Robert Plamondon’s Poultry and Rural Living

beth_feeding_small_barred_rock_pulletsI’ve been writing up practical poultry tips on this website since 1997. Somebody had to!

When we moved back to Oregon in 1995, we soon started raising free-range chickens. There was little information on free-range poultry back then, and most of it was wrong. I embarked on a literature survey of the past 100 years, to find out what ideas and techniques worked and what didn’t. We put the more likely ones into practice, and also wrote them up here on Plamondon.com.

Day-old Black Sex-Link chicks and an Ohio heat-lamp brooder.
Day-old Black Sex-Link chicks and an Ohio heat-lamp brooder.

We’re still raising grass-fed chickens, eggs, turkey, and pork on the same farm today, using the same techniques shown here. My monthly newsletter gives some news about the latest goings-on plus a to-do list appropriate to the time of year. read more...

How Coccidiosis Makes Your Chickens Sick [Infographic]

Life cycle of coccidiosis in chickensDo you need to protect your chickens against coccidiosis? And if so, how?

Coccidiosis, also called “bloody diarrhea” (eww!) is one of the few poultry diseases that give most chicken owners trouble, at least once in a while. It’s caused by coccidia, protozoan parasites with a complex life cycle: part of their life is spent inside the chicken and part of it is spent outside. The infographic shows the cycle and the danger points.

Oodles of Oocysts

In short, coccidia “oocysts” (think of them as eggs) are present in the droppings of infected chickens, and these droppings can infect other chickens, and also reinfect the same chicken. This last point is important, since coccidia can’t reproduce indefinitely inside the chicken: if the chicken stops ingesting oocysts, the infection stops. read more...

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...

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...

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...