Norton Creek Poultry and Chicken Lore
Books from Robert Plamondon's Publishing Company, Norton Creek Press.

Success With
Baby Chicks

Robert Plamondon
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Gardening Without Work
Ruth Stout
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Poultry Production
Leslie E. Card
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Genetics of the Fowl
F. B. Hutt
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Feeding Poultry
G.F. Heuser
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Robert Plamondon's Poultry Newsletter, January 30, 2005

As always, if you're tired of this newsletter, please scroll down to the bottom of the message for easy instructions to make your subscription go away.

Success With Baby Chicks

Don't forget to buy a copy of my book, Success With Baby Chicks. It's packed with all the stuff I wish I'd known when I was starting out! A lot of the material in the book simply isn't available anywhere else; it's too new, or is so old that it's been forgotten.

One thing I point out is how anyone can pick out day-old pullet chicks of certain breeds (Barred Rocks, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds), which is handy when the feed store has only straight-run chicks and you don't want too many roosters. I also spend a lot of time covering cold-weather brooding, which is a forgotten art. And of course I cover a lot more, besides.

You can get the book directly from me, from online resellers like, or by special order from your favorite bookstore.

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Way Down Yonder in New Orleans

Last weekend I was at the conference for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG), where I gave a presentation about free-range eggs and attended the board meeting of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (APPPA).

As always happens, I was impressed at how friendly and interesting everyone was. Just talking to other attendees guarantees that it will be a pleasure to attend sustainable agriculture get-togethers. I walked away with a number of interesting ideas.

The most startling technique was one for a problem we simply don't have in Oregon, keeping snakes from eating eggs. Snakes swallow eggs whole, crushing them only after they've been swallowed. So the trick is to put some golf balls in the nests where the snakes have been eating eggs. You can imagine the consequences...

The APPPA meetings were very interesting, too. APPPA has been around for years, focused largely on supporting the farmers who raise and market pastured broilers. But the organization has always been worth joining for the steady flow of great ideas in its newsletter, GRIT. This is true for any kind of hobbyist, backyard, or small-scale commercial poultrykeeper. We have, perhaps, been negligent in not pointing this out!

Really, anyone who raises outdoor chickens will get their money's worth if they join APPPA. You'll recoup your $30 membership with a single really good idea, whether in the form of saving money, making money, or increasing your enjoyment of poultrykeeping.

New Brooding Technique

With my current batch of chicks, I've done something new, which is to hand-feed scratch grains throughout the brooding period. Starting at day 1, I put out sheets of newspaper on the brooder floor (just one thickness of paper) and scattered chick scratch on it. If the paper got dirty, I replaced it.

For the first 48 hours, this was all the feed the chicks got. After the first 48 hours, I filled tube feeders with chick starter and put them down on the floor, with single sheets of newspaper underneath to catch any spilled feed. I continued to feed scratch on newspaper twice a day.

After a week or so, I raised the tube feeders to a normal feeding height (the height of the chicks' backs), and continued feeding scratch, though only once a day. Eventually we switched from chick scratch to cracked corn, which is cheaper and coarser. As they get larger, they prefer coarser grain.

We continued feeding on newspaper throughout the brooding period (about six weeks). After the first week or so, the chicks shredded the paper by scratching at it, so it no longer had to be replaced; it just became part of the litter. The chicks became far tamer than usual, which is very gratifying and makes it easier to work with them. Feeding only scratch grain for the first 48 hours eliminates paste-up (feces stuck to the chicks' rear ends), which can be a real problem in chilly weather.

I used to use various trays, boxes, or troughs for first feeders, but newspaper is simpler and better.

You will hear people saying that this can't be done, because the newspaper will get slick with manure and the chicks will slip and hurt themselves. But this isn't the case; not with single sheets, anyway. A whole section of newspaper might get slick, but a single sheet gets holes punched into it if it gets wet, so there really isn't a problem.

February To-Do List

Inspired by a similar list in Jull's Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.

  • Look for better stock. (Try a new breed this year.)
  • Take a good poultry journal. (Start by joining APPPA)
  • Brood early chicks.
  • Replace litter.
  • Adopt a sound feeding program.
  • Plan to keep a laying flock of at least 2/3 pullets (reduce older hens to 1/3 of total by end of year).
  • Use artificial lights.
  • Remove damp or dirty litter.
  • Provide warm drinking water in cold weather.

If you like this newsletter, please send copies to all your friends!

Copyright 2004 by Robert Plamondon. Permission is granted for copying if the material from here to the end of the message is left unaltered.

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Blodgett, Oregon 97326

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Gardening Without Work
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