Friday, April 11, 2014

Resource For Exhibiting Poultry

If you are interested in exhibiting poultry, I wanted to share a resource with you that I discovered earlier this week.

The site is called PoultryShowCentral.com and it is a great place to learn all about exhibiting poultry. The site was created by the Miller Family after they became interested in showing poultry and discovered that there wasn't a single source dedicated to the subject.

The site includes a beginners guide to exhibiting poultry, a breeders directory, and there is a comprehensive calendar listing various show dates around the country.

If you've ever been interested in exhibiting poultry, or just want to learn more about this part of the poultry keeping universe, check out their web site.

PoultryShowCentral


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Mistakes In Chicken Coop Design

While there are many good coops sold as kits on the market today, many backyard chicken owners choose to design and build their own coop designs.  

Building one's own coop can be a satisfying experience and allows owners to create a unique coop that reflects their personal tastes and budgets. 

However, first time chicken owners lack experience and may create coops with design flaws that make the coop unhealthy for chickens and inconvenient for the owner.

To help DIY coop builders, we are providing our list of the top five design mistakes.  

Top Coop Design Mistakes:


  1. Inadequate Ventilation - Chickens release a large amounts of moisture in their breath. In a coop without adequate ventilation, excessive moisture can build up within the coop and create an environment that is friendly to mold and other micro-organisms that in turn cause respiratory illness. A good coop design needs to allow moisture to escape while at the same time protecting chickens from drafts -- cold air that flows over chickens while they are on the floor of the coop or when they are sitting on their roosts. To accomplish this, windows should be placed above perches and be adjustable so that the flow of air circulating in and out of the coop can be regulated. (note: The photo below shows a second window at the bottom of the coop that we cover in winter)
    Photo shows Coop Elevated on Legs with ventilation Opening At Top and
    a latched bottom door for a pan
  1. Inconvenient Access - A little upfront planning can save you lots of trouble over the life of your coop. Cleaning the coop is one of the least pleasant aspects of chicken keeping. Make it easier by designing your coop so that cleaning chores are easy. We designed our coop with a floor pan that is similar to those found in dog crates. To clean the coop, we open a small door at the bottom of the coop and slide out the pan. The contents of the pan are then easy to drop into our composter where they are then turned into garden soil for our vegetables. For larger coops where a pan may not be practical, an alternative is to create Dutch doors on opposite sides of the coop. When you need to clean, open the doors and rake out the soiled bedding. We've also made daily egg collection much easier by creating doors that allow access to nest boxes from outside of the coop. The doors makes daily egg collection a snap. To make chicken keeping easier, design your coop so that you can easily clean it and harvest eggs.
    Nest Boxes Can Be Accessed From Outside Via A Small Door

  2. Incorrectly Placed Perches - At night, chickens return to the coop and rest on perches, preferring those that are highest above the floor of the coop. Whatever is below these perches gets soiled by droppings. A mistake we made in our original coop design was to place perches below our nest boxes. This encouraged the chickens to use the nest boxes as nighttime perches (highest resting spot in the coop) and so the nest boxes became toilets. To correct the problem we needed to readjust the position of the perches relative to the nest boxes. To keep your nest boxes and any eggs in them cleaner, place perches above nest boxes.
    Bombs Away! Place Your Perch In the Right Spot.
  3. Coop Is Too Small - Building a coop that is larger than your chickens need may be wasteful of resources, but it's not going to hurt your chickens. However, a coop that is too small can lead to squabbles for space.  If you don't have a run to go along with your coop and don't "free range" your birds either, plan on 10 square feet of coop space per bird. If you have a coop and run, plan on 4 square feet of coop space and 6 square feet of run space for each bird in your flock. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Free Smartphone App Backyard Chickens Android iPhone

ChickenWaterer.com Launches Free Smartphone App That's The Most Comprehensive Ever Created For Backyard Chicken Owners

Cluck-ulator Main Menu

We are pleased to announce the release of the Cluck-ulator™ smartphone app, the most comprehensive app ever created for backyard chicken owners. The Cluck-ulator helps users make decisions about the composition and management of their flocks and is six tools in one:



  • Breed Selector - chooses the ideal breed of chicken when you selects the characteristics you want from a wizard like menu including: type of breed (egg layer, meat bird, dual purpose), laying amount, egg shell color, breed temperament, and four other important criteria.
  • Breed Photo Gallery - allows you to choose the ideal breed of chicken visually by browsing through an alphabetical list of chicken breeds. 
  • Coop Planner - provides housing requirements including coop and run size, perch space and number of nest boxes needed when you select the number of chickens in your flock.
  • Egg Estimator - provides an annual estimate of the number of eggs a chicken will lay when you select the breed and age of that chicken. 
  • Food & Water Estimator - Calculates the daily food and water required for the flock when you select the number of chickens, type (egg, meat, dual purpose), growth stage, and outside temperature. 
  • Poultry Valve Calculator - calculates the water pressure and per cent of valve pressure capacity when the you select the height of the water column in their water supply tank. 

  • In addition, you get access to other resources within the app including our blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page where information, tips, and other content of interest is regularly posted.

    The Cluck-ulator is available in both iPhone and Android smartphone versions and can be downloaded respectively from the iTunes App Store and Google Play store. 



    The Cluck-ulator requires an internet connection via either wi-fi or cellular service and can also be accessed via tablets or other mobile devices such as the Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, or Samsung Galaxy Note. 

    Demo Video:



    Cluck-ulator Chicken Calculator Demo from ChickenWaterer on Vimeo.





    Cluck-ulator Screenshot

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Polish Chickens

    The polish is one of the most beautiful of ornamental chicken breeds. The most distinctive feature of the breed is large crest of feathers on the head that resembles a chrysanthemum flower in shape.  





    Birds that meet the standard of perfection will have a crest that completely covers the comb. This crest derives from a large bony protrusion on the top of the breeds head that is found only in crested breeds such as the Polish, Crevecouer, and Houdan chickens. 


    Polish Chicken Skull (A) Compared with Typical Chicken Skull (B)


    Polish come in a very wide variety of colors and some sport contrasting crest and body plumage that makes them particularly striking. The APA recognizes the following varieties:


    • Black crested white
    • White crested black
    • White crested blue
    • Golden
    • Silver
    • White 
    • Buff Laced
    In the U.S., the breed is generally called the "Polish" but in in Europe it is more generally called a "Poland" and has historically also been referred to as "Pol," and "Polled." 




    While the breed is quite old, it's origins are unclear and there is actually no hard evidence to suggest that it comes from Poland or anywhere else in Eastern Europe. In middle Dutch, a Germanic language spoken during the middle ages, the word "Pol" means head and this seems like the most reasonable origin of the breed's name.

    While beautiful, the crest of feathers has practical consequences for those considering adding the breed to their flocks.  The crest limits the birds ability to see. As a result, Polish chickens are more vulnerable to attack from predators and can also be injured by other chickens who have an advantage over them during squabbles.  

    Owners interested in showing their birds in competitions should limit outdoor play time to days when there's no rain in the forecast.

    Breed Type:           Egg Layer
    Laying Amount:    Fair
    Egg Color:              White
    Mature Hen Wt:    4.5 lbs
    Appearance:          Ornamental Breed
    Climate:                  Heat Tolerant
    Temperament:      Docile
    Broodiness:            Not Broody



    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    New US .9999 Gold Coin To Feature Image of Rooster

    New US .9999 Fine Gold Coin To Feature Rooster

    The U.S. Mint revealed plans today to produce a new .9999 fine gold coin.  Studies show that pure gold coins account for over 70% of the world bullion market and that the Canadian Maple Leaf hold the number one spot in today’s Market.  The U.S. Mint hopes to take a bigger share of this market by releasing a pure gold alternative to that offered by The Royal Canadian Mint.


    Using an image of a rooster on the new U.S. gold coin was the idea of current Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew.  The new coin features an image of Walking Liberty on the obverse and a crowing rooster on the reverse. At current gold values, the one-ounce coin will sell for approximately $1,285.  “We think the rooster image will go over big with gold bugs,” said Secretary Lew at a press conference earlier today, “it’s a bold choice but we’re confident the Treasury Department won’t end up with egg on its face.”  


    Happy April Fools Day from your friends at ChickenWaterer.com, makers of the BriteTap chicken waterer.


    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Top 5 Myths About Chickens Debunked

    Whether it's a family considering whether to keep chickens or, a community debating whether to permit residents to own chickens, there are 5 primary objections people raise to keeping chickens. These objections are generally false, or only true when the owner is act irresponsibly. Here they are......

    1. Chickens Attract Rats - Chickens, in and of themselves, don't attract rats. What does attract rats is food left outside at night where rats can dine on it. Responsible chicken owners remove the feeder from the coop over night and place it in a secure place. (We like to put our feeder into a covered metal garbage can)
      Rats Like Feed, Not Chickens
    2. Chickens Smell Bad - This is a perception that is held by people who have never been around chickens. In truth, chickens are almost odorless. Placing a few inches of bedding down in a coop or run to absorb droppings goes a long way to reduce any potential odors. The bedding can then be composted or thrown away every few weeks. We can only imagine one scenario when chickens might produce noticeable odors -- when vastly too many chickens are housed in too small an area.
    3. Chickens Spread Diseases - The most common illness people associate with chickens is Salmonella. However, the risk to chicken owners is really quite small. Salmonella and other pathogens like campylobacter are far more prevalent in chickens living in commercial chicken farms than in backyard flocks. When people do get food poisoning from chicken, it generally from eating meat that was contaminated during processing, not eggs from a backyard flock. To reduce any risk of getting sick, owners should wash their hands after handling eggs and chickens and also wash any soiled eggs.
      Campylobacter bacteria
    4. Chickens Are Noisy - Hens will cackle a bit during the day and after laying an egg, but its fairly minimal. Our flock is located on a small suburban lot in California and many of our neighbors don't even know we own chickens. Roosters are another matter and most towns that allow chickens only allow hens. We think this is a reasonable requirement and responsible owners should be considerate of their neighbors and refrain from keeping roosters.  This is no different than asking responsible dog owners to keep their pets on leashes and to clean up after their messes. Also locate your coop away from the property line if possible.
    5. Chickens Are Lots of Work - Having owned many different types of animals over the years, we find this assertion almost laughable. Chickens are far easier to maintain as pets than either dogs or cats. You don't have to walk your chickens in the rain or snow. Chickens don't shed on your couch or have an accident on floor etc. Chickens do require some daily maintenance and you need to clean the coop every few weeks but it really is not hard.

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

    Scotch Eggs

    Last week, we learned of a dish called "Scotch Eggs" and thought we'd give them a try.

    Scotch eggs are boiled eggs that have been wrapped in sausage, breaded and deep fried.  What's not to like about that!

    Recipe:

    We found a traditional recipe on the bonappetit.com which you can find here: Scotch Egg Recipe 

    Our Substitutions:

    However, since we were eating these for dinner we decided to make a few substitutions......


    1. We decided to use mild Italian sausage in place of breakfast sausage.
    2. We used bread crumbs, not cornflakes.

    The Verdict:

    There was a good bit of work involved in making scotch eggs so it's only worth the effort if the taste experience justifies the effort.

    In our opinion Scotch Eggs are good, but not a sublime experience. Frankly, we think Eggs Benedict are tastier. 

    However, we would make Scotch Eggs again for the following reason......

    Once made they can be kept in the refrigerator for several days and re-heated. So making them is initially time consuming, but if you make a bunch ahead of time Scotch Eggs make a fast and tasty meal.

    As one reader pointed out on our Facebook page, they are also great when entertaining folks watching the game.  We agree!

    Bottom Line: worth trying to see if you like them. If you do, make plenty so you have leftovers.