Archive for February 28th, 2012

REMINDER: Sign up for the Backyard Chicken Basics Class on March 24!

If you’re interested in learning more about chicken keeping in Chicago, you don’t want to miss this Cadillac of chicken-keeping classes! Click here for more information!

“Delighted to provide a personal recommendation: I am a graduate of [Jennifer’s Backyard Chicken Basics] workshop and am glad for having taken it… Good intro to keeping chickens in the city, good way to meet like-minded people, and good resources and take-a-ways. I learned what books to have on my shelf (and have used all of them over the past year) and who to call when the books didn’t help.” –Jean B.

Chick Stand to Keep Bedding Out of Water/Food

For those of you getting chicks this spring, the chick stand could be a handy solution to the messy problem of chicks dragging poop and bedding into their food and water.

As suggested by Deborah Niemann, author of Homegrown and Handmade, as the birds get larger, people often hang the feeder/waterer or put it on blocks, but the same simple idea could be applied to prevent the birds from soiling their food and water.

Birds with Bare Butts

There was a discussion on a board I’m on concerning hens whose butts are bare. While my post on molting or pecking problems may address lack of feathers in part, bare butts may also be due to laying activity, especially in birds that lay well. This article has some good information and pictures:

Good layers can end up with feather loss due to putting protein into the eggs rather than into keratin-rich feathers. If protein deficiency is severe enough, they may eat feathers. Always feed a balanced layer ration (16-18% protein). You can supplement protein with dry cat chow (a handful per day) or with high-protein chick starter (NOT a good idea for pullets, as this can cause them to go into lay too soon).

Another possibility is external parasites, such as northern fowl mites or poultry lice. You can manage these issues by adding wood ash or sulfur to dust baths or by dusting the birds and spraying their coop with external parasite pesticides, such as pyrethrin or permethrin. There may be a withdrawal period before you can harvest and eat the eggs. Follow instructions on any parasite products to obtain optimal results and keep you and your birds safe.

Concerning feather loss, it is important to ask, what is the underlying cause? Feather loss pattern can help you determine what is going on: aggression, parasite, nutritional deficiency, reproductive behavior, something else altogether!