Archive for August, 2013

Video on Giving Fluids to Chickens

If you have to give fluids, such as oral meds, to your chickens with a syringe, I’ve created a video tutorial to show how I do this.

Rebuttal to Misinformed Article About Current Chicken-Keeping Trend

A recent NBC news article entitled “Backyard chickens dumped at shelters when hipsters can’t cope, critics say” prompted quite a bit of ruffled feathers in discussion boards I’m on. There were quite a few bits of misinformation, which Deborah Niemann-Boehle, one of the board’s members chose to address in a blog post rebuttal.

Seeking Sponsors for Coop Tour

Consider sponsoring the coop tour this year! It’s easy!

Just distribute this 2013 Coop Tour flyer to about 100 people! If you or your business is interested acting as a sponsor for the coop tour in September, you can contribute a logo to be included in the program information.

For more information, see the 2013 Coop Tour flyer cce letter.


Why Keep Chickens?

In the following post, Bruce Caughran of Oak Park responds to reporter Meredith Morris’ question “Why do a crazy thing like keep chickens in Oak Park?” 
Education led us to the idea of raising chickens.  We grow some small fruit now in our yard and we have had a vegetable patch in the past.  We belong to a CSA farm share and we visit the Farmers Market.  Those things help our children understand the local seasons and the origin of the food they eat.  Chickens add animals to that concept.  We are vegetarian, so we are interested in the eggs and not the meat.  I think it is nice that our children realize that eggs come from our coop and not from a carton.
The eggs themselves are wonderful.  They have a different composition from mass produced eggs.  In the summer, when the birds are eating lots of grass, the yolks are almost orange.  In the winter, when the food is mostly grain, the yolks are more pale.  The eggs “sit up” in the frying pan more when they are cracked.  I do not do a lot of baking, but folks who do think that the eggs are special.  I believe that they taste better but that might just be my appreciation for the hens and for the work that my family put in.
We were pleasantly surprised that the chickens make nice companions.  The first hens we had were raised from chicks (after Jen picked them out for us).  They were quite tame and would perch on my daughter’s shoulders.  The current hens are “rescue hens” from a flock that was being culled.  They are less domesticated and their behavior helps you understand the terms like “bird brained” and “act like a chicken”.  Still each hen has a personality, and it is fun to watch them interact with each other and with the children.  As pets, they require frequent but very brief interaction each day: (1) let them “down” from the roost & give them food and water in the morning; (2) let them out in the yard in the afternoon; (3) feed them in the evening to get them back into the run; (4) raise the ramp at sunset to keep them safe overnight.
You can ask Jen about winter (they do fine).  You can ask about predators, we had a possum get in and one bird got eaten (probably a hawk or owl). Jen is a great resource and I do not know that we would have attempted this without her.  The middle school at Alcuin Montessori made the coop for me and Jen helped with the set-up, provisioning, and education.  She even gave a talk to the class when they delivered the coop to me.
Caughan's Chicken Ark in Oak Park

Caughan’s Chicken Ark in Oak Park

Thanks, Bruce, for your thoughts and experiences!

Rooster Saved from Drowning by Young Farmer

A feathered contestant at the Kenosha County Fair was saved from drowning in his bathwater by his owner. Frank the rooster took in some water while getting cleaned up for the big event. Frank’s owner performed CPR on the bird. Frank paid him back by winning a red ribbon. Read the story here. 

As for bathing chickens, they’re generally not fond of it.

Feeders and Spillage

Chickens are messy eaters. Food on the ground, dirt in the feeder, food in the water, bedding in the feeder, poop in the feeder… and then opportunists like mice, rats, and wild birds may come calling, bringing diseases along with them. Not to mention the wasted food.

What’s a good solution?

If you’re having trouble with food spillage, you can place the feeders on bricks or cinderblocks so they are about at the height of the hens’ backs. This forces the birds to eat up high, and prevents them from scratching the feed out with the feet, or “beaking out” the feed with their beaks. In the image below, the waterers have been blocked up off the floor. The same can be done with feeders. Feeders can also hang from the ceiling to keep them at an appropriate height off the floor.


A second solution is to place the feeders in the coop. This will make it more difficult for visitors to find the food, especially if they are nocturnal visitors who come around to a closed-up coop.


A third option is to switch from mash, which is finely ground and messy, to pellets, which are easily snatched up one at a time by the hens. The down side of pellets is that some nutrition is lost in the processing.

Another option is to purchase a specialized feeder that opens only when a certain weight hits the trip pedal. One of my clients is delighted with the Grandpa’s Feeder she purchased. While it was expensive, she says it was well worth it.



Composting with Chicken Manure

I get a lot of questions about composting with chicken manure. This is an area I’m always learning more about, and here is a post that covers it well!

Accepting Applications for Windy City Coop Tour Hosts

Do you

  • Love keeping chickens?
  • Think you have a great coop?
  • Have good chicken-keeping practices?
  • Enjoy talking to people about your birds?

Consider applying to be a stop on the annual Windy City Coop Tour, Sept. 21 and 22.

The Application is HERE and also as a Google form for direct entry. If you use the form, send photos by email to

Groupon Covers Chicago Chicken-Keeping (and Home to Roost)

Groupon writer Aimee Algas Alker cover Chicago’s city chicks!

Thoughtful Post on Slaughtering Animals for Food

My readership varies from omnivore to vegan, and I try to respect those choices in my individual clients. This post was a well-written, thoughtful reflection on those who choose to eat meat and one farming family’s respect for the creatures who provide their protein needs. Please by patient through the beginning section; the main points follow.