Your Chickens in September
Robert Plamondon’s Poultry Newsletter
News from the Farm
Right on cue, our hot, dry August weather transitioned into cooler, cloudier weather with a little rain—just as you’d expect in Oregon.
Autumn and Chickens
This is ideal weather for chickens, who don’t much like hot sunny weather. The pasture plants are greening up a bit as well, which will help keep the egg yolks dark and yummy. (The nutritional and flavor benefits of free range are mostly from fresh green plants, not worms, as some suppose.)
It’s also a good time to brood baby chicks. I’m a big fan of fall brooding. Most hatcheries still have a pretty good selection in September. Later on, they’ll only have commercial breeds (partly because off-season orders mostly come from people with commercial flocks, partly because the other breeds aren’t laying enough eggs to fill an incubator). Chicks hatched in October will be feathered enough to handle winter weather when it hits hard in December.
An Ice-Free Summer
Our ice machine is irreparable, and we’re looking for a new one. Because we have very limited water (see my low-yield well page), we need an ice machine that turns every drop of water into ice (a “flaker”) instead of wasting more than half of it (a “cuber”). These are available off-the-shelf, but we’re looking for a good deal, since we only use it two days a week. In the meantime, we’re buying ice at the Blodgett Country Store.
We broke our own rules a while ago and acquired some chickens from another farm, and of course they came with a free case of scaley leg mites, and this is spreading through the flock. So now we get to go out in the middle of the night, grab hens one at a time, oil their legs to smother the mites, and repeat at weekly intervals for three weeks.
Sadly, this tedious old-fashioned technique is still the go-to method. The dewormer Ivermectin is probably more effective and far more convenient, but it’s not approved for poultry. In the interests of science, we may isolate a couple of affected roosters and give Ivermectin a try to see if it works better than the treatment the others are getting, using leg bands to remind us never to sell them for meat.
What we were supposed to do was to never, ever allow a chicken on the farm unless it was a day-old chick from a reputable hatchery or an older bird from Oregon State University’s flock.
Win a Free Copy of Genetics of the Fowl!
Genetics of the Fowl is everyone’s favorite chicken genetics book, much more readable than most genetics texts, and written for people who aren’t geneticists, but poultrykeepers. But it’s a big book, which makes it sorta pricey. So let’s give a couple of copies away this week!
To enter, use the following link to enter the giveaway. When you enter, you have a random chance of winning a copy of the book free, gratis, and for nothing. You don’t even pay for shipping. The link expires in a week, so do it now! (You need to have an Amazon account to enter, and it’s one entry per customer.)
Good luck! And may the odds be ever in your favor.
September Poultry Notes
September is one of the easiest months in the poultry calendar: less hot than August, less nasty than December. Many people (but not us) don’t brood baby chicks in the fall and have already butchered their broilers, so it’s just the hens until next year.
- Start using artificial lights for consistent egg production. The traditional practice is to provide a day length of 14 hours between September 1 and March 31. A bare bulb, equivalent to 60 watts for every 100 square feet of floor space, is plenty.
- Brood fall chicks.
- Repair roofing (winter is coming!).
- House pullets (if you raised them on range).
- Avoid overcrowding. All problems become worse with crowding. And they flare up faster with crowding, too.
- Cull molting hens. (Hens that start molting this early probably won’t start laying until spring. It would be cheaper and better to make chicken and dumplings out of them and replace them with baby chicks.)
- Cull any poor pullets while you’re at it.
- Provide additional ventilation. (Always, always, always provide more ventilation than seems necessary.
- Gather eggs more frequently in warm weather.
- Remove soiled litter. (If using deep litter, shovel some of it out to make room for the additional litter you’ll add over the winter, but only if it looks like the litter will get so deep it will make things impractical. “More is better” with deep litter.)
List 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.
- Plotto by William Wallace Cook.
- Plotto Instruction Booklet by William Wallace Cook.
- Company Coming by Ruth Stout
- Success With Baby Chicks by Robert Plamondon.
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 from roughly 1900 to 1960. 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 the posts on my various blogs since last time. Most are updated and greatly expanded revisions of older posts:
- Chicken FAQ: Egg Washing
- Upgrading Your Old Tractor
- Chicken FAQ: Baby Chick Care
- Chicken FAQ: Managing Your Roosters
- Chicken FAQ: Should You Put Dropping Boards Under Your Roosts?
- Ten Dungeon Mastering Tips for D&D and Other RPG Campaigns
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