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 & Rural Living Newsletter, May 3, 2009

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News From the Farm

It's still pretty wet, but we're getting higher temperatures and more sun. The grass is growing fast, but the ground is still too soft for mowing in most places. The chickens like spring and are doing very well.

Karen acquired six weaner pigs that will grow up to be big pigs and then pork. We raise them outdoors, with a miniature quonset hut for shelter and confined by four lightweight hog panels tied together with twine. Later, when they get bigger, it will take electric fence to confine them. I wrote about them in my blog.

The Corvallis Farmers' Markets have started up. I'm holding down the Saturday market and Karen's doing Wednesdays. Corvallis is a gourmet paradise, with legions of farmers working small miracles of quality. One has strawberries in April! And they're sweet, flavorful, good-looking strawberries, too -- not just hothouse curiosities.

The markets are well-attended, considering the time of year, especially on Saturday, which has always had the busiest market.

In honor of the new season, I updated my Norton Creek Farm page. It doubles as a dollar-off coupon if you buy from us at the market.

Tips for Shopping at Farmer's Markets

  • Show up as early as you can. The good stuff goes quickly. (But don't try to buy anything before the official starting time. The vendors are busy setting up and moving their vehicles out of the way, making early birds a nuisance and a safety hazard.)
  • Throw a cooler into the back of your car. Otherwise you'll be tempted to race home with your purchases, instead of relaxing and having a good time. Go ahead and have lunch first.
  • Bring plenty of money, or you'll find yourself buying inferior stuff at the supermarket three days later, which would be silly.
  • Farmer's markets aren't about cheap, they're about good. Cheap you can get anywhere.

Norton Creek Press Best-Seller List

Here are April's top-selling books from Norton Creek Press. As with last month, Fresh-Air Poultry Houses and Success With Baby Chicks are at the top of the list. My science fiction novel, One Survivor made it onto the list in its first month in print, which is gratifying.

  1. Fresh-Air Poultry Houses by Prince T. Woods, M.D.
  2. Success With Baby Chicks by Robert Plamondon
  3. The Dollar Hen by Milo M. Hastings
  4. Ten Acres Enough by Edmund Morris
  5. One Survivor by Robert Plamondon

Summer Chicken Coops

Last time I talked about chicken coops (in my mid-November bonus newsletter, I discussed the counter-intuitive fact that open-front coops help keep your chickens healthy in the winter. You probably won't be surprised to learn that under-ventilated coops are even harder on your chickens in the summer! Yet most coops are woefully under-ventilated.

Chickens are heavily insulated by their feathers, and can only cool themselves by panting, which doesn't work all that well. Hot weather also causes ammonia to boil out of manure at high speed, and any dampness promotes the growth of parasites and flies. You want adequate or even extravagant amounts of airflow to combat these perils. So before it gets too hot, it's time to figure out how to open up your houses so your chickens will be healthier. Also, you'll have less of an aversion to going into a cooler, drier, less-smelly house.

I republished Fresh-Air Poultry Houses by Prince T. Woods, M.D., because it covers these concepts very well. It has struck a chord with my readers and instantly became my best-selling book. It's full of practical advice, much of which goes beyond the concepts of ventilation and open-front housing. It's aimed at backyarders and show breeders (the author bred Black Langshans) as well as farmers.

But, for the impatient, I have a bullet list:

  • Chickens don't mind cool weather. Except during the brooding period, it's almost impossible to over-ventilate a chicken coop unless the temperature is below freezing.
  • Opening windows is a good start, but it's probably best to remove the sashes altogether until winter sets in.
  • A screen door will help a lot, too.
  • Screens over the window openings are helpful to prevent owls and raccoons from getting in through gaps that were previously protected by glass.
  • If you're skeptical, go out to the unmodified coop at dawn and open the doors and windows. Do the chickens huddle against the spring breeze or do they just go about their business?
  • In warmer climates, cross-ventilation is important. In California, for instance, many old-time poultry houses had chicken-wire walls on all four sides. These were used year-round, with maybe a curtain or a hedge on the windward side to act as a windbreak.

May To-Do List

In May, the amount of labor starts to fall, assuming your spring chicks are all off to a good start. The labor requirement will reach a minimum in the summer months, then pick up again as winter approaches and your pullets start to lay.

  • Market surplus cockerels (unless you buy only pullets!)
  • Treat for roost mites (painting roosts and nest boxes with oil or spraying with lime-sulfur spray, malathion, or pyrethrins).
  • Brood late chicks.
  • Gather eggs more often in warm weather.
  • Give range stock adequate feeding space.
  • Move range utensils (feeders, waterers, maybe nest boxes) weekly.
  • Hatch baby chicks.
  • Remove wet or soiled litter.

List inspired by a similar one in Jull's Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.

This newsletter is sent out occasionally by Robert Plamondon to anyone who asks for it, plus the customers of Norton Creek Press, publisher of:

Norton Creek Press
36475 Norton Creek Road
Blodgett, Oregon 97326

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

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