Everyone likes a tasty chicken, but how about what happens during the time between the clucking, feathered bird and the freezer? Here’s a dignified look at a poultry processing day on our farm, feathers and all.
In my previous post, I discussed several points comparing the relative benefits of using incubators for hatching chicks vs. doing things the natural way - that is, assigning the job to a broody. Today I am going to cover some more factors influencing the chicken owner's decision on this matter.
This post is for people thinking about, or just beginning, to keep a backyard flock of chickens. Perhaps you’re like us — you wish you had chickens and feel that your sustainable, self-reliant life wouldn’t be complete without some hens clucking and pecking around your back yard. However, you’re a little intimidated by actually jumping in. Here’s my two cents, after several years of raising chickens under our belts.
We can argue about how to raise chicks all day, but when it actually comes down to how mama hen and nature do it, no one is going to tell her how she can and can’t do it. Here’s what my Mama Hen is currently teaching this homesteader about raising chicks on our homestead.
Having an area properly prepared for your new chicks or ducklings is important in making sure they grow up healthy and safe. For some, it is easiest to use an old dog crate or a plastic tote and outfit it for the occasion, but if you are going to be getting new poultry regularly or annually, it is often best to build a brooder specifically for raising your young birds.
Chickens have always been a trademark of farm life and recently have gained popularity with backyard farmers looking to take out the middleman between themselves and fresh eggs. They’re funny looking feathered friends with distinct personalities and some unusual antics you might not know about if you are just getting into poultry. Their quirky behavior can have some interesting origins.
Monticello’s gardens and orchards are world-famous for the fruit and vegetable production. Interestingly, among all his writings, there is very little included by Mr. Jefferson about keeping poultry. But what breeds of chickens might have been on Mulberry Row
Spring has sprung - time to get the hens into their summer mobile chicken coops. A nice afternoon project, right? Well, you know how those "5-minute jobs" go — they always seem to multiply. Learn how we manage chickens in mobile coops on pasture.
I gave you five things you should consider when building your chicken coop in the first part of this blog series. Here are the remaining few points that you should take into consideration when building your fluffy chicken friends their perfect home.
For the uninitiated, slaughtering animals is a repulsive thought. Our forebears thought nothing of it — and neither would people today if we were not so alienated from our own food production. But this is not to say that we should be unfeeling about our animals. Humane treatment is a moral imperative, and also ensures meat quality: Stressing animals at slaughter time compromises the meat in numerous ways — even making it inedible.
If you have backyard chickens and you are not using them as composters and you have a garden, you are missing a valuable resource right at your fingertips. There are so many benefits to using your chickens, and it’s such a natural process for composting.
While chickens are natural incubation experts, many breeders find that utilizing an incubator can give them more control over their hatch, ultimately leading to higher hatch rates than nature provides. Want to increase chicken egg hatch rates? Check out these fives tips to help you become an egg-incubation master.
Building a chicken coop is a big deal. It is something that will remain on your property for years to come. It is the beginning of turning your yard into your own ‘starter homesteader.’ But wait — there are a few things you should take into consideration before you break ground on your new friends’ home.
There are a lot of specific terms about poultry you might not be familair with. If you’re thinking about getting chickens, ducks, geese, or other fowl, it’s good to get used to these common terms. Here are some of the farmyard poultry terms you might come across.
Poultry expert Harvey Ussery describes how he breeds his heritage chickens. He relies on what he calls a “clan-mating system,” which reduces his time spent keeping written records but still maintains clean, genetically diverse breeding lines.
The first year fair in Belton, Texas was a huge event and by all accounts, a success. I was super busy at the DIY Showcase the entire fair and had over 300 people attend my presentation on the GRIT Stage.
Building a chicken coop is a fun exercise and there are hundreds of designs out there that can ensure your coop is both functional and unique. Taking a few things into consideration before building can help you avoid a re-build in the future.
Is it okay to let the fans and air conditioners go off in a shed with 20,000 chickens inside? Of course not, and poultry growers have been prosecuted and fined for such negligence. Yet, the USDA as of September 18, 2015, has sanctioned this action as an appropriate "depopulation" measure in an avian influenza-infected poultry barn.
An egg shed could be defined as: the eggs produced within a certain distance that go to a specific place. That place could be your kitchen. In chicken-friendly, local food-supportive, low carbon-footprint communities, backyard flocks and small family farms produce eggs. The takeaway message is that egg shed needs for a family, or a community, are relatively easy to meet. A household or a community can somewhat easily be protein self-sufficient.
You’re invited to the 2015 Sustainable Poultry Network–USA National Conference! This conference will be the most complete, comprehensive conference for sustainable poultry production in North America. This conference features some of the very best instructors to teach on the current critical subjects of sustainable poultry production.
Over the winter, we managed to secure a contract with an up-and-coming company in Massachusetts to raise pastured chickens for them. This company ended up pre-ordering a significant amount of chickens per month from us, which necessitated the building of six new coops. Here I outline how to scale up a poultry operation.
If a chicken never sees the sun, never gets to hunt for food in thick grass, never gets to take a dirt bath with her friends, never gets to flirt with a rooster, can she lay an egg? She’ll lay something, but can you call it an egg?
We've all either encountered them or will encounter them in the future - it is inevitable. But the age old question still stands - do you kill the predator, or do you allow nature to take its course and try to perfect your security? Those questions are answered here, and more.
We often hear the debates - which chicken coop floor bedding is best? From deep litter straw to sand, everyone claims their method is the best, but I rarely hear people talk about cardboard bedding. Here is a great natural alternative to straw and sand in your coop.
Even with minimal building capability, you can learn how to make light fixtures from old metal chicken feeders. The feeders may be hard to come by, but if you know someone that has been in the commercial chicken-raising business, then you can likely find some in their used feeder pile. The total cost per light was $19.32.
The author’s thoughts about raising chicks changed when he returned home from a vacation and couldn’t find one of his hens. He discovered her the next morning, sitting on a clutch of eggs under a porch. When her chicks hatched and he saw how much she cared for them, and how much her chicks adored her, he knew then that every chick deserves a good mother hen.
Do you count yourself among the chicken-obsessed? Prepare to be truly impressed. In this blog, Jeannette Beranger of The Livestock Conservancy takes you on a photo tour of just a few of the eye-popping breeds found at Greenfire Farms in Havana, Florida.
My garden started out as just a need for feeding my family in the summer months. Over time, it not only needed to feed my family, but needed protection from various critters—including backyard chickens—that inhabit my yard. Learn how to construct raised beds, install shade cloth and build a fence to protect your plants.
These two structures for creating a sustainable homestead are not often associated, but with the right planning they can be integrated into a single multi-use structure that enhances both environments. A greenhouse/chicken coop becomes a year-round food-producing machine, giving you a bounty of fruits, vegetables and protein all in one.
The sun is shining, the breeze is starting to warm, but there's still three feet of snow outside. It's driving you crazy — why can't spring get here now? Well, you're not the only one because those chickens have cabin fever too!
For first-time chicken owners (or even for experienced chicken enthusiasts), selecting, purchasing, and preparing for your home chicken flock can seem like a daunting task. After thirty years of raising chickens, here’s Forrest Pritchard’s personal guide to ensure your new flock remains safely tucked beneath your wing so you can start a flock of chickens without worry.
Backyard chickens have become the new thing for country folk and the urban folk - but as with anything, there's the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are a few things to consider before diving head first into your new chicken keeper adventure.
Avian Influenza has been detected in five western states. There are several steps you can take to protect your backyard chickens, and one simple way to find out if you, as an urban hen keeper, are at risk.
Contrary to popular belief, most breeds are very well equipped to deal with the cold. But good husbandry skills will ensure very little frostbite irritation for your rooster and other large-combed chicken breeds. This blog post is about protecting your chickens' comb, but frostbite can also afflict the feet, mainly on snowy days.
Alexander Goldberg’s first blog post, introducing himself, his chickens and his concerns for rare and endangered breeds of poultry. Alexander talks about poultry shows, his work with 4H and support for the Livestock Conservancy.
Richmond, Virginia, legalized chickens in 2013. Since then, cities and towns have joined in legalizing family flock. The organizers of the Richmond Home and Garden Show (one of the largest on the East Coast) wanted to feature chickens and offered us free booth space.
Homestead spring projects include honey bees, Dorking chickens, Ancona ducks, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted calf, Red-Wattle hogs, the incubator, pruning fruit trees,starting seeds, and heirloom plants so we can eat healthful and delicious food all year.
Feeding chickens sustainably means keeping them healthy by using a combination of free-range, good-quality commercial food, supplementing their diet with garden produce and perhaps even mixing your own poultry food.
A growing number of homeowners are realizing how useful chickens can be in the backyard: They offer pest control, fertilizer, comedy relief, and their business end doles out concentrated protein like a Pez dispenser. Unfortunately, novice chicken-owners can encounter problems when they expect more than chickens can deliver, either in food, companionship or general co-operation.
So, what makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What is standard-bred poultry? If you purchase chicks from a hatchery, are they true to the breed? Why does every hatchery sell Rhode Island Reds and they all look different? Why do the Cornish Cross meat chickens have so many problems? Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry.
One week after moving our chickens, there now stands a chicken “duck and cover” shelter for them to dive under in the event of a hawk attack. It’s not perfect as a strategy, and the hawk may still get a chicken or two. But these magnificent birds crave a greater measure of freedom than they have in their chicken tractors, and I aim to see that they get it.
Summing up pasture data where it relates to chickens and customizing land to better suit poultry and their behavior and stomachs. Measuring oil viscosity levels and rescuing a trailer with a portable winch were some of our favorite things.
The Classy Coop Giveaway grand prize was given a good home with our contest winner and her backyard chickens. We were happy to see this mobile chicken coop is already being broken in. Bring on the eggs!
This story recounts one father's hard work to help his family survive by raising chickens and farming during the Great Depression. The author also describes his family-owned homemade brooder house, which helped shelter the chickens that provided meat and eggs during hard times.
An update to the refrigerator root cellar and how the Thermo Cube is keeping it from dipping below the freezing point and how we decided to start a terrace system to make more flat spots in a chicken pasture that's on a hillside that is steep.
Protecting the fig tree for the winter felt like putting it to bed for a long sleep. Chopping wood with the Chopper 1 is a thing of joy and beauty and that's no joke. Do it yourself corn bin helped our neighbor keep the racoons out.
‘Pluck A Lotta Chickens: A Live Demonstration’ was in the Timberstone Room, which holds several hundred people. I sat second row, center. Once they started the process, it wasn’t nearly as bizarre as I thought it was going to be.
Growing Local Food is a new book that encompasses all the needed basics to grow plants, keep heritage breed animals and bees. The author is a homesteader and physician who gives the readers the basic information to grow or find nutritious, local food
YIKES! What to do when you've planted too many veggies? Is your garden producing more than one family can eat? Sure, you can give it away. But wait! Try pickling those garden gems. This way, you'll be able to enjoy them through the winter and beyond!
Using oil seed radishes to add organic matter to the ground and attracting native pollinators with a nest site. Harvesting sweet potato seeds if we're lucky and admiring the parasitic wasp's ability to lay white egg sacs into the body of a horn worm
Edamame soybeans are tough,fast-maturing plants that can withstand extreme garden conditions. They have few problems with disease or insect pests. The green pods are delicious and high in protein, and make a good addition to an edible landscape.
Describing how to look up tax maps, cutting carrots, and deleting problem tomato plants that only produce insipid fruit. The main attraction this week is our Power Plucker review and how awesome this new product is at saving time when plucking.
Porch building tips along with deer pressure notes and golf cart pickup bed instructions.Throw in a 5 foot high chicken wire fence and a rare appearance from a normally camera shy cat named Strider and you've got an idea of what we've been up to.
Building the Cadillac of worm bins, a new barn door, testing the new garlic curing rack, harvesting big potato onions, mulching blueberries, and fabricating a low budget easy to build automatic chicken coop door opener and closer from easy find parts
Crushing a truck, harvesting garlic, and fixing a broken flywheel shaft key are just a few of the things that got done over the last week at WaldenEffect.org complete with photos of all the juicy stuff.
Describing how we are trying to provide a low budget solar panel back up system for under 1000 dollars that will run our laptops and router along with a few other things if the local power grid has any issues.
Summing up the last week of activity by hitting on a few key stories that might prove note worthy to a few of the homesteading folks out there complete with photo montage of golf cart jousting and aquaponic trout.
Top bar hive modifications, turkey traps, and gourmet potatoes are just a few of the topics covered in the past week of blogging we've been up to. Homesteading healthcare and a new virtual book club round off the week with several reader comments.
Breaking down the last week of homesteading we've done over at WaldenEffect.org, and the Top Bar project we started as well as talk on Brix, biodynamics, and Plant Secondary Metabolites. Also have details on an external frame backpack modification.
Meet Amelia, Honey, and Tilda — an Ameraucana, Buff Orpington, and Rhode Island Red, respectively. We keep our little flock of three in an Eglu, which has an egg-shaped hen house attached to a wire-enclosed run.
I started my poultry quest way too early for New Englanders: January! I marked my calendar in red and drew childish pictures of a chicken on the calendar blocks. I was as impatient as a 6-year-old waiting for Christmas morning.
Talking about the excitement of Anna's new book cover that we got to preview from the publisher this past week and the anxiety of our new born chicks as they go out into the big world. Also have some details on how to make your own cleft graft.
The last week of the month has been a busy one with are preparations for the ending of winter and the start of a new growing season. We've got some details on a new cover crop and why we choose and simple composting toilet system compared to others.
For those of us who hate to use chemicals in our gardens, in our homes, or with our livestock and pets, diatomaceous earth may be a safe and efficient substitute. It may worm your animals, rid them of fleas and lice and even handle indoor pests.
Did attending the Fair make you want to go out back and start building a chicken coop? If you've gotten far enough in your chicken-keeping research to look at specific breeds, look no further than the Mother Earth News Pickin' Chicken app.
We've had a few surprises as we travel the road of backyard chicken raising - some of them pleasant, some not so much. Here are a few things we've learned that might help you as you decide whether or not to get chickens for your backyard.
The Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers agreed to work together to pass federal legislation for better treatment for the country’s egg-laying hens. While the slightly larger, furnished cages are an improvement for chickens in industrial egg production, you can support animal welfare and get more nutritious eggs by buying pastured eggs from local farmers or raising chickens yourself.
Vickie Evans describes her grandparents’ life in Winfred during the Depression and the years following. Both came from farming families and used their land and farming knowledge to help the local community.
I am new to America, and new to the suburbs, having previously lived in rural Australia. I now live in suburban Indiana. During the past two years I have been trying to set up an "urban homestead" for our family. The neighbors are curious and amused.
If you’re new to raising chickens, you might be a little intimidated setting up house for your new flock. Homesteader Jenna Woginrich offers a straightforward overview of getting started, from preparing a brooder to providing feed and water.
It’s time to get serious about heritage chickens. Talking Chicken is a wonderful resource to help you build a flock. The book covers selection, breeding, raising and marketing heritage chickens and eggs. Poultry experts from around the country have contributed short pieces that are interspersed throughout the book to round out the information.
Chickens naturally go into their coop to roost at dusk, but that’s about the time that many predators start hunting. When you’re not able to be home to close the coop door at the right time, your birds might be in danger. So, Mother Earth News is sponsoring a contest for the best design for a DIY automatic chicken coop door closer.
I keep chickens, and my rooster is driving me crazy. He always wants to fight me What’s the best way to deal with an aggressive bird? People often tell me, “I went out to the chicken yard to collect eggs,
Jenna Woginrich writes about the beauty of Cold Antler Farm, a small homestead that she shares with Pig, her rabbits Benjamin and Doe and several chickens. Taking care of her animals on cold winter nights is a challenge for Woginrich, but one she gladly accepts armed with a water bottle and affection. Woginrich's modest barn provides shelter for her animals and a useful space to feel at home.
Wondering when to buy chickens? February to June is the best time to buy baby chicks if you are interested in raising chickens, or if you are looking into getting different types of poultry. This timing not only helps the chicks, but will often get deals for you. Also, check out the directory of hatcheries to make finding your poultry easier.
If you want a few hens for fresh eggs, but haven’t had the time (or money) to build a coop or chicken tractor, here’s your chance to win a free coop! The Handcrafted Coops portable chicken coop is an ark-style coop with space for three hens (or five bantams).
What’s your idea of a delicious and wholesome breakfast? A fluffy, organic egg omelet made with fresh vegetables? Perhaps scrambled eggs and roasted garden veggies? No matter what your preference, it may surprise you to learn the link between the
I was wrong about Freedom Rangers. Freedom Rangers are pretty close to Cornish Cross chickens. The Freedom Rangers did well on pasture, and we had a pretty broad range of sizes in the flock. I’m satisfied with the efficiency and the cost, but I’m disappointed the growth rate was so fast that it caused leg problems.
Manure-spreading day is a big event on the farm, for everyone from the chickens to the border collies. And it's part of a wonderful seasonal cycle that's the foundation of self-reliance and sustainability.
The Pickin’ Chicken iPhone/iPad app from MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you select the perfect chicken breed by allowing you to search for desired traits from 82 breeds and more than 100 varieties. You can even select either “heritage” or “endangered” breeds from the list by tapping a button. Descriptions include free-range foraging ability, purpose (eggs, meat or both), egg size, growth rate, mothering ability, place of origin, conservation status and more.
While others are fighting crowds in shopping malls on Friday, you can start choosing the breeds of chickens you’re going to raise in 2011. We’re excited to launch a new digital tool to help you sort through the options. It’s fun, practical and loaded with photos.
Heritage breed chickens are more nutritious and flavorful than store-bought chicken, but require different cooking techniques. Learn different methods of cooking different age and different breeds of chickens.
Modern, commercial hybrid hens lay 300 to 320 eggs a year, and they consume less feed. Will using the same high-production strains of chickens in cage-free environment cause more cannibalism? There are several rational methods of raising chickens.
To benefit from the meat of backyard chickens, one must learn to process them. This includes how to kill, scald, pluck, and eviscerate, and then get them into the freezer. This article describes how we are learning to improving this process.
We’re looking for the most effective and creative solar-heated waterer for chickens. If you’re creative and love to build useful projects, make a solar poultry waterer and try it out this winter. Then submit your design for our contest. We’ll publish the winning entry in the magazine, and the designer will win a free Brinsea incubator.
Some hens lay lots of eggs, but never sit on them to hatch them. If you want a hen to hatch eggs, is there anything you can do to encourage her to sit on the eggs? We asked our poultry advisory group about their experiences. They had good advice about what will work and what does not.
Chickens love green feeds, such as grass, clover and alfalfa. You can preserve grass or other crops for winter by making silage in garbage bags or other small plastic bags. Small scale silage production is easy, and you don’t need to invest in special equipment, plus your chickens will have green feed all winter long.
Choosing from among various heritage breeds can be tough, but finding a breeder can be even tougher. The Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities’ Breeders Directory is a resource to make finding reputable chicken breeders easier.
Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch announces the heritage chicken cooking competition. With the right recipe for whole-bird, cut-up, de-boned or barbequed heritage chicken, you could win $1,000. Plus, you'd be contibuting to a worthy cause — promoting heritage breeds.
Coops are nececessary to protect chickens from cold weather and predators. Here are some guidelines to help you set up suitable housing for your chickens, including coop type and size, ventilation, heating and nest boxes.
Some breeds of chickens are better at ranging for their own feed, hatching eggs and raising chicks. Others mature quickly or lay particularly dark-brown eggs. Which breed has the combination of traits you’re looking for? We’ve launched a new survey to determine the characteristics of each breed of chicken.
Many people who keep chickens or other poultry have concerns about how to manage their flock when cold weather sets in. But winter shouldn’t be a problem for your flock, but rather a steppingstone to the following year! Check your poultry often, follow these guidelines and you can even raise baby chicks in the winter! Tips from an expert.
The Community Chickens project is about sharing the joy of keeping poultry and spreading the knowledge to help people successfully raise chickens, ducks and other poultry. Here’s a summary of some things we’ve learned through the project.
Hens that lay white eggs are lighter weight and eat less feed to produce the same amount of eggs as brown-egg layers. So, does that mean that if you’re concerned about conserving resources and care about the environment, you should eat white chicken eggs instead of brown chicken eggs? Color is only shell deep. There’s more to this debate than meets the eye.
An experienced pasture-raised poulty expert, Robert Plamondon, shares his thoughts on the best methods of keeping free-range chickens. He gives tips on four different kinds of electric fencing designed to contain chickens and repel predators, and calls it a less time and money consuming alternative to other fencing options.
Lots of people order hatching eggs that are shipped through the mail before setting them in an incubator or under a broody hen. But what kind of results should you expect from shipped hatching eggs? Read what an expert has to say about realistic expectations.
Lots of factors are involved in hatching poultry eggs successfully: consistent temperature, the right amount of humidity and frequently turning the eggs. Not all incubators work equally well, and some have features that make operating them easier. Read about our most recent incubator test.
Quails make an excellent urban choice for poultry raising, chiefly for their tranquil nature, minimal noise and egg-producing efficiency. In this, the second installment of my series on quail-raising, you'll learn how to identify gender from color and marks and see how quail eggs compare with those of chickens.
Poultry predators are one of the biggest concerns of owners of chickens and other poultry. Here are a few tips for fighting chicken enemies. Plus some thoughts on common wildlife that are not predators of chickens.
Does turning eggs frequently during incubation improve hatch rates? Can storing the eggs before incubating them lower the hatch rate? Find out what we learned from our experiment hatching pheasant eggs.
Life with goats, sheep, cows, chickens and other livestock isn't all roses. Publisher Bryan Welch considers the value of finding and keeping the right partner for tackling life on the farm, goose poop and all.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Heritage has officially defined “heritage chicken.” Find out what a heritage chicken is, learn more about the certification process, and hear — firsthand — what an expert on heritage chickens has to say about pastured poultry and breed selection.
Nothing says spring like the sound of newly hatched chickens in my incubators. It's the time of year when folks stop into the feed store or local hatchery expecting to begin their selection of new birds.
If you're looking for eggs with the highest nutrient content, seek out eggs from pastured poultry. Here's why these eggs are the healthiest, as well as more information for people who want to raise birds on pasture.
Each year, the success rate for hens hatching and raising chicks at Rancho Cappuccino contines to increase, and it seems there's more than luck at play. Read about watching natural selection in action on the farm.