Latest Comments

In response to: EU Banning Farm Preventative Antibiotic Use

Robert [Member]
I don't have a lot of experience with deep or persistent snow, but if you get a copy of the book, "Fresh Air Poultry Houses," there's a lot of discussion of off-the-grid winter housing (the book is old enough that few farms had electricity, so its lack was taken for granted).
PermalinkPermalink 07/02/13 @ 16:28

In response to: EU Banning Farm Preventative Antibiotic Use

mountainfolk [Visitor]
We are thinking of moving "off the grid" which means maybe 4-6,7 ft of snow in winter.
We want to have chickens (hence off grid) & are concerned about having laying hens & their care in that type weather...Also which would be the best layer for that weather
we would like your opinion...
thank you
PermalinkPermalink 06/16/13 @ 21:25

In response to: EU Banning Farm Preventative Antibiotic Use

nadja [Member]
What we see here is the result of poor science education in the schools, and the isolation of urban/suburban populations from the realities of both farming and animal behavior. Far too many people live in terror of mysterious "chemicals".

There are also issues with anthropomorphism.
In California foie gras has been banned after HSUS and assorted Vegan groups ran an emotional campaign directed at the legislature describing the sufferings of ducks choking on the feed tubes; apparently HSUS was blissfully unaware that waterfowl, unlike humans, can freely breathe with a tube down their esophagous and will even fight over who gets the feed tube first.

On the ballot this November: a measure to ban "genetically modified food" which will be interesting since it seems that there are some questions as to the intended definition of "genetically modified."
PermalinkPermalink 10/16/12 @ 01:50

In response to: Patent Mania

patent awards [Member]
Congratulations on all of your patents (it looks like you have had quite a bit more issue since your post)!

We love seeing the recognition of achievements and the enthusiasm that inventors have when receiving our awards.

I wish you much success! Please pass along to your manager how much you like to receive your plaques for we like to make them for you as well.

Patent Awards
PermalinkPermalink 08/15/12 @ 11:15

In response to: Read my November Newsletter

the yakima kid [Member]
How did the California Grays and Barred Rocks from Privett work out as far as productivity and profitability? What do you think of Black Sex Links vs. Red Sex Links? We've been happy with our backyard home flock of Black Stars and utility Barred Rocks, but wonder if we could squeeze out a little more efficiency. Also - does adding a grain hopper make an economic difference if you are using 16% feed? Locally 20% is found only in broiler raiser or Purina Flock Raiser or in very expensive organic laying chow.
PermalinkPermalink 12/12/11 @ 02:16

In response to: Why Chicken Feed?

rancholiebe [Member]
We have 10 Buff Orpington hens that are about a year and a half old. Last year they were GREAT layers and we got tons of eggs - high point was 9 in one day. Earlier this year we were doing "ok" - maybe 4 a day but now we're at best 2 a day. The hens molted and I expected the production to go back up. They get a good layer feed and scratch. I'm lost!!! Oh - we live in Central Texas and it was REALLY HOT this year and dry but it's cooled off some - highs of upper 80s and lows in the 50s and 60s.
PermalinkPermalink 10/17/11 @ 07:19

In response to: Save Money on Chicken Feed

Robert [Member]

It depends on the cattle feed, but cattle and chickens have very different digestive systems, so fiber that is digestible by cattle does nothing for chickens, while chickens want higher levels of proteins. They're omnivores by nature, unlike cattle.

Now if they were feeding pig food or dog food or Purina Human Chow, that would work better. It would still be more expensive and less nutritious than feeding a high-quality chicken feed, but it would likely be in the right ballpark if you're not too particular.

PermalinkPermalink 05/16/11 @ 15:28

In response to: Save Money on Chicken Feed

lskena [Member]
I have your book Success with baby chicks and just love it. It was very helpful through my whole process. We even built the brooder light that you had the diagrams for. It works great. My hens are now laying and I'm enjoying it very much, since this is a first for my husband and I. My question is about feed. We were raising some meat birds for a friend of ours for the first 5 wks of their life. Now he has them on his property and is feeding them cattle feed because its cheaper and he has cattle also. My husband and I don't agree with this. Is this bad for the birds or are we worrying for nothing? I would appreciate the feed back.
PermalinkPermalink 05/15/11 @ 21:35

In response to: Quoted in the New York Times

henry [Member]
I love his site! Just recently found it. It has been extremely helpful for a new small-flock farm here in Maryland. I will follow your advice and continue farming long past the "year three".

Questions- why candle during the egg washing process? Also, does using water during the cleaning process harm the egg in any way. I have read where it does. Another myth?

Thanks for you time. Looking forward to your newsletters and books. I need no other source of info for raising chickens.
PermalinkPermalink 12/01/10 @ 12:05

In response to: Start the Wood-Stove Season Right

thg [Member]
I live in Louisiana, Nov 26 is my first fire day. The old box heater has a glass front and the fire rolls lazily across the logs. I can use the electric heat. But, that won't give me the lazy fire to enjoy. As far polution...well I love the smell of the oak smoke. It makes me think of independent pioneers who made a great nation out of this continent. Oh, CO2 is .038% of our atmosphere. There is 30 times more Argon than CO2. Polution from a wood burning box stove is just a state of mind. Was Mount St. Helen's polution? Or can nature polute itself? Anyway I'm going to enjoy my fire, while I read a tale of courage and love.
God sure gave us a wonderful life.
PermalinkPermalink 11/26/10 @ 10:17

In response to: Reaching "Critical Mess"

Carol [Visitor]
One day earlier this summer I realized I have way to much STUFF!! I recycle or donate most of it so very little ends up in the landfill. How much stuff does one person need? My motivation comes from the fact that my dad died in April and my mom moved to assisted living. I will not leave my mess for my kids to deal with. Slowly, but surely I am getting the job done- it gets easier as I go along.
PermalinkPermalink 10/16/10 @ 08:03

In response to: Time for Fall Brooding!

Robert [Member]

They're California Whites from Privett Hatchery in Portales, NM. California Whites are a cross between a commercial White Leghorn and a California Gray (an unusual breed that most people have never heard of, developed by Prof. James Dryden here in the Corvallis area, the first person to prove that you can increase egg production by selective breeding -- which is harder than it looks). They're a little bigger and a little less panicky than a standard commercial Leghorn.

The bedding is a thin layer of new wood shavings on top of a deeper layer of old ones.
PermalinkPermalink 10/11/10 @ 09:00

In response to: Start the Wood-Stove Season Right

Robert [Member]
I live in an area with negligible air pollution, and my little contribution to it means it's still negligible. Most rural areas are like that. If I lived in an area with poor air quality, I probably wouldn't burn wood.
PermalinkPermalink 10/11/10 @ 08:57

In response to: Time for Fall Brooding!

don [Visitor]
Curious what breed of chicks did you get and what is the bedding used in the picture.
PermalinkPermalink 10/11/10 @ 08:30

In response to: Avoid Disappointment: Get the 3G iPad

JrsyGrl [Visitor]
Excellent advice, Robert! Love my iPad. I'm not generally a super-early adopter of new hardware, but am really glad I got the iPad with 3G. I would also add that if you are looking to get a Kindle or similar device, and you can afford it, get the iPad instead. It has a great book reader function and so much more. I even use the on-screen keyboard, which I thought would be too irritating to use. It is really nice to use for quickly checking email. It boots up in just a few seconds vs. the three-to-four minutes (and those are LONG minutes!) for my laptop to boot.
PermalinkPermalink 10/11/10 @ 06:10

In response to: Start the Wood-Stove Season Right

JrsyGrl [Visitor]
I worry about the pollution that comes from wood fires. Understand the impetus for using up wood and saving money on fuel, but I don't like the smoke that comes from wood stoves. How do you reconcile that?
PermalinkPermalink 10/08/10 @ 06:37

In response to: Reaching "Critical Mess"

Len Harold [Visitor]
Allied Waste doesn't pull the metal and prices of scrap steel are surprisingly high. Not quite as high as when China was building for the Olympics but getting pretty close.
PermalinkPermalink 10/06/10 @ 12:12

In response to: Jack and the Magic Beans: A Modern Fairy Tale

Karyn [Visitor]
PermalinkPermalink 04/26/10 @ 16:02

In response to: Keep Your Chickens Healthy This Winter in a Fresh-Air Coop

homeowner list [Visitor]
The poultry industry of today is leaps and bounds more economical, efficent, and, in my opinion, much safer than old school methods of rasing and farming poultry. I have visited both and can tell you that the industry regulates itself well and although the quality of life is poor, the business has benifited from it immensley!
PermalinkPermalink 04/22/10 @ 13:33

In response to: Eggs: The Miracle of Spring

Mike [Visitor]
Interesting comments. Not coming from an agrarian background, I enjoy the new learning and thought provocations. I remember my grandmother speaking of her chickens she raised back in the old country (Italy). I have made it through my first year with my 4 hens and cannot describe the happiness they have brought to my entire family. Keep the good word coming. I have inspired two people to raise chickens already, the good word keeps spreading.
PermalinkPermalink 04/09/10 @ 07:27

In response to: Rats on the Pasture!

Katherine [Visitor]
The winter of 08/09 for me the "year of the rats".. I tried everything! Ultrasonic emitters, traps of every shape and description and eventually (when it was too late of course) resorted to poison "bait". While it reduced the population, it did not eliminate them. Fast forward to fall '09 when we were given three Guinea fowl. They are noisy, not very "handsome" but .. BUT... I haven't seen the tiniest hint of mouse or rat "sign" in my coop throughout the entire winter of 09/10! I'm impressed!
PermalinkPermalink 04/05/10 @ 08:18

In response to: Update on "Slow Cornish" Broilers

clyde pearce [Visitor]
It seems to me that a slow growth broiler and a cornish cross are two very different animals intended to serve different markets. The slow growth bird, from the research I have done, is intended to meet the needs of the gourmet market. Less yield results in higher production costs, which necessitates a higher selling price. Of course, it doesn't make sense to grow a bird that costs more unless you can make up the extra costs in sales dollars. But it would make sense to raise slow growers for the gourmet market, where a higher price might be extracted.
PermalinkPermalink 03/31/10 @ 07:00

In response to: Cold and Snow vs. Open Chicken Housing: Who Will Win?

trish [Visitor]
we are awaiting our first chicks ever and I'm loving this site and all the input. We live in upstate NY near VT border-cold winters and would have closed up a coop way too much if not for finding your site, Robert. I love the hot brick idea. AS it is early spring, our first issues won't be cold but predators (hawks, coyotes, raccoons...) and preventing rats. We'll just use common sense on the latter and hope for the best but any advice appreciated from you more experienced types (we don't like rats)
PermalinkPermalink 03/28/10 @ 21:35

In response to: Winter Pasture for Grass-Fed Eggs

Serina [Visitor]
You should use cows or horses before the chickens to mow the grass down for you. That way you're making more money and you don't have to do as much work.
PermalinkPermalink 03/28/10 @ 16:00

In response to: It's Not Too Late For Fall Brooding

Tracy [Visitor]
We use a brooder just like the one pictured in this article. We live in Wisconsin. We start our babies in April, May, and June. We seem to lose a lot in our April batch. I just read that you use two 125 watt bulbs. Is that in a brooder like the one shown?
PermalinkPermalink 03/26/10 @ 12:24

In response to: Raccoons Cause Trouble, For a While

Brian [Visitor]
I hate those bastards. I killed 4 of them last year. I just catch them in live traps. If that stops working I'm not sure what I'd do - I don't want to set anything that'll hurt my cats. This spring it seems possums are around, I got one already. Raccoons will also reach and grab through the smallest of spaces and take a leg or whatever they want (I'm talking about with closed chicken tractors & meat birds here)

Thankfully I haven't had fox or coyote trouble in about 3 years, which probably means I'm due. Stray dogs are a problem though.

Robert, I saw your comments on the Yahoo pastured poultry group about Cornish Crosses and black-and-white thinking & as a guy who made chickens a part time then full time and now part time job again (I got wise after a couple years), I appreciate them. Being in businesses and having a backyard flock are two different ballgames.
PermalinkPermalink 03/19/10 @ 08:42

In response to: Raccoons Cause Trouble, For a While

Keith [Visitor]
We have pasture-raised chickens too. We also have experience with those nasty racoons. For a while they were eating a chicken a night. Luckily we built our portable coops with doors that can close. Now since we go out each evening and shut the doors we haven't lost a single one. I was amazed that thy got through the electric fence but your story highlights the braveness of racoons. Thanks.
PermalinkPermalink 03/10/10 @ 12:11

In response to: Rats on the Pasture!

Robert [Member]
According to my calculations, a single chicken would have to eat a rat a day for ten days to be in any danger. Still, I keep my eyes open for dead rats, so I can remove them. Haven't seen any so far. I think they pass away in their tunnels where they're not a threat.

But that's the thing. You can see how, if I had waited much longer, there might have been vastly more rats, which would have required vastly more poison and been vastly more of a hazard to the chickens.

I've heard of people locally who waited too long, and when they finally did something about the rats, the stench of their decaying bodies under the floorboards of the barn made it impossible to go inside. It's much better and safer to deal with these things early!
PermalinkPermalink 03/10/10 @ 06:22

In response to: Rats on the Pasture!

Julie [Visitor]
Just wondering what happens if the chickens eat part of the dead rat? Will they be poisoned as well?
PermalinkPermalink 03/10/10 @ 05:56

In response to: Metal Siding on Chicken Coops

Jason [Visitor]
To help the bottom of the iron sheets from rusting from chicken manuer build up, I line the bottom two feet of the walls with fibre cement sheet so the chicken manuer is not hard agains the iron rusting it.
PermalinkPermalink 03/10/10 @ 02:08

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

Robert [Member]
I'm trying to remember ... well, that's not working, so I'm looking in up in "Genetics of the Fowl" ( The males come out with white down and the females darker.

One advantage of buying sex-linked crosses from hatcheries is that they can't get away with putting in so many males "by mistake," so you actually get the pullets you're paying for. In the feed store, of course, you can tell the genders apart easily and select what you want.
PermalinkPermalink 03/09/10 @ 21:06

In response to: Raccoons Cause Trouble, For a While

Robert [Member]
My local raccoons are very wary of live traps, so I've stopped using them. Raccoons seem unable to notice snares, though, and walk right into them even they they are totally unconcealed.

It would not surprise me if different populations of raccoons have different skills, passed down from mother to offspring and by raccoons observing each other.
PermalinkPermalink 03/09/10 @ 20:58

In response to: Feed Quality: Who Cares Enough to Pay For It?

Gino [Visitor]
Thanks i needed that.
PermalinkPermalink 03/02/10 @ 19:33

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

John Klimes [Visitor]
Is it true that in golden sexlinks the males come out white? Or are they solid red?
PermalinkPermalink 03/02/10 @ 14:44

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

Linda Morgan [Visitor]
As soon as you can see the beginnings of pin feathers on wings (even on bantams this rule works), if the coverts sit directly on top of the primaries, they are roosters. If the coverts are layered in between the primaries, they are hens.
I haven't tried it, but was told this on a plane. The guy next to me owns a company that sexes chicks (his dad was brought over by Tyson in the 50's from Japan to do this). I hope I have the top and nestled sex part right. I'd hate to have it backward.
PermalinkPermalink 03/01/10 @ 06:50

In response to: Agricultural Uses of Dynamite, and Other Farm Tales

BIGGIG [Visitor]
your article reminds me off my younger days when i really wanted to visit the farms and country side..again i felt the same when i visited your page...
PermalinkPermalink 02/24/10 @ 02:39

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

Karen B in northern Idaho [Visitor]
Great tip. My local feed stores do get all-pullet chicks in several popular laying breeds, as well as a few straight run batches. Bantams though come not only S/R but also all breeds mixed together!
PermalinkPermalink 02/21/10 @ 19:53

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

BackyardCoop [Visitor]
From someone who's just getting started, I think that's a great tip, thanks!
PermalinkPermalink 02/21/10 @ 10:31

In response to: How to Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

Marc Felton [Visitor]
Robert, your blog posts are excellent. For this one it occurred to me though that I dont know the difference between a "well defined chipmunk stripe" and one that's not so much. A picture of a good one and a bad one would sure help. But, of course, we all have unlimited time for such things....
PermalinkPermalink 02/21/10 @ 09:13

In response to: Thirty Years of the HP 41C Calculator

Pretty cool shirt.. Is there any color available other than white?
PermalinkPermalink 02/19/10 @ 04:18

In response to: Free Hugs!

jacquie [Visitor]
Way to go!!! Hugs are the cheapest, most effective health care plan going.
PermalinkPermalink 02/18/10 @ 13:28

In response to: Brooding Baby Chicks in Winter

Rooster Shamblin [Visitor] would you please check out my blog. I am a farmer who has been raising more than 50 breeds of chickens 40 years.
PermalinkPermalink 02/16/10 @ 12:58

In response to: Can Eggs Help You Lose Weight?

David [Visitor]
I have heard a number of medical people who suggest eating just the egg whites rather than the whole egg. This is especially beneficial if you are watching your calories and cholesterol levels but still want the protein. The taste can take some getting used to so for the first while, you may consider adding egg whites to a whole egg and scramble them for an omelet.
PermalinkPermalink 02/15/10 @ 22:22

In response to: Video: Old-Time Poultry Raising

vajid [Visitor]
please put some light on moisture or humidity effect
in poultry
PermalinkPermalink 02/10/10 @ 07:52

In response to: My First Book is Alive and Well

Paul [Visitor]
I actually first saw this book in its original timeframe, flipped through a friends copy, but never got one of my own. Stumbled upon it and ordered one last year, and am finally getting around to reading it. While some portions of the book lean heavily on the hobby (or perhaps just the Dungeons and Dragons game) as it was then, much of the book is general advice that still applies today.

Thanks both for writing it, and for republishing it.

I was curious whether you might still be involved in the game any more?
PermalinkPermalink 01/31/10 @ 18:57

In response to: Mother Earth Loves Me

Joan Smye [Visitor]
Your book success with baby chicks is wonderful,i am new to keeping chickens,so far the ten day old chicks i bought a month ago are doing very well,one of them even pulled herself up as if to attack me when i put the food in the cage.I am so glad i found your website
PermalinkPermalink 01/31/10 @ 13:13

In response to: Let Your Livestock Test Your Feed Quality

Vanessa from CCC [Visitor]
I stumbled onto your website by accident but really lucked out. I just purchased your "Success with Baby Chick, Open Air Poultry Houses and even Mr Ewings book". I am also getting back to my roots and raising chickens like we did in Crescent City, I am in Reno now so the weather is a little different and I was also young when we raised them so I really need some information. Thank you for all the info I have read so far and I am really looking forward to reading my new books.
PermalinkPermalink 01/25/10 @ 18:49

In response to: Keeping Your Chickens' Water From Freezing and More

David [Visitor]
One trick that works is wrapping and taping an electric heating pad around a metal water dish.
PermalinkPermalink 01/25/10 @ 01:13

In response to: Video: Old-Time Poultry Raising

Robert [Member]
Coccidiostats were nice, but the problems they had with the contest flock -- Newcastle disease and infectious bronchitis in addition to coccidiosis -- were typical for the era.
PermalinkPermalink 01/23/10 @ 08:36

In response to: Video: Old-Time Poultry Raising

Patrick [Visitor]
Not sure biosecurity was the big factor in the 40s, but the development of anticoccidial drugs.
PermalinkPermalink 01/22/10 @ 16:27