Robert Plamondon’s Poultry Newsletter, June 2016
News from the Farm
June is busting out all over. One sign: A couple of our White Hybrid 300 ducks snuck off and hatched 20 ducklings between them, and one of our Red Sex-Link hens did the same and hatched 10 chicks. All 30 are doing splendidly. Another sign of June is that the grass is as high as an elephant’s eye because our Ford 640 tractor chose this moment to need transmission work.
But back to the ducklings and chicks. The ducklings are on our main pasture with our mixed flock of geese, ducks, and hens. With baby chicks, this is bad news, because baby chicks are too fragile for the rough-and-tumble of flock life, and need to be kept away from any sizable flock for at least a few weeks. The ducklings are made of sterner stuff, and their mothers are aggressively protective, far more so (and more effectively) than mother hens!
The baby chicks and their mother, m eanwhile, are staying near our house, where they have only our three cats to contend with, and being pecked a couple times by a mother hen cured our cats of any interest in baby chicks.
We’ve had our first hot spell, with highs in the nineties, which was harder on me than it was on our poultry. Free range, airy coops, and automatic waterers prevent a lot of trouble.
More Kindle Editions. I’ve brought out Kindle editions of two Ruth Stout books that were previously available only in paperback: If You Would Be Happy: Cultivate Your Life Like a Garden and Company Coming: Six Decades of Hospitality. If you’ve read any of Ruth Stout’s other books, such as Gardening Without Work, you know already that any Ruth Stout book is worth reading, regardless of topic, because she’s always tons of fun as well as being inspirational.
June Poultry Notes
If your flock consists of laying hens, June is an easy month. If there are broilers in the mix, not so much, because (for us, anyway) things are still ramping up. Hot weather is right around the corner if it’s not here already. Remember that chickens don’t like heat very much and really love shade in sunny weather. Don’t let their drinking water get hot; they may refuse to drink, and this can kill them on a hot day. Roost mites multiply quickly in warm weather, so if you get a scratchy feeling up your arms after collecting the eggs, it’s time to spray (pyrethins are organically correct and work very well).
On my farm, at least, June is a time of increased predator activity, so keep an eye on those fencelines!
To do in June:
- Sell or butcher surplus cockerels. Traditionally, most of the male chicks were sold or turned into “spring chicken” (small broilers) as soon as they could be identified reliably. Having troops of young roosters around is a nuisance: fighting, annoying the hens, crowing, and eating their heads off while laying no eggs. We like having a few roosters around, but no more than the few that slip into our “100% pullets” orders. (Chickens of all ages can easily be sold live though a Craigslist ad to people who want them for various kinds of traditional ethnic cuisine. But you can’t even give away roosters “to a good home.”)
- Sell or butcher early molting hens. It’s June, and every hen with a pulse should be laying up a storm, no t molting. A hen that molts in June is likely to stop laying until next spring—eight or nine months from now—and make an even worse showing than she did this year.
- Replace litter. If you’re using deep litter, replace part of it so you don’t bang your head on the rafters. See my Deep Litter FAQ.
- Provide shade on range. Chickens are easily overheated on sunny summer days.
- Provide additional ventilation. Once they’re out of the brooder house, it’s impossible to provide too much ventilation during the warmer months, provided your chickens don’t actually blow away into someone else’s farm.
- Gather eggs more frequently in warm weather. This is especially true if you don’t put them directly into a refrigerator. Egg quality declines far faster at high temperatures than r oom temperature, and far faster at room temperature than in the refrigerator, so leaving them in the nest for a few extra hours on a hot day can cause a perceptible decline in quality.
- Control roost mites. In most of the country, roost mites are the biggest threat to chickens, and they multiply alarmingly in warm weather. The mites are most troublesome on roosts and in nest boxes. See my Chicken Heath Issues FAQ.
- Cull weak or runty chickens. Yep, June is culling month, with three different bullet points on the subject. Runty, stunted, or sick chickens don’t recover to the point of being profitable. This may not be an issue with pet chickens, but for even a small-scale commercial flock, it’s best to get remove them as soon as they’re detected.
- Be aware that egg production has probably already pe aked for the year. This is deeply inconvenient for those of us who sell at farmer’s markets, where the sales potential peaks in August and September, but it’s hard to influence the natural egg-laying cycle to
This list is inspired by a similar one in Jull’s Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
Norton Creek Press Best-Seller List
These are my top-selling books from last month:
- Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout.
- If You Would Be Happy by Ruth Stout.
- Plotto by William Wallace Cook.
- Fresh-Air Poultry Houses by Prince T. Woods, M.D.
- Plotto Instruction Booklet by William Wallace Cook.
All of these are fine books (I only publish books I believe in). If you’re like most readers of this newsletter, you’ll enjoy starting with Fresh-Air Poultry Houses and Success With Baby Chicks. These cover the basics of healthy, odor-free, high-quality chicken housing and zero-mortality chick brooding, respectively, and get good reviews.
I started Norton Creek Press in 2003 to bring the “lost secrets of the poultry masters” into print—techniques from the Golden Age of poultrykeeping, which ran fro m roughly 1900 to 1950. I’ve been adding an eclectic mix of non-poultry books as well. These include everything from my science fiction novel, One Survivor, to the true story of a Victorian lady’s trip up the Nile in the 1870s, A Thousand Miles up the Nile. See my complete list of titles.
Recent Blog Posts
Here are some new and updated posts since last time, from my various blogs:
- Poultry FAQ: Deep Litter in Chicken Coo ps (updated)
- Aquamagic/Sani-Touch Egg Washer (updated, with videos)
- Range Poultry Houses: Coops for Grass-Fed Chickens (updated, with videos)
- How Coccidiosis Makes Your Chickens Sick (new, with infographic)
- Plotto: Avoid These Three Huge Mistakes (new)
- How Hypnosis Works: Eye-Lock Induction (new,&nbs p;with video)
Adventures in Social Media
And if that’s not enough, you can use social media to stay up to date:
- Friend me on Facebook. I’m more active on Facebook than the other social media sites.
- Follow me on Twitter
- Follow me on Google+
- Follow me on LinkedIn
This newsletter is sent out monthly by Robert Plamondon to anyone who asks for it. Robert runs Norton Creek Press.