The Beginner’s Guide to Incubation

This guide is intended to help people new to incubation learn how to properly incubate and hatch eggs.
It will walk you through how to incubate and hatch most common types of poultry, such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, etc.  Read Article

by: Backyard Chickens
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Taking Chicken Keeping a Step Further, Candling Eggs

Are you still in the dark about candling eggs?  This article will walk you through it with descriptive and detailed pics. Or, you can be lazy like me and just wait to see if your eggs hatch!
These informative articles will help you to better understand the candling of eggs.
So you’ve got chooks and a rooster and you want some chicks. But how do you know if the rooster is doing his job? The way to check eggs to see if they are fertile is called “candling”.  Continue Reading

by Jono’s Urban Farm

More Help

Candling Eggs Progression Through Incubation :
There are some particular detailed signs to look for at all stages of growth

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Great Article on Making Your Own Mealworm Farm

If your chickens are anything like ours, then they love to eat mealworms.
Mealworms are a healthy, nutritious snack that are full of protein which helps your hens lay lots of eggs… CONTINUE READING

by The Happy Chicken Coop
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Help your Chickens Beat the Heat This Summer

Forget the ice cubes and frozen water bottles, if your chickens live in triple digits, ice is going to melt in minutes and be of no help at all.  In Arizona, we have to be much more clever than that!

Mist systems aren’t always helpful because some chickens will avoid them, but I still use them. The best way to help your chickens survive the heat is to give them a more natural way to keep cool. Dig them a shallow pond and put a hose on a slow drip. This will bring up worms, and that’s a sure way to keep chickens interested in staying right where you want them. You don’t have to go through a lot of trouble, keep it simple. Watch the sun, and make sure your little oasis will be in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
Put a drinker in different places so there is always water in the shade. If you can’t find suitable shade, make some. Make use of mesh shade tarps, shade cloth, shade sails, etc. Be creative, I found an old pallet, covered it with shade cloth, leaned it up against a fence, and put a drinker under it.

shade cloth

Today it is 107, and by the end of the month it will be 115+, these are brutal temperatures and can be fatal to chickens. With something as simple as a shallow pond, they will be fine. Wherever you live, there is dirt, water, and I’m guessing you own a shovel… it’s that easy!
Tip: if you have bushes or trees by your chickens, spray them with water during the day. Your chickens will be drawn to the cool air around the trees and have a chance to recover from the heat.

cool the air
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I.D. Leg Bands for Chickens

Here’s a simple how-to video on how to put on leg bands. This is the best way to identify your birds or keep track of multiple flocks.  My birds all look identical, each leg band has a highly visible number making it easy to know which hen is which.  They come in various sizes and colors so it’s not at all hard finding your specific preference.
Many chicken keepers use brightly colored zip ties, including me, but I must admit, they are hard to get on and off and they get brittle with age.

You can get leg bands at Murray McMurray

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How to Clip the Flight Feathers on Chickens

Two Helpful Videos

There are many videos on clipping the flight feathers of a chicken, but I chose this first one because it shows how to do it alone. There isn’t always another pair of hands available when you need them. Help is always nice, but the ability to depend on yourself is even better.
Note: I feel it’s important to clip both wings. A chicken with only one wing clipped will be unsteady or off balance. The fragile breastbone will take the brunt of a harsh landing, so let’s help keep them on their feet!

#1 Wing Clipping Unassisted

#2 Wing Clipping with Assistance

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Composting Manure

There are various reasons; of course, the obvious is fertilizer for your lawn and garden. But unless you have a farm or huge property composting isn’t much good unless you have a source for its usefulness.
Even with only a few horses I can’t possibly decompose all of the manure in a timely fashion. Especially being a small ranch within the city limits, piling it sky high is unmentionable, so I have most of it hauled off the ranch every week. However, my reason for composting has little to do with fertilizer and everything to do with replacing dirt! That might sound strange to some, but dirt is quite precious here in the desert, and by no means comes cheap to buy.
It’s almost impossible to clean horse pens twice a day and not have valuable footing dirt get shoveled out with the manure. Same with the chicken yards, they get stripped down to nothing but hard ground every few weeks. By composting horse manure I can replace valuable dirt in my pens and chicken yards. I use it to fill holes, as potting soil, and twice a year to fertilize my yard and trees.
If you’re wondering, after a compost pile is decomposed, it is nothing but beautiful clean dirt with the pleasant aroma of, well…. earth!
Below are the basics to starting a compost pile. There are many compost bins available on the market, but they are going to give you quite a workout. They are difficult to turn and depending on what your composting for, may not be of adequate size. Keep it simple, one thing I doubt you need is another chore.
Building the Pile:
The initial size of the pile should be no less than three feet high and at least five feet square. This will provide high enough composting temperatures to kill parasites, weed seeds, and bacteria.
Keeping air in the pile is critical to achieve proper temperature and preventing odors. Also, this will aid in the process of composting in a relatively shorter time. Turning the pile is imperative, especially during the first few weeks. The more you turn the pile the faster it will decompose.
It’s normal for temperatures to vary. Most compost piles start at lower temperatures then increase, and then gradually drop over several weeks. The pile should reach 135 to 150 degrees for several days, this is important not only to kill weed seeds and disease but to speed up the rate of decomposition. If the pile temperature exceeds 150 degrees you may want to reduce the size of your pile. You can buy a compost thermometer at your local nursery to best monitor temperatures.
Keep your compost pile damp, not soggy. You may have to cover it during rainy spells or add water to maintain the proper moisture. If the pile lacks moisture, composting organisms will dry out and prevent the pile from heating up. If the pile is too wet it will restrict airspace and cause compaction, also a factor in the pile’s inability to produce heat. If the compost becomes too wet increase the turning frequency.
Choose a convenient location, with access to a hose. Select level ground with good drainage.
What’s in the Compost Pile:
Organisms need carbon for energy and nitrogen for growth. High-carbon materials are plant materials such as straws, shavings, sawdust, leaves, and wood chips.  Materials high in nitrogen are animal by-products like manure, but also grass clippings, and hay. The best carbon/nitrogen ratio is nitrogen, 25:1, and carbon, 30:1. Too much bedding such as shavings will raise the carbon and you may have to add grass clippings or chicken manure. Without the proper carbon/nitrogen ratio the compost pile will take longer to decompose.
Time Frame of Completion:
A well-managed pile can be composted in about two months in the summer, and three to six months in the winter.
A four or five-tined pitchfork for turning, a garden hose, and a compost thermometer. You can also insert a metal pole into the pile, as a heat indicator of activity.
A Partial List of What You Can Put in Your Compost Pile:
Coffee grounds
Crushed egg shells
Fruit peels and rinds
Peanut shells
Garden debris
Grass clippings
Vegetable scraps
Grass clippings, fresh
Tea grounds and leaves
*Never put meat or fatty food in your compost pile.

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