Yes, it’s been a year since I sent a newsletter out. It probably had something to do with having four part-time businesses and a full-time job! Citrix Systems and I have parted ways, so I’m back to just the four businesses again, which seems more plausible, doesn’t it?
January’s not so bad. No, seriously! (If you keep rolling your eyes like that, they might fall out.) The hatcheries send out their catalogs in January, which is always fun, with early-bird discounts to tempt you to place your orders early. (Hint: the discount is often for ordering early, even if you select a much later delivery date.)
And we’ll tend to look good for the next few months because egg production starts increasing as soon as the days start getting longer, in spite of the nasty weather.
If you sell eggs at the farmer’s market, chicks hatched in January will start laying sometime around Memorial Day, the traditional start of the season. If the thought of brooding January chicks appalls you, you should read the winter brooding tips in my book, Success With Baby Chicks. January brooding is perfectly practical, and I spend quite a bit of time in the book showing you how.
January To-Do List
Inspired by a similar list in Jull’s Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
- Take stock of your chickens, housing, and equipment. What do you have? What do you need for the coming season?
- Clean up your brooder houses before you even order baby chicks.
- Clean, repair, and install brooders. If you use heat lamps, inspect the sockets and the bulbs, since both tend to burn out over time
- Purchase brooding equipment if necessary: brooders, feeders, waterers, etc.
- Resolve to keep better records.
- Look at last year’s records before you invest in this year’s project.
- Continue using artificial lights on hens if you already are, but don’t bother starting them now if you aren’t. (Traditional usage is to use 14 hours of light, between September 1 and April 1.)
- Deal with damp or dirty litter. If you heap up soggy or yucky litter, it will drain and start to compost, and it will be ready to spread out again in a few days.
- Keep waterers from freezing. Chickens prefer warm drinking water in cold weather, and it takes longer to freeze.
- Always give chickens as much feed as they want during the winter, when they need extra calories to stay warm.
More Winter Chicken Care Tips
Here are links to past articles on winter care:
- Brooding Baby Chicks in Winter
- Winter Chicken Care
- How to Have Grass-Fed Eggs in Winter
- Cold and Snow vs. Open Chicken Housing: Who Will Win?
It’s been an amazingly wet winter so far, even by Oregon standards, so we’re dealing with mud, with a touch of flood. This doesn’t bother the chickens very much, but it’s a nuisance. Even chickens can churn a pasture into mud when the ground is saturated, so we’ve moved their houses a few times already. In the dry months, we can leave them in place for months with no ill effect.
We’ve had a few days where our livestock watering system froze. It’s mostly just hundreds of feet of garden hose running simple float-valve waterers, and it tolerates freezing and thawing okay, but I hate carrying water in buckets.
The climate here is mild enough that it’s a nuisance only a few weeks per year, but I’m hoping to make a few of my more convenient and freeze-resistant plastic-bucket-based waterers so I can write them up by next time.
These are my top-selling books from last month:
- Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout.
- Plotto by William Wallace Cook.
- Genetics of the Fowl by Frederick B. Hutt.
- Success With Baby Chicks by Robert Plamondon.
- The Dollar Hen by Milo Hastings.
All of these are fine books (I 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 from 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 of my blog posts since last time:
- I’m Tired of Chronic Fatigue!
- How Many Chickens Per Acre?
- How I Slept Through Sleep Apnea.
- Willaim Wallace Cook’s Plotto Featured on BBC.
Plus some posts from my tech blog:
Adventures in Social Media
And if that’s not enough, you can use social media to stay up to date:
This newsletter is sent out occasionally by Robert Plamondon to anyone who asks for it. Robert runs Norton Creek Press.