogens thrive even in freezing weather. To read more about inoculations, refer to our article: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chicken-blog/inoculate-or-not
JFA tip of the day: Did you know that Oregano oil is used in Organic poultry farming? It's used to build the natural immunity in the flock and approved by the FDA for Organic farming. You can make your own, since most herbal oils are very expensive. If using herbs always use in moderation and when using herbs for your flock the same rules apply as to humans. A few drops of the oil added to the treats or feed is all that is necessary. For making your own Infused Oregano oil refer to the link: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chicken-blog/infused-oregano-oil
JFA tip of the day: The depth of color in the yolk is determined by breed and by what they eat. Did you save your marigold, nasturtium and calendula flowers through the garden season? If so, you can give the ladies some of those dried petals to deepen the color of the yolks. In addition, squash, carrots, and pumpkin will all add color to the yolk. White egg layers tend to have lighter yolks, you can alter it slightly with diet. When you see a comparison of yolks, the comparison attempts to make you believe that one egg is healthier than another because of the color of the yolk. It's impossible to tell the health of an egg in that manner. In addition, you cannot compare a brown egg layer to a white egg layer and expect the same color yolk, nor can you compare the yolk of one breed versus another. The only fair comparison is from the same breed, on different diets, but that does NOT determine the health of that egg, it only compares the color of that yolk.
JFA tip of the day: Did you know, that colored egg shells change color intensity as the hen ages? And in fact the eggs are darkest or most brilliant when the hens are young, and begin to fade the older the hen is. Even through the laying season, the eggs will start out darker than they will be prior to molt. To test it, keep an egg from a young layer, blow it out then compare it at end of season or compare to an older hen egg of that breed. For information on colored eggs refer to the link:
JFA tip of the day: Chard, lettuce, beets, cabbage, garlic and spinach all do well in the fall, not to mention carrots, and radishes. Of course we have to be concerned with an early frost, but mulching and crop covers help to extend the season. Chickens love the greens and they can be frozen or dehydrated to dole out through the winter months.
JFA tip of the day: Do you grow fodder for your chickens? As we wind down summer, many areas may be In for some early frosts and even snow. Sprouting wheat, oats, and other grains for the chickens is a way for them to continue to enjoy the greens that may not be available as the colder and turbulent months approach. Even grains that the chickens are not fond of become tasty to them as greens rather than as whole grains. Ours resist barley as a whole grain, but they love it as sprouts. Did you know that Chia is a nutritionally complete grain? It isn't about a whimsical lyric of ChI--ChI--Chia. It's actually an ancient powerhouse grain that your chickens will love. http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/…/chia-fodder-for-chick…
JFA tip of the day: If you use cover crops such as clover, or alfalfa on your garden beds to replenish the nitrogen and soil nutrients, don't forget, your chickens love those too, either as sprouts or instead of just tilling back in, mow that first, and let the chickens scratch to their hearts content, then till in as usual.
JFA tip of the day: We always recommend a head to toe exam of your chickens regularly. Check for injuries, wounds, and above all parasites. Feathers hide a multitude of issues that are prevalent in backyard chickens. Without those routine checkups, wounds can be infected, injuries undetected and parasites out of control.
JFA tip of the day~~You may be seeing a decline in egg production, or even the *empty nest syndrome*, which in late summer or early Autumn, is usually from molting, and/or the shorter days as we approach Autumn, however, there are many reasons for low egg production that you need to be aware of. Any time there is a decline, you need to be checking for a cause. For information on low egg production refer to the link: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chicken-blog/a-dozen-reasons-for-low-egg-production
JFA tip of the day: Are the chickens pecking at the white paint on the house, coop or other objects? Long ago I read some scientific research about birds pecking at the white paint on houses, and researches wanted to know what was causing this odd habit. Through their research they found it was caused by a calcium deficiency. When they provided calcium in bird feeders, the odd behavior stopped. Chickens in fact humans only absorb some of the calcium and that is why Vitamin D is added to calcium tablets, to assist with absorption. But you can help the chickens absorb more, by boiling eggs as you normally would, cool the water, then give that to the chickens as their source of water until it's gone. That water is rich in calcium and other healthy nutrients and in a form that can be fully absorbed by the body.
JFA tip of the day: We're already seeing snow in the mountains, and temperatures at and below freezing, so it's not too early to be thinking about frostbite. Chickens with large combs and wattles, such as Leghorn, Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock are most vulnerable to frostbite and care needs to be taken to prevent winter injury. If frostbite is severe enough the flesh will die, so those gorgeous combs will be altered forever and can cause serious infection. You'll see in our article that it's not just combs and wattles that can be affected, feet are very vulnerable in all breeds of chickens and can cause crippling. Arming yourself with information for treating is essential if you are in an area that gets below freezing during the colder months. http://justfowlingaround.weebly.com/chic…/treating-frostbite
JFA tip of the day: Freezing weather is nipping at the heels by October and won't be long before those freezing days arrive. We use heated hoses here at JFA to make sure the chickens have fresh water at all times throughout the winter months. Chickens and in fact most livestock drink as much water in the winter time as they do in the summer time. The heated hoses are indispensable around here, otherwise we'd be hauling water to over 300 chickens, several times a day. The heated hoses are great for all livestock and sure a time saver if you have many animals to tend. There are several brands and prices to choose from. They are safer than the heated containers, because they are never installed within the chicken coop and do not need to be anywhere near flammable materials.
JFA tip of the day: We do not encourage heating or lighting coops in winter. There is far too much danger of fire. Chickens are equipped to handle the cold weather. Just as with humans, it's the wind chill that is hard on them, so make sure you are able to block the winds from the chicken runs and from the coops. Seal up all drafts in the coops, but still allow for ventilation with vents at the roof line. Add extra straw, hay or choice of bedding material to capture the warmth and to keep the ground from freezing. Be watching for frostbite, especially feet and toes. The bedding materials you use will help prevent loss of life and limbs during the bitter cold times.
JFA tip of the day: Chickens love nuts, they won't eat the shells, but they will break through the shells for the meat. A great source of healthy protein and it keeps them active. Just NO salted nuts.
JFA Tip of the day: If you haven't already done so, be sure to get the chickens on a high protein diet during molt and the cold winter months. They need the extra protein to build resistance to the bitter cold temperatures of the winter months. Extra protein can be in the form of a higher protein commercial product, (ie: Game bird feed, turkey mash), scrambled eggs, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, cooked meats and tuna. Be sure to reduce the protein during the warmer months, so the chickens are not becoming to fat. A normal balanced ration is suitable for the warmer months.
JFA tip of the day: While preparing the vegetable trays, package the scraps in sealable bags and freeze. Two things make that practice useful. One, you can toss some at a time to the chickens as boredom busters and for the beneficial greens through the winter months (ration them, they should only receive treats in small increments and it should only represent less than 10% of their normal feed ration). And two, those vegetable scraps also make great vegetable broth for winter soups, so freeze them now and make the broth later.
JFA tip of the day: The chickens you buy in the store are 8-12 weeks old, and sold as fryers, so when you are raising chickens for meat, you want the faster maturing breeds as fryers, however ANY chicken is good for meat, and it comes down to how you process and cook it. Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker and boiling the meat for chicken stock and soups is perfect for the older birds that make it to the freezer. I haven't seen *boiler* chickens in stores in a very long time for some reason. Chicken and Dumplings anyone? justfowlingaround.weebly.com/recipes-for-self-reliance/pressure-pankettle-cooking
JFA tip of the day: Be sure to save the left over turkey carcass and bones to make delectable meat broth. I use meat broth for making soup, casseroles, boil potatoes and rice and even add it to some breads instead of milk or water. And I use it in chicken treats for that extra protein, vitamins and minerals.
JFA Tip of the day: While you're cooking down your holiday turkey carcass for meat broth, you can remove those bones, continue to cook them in a slow cooker until very soft. That is bone broth, but the soft bones can just be crushed. I use that to add to chicken treats for all the extra nutrients those bones provide.
JFA tip of the day-- When purchasing chicks, there is always the chance that you will find one that isn't quite like the others. All those sweet little pullets that the feed store or hatchery sent to you, may not in fact be all pullets. So, what do you do with the unwanted roos? Here at JFA we offer a rooster rescue, and we have now for many years. We know that not everyone wants roosters or for that matter are not able to have roosters in their community, so we have always made it a policy to take in those unwanted roosters. Just today alone, we took in 5 unwanted roos.
You may find in your own area that there are rooster rescues available. We've even heard that humane societies have inadvertently become sites to roosters or abandoned fowl, though it is not their typical policy to take in fowl and most are not equipped to take in fowl. however, they may know of a Rooster Rescue in the area and worth a call to check with them.
Check with your local Veterinarian or check Craig's list for your area, to see if there may be a local Rooster Rescue if you are not able to rehome those unwanted roos. But those of you that have the space and proper ordinances for keeping roosters may want to consider starting your own rescue and rehoming services. It is important that you have a quarantine area if you are going to rescue fowl. They should be under quarantine no less that 30 days and if you rehome before that quarantine, instruct others to quarantine so there is less chance of the spread of pathogens to infect established flock members.
Question: Cindy. Don't the roosters fight?
Answer: JFA. We have very little problem with roos in a bachelor pad, as long as they are not competing for the female favors, they are usually well behaved and content Cindy. In addition, we carefully monitor whenever any new birds are introduced to the others to make sure the transition is acceptable and no serious altercations. As with hens, there is a strict pecking order and will always be a dominant rooster. Allow ample square footage in the chicken run for all chickens so there is less chance of squabbles. Confined space within the runs alone can cause behavior issues. Give them objects to climb, to roost on and create a safety zone if needed. Old ladders, limbs, buckets, old tires, pallets and dust bathing areas all create a peaceful environment.
For more information on roosters refer to the link:
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