Don’t Let the Chickens’ Water Freeze

Keeping the chickens’ water ice-free during the winter can be a struggle! Here are some easy ways to make it happen.

Galvanized Buckets for Winter Waterers

Galvanized pail for eggsThe classic technique for full-grown chickens is the old bucket switcheroo: when you go out to tend the chickens, you bring out a galvanized bucket of warm water, and leave it for them to drink from. When you leave, you take away the partly empty bucket you left for them last time, because if it’s not empty, it’s frozen. You bring the frozen bucket inside with you and leave it in a place where it will thaw a little, so the ice will slide out easily. Read more...

Save Money on Chicken Feed

How can you save money on chicken feed? Here are a few time-tested methods.

Can My Chickens Find All Their Feed Themselves?

Not really. In the old days, farms and kitchens were so wasteful, with so much grain spilled by the horses and milk cows, and so much garbage thrown out the back door (or, in town, the front door), that flocks of skinny chickens could survive without further attention. Read more...

The Cure for Culling Male Chicks?

beth_and_baby_chicks_smIn a world where egg-type chickens such as White Leghorns are valued only for their egg production, and there are very few people who want a White Leghorn cockerel for Sunday dinner, what happens to all the male baby chicks? An article in The New Food Economy called The Cure for Culling explains both the problem and a promising new cure: in-shell sexing. Read more...

Temperatures and Your Hens [Infographic]

What temperatures are right for your hens? What happens when temperatures are too high? What happens when they’re too low? This infographic shows you the effect of air temperatures on laying hens.

Temperature and Your Hens, from Poultry Production by Leslie E Card, published by Norton Creek Press.

Leslie E Card, Poultry Breeding and Management. Norton Creek PressThis infographic comes from Poultry Production: The Practice and Science of Chickens by Leslie E. Card, which I have reprinted under my Norton Creek Press label. It has hundreds and hundreds of pages of useful information like this. Like most of the really useful poultry books, this one was first published a while ago, in 1961. But it’s a gold mine in spite of (because of?) this. Read more...

Better Than Chicken Tractors: Hoop Coops for Free Range Chickens

“A chicken house should either be small enough that you can reach into any part of it from outside, or big enough to walk around in.”
— Traditional poultry maxim

hoophouse chicken coop
The Mark I hoop coop, designed and built by Karen Black. The house is pulled by hand downhill to a new patch of grass, once or twice per day. The Mark II hoop coop (not shown) has the open end facing the direction of travel so the operator can see inside while moving the pen. This reduces the number of broilers that get run over by the back wall. A 2×4 ridge pole to supports the top of the hoop, which otherwise can collapse under snow loads or buckle under the weight of heavy hanging feeders.

My wife, Karen Black, invented these simple chicken houses in the Nineties, when she decided she wanted a pen she could walk around in, rather than the standard Salatin-style pens that are only two feet high. This is in keeping with a old-time poultry maxim: “A chicken house should be small enough that you can reach into any part of it from outside, or big enough to walk around in.” Read more...