A Dignified Look at Chicken Butchering Day

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.

Hatching Chicks Using Incubators vs Broody Hens, Part 2

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.

7 Tips for Beginning Chicken Keepers

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.

Hatching Eggs Using a Surrogate Hen

When one of our hens went broody, we asked ourselves if it was possible for her to hatch out a nest of ducklings instead of chicks. The result was a protective hen and four healthy baby ducks!

Learning About Raising Chicks from a Mama Hen

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.

Making the Ultimate Brooder Box

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.

Fun Facts About Chickens

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.

Free-Range Chickens? No Way!

How we manage our small flock of urban chickens for maximum health and happiness for all concerned.

Dirty Jobs: Cleaning Chicken Coops

Ok, the hens are off, but now it's time to clean the coop. Yup...my favorite. Get on your grubbies and join the dust bowl!

Jefferson’s Monticello Chickens

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

Managing Chickens in Mobile Coops on Pasture

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.

Raising and Slaughtering Livestock: Legal and Practical Considerations

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.

Use Your Chickens as Compost Workers

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.

5 Clever Chicken Egg-Incubation Tips

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.

What to Consider When Building a Chicken Coop: Sizing and Location

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.

Solar Backyard Chicken-Coop Building Plans

A community of smaller portable chicken coops are better than one, big, stationary one. Download building plans for a solar heated design that’s also great in hot climates.

Cordwood Chicken Coops

Cordwood chicken coops are the ideal method of protecting your birds and providing warmth and security. Enjoy these pictures of unique cordwood chicken coops throughout North America.

DIY Off-Grid Chicken-Watering System

For the same cost as one more indoor waterer, we built an outdoor system with 10 times the capacity that won’t require much extra work from us to keep up.

Common Poultry Terms

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.

Feather-Pecking Solutions

Feather pecking among your flock is a situation that requires your immediate attention. The confidence to address the root cause of the problem is essential.

Building a Hoop Coop

Because our flock is now running around 40 birds, we are in dire need of an updated coop for our hens and their roosters.

How to Breed Chickens Using the Clan-Mating System

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 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Texas

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.

The Homesteader's Journey

If you have ever considered the change of lifestyle to be more self-sufficient, here are some of our thoughts and experiences from this journey.

Considerations When Building a Chicken Coop

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.

The Chicken Cabana Room

At Sunflower Farm we strive to provide our chickens with the best accommodations!

Can Dogs and Chickens Coexist?

Members of our Facebook community share the techniques they employed to make their dogs and chickens compatible companions.

The USDA’s Latest Dumb Idea to Combat Avian Influenza

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.

Know Your Egg Shed, Part 1

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.

Sustainable Poultry Network National Conference

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.

Scaling Up Our Pastured Poultry from Backyard to Commercial

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 ...

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?

To Kill Or Not To Kill Small-Livestock Predators

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.

Cardboard Bedding For Your Chicken Coop

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.

Make Light Fixtures from Old Chicken Feeders

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.

How to Change Chicken Ordinances

Some communities have laws that ban keeping backyard chickens. Learn how to approach your city council to revise the rules with these tips from our readers.

Maximizing Happiness with Hen-Raised Chicks

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.

Small But Mighty Chicks

It's baby animals season on the farm, especially for chicks! They're pretty sweet, but they're also a lot of work. Oh, and there's incubators involved too.

The Waiting Game

Springtime on the homestead is all about timing--getting those colorful eggs into the incubator, sneaking in a crop of spinach in the high tunnel, but also being on-the-ready for lambing season!

How to Naturally Treat Chicken Lice

It can happen to the best of us, and the worst of us. But rather than using chemical powders and unnecessary medicines, here are a few ways to get rid of chicken lice completely all natural.

Rare Chicken Breeds at Greenfire Farms

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.

Gardening with Chickens in the High Desert

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.

A Greenhouse, Chicken Coop Combo

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.

Chickens Got Cabin Fever

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!

The Nankin Chicken Breed

Nankins are a rare breed of bantam chickens that are a worthwhile addition to the backyard flock.

Maya the Wise Chicken

Cam shares his thoughts about one of his elderly "ladies" who seems wise beyond her chicken years!

Starting a Flock of Chickens: 5 Important Tips for Success

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.

The Good and the Bad of Raising Backyard Chickens

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.

How Many Eggs Can a Chicken Lay?

Just how many eggs can a chicken lay? The answer depends on several factors. Learn which choices you make can affect your hens’ egg production.

The Dog Ate My Chickens

An anecdote that illustrates a few of the realities of farm life and raising livestock.

Winter Is Coming

The cold weather is hitting Virginia early this year and it's time to winterize!

Preparing a Rooster's Comb for Winter

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.

The Chickens Have a Sleepover

Homesteader Cam Mather describes integrating new backyard chickens into his existing flock and the wonderful life his "ladies" lead.

Is It Free-Range or Pasture-Raised?

Like many things related to food, the free-range label misleads customers, so we explore the differences between free-range and pasture-raised.

Chicken Stimulus Package at the 2014 Richmond Home and Garden Show

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.

Building a Cheap Greenhouse

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares how she built a cheap greenhouse out of mostly scavenged materials - and how you can, too.

Piglets and Chicks, Oh My!

The arrival of our first chickens and pigs to the farm, and prepping to head off to my summer internship at Polyface Farm

Raising Your First Chicks

Getting your very first chicks is an exciting experience and a very big step for most first-time homesteaders. Here is some advice for enjoying your new additions and avoiding any potential problems.

Starplate Chicken Coop

This pentagonal structure was costly and tricky to build, but the finished structure is both beautiful and functional.

Sudden Chicken Death: What Are the Causes?

When a chicken dies suddenly for no obvious reason, it's unsettling. But it's not uncommon. Here are some possible causes for that sudden death in your otherwise healthy flock.

How to Get Started With Chicks

Raising chicks is easy as long as you pay attention to their needs for food, water, and housing. It also helps to learn their language.

Spring Homestead Projects

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.

How to Build a Chicken Tractor

To create a chicken tractor that will keep both you and your hens happy, you'll want to focus on weight, shelter, doors, handles, and more.

Ten Tips for Getting Started With Chickens

Are you new to backyard chickens? Raising chickens is easy once you get the hang of it, but a little knowledge will help you skip these beginner mistakes.

Feeding Chickens Sustainably

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 Sunroom for My Chickens

Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!

Alternative Chicken Feeds

You don't have to stick to corn and soybeans to nourish your flock. Chickens enjoy a variety of foods, including mulberries, worms and Japanese beetles.

How Not to Keep Chickens (Know What You’re Getting Into)

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.

Our First Chicken Harvest

In preparation for a large chicken harvest later in the season, a few homesteaders perform a trial run to test their chicken harvesting capabilities.

Step-by-Step Chicken Processing (Video)

Butchering can be intimidating. Learn how to process a chicken in this video that covers equipment, humane killing methods, plucking, eviscerating and more.

Eat These Birds to Keep Them Alive!: Developing Sustainable Poultry Flocks

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.

The Strength From Being Little

Over the years, we’ve had many experiences with injured and sick chickens. Sometimes the birds have pulled through, sometimes they have not.Such is truly the way of life.

Magnificent Birds: Free-Ranging Chickens, the Threat of Hawks and Choosing Freedom Anyway

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.

Chicken House Tips

Suggestions for the interior of your chicken house, including; feed storage, access to nest boxes, dividing the chicken-living area, and making a loft for storing bedding material.

Free Range Winter Chickens

How both we and the chickens have gotten better at surviving the cold winters where we live.

Permaculture Chicken: Pasture Basics

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.

Raising Chickens: Farming in the Great Depression

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.

Terrace Support Structure and Picking Ripe Mushrooms

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.

A New Twist On an Old (Chicken) Saddle

This durable, puncture and tear-resistant chicken saddle will protect free-range chickens from pecking, cannibalistic behavior and predators.

Hatch Your Own Chicks!

Nobody can resist fluffy baby chicks, so what would be better than hatching your own? Let us put your mind at rest and make your first time incubating an enjoyable experience you will want to repeat.

Chicken Incubation Tips

Trying to sum up a few of the lesson learned while figuring out the best way to incubate and hatch cute chicks.

Protecting Fig Trees from Cold and Best Wood Chopping Tool

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.

Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock

Keeping a rooster with your flock of hens is beneficial but must be done carefully. Here’s how to introduce a rooster to your poultry flock.

Chicken Processing for the Uninitiated

‘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.

Rotational Chicken Pasture Update

A brief summary of the vast amount of data we've compiled over the last few years on experimenting with rotational chicken pastures on our homestead.

Teaching Homesteading--in a Nutshell

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

Too Many Garden Veggies! What to Do?

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!

Chicago Hardy Figs and Attracting Native Pollinators

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

Chicken Tractors

Use of a mobile chicken tractors allows us to keep the birds on fresh ground and stay on top of the weeds.

Edamame Soybean Plants Are Tough

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.

Drill Powered Plucking Onion Harvest

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 and Deer Pressure

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.

Panting Like Lizards

We're lucky to be able to live the way we do, even when we feel like we're melting

How to Pick the Right Chicken Coop

How do you find the best chicken coop design for your new flock? We'll help you walk through the evaluation process AND get a free analysis spreadsheet to help you decide.

Four New Ladies Join Our Flock

Four new hens joined the flock at Sunflower Farm and it has taken some time to re-establish the pecking order.

Homestead Still Productive During The Drought

Mark fenced in a new chicken pasture in the hot sun, an experience that was made possible by his homemade solar fan hat. Meanwhile, I played with scythes and bees and maps.

Worm Bins, Coop Door Openers, and Egyptian Onion Giveaway

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

Flywheel Garlic Bearings

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.

Solar Panel Back Up Power for Under 1000 Dollars?

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.

Aquaponic Trout and Golf Cart Jousting

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.

Rethinking Dogs as Flock Tenders

Boy! Did I learn my lesson when I left our young pullets out back with our trusted dogs. I'll never do that again.

Turkey Traps and Top Bar Hive Modifications

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.

Top Bar Hive Experiment

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.

Introduction to the Eglu

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.

Raising Rare-Breed Chickens

A few years ago the ALBC launched its Heritage Chicken promotion; if you’d like to get involved, here’s what you need to know.

Finding Non-Medicated Chicken Feed

A summary of our quest to find non-medicated chicken feed that has higher quality ingredients than the typical feed store bag of chicken food.

Welcome to Chick Days Vermont!

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.

Why Have Chickens?

Why raise chickens? Because they’re the pet that makes you breakfast.

New Chicken Webcam Goes Live

Announcing our new webcam that will be showing the latest flock of new born chicks in all their cute and feathery glory.

DIY Electric Fence Wire Holder

Talking about how to make a DIY electric fence wire holder and how we got a tailgate transplant for around 150 dollars and some signs of spring.

Homesteading Book Deal Gets More Real

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.

A Recent Video Shoot

Looking after your chickens in the winter and cutting with a solar-powered electric chainsaw.

Dedicated Roofers Cross Dangerous Creek

Talking about the recent past week where we got several items crossed off the Spring to-do list and managed to have some fun while doing it complete with pictures to illustrate the good times.

Composting toilet compromise

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.

Fixing an old barn roof

Finally getting the barn roof repair project started was a big deal for us as well as a few other things that are worth checking out if you are interested in modern homesteading.

How to cut planks with a chainsaw

Our experiments with an Alaskan small log mill attached to our chainsaw had variable results making planks from downed trees.

Walden Effect joins Mother Earth News

We're gearing up for spring on our southwest Virginia farm, planning the garden, pruning the perennials, and getting ready to raise bees, broilers, and mushrooms.

Why I'm Going Back to the Farm

Robert White is remaking himself as a farmer, and will return to his family's land to start a market garden. Here's why.

Back to the future

A little background on how Ric and Vicki moved from Detroit to a Tennessee homestead, and starting to get up to date on what they've done since.

Uses of Diatomaceous Earth on the Homestead

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.

Uncle Sam Wants You to Raise Chickens

During World War I, the federal government ordered people to keep a backyard flock of chickens. What happened? Why is it so hard today?

How to Pick a Chicken Breed

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.

Backyard Chicken Facts - 5 Things No One Told Us

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.

Egg-Laying Hens Should Get Better Cages, Humane Society and Egg Industry Agree

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.

Winfred During the Depression

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.

How Do You Raise Your Flock?

Chickens who begin life as housepets don't take kindly to being banished to the outdoors. What is the likelihood of indoor hens producing fresher, tastier eggs?

Suburban Homesteader From Down Under

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.

Get Started With Chickens

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.

Are You Ready for Chickens? Chickens 101

Chickens - how do you know if you’re the ‘chicken type’? If you’re pondering a backyard flock, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

Practical Advice on Heritage Chickens and Eggs

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.

Contest: Automatic Coop Door Closer

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.

Why Does This Rooster Want to Fight Me?

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,

Unbelievable Cruelty to Chickens

Cruel treatment is the norm in industrial poultry production. Consumers can help stop inhumane treatment by choosing to support local producers who do not put profit ahead of humane treatment.

A Useful Space for Pigs, Chickens and Rabbits

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.

When to Buy Chickens

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.

Win A Portable Chicken Coop

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).

Chicken Manure Fertilizer: Let Your Chickens Make Mulch

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

Wrong About Freedom Rangers

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.

The Manure Diaries

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 App: Which Chicken Breeds Are Right For You?

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.

A Better Way to Pick Chicken Breeds

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.

Cooking Heritage-Breed Chickens

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.

Best Chicken Breeds

Our expert gives advice on finding the best chicken breed for free-range eggs.

Cage-Free Eggs: Transitioning to a New Environment

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.

Processing Your Backyard 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.

Design a Solar Poultry Waterer, Win a Brinsea Incubator!

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.

Save Money on Chicken Feed

Poultry expert Robert Plamonden explains how you can save some cash by offering poultry whole corn or wheat to supplement their usual feed.

Encourage Hens to Hatch Eggs

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.

Small Scale Silage Production for Chicken Feed

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.

Find a Heritage Poultry Breeder

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.

Tender and Tasty Birds

Advice on how to get the most tender and flavorful meat from your chickens.

Statement on Chicken Ordinances

We strongly support keeping a few chickens (hens only) within city limits. Feel free to use this statement if you're working to get an ordinance passed to allow chickens in your city.

Heritage Chicken Cooking Competition

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.

Brooding Baby Chicks in Winter

Low temperatures won't prevent you from successfully brooding baby chicks. Following these basic rules, even brooding chicks in negative temperatures is possible.

Things to Consider When Housing Chickens

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.

Coffee Chaff Chicken Coop Litter

Coffee bean chaff — the light, airy husks blown off the beans during roasting, can be used as chicken coop litter, mulch and compost. Chaff can usually be found for free at local roasteries.

Chicken Fashion

Chickens make fun pets. Some people are even making sweaters, hats and diapers for them.

New Chicken Breeds and Hybrids Survey

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.

Homesteading in the Urban Wilds

 Lyanda Haupt talks about the challenges and rewards of protecting her chickens and garden from local wildlife.

Keeping Chickens in Winter

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.

What I’ve Learned Through the Community Chickens Project

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.

Introducing the Grass-Fed Egg Movement

There are many benefits to purchasing grass-fed eggs, but finding them is not always easy. Robert Plamondon suggests ideas and resources for making grass-fed eggs more available and popular.

Real Environmentalists Eat White Chicken Eggs

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.

Electric Fences for Keeping Free-range Chickens and Pastured Poultry

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.

What to Expect When Purchasing Shipped Hatching Eggs

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.

Improve Hatch Rates with the Right Incubator

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.

Keeping Quails: Gender Differentiation

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.  

How to Improve Hatch Rates

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.

Marriage and the Marks of Farm Life

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.

Using a Foster Broody Hen to Raise Chicks

Instead of using a heat lamps to brood just a few chicks, consider using a broody hen to do the job. This system takes less time to manage and uses no fossil fuels!

Incubating Duck Eggs Successfully

I tested a new incubator against my old Styrofoam incubator. Find out which one is the best for incubating duck eggs. The difference was amazing.

Hen Hatches Two Chicks

Chicken eggs usually hatch on the 21st day of incubation, but this hen hatched two chicks on the 23rd day.

What is Heritage Chicken?

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.

What are Community Chickens?

This is a great collection of information and tips on raising poultry, chicken coops and hatching poultry eggs. You can learn about brooders, coops and poultry equipment.

Receiving Day Old Chicks From The Hatchery

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.

Defending the Country Stereotype

If you’re the first of your friends to move to the country, get some chickens and plant an organic garden there will be some inevitable social fallout.

Hens and Chicks

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.