Chicken FAQ: Managing Your Roosters

My rooster is attacking people. What do I do?

Kid 0, Rooster 1The first thing to do is to ask yourself, “Am I smarter than a rooster?”

Most people aren’t. They let the rooster take charge. If the rooster decides it’s time to have a fight, you fight. You don’t question his decision, just his judgment: “He’s crazy: I’m the one who’s going to win!” But you’re not making the decisions—he is. You’re taking orders from a chicken!

Luckily, if you follow my program, you can become smarter than a rooster. Learn how, right now. read more...

FAQ: Should You Put Dropping Boards Under Your Roosts?

What is a dropping board? It’s a board you place under the chicken roosts, where it collects manure and smells bad.

Why would use use a dropping board? Well, there are some things in favor of them. But it also seems to be one of those 19th century poultrykeeping ideas that hang on mostly by tradition.

Disadvantages of Dropping Boards

Fresh-Air Poultry Houses
Buy on Amazon.
Other Options.

In Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, Dr. Woods wrote the following:

Recently I was in a plaster-finished closed-type poultry house where the dropping boards are scraped clean daily and sprinkled with earth. The house was decidedly smelly, though apparently clean. The manure-saturated wood of the dropping board, which has been treated frequently with disinfectants, contributed largely to the stench. I would not want a house like that and would find it unpleasant to work in one, but it seemed to suit the owner, and as he appeared so well satisfied I made no comment. read more...

FAQ: Chicken Coops

How To Build a Chicken Coop

Yes, you can build a chicken coop! In fact, chicken coops are the traditional starting point for people with no experience in rough carpentry.

“The best chicks come out of the sorriest houses.”
— Old-time poultry maxim.

Designing chicken coops isn’t rocket science, either. But there are some concepts to keep in mind.

The chickens themselves don’t care if their chicken coop has a nice paint job, or if its construction makes it easy or difficult for you to tend to their needs. They’d be just as happy roosting in a pine tree as in the best chicken house ever built. Thus, chicken houses are as much for our own benefit as the chickens’. read more...

Chicken FAQ: How to Magically Select Pullet Chicks at the Feed Store

Sure, you want to buy baby chicks this year, but what if you only want pullet chicks? None of those nasty crowing roosters? If so, you’re like a lot of people. Corvallis, for example, has an ordinance forbidding roosters in town, but hens are okay.

The problem is that the feed stores normally have straight-run chicks. That is, boys and girls together. What do do? Time’s a’wasting, since the baby chicks will hit the stores in a couple of weeks.

Learning chick sexing is difficult and disgusting. See this video from Dirty Jobs if you don’t believe me! read more...

Mixing New and Old Chickens

Okay, so your baby chicks aren’t babies anymore, and the brooder house is bulging, it’s so crowded. Time to house the young chickens with the old. So how do you do that?

This is an important question, because sometimes it goes horribly wrong:

  • Young chickens whose response to stress is to pile in corners may smother each other in a new and frightening environment.
  • Dominant chickens can bully newcomers to the point where they hide somewhere and refuse to come out to eat or drink.
  • Chicken coops and yards can harbor diseases and parasites that the older chickens are resistant to, but the younger ones are not.

So there’s a lot that can go wrong. Let’s talk about making it go right.

Piling and Smothering

Baby chicks respond to stress by diving underneath the mother hen’s feathers. This is instinctual, so even incubator chicks do it. The problem is, if there’s not mother hen, the chicks hide in a dark place, typically the corner of the chicken house, and heap themselves in a big pile. Birds have very weak lungs, so the ones on the bottom smother. Not good! read more...