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...

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 Chicken 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 poultry 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...

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. read more...

Brooding Chicks Without Electricity [Video]

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

How Many Chickens Per Acre?

Free-range hens on spring grass on my farm.

What’s the maximum number of hens I can keep per acre? And what’s the downside of exceeding this? Why do I get answers all the way from one to a thousand? And, for that matter, what are the best tips for keeping free-range chickens?

After all, 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

It’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud.

By default, your chickens will destroy all the ground cover in the immediate vicinity of the chicken coop. They do this 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 flock with just a few hens will denude the area right around the chicken coop. Further away, the process is slower. read more...