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Fuel for the Flock

Ever wanted to give your flock a boost of something nutritious and healthy without spoiling them till their fat? Well, this is the recipe for you! I posted a similar recipe awhile back (click here), but now I have changed a few ingredients and gone up in scale as I have more chickens to feed! I feed this to my flock of 21 birds every other week and they love it!

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Frightful Frostbite

Many northern chicken keepers, including me, have to watch out for frozen combs and wattles when the temperatures dip below freezing. Some say that even a 10 minute exposure in below freezing temperatures can lead to frostbitten combs and wattles!

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10 Crazy Chicken Facts

In my constant quest to learn more about chickens, I have come across some crazy information about them. By the time your done reading this blog post, your mind will probably be blown away.

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The heaviest, recorded egg ever laid by a chicken weighed 1 pound! Continue reading

Snow Birds

While many snow birds are enjoying the warmth of their destinations, the northern chickens are toughing it out. Here is what I do to keep my flock happy and healthy during the cold months.

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Whenever there is a sunny and moderately warm day (which have been pretty sparse this month) I open up the enclosure door for any adventurous soul. Usually the Svart Hona’s and May (the Cochin) take advantage and go dust bath under the coop.

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Molting = No Fresh Eggs

We’ve reached that time of the year where you get no fresh eggs from your flock and it looks like someone plucked all your hens: Molting Season. All birds molt, wild and domestic. Molting is when a bird loses it’s feathers and regrows new ones. Now, they don’t lose all their feathers at one time, that’s why you don’t see naked birds flying around. (Fun Fact: Wild birds will molt the same flight feather on each wing at the same time, that way they are not off balance in their flight).

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Usually the molt takes place once a year in early spring or late fall. For wild birds it helps to renew their feathers in preparation for migration or cold weather. In chickens and domestic fowl it helps improve their laying quality and feed efficiency.

 

The best egg layers in a flock of hens will molt late and fast and the lazy egg layers will molt slow and early. The average time for a complete molt to take place is 14-16 weeks.

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Chickens have a molting sequence in which they lose their feathers. It goes: head, neck, back, breast, stern, thighs, wings, then tail. You can tell a chicken is at the end of losing it’s feathers when it has no tail. They then regrow their feathers starting at the tail and going in reverse.

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Molting can sometimes be painful for a chicken as new feathers are growing into tender feather follicles. Avoid picking up molting chickens as the new feather follicles are very sensitive and it can hurt the bird when pressure is applied to them. This is often the reason why many friendly birds will become skittish while their molting.

 

Sometimes a feather follicle will burst or open to soon and become bloody. This often happens if the feather follicle gets snagged or pressured. If this happens, I just wipe off the blood and spray PoultryAid on it. Sometimes I will keep that bird separated from the flock incase any blood returns, as chickens will kill each other if they see blood on one of them. If it continues to bleed, clot it with cornstarch and keep the chicken separated until the blood can be wiped off.

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Many hens stop laying at this time because they need the extra protein and energy used in making eggs to grow new feathers. Once they have finished the molt, egg production will increase and egg quality will become better. Although, the more molt seasons a hen goes through, eventually she will decrease in production and quality.

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Chickens often benefit from extra protein in their diet during their molt. So I made a molt mix for my flock with some high protein ingredients. I mixed together these ingredients:

10 c. dried mealworms (18 grams of protein in a serving)

5 c. sunflower seeds (without shells) (29 grams of protein in 1 c.)

3 c. steal cut oats (9 grams of protein per serving)

1 c. hemp seeds (10 grams of protein per serving)

I feed them approximately 1 c. of it each day during the molt.

 

Molting is a stressful time for your flock, so try to keep your flock as stress free as possible during molting season. (Like don’t add new birds to your flock, ooops, I might be doing that right now!)

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Have a great week!

by Alexa

 

 

 

Hitan- the cockerelette

My Svart Hona pullet, Hitan is a very unique chicken. And I don’t just say that because she is completely black, inside and out. She has her very own quirks and perks that make her special.

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Hitan does not think she is a pullet, instead, she thinks she is a cockerel! She crows, screams, and clucks just like a cockerel!

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To make things worse, she is actually grown cockerel feathers! You can tell by looking at the neck feathers (hackles) and a few of the back feathers (called saddle feathers on a rooster). They are pointy instead of being rounded like a pullets.

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This phenomenon is rare and can have several causes. Hitan’s could just be because she was raised with only three other cockerels and no other pullets. The other possibility has to do with one of her ovaries being damaged.

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Hens have two ovaries, an active one and a dormant one. If the active one gets damaged, the dormant one could kick into action. In the case of a hen ‘turning into’ a rooster, the dormant one has kicked in and started releasing the wrong hormone, causing the hen to sound and look like a rooster. She will never be able to fertilize eggs, but in every other aspect she might be a rooster. She will no longer lay eggs and will start acting more dominant like a rooster. Some hens turn from hen to rooster several times in a life time!

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Another unique thing about Hitan is that she is not completely black! Svart Hona’s are supposed to be completely black right down to their organs! Hitan, on the other hand, has a single white feather on her neck! I have no idea where it came from!

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Hitan also runs funny! She runs and walks like she is on a balance beam, one foot right in front of the other. When she runs, it makes her look like she is weaving back and forth!

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And we’re not done yet! I am teaching Hitan to walk on a leash! It takes a lot of patience, but we are getting there!

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I have a harness that I put on her and then attach a leash. Unlike a dog, who will sometimes try to pull out of a harness, Hitan tries to back out of the harness!

Right now she is just getting used to the feeling of being attached to a leash. Soon, though, I’ll be walking her down the street!

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Have a great week!

by Alexa