Those of us who raise small livestock know Spring is not just a time for planting seeds and prepping gardens. It's also a time for spring chicks!
I've been raising chickens for years now. They're really easy to care for and require just minutes a day. I raise Aracuna chickens that lay beautiful pink and blue and green eggs. They also help me in my garden with fertilizer and help me manage my kitchen waste by consuming much of what I can’t compost. All in all, they are a great addition to my urban farm. But baby chickens aren't the only poultry I've raised.
Every so often I raise ducklings. My first experience was raising Muscovy ducks for meat. The birds were ultimately delicious, but quite messy. Last year I started the growing season with a family of 6 Mallard ducklings.
Whether you are incubating duck eggs and hatching your own ducklings, or buying them in as day olds, they aren’t chickens… maybe that seems silly to say, but you’d be surprised how many new duck owners think care and feeding are the very same.
Here at Fred’s Fine Fowl, we’ve been hatching and rearing ducks for many years and enjoy the added distraction they provide, not to mention wonderful waterborne performances. Though we have a large earth pond for them to swim, sleep and preen on, it isn’t necessary to have a body of water for your ducks. As long as they have water suitable for completely immersing their head, they don’t absolutely “need” water suitable for swimming.
Housing Poultry from City to Country
In my part of the United States, you can't drive down a back road without seeing the remnants of an old bygone chicken coop near a barn or house. Quietly decaying as time passes, a visual marker of a time when almost every rural family kept chickens close at hand.
No matter where you plan to keep chickens, consideration must be given to housing. Chickens need a place to be protected while they grow, eat, sleep and rest. Chicken housing may be as simple as an old existing shed or fwd housing solutions for backyard chickens garden shack, a light weight portable design, or a poultry barn, housing hundreds.
Aside from the obvious gardening gains one can have due to the active pollination practices of the honey bee, when colonies are properly managed, honey is in the offing a couple of times a year.
Here in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I am in my fourth year of apiary management. In this article, I will share through explanation and photographic images, how simple it is to harvest honey.
Honey bees make more honey than they need for winter survival and at peak nectar flows in your geographic area, honey may be taken off in fairly large quantities. But how to get the honey from hive to honey bear jar?
Consider owning and managing your own Apiary
Rearing your own colony of bees a.k.a. Apis Mellifera Domestic Honey Bee
About four years ago... I became keenly aware, that my property in northwestern Pennsylvania was absolutely void of honey bees. Dandelions as far as the eye could see in the spring sunshine, and not a single buzzing honey bee! I soon became familiar with the term CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder...
At that very moment I resolved to bring in my own bees and manage them... what better way to learn about their order? I sought out experts via the Department of Agriculture and soon was on my first field trip, camera in hand, with the Bee Inspector.
Free range poultry.
Fred's portable chicken coop.
Predators, prey, dangerous or friendly, how to deal with visitors to your hen yard...
As the deadline drew near for this month's E-zine, my eyes and ears were open as I gave considerable thought to what I should be writing about.
As I went out with a bucket to feed my Australian Emus, there arose a raucous ruckus in the nearby freshly hayed field... "Cheee-cheee-cheeeeee!!!" for those familiar, this is the ear drum altering alert of the African Guineas. Being a dutiful poultry keeper, I investigate and there it is... poor thing! A small red fox is being dutifully routed by my guineas... snatching up my digital camera, I run out into the field to snap some shots of this common event. You know, because seeing is believing? It's one thing to say that guineas are the first alert system on any poultry operation, it's another to see it. So, I submit my photo of the sad little fox making a dash home with no chicken dinner and with some nut dashing across the field with his camera to boot!
It's like puppy shopping; never buy that cute little rascal, without first understanding what sort of adult he/she will be when grown.
Maybe you live in the city and don't have readily accessible County Fairs or 4-H Exhibitions. I love being in our poultry barn/tent during the fair season here in Pennsylvania. It's not hard to locate the poultry... someone is always crowing, or squawking about some egg she just produced!
Bird HouseWhat I always find interesting, is the sudden urge some have to buy "that" chicken! They are stuck by the amazing feather coloration, or a timid disposition. "Look, that one looks like it has fur"! (That would be a silky). Not the least bit interested in the "purpose" of the breed, looks win over substance time and again.
As we all know, first came the egg, within the chicken, which was already within the egg (">
The egg pips, hatches, and walla! A chick is born... well, hatched as it were. Chicks are chicks male and female until the age of six weeks. At the ripe old age of six weeks, we now call chicks pullets (if female) and cockerels (if male). During the chick phase, they lose their down, grow rapidly and don their juvenile feathering starting at the wings and finishing at the head and neck. Exhibiting large feet, big heads and awkward bodies, they are truly things of beauty.
The stage of development and growth from 6 weeks to 5-6 months, for the purpose of this article, we will call the "teen" phase. So, what happens during this critical period? For starters, Development trades places with growth as a priority. The birds are not of full weight and conformation and should be slowed a tad by using feed formulated for growing and finishing. Chick chatter/peeping is replaced by an ever expanding vocabulary... no great surprise, pullets will be better verbal communicators than the cockerels, with a wider vocabulary. Young cockerels may begin to crow, or at least make some very strange avian articulations that can sound like a squeaky swing hinge, or a person thumped in the throat while gargling?
Setting up a brooder for day old bantam chickens.
The Bantam Chicken Tractor in action.
Back in January, my first article appeared about how and why I got into goats. My 3 does were pregnant then and due in March.
Now the next chapter in my great goat adventure has begun. All 3 does had two babies a piece and they are a little over a week old now. Out of 6 babies I only got 1 girl to use for my kinder project. But I'm still happy with that because she's adorable. They're all adorable! The boys from my nubian does will be sold as pets or breeders. The 2 boys from my mixed breed doe will be sold as pets or meat goats. Yes, people do eat goats. Its actually supposed to be very good. I've yet to try it myself but will someday since kinders are a milk and meat goat.
You've selected your breed, ordered through a hatchery... now what? In this article, we'll cover what to expect after you've ordered your birds.
How to Order Mail-Order Chicks:
Day old chicks are shipped via Priority Mail here in the United States. Since you order well in advance, there is no way to know what the weather will be doing on the day of their arrival. Don't delay in collecting our day old chicks from the Post Office, every minute counts at your end! As you may imagine, shipping chicks (normally 25 at a time), is stressful for the buyer and the birds. You should have a proper brooding area set up well in advance. A brooder is simply a space, large enough for the chicks you've ordered, that shields them from drafts, protects them from pets and provides warmth. On average, start brooder temps at 95 deg. F and step down five degrees per week after. Portions of the brooder should be cooler, allowing the chicks to choose their individual comfort level. Here is another informational video, showing a simple brooder made from a glass reptile tank. Yes, right in my kitchen!
Even though I like to hang out with my friends and play sports, I have a hobby that separates me from other teenagers my age. I have a love for nature and animals, especially angora rabbits.
Angoras are a long haired breed of rabbit. They are an old breed, first being recorded in 1708 and thought of as a god by the Babylonians. Angoras have been raised for wool, meat and show. There are five different breeds of angora rabbits, the French, English, German, Satin and Giant. The French, English, and Satin come in multiple different colors. The German is not recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association and only comes in white.
Watch as Patti shears the pygora wool and trims the hoofs on her goats.
A quick introduction to how to Hand Spin wool for great knitted projects.
Though worldwide honey bee health has been on the decline since the 1980's, it wasn't until the fall of 2006 that beekeepers nation wide began noticing honey bee colonies disappearing in large numbers without known reason. This syndrome, named Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, is characterized by the disappearance of adult honey bees from the hive, leaving the newborns to fend for themselves. During the winter of 2006, some beekeepers reported losing 30-90 percent of their hives. Though some loss is expected during the winter, this loss was much higher than normal. It's no secret human mothers, on occasion, fantasize about becoming a deadbeat mom and catching a one-way flight, alone, to the tropics, packing only a swim suit, lipstick, novel and Ipod. Honey bees, on the other hand, actually like the constant chitter-chatter of a buzzing brood. Queen bees are usually fiercely maternal. It's unlikely they would abandon their hive even on a really bad day of motherhood.
When it comes to chicken ownership, most new comers purchase their birds from local hatcheries, receive them from friends, or buy in as day olds from mail order companies such as Murray McMurray, Stromberg's game birds, or any number of long standing respected names in the business.For the chicken, duck, guinea or other poultry enthusiast, once you own your birds and they are mature, you have other options to perpetuate your flock, or increase its number. If your birds are healthy, of pure stock and not too far from the APA Standard of Perfection (assuming your breed is in the standard), you may consider hatching your own. Selective breeding is how we preserve the traits we find most desirable. The flock owner has a responsibility not to breed from young, or stock demonstrating disqualifying/undesirable traits. A flock is strengthened or weakened by this informed selective breeding process.
Though without a doubt, the chicken is the most universally eaten of all meats, I will focus here, upon the egg it produces. A rooster may be dispensed with, with very little deliberation or ceremony and then made a meal of. However, when one considers the little hen, no matter her disposition, one stops and considers weather or not she still produces eggs. Her value, lies mostly, in the number, size and shape of the eggs she produces.
When a female chick hatches, the number of eggs she is capable of laying in her life time, is already known, or at least within her. Samuel Butler once remarked "the hen is only an eggs way of making another egg?", this gives me pause. My point is, that the egg or the chicken/hen, are merely points in a life cycle, an endless loop.
I'm a wife and stay at home mom of three. I've always wanted my own land but I grew up in south Florida where open land was few and expensive.But in 2004 we moved to central Florida and bought a house with 1.73 acres. I was going to landscape the whole thing because as a city girl I thought you had to have a lot of land to have a farm.
Then I found the Urban Sustainable Living website and everything changed. I saw that it could be done on a smaller scale and I started researching how to make our property productive.
Chickens and eggs were the first and most obvious option. A milk cow needs more land then I had. Then I found milk goats. Further research produced Kinder goats, a cross of nubian and pygmy goats, which are excellent for milk and meat. But I had no money for goats.
On a whim I posted on a goat forum asking if I could trade work for the use of a nubian doe. I had never worked on a farm before but figured it would be a great opportunity to learn. I got a response from a lady about a half an hour from me. She and her husband owned a goat farm.
A source of science, social observation, inspiring to poets like Robert Frost, a nutritional necessity or merely a pet that produces, this is gallus domesticus. The modest chicken, historically so common in the door yard, has been, is, and should continue to be, commonplace in neighborhoods throughout the world.
Take any period movie from the shelf or video rental store. how often are chickens seen just getting out of the way of the wagon wheel, picking through trash on the streets of old England, moving aside from the broom of a 12th century hand maiden? The chicken has been at arms length in many households around the world. Their availability for immediate observation has been the source for human/chicken comparisons and deep thinkers watch at length, contemplating the origins of such a useful bird. Any scholar would be hard pressed, to truly pin down the first domestication of this diverse and often stunningly beautiful bird. They are written into documents as a domesticated animal, extending back as far as 3000 B.C.!
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