Tag Archives: chicken

Old Hens… Chickens not people

Before you purchase your chick(s) look 2 years in to the future.

For some people chickens only serve two purposes, primarily a source of fresh eggs, second as a source of fresh meat.
But for some they become pets no different from the family dog. This is where looking into the future is important.

Chicken commonly live 5 to 7 years, however it is not uncommon for them to live to the ripe old age of 10 or more years.

Egg production starts at about 24 – 26 weeks of age (6 months) and will decrease sightly every year after that. By 3 years of age it is likely to the point that you will need to replace your laying hens.

What do you do with them at this point in time? Sell them? Give them to an unsuspecting friend or neighbor? Butcher them to be served for Sunday dinner?

If you have become attached to them for what ever reason butchering them is not an option. However you must decide if the pleasure you get from their presents is worth the reduced or no egg production and the daily cost of feed and maintaining a safe and secure living space.

All is not lost. Even with reduced egg production they are still good weeders and eat every insect find and can catch.

Hint: Keep Them As Broody Hens/Mothers
If you own a broody hen (or hens), consider using them to hatch a few eggs. Those old hens will be perfectly happy sitting on some eggs all day, and it would save you the cost of buying an incubator.

Happy Gardening

DIY – Chicken water warming system that really works

It’s a little late this winter, but it is valuable information that will save you lots of time and aggravation and keep your chickens supplied with fresh water even on the coldest days of winter.

DIY – Chicken water warming system Please note the light bulb(s) must be incandescent bulb(s) and not LED or CFL bulbs.
LED and CFL light bulbs produce little or no heat.

After reading this DIY project I believe 100 watt incandescent bulbs will be your best choice.

Ramen the noddle with many faces

Ramen Noddle shoes? I always knew Ramen is widely used by college students and those with limited funds or time to cook, but I don’t know how this will work in shoe size 6.

This post started out as a rant about what Sager Creek Foods, Inc laughing calls Popeye spinach. My first can was opened and drained of it’s water. After draining I had about 1/2 can of spinach the remaining content was water. In my opinion not a very good quality spinach. Containing mostly spinach stems only having enough leaf to legally call this product spinach.
However it does work well as an addition to stir-fried vegetables.

** Ramen noddles with stir-fried vegetables.
1 – package noddles
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth per serving (add noddle flavoring packet to broth)
I use Wylie’s beef / chicken cubes because that’s the brand sold by my local supermarket.
Thin slice vegetables to stir-fry (your choice)
1 – teaspoon soy sauce used when stir-frying vegetables
1 – tablespoon pickled pepper vinegar
Cook and drain noddles, add to your bowl of broth.
Top with stir-fried vegetables.
Optional 1/2 cup cold or hot white or brown rice as a side dish.

Serve with a wine or beer that you like to drink.
Optionally serve with hot Green Tea.

Don’t forget to invite a boy or girl that you like spending time with.

Happy New Year

Food Safety – New direct from USDA research and testing laboratories – safe cooking temperatures

USDA – United States Department of Agriculture research and testing has developed a handy chart listing safe cooking temperatures for poultry, beef and pork products.

Unlike grandma’s kitchen modern gadgets like instance read digital meat thermometers are cheap and should be in every kitchen. Meat thermometers can be found starting as low as $4.00 – $7.00 to $10.00 being a good entry point for a good quality thermometer.

USDA has made some important changes in their recommended cooking temperatures for meats. The biggest change is in safe cooking of pork products.
Here’s what you need to know:

Cooking Whole Cuts of Pork: USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time. Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality juicy and tender.

Cooking Whole Cuts of Other Meats: For beef, veal, and lamb cuts, the safe temperature remains unchanged at 145 ºF, but the USDA has added a three minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.
* Ground beef must reach an internal temperature of 160 before being served.

What Is Rest Time you ask.
“Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.

USDA testing has determined it’s just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 º F with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 ºF, the previously recommended temperature, with no rest time.
The new cooking recommendations reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve a safe product.

How Do You Use a Food Thermometer? Good question.

Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.

Your tax dollars at work.
If you have questions about cooking meat, feel free to contact USDA Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free) or online at AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov (Mobile Ask Karen) on your smartphone.

Broody Hen – What Do I Do Now?

Broody means that a hen wants to hatch her eggs and raise chickens. Broodiness is driven by several factors including genetics, hormone, instinct and lighting conditions.
Almost all breeds will go broody, including Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Silkies and many of the Bantam breeds. Others are less likely to go broody.

If You Only Have Hens the eggs won’t be fertile and won’t hatch, so there is no point in letting the hen sit on those eggs. If you do want to hatch chicks under your broody hen, you may be able to get fertile eggs from someone in your area.

Let a Broody Hen Hatch Chicks
It is best to isolate your broody hen so she is not disturbed by the other chickens. It takes about 21 days for a hen to hatch eggs, and she will be sitting in a nest box for the majority of that time with few trips daily to get a drink, eat, and poop.

As the hatch date draws near, be sure to also have on hand some starter feed for the chicks. Starter feed contains more protein than layer feed and is formulated to help the baby chicks grow properly. Chick starter feed will be fine for the broody hen as well.

As the baby chicks start to hatch, check on them frequently (several times a day) to make sure they are doing okay. Her egg clutch was not laid in one day, so it may take 2 or 3 days for all her eggs to hatch.

Breaking” a Broody Hen
As soon as you notice that your hen has gone broody transfer her into a cage that is well lit and that has a wire mesh bottom. I use an old rabbit cage.
The floor of the cage should be several feet off the ground. The idea is to make the cage not feel very private, she will not have any nesting materials in this cage. Provide her with food and clean water. Within a few days, usually 3 or 4 days, she will cease to be broody, then you can return her to your flock of chickens. .

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Winterizing Your Hen House

Winterizing your chicken coop.
Keeping your chickens safe, dry and warm this winter will insure you have a steady supply of fresh eggs through the cold winter months.

Install a full daylight spectrum, 6500K color temperature CFL light bulb on a timer so your chickens get a full 15 or 16 hours a day lighting from artificial and sun light will keep your hens laying well year round.

The annual cost of operating a 150-Watt Equivalent Daylight (6500K) Spiral CFL Light Bulb 6 hours a day at $0.11 a kilowatt is about $9.50 a year and you can expect you bulb to last 4 to 5 years.Your cost to light your hen house will be about 80 cents a month.

Currently at my location sunset is about 7PM. To get 15 hours of lighting I wake my chickens by setting my time to turn the lights on at 4AM an off about 8:30AM. Every month or two I will adjust the timer as needed to keep 15-16 hours a day lighting in my hen house.

Look for and repair as need rodent damage, places where rats, mice or snakes can gain entry into your hen house.

Clean windows and vent screens to allow winter sun light in and vents to allow fresh air to circulate in your hen house. Chickens will spent a great deal more time in their house during cold, wet or snowy winter weather.

Insure that you have feeders located to keep feed clean, dry and away from rodents.
Fresh water is very important to the health of your flock.
You may want or need to invest in an elect powered heater to keep your chicken watering devices ice free this winter.

Carefully inspect and repair fencing as needed. As food becomes harder to find and catch, predators like raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, stray dogs and cats will be looking to snatch a quick easy meal and your chickens will be high on their menu.

Remove old nesting materials, bedding from nest boxes. scrape sweep and remove old litter materials from hen house floor.

Put straw and old nesting materials on your garden as winter mulch on add it to your compost pile.

Wash hen house walls, floor, roost and nest boxes with a mild mixture of soap water and household bleach.
Mix bleach and soap water at a 1:5 mix rate. That being 1 part bleach to 5 parts warm soap water.
While not an exact 1:5 mix rate, to 1 cup bleach, add water to make 1 gallon of disinfectant wash water.
Keep chickens out of their house until walls, floor and nest boxes are dry.

Hint: There are a number of industrial and household disinfectants what work well. Be sure to follow ‘all’ mixing and usage instructions, warnings and caution statements. Wear eye protection and always wear rubber gloves when using any cleaning chemicals or disinfectants.

Fill nest boxes 1/4 to 1/3 full of new clean straw, grass hay or what ever is your choice of nesting material.
Spread 3 to 6 inches deep straw litter on hen house floor. This will help keep your hen house clean, dry and will also help keep your hen house a bit warmer than a house with a bare floor.

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All About Chickens – A Young Persons Observations

This is just to good not to share.


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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Poultry Flock – on your Homestead or in your Back Yard

Can anyone tell me where I can buy ‘Bacon Seed’

Hint: One(1) hen will on average lay one(1) egg every 27 hours. Two hens produce more than a dozen eggs a week. You do the math, how many hens does your family need to supply all the eggs your family actually consume.

Chicken chicks, Turkey poults, Ducklings and Goslings will soon be arriving at your local farm store. Second choice is to mail order your flock from a reliable hatchery.

There are hundreds of breeds of Chickens, Ducks, Geese and Turkeys. I will ‘Only’ discuss the breeds that I commonly raise and have had good success surviving Oklahoma’s hot dry summers and cold windy winters.

Chicks will start being available from about the third week of February.
Duck will start being available from about the first week of February.
Geese will start being available from about the last week of March.

There are a few breeds that are on the top of many growers must have list.

Chickens: White leghorns of Fog Horn Leghorn fame, are the choice of commercial egg producing farms.
white leghorn Type: White Leghorn
Egg Color: white, Egg Size: extra large, Egg Production: excellent
Meat Production: fair, Heat/cold Tolerance: Good
Disposition: poor, Weeks to Maturity: 18, Free-range: good
Will not go broody
Male Mature Weight: 6 lbs, Female Mature Weight: 4.5 lbs or less.

Rgode island Type: Rhode red, Egg Color: brown, Egg Size: extra large,
Egg Production: excellent, Heat/cold Tolerance: good
Disposition: good, Weeks to Maturity: 19, Free-range: good
Will not go broody, Bird Size: extra large
Male Mature Weight: 8.5 lbs, Female Mature Weight: 6.5 lbs or less

barred rock Type: Barred rock, Egg Color: brown, Egg Size: large
Egg Production: excellent, Meat Production: excellent
Heat/cold Tolerance: good, Disposition: good, Weeks to Maturity: 20
Free-range: good, Not very likely to go broody, Bird Size: large
Male Mature Weight: 9.5 lbs, Female Mature Weight: 7.5 lbs

Black Australorps Type: Black Australorps, Egg Color: brown, Egg Size: large
Egg Production: excellent, Meat Production: excellent
Heat/cold Tolerance: good, Disposition: good, Weeks to Maturity: 20
Free-range: excellent, Not likely to go broody, Bird Size: extra large
Male Mature Weight: 8.5 lbs, Female Mature Weight: 6.5 lbs

Buff Orpingtons Type: Buff Orpingtons Egg Color: brown, Egg Size: large
Egg Production: execellent Meat Production: excellent, Heat/cold Tolerance: good Disposition: good, Weeks to Maturity: 20, Free-range: good
Very Likely to go broody, Bird Size: extra large
Male Mature Weight: 10 lbs, Female Mature Weight: 8 lbs

Hint: Rooster(s) Are Not required for your pullets/hen to lay eggs. They are Only need if you want or need fertile eggs for hatching replacement chicks.

Ducks not anything like Daffy duck. Ducks are quite birds, can be housed with chickens.
white_pekin Type: White Pekin, excellent meat quality, Egg production excellent
Male and female are creamy white in color, yellow skinned, and very large breasted.
Male mature weight: 10 to 11 pounds, Females mature weigh: 8 to 9 pounds.
The easiest domestic ducks to pick and prepare for eating.

rouen Type: Rouen, attractive colorful ducks bear the name of the French city they originally came from.
Egg production: fair, excellent meat bird,
Male mature weight: 8 to 9 pounds, Females mature weight: 6 to 7 pounds.

Geese Geese are noisy and can become aggressive, can be housed with chickens.
toulouse_goose Type: Toulouse, Taking their name from a city in France, along with White Embdens are the most popular commercial geese sold in America.
Meat production: excellent all-dark meat, Egg production: fair
Male mature weight: 18 to 20 pounds, Female mature weight: 12 to 13 pounds.

Turkeys Are noisy birds and males (Toms) can become aggressive.
Turkeys ‘Should Not’ be housed with chickens.
white_turkey Type: White turkey, most common commercially grown turkey.
Meat production: White broad breasted turkeys are the most popular.
Egg production: poor
Easy to dress
Male mature weight: 45 pounds, Female mature weight 25 pounds.

broadbreasted_bronze_turkey Type: Broadbreasted Bronze
Meat production: excellent, Egg production: poor
Male mature weight 38 pounds, Female mature weight: 22 pounds
Stately lords of the barnyard, metallic sheen of the feathers changes from copper to bronze to burnished gold as the light moves across them. Four feet in length, six feet from wing tip to wing tip.

McMurray Hatchery link is provided as a reference source for learning about poultry breeds,. Here you will find a short description, pictures as well as other useful information on raising your birds.
$10.00 DIY Chicken Plucker
DIY Poultry Brooder

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Save the planet – Eat more Steak – Bacon and Eggs!

bbq steak A study published last month in the journal Environment Systems and Decisions, contradicts mounting evidence that meat farming is worse for the environment than growing fruits and vegetables.
* Following a mostly vegetarian diet has a more profound impact on climate change eating meat.

Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon said “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon. Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

Eating the so called “recommended healthier foods ”a mix of mostly vegetables fruits, dairy and seafood increased the environmental impact in all three categories, with energy use shooting up by 38 percent, water use increasing by 10 percent and Green House Gas(GHG) emissions increased by 6 percent.

Fischbeck said “there are plenty of protein and calorie rich vegan foods that have a lower environmental impact than bacon, beans and nuts and grains are good”
Read more

Merry Christmas

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