amy elizabeth

Providing chicken keepers everywhere with informative resources in Caring for, and Raising Backyard Chickens.
TBN Ranch is a hobby farm dedicated to raising bantam chicks and laying hens.
We’re located in sunny Arizona, nestled in the foothills of a 500 acre mountain range in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert.

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Suggestions for Minimizing Chicken Feed Waste

Solutions for the Coop and Outdoor Feeders

Got chickens wasting their feed by scratching it out of the feeder? Not only is this costing  you money, but it’s also attracting rodents and wild birds.  This problem can be easily solved by hanging the feeder and placing something beneath it to catch what they scratch out. Simply pour the dropped feed back into the feeder when tending to your birds.

Saving Feed

Raise the coop feeder high enough to where the chickens have to climb up on something to reach it, this will eliminate shavings from getting in both the feeder and the container below.

The Outdoor Feeder

Keeping the feed in the feeder is your best defense against attracting wild birds. At night when the chickens are cooped for the night, cover the feeder.  The less feed scattered around the feeder the better. Something under the feeder will keep lost feed contained. Wild birds will always be a problem, but lets not offer them a feast 24 hours a day!  I like to make it hard for wild birds to find any food at all when the flock is cooped or the feeder is covered. If food isn’t plentiful, wild birds will go elsewhere.

If your birds are free roaming during the day, it’s okay to keep their feeder covered, and just give them access to it two or three times a day for an hour.

Tip: If you have wild birds sneaking in the coop and devouring feed, replace any chicken wire with hardware cloth.  Or, offset another layer of chicken wire over the existing. Sparrows can easily squeeze through chicken wire.

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Raising Winter Chicks in Phoenix

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Originally posted on TBN Ranch:
When Can Chicks Be Moved Outside? It’s a good guess you have your new chicks in a box in the house or garage and are watching them quickly outgrow their safe haven of comfort and…

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Splash of Color

Splash of Color 2-2015

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My Successful Introduction of a New Pullet

The Step by Step Process of Introducing a New Chicken to an Existing Semi-Confined Flock

Randi 2-23-15

Anybody who raises chickens knows the drama of adding a new bird… and that’s where I am now.  My 2014 Silkie chicks have been in plain sight of an established flock since they were 7 weeks old. Does that mean they’ll all get along? Heck no!

I ended up selling all the Silkie pullets but one, Randi, a pretty little buff, now five months old… and ready to join the flock. Two weeks ago I opened her coop door allowing her freedom to join my hens. But as expected, normal behavior is to stay where it’s safe.

Little Randi dared to venture outside her coop a little more each day. For another few days she stayed close to her own coop and food source. When the big bad hens got too close she’d make a mad dash to the safety of her home sweet home.

Yesterday I noticed Randi was getting brave, and although keeping her distance from the flock, she was exploring far beyond her safety zone. It was now time to provided an extra feeder and drinker where all the hens randomly hang out. The first argument is usually over food, so I made an attempt to avoid that war by protecting the established flock’s groceries. Sometimes that works, but sometimes the boss hens split up and claim both food sources. Meanies! That was a risk, nevertheless, against my better judgement, climbed a ladder 12 feet to the roof supports and hung rope for another oasis. Not only did I manage to survive that ordeal, but it worked… the hens did not split up, allowing little Randi access the new chicken buffet.

Throughout the day I watched for trouble. Not expecting harmony by any means, but whether or not Randi would fair well in the hens coop that night still needed to be evaluated. Adding a new member to a flock can be ugly, and disturbing to watch, especially when it’s forced. Hens don’t take kindly to a newcomer at bedtime, every spot on the roost is not only reserved, but earned.

Having a bird pecked on causes all sorts of other problems, all of which I make every attempt to avoid. Having injured birds means isolation, wound care, not to mention another coop to clean. All that equals more work, but more importantly… the pecking order is interrupted in the interim. So it’s important to be patient and not rush introductions, new chickens find their place among the flock all in good time. Ample space is crucial, this allows the newbie to avoid confrontation and build the confidence to venture about without the constant fear of being threatened.

After a day of evaluating the flocks somewhat aloof behavior towards Randi’s presence, I decided it was safe to put Randi in the hens coop that evening. But to avoid the inevitable roost argument, I let Randi return to her own coop at dusk, closed the door behind her and waited an hour.

The best time to sneak her into the big girl hen house would be after the hens are roosting for night. Why? Because hens are very unlikely to leave the roost until the first sign of  morning light. I put another nest box in the hen’s coop area that none of the ladies have seen before… unclaimed. It was now time to move Randi from her coop to the hen house and place her in the new nest box. She’d feel safe there for the night, and in time… choose her own place to roost.

Up With the Chickens

What’s the first thing chickens do when they leave the roost? Eat, poop, and definitely NOT see an intruder at their breakfast table. So I was there, at 6AM to open the coop door… to freedom, creating a distraction far more appealing to the hens than dealing with the feathered stranger. 

The ladies quickly left the newcomer behind and went about their business beyond the coop of confinement. Randi stayed in the coop, oblivious to the normal routine of the flock. The hens would be back to lay their eggs, and again at dusk to roost for the night. Eventually Randi will join their redundant itinerary, usually within a month. In the interim, her spot in the pecking order will depend on her. She will remain the bird with the lowest seniority, unless she aggressively earns a higher ranking.

Conclusion

After three days of all the girls being confined for the night, the morning wait for a human to come and open the coop door has been without any significant incidences, except for a few missing tail feathers. No blood, no bald birds, and minimal arguments… I call that success!

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Chicken Keeping Resource Guide, 2/2015

Have an article to contribute to the Chicken Keeping Resource Library? Send it to amyichi@yahoo.com for consideration. Include TBN Article Submission on the subject line. Charts & Diagrams Chicken Anatomy, External, Internal, and Skeletal Chicken Anatomy, Full Color Chicken Combs … Continue reading

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A Rooster’s Fate

Modern chicken-keeping practices in the U.S. do little for the future of majestic roosters.

RoosterBy Jennie Grant | Urban Farm
 
Urban chicken keepers need to be aware of chickens’ sex when getting new chicks and have a back-up plan if a rooster is in the mix. It’s illegal to keep roosters in many cities… Read Article
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Adding Hens to an Existing Flock

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Haven’t ever brought new chickens to an existing flock? Well, this can be an experience you won’t forget any time soon. Best to understand the pecking order now before you learn the hard way. Here’s the truth, expect the worst, … Continue reading

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Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

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