Category Archives: Chickens

There’s A Chicken In My Coop!

barn yard chickens It’s getting to be the time of the year that many folks that bought 25 or more day old chicks in January now need to deduce their flock size. You can often pick up roosters, pullets and young laying hens at a very reasonable price now. Pullets generally start laying at about 20 – 26 weeks of age. Heavy ‘duel purpose’ birds tend to to be closer to 26 weeks old. If your looking for meat birds or a rooster for your flock start looking now. Many flocks will have far to many roosters and you can pick them up for rock bottom prices.
Don’t get carried away buying fresh off the farm meat birds. Never pay more for an old hen or a young rooster than the cost of a processed ready to cook bird cost in your supermarket.

Any of the Leghorn breeds are excellent layers and do not go broody. They lay large white eggs. Put them in an old store egg carton and the kids will never know the difference. Most other breeds lay lightly tinted to dark brown eggs. Check out McMurry’s Catalog for a ton of useful information on many different breeds, egg colors they lay and much more.

A word about eggs from the USDA.

Brown eggs are better for you than white eggs, is that true?
Does the color of the shell affect the egg’s nutrients?
No. The breed of the hen determines the color of her eggs. Nutrient levels are not significantly different in white and brown shell eggs.
Araucuna chickens in South America lay eggs that range in color from medium blue to medium green. Nutrition claims that araucuna eggs contain less cholesterol than other eggs haven’t been proven.

Answer: Shell color does not affect the quality of the egg and is not a factor in the U.S. Standards, Grades, and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs. Eggs are sorted for color and marketed as either “white” or “brown” eggs.

On average, brown eggs are bigger in size than white eggs, due to the breed of chicken laying the eggs. Brown eggs cost more to produce and is usually reflected in the cost per dozen at retail.

Are Free Range or Cage Free eggs nutritionally better than eggs from hens in a caged environment?
Answer: Free Range or Cage Free eggs denote the environment in which the laying hens were housed. Currently, USDA does not have definitive scientific data stating a nutritional difference in egg nutrition, due to hen housing.

What is the difference between Free Range and Cage Free eggs?

Answer: Free range must be produced by hens housed in a building, room, or area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle. The outdoor area may be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material.

Cage free must be produced by hens housed in a building, room, or enclosed area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and provides the freedom to roam within the area during the laying cycle. Access to outdoor areas is not a requirement.

USDA Are eggs safe to eat after the Use By or Sell By date has expired?

Answer: The Use By or Sell By dates stamped on the end of an egg carton denotes the period of optimum egg quality. As eggs age, the yolk membranes and tissues weaken and/or moisture is absorbed from the albumen (white). As a result, the yolk begins to flatten and the albumen becomes watery. This is indicative of a Grade B, quality egg.

For baking purposes, a higher quality egg (Grade AA or A) is preferred. For hard-boiling purposes, a lower quality egg (Grade B) is preferred.

Additionally, retailers utilize the Use By or Sell By dates for stock rotation or inventory control.

USDA Egg grades
There are three consumer grades for eggs: U.S. Grade AA, A, and B. The grade is determined by the interior quality of the egg and the appearance and condition of the egg shell. Eggs of any quality grade may differ in weight (size).

U.S. Grade AA eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects; and clean, unbroken shells. Grade AA and Grade A eggs are best for frying and poaching where appearance is important.

U.S. Grade A eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except that the whites are “reasonably” firm. This is the quality most often sold in stores.

U.S. Grade B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter than eggs of higher grades. The shells must be unbroken, but may show slight stains. This quality is seldom found in retail stores because they are usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.

USDA Sizing of Eggs
Size tells you the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs. It does not refer to the dimensions of an egg or how big it looks. While some eggs in the carton may look slightly larger or smaller than the rest, it is the total weight of the dozen eggs that puts them in one of the following classes:

Size or Weight Class Minimum net weight per dozen
Jumbo …………………. 30 ounces
Extra Large …………. 27 ounces
Large ………………… 24 ounces
Medium ………………… 21 ounces
Small ………………… 18 ounces
Peewee ………………… 15 ounces

USDA Should you wash eggs?
No. It’s not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be “sucked” into the egg through the pores in the shell When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.

Chicken growers have a large selection to choose from. The tiny Mille Fleur to the New Jersey and Black Giants. Everything from plain Jane everyday chickens to award winning Fancy’s. They come in every color in a rainbow to solid whites or blacks. Some breeds are very quite easy to handle others always seem to be a bit stand offish and on the skittish side. With that said, they all have a few things in common. They are always fun to raise, fun to watch, wonderful table meat and produce eggs from thumb nail size to extra large. No mater what breed you select I’m sure you will enrich your life and give your family an experience they will carry through life. You will be blessed having them in your backyard survival farm.

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First Speeding Ticket??

This is just to good not to pass on.

1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage is largely held to be the very first car to receive a speeding ticket.

The 19th century was a tough place to have an automobile. The law at the time required drivers to maintain a speed of no more than 2 mph and be proceeded by someone walking in front of the vehicle waving a red flag. For reference, that’s a little quicker than the average speed of an ambling cow.

Exceeding the speed limit, traveling at an estimated 8 mph. To make maters worse, no one was running ahead, waving a red flag. He was convicted of speeding and made to pay a lofty fine of a shilling “plus costs.”

Purple Martins Scouts Checked Out My…

Purple Martin scout birds were seen checking out my house I set up last spring. However the Sparrows have been trying to move in and they are fighting the Martin scout birds away from the house.

In this area we have 3 or 4 different types of Sparrows, but the most aggressive is the common English house Sparrow.

The English house sparrow is native to most of Europe and the Mediterranean region. In North America it is considered a non-native invasive pest and is not protected under U.S. native song bird laws. It has been characterized as a pest, and poses a threat to native birds. It will eat almost any seeds, but where it has a choice, it prefers oats and wheat.
In my case they raid grain in chicken feeders and scratch placed on the ground to feed my flock of chickens.

I remove their nesting materials from my Martin house daily and given the opportunity I dispatch them with my pellet rifle. However this has not deterred them from continuing to attempt to nest in my Martin house.

In an effort to remove them form the area around the house I am building Sparrow traps. The first trap is nearly completed. It is constructed out of 1/2 X 1 inch welded wire and it is 18 inches wide, 21 inches long and 8 inches tall with 2 entry funnels. With luck I will have it in place and baited before noon today.
Total cost for constructing 2 traps will be around $20.00 or maybe $22.00 US dollars.
** Construction Note: Trap size was based on available wire size. Constructing 2 traps from one 30 X 120 inch roll of wire.

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Blogoutist – that’s a real word ?

Looking back to June 2009, my first wordpress blog post(see archives) it seems that at one time or another I have touched on subjects ranging from growing Asparagus to Zucchini. Raising assorted poultry, building coops as well as a few post about Rabbits and building hutches. I have managed to touch on growing and planting berries, fruit and nut trees (search blog to see post that may be of interest to you).

As of late what with all the presidential election stuff, I have fallen far behind my mental plan for 2017 gardening season.

That poor little miniature Apple tree that was to be transplanted into it’s garden spot, November 2016 was the target date, is still setting in it’s large patio pot.

My planned concrete floor for the chicken house has not gone beyond the vision in my mind, target date 15 September 2016.

The large pile of chipped trees to be used as mulch around the grape vines, target date 24 November 2016, is still waiting to be spread.

Chicken update. The Good: Early September 2016 I purchased 11 chicks. The Bad: Well… one died in a wind blown coop door accident, 4 roosters leaving 6 pullets. The Good: The pullets have started to lay and I’m getting 5 some days 6 eggs a day. The Bad: Mmmm … just how many eggs can one old guy and 2 old dogs eat?

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All About Chickens – A Young Persons Observations

This is just to good not to share.

kfc

Eggs – Who Knew?

Eggs are the ultimate hunger buster. Rich in both muscle building protein and satiating healthy fats, studies have shown that people who eat eggs in the morning will consume less for the rest of the day. Plus, their amino acid profile maximizes building and preserving lean muscle mass, which can help your body burn fat. Eggs are also full of B-vitamins and choline, micro nutrients which are important for brain development, muscle health, and energy levels.

USDA 2015 statistics, said “93 percent of all eggs purchased in America come from conventional caged systems known as battery cages.”
A 2011 Poultry Science study conducted over two years found that free range eggs were not all that nutritionally different from the eggs of hens kept in a cage. The only clear difference the Poultry Science study found was that there are higher beta carotene levels in range eggs, which contributes to their darker colored yolks.

Cage Free on egg cartons. Hens are required to have a minimum of 120 square inches per bird. Hens will still exclusively live indoors, either in large barns known as aviaries or in bigger cages.

Free Range These hens have the option to go outside. They are required to have at least two square feet of free roaming outside pasture space, as stipulated by the HFAC Certified Humane standards, which allows them space to engage in natural behaviors like roosting, dust bathing, scratching, and other social interactions.

Pasture-raised hens enjoy a minimum of 108 square feet per bird. They can forage grass, go outside year round (except in extreme weather conditions or under the threat of a predator), and are never given antibiotics.

No Hormones
This claim is misleading because the FDA banned the use of hormones in all poultry production back in the 1950s. That means no chicken meat nor eggs on the market will ever contain hormones.

No Antibiotics antibiotics are rarely used in the egg industry, but you can feel comfortable knowing that there are none administered to your hens.

Farm Fresh has no legal definition. Many brands attempt to get their eggs on store shelves within 72 hours of being laid, there is no regulation on the term “Farm Fresh.”
A better indication of how fresh the egg is would be the grade. Grade A eggs allow for more air space in the egg, which indicates an older egg than Grade AA.

All Natural as defined by the FDA. Natural means “that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.” So it has no real meaning.

Vegetarian Fed Chickens are actually omnivores. In the wild, they’ll eat a diet of omega-3 rich grasses and get their protein from insects, grasshoppers, and worms. Vegetarian fed means they are grain feed which contains no animal by products (as protein) and will be supplemented with vegetarian based protein sources such as soybeans.

Omega-3 enriched eggs are often given feed that has been supplemented with flax seeds and sometimes fish oil. This term is not regulated, so there’s no way to really prove that the eggs you’re consuming will have significantly higher levels of omega-3s.

Eggs are sized and graded before they’re delivered to the supermarket. The USDA has specific guidelines for egg weights per dozen (as there will invariably be differences between individual eggs), which are listed below:

Small: 18 ounces (about 1.5 ounces per egg)
Medium: 21 ounces (about 1.75 ounces per egg)
Large: 24 ounces (about 2 ounces per egg)
Extra Large: 27 ounces (about 2.25 ounces per egg)
Jumbo: 30 ounces (about 2.5 ounces per egg)

Grade AA: These are the finest quality eggs. The whites are thick and firm, the yolks are free from any defects, and the shells are pristine and without cracks.
Grade A: Eggs also have clean whites but they may be less firm, the yolk is less protected by the albumen.
Grade B: These eggs are rarely ever sold in stores. These eggs have such a reduced quality they have flat yolks, thin whites, and blood spots that they will be used commercially in liquid and powdered egg products.

Egg Shell Color The answer to the question everyone always thinks when they pick up a carton of eggs at the store! The difference between brown, white, and blue eggs is… that’s right, the shell’s color!
The real reason eggs are different colors boils down to genetics. If a chicken is raised under the same conditions, there will be no difference in nutrition, taste, or baking stability in different colored egg shells. In particular, the color of the earlobes of chickens (yes, chickens have earlobes) will indicate shell color. Chickens with white earlobes generally lay white eggs, while chicken with red or brown earlobes lay brown eggs.

White. This is the standard color egg you’ll find most commonly in grocery stores.
Brown. Although brown eggs are typically more expensive compared to white eggs, it has nothing to do with their quality. These eggs usually cost more because the hens that lay them are physically bigger breeds than the chickens which lay white eggs. Bigger hens mean more food, which means farmers have to spend more on feed. And that increase in cost per egg gets passed onto consumers.
Blue. These are also from different breeds of chickens.

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Easy Yard And Garden Tick Control

Mow Your Lawn, tick control begins by getting rid of tall grass and brush, especially at the edge of your lawn, to eliminate ticks’ favorite hangout spots. Also clean up leaf litter, and instead of tossing grass clippings and leaves into the garbage, add them to your compost pile and use the rich soil amendment in your garden. Grass clippings make great mulch that can help keep weeds from sprouting and help the soil retain water.

Ticks don’t like to cross areas lined with wood chips or gravel. Place a gravel or wood chip buffer zone between lawns and wooded areas to help keep ticks from moving onto your property.

Flock of chickens is not an option for everyone, but consider investing in a few chickens. Raising chickens not only provides you with fresh eggs, but they’ll also eat ticks on your property. Robins and some other ground feeding birds eat ticks, so a bird friendly yard will help keep the tick population down.

If tick infections become a serious problem you may need to resort to Chemical Warfare. There are a number of insecticides that are effective in killing ticks available at your local hardware and farm stores.

Read and carefully follow all label instructions and warnings when using any insecticide.

Happy and Safe 4th of July holiday.

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Cotton Shower

Rain falling in mid June through July is often called a cotton Shower. Giving the cotton crop the need moisture boost to make a crop.

Well we got one hell of a cotton shower yesterday. An unexpected, unforecast rain storm pact over southwest Oklahoma dropping from 4 to as much as 10 inches of rain in some areas.

Rain caused many so called ‘water rescues‘ that’s really in most cases some idiot that tried to cross a water flooded low area or cross a bridge that was under water. Several vehicles were washed down stream.
Many county roads and bridges were washed out. It will take many months to repair flood damaged roads and bridges.

A farmer north of me spent many hours rescuing his farm equipment. He had left his tractors and equipment parked on a river bottom corn field. The day before he had been cultivating his corn crop. This morning his corn field is under 5 feet of water.

Sad smile… my chickens spent the day on their roost… hen house was filled with 6 or so inches of water.

Crops and gardens that drain off within 48 hours will likely survive but will have much less produce at harvest time. Most if not all unharvested wheat will likely be lost. Once the wheat stems fall to the ground their is no way salvage the crop. Added to flooded fields, damp weather can allow wheat that remains in the field to sprout in the head making it worthless and will be plowed under when fields dry.

As for my tiny farm, I received 4 inches of rain in less than 2 hours.

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Where Do My Breakfast Eggs Come From?

First posted in June 2009 under Flocking Chickens
Photographs have been updated and bad links have been removed.

Having a small flock of laying hens is a great way to save money and have all the ‘Fresh’ eggs you and your family can eat. Excess eggs can be sold helping to off set feeding cost.

How much do they cost? Chicks can be purchased for as little as $2.00 each, slightly more when buying sexed birds. Ten to fifteen week old pullets and laying hens range from $3.00 to $10.00 each depending on the breed, age and availability in your local area.

How many hens do I need? Two(2) to six(6) hens will supply all the eggs an average size family can eat. In general each hen will lay from 200 to 250 eggs a year. That’s about 5 or 6 eggs a week. A flock of 3 hens will produce 18 eggs or more a week. {I have read that a hen will lay one egg every 27 hours.}

White Leghorn, egg laying machine

White Leghorn, egg laying machine

What breed is best for me? Chickens fall into 3 general classes. Bantams, layers and multi-purpose breeds. Generally speaking, Bantams are miniature copies of the standard breeds. They are small to very small in size, fair layers of ‘small’ eggs. Layers are light weight birds at laying age but produce the most eggs for the amount of feed you provide. Multi-purpose birds are the heaviest and also good egg layers making them a duel purpose bird. They provide a good supply of eggs and are good meat birds as well. McMurray Hatchery website contains a ton of useful information on different breeds that I am sure you will find useful.

Barred Rock multi-purpose breed

Barred Rock multi-purpose breed

What do I need to house my chickens? Number one consideration is safety. Almost everything likes to eat chicks, chickens and their eggs. Dogs, cats, rats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, hawks, owls and even snakes. With this said, you will need a chicken coop that is predator proof to lock your chickens in after they go to roost at night.

How-Stuff-Works
Freds Fine Fowl
Back Yard Chickens

What do I feed my chickens? If your chickens are confined to a small coop it will be necessary to provide them with a balanced commercial chicken feed. This is the most expensive method of feeding you backyard flock. If you have a fenced yard they can be allowed to free range over your yard eating weeds, grass, seeds and insects of all kinds as well as ridding your yard of most insects. You will need to provide very little supplemental feed for a healthy happy flock.
Chickens will also consume most if not all of your kitchen vegetable scraps.

Your backyard flock will provide you with eggs, meat and a lot of enjoyment. Providing you do not get any roosters, chickens are very quite, easy to raise and handle and will provide you and your family with many hours of enjoyment. {A rooster is not need for hens to lay eggs.}

Start planning NOW for you small backyard flock. Purchase pullets or laying hens this fall when other growers start reducing their flock size for winter months. Good eating and above all plan to survive on your backyard farm.

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USDA Hardness Zone 6 & 7, Up Coming Projects

Only 40 more days of Winter ‘with luck’ , Equinox (Spring) arrives on my Tiny Farm Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 11:30 PM CDT. My last average Frost date is April 10th.
As of this morning my 2 inch and 4 inch soil temperatures were 45F and 46F. That is the signal that I can soon safely start putting out Garlic and Onion sets. Start planting Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Turnips, Spinach and Beet seed can be planted.

If the air temperature gets warm enough I will venture out into the garden and finish fall clean up. I still have plant litter to burn and some materials to be put on the compost pile. Gas up the tiller and ready seed beds for planting this springs vegetable crops.

As a side note, I discovered 4 potato’s sprouting in my potato bin. My soil is not well suited for growing potato’s but I do have four 6 gallon buckets that will be recycled and used as potato growing containers this year.
I know Master Gardeners say “don’t plant sprouting supermarket potato’s.” However it’s either plant them or they will be chicken food!
Smiling, hard to find anything better than fresh new potato’s to compliment a mess of fresh picked peas or beans.

Projects that may not be on your radar.
Zone 6
* Sow seeds in starter pots for Spring planting.
* Prune fruit/nut trees, grape vines, rose bushes and berry patches to remove winter damage.
* Feed cool-season lawns.
** If you use a preeminence lawn treatment to prevent weed seed from germinating February is a good time to make that treatment. Carefully follow package instruction for proper application.
* Removing winter mulch and lightly cultivating soil.
* Sow seeds for cool weather vegetables (late February to mid-March)
* Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors.
* Divide and replant summer and fall blooming perennials(when soil is warm enough to be easy to work).
* Plant bare root and container roses, trees and fruiting vines.

Zone 7
* Sow seeds of warm-season annuals in starter pots.
* Set out summer flowering bulbs
* Plant fall blooming bulbs
* Plant balled-and-burlapped, container, and bare root fruit trees and fruiting vines.
* Apply dormant spray to fruit trees before buds swell.
* Spray apples, peaches, and pears that have been affected with canker problems.
* Plant seedlings of cool-weather vegetables(check your soil temperature).
* Sow seeds for frost tolerant perennials.
* Sow seeds for hardy perennials.
* Plant container, balled-and-burlappedand bare-root trees, shrubs, vines and roses.
* Plant summer blooming shrubs and vines.
* Plant frost tolerant trees.
* Plant conifers and broad-leaf evergreens.

Turn the compost pile, add any soiled hay, grass, bedding and manure mulch which was removed from livestock barns, shelters, rabbit hutches and poultry coops. Don’t have a compost pile! Now is a good time to start one.

Clean and disinfect livestock barns, sheds, rabbit hutches and poultry coops. Don’t forget to disinfect water and feed containers. Clean and disinfect nest boxes add new nesting materials to nest boxes. If necessary spray inside walls, floor, ceiling, nest boxes and roost to control mites.

Repair winter damaged fences and gates. Check barns, sheds, hutches and coops for winter damage, repair as necessary.

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