I've found that one of the best ways to increase humidity during the last three days & especially during hatch is to add wet egg shells. I put the wet shells from 2 or 3 un-incubated eggs in the incubator and it works like a charm!
Anyone who believes it is cruel to clip a chickens wing, must definitely be a city farmer, or a demo rate. It is no different than cutting our fingernails, or trimming a horse feet.
About 5 days ago, I went in the coop and found 2 dead chickens. 1 of them was missing its head. I found the head under the chicken that was sitting on the egg inside the nesting box. Today, one more dead chicken, missing its head, and the head was in the nesting box. Can chickens do that to each other? Or can it be a weasel? Why the head in the nesting box?
Just came home from about 4 hours out to find some feathers in yard. The coup is completely locked and undisturbed but the chickens are gone and judging by feathers eaten. Only possible explanation I have is humans came into my yard. Any possible way it's something else? thanks
I candled my eggs 48 hours ago at day 15 and removed 1 failed egg. When I did this I turned the heater off. I then went away for 48 hours and have just returned to discover what I had done. My cry of anguish brought my wife at the run. We are rather despondent that the remaining 23 eggs wil probably not hatch. Today is day 18 and they are due to stop being rotated tonight. I will perist witht he 21 days and post a follow up comment as to how many come through.
Hi everyone, this is our first VT winter with chickens and given how much we invested in the project I wanted to make sure they had flowing water as much as possible; I also wanted to make it easy to maintain and not have to go out with buckets every day. So I bough both kits and made one with the Green Bucket and One with 5 gal. buckets and the pipe heater. The Green bucket is inside the coop and the 5 gal. is outside in their run. We had a really cold snap last week and temps outside got down to 0-5 degrees F, and throw in the wind and they were saying it was -20F. At around 15 degrees the Green bucket's nipples started to freeze and the 5 gal. froze before that. At 10 degrees both had frozen nipples and water could not come out, but the water inside was still flowing. After the cold snap it's been consistently between 18-25 degrees outside, 10 degrees warmer inside the coop, and both buckets have been working great! I take this as a win and hopefully it will only get really cold a handful of times this winter. Thanks for all the help! Tony from Burlington VT
I have a horizontal mounted nipple waterer. I'm in Canada so the winter nights can get quite below freezing. I use an inexpensive aquarium heater. I place the heater horizontally at the bottom of the waterer so it stays submerged. It is a mere 50 watt heater. It keeps the water a reasonable temperature and has never frozen. I purchased mine at Walmart and is like this one:
Amanda --- Both point down and on their side seem to work well for incubation. The only bad way to do it is point up because then the chick ends up with their head in the narrow end and has a hard time breaking free. Good luck!
Hello, I am new at thechicken world in general. I purchased a Brindea incubator and have tried my first incubation with a low hatch rate. I am now reading up on the humidity levels and trying to get pointers on a better hatch rate for next time. With the manual it does suggest to put the eggs point down in the incubator. I know you are suppose to store them this way but didn't know that about incubation. Does that effect the hatch? Do I need to lay point down instead of on their side? Thanks
Addie --- The first few hatches are often quite traumatic, so I know where you're coming from! That said, I don't assume anything until two days after the first chick has hatched. Maybe by now you have better news?
My chick was very aggressive about breaking free. Hatched on time. It had to open its mouth to breath, like its nose was clogged. It seemed distressed with its breathing, breathing hard and very quick short breathes. Can I do cpr? 2nd chick broke she'll with a small peep and stopped. I pulled the shell, now I've read you should, and it's still not moving. It never moved aver peeping and breaking open a small hole. The hatched chicken was strong. I moved it to a dry towel because it couldn't even stand up and the neck looked flimsy and broken. It was barely moving at this time. None of my other eggs are moving, chirping, nothing. My 1st chick had no problem and came out hug and strong. Should I assume the others are dead or duds? Addie
Debbra --- It can be so frustrating when a chicken starts laying in the wrong place...especially since the rest of the flock can sometimes join in the "fun". In my experience, hens sometimes lay in a new place when they want to go broody or when they're being picked on or when they're new to laying and haven't gotten the hang of the nest box yet. With an older hen, I'd guess it's one of the first two options. Perhaps separating her for a while would get her back on track? Nest eggs never hurt, of course --- we use golf balls.
We have four chickens, and the oldest one has started laying eggs.but today we found her egg in the back of our house.Why is she laying eggs in a different spot? She normally lays them in her nest inside the coop.Is she trying to avoid the other chickens, or maybe she's tired of us taking her eggs? I've been told to put hold balls in her nest to trick her.any advice?
I use heated dog bowls plugged into a thermostat controlled plug in. Works great! The water gets a little dirty, but I can easily throw it out and refill the bowls. I only have 5 chickens now.
Pamela --- Based on her age and the time of year, I suspect she's probably molting. If so, that's good news because it means she'll be back in the next box once the new feathers grow in.
Hi, I have a Red Comet that is a year and half old. She started laying, laid eggs all winter but has stopped laying this summer. I have two others, an Amberlink and a Partridge Rock who lay faithfully each day. I am at a loss with my Comet. This are backyard chickens who are out free several times in during early morning and late evening. We have also checked the yard thinking she might be laying there but have found nothing. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
So far the Feeder is winning the IQ test. Five of my seven hens would rather starve to death than step up on the treadle. However, two of my seven have had the lightbulb moment and can open the Feeder at will. Their flockmates hang around waiting for one of the two geniuses to step up and open the feast for them. I am determined to get the other five on board. Especially because the two lowest-pecking order girls will indeed perish if they don't figure it out. The others rarely let them get a nibble or two before the pecks rout them from the Feeder. I did indeed follow the directions that came with the Grandpa Feeder. One full week leaving the treadle locked in place keeping the lid wide open. Followed by one full week leaving the treadle only half depressed with the lid half open, and now it's been two weeks with the lid closed. I'm now thinking of a makeshift ramp that will reach the treadle. Maybe that will trigger some inspiration. We shall see. We live in hope...
By your statement the hen would have to know the sex of the chick before she made the egg around it is silly. She doesn't intentionally form the egg. No more than a woman intentionally grows a placenta around the cold growing in her womb.
I have power shortage day 3 for 24 hours can my eggs be affected are now day 5
I thought we were supposed to eliminate soy because of its hormone changing properties.
I think this system would come in handy especially with those with space to also do the cows or other animals may the pigs.
Unfortunately, our chickens weren't fans of the raw roots. I've since seen that Harvey Ussery uses a solar oven to cook roots for his chickens...but that starts feeling like a lot of work. I'll be curious to hear if you have better results than we did!
Did your chickens eat the raw sweet potato you put up for them? Any more updates on feeding root veggies? I've got a few mangels in my garden I'm going to go give to my birds today.
Billy --- I'm afraid the pipe leading out of the heater is almost certian to freeze if you go much below freezing in a setup like that. You can read about our current favorite heated chicken waterer here.
I wonder if I could use an operational water heater to keep the water warm enough not to freeze in the winter???
Since you are waiting past the 7 day new growth restriction the only other thing you have to worry about is if it gets stressed and wilted. Other than that it seems to he all good.
This morning i went outside to check on my 7 month old chicks. I was horrified to see what I found. 9 of the Chicks were piled up, all of their heads missing. The other three were outside of the fence. There was a small oval shaped hole (About 1 foot wide and inches deep) under the fence. I also have an electrical wire going around the fence ( about 6 inches off the ground). Every singe chicken was missing a head. If anybody knows what could of done this it would be a big help. I'm pretty sure that it was a weasel but I didn't hear anything last night.
I agree with some of the other communications, it is cruel to clip the chickens wings. If you need to, only clip a few of feathers past the end 4, this way they have a lower flight and the chickens Can control there landing.
For any chicken raiser, one thing I'd highly recommend as a food crop for chickens is the tomato. Although they are low in calorie and provide little bulk as a staple, they are incredibly nutritious. Tomatoes contain good amounts of potassium but also many other vitamins and minerals. The high vitamin C content helps build bird's immune systems, The carotene promotes healthy respiratory system and eye function and Believe it or not, these super fruits are scientifically and medically proven to discourage the development of cirtan ovarian cancers/infections and diseases (which cirtan chicken breeds are more susceptible to). On top of all these qualities, tomatoes are easy to grow and can produce hundreds of tomatoes a year. . . per plant. . . Chickens also love them like crazy. So, if anyone wants to add some extra health supplements to their flock, I highly recommend tomato plants. = )
Thanks for your interest. Our nipples are designed to work under gravity feed conditions, so they won't work properly if simply hooked into a pipe under city water pressure. There are workarounds, though. As you mentioned, you can add a pressure reducer to the line (29 psi or less) or can install a toilet float into a container as is shown here. I hope that helps!
Just bought an incubator from someone it's a 96 egg one. I have had it running for 2 days to make sure all the settings are correct before putting the eggs in. My problem is that I can't get my humidity to come down. It's running at about 85 to 90% and my temp goes from 36.5°c to 37.5°c. What can I do to get my humidity to come down? Is it ok for the temp to fluxuate that much? My other incubator is not having this problem. Thanks
Can you hookup directly to a water line or do you have to have a pressure regulator?
I thought of a way this morning. Our incubator is in my daughters bathroom. So I shut the door and cranked on the shower and sink hot and high. It built up steam then I checked the eggs. We bought 7 eggs and had 6 of our own. all ours hatched, but only one of the shipped ones. they have pipped I am trying to help one. He has been trying for over 24 hours. I did the breaking the shell all the way around,but leaving the membrane. now I have to leave for a while. I hope he makes it.
I should have my first egg start hatching tomorrow and hopefully be completed by Friday. Then I have 7 more eggs, that will hatch throughout the week. I too am having a hard time with humidity. I just opened one of the vents of my incubator yesterday and I'm having a hard time getting the humidity level higher than 50%. I did add a damp cloth this morning, but when I went home at lunch, humidity was still too low. I am going to add more water when I get home and really soak that cloth in hopes at keeping the humidity a little higher. My problem is, I have the other eggs that were placed later than the first, and all 8 should be hatching throughout the week. I'm hoping my humidity levels aren't a problem for the remaining chicks. UGH! The stress is unbearable. hahaa
It sounds like you have quite an adventure planned, and I'll be curious to hear how it turns out for you! Here, I've opted to stop pollarding our mulberry. Despite what the books say, I was getting a lot more fruits on older branches. So, in the interest of peak production, I've let the tree go to grow at its own pace.
That's how we start our chicks too (although they tend to outgrow the storage container after about a week). I just hang the Avian Aqua Miser Original off the side, but depending on the orientation you may need to bend the handle differently to make it work. Luckily, our wire handles are rebendable (although you don't want to change them too many times or they'll eventually break).
In terms of height, our waterer is 9.5 from top to tip. You'll want to allow a couple of inches underneath for the chicks to get in there. The total length including the handle is 12 inches.
I have reviewed all of the comments and information on what killed my chickens and I am still baffled. My husband and I left for a few hours today to get some new baby chicks. I have never let current chickens free range unless I am home. Today I let them stay out while we were gone. Upon our return I noticed right away a pile of chicken feathers and knew it was my blue polish hen's feathers. Not far from it there was another pile of feathers. I checked our coop of which I had left the door open just in case someone wanted back in while we were gone. Out of 19 chickens, there were 5 in the coop. We have a wooded area behind the house and a wooded area on the side of it. There is also woods across the road.We have neighbors next to us that also own chickens. The woods is in between. We have neighbors a short distance from us that have recently acquired some type of bird dogs I believe. We have chased the dogs from our yard on previous occasions. My husband and I went in search of our chickens. I found a total of 8 scattered areas of feathers but no birds and no parts just feathers. I was able to identify all of my precious babies from the feathers. Four of the groups of feathers were in different sections of the front and back yard . We have a large yard. I found 3 sets of feathers in the woods on one side of the house and 1 set of feathers and a dead carcass in the woods on the opposite side of the house. 3 of my birds fled to the neighbors through the woods. One of them had open wounds on its back. My silver laced polish hen was found across the road huddled down in the woods. One of my neighbors saw a cat with one of the chickens but said the chicken got away. I think it may be the body I found that the cat caught or maybe it's the one with the open wounds. At first thought we believed it was the dogs that we have chased away previously. After reading what may have killed my chickens I am perplexed. Out of 9 chickens there are no bodies or parts for 8 of them, only lots of feathers. One body found and 5 fled the scene trying to find safety. Was it a fox or coyote? Would the dogs have killed them and taken the bodies home? Another neighbors dog found where I put down the carcass and took it home with him. I had to go get it. The piles of feathers were in different areas of the yard and the woods. Could it be more than one fox. We were gone during the time of 12 noon and 4 pm. Was it dogs, fox, coyotes, cats . I'll never leave my chickens out again when I am gone. I am so broken hearted.
hey there. i would love to hear any updates on this.
i currently have 25 red mulberry trees that i intend to plant in our chicken/duck yard. i am trying to determine the best approach. i am considering 3-5 foot spacing between trees and 5-6 feet between rows. i am also considering pollarding as opposed to coppicing so that new growth is not damaged by the birds. i intend to keep the area fenced off this year until the trees are established and inter-planting siberian pea shrub (i hear chickens love them as well) to help keep soil erosion down (lots of birds scratching in loose soil) and provide extra nitrogen (though the chickens will supply plenty) to keep up with regularly pollarding of the mullberries. i also intend to annually (likely in winter and then let the birds into the area late spring after the first chop and drop of the mulberries) lay down a think layer of wood chips, which will grow mycelium and house earthworms. i figure this will add much extra benefit for our poultry if managed properly. i intend to do the chop and drop pollarding as biomass reaches a good quantity, and dropping it directly between the rows. while i do not think the birds will eat the chop and drop directly, i think the active scratching they will be doing to find earthworms and mycelium in the wood chips will shred the leaves and they will indirectly be consuming it as they eat. at least this seem like decent logic - i cannot be sure, but that protein has to go somewhere right? where if not in the birds i wonder? i also think the chop and drop can be used to cover areas where they have exposed the soil from scratching, and keep the earthworm habitat good. as it decomposes and keeps in moisture it will also attract other critters for the birds to dine on. of course, i am also hoping to get some fruit, either for me or the birds, or both.
at any rate, this is the condensed version of a method i hope to get figured out in the next couple of weeks. i would love to hear anything you have learned that you think could be of use to me.
Hi, I am getting baby chics for first time and I am using a storage container to hold them the first month-would you just hang this off the container? How long is it as I want to be sure it fits the container. Thanks, Lisa
Colleen --- That's an excellent question. Our Avian Aqua Miser Originals have a transparent container, so if you use them outside you might see algae buildup inside. Inside our coops, we don't have that problem since there's not enough light, and the ones we use in tractors are traded out so frequently we don't see an issue there either. But if you do notice algae, you can just clean the waterer out with a soft-bristled brush and easily wash the algae away.
Our EZ Misers have a non-transparent reservoir, so they're far less likely to breed algae. We've used them out in the open in pastures and have never had a problem with algae buildup.
We currently use a tradional type of watering system for our chickens and we have an issue with algae forming inside to container. Have you had any reports of algae forming on this device if so, how easy is it to clean?
You can get a motion detector that will make a sound in your house to let you know when a predator is on your property. Or keep a small dog inside which will awaken you. Then it's just a matter of a shotgun loaded with 00 buck and a flashlight attachment on it.
I have just come in to find my children have knocked the plug out of the wall, plugged it back in and the temp was at 26.5 C and humidity up at 95%! I am estimating that it was off for about 5 hours. I am on day 23 with a mix of 4 types of duck breeds and chickens. The chickens have all hatched and are happy and healthy, in a heated box next to the incubator, hence the added child traffic to the area. lol.... I guess I will have to wait 4 to 5 days to see if it had an effect on the ducks. I will advise once they hatch.
The food conversion rate is a small part of a big picture. You must look at the sustanability of the food being pesented. Is GMO soy as sustainable as mosquitoes? I think not. GMO has been shown to decreas the biodiversity and firtility of the area they are in. Do crops take gass to plant, harvets, prosses, ship? Yes. Do bugs?....Farm raised chicken that take up a higher conversion fate are still more sustainable, wouldnt you say?
PS i just sent a copy but this one has correct email
I walk outside today and my chicken was dead she was still in her pen the other chicken that was with her untouched. The chicken was only messd with inside like her breast and feathers everywhere. Can somebody please emsil and tell me what they think it is. I stay on a open filed if that helps.
Very Insightful indeed. Thanks for this.
Ananda --- We eventually changed over from the washboard design when we were given a drill-head plucker to try out. The Power Plucker isn't 100%, but definitely cuts our plucking time in half.
Ok to start with over this summer , we had some bannit chickens, we have a chicken pin which sits about 3 1\2 feet off the ground with chicken wire covering the bottom and all four sides,including the front with a swing out door with a piece of wood as a turn latch, the top is plywood, and we have a little make shift latter we put out for them to climb back in and put the latter on top when they are all in and we latch it . During the day we let the chickens out and they are free to roam where ever they like and over a few months we had a few just go missing during the day without a trace. Then as I went to feed them and let them out before leaving for work as usually ,but this morning come out to find the chicken wire pulled up on the front on the right side of the door, in the lower right corner. It was pulled up maybe 3-4 inches creating a triangle hole, not too terribly big and found 6 dead chickens out of 8. Know our six toed silky chicken was fine cause he wouldn't roost in the pin with the others he would sleep on the car. So after in looking around the yard we found the missing chicken in the woods behind our house and chicken pin about 25 feet away he was killed and his body was eaten out . After that we moved the chicken pin by out window so we could maybe hear if something was attacking and see it. We started catching six toes and putting him up and out neighbor gave us on of his hens cause he started acting really depressed which that helped perk him back up.we started setting a trap by the chicken pin. We'll we ended up catching a pretty damn big male raccoon he was standing on top of the trap leaning over grabbing onto the bottom of the chicken pin trying to grab six toes foot and six toes just kept moving back and fourth. We got him, but I'm not totally convinced that it was the racoon that killed the others cause he was at least 4 to 5 times the size of that hole , any sugestions? Then after that we had some bad storms and I felt sorry for hen and six toes so on two sides I draped the green fabric and on the right side slot in front by the door and on the other big side not by door a put a clear plastic ,now the bottom ,the door and the left side by the door left open and we do have a mat in there coving 1\4 of the floor the idea was just to keep the rain off and maybe the wind and maybe they would stay warmer. So far they are both doing fine even though I know there has been some attack during the day,about to get to that. We also had guineas as well and over the past couple years we had gone from 8 to 1, from don't really know what happen to them except a couple got hit by cars on the highway.so we decided to get some more we got 12 raised them inside for about 3 months or so the put them outside in the chicken pin for about a month until they started dying , and couldn't figure it out with no body harm except they started looking sick, we had 3 die, so we then let them out and they started following big guinea around, they were fine for about a month we have a couple fikis tress by our house that is where they would roost at night. I belive the first guinea went mising over night , we found only a pile of feathers in the field next to our house, then it seemed like it was every couple days or so we would have a guinea go missing at night then one during the day then night and so on. We find them in the wood line sometimes nothing but a pile of feathers sometimes nothing but the head and body cage no feathers, and on some had its crawl cleaned beside it's body you would see a pile of seeds,grass,etc. That the guinea had eat. Now we are down to big guinea and 1 of the 12 little guineas left. So we know the night one is an owl because ,on night I went out to my car to grab something and the owl hooed at me about four times plus a couple days ago we seen the owl heard big guinea screeching and looked out the window big guinea was at out back door Holla ring on the back Porch and the owl was sitting on top of the car port in between the porch and the guinea roosting tree looking at the tree then he turned his head around and looked at me so we went to the back door I quietly unlocked it and then peaked trough the glass panel and the owl was gone so I open the door and big guinea looked back and fourth a few times between where the owl was and inside the house and he ran in and I shut the door he freaked out a little the went and sat down by our plant siting by the other glass door pushing the curtain out of his way to look out then we went out looking all over the yard for the owl didn't see it so I got a ladder but it by the tree and grabbed little guinea out of the tree, and right now we are keeping them in an empty back bedroom, so pretty sure the night time one was the owl and we think the day time one is a hawk.any ideas?
Can't seem to find any more info. Do you have an update on the washboard design? Any more pictures to share? Very interested in this, looks like it might work really well! Thanks in advance.
Billie --- I'm afraid your dog is probably guilty. Dogs can be trained to leave chickens alone. But the untrained dog generally kills first and asks questions later. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings!
I have a full blooded St. Bernard. He turned one in Dec. Today we let him out as usual and when we went to let him in we saw him trotting up the road with something red in his mouth. When we hollered his name he emmidiately dropped it and came home. Our room-mate went to investigate what Caige had and found it was a chicken still alive but the chicken lioked like he a been skined all the way to organs and meat from right behind his neck all the way to his/her tail. Nothing else on the chicken was injured. I have a hard time believing that my dog was the guilty party. Ive read through quite a few of these blogs trying to figure it out anybody please help me so i can handle the situation appropriately. Tomorrow i go talk to the possible owner. I want more answers before i do. Thanks.
This is my method too. It's so hard to get them to sit still and all the other methods were too many steps. Would love to add a photo!
Actually, when one of our hens go broody, we take her and her eggs, place them in a nest box (with a bottom) and usually place them up off of the ground a foot or so. Chickens don't like to sleep on the ground because of predation. Doing this, we believe, eliminates some of that stress and the chicks can easily hop down to the ground without injury, provided the floor is covered with soft bedding.*
The point is, that humidity from the soil is not a factor in this approach. A hen will get off of her nest at different points during the day to eat, drink and even dust bathe. It is during those times that the moisture from the air can gather back inside the egg.
Add to that the oils of the hen's feathers, as mentioned by the author, and the fact that chickens cool down by soaking their feet in water when they're too hot and you've got the perfect humidity control...it seems. Our hens usually have a 100% hatch rate whereas the best hatch rate we've achieved is (I believe) a 72% in the still air incubator.
If you try this method, move the mother and eggs (when she has been on the nest for at around 3 days so as to be certain that she will not abandon the clutch) into a brooding pen. The pen only needs to be big enough for her to get out and stretch, eat, drink and bathe since she will spend very little time actually off of the nest. Also, make sure that during incubation only that she can get her feet in the water if needed (of course cleaning the water pan regularly.)
At about 3 days before hatch day(Day 18 of 21), remove the water pan and add a chick water pan so the chicks don't fall in and drown. Once mommy leaves the nest with her new babies, she will not return to it, therefore, it is time to move her and her new family to a larger enclosure that will facilitate the fast growing chicks and their obsessive need to explore. We generally free range therefore, we usually just leave the brooding pen's outside door open at this point, closing it only at night when mom and chicks have returned to sleep.
Maureen --- That's a good question! There seems to be enough variability in our flocks' genetics that we're usually able to select a milder rooster out of the bunch.
wondering if this roosters descendants are just as aggressive? I know this is years old, but I just found this blog and have lots of reading. Thank you for posting these
Karen --- This is a common problem for us if we incubate eggs in the summer. Hatch humidity is good, but it's hard to keep the humidity low enough during the rest of the cycle. The best I've come up with is trying to put the incubator in the coolest part of the house and setting up a dehumidifier, but it can still be dicey! In general, I try not to incubate when house humidity is so high it's going to be a problem.
So it looks like i have different issues my humidity is to high its around 55-60% "i took most of the water out"there on day 5 and i ordered some more eggs from ebay that are going to come in about 5 days... so that means i will have eggs 10 day apart Im new at all this and now reading i see that the last few days my humidity needs to go up so any idea what i can do with the eggs that the humidity is not suppose to go up yet??? I have a good incubator it has a fan and it rotates etc.. Thanks
Rebecca --- Thanks so much for taking the time to share such a good, in-depth description of duck care!
Daniel --- I've always assumed this was a simple matter of waking up when the light comes on (the same way we wake up when light streams in our bedroom window even though our eyes are closed) and then going to bed when it gets dark. A chicken doesn't need to "absorb" light for it to affect her egg laying. A change in her circadian rhythms should be enough.
I started with chickens (as chicks), but now I have both ducks and chickens. For people new to raising fowl, I'd most definitely recommend starting with chickens. In my experience, ducks (to keep them healthy/happy) are about three times more work than chickens. This is due to their requirement (not an option!) for water both for drinking and for bathing. Water, water everywhere if you've got ducks!
One issue with the water thing is that ducks cannot drink out of the traditional shallow/narrow chicken waterers. They MUST be able to dunk their entire bill into water to clean their nostrils. This is particularly important if you're feeding them dry chicken feed. They seem to do all right with this feed, but think about it. Ducks normal diet are things with high water content: slugs, bugs found in and around ponds, small fish, water plants, and they wash all these down with plenty of water.
So the first order of business is to make sure you have a large enough waterer. I use open gallon buckets for the adults. Ducklings can drink out of a chicken waterer when small, but they grow fast and you must think about what you will use for water as they grow. Graduated sizes of waterers in which they can dunk their heads, but not get into and be unable to get out, are necessary. They can swim when small, but until they get their oily adult feathers they can get waterlogged and drown. I've found shallow trays or pans good for this. Naturally these must be cleaned out several times a day as they will climb in!
The water thing also extends to keeping the coop clean. This is more difficult than with chickens, as ducks will spread water all over and also their poo is more watery than chickens'. It's not an option to lock them in the coop without water, though, even just for a little while. They can find a tasty morsel in the litter, snap it up, then be unable to wash it down and can choke.
All that being said, I do love having my ducks. They eat tons of slugs, bugs, and even snap flies out of the air around the property. They're very entertaining in their wading pool (changed every day) with all the splashing. If you don't feel like dealing with the pool, they will do okay just running sprinklers, too. They are also way more predator-aware than chickens, too, with always an "eye on the sky". They don't fly nearly as well as chickens, thus are easier to contain.
Ducks eggs are an acquired taste eaten plain, but there is nothing better for baking. French bakeries ONLY use duck eggs. I also have a customer that buys my eggs as she is sensitive/allergic to chicken eggs, but not duck eggs.
All in all, I love keeping ducks (and chickens). They room together nicely in the coop as the chickens perch up high and the ducks take up the floor space. They have been a welcome addition to my little flock. For beginners, though, I'd recommend starting out with chickens. Chickens are the gateway drug to ducks, I guarantee!
I am curious as to how chickens absorb light, in this case to increase egg production. Since a chicken is well covered with feathers, what mechanism do they use to take in the light? There is only a small area on the face and the eyes that expose their skin.
So long as you aren't looking for a significant meat bird [though really Rhodies are more midsized rather than undersized, we've just grown accustomed to giant chicken carcasses], the Rhode Island Red is probably an excellent choice for you.
After many years of keeping chickens and trying out and suffering with many different kinds of waterers, I've finally given up on all of them and settled for open containers that I refill every couple of days with a hose, or that I carry water to. My favorite waterer is an upturned wheelbarrow basin that I coated with mortar to minimize rust. I find that this simple approach works esp. well in winter even with the freezing problem---I just have to break out the ice and refill a container or two each morning, takes 5 minutes. I did used to like nipple waterers and this looks like a good one because it holds a reasonable amount and you don't have to hang it.
I had a similar problem with humidity not going higher than 66% with water maxed out including extra sponges etc. so what I tried was a bit more adventurous. I gave the heater element a quick little squirt of water (not near the wires or the sensor ) and quickly closing the lid, sure enough I got my 80% humidity. Also another tip/warning, when adding trays of water etc into the incubator (you may be trying to get moisture up etc) to be sure that when you close the lid of the incubator the thermocouple doesn't end up in the tray of water or you'll be having poached eggs the next morning.. Happy days
look in the back of the book for updates that he's included regarding his feed rations.
My mother in law has had all her chickens killed, but they only take the heads. Same for her neighbors. She lives in Mexico in the country, but actually homes, and Orange tree orchards all around.It's a farming community What do you think might be happening to all the chickens? These chickens are locked up for the night in a large cage.They even do it too the chicks. Like I said Heads only.
Joe --- I wouldn't put your eggs directly on a wet towel, but you can certainly spread a towel out across the bottom of the incubator beneath the tray so it expands your water reservoir dramatically. And don't forget the vents, of course --- closing them increases humidity. Good luck!
hi, my bother and I have tried on three occasions to hatch eggs but our success rate is very low due to the humidity being too low on the last few days - he had one chick the first time, 50% formed but no hatch on the 2nd time and 3 hatched the third time. I currently have 4 polish eggs that are developing well and 3 hybrids that are also growing (my wyandottes didn't start ). I need to get the humidity up but even with the wells completely full the humidity doesn't go above 59%. can I put the eggs onto a moist towel so that they can get the moisture that way or is there anything else we can try - last time I kept topping up the wells with steamy water but that only lasts for so long and I don't like to keep opening the incubator because of the temperature difference.
Bill --- I'm not sure if Jon will check back and get your question, and unfortunately I don't know the specifics for this waterer. However, I've always liked this PVC chick waterer, which uses a pegboard to make it simple to raise and lower the nipples as you go through various batches of chicks.
I love how they've used a full-sized front door for the chickens entrance
Thanks for this detailed breakdown! I raise multiple batches of replacement layers during the year, and track general feed purchase, egg production, eggs sales, chicken sales, hatch rates, etc. but since my hatches end up blended, I never know just how much each batch eats.
Now I want to see if it pencils out to feed 8 week cockerels to our dogs instead of auctioning them, and your numbers will be really helpful.
Hi, i was wondering if you could as jon what clips he used to hold up the pvc? Also, are they able to be adjusted up and down so the waterer can grow as the chicks grow? Thanks!
Laura --- There's a checklist in our Incubation ebook that can help walk you through troubleshooting a problematic hatch. Good luck!
Hi this is my second time I hatched chickens, first was a great success but the second was really bad, 4 of the 19 hatched prior to 21 days so I left the other alittle longer to day 24, today I had enough so I cracked the egg open to find the chick not sure whether it was dead but it was fully formed but had its eyes closed so presumed it was dead, there wasn't any smell at all, I know I can't save these ones but if I'm knowledgable I can not make the same mistake, please help!
Alison --- Metal sounds like a possibility. If you do make something like that, I hope you'll take photos and share them so we can let our other readers see another option!
I wonder if it would be possible to make something like that from metal downspout material? Here, storing chicken food in plastic is a good way to have rats gnaw right through it, I'd not trust a plastic cap to keep them away... I currently store my chook food in a metal garbage can, and feed the hens twice a day.
Donald --- When we first experimented with this, we were thinking of turning it into a product. 5-gallon buckets are too bulky to mail easily, so we chose the 2-gallon size. Since we chose to give away the information, there's no reason not to use the 5-gallon version. If you give it a try, I hope you'll report back and let us know how it goes!
Brittany --- Please email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to see your coop!
Where do I send the picture?
Is the 2 gallon bucket used instead of the 5 gallon for any reason? Have you tried the 5Gal by same manufacturer?
brandon --- I know what you mean. It's been rainy and humid here too, and we had to clean out some caked feed in a store-bought automatic feeder recently. I'm afraid I don't have a solution, other than to keep an eye out during this type of weather and clean it out as necessary. If the feeder is somewhere that it can get rained on, of course you'll want to shield it from rain. But just humidity in our region can cause the feed to mold, unfortunately.
Julie --- If you want to catch them, I think your best bet is to watch and see where they roost at night. If it's low enough to reach, it's pretty easy to snag chickens off a branch after dark. Just wear gloves and long sleeves in case they scratch!
wild chickens coming into my yard. I want to trap them and provide more naturaly sources of food. Any help?
I built a similar feeder and used a screw in top it seemed to work fine except when I got home yesterday and went to feed I had mold growing in there how and what is a good way to prevent this and is anyone else having the same problem as mee any help would be appriciated it also has been raining here in Kentucky for the past 3 weeks and it seems like it won't stop
jeannec --- I'm pretty sure she means a T when she says 3-way. (A fitting that lets three pipes attach together.) But I could be wrong! If she drops back by and leaves a picture, that would be great.
Re: Comment by Tracy — Sunday afternoon, January 25th, 2015
"I raised a few wyandotte chicks last summer. It was a great experience. I made several waterers throughout this time. My favorite was a 1-3 gallon bucket with 4 nipples. It was my favorite until we hit a -20° Fahrenheit snap. I had an aquarium heater in the bucket, but the nipples still froze up because of the metal parts in them. I will probably go back to this for summer, but I am trying out 3"-4" standing pvc with a 3 way piece at the bottom. The angled side open for drinking, the top with a removable cap for filling, and the bottom sealed. No metal parts to freeze with fish tank heater. I may not get the extreme cold again this year, but I will be prepared for next time."
Tracy, I like your idea (for Northern Nevada where it gets down to zero or below one to several times every winter) but I'm not sure exactly what you mean with the 3-way at the bottom? Does the 3-way encompass the top, the middle drinking part and the bottom? Is it a splitter? Or are there 3 drinking trays? I wonder if you could post a picture(s)? Or tell me where I might go to see some? Most grateful for your help.
We have hatch several clutches. My last batch of eggs I had several with the hole on the stomach area still open. I'm unsure what would cause this. Could temperature, humidity, or something else cause this.
Anonymous --- You're right. That's why I included this caveat in the post: "These figures assume you're raising heritage breed birds --- Cornish Cross chickens need more food faster." Broilers are a whole different kettle of fish!
These amounts won't work for broilers. It takes about 2.5 lbs of feed for each pound of meat bird produced. So a 10 lb broiler is going to take about 25 lbs of feed, that is lots more than what is listed.
Sabrina ---Good question. I got this straight out of his book as well, but can't remember which edition of the book it was. Definitely not the first since there were, I think, two updated sections at the back.
I have 10 roosters in my pen. There just done growing. Once a week one rooster disappears. There are only a few feather and the wings left. The predator would have to get past two 4-5Ft fences. What killed my roosters????!!!!
I heard a little noise coming from the chickens at 5 am. The chickens are reddish brown and I saw a darker color from my window. Somehow a huge owl got inside my temporary chicken pen. It must have forced its way under the chicken wire somehow. The top is covered by chicken wire other than a small gap where 2 pieces come together. 2 out of 5 18 week old hens were killed. The owl was spooked by my appearance and was trying frantically to get out. I was able to cut some of the Ty raps to open the pen door to let it out. It took some convincing on my end but it finally flew out. After I saw the owl crouch down and blast up into the air a couple of times in the pen I knew I didn't want that huge beautiful bird coming at my head!
Is this Joel Salatins current broiler mix recipe? I have his Pastured Poultry Profits book and he said that he also added Brewers Yeast. That book was written 20 yrs ago though, so perhaps he stopped using it.
Kelly --- That particular bird is a barred rock. However, dominiques can look quite similar.
The speckled juvenile hen in the photo for the Top 10 Chicken Breeds, what breed is that hen? I have one just like her named Betty, and could not for the life of me figure it out. Thanks!!
Tanya --- Fascinating! I hope you'll come back over and keep us posted once you have a few experiments under your belt.
I just came across your website talking about using Dark Cornish to cross for a homestead meat bird. We are just embarking on this project this year after a year of research. We came across old material talking about a developed cross called the Corndell. It is a cross of Dark Cornish and Delaware. We decided we want to bring this back.
However we are sticking with our convictions for a true homestead meat bird. We are going for quality, not quantity. Our goal is to develop a meat bird, free ranging with free access to produce, which will reach 5-6lbs at 12-14 weeks.
In addition to using Dark Cornish and Delaware, we are also throwing Light Brahmas into the mix. We will mix and match to see what will be best. I cant wait for these birds to reach breeding age so i can start hatching and growing
Her Majesty and I have a 1 acre lake (that's what I call it because of the depth). We started by adopting 4 Pekin ducks, 3 girls and a boy. Started them off in the barn for a week so they should know where they live. Duck wrangled them to the water and that was the end of it. Never got them back into the barn. I'll spare you the 'chasing ducks around on a John boat throwing bait nets trying to catch them' stories; yes there is more than 1. Our property is completely fenced. Some critter, maybe a weasel (closest thing ID'd on critter cam) took out two of our flock in 1 night. We reinforced fences, tightened everything up, closed up all the bottom gaps and pretended we were good. My great idea was to get two more Cayugas, both girls. Then we had the idea to get some of those motion detection activated red lights to put around the place. Cool, we'll try it. Some time later we had another Pekin (our drake) murdered. Down to 3 girls. With a combination of more lights and a newly rescued Great Pyrenees from a local rescue group, we have not had a 'duck incident' for the past almost 3 months. There is a little more mud on the floor. She (our Pyrenees) does spend some time outside after hours of darkness barking, hindered by the fence. We have heard presumably a coyote mom and group of pups at the edge of the fence that decided to move on once yelled at in the middle of the night by our Pyrenees. We have suffered 0 losses since adding the rescued pup to our pack. She spends more time outside than in and has free range (doggie door) so when she feels the need, she's out on the perimeter. Good Luck with your ducks! We are planning on running a just-above-ground electric line to supplement our fence against anything that can squeeze through a 4x4 hole.