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What's In Your GO Bag 3/16/23
What's In Your GO Bag 3/16/23
I was browsing the old Facebook today and found a question posed by a new poultry owner…what I should have in my “Emergency Health Go Bag” for being a new chicken owner.
So I say’s to myself, self, what a good topic for the next blog because we were there once and spent a lot of money making a go bag and somethings we used a lot of and other things we never touched.
Here goes our comprehensive list of what we still keep today in a soft sided zippered tool box with many pockets for quick and easy access or in our cabinets.
• Broody breaker for broody chickens or sick chickens to be able to separate from flock (A soft sided dog kennel works or a hard dog crate with open air bottom for broody girls.
• Small tote for Chicken baths
• Various sizes of scissors small, medium and large
• Splinter forceps
• Dog nail clippers (for trimming beaks, spurs, and toenails)
• Electric Dog hair trimmer (for polish and silkie top knots)
• Numerous pairs of tweezers because one pair is never enough
• 500 rolls of paper towels
• Cotton towels (old rags would be fine) to wrap bird in for comfort / control
• Epsom Salt
• Tylan (or some sort of Antibiotics)
• Selenium with Vitamin E (Wry neck)
• Styptic powder (for bleeding nails and beaks)
• Triple Antibiotic Cream
• Liquid Bandage for Injuries (NO Blue Kote or Blue Hen Healer; nothing blue to draw attraction to the injured area)
• Vetericyn Foaming Shampoo (for pasty and dirty butts)
• Vetericyn Poultry Spray (instead of Blue Kote and Hen Healer)
• Hydrogen Peroxide (Bumble foot and other injuries)
• Vaseline (Scaly leg mites)
• Coconut Oil (for preparation of frostbite on combs and wattles)
• Elector PSP (for lice and Mites)
• Ivermectin (worms)
• Sav-A-Chic, Rooster Booster or Hen Healer (for shock)
• Electrolytes (for shock and dehydration)
• Honey (new chicks with rough start just an extra boost)
• Probiotics (for gut relief)
• Superglue (for broken beak repair)
• ProZyme powder (digestive and nutritional support for ill chickens
• Regular Dose Aspirin
• Preparation H Cream
• Eye Wash or Sterile Saline
• Eye Droppers (for hand-feeding water, medications, and liquid nutrition)
• Flashlight and a headlamp to wear on your head
• Magnifying glass preferably one with a light on it
• Chicken saddle (for hens losing feathers during over-mating)
• Q Tips
• Toothbrushes for cleaning around feet and vent areas
• Disposable booties to cover your shoes and gloves for your hands
• Syringes to use for irrigation and administering meds
• Needles (fine gauge)
• Vet Wrap LOTS of Vet Wrap (for spraddle leg and wrapping wounds)
• Gauze pads various sizes
• Butterfly bandages (are the king of bandaids)
• Tongue Depressors for foot injuries such as curled toes
• And the kitchen sink
Don’t count the white egg layers out 3/13/23
Don’t count the white egg layers out 3/13/23
No one seems to want to think about the white egg layers anymore. Everyone is onto the brown eggs and rainbow eggs. Well we are here to tell you our little white egg layers can run some circles around those colored egg layers any day of the week you folks aren’t giving credit where credit is due plus you need white in your rainbow egg basket.
We are talking specifically about two forgotten little Italian history (a nod to our Carlucci heritage) birds the Ancona and the Exchequer Leghorn and you should be thinking about putting a couple of these babies in your flock. Why, you ask?
Well, first they are beautiful birds.
Second they are low maintenance and will forage nicely for any bug and grub you have if you let them but they will also stay in the run if you want them to.
Third, they will lay egg circles around those other chickens all the way through winter.
Lastly, broody! HA, not in their vocabulary they have to lay those little orbs and get on with business.
Here is a little history lesson on the beautiful Exchequer Leghorn and let us tell you not all leghorns are the same. These sweethearts are not the run of the mill “Leghorn”.
The origins of the Leghorn are not clear; it appears to derive from light breeds originating in rural Tuscany. The name comes from Leghorn, the traditional Anglicization of Livorno, and the Tuscan port from which the first birds were exported to North America. The date of the first exports is variously reported as 1828, "about 1830" and 1852. They were initially known as "Italians"; they were first referred to as "Leghorns" in 1865, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Exchequer Leghorns developed spontaneously in the White Leghorn flock of Scottish breeder Robert Miller in 1904. Fascinated by these birds, the owner spent time developing them, and eventually gave them the name Exchequer, inspired not only by the amount of revenue the birds contributed to the estate's "Exchequer" in eggs, but also inspired by their plumage, which was checkered evenly in black and white all over. He took a fancy to the unusual markings and developed the breed, which quickly became popular as a utility chicken.
The breed was first introduced to Britain from the United States in 1870, and from there re-exported to Italy. (Get that folks we introduced something to the Brits for a change!!) White Leghorns that had won first prize at the 1868 New York Show were imported to Britain in 1870, and brown Leghorns from 1872. These birds were small, not exceeding 1.6 kg in weight; their weight was increased by crossbreeding with Minorca and Malay stock. In 1907 the Exchequer was introduced as a breed. Careful selective breeding has established the variety as a well-developed member of the leghorn group.
The breed has been recognized for exhibition for only a few years but is well regarded. The birds are both hardy and prolific and continue laying eggs for many years. They are easy to care for but they are talkative birds but ehh, they are Italians; what about it! Their distinctive black and white plumage enhances the already handsome appearance of a leghorn.
So what about the Ancona? What's the big deal?
All around the Mediterranean there are small-bodied landrace chicken breeds that lay a large number of white eggs. Several of these have traditionally been bred for centuries, and geographic isolation has contributed to their unique qualities. The Ancona chicken is one of these.
The Ancona was originally bred in the Italian central east coast in the Marche region, and gets its name from the seaport city, Ancona. (A nod to our Carlucci heritage) They were developed from a mixture of breeds, including early Leghorns, resulting in a hardy and prolific bird.
The breed existed for centuries before being “discovered” by English poultry enthusiasts around 1850, where it was maintained until a second importation in 1883 when it began to gain some popularity. Around 1888 Ancona chickens from England arrived in America. (Well we can't introduce two birds to Britain.) The first importation was made by Francis A. Mortimer of Pottsville, PA, but he died soon after and interest in the breed waned. In 1906, H.C. Sheppard of Berea, OH, also imported some of the best Anconas he could find in England, where they were increasing in popularity, and they soon became a well-known and popular breed.
Ancona chickens were recognized in the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1898 for the single comb variety (largely on the strength of their popularity in England) and in 1914 for the rose comb variety.
Early imports were coarsely mottled, and were often more white than black which few people found attractive. But by 1906, Anconas in England had become darker, and in America, the darkest birds were preferred so that many show winners were almost black. This color preference caused a revival of interest in the Black Leghorn, so eventually fanciers chose their breed based on their personal preference.
The current Ancona chicken standard calls for a distinct plumage color pattern – black ground color mottled white (v-shaped specks). On the ideal bird, one out of every five feathers is tipped with white. As with other mottled colored breeds of poultry, there is a tendency for the mottles to increase in size and quantity as the chicken ages – historically called “going gray” – so darker birds are preferred when they are young. Older breeding birds that were nicely mottled when in their prime can be used for breeding even after exhibiting too much white in their plumage. But a word of caution, young stock should not be culled for excessive white too early as many, when mature, will be nicely colored.
The breed has many similarities to Leghorn chickens, and has even been referred to as Mottled Leghorns by some. They are the same size as Leghorn chickens and nearly the same shape. However, they differ in that the back on Ancona chickens slants downward from shoulders to tail and shows a slight angle where these two sections of the body meet. While the Leghorns may be referred to as “flighty”, Anconas may be referred to as “pheasant-like.”
Ancona chickens are very hardy, fertile, and prolific layers. They stand frost and snow quite well, although care must be taken with the single combed variety to avoid frostbite. They are not as prolific annual layers as Leghorns, but they surpass Leghorns as winter layers.
This chicken was once very popular and one of the prime egg producers in Europe. They are currently popular in the US and England, but are rare in the native area of the breed, Italy. However, in 2000, an initiative was launched to re-establish Anconas in the Marche region to preserve their biodiversity.
So, there you have it; now don't forget about it and hop on over to the white egg coop and add them to the brown eggs because they deserve their space on the counter too.
THE GREAT FOOD DEBATE 2/24/23
THE GREAT FOOD DEBATE 2/24/23
So, I guess we are going to throw our opinion in the ring on the big food debate…has it been tampered with or not? Do you think a big manufacturer aka Purina put something in millions of bags of feed or leave something out of their bags of feed which include Purina, Dumor and Pride?
Could there be a mass conspiracy? Of course, but who stands to benefit from this? People will just simply stop buying these feeds and begin buying other feeds from local mills or other feed manufacturers. Why would Purina want to crumble its own house? Well, the answer has been to make people stop raising chickens but if that is the case every feed manufacturer would have to be on the same page destroying their own feed.
We are the biggest supporters of a good conspiracy theory more than one shooter with JFK, Bigfoot, government cover ups… government officials being corrupt. All that sounds good so let’s all go for a Bigfoot hunt.
I can’t speak for everyone but here is what we know our chickens went off and stopped laying for a significant amount of time. Here are the other factors that we know played into their environment during the time they decided to stop laying.
• We had an extremely hot summer and our chickens stopped laying when it gets too hot. Heck when anything upsets their little apple carts they won’t give us an egg. I can do construction and they will skip laying.
• From the wicked hot summer we went to fall storms and they were a bit extreme.
• Then as with every fall/winter our girls went into a molt. We knew there was no chance of getting eggs during molting season…so we wait some more.
• Now we are in winter and they are cold so they aren’t in the mood to lay eggs now either.
• The days are short and we do not add light to the coops to encourage laying in the winter so there is not enough hours of daylight.
• Feed costs have increased significantly and we were feeding Purina during all of this and we switched to a local feed mill that makes their own layer bleed. However, they did not magically start producing eggs.
It is now February, we are out of the molting season, winter is ending, days are getting longer and spring is coming. Overall weather is getting better and slowly the girls are coming back on line.
We have no answer people will believe what they want to believe but from our farm we had a lot of external circumstances occur that we know definitely effect the laying habits of our hens.
Could the food be tampered with? Yes, there are recalls on food all the time.
We switched feed to save costs not because of the lack of eggs. We have too many mouths to feed.
Look around at your circumstances, what was going on in your girl’s world...was it a tough time?
After all they are a bit persnickety.
Doodle Do Spa Juvenile Hall
Doodle Do Spa Juvenile Hall
Let’s talk about Juvenile Hall
You remember the good old days. No, not that place. The new concept some clients have suggested and we are willing to give it a whirl. Here’s the details on the Juvenile Hall:
1. You want pullets or cockerels but don’t want to really deal with the expense and mess that goes with raising the baby chicks.
2. You want young sexed pullets or cockerels of a particular breed
We have the answer for you Doodle Do Spa Juvenile Hall
Juvenile Hall will work in this manner. You will pay the deposit on the chick that you want to purchase for instance
1 Light Brahma $9,
3 Dark Brahmas $9 per bird and
a Speckled Sussex $8 =$44.
Then we obtain the eggs and incubate them for 21 days and let you know when they hatch. Then they grow up here in The Big D.D. Spa until you are ready.
Now that can be in 6 weeks when they are fully feathered and we have a pretty good idea of their sex or perhaps you want to wait until they are 9 weeks…it is up to you. However, by 10 weeks they should be ready to go to your home.
Now we will hatch extras but let’s say your Light Brahma you wanted a cockerel, the Dark Brahmas you wanted 3 females and the Speckled Sussex you wanted a female. At the time of pickup you will pay the remaining balance on your chicks.
• 1 Male Light Brahmas is $25 - $9 per chick deposit = at pickup $16 I owed
• 3 Female Dark Brahmas are $35 each - $9 per chick deposit a total of $27 = at pickup $78 is owed
• 1 Female Speckled Sussex is $30 - $8 paid chick deposit = at pickup $22 is owed
Total pick up price for Pullets and Cockerels = $116
You will be advised as the eggs hatch and the chicks make progress.
The chicks will behand reared like all chicks on the farm to ensure gentleness. Your pick up date, ultimately determined by you and can be anywhere from 4 weeks up to 10 weeks. As we start noticing sexing traits we will band and notify you.
Hatching this way will also provide chicks and possibly Pullets and
Cockerels for other people in the area since we would obviously hatch more than one egg for your order. Allowing more clients to obtain chicks closer to laying age.
This is a first time for us and we are catering to the customer’s requests. We appreciate any feedback and we will see how this works out for this breeding season. So if you are interested, send those orders in.
N.P.I.P. why do I want thee? 2/18/2023
N.P.I.P. why do I want thee? 2/18/2023
So the world has gone crazy over chickens, chicks and hatching eggs. You want them and you will do anything to get your hands on them. You turn to Facebook, eBay, Craigslist or Etsy anywhere you can find them so you can get them now!!!
Well let me start off by saying as far as chicks go it is still a bit on the cold side to order chicks to be mailed to you. Yes, you can order them and yes they will be shipped to you but shipping now places an added layer of stress on the birds and increases your risk of loss because of the cold and fluctuating temperatures right now. Most of the US is still in winter with fluctuating temperatures the baby chicks can’t regulate their body heat. Sure you will be able to buy the chicks and sure they will make it to you but be prepared for some losses.
Let’s discuss wording you may see and may or may not understand. N.P.I.P. this stands for National Poultry Improvement Plan. N.P.I.P. is a state and federal certification that all breeders must obtain to legally ship hatching eggs, chicks, poultry, and other feathered fowl through the mail and especially into another state. It is a testing that their farm has undergone with an inspector coming onsite to test all of their birds to ensure that they are free of certain serious diseases. Any breeder who is shipping should proudly list that they are N.P.I.P. certified and provide their certification number and the breed codes for their birds they have been certified for. N.P.I.P. certification reoccurs with the state every year and then is filed with the Feds.
Now, if you are searching to find your new flock please do yourself a favor and do your due diligence to research to see if the breeder is in fact N.P.I.P. if they indicate to you that they are not or they beat around the bush … this should draw a red flag to you.
One they cannot legally sell over state lines.
Two if they will try to sell and ship over state lines without being N.P.I.P. what other scrupulous or less than ethical activities might they be undertaking with the care of their farm and chickens.
At the end of the day, it is up to you who you choose to do business with however you should also double check your local laws because there are Agricultural fines usually associated with receiving shipments of non-N.P.I.P. eggs and birds. I personally would not want to be on the receiving end of that fine.
There is a very easy way you can check. All the information is regularly updated on line at National Poultry Improvement Plan they list everyone certified in each state along with the birds they are certified to breed
National Poultry Improvement Plan also provides a list of all breed’s stock codes that reference back to the bird
Breeders obtain hatching eggs and birds from various established breeders throughout the USA to build breeding flocks over the course of several years. They take their time to research and travel for a particular breed then create a lineage based on breed standards which takes time and patience to develop. These breeds are often Heritage Breeds and even at risk of Extinction based upon the Livestock Conservancy breed tracking. The birds are developed on the Standard of Perfection for showing at shows, fairs or FFA /4H.
We breed for standard of excellence, show quality and gentleness in all of our birds. We want a quality bird and that is what drives us to produce the best birds that we can for us and for you. Our farm has several breeds bred for show such as our English Orpingtons, Pyncheons, Light and Dark Brahmas to name a few. Then we have more common birds that are a good quality breed we sell, such as our Buckeyes, Sussex, Leghorns, etc. Then we have what we consider our “Personal Egg Flock” these birds never see the breeder pens. They are my Chicken Whisperers favorite birds, retired Queens barnyard mixes, science experiments, and yes even some hatchery birds specifically for egg laying.
We want you to be aware of the best places to order your hatching eggs, chicks, and birds. Now with us being NPIP certified just like the big hatcheries, we would always default and say support the small farm! If we don’t carry the breed you want there are several other small farms that work very hard and we don’t do it for the money. There is literally no money to be made in breeding chickens on a small farm. It is done for the love of the birds. Other NPIP locations include online Hatcheries. If you are going to order from a huge hatchery which hatch 100000s of birds here are our recommendations and reasons why:
1. My Pet Chicken – They have a wealth of information on their website and their customer support is way up there. Not only do they offer a variety of chicks but you can order 1 of each to create a basket of 3 or 8 chick minimum. Now if you order 15 shipping is lowered so go ahead and order 1 of everything and get you a variety in your yard. No one else will really let you do that.
2. Cackle Hatchery – They offer a wide variety of chicks and their 3 chick breed minimums are pretty decent. Some hatcheries require a 5 chick minimum on a breed. At least Cackle has lowered theirs to 3 but you pay for shipping.
3. Welp Hatchery – The deal with Welp Hatchery if you can’t find birds go to Welp they will likely have them in stock.
*Special Note: Some large hatcheries do not have updated NPIP registrations on all breeds that they sell. We have verified that these 3 are up to date.
If you were to visit our farm you would find our “Personal Egg Flock”, within this flock is marked Hatchery birds from these hatcheries; this is NOT our breeding flock. My Chicken Whisperer likes variety on our counter top when it comes to eggs and we use a lot of eggs. My Chicken Whisper also has her favorite chickens … which happened to be all of them. As you may well know you can’t have all of them on ten acres and breed them but you can get one of each. So each year we maintain our separate “Personal Egg Flock” which is housed away from our breeding pens on the farm. These are also the lap birds of the family and by far the most spoiled chickens I have ever seen in my life.
So in short, enjoy your hatching eggs, love your chickens, get them healthy, take care of them, do your homework – look for the NPIP
We think you will thank yourself later.
Year Review of Litter 2/15/23
Year Review of Litter 2/15/23
We said we would do an update and give a review on a year of using different litter in our coops…so here you go!
We have historically used sand as a litter in our coops in Washington State and we thoroughly enjoyed the benefits that came with using sand in our barn while living in that environment. When we took a tour of Moss Mountain Farm and P. Allen Smith explained his deep litter method and pine shavings we decided to give it a try for a year on our farm here in Arkansas.
We have come to the conclusion that we prefer the deep litter method here in Arkansas for several reasons over sand. We will provide those reasons for you. Now we will say that this may not be the choice for everyone and we do still think that sand is a great choice and we also have sand in our runs to this day. However, we have moved to a deep litter method of pine shavings in the coops themselves.
• Disposal – The simple ability to dispose of the poop when cleaning the sand day to day is problematic where we live in Arkansas. We live in the mountains and very rocky terrain. We cannot have a garden therefore using it for fertilizer or creating a compost pile for fertilizing a garden is not something that we can utilize it for. So, the poop simply piles up with nowhere to go.
• Flies – With the accumulation of poop with no place to go it is the perfect attraction for flies and we live in fly country; so we can literally grow a fly garden and larvae by the millions trying dispose of the poop on a daily basis.
• Smell- The smell in the coop is nice and refreshing with the pine shavings and we are able to turn the shavings and add more as needed to compost down throughout the year.
• Dust baths - The chickens seem to enjoy the pine shavings in the coop too they will dust bathe in them just as much as they dust bathe in the sand in the run.
• Flies in the coop- We were concerned with fly issues in the coop using a deep litter method but we add Sweet PDZ to the litter much the same as we did to the droppings boards and to the sand. The PDZ still works in the same manner and has kept the fly activity to a minimum. We still see flies however it is not much different than with sand.
Our final verdict, we will continue to use pine shavings in the coop and sand in the run. Everyone environments are different and we can and do support sand in the coops in many environments. However, on this mountain top that Rocky Top through and through no chance of a garden to recycle and compost; the deep litter method been the most beneficial to us.
One day we might build raised beds and try gardening in that manner then sand would prevail allowing us to go back to composting but that is not in the foreseeable future on this farm.
Which shortage came first the chicken or the egg 2/8/23
Which shortage came first the chicken or the egg 2/8/23
What in the world is going on with eggs and chickens?
There is no question the chicken population suffered last year in both commercial flocks for consumption and egg laying, which increases prices at the store; cost vs demand. Now that seems to be causing a bit of a rumble in the poultry community. More people are thinking we should keep our own chickens for eggs especially when eggs are $8 a dozen or more at the store. Well, let me warn you that farm eggs from your own chickens actually cost you much more than that upon initial investment. You would be better served to find a local chicken breeder and buy eggs from them for $5 to $7 a dozen. However, if chickens are in your future we applaud you.
Now where do you get your chickens?
Us of course! We like to focus on what some might consider less popular breeds which we have found make excellent layers, show birds, and lap chickens. We also focus on critically endangered breeds. We choose to sell them at a reasonable price for everyone to enjoy. But believe us when we say there is no money to be had in doing this, it is purely a labor of love for us.
Well why would I do that?
We choose to take a higher level of care when working with animals and providing for our friends and family. We want people to consider more heritage breeds and endangered breeds to be a back yard chicken without spending a fortune, in lieu of the most common birds that are everywhere. We are committed to the core values of faith, quality, integrity and stewardship learned from our family traditions hundreds of years ago. At our core, we have always been animal lovers that love shows in our birds. We are committed to producing the best eggs and chickens! Friendly companions, good layers, and for those who need it; a dual purpose bird.
We are firm believers that there are certain birds who enjoy calm moments with their “people” and show affection for humans. Yet this same bird can have great show quality and purpose.
Why is this any different than a backyard chicken keeper who sells 100s of hatches or mixed breeds, non-NPIP certified, non-tested birds?
This is a very critical difference because for us it is not about quantity it is about quality. It is also not about the money it is about the integrity of the breeds that our becoming endangered our heritage breeds. The Heritage breeds that were the original breeds that fell out of favor for a Rhode Island Red or other bird for a variety of reasons. These chickens are still of value and like many animals should not be allowed to go extinct. We support 4H and FFA with discounts. We are dedicated to the care and humane treatment of all animals. We oppose locking animals in tiny cages for the production of eggs or breeding hens with a rooster in tiny breeding pen just to make a few bucks every month. We are passionate about our birds and that philosophy spills into everything we do. To ensure our birds have the proper nutrients, living space and care from our farm to yours. Proper care keeps stress to a minimum and reduced stress leads to better birds.
Well, where does Doodle Do Spa get their birds?
We source from other NPIP Certified breeders all over the USA to ensure our flocks are diversified. If we line breed, we use time tested breeding patterns. Chickens have been a life-long passion and is the sole driving force behind our farm. We hatch eggs often and always hold back a couple from each hatch here on the farm to monitor lines and integrity. After all life is boring without chicken math.
Can I buy chickens elsewhere?
No way. Of course you can just be smart about it. Look for pure breed birds, clean facilities. Clean feed and water. Active birds with no pasty butt and preferably NPIP certified or a breeder that has been established for years and has a large following.
Welcome to the wonderful world of chickens!
Let us be the first to say if you have any questions we are open for answering and happy to help you along the way. Feel free to email or give us a message. We also want you to have the knowledge you need to enjoy your flock. We believe that people will take better care of their chickens if they simply had more knowledge and we are happy to provide simple easy steps so everyone can keep healthy flocks. We will always strive to give accurate information that is in compliance with laws and is not threatening to flocks or the environment.
Why do you raise Chickens? 2/3/23
Why do you raise Chickens? 2/3/23
Why do you raise chickens? A better question might be, why raise the particular chickens that you raise? We have our favorite breeds, all of them right! Seriously, English Orpingtons and Speckled Sussex are probably my wife’s two most favorite birds. Speckled Sussex from her childhood memories and the regal look and gentleness of the English Orpington that we have been breeding into our farm for the last few years.
We also raise Pyncheons they are great for 4H and FFA. Pyncheons, although not heritage breed, are on the verge of extinction. There are very few of these birds with the true correct blood line characteristics and you know our farm plans to change that.
Our other breeds we look to the Livestock Conservancy Heritage Poultry Breeds for most of our choices as focus specifically on many breeds that fall into their categories.
Per the Livestock Conservancy:
“Chickens have been a part of the American diet since the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Since that time, different breeds have been developed to provide meat, eggs, and pleasure.
The American Poultry Association began defining breeds in 1873 and publishing the definitions in the Standard of Perfection. These Standard breeds were well adapted to outdoor production in various climatic regions. They were hearty, long-lived, and reproductively vital birds that provided an important source of protein to the growing population of the country until the mid-20th century. With the industrialization of chickens many breeds were sidelined in preference for a few rapidly growing hybrids. The
Livestock Conservancy now lists over three-dozen breeds of chickens in danger of extinction. Extinction of a breed would mean the irrevocable loss of the genetic resources and options it embodies.
Therefore, to draw attention to these endangered breeds, to support their long-term conservation, to support efforts to recover these breeds to historic levels of productivity, and to re-introduce these culinary and cultural treasures to the marketplace, The
Livestock Conservancy is defining Heritage Chicken. Chickens must meet all of the following criteria to be marketed as Heritage.”
To be defined as a Heritage breed a chicken must meet certain criteria:
• American Poultry Association Standard Breed
• Naturally Mating
• Long, productive outdoor lifespan
• Slow Growth Rate
• Chickens marketed as Heritage must include the variety and breed name on the label.
Terms like “heirloom,” “antique,” “old-fashioned,” and “old timey” imply Heritage and are understood to be synonymous with the definition.
Abbreviated Definition: A Heritage Egg can only be produced by an American Poultry Association Standard breed. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a heritage egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard breed established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.
The Livestock Conservancy has many decades of experience, knowledge, and understanding of endangered breeds, genetic conservation, and breeder networks.
We look to the Livestock Conservancy List of Conservation Priorities to obtain many of our Chickens for breeding. There are hundreds of breeds of chickens but some are at risk of being extinct and if we can help to avoid that we want to be involved in that process; especially when they are some of the oldest breeds and such beautiful birds.
The Conservation list is monitored regularly and it does change yearly. Each year we also determine which birds we will breed and we have in the past bred: Lakenvelders, Dorkings, Old English
Game, Spitzhauben, Plymouth Rock, Cochins, Modern Game, Spanish and will likely breed them again.
For our 2023 season we bring to our customers birds the following birds on the list:
• Threatened – Faverolle
• Threatened – Sebright
• Watch- Ancona
• Watch- Andalusian
• Watch- Buckeye
• Watch – Cornish
• Watch – Delaware
• Watch- Dominique
• Watch- Jersey Giant
• Recovering – Australorp
• Recovering – Brahma
• Recovering – Leghorn (Non-Industrial)
• Recovering - Sussex
EGGS Are Sky HIGH! 2/1/23
EGGS Are Sky HIGH! 2/1/23
Its February, eggs in the grocery store are costing $6 to $8 dollars a dozen due to the Avian Influenza that hit the commercial flocks last year.
Lets go buy baby chicks so we can have our own eggs!!
Yes, you have decided to buy backyard chickens.
So our first egg cost us about $4,000.00. First thing to realize buying baby chicks will not bring eggs until about 20 weeks later.
That being said, I would never buy pullets or adult birds and bypass the bonding time that you have during those early days with the chicks. I want my chicks to be hand reared and friendly; not flighty.
So what do you need to get started, well here is a short quick list:
1. Birds (either from a quality local breeder or reputable hatchery)
2. Medicated Chick feed and clean fresh water
3. Equipment which includes: feeders, waterers, eco-glow heater (no heat lamps folks), probiotics, paper towels for flooring then transition to pine shavings.
4. Housing which includes: first a baby brooder pen (we uses soft sided dog kennels) then a transition pen for the teen months (we have a small brooder pen), then a secure chicken coop with roosting boards, nesting boxes secured run with plenty of room filled with the litter of your choice (sand, deep litter, etc. )
5. Build yourself a Go Bag for the inevitable include items such as: Electrolytes, Gloves, Hydrogen Peroxide, Rooster Booster, Liquid Bandage, Gauze, Vet-Wrap, Betadine, Scissors, Tweezers, Styptic powder, Vetericyn Wound Spray, Vetericyn Foaming Shampoo, Coconut Oil, Paper Towels, Toe Nail Clippers, Dog Nail Trimmers, Tea Bags, Super Glue, 18 Gauge needles, Neosporin, Hydrocortisone, Epson Salt, Elector PSP (Amazon), Petroleum Jelly, A&D Ointment, Ivermectin, and Corid/Amprolium. (that should give you a good bag)
6. Wash your hands and make sure you take care when handling all poultry for safety and biosecurity consider changing clothes when coming back into your home after visiting your flock.
7. Consider that these birds are a multi-year commitment. Depending on the breed of chicken that you purchase their best laying days occur during the first 3 years of life but with good care they can live up to 10 years with ease. They will occasionally lay an egg here and there but not every day when they get older.
So consider what you will do with your pets who are going to be free loading on your feed bill for more than 50 % of their lifespan. Will you sell them? Are you equipped space wise to care for them and purchase more birds for eggs? Do you have “it” within you to place that bird in the freezer?
Now we say all that to say we want you to buy chickens and enjoy them as much as we do. Nevertheless, they are a responsibility and should be seen as such. They should not be placed in small cages with no food or fresh water walking around in their own filth. If you would not do it to your dog then….don’t do it to your bird. If you sit down and spend some time with them you soon find out that they have quite the little personalities and enjoy your company.
We hope that we do not dissuade your desire for chickens we hope if anything we gave you some ideas to build into your little hobby farm.
90 Day Blood Testing
90 Day Blood Testing
It is January and everyone is thinking of Spring, well we are and already planning hatches.
With spring comes time for the 4H and FFA, Swap Meets, Sale Barns and the State Fairs.
If you require your feathered friends to be blood checked for pullorum disease and fowl typhoid. I am certified tester for the state.
We charge $1.00 per bird and the test will cover your bird for 90 days.
So lets us know we are happy to help out in the community in any way we can.
Year in Review
Year in Review
It is the official end of our 2022 season I can hardly believe it. I have to say we have had one heck of a season. We hatched hundreds of little fuzzy butts and shipped dozens of hatching eggs across the US this season. We find ourselves reflecting on a truly blessed year; we are still standing despite some medical bumps, some predator humps, we avoided the deadly Avian Influenza that has plagued so many small and large commercial farms; we call that a good ole Irish win.
I was able to complete several 90 day NPIP testing for birds this season at the Local Swap Meet in Cave City. What an enjoyable time to get out, meet and talk with folks about chickens. We hope to see that continue next year.
We also were able to provide some birds for some young 4H members. We hope to see that grow since our son was so involved with FFA when he was in High School.
We did see a downsizing to our flock and as we have made a choice to focus on some of our favorite birds and ultimately create better breeding flocks and better quality lines. That being said we are fond of so many breeds even though we do not plan to breed in the 2023 season; they will likely return one day.
Our 2023 season will focus on our Pyncheons, Ayam Ketawas (The Laughing Chicken), English Orpingtons (Black, Chocolate, Blue, Mottled Black, Mottled Chocolate, Mottled Blue, & Mauve) Easter and Olive Eggers, as well as Black (Frizzle) and Blue Patridge Silkies, last but not least Royal Palm, Blue Slate and Blue Palm Turkeys.
We hope you take the time as we move toward the holidays to spend that time reflecting on all the precious moments we do have on this earth. Time with one another and just how quickly it can be taken from us. Hold your loved ones extra tight while you have them. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and we will see you in the New Year! May God Bless you and keep you all safe in his arms.
OCTOBER 25, 2022
THE 2022 HATCHING SEASON IN REVIEW
A review of this hatching season has been a very good one at the Spa this year. From the English Orpingtons, the Ketawas, Pyncheons, you name it everyone was hatching all over the place. We are pretty satisfied with the babies that we managed to produce this year.
Many of you may know that we successfully worked with the NPIP to create the NPIP code for the Ayam Ketawa; which has not ever existed in the bird’s history within NPIP. We are not sure how exactly that happened however, we are happy to report the issue has been resolved. Our birds all carry the NPIP number.
Avian Influenza hit the feathered industry this year with a category 5 hurricane; decimating millions of commercial broilers, egg layers, and back yard flocks to the current amount of 47.72 million birds and still growing as of this blog post. Some years are worse than others; this year has been horrific and will be felt in the grocery stores without a doubt.
All we can do as poultry owners is practice good biosecurity for our flocks, when AI is on the rise secure them in covered runs and coops and try to reduce their interactions with wild migratory birds. Secure their food and water so that only they have access to it and ensure that they are not eating or drinking off the ground. Lastly, as hard as it might be reduce the free-range time until the migratory birds carrying the AI have vacated the area. If you happen to see your birds developing symptoms get them to vet and separate them immediately.
As we put a wrap on this season and move into the BERRRRRR months. We always like to remind you that those little chickens wear nice feather coats and they cuddle and snuggle to keep one. Give them a dry area that is draft free and they will do nice in the winter. Get a Premier One water nipple drinker to keep their water from freezing; that is what needs to stay warm … the water.
Please don’t use heat lamps due to the risk of fire first and foremost. Secondly, if your birds are not allowed to adjust their bodies and the power goes out you can cause them to die because they have not been able to adequately adjust to the winter weather.
We look forward to spring when we will have new babies laying, new birds arriving. In the meantime, take some time for yourself, your family, friends and loved ones you have earned it. Until next time God Bless!
Dream Babies 6-26-2022
Dream Babies 6-26-2022
This Blog Post is going to be a bit different this one I’m typing for the Chicken Whisperer but it will be in her words and we are going to do a breed spotlight, which we have never done before.
On Mother's Day our Chicken Whisperer suffered another stroke and as I type this she is home, out of rehab and off the walker; God is Good!
She loves all our chickens and has zeroed in on at least 30 breeds that she will tell me are her favorite. However, there is one breed that is rising to the top of the perches. We took a recent trip to Moss Mountain Farm, where we met with P. Allen Smith; major Bucket List moment for our Chicken Whisperer.
During our visit to Moss Mountain Farm, we discovered the critically endangered Pyncheon. We listened as Mr. Smith explained the history and we admired them and their beauty.
As we meandered to the turkey houses, we looked in our peripheral and the Pyncheon gate to the run was open...these special babies were out loose on the grounds; with hawks in the air. The group of 4 of us at the turkey house hurried to save them and yelled for staff to assist. As usual, our chicken whisperer had her whispering on high and along with another lady them picked up, return the birds with my wife handling, in her arms, 4 at one time (did I mention she has this thing with chickens; real deal folks!). As a result, we brought a trio of the rare little ones home from Mr. Smith. Then, the internet search began to absorb every kernel of information we could find. Well, you would think being such an old breed there is a lot out there but there is not much for such a beautiful bantam breed,
Here is why the Chicken Whisperer has fallen in love with them:
• The challenge of the hatch
o These little ones may be critically endangered for one very good reason they are hard to hatch. We have found the secret that has worked for us:
We waited until June and temperatures and natural humidity warms in Arkansas
Then mother nature controls the humidity on the incubator and we do not add additional water
No checking the eggs. That incubator doesn’t open until day 18 which is lockdown.
Day 18 is lock down and yes they may be a bantam breed but they are on their own time schedule
We candle at day 18, then we lockdown the incubator. We also increase humidity to 70 %
By day 21 we have happy babies and man do they imprint on Mom
• We are working on a theory that they are sexable at birth with the males having a higher topknot on their little heads and the females having a lower topknot. This would be fantastic if this turns out to be true that they are autosexing 100% in this manner.
• Once born they thrive! They are the most healthy and active little bantam chicks.
• Imprinting on mom has been the fastest with this breed over any other. They thrive with people bonding more so than any other breed that we have raised to include Silkies, Polish, Buckeyes, Delaware, Cochins, I can go on and on but they love their people.
• They are quick learners. At two weeks they are already perching, putting themselves to sleep with no fussing about lights out, bed time.
• As adults not even hand raised by the Chicken Whisperer they instantly bonded; and let’s be honest most adult birds will not do this.
• They lay steady eggs every day, although small. They did not miss a beat in laying even when transplanted from Moss Mountain Farm to Doodle Do Spa.
• Being a bantam breed, they are more similar to Silkies behavior then say an Old English Game or a Belgian d’Uccle. Please don’t misunderstand I loved all my prior birds however, O.E.G. and d’Uccles have always had a bit of flighty behavior; these little beauties do not.
• The roosters weigh in at 1.5 pounds and the hens may reach a whopping 1.25 pounds and they have a mille fleur pattern, like the Mille Fleur d'Uccle. And who doesn’t love the bitty birds with a poof!
• What is better than being able to sit with 6 or 10 chickens on you lap and have room for more. (OK, folks seriously I wrote this because my chicken whisperer said this but seriously can someone please tell me how to hide the incubator? Please, maybe I should offer to have more kids I think that would be better than more chickens at this point!! Maybe our kids should cut me some slack and give her grandkids. Oh jeez, Sorry I went a little sideways in my own thoughts there…back to our scheduled program)
I would like to sideline a bit (she doesn’t know how sidelined I just got) and talk about colors. There are hard core people out there trying to restore the “correct breed standard” as defined by the American Bantam Association and the historical Bantam Breeding and Genetics Book written in 1977, which apparently outlines: that Pyncheons should be medium size bantam, tuft of feathers rising from the head behind its comb, with feathers draped down the neck. Shanks and toes need to be willow yellow, soles of feet yellow and earlobes bright red.
To which my Chicken Whisperer poses a question, if the bird has been all but dwindled to extinction and forums online suggest diluting of the breed, poor fertility, lack of original breeding flock in existence; some forums quibble over the flocks that are available and want to breed in other birds to develop traits; how is that not doing the very thing you are quibbling over which is diluting the breed there is in existence with a different breed; but I digress in confusion.
Here is what we have gleaned on the history for a critically endangered breed
The Pyncheon is a rare breed of chicken. It is a legitimate Bantam as there is no large variety of this breed. They are a very ancient breed native to the northeastern United States dating as far back as the 1800s. The original ancestors of the Pyncheon were believed to have been imported from Holland or Belgium.
The Pyncheon is a beautiful ornamental bird similar to a Belgian d'Uccle but sadly for the most part, they disappeared from bird shows during the 20th century. Many thought the breed had gone completely extinct. There are efforts of a few dedicated breeders to increase the breed population and each year gain popularity. They are recognized by the American Bantam Association, but not by the American Poultry Association.
The Pyncheon has a simple crest followed by a tassel or a small comb that grows behind the crest…similar to the Sulmtaler breed. The Pyncheon is one of the rarest bantams even though they have been in existence since ancient times.
Some research suggests that the first Pyncheons came from Belgium, where the Mille Fleur color pattern originated, this theory has grown due to information provided by some breeders from the Flemish region, where families carry actual last name of Pyncheon. These Flemish families suggest that the breed was created by Belgian man named Pyncheon much like Sir John Sebright named the Sebright breed he created.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was familiar with the Pyncheon and suggests the breed has been in the United States since the mid-1700s, and he bred them himself around the time at which he wrote The House of The Seven Gables. The Pyncheon's small size is referred to several times in the book, as is the breed's antiquity.
I guess we say all this to say, we are not giving up on this beautiful breed. We would hate to see such a wonderful bird go extinct and neither will the Livestock Conservancy. We will be breeding and selling them in the fall if the Chicken Whisperer will let them go. They are rarely heard of nor known and that is an absolute shame because they are a true forgotten treasure in the chicken world.
May 29, 2022 Going to the Market
May 29, 2022 Going to the Market
Our Chicken Whisperer had another stroke and while she sat for weeks on end in the hospital and rehab. She decided life is really too short to sit.
She is recovering and rehabilitation is going great. God is good. She is getting around on a walker and we hope to graduate to a cane.
We will finally be setting up a booth at the Makers Market in Heber Springs and we hope to see you there. Please stop by and say Howdy Neighbor!
We will be sharing our Doodle Do Spa Balsamic Dressing (or Marinade) with our friends and Neighbors. This Balsamic Dressing is our Chicken Whisperer's own recipe that she honed over the years with the best ingredients.
It will make you lick your fingers and slap yo' Grandma (in the words of our Uncle Jim).
The Doodle Do Spa Balsamic Dressing has a variety of sizes:
- 8 ounce $8.00 or
- 16 ounce $15.00
- 32 ounce $30.00 (please pre-order)
- Bath Tub * Call me
We also plan to showcase our photography, arts and crafts for purchase.
We will have fresh eggs $3.00 per dozen when the strikers start working. They should start very soon...we are in final union negotiations. The Dominques are holding out for more blueberries on Fridays. The Olive Eggers already raised the ration of scratch on Monday by 1%.
We can arrange to bring hatching eggs or baby chicks. If you are interested, please contact us in advance.
Last but not least, will be a variety of Natalie's Plucker Bites. If you prefer, you can reach out to order in advance for a specific flavor.
An ongoing series of informational entries
An ongoing series of informational entries
Blog Entry 6/16/2022
On the Heat Plate
Blog Entry 6/16/2022
On the Heat Plate
What do we like doing more than raising chickens, making people laugh and enjoying life? Well, that would be informing people and ruffling a few feathers of course…let’s discuss heat lamps again since it is chick season.
We have raised hundreds of chicks and yes, in the past, we have used a heat lamp; until we learned of a better way. The better way is Brooder Plates and numerous companies make them. So, there is no need to recommend a favorite just to prefer them over HEAT LAMPS. Like drugs JUST SAY NO! No to Heat lamps.
Let me tell you what we have learned in the years that we have been using Brooder Plates. The chicks have less issue with pasty butt. It has been proven over and over again on our farm with every hatch year after year.
The other thing we have learned is the chicks do not need the heat that has historically been recommended. The ambient room temperature is set around 72 degrees. When the chicks come out of the incubator their beaks are dipped in water and placed under the Brooder Plate. After a nice nap and within twenty-four hours we hear the sweet sound of happy, chirping chicks scuttling about their brooder; not confined to the Brooder Plate for heat. The chicks will sometimes run under the Brooder but only for a few minutes.
We place paper towels on the brooder floor which allows for food to be placed for picking during the first few days. The chicks can easily access the food and navigate around the fringes of the Brooder Plate. However, what they do not do is stay under the plate; which means they are not cold. They are comfortable. They are eating, drinking and chirping happily for MOM!
CHIRPING ALOT FOR MOM. Did I mention I am married to a Chicken Whisperer and she has this thing, I don't know what it is but her and chickens imprint immediately and well you would just have to see it to believe it. She loves it and she gets up at 3 am ( 3 AM PEOPLE) while the rest of the normal people in the house sleep with ear plugs... and the house says Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommie, Mommie, Mama, Mama but I Digress. we love our Chicken Whisperer!!!!!
Where was I, oh right, what else does this mean folks? This means they do not require a big, hot, heat lamp in some horse trough with pine shavings thrown all in their water; also soaking up any water they might be able to consume…and heating up the water at the same time.
Chicks, like adults, need clean water clean conditions all the time and they will be much more lively and healthier for it. No pasty butt, no lethargy here. Happy and Healthy just the way we like it. If you don’t have a Brooder Plate do your chicks a favor and get you one.
They will thank you for it.
And so will your Barn, your house and your family. Take a minute and google fires started from Heat lamps; it's staggering folks.
God Bless and Happy Chickening
Litter for Coop
blog entry 4/47/2022
Litter for Coop
blog entry 4/47/2022
This newest blog entry is dedicated to P. Allen Smith and Dr. Bramwell; my son and niece thank you both for all the new work they get to do around the farm! They have a to-do-list a chicken math count long.
In all seriousness, my Chicken Whisperer is still flying on high around here from visiting Moss Mountain Farm and we love that we can still learn a thing or 10 in the chicken world.
For instance, let’s take lesson number 3,443,217,365 we are taking on a change in our coops and moving to a deep litter method. Let me explain this sudden change after all these years of using sand. While living in Washington State, we had a different terrain and land environment. Numerous issues factored into using sand:
• We had 40 acres
• We had a corral for horses
• We had a pond and a garden
• We had light rain every single day for 9 months
• We didn’t have flies by the millions because we had rain every single day
• We did not have torrential downpours (but we did have rain every single day for 9 months)
• This allowed the sand and poop to get thoroughly washed and repurposed of course it helped that we had rain every single day for 9 months.
• And did I mention the rain….for 9 months
However, here is Arkansas we have 10 acres and nothing else yeah and it doesn’t rain every day for 9 months. Although, lately I am beginning to wonder about that rain every day issue; hmm.
I digress, the sand has nowhere to go and we learned very quickly it simply piles up which is smelly, and there is one thing that loves that; flies and snakes and spiders and these jumping cricket things and well none of that works and where did these jumping things come from, Texas?
So yeah my point, the rain every day. No, no, the deep litter method utilized at Moss Mountain Farm does not have this issue, furthermore this is the same method utilized in thousands of locations per our conversation with Dr. Bramwell. Additionally, at the end of the year cycle of the deep litter method; the litter can be composted easily and sand just does not compost down.
Short story, we are not changing our outlook on sand. We used it for years in our previous home and believe that it provides outstanding living conditions for the flock. Nevertheless, we must consider an alternative litter given our current pest load and limited space to process the sand once it has been removed from the coop since it does not rain every single day for 9 months- there I said it are you happy Washington State?
We will update everyone after this test year with a deep litter method. Check back in for the results of this test journey. We may be back to sand and scrambling for a bunch of salt shooters.
This time it's personal
This time it's personal
We call my wife the chicken whisperer because, well, she is. However, she in fact has a God given gift with all animals. I have even researched real life Dr. Dolittle’s to see if she is the only one and there happens to be quite a few that seem to have this God given gift with animals. Poland has a fascinating Dr. Dolittle, a lady named Małgorzata Zdziechowska…google her; she has a fascinating story.
Our chicken whisperer has chickens of all breeds from Buckeyes to Delawares and Lakevelders to Spitzhaubens…eating out of her hand. We had an aggressive rooster in Washington State he would attack everyone on the farm and everything. She loved that little brat and would be attack her? NO! He would take my knees out then snuggle with her giving me an over the shoulder death stare during the cuddle every time.
The moment those little peeps arrive they are drawn to her like a magnet. I just don’t get it, but the magnetism is absolutely fascinating to watch. They learn her voice, she sings to them, she has Mom chirping sounds for them, she provides food, water and the next thing you know...bingo... they are flocking to her hands. Every hatch, every single time,
I feed them, chirp at them they squawk and run away.
Then the fun begins sweet little chirps turn to upset chirps to be with her. She will go the brooder touch them, talk to them and they will calm; and that is how the magic happens.
This is not just with chickens, oh no animals in general; wild deer (yes wild deer…eating out of her hand), dogs, cats, turtles, wild squirrels, I don’t actually know where it ends. I am afraid to ever take her to a zoo.
Let me tell you the story about how Emmie the Princess of the house came to live with us. Emmie was a rescue. She was in our local shelter with her sister. Our daughter wanted a kitten for her new apartment, so we went to rescue one. She saw Emmie with her beautiful eyes. The volunteer said Emmie would need to go with her sister as a pair because Emmie was not very friendly with people; even though the staff had been trying to work with her. However, she should be good in a home with her sister. We agreed to look at both kittens and when staff brought them in the visit room Emmie’s sister ran to our daughter and Emmie ran into the corner to hide and hiss. My Chicken Whisperer went over and knelt down, let Emmie sniff her then picked her up and Emmie jumped on her shoulder. The volunteer was shocked. Emmie actually sat and purred contently through the visit. My wife offered to carry Emmie back to her kennel and the volunteer happily agreed. The next day we returned to visit the kittens. This time Emmie came in the room and willing came to see my chicken whisperer. The staff was overjoyed to see that both kittens were out of their shells and going to homes where they had clearly chosen their people.
A few years later, my chicken whisperer fell in our barn and suffered a traumatic brain injury; during recovery seizures began. As it turns out, the Chicken Whisperer needed Emmie more than we ever knew, because Emmie detects seizures. She will warn anyone in the house before the seizure occurs; by coming to get you and meowing loudly. She will also bite at the Chicken Whisperer's ankles to sit her down then she will get on her chest and spread out placing her front paws on her face until the seizure has passed.
The Chicken Whisperer has a definite gift with animals but when Emmie uses her very special gift, we thank God and we pay attention to our Princess who rescued us!
A Bucket List Day- Moss Mountain Farm Chicken Chat
April 9, 2022
A Bucket List Day- Moss Mountain Farm Chicken Chat
April 9, 2022
We spent today April 9th at Moss Mountain Farm with the one and only Mr. P. Allen Smith attending his Chicken Chat at the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. Now for anyone in the poultry world who does not know who Mr. P. Allen Smith is, you are clearly living under a rock if you are under said rock (google and come back). For those of us in the know, we
It was everything my wife could have dreamed of; to see the joy almost to tears of looking at the beautiful critically endangered breeds of chickens; being cared for at such the highest level was so much more than a dream come true for her. The conditions were remarkable.
Not only did we spend time with the breeds at the Heritage Poultry Conservancy but to sit and listen to Mr. P. Allen Smith during the day was surreal. The talk was down to earth, welcoming, educational, and any other remarkable word you could think of to describe an afternoon.
Along with Mr. Smith, we had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Keith Bramwell. My wife knew exactly who Dr. Bramwell was; I of course had no clue…however he might as well have been George Clooney to her. Wait, she doesn’t even like Clooney so Sam Elliot. Dr. Bramwell has over 25 years in academia from both the University of Georgia and University of Arkansas where he researched and applied avian reproduction systems, fertility, incubation and embryo development. He developed the Red Wing Yokohama with his students at U of A and has traveled the world assisting in incubation and breed development. We spent time talking with him after the discussion ended and he is a visionary and true genius. He was wonderful to chat with and one could talk with him for hours. The knowledge gained was invaluable.
We had a great day. Very educational! Mr. Smith served lunch; bonus it was great! The information is fantastic for novice and experts alike. You can buy hatching eggs, chicks, and full-size birds from his flock. They are simply the best birds we have ever seen. We also made great connections with others who drove from Missouri, Texas, Georgia, and other parts of Arkansas.
The drive great, the day was great, Mr. Smith was fantastic, and shout out to Russ he is the Man ~ also from Long Island!!
But here is a tip for all you guys, yes, you’s guys … Mr. Smith does these Chicken Chats in the Spring and then another in the fall … I can guarantee you that your wife will be smiling from ear to ear for at least the next month and you’ll probably get out of doing the dishes too!
Heck I’m not even mad that my wife is telling everyone she got to touch P. Allen Smith’s Cock today ... it was a Pyncheon those bantams are so rare you probably don't even know what they are. I didn't know the history on them. Amazingly, Nathanial Hawthorne wrote about them in the 1800s. Their ancestors were brought over from Beligum but the breed was developed in the USA.
(What? ...Get your mind out of the gutter people we are talking chickens here focus)
Big picture, she is so over the moon, she didn’t say one word when I got a second helping of potatoes SCORE Happy wife - Happy life! Book yourself a Chicken Chat with P Allen Smith and take your wife to see all his beautiful hens and cocks or drop the tomfoolery to see critically endangered, rare, best quality and never seen anywhere else avian breeds.
either way you can thank me later.
March 21, 2022
Do your Homework; Don't Get Burned
March 21, 2022
Do your Homework; Don't Get Burned
In today’s blog lesson we will learn about getting burned. We are sure that this happens in small farms that are NPIP certified but you would never expect this to occur purchasing chicks from a large hatchery who states their reputation on years of service and prides themselves in offering the best and some rare avian varieties.
We here at DDS&CI work very hard to maintain biosecurity and stay within the guidelines of are NPIP certification. ALL of our birds that we sell are NPIP certified; ALL of them. In Case you didn’t know apparently there are breeders who can obtain NPIP certification for some breeds but then purchase additional breeds and sell those birds; advertise that they are an NPIP certified entity (which technically they are) … sell multiple varieties of birds and not obtain an NPIP certification for those rare breeds that they may be charging hundreds of dollars per chick.
So do your homework!! You owe it to yourself and your flock. Ask the questions before you buy.
-What is your NPIP number?
-What are your birds (at least the one you are interested in) NPIP certified under?
-Then check for yourself? Everything is right online and updated about every 2 weeks by the Feds.
First look up the breeder by state to see what they carry as NPIP certified breeds
Here’s the link for you
NPIP | NPIP Participants States (poultryimprovement.org)
Then go to the NPIP site and look the breed codes up
NPIP | Animal Health (poultryimprovement.org)
You will thank us later!
Will we share the name of the Hatchery that is doing this - NO but do your homework folks!!
Blog Feb 16, 2022 The Egg Debate
Blog Feb 16, 2022 The Egg Debate
It has been a while since we posted a blog we have been dealing with surgeries Covid all kinds of fun stuff. We decided we would jump up on a big ole' box of irritation today Organic and Vegetarian fed Chickens / Eggs... here we go folks because its a ride hang on to the hand rails.
We do realize we might make a few people upset when they read this blog but welcome to 2022 everyone gets upset at something. We hope you will at least read this with somewhat of an open mind maybe help a local farmer because we are a dying breed. Then there is the big box stores which just keep getting more costly.
Did you know about 90% of eggs in the USA are laid by caged hens? These birds are confined to cages for their entire egg laying life then dispatched once egg laying is reduced. The issue we have with most, no all, of this is we happen to love chickens and they are seldom thought of in any pecking order and quite frankly they deserve a voice and a happy life.
Today we are going to discuss some lingo thrown around about hens and eggs and a few words that stick straight in our chicken’s craw happen to be Organic and Vegetarian Fed.
Before we get into the negative let us begin with a positive phrase you may or may not have heard “Certified Humane Eggs”. It is has a good ring to it doesn’t it, Certified Humane, it means the laying hens must be uncaged, provided nest boxes, dust bathing areas and access to perches. The density of the flock is limited. The chickens are also not allowed to be debeaked. Furthermore, forcing molts through food limiting and light control is prohibited. Ever taken a trip to your local chicken farmer to see how their chickens are treated? These are the rules we live by a chickens dream stamp, but some of us might take things a bit further at our Spa and Inn!
Side Note: What is debeaking well in short, inhumane people cut off part or all of the chicken’s beak to prevent hens from harming each other because they are in confined spaces and unhappy. “They” say it doesn’t hurt but no one has ever asked the chicken as it bleeds if it is uncomfortable without its lips, I mean beaks, and debeaking without a doubt reduces the chicken’s food intake; so it either creates some form of sensitivity/discomfort or the chicken decided to randomly go on a diet simultaneously during this “non-hurting” debeaking event timeframe.
And we’re back…the “Organic Eggs, Organic Chickens” or organically fed chickens and why our rooster’s feathers are ruffled by these words (Disclaimer: Remember this is our blog and our blog is like chicken math everyone needs 400; we hope to inform with knowledge and make you think and sometimes laugh.)
Every buzz word fills a hole in a niche market but Organic and Vegetarian fed chickens fills a big ‘ole sinkhole to nowhere (purely our opinion).
Here is a good thing on certified organic, the chickens cannot be given hormones or antibiotics. Nevertheless, thanks to restrictions and laws now in place antibiotics and hormones no longer run their legs off through shopping malls; so this now goes for everyone rocket scientist.
So then what exactly does this organic definition mean? Organic eggs cost more compared to a normal store bought egg. Producing organic eggs cost more for the Organic farmer as far as feed and maintaining space for those Organic Chickens. Well organic defines the chicken has been raised uncaged, with NO drugs and NO chemicals so says the USDA. People naturally think Organic eggs are better for you because they are given no antibiotics, chemicals, hormones (previously covered). Well at least the chickens have some kind of access to outside right? Wrong, what this means is availability to an outdoor area. Spoiler alert it can be as small as an 8 foot concrete square pad. So yay, the chickens don’t live in cages. However, they really don’t get to live outside and be chickens either?
With “Organic” what it restricts frankly is if my favorite flock member Maggie gets sick I can’t take her to the vet or treat the flock with antibiotics that she or they need then isolate her or them in our hospital barn for an allotted amount of time to allow them to continue to live a productive life until the ripe age of 8 to 10. Now some people believe very strongly in treating their flocks with natural herbs and apple cider vinegar but we are not going to discuss that. Except to say some of those herbal remedies or old wives tales will not fix major medical issues which require actual veterinarian intervention with antibiotics i.e. Pneumonia, Intestinal infection, leg infection, severe Bumble foot or a significant injury requiring life-saving attention. Treatment of these ailments by a Veterinarian does not fall in line with “Organic” Antibiotic Free rule. In our opinion, take your apple cider vinegar and go clean your bathroom; we are saving our Bessie any way that our vet can.
Another good point, yes we said good (but not great), for Organic chickens / eggs is that the chickens aren’t caged. However, the amount of space they are allotted is foggy at best and their outdoor space really isn’t defined. There are Organic Farms that give chickens space to go outside but it is small limited to perhaps a dirt or even a concrete area 4 feet by 4 feet for up to 10,000 birds. This allows outside access but ability to control what the chickens come in contact with and specifically structured to ensure the Organic diet is maintained. You cannot have an Organic Chicken eating a worm that has crawled through who knows what and eats dirty dirt from someone’s garden; eww how Non-Organic.
Can you imagine Organic Farm feeding their Organic Chicken, Organic food then they let the Chicken outside on a pasture to run around and be free? Heavens to Murgatroyd it would find all the bugs, grubs, crickets, worms, mice, frogs, and then do what happy Chickens do maintain their most healthy life (what they have been doing for thousands of years)…. Oh the shear Organic Panic!!! What did that bug crawl through in the woods!! Oh no, that mouse came from Charlie’s cattle pasture and there is cow manure! (GASP!) The cricket hopped through a mud puddle before Polly ate it!! HOLY DIRT! …Great Googly Moogly Drogo grabbed that worm and that worm ate dirt from the flowers that were planted at the neighbor’s (GOOD GRIEF) the worm has traces of flower fertilizer….(Someone get the forceps pull that worm out!) Oh My Land Sakes now it is raining and Betty is going to drink from a puddle!!!! What does the rain contain? Quick, lock them up in a small pen fully covered and protected. Note: I am just kidding they don’t name their chickens.
The chickens have to be Organic. Organic Chickens can’t be on the ground or ranging outside it will risk the very reason you pay the high dollar for those “Organic Eggs”.
Notwithstanding, folks God did make Chickens to naturally forage and not eat primarily Soy (“Pass the Soy please” said no chicken ever) and Organic. Even though the ingredients are more controlled than in conventional feed, organic feed is not necessarily nutritionally complete. Chickens eating organic diets may not get enough essential protein, as the natural proteins are replaced; this ultimately contributes to the nutrition of their eggs. We should stop overthinking and let them be happy and healthy…give them quality food and fresh clean water. Foster the land and love the animals, utilize Chickens for what they are happy to do: weed the farm, bug control, and fertilize your yards. Your chickens will thank you with longer happier lives and your eggs will taste ten times better.
Unsettling part, even though Organic the chickens may not be happy because they aren’t living their best life …so Organic chickens can be debeaked. This is primarily because they are confined in small areas! This is when a portion of their beaks are removed so they do not pluck each other; the reason chickens pluck each other is: 1. They are possibly a psycho (not likely Johnny), or 2. They are stressed / lacking something in their diet or life (more likely).
At least with Organic Chickens they are not allowed to have their molts controlled by lighting which controls their egg production; most of the commercial egg industry does this along with controlling egg laying with food rationing.
We will only briefly touch on Vegetarian feed for chickens; because basically it deserves only a minute. Have you ever spent time watching a chicken? If you haven’t there are numerous videos all over the Internet that will provide hours of entertainment. From those videos you will learn Chickens are omnivores by choice; really carnivores many will they fight over crickets and other protein sources. They like a variety. Therefore, vegetarian feed, in our opinion (well not just ours we did a lot of research), isn’t a natural diet for chickens. This type of diet eliminates key nutrients and valuable protein. Like mentioned above short of keeping them in a cell they will find their proteins outside, they love them. So ask yourself, self how do those people maintain that so called Chicken’s vegetarian diet? Why am I paying extra for that stamp on my egg carton?
While we are talking about eggs we do get asked, “Does the color make the egg taste different, does it matter? Yes it absolutely does, because our girls work very hard to lay their eggs and believe me they are very proud when they lay those pretty nuggets. Thelma lays a blue one, Sissy lays a light Brown one, Maggie lays a dark brown one, Bessie lays a pink one, Meredith lays a white one and on through the flock of 100’ish we go. The girls (and boys) are all named and they are all equally important. We like a rainbow of egg colors.
Yes, our eggs taste better than anything in a store. The colors don’t make them taste better the free roaming happy hens do but the colors make them special just like a Dolly Parton song.
Let’s mention some did you knows:
Did you know Farm fresh eggs well that sound great! Maybe if you purchase from a local farmer. If you see this on an egg label in the grocery store it means the chickens actually live on a “farm” but in battery cages. Quite a majority of eggs are produced this way. A battery cage gives a laying hen about 67 square inches of space in which to live her entire life! That’s all we are going to say about that. Because that’s what Mom taught us….
Did you know Cage Free Eggs have got to be better right? The chickens are free from those battery cages. Well, to be fair this doesn’t mean the chickens are really free and they aren’t given access to outdoors but they do have about a square foot of space per bird. They are crammed by the hundreds/ thousands; there is really no limit into a structure to lay eggs. Typically, the hens never see sunlight, they have no roosts and are confined to the ground and offered artificial lighting. Doesn’t that sound like fun!
Did you know we almost forgot Free Range these girls can get, wait for it… 2 square feet per hen …which is more than caged and cage-free, but they don’t go outdoors much.
Did you know Pasture eggs come from chickens who free range on a pasture and have access to secure coops at night. These chickens spend most of their times outside and eat chicken stuff. This is where helping your local farmer comes into play because Local Farmer eggs are typically not found in your store and that is right up our chicken coop.
However, you may find pasture raised eggs. It has been proven that pasture-raised eggs offer numerous advantages over regular and organic eggs. A 2010 study published by Cambridge University Press stated pasture-raised eggs have higher concentrations of vitamins and omega-3s compared to organic and regular store eggs. The Chickens are healthier because they are allowed to engage in their natural foraging behavior. They are also allowed more exercise and longer access to sunlight making the eggs naturally rich in Vitamin D.
Additionally, 2014 study discovered eggs laid by hens who spent time outside had 3-4 times more vitamin D than hens confined indoors with artificial lighting.
Pastured eggs look a little bit like this when compared to your typical grocery store egg:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
• 4–6 times more vitamin D
Now to be fair we have to give cons where cons are due because Farm Fresh Eggs/pasture raised eggs are technically not a “regulated label” so the USDA does not have set requirements that farmers meet. Nevertheless, there are some third party groups that will evaluate farms based on their standards to help provide a level of standard for pasture raised eggs. Other than that it is basically up to the farmer and their good reputation to their local community to keep honest. Well, what farmer/neighbor do you know that would want to ruin their reputation with their neighbors and their community? Chicken keeping is hard work and it is done so for the love of the bird; we certainly do not make any money off of selling eggs by the time you factor in feed, time, buying cartons etc. We do it for the love.
So any local farmer you buy from you helping that farmer afford to keep going and practice more sustainable and environmentally beneficial practices and show your support.
The local farmer raises those chickens with nutritionally complete feed and allowing them also to live off the farm eating what and when they want, the way they were intended. Obviously the chickens will be naturally healthy, appear happy and the eggs will be bright and extremely flavorful but not organic! It is noteworthy to point out that, if a farmer is just turning out chickens onto a pasture and not providing a nutritionally complete feed, those chickens will be deficient in key nutrients simply living off pasture. The chickens will visibly suffer and the eggs will be noticeably different.
Even though the nutrients of farm eggs and organic eggs are similar ultimately the farm egg wins’ while protein, cholesterol and fat are almost identical, vitamins and minerals change and farm eggs contain more potassium, iron, Vitamin A and Calcium; not to mention many farmers feed with a layer ration rich in Omega 3s which is up to your local farmer but also an added egg-cellent benefit.
In the end it is up to you which egg you choose we just hope you choose the edible ones.
Have a great day and God bless!
The Worms Crawl In....
Jan 12, 2022
The Worms Crawl In....
Jan 12, 2022
It’s time to talk about worms.
We see several posts between chicken keepers about chicken problems and possibly having Gape Worms and that could very well be. Having had chickens for years, yes Gape Worms do exist but perhaps a more common problem with our chickens in the summer is pure heat stress from combinations of to much sun, lack of shade, lack of cold water, and use of corn and other treats; which they simply don’t need.
Truth is all chickens carry some level of worms in their systems just from picking and foraging frogs, worms, snails, small critters around the yard. That’s why it is important to adopt some kind of system to worm once or twice a year; no that is not a constant supply of D.E!
In our flock we worm when necessary and in the off season, when the girls have a break from being moms and providing breakfast (early spring / late fall.)
Worming meds available should also be changed from season to season so your local worms don’t develop a resistance to what your using. One season we may use Safe Guard and then Ivermectin.
(Disclaimer: Let me stop right here on Ivermectin ---it is a wormer for animals we buy the Goat wormer and dilute it down. Humans are not animals, well let me try another angle, you filthy animals (If you don't get that your to young). Do you go to the Pet store and put flea and tick applicators on your back every month to keep the outside bugs away? Do you chew heartworm tablets to protect your heart? NO you go see a Doctor; not a Vet. So why would you take Goat or Horse wormer for anything and that's all I'm going to say about that; moving on. (Second Disclaimer: If you do any of the aforementioned I know a good Psychiatrict contact me.)
What gets rid of the grubbies, well that’s up to you, the Internet- My Pet Chicken, Farm Store and your Vet can be your best guides.
Lets talk about the worm in the apple though....pumpkin seeds. Can confirm that chickens love pumpkins, pumpkin seeds and a variety of gourds. Heck, chickens will eat just about anything but that doesn’t mean they should, hmm I sense a new topic in the blogs.
We also can confirm after years of being around chickens there is no way that we would risk our chickens gut health on “because he said so” pumpkin seeds work great for natural remedies for worms. King George also has some Ocean front property in Arizona or was that Bigfoot who saw it; no matter.
Having given our chickens pumpkin seeds not as a wormer but part of dietary supplements and having a fecal float tests still show natural worm loads in our flocks we will leave the seeds in the department of skeptic old wives tells and stick to what we know works....good old fashioned veterinary medicine.
Since that's not broken and we wont fix it.
Happy flocking and until next time God Bless!
Let's make Mojitos
December 31, 2021
Let's make Mojitos
December 31, 2021
I keep seeing these Ads about adding lime to your chicken coop. So I very carefully approached My Chicken Whisperer this morning over coffee (in a Rugby helmet) and said, Honey, I’m curious about something I saw on the internet...she loves this (hee hee) She just Loves this!!!
Then I got Letterkenny'd (just kidding).
LIME! There are many places lime may be good in mojitos, Key Lime Pie... maybe someone should ask Jimmy Hoffa one day what the mob does with lime (oops, sorry Sheriff's hat came out--put that away you retired...) how about Lime Jello?
Lime may have a time and a place if you have encountered some sort of disease such as Avian Influenza or Newcastle. At such time, an entire flock has been devastated and a very strong cleaner is brought in... everything is removed and cleaned with lime then allowed to sit empty for several months without birds.
Yes, lime deters flies in a compost pile but that’s where we draw the line.
In the coop however, sand is supreme and we use sand as litter (not bedding). We do not use hay, straw, pine shavings or any deep litter methods that create an environment to attract additional problems such as flies, mold, lice, mites, etc.
Lime just like Diatomaceous Earth is problematic to our airways, eyes, and lungs requiring special gear to apply and a chicken has a respiratory system as well.
We would never expose their respiratory systems to unnecessary problems. Additionally, chickens if continually exposed to lime can receive burns to their footpads. Why don’t you walk around on lime barefoot for a month in your house? Because, it's not for you or your dogs. Then why let your chickens?
Bottom line if lime helps with reduction of bacteria or critters, who cares! You can gain the same goal by taking care of your animals to ensure they are healthy and pest free; by cleaning the coops regularly and keeping the dry.
So keep it easy. Get sand. It will last you 2 years at least. Clean the coop.
Simplify your life with dropping boards.
Leave the lime supply for the mob or is that only in the movies? I’ll ask Jimmy and get back to you.
moved from Facebook page
moved from Facebook page
Our son came up with this, had to share
TEN SIGNS THE CHICKENS HAVE BETTER LIVES THAN YOUR CHILDREN
10. Chicken gets a small cut full medical attention placed in separate pen, special diet, coddled, trip to the vet. Children, "Mom, I cut myself its bleeding bad". Mom hollers from coop, "Go find a Bandaid, you'll be fine and bring me back the egg basket would ya."
9. It is always the child's fault for being attacked by the rooster. "Clearly, you did something to provoke my sweet boy." Child, I was literally standing 800 feet away from that teradactyl!
8. The chickens have more space than the children have.
7. It's hot outside, chickens- special frozen treats, misting sprayers, fans blowing. Children- go outside and play in the hose if you're hot.
6. Chicken crowing at 5 in the morning, oh listen to that sweet sound. Children yelling at 5 in the morning stop that or you're grounded!
5. It's cold outside chickens get flat panel heaters in the coops, warm mash for breakfast, covered runs, warm water. Children, "Can I get a ride to school, it's starting to snow?" Parent, "I used to walk uphill both ways in 10 inches of snow, it's good for you."
4. Children wake up, something smells good and I'm hungry! Mom, "I just made something for the chickens, going to the barn, I think there's cereal in the pantry."
3. Children microwaving leftovers while parents are in the barn hand feeding the chickens.
2. Chickens get their bedrooms cleaned for them. Children not a chance!
1. Chicken goes missing for 30 minutes massive search party is launched all family members are woken up to join in the search efforts. 20 year old doesn't come home one night suitcase is on front porch and bedroom is changed into a gym.
For us New Yorkers
December 15, 2021
For us New Yorkers
December 15, 2021
What is a grit?
That is the first thing I asked my Chicken Whisperer 24 years ago when I saw her eating grits.
People still ask it today in the chicken world. Do chickens need Grit? Yes, all chickens need grit but I don't mean the kind humans eat at breakfast.
Poultry grit acts as a stone and chisel to help chickens with digesting their food. It aids in breaking down what they eat in their gizzard since they actually have no teeth.
If chickens are out foraging they will pick up pieces of naturally occurring grit such as small rocks and sand on the ground.
If you have your chickens on sand for litter like we do they will also pick up pebbles that are found in the multiple particles of the sand, which serves so many purposes (keeping flies to a minimum, easy to clean, cost effective, controls mites, lice, temperature control, great for dust bathing, just to name a few- that will be saved for another post)
However, we also provide a small dish of poultry grit right next to the oyster shell in the coop. The chickens will naturally take what they need. We have made Grit containers from PVC pipes, trash cans (by drilling holes in and anchoring PVC pipes) so chickens can stick their heads in to grab and go, commercial bird feeders, or standard chicken feeders sold at your local farm supply store. Any and all of the above can be used for offering Poultry Grit to your flock.
The goal happy birds with happy digestive tracts.
Come ask us questions if you want answers from someone whose cornbread got done in the middle Dec. 3 2021
Come ask us questions if you want answers from someone whose cornbread got done in the middle Dec. 3 2021
We want this page to be entertaining informative and a place people can come for questions. I just left a chat room where a nice lady asked a legitimate question and got bombarded by jokes and humiliation!
Let me post our response and then comment further
Ma'am I'm sorry but I've seen enough and stopped all morning chores. When we lived in Florida and worked with the Sheriff's Office it was no secret the water is high in Iron there and other unknown chemicals. I can not relate them but in my 30s along with several other women also deputies, attorneys, nurses etc. we all suffered from breast cancer in the same county with numerous golf courses. We all drank bottled water we had to tap water tasted terrible. Move to the mountains of Arkansas the water taste better in Heber but other places in this very same state where I have family the water tastes different. So it is not unreasonable to second guess what's in the tap water since poultry and other feathered fowl have sensitive systems. And it is not a dumb question. When I raised poultry for years in WA State the water was filtered for everyone in the farm! Why because we were on 40 acres of farm land surrounded by farms and what goes on crops...bingo; water didn't taste good either. So the barn had something that looked like a time machine to filter every drop including all the water that the critters got. Not a silly question at all and if you have doubts about the quality of your tap water put a filter on it. By the way I'll Pm our page we plan to raise and sell quail I'll send you an invite. You can ask me any question you want!
To this we will add that water is the key source of life for all species on this earth. Often times we find ourselves needing to add vitamin and mineral supplements to the water in times of need, high stress, molt, or in some breeds its just plain necessary as a daily addition. Water should be clean and refilled, fresh every day.
You don't let your glass of water sit on a counter for days with flies living in it, do you? Why not, because they breed bacteria. You change your dog and cat water, even clean the bowls; so they do not have mold, dirt, food, or heaven forbid, poop in there. Outside pets are just as important as inside pets... in our opinion more important; because we are eating something that comes out of them!
You put in what you get out! If you are one of those people that raise your birds for subsistence living all the more important, water is one of the keys to healthy flocks.
Stay tuned for more opinions we have a lot on animals and only animals.
Humans eh, not so much, only to say have a blessed day and love thy neighbor ❤.
Thoughts From a Chicken Whisper 1/9/2022
Thoughts From a Chicken Whisper 1/9/2022
People ask me all the time, why do you love chickens? Well I'll tell you. This beautiful lady right here. My Granny Ruby Proctor from Fair Oaks. She taught me just about everything she knew when I was knee high to a grasshopper about chickens, life, love, what's important and what's not. It's as deep in my soul as my religion, as strong as honeysuckle on an old fence post. It takes me back "home" to the quiet of Granny and her farm and those memories never get old! Everyone needs to pause for that old front porch let that Country Road Take You Home... especially life today. I think the world needs a front porch.
Heating the Coop
Heating the Coop
November 15, 2021
Winter is fast approaching here in the foothills of the Ozarks we have already had our first frost. Time to break out the heat lamps to place in the chicken coops. We have to keep all those Chickens warm so they don’t freeze this winter.
JUST HOLD YOUR BRITCHES RIGHT THERE ---- That is my interpretation of my Chicken Whisperer
And about NOW she would ramble something her Granny would say telling me to go get a switch from the yard before she let me put a heat lamp in on HER BABIES. (HA HA)
In all seriousness, there are many reasons not to heat your coop:
1. FIRE! The biggest concern with heat lamps is fire. It takes almost nothing to bump, hit, knock, break, or just shatter, and the flame is on. Let me tell you our story; yes when we got started years ago we used one like everyone else. We had it on our baby chicks. My wife was sitting in the barn with the baby chicks at the other end of the brooder no one was anywhere near this brand new lamp purchased for these chicks. There was a crack and a pop the light broke. Shards of hot light came falling in. The chicks were days old so we had paper towels and puppy pads (thank God not pine shavings yet). Within seconds the paper caught on fire. If my wife hadn’t been there we would have lost our chicks; likely our barn. We immediately switched heat sources.
2. Heating the coop doesn’t allow the chickens to acclimate naturally to winter weather. When you lose power they will actually freeze to death because they are not accustomed to the cold.
3. Chickens body temperature run hotter that we do, don’t believe me take their temperature. They also naturally huddle together on the roost to keep warm. You know that saying Stupid Chicken, well they aren’t. Okay, sometimes but they have been around for hundreds of years even before there was electricity folks.
4. It’s in the wind. Make sure you have an area for them to sleep that is out of the wind and secure from predators. Block the wind and try to help the Chickens with bigger combs not get frostbite. The wind and rain is the enemy not the cold.
5. We heat the water not the coop. Invest in a means to keep the water from freezing if you want to heat something. Premier One has a nice heated Poultry Nipple Drinker but there are many varieties out there. Chickens with frozen water are dead chickens. They must have water.
6. Oh and while we are at it. No oatmeal! If you want to give them a warm mash in the morning give them a warm mash of their own layer feed or feather fixer feed. But remember its cold outside so it will likely be cold in about 15 minutes once you get it on the ground so don’t put out a big dish that will chill their core body temperature down. If you want to warm them up you are better off giving them scratch grain with corn at this time of year. The Corn in the winter will actually produce more energy and ultimately help with movement and stimulation when cold. Just remember that corn and scratch is like candy so feed in moderation. On really cold nights when we get below zero we will throw out a handful of scratch with corn for our flocks.
To Free Range or Not
To Free Range or Not
October 24, 2021
Who let the flock out?
Why You Should Be Letting Your Chickens OUT
Article from Grit Magazine-
When I was growing up, there was a man that lived across the street from my parent's house. Every morning, he would go down to his chicken coop and let all of his chickens out for the day. They spent the day outside, coming and going from the coop as they pleased. Every evening, he went down to the coop and made sure that they were all up again. He raised and sold both chicks and eggs and had about 50 hens at any given time. I never realized until I got older and had my own chickens why he raised them this way.
Benefits of Pasture-Raising Chickens
There are many different ways that you can describe what is essentially letting chickens loose during the day. Free-ranging, foraging, pasture-raised, etc. It's important to note that if you are selling meat or eggs then you need to make sure that you are meeting the regulations for that particular category of raising them. I want to talk to you about letting them loose. Let them access forage and grass.
Why? Because there are so many benefits!
Natural insect control.
When you raise chickens on pasture or forage, you can reduce your insect load in your yard or garden, decrease your feed costs, and increase both the chicken's health and your own (if you eat the eggs and/or meat). Chickens that are out on pasture will eat some forage and grasses (usually about 30 to 40% of their diet). They will eat vegetation that is lush and plump. They'll spend the majority of their time looking for insects though. Insects will make up about 40 to 50% of their diet when they are out naturally ranging. Natural bug control anyone?
Save money on chicken feed.
Obviously, if the chickens are out and eating forage and insects, they will require less feed from you, which saves you money. I always think it’s crazy when people mention that keeping chickens is expensive. Believe it or not, I don't spend a dime on feed once my chickens leave the brooder. They are out all day long foraging and it doesn't cost me anything!
Natural methionine source.
There are several reasons why letting your chickens forage makes them healthier. If you have chickens and you keep them up, you may have noticed in the past one chicken that gets pecked frequently. Or maybe you've seen one chicken that pecks the other chickens constantly. (I don't mean a quick show of dominance peck, but a constant pecking that removes feathers and causes wounds.) Chickens require methionine in their diet. Methionine is an amino acid that is used to make proteins. A chicken's body cannot make it but it has to have it. Methionine is found in animal proteins, not plant proteins. Feed companies usually add methionine to feed but it can break down over time. Chickens that aren't getting enough methionine will try to find it any way that they can, including other chickens. Extreme cases of methionine deficiency can cause cannibalism.
Insects are packed with methionine. When chickens are out foraging, they are able to get plenty of methionine in their diet. I've always let my chickens out during the day. A few years ago, we had a couple of hens that had to be kept up during the day. We gave them ample feed and made sure that they were healthy. One of the hens began some cannabalistic behaviors. We started letting her out and the first afternoon that she was out, she stopped. Turns out, she had a methionine deficiency and was craving it. I checked the label of the feed and it should have had plenty of methionine in it. Apparently, it had broken down since it was added to the feed and she wasn't getting enough.
Chickens also need vitamins A,B and D.
They are able to forage and get vitamins A and B from the grass and insects that they consume. Just like us, chickens can make their own vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. Chickens that are on pasture or foraging will get enough sunlight to make plenty of vitamin D. Chicken feed often contains a compound called fagopyrin that causes sensitivity to sunlight and can lead to sunburns.
Allowing your chickens to be on pasture also creates healthier eggs and meat products for you. There have been numerous research projects done about the nutritional value of eggs and meat that is raised on pasture. The difference in pasture raised and feed-raised is astounding. According to the USDA, pasture-raised eggs contain 40% more vitamin A, less cholesterol, more omega-3 fatty acids, more protein, less saturated fat, 3x's more vitamin E and 7x's more beta-carotene! If you eat the meat, you'll enjoy benefits like less saturated fat, more omega-3 fatty acids and no added hormones or antibiotics.
Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast read more about pastured-raised chickens at www.farminene.com
The Egg Blog
The Egg Blog
September 22, 2021
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? For most backyard poultry enthusiasts, the chicken came first and we know you need the Chicken to actually make the egg – more correctly, your day-old chicks arrive in the mail. But that’s not the only way to create your first flock or maintain your existing one. For folks who are uncertain about receiving live animals through the mail, or simply cannot handle the minimum number of day-old chicks that most hatcheries require, incubating fertile eggs is an attractive alternative. Likewise for folks who keep a rooster in their flock, incubating eggs is a great way to increase the flock size, or to provide replacements for birds that have been culled. Hatching fertile eggs need not be difficult, but your success rate can be increased by following a few guiding principles.
Chicken eggs need a fairly specific environment to develop properly and hatch successfully. Perhaps the most important parameter is temperature – chicken eggs should be incubated at a temperature between 99 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (99.5 is often considered to be ideal) and 50 to 65 percent relative humidity (60 percent is often considered the ideal). To facilitate proper aeration and gas exchange between the embryo inside the egg and the outside world, the eggs must not be held in a tightly sealed container.
Chicken eggs typically hatch after 21 days of incubation. Consider that number to be a target – not an absolute. During the final three days of incubation, the eggs should ideally be located in a slightly cooler (98.5 degrees) and more humid (65 percent relative humidity or greater) environment to facilitate successful hatching. Lowering the temperature helps account for the extra heat that the larger embryos produce as a result of their metabolism, and the increased humidity helps keep the chicks from getting stuck to the membrane that’s located just inside the egg shell as they break out of the shell.
Just as temperature and humidity are important to maximizing the hatch, eggs need to be moved around on a regular basis for best results. Changing an egg’s attitude helps exercise the embryo and prevent it from sticking to the shell. In general, eggs should be incubated with their pointed ends down (air cell up) – but it is also important to turn or tip the eggs back and forth at least twice a day – the more often they are turned, the better. During the hatching phase, it’s best to lay the eggs on their sides.
Broody Hen Incubation
The easiest way to incubate and hatch fertile chicken eggs is to have a broody hen do all the work for you. What’s a broody hen, you wonder? This hen has undergone progesterone-induced changes that make her want to sit on eggs to hatch them and brood the resulting chicks. A broody hen will take care of ventilating and warming the eggs and will handle all of the turning and chick-rearing duties as well. (Not all hens will go broody.)
If you already have a laying flock and one of your hens becomes broody, she can incubate her own eggs, or you can place fertile eggs obtained elsewhere in her nest, and she will do her best to hatch them. Many folks try to prevent their laying hens from going broody because they don’t lay eggs while hatching and raising chicks – if you want to hatch a few chicks though, a broody hen can be a godsend.
Still-Air or Forced-Air Incubators
When most folks think of incubating eggs, their minds turn to any manner of electromechanical devices that provide the right temperature and humidity. There are two principal categories of incubators suitable for the home flock: still-air and forced-air.
Still-air incubators lack mechanical air circulation. Forced-air incubators use a fan to circulate internal air. Both types of incubators may be equipped with automatic or manual egg turners, and both offer some means for managing relative humidity. Incubator capacity and price vary widely, so it’s wise to consider how many eggs you are likely to hatch in a year before you take the financial plunge. If you choose a small incubator without an egg turner, just remember that it is up to you to turn the eggs at least twice a day.
Experts recommend that you set the temperature of your still-air incubator to 101 to 102 degrees to best avoid the formation of cold spots on the inside. Set forced-air incubators at the desired temperature because the moving air creates a more uniform temperature environment. All incubators should be turned on, adjusted and monitored for at least a day before you set the eggs. Check the temperature with a thermometer that you know to be accurate because a degree or two one way or the other can make or break the hatch. In a still-air incubator, the thermometer should be placed about the height of the top of the eggs.
Serious poultry enthusiasts may have one incubator for incubating and a second (sometimes called a hatcher) for hatching. This allows you to set eggs at virtually any time (mark them carefully) since the incubator’s environmental parameters won’t need to be reset for hatching after 18 days. This approach also helps keep the incubator clean.
If you plan to hatch eggs on a larger scale, you might want to consider a forced-air, cabinet-type incubator. These devices offer a great deal of capacity and flexibility, but they are expensive.
With any hatching project, be sure that you have a place that you can leave the incubator undisturbed and out of direct sunlight for several weeks at a time. Most home incubators are designed to operate effectively at ambient temperatures from the 60s to the 80s.
Sanitizing Rinse and Storage Temperature
If you purchase fertile eggs from a hatchery, more than likely they will have been sanitized. However, if you are going to incubate eggs produced by your flock or you obtained eggs from a source that did not sanitize them, you can avoid potential health and viability problems with a sanitizing rinse. Using a capful of bleach to a gallon of water that’s warmed to about 110 degrees (substitute liquid dish soap or the recommended dilution of Tek-Trol), immerse each egg for a few seconds and air-dry.
Incubators and hatchers should be cleaned out after every hatch and sanitized after every third hatch at the very least. Dust or vacuum the interior and wipe all surfaces and trays with a dilute bleach solution (up to a quarter cup per gallon) or other sanitizer that won’t leave a residue or emit vapors that could poison a future batch of eggs.
Fertile chicken eggs can be stored up to 10 days (before incubating) with little loss in hatchability – as long as you keep them out of the refrigerator. The ideal storage conditions are 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 to 75 percent relative humidity. Store the eggs in trays, bowls or clean egg cartons with sufficient space to allow air to circulate. Some experts recommend turning the eggs in storage, too. This process can be easily accomplished by tilting the entire egg tray or other containers from side to side.
Candling Your Eggs
Candling is a process that allows you to determine whether your eggs are developing correctly after seven to 10 days of incubation. Candling takes a bit of practice to get right, but it is a great way to monitor the progress of your eggs.
Although you can purchase devices designed specifically for candling eggs, all you really need is a bright (preferably LED) white-light flashlight and a dark place. Ideally, the end of the egg should “seal” against the light – if your flashlight lens prevents this from occurring, you can make an adapter tube out of cardboard, or cut a hole in the lid of a cardboard box sufficiently small that it will cradle one end of the egg and hold it upright. A lamb nipple with the end cut off and pulled over a good pen light also works well. In any case, illuminate the egg (from below in the box setup) and look for a web-like network of blood vessels surrounding what is obviously a chicken embryo (by seven days you may notice embryo movement).
Clear space and a yolk, or a ring of blood (vessels are good, the blood ring is just a single ring), indicate that the egg was not fertilized or that it died during the early stages of development. Note: It’s not unusual to lose up to 50 percent of the eggs you initially set depending on the quality of the eggs, the incubator model you use, and your diligence and skill. Eggs that aren’t developing properly should be discarded because there’s a higher risk that they could explode in the incubator – that’s a mess with which no one wants to contend.
Once the chicks hatch, you can leave them in the incubator or hatcher for a day or so before moving them to the brooder. Newly hatched chicks obtain sufficient energy from residual yolk that all they really need for the first couple of days of life is a warm environment – so there’s no need to rush them to the brooder. Check out this article from Grit magazine
Expert Tips for Incubating Chickens
Our Second Blog Entry
Our Second Blog Entry
September 20, 2021
TOP Chicken Problems!
From the time they emerge from their eggs and throughout their adult lives, chickens can develop a variety of common problems. But don’t let the fear of any of these conditions deter you from the fulfilling pursuit of raising chickens for meat and eggs. Most often, when conditions in the brooder, coop and foraging ground are kept reasonably clean, the chickens will enjoy a life of very few problems, predation being the main concern. However, it’s nice to be prepared in the rare instance that your birds do in fact face a health condition that you, the steward, need to treat.
Curled toes in baby chicks appear as a clubbed foot. If both feet have curled toes, it is most likely from a vitamin deficiency passed on from the mother hen. On the other hand, curled toes that occur only on one foot usually develop from an injury during the hatching process or while in the brooder.
Add poultry vitamins and electrolytes to their water supply. Follow the packaging directions.
Gently straighten the curled toes and splint them by placing their foot into the padded portion of a Band-Aid and securing the sticky portion of the Band-Aid to the top of the foot.
Chicks with splayed legs have difficulty standing, and their leg juts out to the side. Common causes of splayed leg include issues during incubation, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, and slippery bedding in the hatching tray or brooder.
Add poultry vitamins and electrolytes to the drinking water.
Change the brooder bedding to paper towels covered with pine shavings for the first couple of weeks.
Try splinting the legs together with rubber bands, fabric tape, and so forth.
Baby chicks can develop a condition called “pasty butt” or “pasting up,” which occurs when droppings remain attached to their vents. The droppings dry and cake onto the vent’s opening, preventing the chick from passing any other droppings. Pasty butt can be life threatening and can occur while chicks are in transit from the hatchery as well as during their first few weeks of life. Some breeds are more prone to pasty butts than others. If chicks continue to have pasty butt, consider changing to a higher quality chick feed.
The dried-on dropping will need to be removed. Moisten a paper towel with warm water and gently wet and loosen the droppings. Do not pull. Gently clean the vent area of all droppings. Dry the chick and apply a bit of triple antibiotic ointment to the vent. Be sure to check on this chick and the others to ensure the issue resolves.
Managing the Crop
A chicken’s crop is located in the middle of the breast. A full, normal crop feels round and about the size of a golf ball. It is soft and non-tender. It should not be hard. If the crop is empty, it will feel “deflated” and you might even feel a bit of grit inside. Crops can become sour, impacted or pendulous. If your chicken has crop issues, it will appear ill. It will stop eating, isolate itself, and appear lethargic.
Crops can become impacted from eating long blades of grass, hay or straw, tough meat, foreign objects, or from infection. The crop will feel firm, tender to touch, and enlarged — some might even become as large as a tennis ball.
To test if the crop is impacted, put your chicken to roost at night without access to food. First thing in the morning before feeding, feel the chicken’s crop. It should be empty. If it still feels about the same, help move things along. Usually when a crop is enlarged, the first thing to do is to withhold water for the first 12 hours, and food for the first 24. You need that crop emptied for any treatment to work, and adding volume to the clog isn’t going to help.
Feed the chicken only soft bread soaked in olive oil and fresh water.
Avoid table scraps, hay, long grass, seeds and the like until the problem is better.
If treatment is unsuccessful in a couple of days, contact a veterinarian to help empty the crop mechanically, or you could cull birds that get chronic crop problems because of eating odd forage.
The chicken’s breath smells fermented and yeasty, and the crop may be enlarged. Sour crop can be caused by fungal infection resulting from impacted crop, recent use of antibiotics, delayed crop emptying, or worms.
Withhold food and water, and see if the crop empties.
Next, try acidifying the digestive tract by adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per gallon to the drinking water.
Add probiotics to the chicken’s drinking water to help the healthy bacterial flora return to normal.
If the above treatments don’t work, seek veterinary assistance for evaluation and possible antifungal medication.
Pendulous crop, which can be chronic, is caused by a lack of muscle strength, possibly from a previously impacted crop or from heavy food. The crop will dangle toward the ground.
Let the crop rest for a period of 24 hours and only give the chicken water. Then reintroduce chicken feed with plenty of grit and water.
Chickens occasionally develop the habit of eating eggs, and it can be difficult to fix. Causes are not clearly known, but it may stem from boredom, curiosity or nutritional deficiencies. Some folks have limited success reversing this behavior by offering layer feed with at least 16-percent protein along with a reliable calcium source, such as crushed oyster shell (be careful using oyster shell if anyone in your family has a shellfish allergy) or limestone. Collect eggs frequently, and never toss broken or cracked eggs into the run for the chickens to eat.
Clean up broken eggs and egg-soiled litter immediately.
Prevent boredom, and provide adequate space for the flock.
Keep nesting boxes dark, and the liter a few inches deep.
Use roll away nest boxes that make eggs inaccessible to hens after eggs are laid.
Try giving your flock a bit of milk.
Most hens have the ability to go broody. However, some breeds are more likely than others. During broody periods, hens will typically stop laying eggs, and sit on the nest, only leaving one to two times per 24-hour period to eat, drink, and eliminate waste. The average broody cycle lasts three weeks. Some folks use broody hens as nature’s incubators, while others find the reduced egg production to be unacceptable.
Let broodiness run its course, which is approximately three weeks.
Be sure the hen has food and water in close proximity.
Try harvesting eggs more frequently to curtail this behavior.
Common poultry pests include lice, mites, ticks and fleas; prevention is best.
Keep coop and run clean — avoid overcrowding the birds.
Remove the pests that you can see, such as ticks.
Treat the areas outside the coop for ticks and flies.
So many pest problems can be handled proactively using droppings boards, sand for litter and moving food and water out of the coop and into the run.
Adapting to the Seasons
If you live in an area with seasons, then it is recommended to make a few seasonal adjustments to optimize your chickens’ health. It is important to remember that birds are not mammals like you or me, so they will not adapt to the temperatures and conditions to which they are exposed the same as we do. Be sure to select chicken breeds that are appropriate for your climate — i.e., cold-hardy versus heat-hardy. One wonderful resource at your disposal is neighbors who are already raising birds.
On warmer days:
Know the signs of heat stress and how to avoid it.
Keep fresh, cool water available.
Add a fan to the coop.
Treat your flock to a treat of cool fruits and vegetables.
On colder days:
Prevent waterers from freezing.
Add an additional layer of bedding to the coop.
Weatherproof the coop; prevent drafts, though some ventilation is necessary.
Stack bales of hay around the coop for extra insulation.
Be sure to keep the bedding in the coop dry to avoid excess humidity.
Research and consider using the deep-litter method.
Rub a bit of Vaseline on combs and wattles to prevent frost bite.
Always keep chicken feed available.
Our First Blog Entry
Our First Blog Entry
September 19 2021
WASHING EGGS 101
This first blog post is dedicated to my Mom. She has said for years that Jerri should start a blog. My Mom is the quintessential Italian / Irish, New York, “don’t mess with her” Mom. She is perfect in every way. She has always been in our corner and she is the best Grandma.
So here goes Blog number 1 ---Jerri wrote poetry from a young age and she has an Encyclopedia book in the brain of knowledge on chickens. She still has that knowledge but I help with the writing.
Did you know, some guy somewhere said there is a way to wash eggs; yep some genius believes so.
On the farm we don’t wash the eggs that we consume. We leave the bloom intact. Our chickens lay clean eggs in clean nest boxes. In fact, only in the USA today is it common to refrigerate eggs. Traditionally, eggs are not refrigerated and still aren’t in many other Countries. When in Rome...well we aren't even in Georgia but we do not refrigerate our eggs on the farm. They just don't last that long.
The farm eggs sold at the local store are cleaned (as required) for our neighbors to enjoy to keep the geniuses happy.
For your reading pleasure here is how “they” say to wash an egg
When Washing Eggs:
•Temperature. Make sure the eggs are below 90ºF before you wash them. The wash water temperature must be 20°F higher than that of the eggs. This will result in a slight expansion of the egg contents and reduce the likelihood of the wash water being absorbed by the egg. Colder water will cause the egg contents to contract and water may be taken into the egg through the pores of the shell, leading to possible bacterial contamination of the egg. The suggested wash water temperature is between 110º and 120ºF. Never have wash water more than 50ºF above the temperature of the eggs 2 because this may cause excess breakage. Never expose eggs to temperatures greater than 128ºF during the cleaning process or the eggs will begin to cook.
•Water quality. Make sure you use only potable water for washing eggs. The iron content should be less than 2 ppm to prevent the growth of bacteria. If using well water it is good to get your water tested for quality.
•Detergents. While you can use a good quality detergent, it is not recommended that you use household detergents because they may cause discoloration and/or undesirable flavors in the eggs. A variety of commercial egg washing detergents are available and should be used as a first choice. You can spray the detergent on and wash off with continuously running water. It is important that the eggs not be submerged in water, with or without detergent.
•Rinsing. If using a detergent, is recommended that eggs be rinsed with water at 20ºF warmer than the detergent water. The eggs can be quickly dipped into a sanitizing solution containing 200 ppm chlorine (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) and that is 20ºF warmer than the detergent solution.
And now you know…
Doodle Do Spa 2.0 Reboot
Doodle Do Spa 2.0 Reboot
Welcome to our reboot 2.0. The Chicken Whisperer is back to whispering only we are in Arkansas not Washington State.
Full disclosure... we may have had a few life set backs but God has not failed us. I mean, who really sets out their day and says self let's fall on our head in a barn and start having seizures for the rest of your life. That was a bit of a road bump. Throw in some surgery, cancer and gunk in a blender - poof- your in the old home state of Arkansas again, back home where you alwayswanted to be!
So let's reboot shall we after all the only thing you can remember is chickens and song lryics; nothing important like how to drive or walk or why I walked in this room huh, anyway.
We plan to breed Delawares, Polish, Light Brahmas, Orphingtons, Lakenvelders, Silkies, Quineas and who knows where we will fly from there.
Our whole purpose is healthy happy fluffy butts. We are working to get our NPIP certification but those government wheels sure are slow.