Your Chickens in February [Newsletter]

Robert Plamondon’s Poultry Newsletter, February 2016

We’ve had floods, we’ve had freezing, and we’ve even had some nice weather so far this winter. Here in in Oregon’s Coast Range, the lilacs are in bud and the daffodils are sending up shoots, as they always do in February. For us, at least, the worst of the winter weather is likely over.

News from the Farm

Our egg production is increasing by leaps and bounds. The hens didn’t much like it when their water was frozen, and the ones on the back pasture were put out when the flooding put water a couple of inches deep around their houses, and the soggy ground made it hard to get feed out to them. But the main thing is the increased day length. Even though the days are still short, the fact that every day is longer than the day before has a powerful effect on our hens and their egg production.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Brooding Chicks Without Electricity [Video]

How did people brood chicks before electricity? Lots of ways, and a few are still useful today.

Homesteading.news just posted an article about  how to do January(!) brooding without electricity, using a heavily insulated brooder with bubble-wrap insulation to reflect the baby chicks’ body heat, allowing them to do well without supplemental heat.

The article kindly credits my insulated pasture hover page, which discusses these topics.

Generally speaking, the body-heat-only technique has been around for 150 years or so, and has been used with several variations:

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

I’m Tired of Chronic Fatigue

In a previous post, I talked about my fatigue and my diagnosis of sleep apnea. I mentioned that I’ve been prescribed modafinil, a wakefulness promoter that’s not really a stimulant, because using the CPAP machine every night did not restore my energy right away.

I’ve been taking my modafinil faithfully, and it helps a lot, but not enough to wean me off pretty high-dose caffeine — not yet. I seem to be slowly gaining energy, so I might be able to stop using this stuff eventually. In the meantime, though, it’s very helpful.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

How Many Chickens Per Acre?

chickens2

Free-range hens on spring grass on my farm.

It’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud. Here’s how to avoid this.

Chickens are Hard on Grass

By default, your chickens will destroy all the ground cover around their house through a combination of eating the plants, scratching the ground cover with their claws, and covering everything with manure. This process is quite fast in the area around the house, especially in wet weather, when the ground is soft. Even a small flock, with just a few hens, will denude the area right around the chicken coop. Further away, the process is slower.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

What To Do When Your Friend Is Really Sick

So I’m recovering from that nasty cold that’s going around. It hit me pretty hard, so I’m taking prescription medications, and over-the-counter remedies, and herbs, and rest, and plenty of fluids. And that’s just fine: I’m getting better.

But a friend of mine, who had the exact same thing, was spending the weekend with some very nice people who told her that her prescription meds were nasty, and the Gatorade she was drinking because it was the only think she could keep down was nasty. It took her a while to shake off their influence and go back to doing things that actually worked. I’m not saying that she’d have avoided that trip the the ER if she hadn’t listened to them, but she might have.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.