Chicks Wasting Expensive Feed?

Right at about two weeks old, baby chicks start knocking out the food in their feeders. It then ends up in the trash after they either poop on it, or we toss it when replacing shavings during our daily cleaning ritual.
Feed Waste in the Brooder

Completely fed up with wasting feed, and money,  I came up with this super easy solution. The chicks are still going to knock out their feed, that’s a given. But at least the feed can now be salvaged. ”

This feeder is merely resting on the bottom tray of an ordinary chicken drinker, raised to just a tad lower than the chick’s back.  The feeder can be hung at any height, either way, the drinker base is a great catch-all for spilled feed. These chicks are two weeks old, as you can see they are not having any difficulty accessing their feed.

Fecal Impaction

Have, or Expecting Baby Chicks?

Don’t forget to keep their fuzzy bums clean! Pasting up is common in baby chicks, especially shipped birds, and it can be fatal.  Learn More

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Seven Types of Grain Feed Choices to Feed your Flock Right

chicken-feed_800

Choosing The Right Chicken Feed
by Rachel Hurd Anger | Chicken Quarters

Chicken feed is formulated to provide balanced nutrition based on the bird’s purpose. While each brand is nutritionally similar, each company produces its own proprietary blend, so each will use different ratios of similar ingredients to meet general nutrition guidelines. Read Article

About the Author
Rachel Hurd Anger | Chicken Quarters

Metropolitan living often means big dreams are short on space. On a small lot in Louisville, Ky., writer Rachel Hurd Anger is raising chickens, a rescue dog, two cats, and a family. Tales of her self-sustaining great- grandmothers awakened her inner chicken farmer, and now, her small flock charms her small space, as only they can do.

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Considering Backyard Chickens? Watch These Three How-to Videos First

All the basics are addressed in these videos. Good information on housing, feeding, and egg handling.  Have a look, then decide if chicken keeping is for you.

Backyard chickens can be fun, but without a proper set-up, keeping just a few hens can become a big headache. Avoid mistakes right from the start. Build it right… because in the end, you’ll pay for it anyway.

Keeping Chickens Happy in Hot Weather

Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat with this Handy Checklist

Summer is coming, is your chicken yard and coop suitable to sustain the well being of your flock? It’s important to prepare for extreme heat or your birds may suffer from heat exhaustion. Sun is the #1 enemy to chickens that are confined, especially in small quarters. Here in Phoenix, extreme temperatures will reach 115+ degrees, and we must take special precautions to help our chickens fair well.

Remember, happy chickens fill the egg basket, agitated chickens acquire behavioral issues, are low producers, or may stop laying altogether. Here’s what you can do to keep your chickens happy and healthy this summer…

√  Suitable Housing / Play Area

It’s not that hard to accommodate the basic needs of chickens in hot weather, with a little effort on your part they will fair well. First of all, cramped housing, even in partial sun can be a death sentence. If your coop is too small, the easiest way to give them more room is to build a large enclosure around the coop.
I can’t’ stress enough, the more space the better.

√  Coop Location / Shade / Natural Behavior

Your chickens need a shady place, watch the sun, make sure their coop and play area has morning AND afternoon shade. Keep water out of direct sunlight and refill drinkers with cold water in the afternoon. You can also freeze a chunk of ice and put it in a shallow water container on those really hot days.

Get acquainted with artificial shade products such as shade cloth, shade sails, and my favorite, grommet shade tarps. Never use waterproof  tarps, they inhibit airflow, which is crucial to your birds survival.

Chickens stay cool by digging holes in the dirt. It’s imperative they have a natural earth area to do so. Chickens may or may not appreciate a nearby mist system. If you choose to experiment, place it where it won’t interferer with their drinker or food source.

A wet area under a shade tree or low bush provides an ideal oasis for chickens. Dig a shallow hole large enough for your flock to enjoy the benefits of a hose on a slow drip. On really hot days, you can offer your birds relief by flooding that area about an inch deep. They will stay quite busy looking for worms and insects while they cool down.

Warning Signs of Physical Heat Distress

A common sign is a change in behavior, such as bullying, pecking each other, or pacing. When uncomfortable from the heat your chickens will hold their wings out from their body, pant, or both. Extremely dangerous signs of heat exhaustion is when your chickens become lethargic, pale, disoriented, or are stumbling.

This is when you must act quick. At this point, it is best submerge the bird in a large bucket or tub with WARM water. Place the bird in a shady, preferably grassy spot SEPARATE from the other chickens. If at all possible a fan is very helpful. I do NOT  suggest bringing the bird into the house where it is cooler.

√  Quick Fix Fluids

An excellent source of fluids on a hot summer day is watermelon! If you have a large flock, simply cut a watermelon in half, set it on the ground and let them feast. They will pick it clean and love every minute of it!

Another option is adding electrolytes to your chickens water sources, you’ll find this product at your local feed store.

√  Feed / Diet

Scratch Feed

Scratch feeds should be avoided altogether in the summer. Corn is a hot feed, and that’s the last thing chickens need during the summer months. Instead, a bit of crimped oats will be accepted by your birds as a suitable treat. Feed in general produces heat, so on days that reach 115-120 degrees, I ration all feed, offering small portions a few times a day.

√  Bedding

Hay and straw hold heat, a better choice in summer is shavings or sand. Keep the coop and nest boxes clean, chicken droppings also produce unwanted heat.

If you have broodies, make sure there is a convenient water source nearby her nest and plenty of ventilation.

A fan to help move the air around your birds is extremely beneficial.

Backyard Chickens, Know What You’re Getting Into

Is keeping backyard chickens cost effective?
How much time in caring for them is involved?

These are valid questions, and certainly something you should prepare yourself before you buy those cute little chicks at the feed store. Chicks are tiny and super easy to manage the first couple weeks. But, about the time they reach 3 weeks of age they will  begin to outgrow the brooder box and become a bit of a chore to clean up after.

Baby chick

They will most likely be in a box in your house or garage with a heat lamp dangling overhead until they reach at minimum 4 weeks of age. By this time they are still about two weeks shy of being fully feathered and ready to be moved to the outdoor coop. From day old to six weeks is a long time, and indeed a commitment. During this time you are going to be busy cleaning the brooder box every day multiple times. They will also need to be slowly weaned off the heat lamp each week. Trust me, you will spend countless hours adjusting the temperature.

Timing is everything, make sure to buy your chicks when the temperatures where you live aren’t extreme. Otherwise you’ll be struggling to either keep six week old chicks warm or cool during the transition from indoors to out.

TBN Chicken Coop

Keeping chickens can be fun and easy to care for , but you just can’t skimp when setting up their housing, one way or another you’ll pay for it.

In other words, chickens are expensive, no matter how you slice or dice it, that first fresh egg from even a small backyard flock will cost at minimum, about $700. It’s true! That’s a lot of store bought shelf eggs.  But everything comes with a price,  the value of fresh eggs vs shelf eggs is something only you can decide.

I’ve thought about the cost effectiveness of raising chickens, and it really doesn’t add up. I’ve done the math, and well…there’s just no way! A dozen eggs can be bought for about a $1.29 here in Phoenix, sometimes even less. It definitely costs more to feed a small flock than it does to buy eggs! A $20 50lb bag of layer pellets for six hens will last about 30 days.  That equals about 180 shelf eggs a month from your local grocery store.  If each one of your hens lays 5 eggs a week, that will give you 120, not taking into consideration your hen’s rate of lay will significantly decrease in the winter and during molting. Let’s not forget you’ll be feeding those hens for 5 to 6 months before they even reach their point of lay.

Even raising meat birds can’t possibly be cost effective. I can go to any grocery store in town and buy a hot fully cooked rotisserie chicken for only $5.00! Oh my, it would cost me way more to feed that bird, and then I have to slaughter it too? Nah… I’ll pass.

There is an expense involved for the bedding in the coop and nesting area too. Pine shavings, hay, or straw will be necessary not only for the hen’s comfort, but it will keep the hen house cleaner and much easier to maintain.  The bigger the coop, the easier it will be to keep clean, but bigger also means more bedding to buy.  It also means your hens will be happier, and better egg producers. It’s like anything else, better always comes with a higher price tag.

Chickens are fun to watch, bring much enjoyment, and having fresh eggs is wonderful. There is no dispute over fresh eggs being a healthier choice, just be sure you are willing to put in the effort for the benefits.