Archive for the ‘Chicken care’ Category

Listen to Home to Roost, live on WBEZ, Nov. 2 2021!


Home to Roost will be LIVE on WBEZ tomorrow, November 2 at 12:45 pm. Tune in to 91.5 FM or listen on the WBEZ website.


I will be live with chicken keeper Tim Norris on WBEZ’s Reset program, talking about raising chickens in Chicago. I teamed up with Tim and his flock of 25 chickens during the Windy City Coop Tour in September, and am looking forward to talking chickens with him once again!

Chicken keeping, up close and personal with Cluck Nut the chicken


A lot of people turned out at the Lemont Public Library last night to hear me talk about chicken keeping. I was ably assisted by Cluck Nut the chicken, who was a very good sport! She is a client’s chicken I borrowed for the occasion.

It was great to present a live chicken-keeping class for the first time in over a year. Among other topics, I talked about chicken breeds, chicken coops, chicken feed, and how a chicken purse led me to my improbable career as an urban chicken consultant.

A great time was had by all — even the chicken. I invited participants to feel her crop, where all the food goes when she swallows. Filled with grain, It feels a lot like a hackysack! Have you ever seen a chicken’s ears? On Cluck Nut, they are small but unmistakable. While I talked, Cluck Nut roamed the table next to me, getting to know the people lucky enough to sit up front. In-person classes are so much fun!

Learn the Basics of Chicken Keeping: Outdoor Event, June 28!


UPDATE 6/24/21: This event will most likely be held indoors.

We are pleased to announce the first live, in-person event presented by Home to Roost in more than a year! Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, June 28, 6:00 – 8:00pm at Lemont Public Library in Lemont, IL. Jennifer Murtoff will teach you the basics of raising chickens, from chick to adult bird. Bring your questions about chicken keeping to this live event!

This class is free and open to the public, regardless of where in IL you live. Register now at the link below:

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, June 28, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Lemont Public Library
50 E. Wend St.
Lemont, IL 60439

We hope to see you there, up close and in person!

Photo by Liz McCrory, kosmicstudio.org

Basic Chicken Keeping, Coop Classes at Fremont Public Library


I will be teaching Basic Chicken Keeping and Chicken Coop Basics for the Fremont Public Library (located in Mundelein, IL) in June and July. These online classes are open to all, regardless of where in the U.S. you live. Please note that all class information on predators and climate will be geared to the Chicago area. Register now at the links below!

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, Online — Fremont Public Library, June 23, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Learn the basics of raising backyard chickens, from chick to adult.

Chicken Coop Basics, Online — Fremont Public Library, July 7, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Learn the essential components of a chicken coop, important construction tips, and different coop styles. Do you have your own creative ideas for a coop? This class will teach you the basic elements that all coops need to have.

Help Your Hens Survive the Heat and Humidity!


Heat and humidity can be challenging for cold-hardy chicken breeds. Find out how to care for your hens during the hot weather in my online class, “Summer Chicken Care,” on June 2 at 6:00 pm. Learn how chickens cool themselves naturally and tips for helping them stay cool. I will also describe the signs of heat stroke and what to do to help an overheated bird.

This online class is hosted by the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange on Wed. June 2, 6:00 – 6:45 pm. More info is available Here.

Photo by Liz McCrory, kosmicstudio.org

REMINDER: Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping — Online Event, May 12!


Bring your questions about raising chickens to my online class “Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping” on May 12, 6 – 8 pm! This class is for those who are new to chicken keeping or thinking about getting their own birds. Register now at the link below!

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping — Wednesday, May 12, 6 – 8 pm

This is the first in a series of online classes I am presenting with the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange. As a free gift for participants, I am offering a copy of GRIT Backyard Chickens magazine. This publication is full of practical advice for chicken keepers. I wrote several articles in this year’s issue, on subjects including reasons to keep chickens, how to boost egg production, and the importance of chicken gut health.

Chicken_Magazine
Register now and receive a free copy of Backyard Chickens magazine!

Medicated vs. Non-Medicated Chick Feed


As if there weren’t enough variations of chick feed on the market, there is one more option to consider: medicated or nonmedicated? Medicated chick feeds help boost chicks’ immunity to one organism: coccidia.

Coccidia are a parasitic protozoan widely found in the soil, and its oocysts, which are similar to eggs, often find their way into a chick’s digestive tract. Here the intestinal parasites can cause a disease called coccidiosis.

Symptoms include bloody droppings, poor appetite, and lack of normal growth. Chicks may fluff up their feathers and appear hunched over. Coccidiosis spreads quickly from bird to bird and is also associated with a high rate of death.

Most medicated chick feeds contain amprolium, a medication that helps limit the number of coccidia in a chick’s digestive system, allowing the chick to develop immunity to the parasite. Medicated feeds with amprolium do not contain antibiotics and are not intended for other diseases.

Also, medicated feeds are designed to prevent cases of coccidiosis, not to cure existing infections: By the time chicks actually contract the disease, medicated feed will not help them. If your birds do get sick, they should be treated with a water-based coccidiostat (like Corid), carefully following instructions on the package. Be careful not to overmedicate with coccidiostats because they can cause severe vitamin deficiencies in your birds.

Vaccine for Coccidiosis

Many chicks receive a coccidiosis vaccine at hatcheries. Find out if your chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis. If so, there is no need to give them medicated feed.

Winterizing Your Chickens


We are heading for some low temperatures this weekend. If you got chicks this spring, you probably asked the question, “How do I take care of the hens over the winter?” Bringing them into the house is not a great idea, and unlike dogs, chickens generally aren’t given to wearing sweaters and booties. Here are some tips for helping your chickens ride out the winter.

Coop Environment

Heat is not a major need for chickens in winter. They can tolerate pretty low temperatures and will eat more to increase their metabolism. Overheating your coop can lead to hefty hens who haven’t burned off all the extra calories they’re consuming. So leave the space heater in the spare room! Your main enemy is moisture. Too much moisture in the coop leads to frostbite. It’s more important to have a dry coop than a warm coop.

  • Clean poop from the coop often. Chicken feces add to the moisture content of the air in the coop.
  • Ensure that the coop is well ventilated but not drafty.
  • Move your coop to an area out of the wind.
  • Cover the run with tarps or heavy-duty plastic to prevent drafts.
  • Stack strawbales around the run to hold in the heat and prevent snow from blowing in.
  • If your coop is raised, the area between the floor of the coop and the ground is often a favored winter hangout. Provide some windbreaks for the birds and they’ll likely enjoy their winter digs.
  • Provide lots of bedding or straw. Bedding should be dry and fluffy so that it traps the heat.
  • You can use a heat lamp when temps are in the single digits for several days. Beware of fire hazards, especially with the dry bedding, and use a red, rather than white, bulb. A reptile heat emitter is a good alternative.
  • If you want your hens to continue laying during the winter, supplement white light in the morning (not evening) so that the hens get 14 hours of light. You can also let their bodies rest and give them the winter off from laying.
  • Provide wide roosts that allow the down feathers on their bellies to cover their feet.

Food and Water

  • Provide fresh, unfrozen water and be sure they have continuous access to food – their bodies need it to stay warm. You can keep two waterers – one in the house and one outside – and swap them out as the outside one freezes.
  • Provide extra protein for the birds during the winter months. A handful of dry cat (not dog) food will give an extra protein boost.
  • You can provide a handful of scratch grain in the evening, before they head to the roost for the night. This will help keep their metabolism going during the night.
  • Provide a head of cabbage, hung from a string or chain to keep them engaged and prevent pecking.
  • Use a bird suet basket as a treat box.

Frostbite

  • Use Vaseline on combs and wattles to keep them from freezing.
  • Watch feet, combs, and wattles signs of frostbite – they will look swollen and puffy at first. They will eventually turn black and fall off. Infection is a possible risk of a bad case of frostbite.

Contact Home to Roost if you’d like an in-home winterizing consultation.

Register Now for Chicken Health 101: Online with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Oct. 7, 2020!


I will be teaching Chicken Health 101: Online for the Chicago Botanic Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 6 – 8 p.m. Please join us for this online class! Learn about the common health issues chickens face and how you can keep your flock healthy. We will cover basic chicken physiology, disease prevention and transmission, and chicken first aid.

Registration information is available here. Please note that all registrations must be submitted online 2 days before the class starts.

Upcoming Home to Roost Classes at Chicago Botanic Garden


I will be teaching a series of online chicken classes for the Chicago Botanic Garden! All classes are 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Basic Chicken Keeping – online class, Wed. September 23

Chicken Coop Basics – online class, Wed. September 30

Chicken Health – online class, Wed. October 7

Please note that all registrations must be submitted online 2 days before your class starts.