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hand woven chicken huts being carried in Ethiopia

These beautiful hand woven chicken huts are for Ethiopian chickens in Africa.

Photo credit goes to Patricia at the BackYardChickens Forum.

Check out her impressive pictures of chicken coops around the world for ideas and inspiraton on adding a little flare to the way you house your poultry.

Posted early Monday morning, September 22nd, 2014 Tags:
how to make a duck nest box more stable

This 2x4 provides a firm ledge to step on and over.

It's attached to another shorter 2x4 on the other side and extends 6 inches past the box to increase stability and prevent a possible tip over.

The vertical 1x1's help to frame up the area before cutting an opening.

Posted early Friday morning, September 19th, 2014 Tags:

ducks foraging in a small apple orchard
We recently installed a temporary enclosure to let the ducks and chickens near our very healthy, high density baby apple orchard.

It seems to be a good match so far.

The apples will be two years old this Fall and seem well past the vulnerable stage where a small poultry bird might be able to inflict damage.

Posted early Wednesday morning, September 17th, 2014 Tags:
close up view of bottom of duck nest box

Why did I install hardwood floors in our new duck nest box?

Turns out 2 pieces of a 2x6 side by side make a perfect bottom weight.

Bricks would work if you don't have any scrap 2x6's handy.

Posted early Monday morning, September 15th, 2014 Tags:
how well do chickens and ducks get along?

It's been over a month since we merged our duck and chicken flocks.

How well are they getting along?

We have not noticed any fights and they sometimes hang out in the same area, but for the most part I think they've decided to share the playground.

Posted early Friday morning, September 12th, 2014 Tags:
Black soldier fly pupae

We got our black soldier fly bin going at the end of July, and for a while, nothing seemed to be happening.  Then, somewhere around the middle of August, the bin contents started becoming drastically smaller very quickly, which I assumed meant our larvae were coming up to speed.  A couple of weeks later, the first few pupae popped up in the collection bin, then many more showed up in the bin at the first of September.  Time to try out the tasty morsels on our flock!

Chickens enjoying black soldier fly larvae
"Delicious!" said the Red Star who hogged the entire feast, snarfing down all of the pupae within seconds.  The only ones she wasn't so keen on were the oldest pupae that I'd forgotten and left in the collection jar for a few weeks.  After looking at my closeup photos as I wrote this post, I realized those pupae were probably just husks out of which the adult flies had already emerged.  (In the first photo in this post, you can see one fly that couldn't find its way out of the collection bin and perished.)

Black soldier fly bin
What have I been putting in our black soldier fly bin to produce such tasty grubs?  Mostly onion and garlic peels, big cabbage leaves, and carrot tops, all of which our chickens usually turn up their noses at.  However, we did have one bag of laying pellets go moldy on us due to August's endless rain, and I've started soaking the pellets and adding them to the bin a gallon or so at a time.  It's not safe to feed moldy chicken feed to your flock, but if you feed the pellets to black soldier flies and then feed the black soldier flies to chickens, your flock will enjoy the nutrition anyway.

I'm not ready to say that black soldier fly bins are or aren't worth the time and expense yet, but I'm definitely enjoying the experiment...and so is that one sated hen!

Posted early Wednesday morning, September 10th, 2014 Tags:
using a plastic tote box as a duck nesting area

Our ducks will start laying eggs soon, and we don't have a duck nest box yet.

The research I've done so far suggests that ducks sometimes lay wherever they get the urge in the beginning which is why I'm leaning towards a portable design so we can try different locations if we need to.

I think we'll try the above design. It seems to work well for Youtube user Gregory Shaffer and will be easy to relocate. What kind of nest box do you give your domestic ducks to lay eggs in?

Posted early Monday morning, September 8th, 2014 Tags:
sunflower comparison update

We uncovered the Sunflower preservation experiment and discovered zero mold.

My conclusion after hearing other observations is about the maximum time you keep the Sunflowers covered should vary depending on how moist your garden is.

I don't think I'd keep them covered more than a few weeks around here.

Posted early Friday morning, September 5th, 2014 Tags:
jewel weed seeds

jeewelweed seed closeupNow is the time of year to identify patches of jewelweed by their colorful flowers.

You'll be able to harvest the seeds sometime next month once they get brown.

We've discovered small chicks love jewelweed seeds and have no problem picking the seeds out themselves, which are a bit on the sensitive side.

Posted early Wednesday morning, September 3rd, 2014 Tags:
how much supplemental light do chickens need in the Winter?

It will soon be time to add supplemental light to your chicken coop if you don't want egg production to drop off.

We use a fluorescent light in our coop, but I've recently wondered if a small solar cell charging up a golf cart battery would be enough to run 5 watts worth of LED lights.

A feature where the light stays on longer as the days get shorter would be nice.

Posted early Monday morning, September 1st, 2014 Tags:
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I just purchased your chicken nipples and bit, but I have a question since I'm new in the chicken world. Do chickens need direct sun almost all day to lay eggs or are they happy with a few hours in the morning and streams of sun through the trees. They are out in there pen from 8am until dusk.


Comment by suzanne roemer late Wednesday evening, July 27th, 2011

Especially in the summer, chickens will actually gravitate toward the shade. They do like to have some sunny spots for dust-bathing, and like more sun in the winter.

The longer the day length, the better your chickens will lay. But that doesn't mean they need to be in direct sunlight during that time, just that there needs to be enough light to keep them awake and active.

Comment by anna late Saturday afternoon, July 30th, 2011

My chickens go out of there way to try and find sources of the stuff, I have Styrofoam (polystyrene actually) insulating the outside of my package heat pump. They finally figured it out and have peck/eaten a large chuck out of one section, maybe 1 ft in diameter. They have found the stuff before, and they didn't seem to have any adverse affects, I try to keep them out of harms way. I assume they will be fine this time, and I have blocked them off from the area. but my question is, Should I eat the eggs? I have 2 buff orpingtons and a white silkie(the bad influence).They are known as betty white and the golden girls. the buffs had just started laying a few days ago. Any ideas?

Comment by David L at noon on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
I've heard from other people whose chickens go after styrofoam. I figure it can't be good for them, so I'd do my best to keep them away from it. As long as the chickens are healthy, though, I doubt it will affect the eggs, but I don't really know!
Comment by anna Thursday evening, February 9th, 2012
i have a week old chick that was doing fine until yesterday. Now he is not eating and just standing around or sleeping. I put him in a box by himself with a heating pad. I have been trying to get him to drink water with probiotics and electrolites. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Comment by Anonymous at teatime on Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Anonymous --- I'm so sorry to hear about your sick chick! Unfortunately, chicks sometimes just dwindle away, especially if they had some trauma in the egg or soon after hatching that didn't show up at the time. That said, solitary confinement in a warm place sometimes helps them bounce back, so it sounds like you're doing just the right thing.
Comment by anna early Sunday morning, June 24th, 2012
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
Comment by Linda Monday night, March 25th, 2013
Linda --- Sounds like you've got happy chickens!
Comment by anna late Monday morning, April 1st, 2013

I was contemplating buying a hydroponic system for Fodder production (green forage) for my horses. With the rising, and unrelenting price of fuel to make the hay, hay has become very expensive ($5.50-7/bale)with NO end in sight. I wanted to be sure that my horses would eat this type of forage readily. I started to grow it in my DARK- no light available- cellar. Fodder can be grown without any light source, but it will be white and not green. I did, however, use a grow light for 2hrs/day. This made the fodder very green. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the water amount needed just right, but it worked. The animal consumes everything in the tray at the end of the week, seed casing, roots and all. There is no dirt, and the animals do LOVE it. Since fodder can be fed to ALL livestock, I fed to my ducks, chickens, and horses throughout the winter. basically as a treat, as I was only using seed starter trays, and my cellar isn't that big to have the number of trays I would need on a single layer all over my floor. ;) You need to soak untreated seed- Barley works the BEST! And, 85% of it is digestible, so they get a lot of good nutrition from the fodder, unlike hay which is 15% digestible. Protein levels of barley fodder equal that of corn, so you can save on feed! Steps- 1) soak seeds 15 minutes in 5 gallon bucket with 5% solution of bleach or peroxide:water ratio. You just need to make sure all the seed is covered. (you can use this solution to clean your trays after your seeds are soaked, so after the 1st day, don't throw it away. Literally, it takes only 10-15 minutes/day to maintain this feed source! 2) Rinse and fill up with only water- seeds need to soak 24hrs additional. 3) then drain again, after the 24hrs. 4) Place soaked seed inside your trays. 7lbs of DRY seed/day will fill a 12' long channel, and feed 4-6 horses and 100 chickens for the day. SO measure, and adjust the amount of seed you need, to account for how long your trays are and how many animals you need to feed. whether this is going to be your feed source, or if you are just giving them a treat. 50 for the 2nd day, I usually just use a spray bottle to water the seeds- enough to thoroughly soak them, but not enough for a lot of standing water. Then, spray every other day, put in 2cups water/tray every other day, starting on day 3. 5) Each day do a tray- with just enough for each days use. This gives you fresh fodder daily. Each tray takes 7 days to reach the right height. 6) Turn grow light on, if green fodder is wanted, for maximum of 2hrs/day. Materials needed: 5 gallon bucket; (2) 5 gallon buckets with lid are ideal! Spray bottle Water bleach or peroxide scrub brush to clean out trays before 1st use, and after every use to kill and inhibit fungi and mold growth 7 seed starter trays liquid cup measure SEED from seed distributor (online) and place to dry store seed. Garbage can with lid works great! Grow light bulb and brooder lamp works great! Spot where water run off/spillage won't damage property. I placed trays near our sump pump.

You can make your own feed, know what your chickens, ducks, and other animals are getting as a seed (you can be sure that there are no GMO's in your feed, and thus end up in your belly) And, they get fresh feed which they gobble up!

Comment by Heather Thursday afternoon, May 15th, 2014

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