Mike --- You might want to check out our troubleshooting tips for more information, but the short answer is that you will need to take out their old waterer before introducing the new one. Chickens are creatures of habit, and they'll keep drinking from what they're used to if it's available. Please drop me an email if you try the tips in the link and are still having trouble.
How can I get them to start using the bucket chicken waterer rather than the stainless pan I'm using?? I don't want them to go without water and they drink a lot. Should I just remove the stainless pan and hope the will find and use the nice bucket I put together for them. thanks,
Mike from Herminie
Rebecca - I'm so sorry to hear about your neighbor's dog attacking your chickens. We had the same problem with our landlady's dogs killing some of ours. It's incredibly frustrating. I wanted to comment on what you said, though - that you are concerned the dogs might "move on" to attacking other animals or children. Although this dog is obviously predatory, unless it already has issues with children, it is not likely to "transfer" that behavior to kids. It very well may be predatory with cats and other small animals, but then again it could also only direct this behavior towards chickens. I just wanted to clear that up as it's a misconception I hear a lot (I have been a professional dog trainer for over a decade). I understand your concern but behaviorally speaking, predatory behavior isn't likely to jump to children. If the dog has not been well socialized to children there may be other issues, but most dogs know the difference between poultry and humans.
Good luck in resolving this - I hope the neighbor is cooperative.
Keith --- I started to answer you, then realized it needed a full post (with photos). So, stay tuned to the blog --- I'll tell you far more than you want to know next week.
When you are talking about Pasture rotation how many Chickens are involved and what size are the pastures?
Thanks DallasCriftins http://dallascriftins.blogspot.co.uk/
Chris --- I assume you're worried about the hydrogen cyanide that can show up in warm season grasses during certain conditions? We haven't had any trouble with that with our chickens despite having various warm-season grasses in their pastures. I suspect that chickens just don't eat enough grass to get sick, especially if there are forbs like clover or plantain around. I'd be curious to hear your results, though!
Tara --- If you follow the links in the green box, you'll see each step in the construction process.
Toby --- The CD that comes with our DIY kits includes step by step instructions for making a PVC pipe waterer like the one shown in the third photo above. The nipples are designed to hold back the water until the chickens peck at them. I hope that answers your question!
That looks ideal. 5 gallons inside a covered container. What prevents it from pouring down? What sort of container is below with the nipples on it? I have 12 chickens now and will have up to a total of 20 this summer. I want it to be easy to water them. I want it to be very easy to make and work!
Hens due better than incubators at getting humidity right, because their clutch of eggs sits on the ground and the moisture needed for humidifying the eggs comes from the earth. Let your hens set on their eggs on the good old firma terra and you'll see how mother nature improves her hatch rate. ~ old farmer
The area where I want to put my chickens has a lot of cheet grass or foxtails as well as other weeds will this hurt the chickens when the foxtails start drying out?
Got our order yesterday just in time for our chick order which arrived bright and early this morning. They took right to the waterers without needing any introduction. Very happy with the product
so when you going to have instructions for that $20 chicken tractor?
Paul --- Unfortunately, my memory isn't too great, and I wrote this post about a year ago. I seem to recall that I got information from USDA's agricultural data, so it's for very mainstream, industrial farming. I'm pretty sure the weights were for the whole seed. I hope that helps, even though it's vague!
Devil's Spring Ranch --- Excellent feedback and suggestion! I may try adding the wire mesh in our mulch boxes --- no reason to let even a little feeder root damage happen if you can help it.
Wanda --- I'm so sorry to hear that! We keep our chicks just a few feet outside the backdoor for the first month our their lives because, otherwise, we tend to lose them to rats. Then our dog keeps nearly all predators away from the larger chickens. I don't know if you can implement either of those solutions where you live, but I hope something works out for you soon!
Kevin --- That's extremely useful! Thanks for reporting in with your feed experiment results. I wonder what mixture you eventually settled on for your non-soy feed?
Jane, ranch boss and head chicken wrangler, was losing the scratch scratch battle with our flock and started protecting her new plants by laying out chicken wire flat on the ground around the tree - or bush. She cuts a slit in it like you would a weed barrier and lays it over the plant. For a whole row, she rolls out the wire and makes the slits, then covers that with mulch so as not to be unsightly. I think she uses 18" wire, so that would be 9" on each side of the plant. The chickens scratched up the mulch a few times, hit the wire, and gave up. Now they don't bother them at all.
I see that you are trying to get a little localized ground work from the chickens, but I do think your concern over the fragile feeder roots is valid. That scratch scratch is beneficial for a time or two, but then it's just destructive. In VA probably not a big deal, but here in NW New Mexico at 6,400' and 10" annual moisture (not this year) we are lucky to get any little root to grow and want to protect it.
Have a PVC question posted this morning on your contact page. Look forward to doing some business with you guys.
I've lost all my adult chickens in the past 3 months. We've trapped and killed about 8 coons,Easter morning we actually killed one trying to carry our full grown rooster out of the while he was still alive. I nursed him back to good health and he doing great now. I purchased 10 young chickens 2 days ago, locked them in the pen,thought I had predator proofed it By putting wire on the ground all around the pen to deter digging under, yet when I went to feed them this morning all were dead.Most had been eaten on some not. I'm at a dead end on what to do. Whatever done this actually pulled the wire back and went under the fence,with light on also.
I used to have my feed custom mixed for my flock of 100 layers. They were free ranging in an eggmobile. I wanted desperately to avoid using GMO soy (that was the only soy available), so I got my local mill to mix in a lot of sunflower seeds for protein, along with alfalfa meal and fish meal. First time around, I had sunflower seeds as 20% of the ration (the folks at the mill thought I was crazy, of course) and the the birds left tons of uncracked seeds behind in their feeders. Way too much. From my experience, I now believe that somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12% is the sweet spot for BOSS in a chicken ration. Hope this is useful.
My husband designed an auto chicken coop door which opens in the a.m. & closes in the p.m. with a timer. He made his own circuit and motor. We've been using it for about a year now and it's wonderful! We just have to occasionally adjust the timer as the days get longer so that it closes later.
Thank you so much for posting actual numbers--they are hard to find and rarely mentioned.
I was wondering about your crop yield numbers: are those for the weight of the whole corn/oat/soybean harvest, or just the part that the chickens can eat?
I'm using a less common (although high yielding) form of agriculture and so my yield numbers come out a bit different than most people's.
thanks very much,
Steve --- Yep, that's the troublesome part --- tweaking it just right so you don't end up leaving a bird outside. I suspect that's why the inventor hasn't managed to turn it into a product yet.
Mike --- Thanks for your interest. We only sell our nipples as part of our DIY kits. We used to sell them separately, but soon discovered that it was problematic for customers to install them properly without instructions.
Do you sell just the nipples?
I love the idea and it would save me a trip to the coop every night. But, I expect 9 of my chickens would lock the 10th chicken out for the night.
can ya buy just one nipple set up
Thanks for such a fantastic item. Raising ducklings, meat chicks and chickens and this item has been a God-send to help me keep things neater. Thanks from Maine
Anonymous --- We profile that design and a few other types of treadle chicken feeders in this post.
Mark --- I'll be curious to hear how your experiments turn out!
David --- I definitely wouldn't recommend a dog door in a pasture that you're using to keep out predators. We use our dog to keep out predators, so accept that our fences are far from predator-proof. On the other hand, chickens don't seem to learn the doors, so that part isn't a problem.
I just learned about silkworms yesterday while purchasing supplies for homeschool. The school supply store had them on the counter for school teachers to allow their students to watch the moth life-cycle. I bought two dozen for my sons to try making a little silk.
We have a number of Mulberry trees and also a small flock of White Plymouth Rocks. I generally grow Barley and also mix clover with our lawn to generate nutritious grass-clippings. We let the chickens graze for bugs, etc, but of course, finding a sufficient good protein supplement for chicks and layers is always a challenge.
So when it dawned on me that these ancient, domesticated insects might be the perfect solution I checked the internet and was pleased and inspired to see your site and efforts! When you look to silkworms as a protein supplement, and even young Mulberry leaves or other (waste) vegetation as part of a poultry diet, the numbers for production are much higher than your low estimates, I think. But I will be happy to return with my results after I have made more accurate calculations! Thank you for your site, ideas and efforts!
Here is a much better way
Holds 26 pounds of feed, automatic so you don't have to open it and close it.
My fear with doors like that is the chickens would escape or predators would more easily get in.
David --- That sounds like a fascinating system --- I hope you'll drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) once you work it out.
To tap holes for our nipples, use an R drill and 1/8 NPT pipe tap.
Dave V. --- Somehow I deleted your fascinating followup comment --- drat! For those following along at home, Dave had 8 of the eggs hatch, but they popped out a bit before he'd planned, so he hadn't prepped the nest box so the chicks could easily get in and out. Four hopped out and died of cold before he found them. That's a lot like our own experience with broody hens, and makes me think that someone could probably make a top-notch broody-hen box to solve the problem. I'll have to talk to Mark about that....
Linda --- I've you haven't gone there already, I recommend checking out this heated waterer, which is currently our favorite in our own coop. It's like what you're using, but has an extra bucket around the heat tape for added insulation. Of course, that assumes you end up with electricity before this winter.... Good luck!
I want to mount a bunch of nipples, spread out and at different heights (I have a very diverse flock), mounted to CPVC, with a 5 gallon bucket elevated reservoir w/ a float valve.
I'd prefer to just use a CPVC tee for each nipple;
What is the threading on these? (1/2" NPT?)
I came across your website and am chuckling at your innovations! I've gone round and round on the watering method...to keep it clean and plentiful...and thawed in the Montana winters. As far as keeping the water thawed out, I used a common heat tape wrapped around the traditional waterer; plugged it in when necessary. But now my new coop doesn't have electricity...yet. We'll have to work on a way to keep the nipples ice-free in frigid weather; maybe go back to the old waterer in the winter. Thanks for your great ideas!
I love the Aqua Miser we already have and can't wait to get another one!
Rebecca --- I'm so sorry to hear you had trouble! I hope you can get the problem sorted out.
Dave V. --- Fascinating! It sounds like you're doing a lot better job with a broody hen than I am --- Kraienkoeppe might be worth a try here too! Please do check back and let me know how your hatch pans out.
MADZ --- Unfortunately, I haven't had any personal experience with quail. I think that in your shoes, I'd drop by the backyard chickens forum, or just do a google search to answer your questions. Good luck!
Karen --- Most chicken feed ingredients are easy to find in 50 pound bags at your local feed (farm supply) store. If you want to add in Fertrell's Nutribalancer or something else specific like that, though, you might want to look online.
Jon --- I appreciate your thoughtful comment! I agree that Salatin's tractors make a lot of sense if you have large areas of pasture available and are growing Cornish Cross broilers. Our system isn't very suitable for tractors, not just because of our laying hens (and rooster), but also because we raise heirloom breeds for broilers, and those are much more active than Cornish Cross.
Even though my goal is to improve the land, I don't think it's fair not to ensure the animals are as happy as possible in the process. I figure we're not just grass farmers, but also caretakers for chickens, etc. I'm not sure day range is the best option for everybody, but it seems to work best here.
Enjoyed this article and it really had the wheels turning, got me considering switching methods to day ranging. Last year we raised birds ala the Salatin method, with a modified 10' x 11' pen of our own design, but otherwise Salatin's chicken tractor model.
It seems to me in considering this article and these two approaches, that we are talking apples and oranges to a degree. I have not tried the day ranging, but have been doing the mental gymnastics, as I said. I can envision some of the problems of the traditional fixed coop flock that are totally eliminated through the use of the chicken tractor would still be issues in day ranging, if to a lesser degree. For instance, would not the lazy meat birds still trample ground, defecate, and graze unevenly, with the impetus being on the areas closer to the coop? If you are leaving them for longer periods, would this not then become a potentially serious pasture management issue? Would this not then work towards eliminating the benefits of "mob grazing" (moving daily or even twice daily based on the state of the grass) that the Salatin model is about?
I think if you see yourself as a grass farmer, the chicken tractor is still the way to go - providing for even grazing and fertilization of the ground. Chickens should not have issues with mud, wet and snow using this method, as this method is intended only to be used on pasture and during the warm season, the birds being slaughtered long before snow becomes a threat. As for mud, well, they're on grass. If it's getting muddy, you've got them on too low a pasture or have not moved them enough.
I agree that having a coop is more cozy for the chickens, but the chicken tractor moveable-pen method is to my mind to be viewed as temporary housing for very short-lived meat birds. We tried it last season - the grass looked great after several passes and we didn't lose a single bird to predators nor weather, both of which occur here in abundance.
Just my two cents worth, not meant as criticism, just reflection. Sounds to me like the day ranging method is a way to improve upon tradtional methods of keeping chickens without eliminating the more serious issues entirely, with more potential perhaps in managing layers. Please correct me on any wrong assumptions here! Really enjoying this page and will be placing an order for some product.
Do you have suggestions for where to by the various ingredients in the feed recipes?
I am hatching some quail, but have no idea how to care for them! (I know it sounds foolish; I should of read up before getting the eggs, but I was in a hurry.) I can't find any websites that tell everything I need to know. Do you know of a site?
Ok, so I figured out the total protein would be about 20.005%, if my math is right. It soulds about right, but I'll probably add a little for when they are chicks. Caleb
I just candled some eggs that I have a broody hen sitting on and thought I'd share my first broody hen experience. I read Ussery's book and of course always keep abreast of your two blogs, and share your interest in a self sustaining flock that will hatch eggs without much help from me, meaning no incubator. I have a flock of 9 speckled sussex and 1 kraienkoeppe. I got a couple kraienkoeppes in my last chick order because Harvey Ussery recommended them for their very reliable broodiness. They are also very cold hearty and lay very well in the winter, and it gets to -20*F here in northern NY. In January the kraienkoeppe (I just have one left after hawk attacks) went broody. It was too cold here to let her set, so I broke up her broodiness by isolating her with the rooster for 3 days with no nest box. His concentrated attention successfully ended her broody behavior, when we let her out she stopped sitting in the nest all day and night. Then two weeks ago she went broody again. I went into the coop at night and moved her into an area I sectioned off with chicken wire and put her on a nest of golf balls. I waited for a day and found she was dutifully setting. At night I switched the balls for eggs I had been collecting for hatching. I only put 10 eggs under her based on the breeds small body size. Today is day 10 and I candled the eggs this morning. This is the first time I have candled eggs so I'm not 100% positive of the results, but it looks promising. In 9 eggs I saw veins and a nice air pocket and a dark mass. In one egg I had no air pocket and a uniform translucent color. I got rid of that egg and am assuming the others are all good. I wasn't able to see the pulsating of the heart beating like Ussery says you should be able to see at this stage. My eggs are light brown and I'm not sure my LED headlamp was bright enough to see that much detail though. So anyway, thats my broody hen experience so far, I'll give an update after hatch day.
I want to tell you, like everyone else, how awesome you watering system is. Its awesome! I am a first time chicken raiser. I guess I am more impatient than I thought but I was already tired of the mess after 2 weeks with my original 9 chicks (this was all I thought I wanted). Then my dad showed up with 10 more from a guy that just gave him some, and the mess got worse.
Dad has raised hens in the past (20 years ago) and I was there to help him. This is so much easier. Its awesome! I will tell all my homesteading and backyard chicken raising friends about this product.
Just wanted to say thank you for posting this information. I had an extremely strong suspicion but now know w/o a shadow of a doubt that it was a dog, most likely the new neigjbor's dog as it had been out unattended several times since they moved in and was witnessed out of his yard that day. During the day, mauled not eaten. Left a fur sample on the fence which I wish I could bring to a CSI team. I'm writing a very carefully worded letter and have several concerned neighbors willing to sign it in support of neighborhood safety. These people need to know their dog could potentially be a dangerous dog and that if they do not abide by their legal responsibilities in dog ownership by keeping it safely and reliably on their property this could become a major legal problem for them and we won't be standing alone. I don't want to start a neighborhood ear but we all have animals and several have small children. What's to stop their dog from moving on to cats, attacking a leased dog being walked legally, or god forbid he actually attacks a child?
Canoearoo --- Mark seemed to think it was too much hassle for the few people who watched, but maybe if we hear from more folks, he'll change his mind and get it going again.
Linda --- Sounds like you've got happy chickens!
Caleb --- Excellent data point about your experience with making your own feed! It does seem dicey for the little guy, especially if you're not able to give your birds lots of forage to round out their diet.
If my memory serves me, I believe Salatin uses his recipe for the whole life of broilers (starter and grower/finisher). I don't recall seeing the percent protein, but you could probably figure it out if you knew the protein content of the corn, etc.
I built a chicken tractor last season and grew 50 broilers. since my brother pig farms and has a feed grinder/mixer i figured I would save the $ and mix my own. After much research I found no broiler mix I could go off of, so I made my feed of corn, barley, soymeal, the usual. I did take care in figuring the protein(thats all that matters anyway, right?). Long story short, my birds ended up half the size of a friend's who used southern states broiler mix. I have since learned the value of minerals, nutri-balancer and all the extra! I am so glad to find this mix (Salatin fan!)but am wondering what the total protein of this mix is... so I can add the proper protein for them at their chick stage. Or does he use this mix for their whole lives? I will read this book next! Just finish salad bar beef. Thanks!
I cook for my chickens.I have four girls. in the morning they get laying food and cracked corn then I give then lettuce and bread they go gaga for it. in the afternoon they get a combo of rice flax seed sucker seed canned green beans. they don't get anything green in Michigan in the winter unless I give it to them. they never got the memo that they don't lay in the winter. their pen is protected and there is no snow in their pen i live my girls.i live in the city and have never had chickens before
when will your chick webcam be up and running again?
MC --- Thanks for chiming in! Clovers, in general, are always appreciated by chickens. Very interesting to hear which greens your birds preferred! I'll have to try ours on some of our Red Russian, and will have to find a seed source for Perpetual Spinach Chard.
MC --- I've been concluding (based on lots of anecdotal reports from readers), that you can't expect good homestead results even from heirloom breeds any more if you get them from hatcheries. So, I wonder where your Barred Rocks came from? There are still some sources out there, apparently, who are keeping good foraging genetics in play.
ldinardo --- If both feet are curled, it's probably a riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency.
If both feet are curled what is the vitamin you need to give the chick?
Our pullets/hens are only 6 months old. We have one barred plymouth rock and she is already a very reliable layer, even in the cold weather we're still experiencing. She is also already exhibiting tendencies toward broodiness. We also have 2 Buffingtons who are like clockwork as far as laying. Our speckled sussex does not seem as reliable laying, nor does our Partridge Rock. All of our hens love to forage! No lazy chickens here! Really helps keep down feed costs!
Our chickens favorite cover crop has definitely been the various clovers - berseem clover, dutch white, New Zealand, etc. They were not fond of the oats or the winter peas. I noticed that they did not touch the various Asian Greens or chard I was growing in the garden but helped themselves to White Russian and Red Russian kale and their favorite was the Perpetual Spinach Chard which is a very hardy chard that looks and tastes more like a spinach.
Vicki --- I think you're totally right that this brooder is more natural for the chicks. I suspect that's why they peep so much less than they used to when we raised them with a light!
jonkirby --- We have a big garden, so all the manure goes straight there. And all kitchen scraps go to the chickens. There really is no spare on either part --- we bring in manure off-farm to have enough....
Kevin --- I get a feel for this slowly over time. Whenever I go into the coop and catch a hen in the act of laying an egg, I look and see what the egg looks like and who the hen is. It helps if you've got several different breeds --- our Marans lay the darkest eggs, followed by the Australorps, then the Rhode Island Red eggs are palest.
If you really, really want to know, you can make a trap nest (described in Harvey Ussery's The Small-Scale Poultry Flock). You'll have to be around to let the hen out of the nest throughout the day, but will definitely see who lays what.
I hope that helps!
Amy --- I'm sorry you're frustrated! We've had our heat tape waterers going for two winters now, and the only problem we had was when the power went out for several days, the water froze solid and the heat tape wasn't enough to thaw it out. (The easy solution was to dump the ice, put in fresh water, and then keep going with the heat tape waterer.)
I know many of our other customers have had good luck with the heat tape waterers over the last couple of winters too, but I can't definitively say there would be no hazard from breaking the manufacturer's rules. I suspect the worst that would happen, though, would be that the heat tape might melt through the bucket if it gets too hot and the water could drain out. To hedge your bets, you might consider plugging it into a GFCI so a breaker will flip if there's any problem. Good luck!
Heather --- That's definitely an option. I'm kinda feeling that any pair of hens who grew up by themselves might be willing to stay in, though. I've raised lots of heirloom broilers with these fences and they usually don't fly out because they don't particularly want to get out. It's all about using fences as suggestions rather than rules, in my opinion....
I would try a non flying breed like Silkies. I use them around my rabbit cages, which are under my walnut tree. They do not tear up the ground like the fullsized birds do-but eat the bugs.
Hi! I built this waterer this weekend & it didn't seem to be heating the water which remained cold (it was inside the house). I had never used heat cable so called the manufacturer (Frost King model HC06, 6' cable) to see if it came on at a certain temp so I didn't have to take it all apart. We insulated ours between the buckets & had to cut the outside bucket up the side so it would go around the inside bucket with the cable & thin layer of insulation. We used heat tape to secure it all together.
The manufacturer confirmed it came on at 38 & turned off at 45. He did tell me, however, that they cannot support the indication of how the cable is being used because it can overheat. I know he has a liability given it's "off label" use but I'm wondering if you've heard of anyone having any cases of overheating that would indicate not to use this? I spent a LOT of time building this with my fiance & now that it's done, I'm a bit frustrated with his statement. Thanks!
This is our first year trying to incubate our eggs from our laying flock. I read in your Permaculture Chicken Incubation book that you can match the egg with the hen it came from by shape and size. But how do you get familiar with those characteristics for each hen's egg? We have 9 hens, and there is variations to the shapes and sizes of the eggs, but I wouldn't know which hen to match to which egg.
I've acuiqred pakistan and townsend mulberries. This year i got some grafts of Oscar whicn i've grafted on mulberries seedlings. Next year i plan to graft Geraldi dwarf, IE and paradis if i can find grafts. I would like to use gerarldi as intergraft to dwarf other mulberries cultivars. But it is very difficult to find in europe.
I would like to say don't give up on the BSF They eat protein waste and all kinds of manures. If you have livestock you certainly can't tell me you don't have enough of that! Easy to keep just add a net over a structure and you can keep growing a big supply. you at the videos of BSf on my website I think it's video 21 and 22 on the playlist shows how to build the housing structure for a godzillian fly/larvae. this is my first choice for an aquaponics system. Jon
When I had a mother hen with chicks-I noticed that she would take them back into the nest box at night--so chicks under a heat lamp are awake anytime of day or night-so they do not have a regular sleep cycle-this brooder sounds great-creating a more "natural" state-plan on buying the larger one--HHH Ranch
Kevin --- We ordered ours from Burnt Ridge Nursery, mostly because they had the mulberry varieties we wanted. I've had mixed success with Burnt Ridge's plants in the past, but I think that's mostly due to me pushing the envelope by trying to plant almonds in zone 6 with a lot of Japanese beetles around and not to the quality of their product.
Marge --- Glad we could help!
Cheryl --- About 98% of chickens have no problem changing over to our waterers, so chances are you won't have trouble. Several of our customers have also had good results with ducks, although you will want to have some kind of open water available for the latter to clean their eyes.
Frank --- Our waterers need to be mounted vertically, but several of our customers have used them with birds of different heights by making multi-layered PVC pipe waterers out of our DIY kits. With that type of waterer, you can even put the reservoir outside your coop or tractor, which gives you extra elbow-room.
do these have to be mounted a vertical plane or can they be mounted horizontally? I want to mount them at different heights for the different size birds.
We have 15 chickens right now,and are ordering about 17 goldenlaced wyandottes, our grandson showed chickens at the 4H Fair last year, he isn't the only one that is hooked on chickens. I want to start the chicks on the new waterers. I like the idea of them being up off the ground. No water mess on the ground. I am a little worried about how to start them off on the new watering system. I want to start the older chickens on the new system too. Just wondering do ducks do well on this kind of watering system, or should we just stick to the watering pan? Thanks for you help, Cheryl
Thank you so much for describing procedure and providing pictures. My husband incubated eggs from our Aricana rooster and our Aricana hen and Rhode Island Red. One of the Rhodie babies had a problem similar to the one you pictured so George splinted chick today and we are praying this helps. This little chick has the sweetest personality at three days old and we would to make her life a pleasant one. We enjoyed reading the information on your website and we are interested in the nipples you advertise so you will be hearing from us.
Do you have a recommendation on a good online source to buy Siberian Pea Shrub?
Darren --- Mark's the one who thought of it last year, but it makes lots of sense, especially if you start adding silkworms to the mix. I'll be curious to hear if your ducks and/or chickens like the leaves --- they're definitely supposed to be high in protein.
Emily --- The biggest problem with a floor with deep bedding is rot -- you need to keep the bedding damp. Plus, you want the soil microorganisms to come up and start decomposing. So even though it's possible to do deep bedding on a floor, it's not the best idea.
Could you have a floor and use deep bedding or would that be too heavy?
It took them all of 5 mins for figure it out!! Amazing and now they won't leave it alone!
I've got a couple of very small mulberry trees growing, and am keen to propagate them around the chicken areas. The idea of coppicing hadn't occurred to me, but it would be good to keep the trees to a nettable size. I'm sure the chickens and ducks would eat the leaves as well.
Neftali Garcia --- We're still slowly but surely working up a variety. It's tougher in our case because we're really trying to breed a dual-purpose bird, and eggs are slightly more important to us than bulky carcasses. To that end, we're adding in some egg-laying strains to the flock this year. Lots more experimentation to go!
Thanks for the source for rooting Illinois Everbearing! We're planning on trying softwood cuttings this year too, and I wonder if part of the author's problem with getting them to root was taking the cuttings at the end of July. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation recommends June for mulberry softwood cuttings and says that, in general, its best to take softwood cuttings at the beginning of the possible period rather than at the end.
I'll be interested to hear how your grafting goes! What are you planning to graft onto?
We're adding a couple more mulberry varieties this year, and I've got my eye on a very prolific bearer (no idea what variety) to graft onto something once I find some free rootstocks.
Bess --- We have three small mulberry trees, and I just transplanted six more little ones from my mom's yard this weekend. Hers are like yours --- fruitless ones (in her case, probably paper mulberries). Fascinating to hear about your neighborhood kids coming asking for leaves!
My goal is to raise them on the porch, but I suspect Mark will also do a lot of experimentation to come up with the best living environment. I had a feeling there would be a lot of poop involved from the amount of leaves I read they eat.
Emily --- Fascinating to hear about the different types of Light Sussex! I suspect I had a similar problem with Barred Rocks --- there are so many strains now being bred only for looks that it's tough to find a real homestead bird. At the moment, my solution is to create my own hybrid that matches our land, but I'd be curious if you know of sources for hatching eggs or chicks that have been bred to work.
Jessica --- Thanks so much for your kind words! I'm glad the ebook helped you out, and good luck with your hatches.
Lydia --- Fascinating to hear about your childhood silkworm projects! I'm looking forward to trying it out --- sounds like I should be able to do it if kids can.
What an interesting post! I grew up in Taiwan and every year in elementary school we would have an optional silk worm science project. The canteen at the school would sell students some silk worms and mulberry leaves in a clear plastic bag with holes in it, then I would bring it home and my grandmother would help me put them all in a paper box. We had a mulberry tree right in our yard. I used to pet them as worms, but when they got to the moth stage you can hear them fluttering around in the box and I would get scared. I didn't know they're a common food for chickens in Asia until I read your informative post. They were extremely easy to raise.
Hi - just wanted to let you know we just read your ebook and it is really informative. I have had chickens all my life, trial and error have kept us with a flock. The kids and I want to hatch (culled our flock last fall ) our own this year instead of mail order and your book came at a great time to prepare. Just wanted to let you know its a big help to us! So thank you for all the hard work in research...yes, I am one of those who fear spread sheets too - so glad of the alternative math method! Jessica
I'm sorry to see that your trial of Light Sussex was done with Australian Light Sussex, not the production Light Sussex that we have in Canada. In the 50's LS were the best meat bird in Canada and were used to glean grain fields. Like all heritage breeds, they have declined badly since then. Don't believe what you read about LS on American sites -- someone has taken data from other eras and other countries and ascribed it all to the LS he was selling... it's just not true of the Australian LS!
But what is true, at least of my birds, is that my pasture-reared boys get up to 5 lbs (live weight) by 16 weeks old, dressing out as nice fryers. They do of course get much bigger in the following month, but also tough. As for laying, my birds are excellent winter layers -- they are laying over 90% now (mid-February) but they will taper off in May and take long breaks till fall. Average egg weight is 54 grams. I don't have exact numbers, but I estimate 180 to 200 eggs per hen in the first year of lay.
The Australian LS are a slow growing, bigger, fluffier bird -- not a production bird at all. It's very annoying that they were so hyped in the U.S. by Greenfire -- it's hard to buy LS in the States now that haven't been crossed with Australians.
You have a mulberry tree, I presume? We had three fruitless mulberries in our yard growing up in California -- wonderful trees for climbing if you don't prune them back as dramatically as is fashionable for urban and suburban mulberry trees -- and every year we'd get a number of children knocking on our door, asking if they could harvest leaves to feed the silkworms they were raising for a class project. I haven't seen any mulberry trees since moving to Michigan, though, so I'm guessing they're a more southern tree. They're like weeds in SoCal; they're everywhere. (I also used to make shoes and baskets from the leaves and just about everything from teepees to bows and arrows from the branches; they're a pretty awesome tree to have for kids all around.)
Having raised silkworms a couple times in a shoebox, I will say one thing: they stink. Either be prepared for the smell (certainly worse than a worm composting bin) or use something better than a shoebox. Given that you're looking to raise them on a larger scale than for a class project, I'm guessing that shoeboxes aren't going to cut it for you, but do keep ventilation in mind when you design their home.
Rooting IE seems harder than for most mulberries : http://www.savingourseeds.org/pdf/mulberry_propagation.pdf
Hope the willow water will help, i'll read results with great interest, as i plan to graft one next spring.
To extend the season, i've read that black mulberries ripen later than the others,
Here (France) mulberries (usually non fruiting cultivar) are pollarded to nice forms. I plan to coppice some to easily harvest berries (i love them), and to acquire some dwarf cultivars