Put Your Eggs in the Right Basket

Let’s quickly review the three basic types of containers used for collecting eggs: wire egg baskets, galvanized buckets, and plastic buckets, and why you’re probably using the wrong one.

Plastic Buckets

don't use plastic buckets when collecting eggs

Don’t collect eggs in plastic buckets.

You could probably find something worse than a plastic bucket, but I don’t know what it would be.

Plastic buckets have flat bottoms, allowing the eggs to roll around freely, cracking each other. The bottoms are solid, so if you acquire some rainwater, or some eggs break, you get a yucky pool at the bottom of the bucket, dirtying up all the eggs on the bottom row. This is especially bad if the eggs sit in the bucket for hours or overnight before being washed or packed.

read more...

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.

5 Brooder Lamp Safety Tips

Sad to say, brooding baby chicks with heat lamps presents a fire hazard. How much of a fire hazard? That’s up to you. Here are tips for dialing down the risk.

1. Avoid self-disassembling clamp lights.

Unsafe clamp light

Cheap clamp lights are exactly wrong for brooder lights. The clamps are weak, the screw holding the swivel together tends to come undone, the sockets aren’t rated for 250-watt heat lamps, they don’t have heavy-duty cords … they’re an accident waiting to happen. Stay away.

2. Use a real brooder lamp.

A Good Brooder LampA high-quality brooder lamp has special features to make it safe for brooding:

read more...

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.

Three Forgotten Chicken Coop Design Concepts

You can read about chicken coop design in a lot of places, but what does everyone fail to mention? Here are three chicken coop design concepts that have been pretty much forgotten:

1. Accessibility: If the chicken coop not tall enough to walk around in, it needs to be small enough that you can reach everything from outside

hoophouse chicken coop for broilers

One of our daily-move broiler pens, made from lightweight cattle panels bent into an arch and covered with tarps. Tall enough to stand inside, this is a convenient portable broiler house.

Many chicken coops violate this rule. In some of them, such as the pasture pen designs of Joel Salatin, you end up crawling across chicken poop on your hands and knees if you need to get at things in the back corners. In others, there’s simply no access at all!

The same rules apply for chicken runs: if you can’t walk around inside them, they need to be get-at-able in some other convenient way.

read more...

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.

Your Chickens in March [Newsletter]

Robert Plamondon’s Poultry Newsletter, March 2016

The sun is shining, the brooder houses are full of busy baby chicks, and if the tractor were working, life would be perfect.

News from the Farm

Why, oh why do we have so many geese? When I go onto the main pasture, there are about half a dozen ganders who want to show me who’s boss. It turns out that I’m the boss, but I have to remind them every single time by glaring at them and hissing, then advancing on them until they back off. “Slowly I turned. Step by step. Inch by inch…”

But the most exciting news is that I published three books last month!

read more...

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.

Build a 200-Chick Brooder in 2 hrs for $20

Baby chicks
The Joys of a Reliable, All-Weather Baby Chick Brooder.

One of the biggest challenges to keeping to flock of chickens is raising baby chicks successfully every time, especially when the weather doesn’t cooperate—and does it ever?

What’s Wrong With Ordinary Brooders?

The biggest single thing you can do to ensure successful with baby chicks is to build a chicken brooder that really does the job.

What’s wrong with ordinary brooders?

  • Overhead heat lamps are fragile, use a lot of electricity, and don’t keep the chicks as snug as you’d like.
  • Sheet-metal brooders don’t work at all in unheated rooms unless you have a guaranteed run of warm weather.
  • Propane brooders are available only for large-scale brooding.

Time for an Easy-to-Build Insulated Heat-Lamp Brooder

Since the brooders on the market don’t get the job done, you need to build one yourself. One that keeps the chicks warm, is easy to build, and is insulated to save electricity.

read more...

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.