Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chickens Sing the Blues

We people sing about chickens more than I would have thought possible.  Old Hat Records has released a CD entitled "Cluck Old Hen" that features 24 vintage songs about chickens, chicks, pullets, roosters and other poultry. 

These songs were originally recorded from 1926 through 1940 and cover a range of styles including folk, blues and Tin Pan Alley. (early Broadway)

To listen to clips of these songs, visit the Old Hat Records web site.

You can buy the CD from Amazon for $15.99.  That's alot of cluck for very little buck.

Track Listings:

1. J.O. LaMadeleine - Chicken Reel
2. Casey Bill - Rooster Blues
3. Riley Puckett - Riley's Hen House Door
4. John & Emery McClung - Chicken
5. George Edgin's Corn Dodgers - Corn Dodger No. 1 Special
6. Walter Rhodes with ''Pet'' and ''Can'' - The Crowing Rooster
7. Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony - Turkey Buzzard Blues
8. Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band - Under The Chicken Tree
9. Cliff Carlisle - It Takes The Old Hen To Deliver The Goods
10. Grayson & Whitter - Cluck Old Hen
11. Sweet Papa Stovepipe - All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me
12. Dixieland Jug Blowers - Hen Party Blues
13. Leake County Revelers - Crow Black Chicken
14. Gene Autry - Stay Away From My Chicken House
15. The Georgia Browns - Who Stole De Lock?
16. Teddy Bunn & Spencer Williams - The Chicken And The Worm
17. Six Jumping Jacks - There's A Trick In Pickin' A Chick-Chick-Chicken
18. Carolina Ramblers String Band - Barnyard Frolic
19. Utica Institute Jubilee Singers - Chicken
20. Beale Street Sheiks - Chicken You Can Roost Behind The Moon
21. Mustard & Gravy - Rooster On The Limb
22. Honeyboy & Sassafras - The Chicken Sermon
23. The Tune Wranglers - Chicken Reel Stomp
24. Binkley Brothers Dixie Clodhoppers - I'll Rise When The Rooster Crows

24 Vintage Songs About Chickens

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The BriteTap Poultry Waterer Is Perfect for Baby Chicks

The BriteTap automatic chicken waterer provides sparkling clean water for your whole flock.  Owners can begin using the BriteTap immediately with newborn chicks. Check out the video below to see the BriteTap waterer in action.

The BriteTap waterer is a great solution for your brooder because it keeps your baby chick's home nice and clean -- No pans of poop-filled water to spill out into the brooder.  No  pans of poop-filled water for you to touch or clean. Your chick gets fresh clean water every time it drinks.

Getting your baby chicks to use the BriteTap poultry waterer is incredibly easy because a chicken's natural behavior is to peck at brightly colored objects.  The red valves on the bottom of the BriteTap waterer make a great target.  Once one baby chick learns to drink, everyone else learns as well.  Most owners don't need to do anything to get baby chicks to use the waterer.

If your chicks were purchased from a hatchery or local feed store where they were using a traditional pan style waterer, we recommend showing the chicks the BriteTap before releasing them into the brooder.  Just tap the baby birds beak against the stem of the valve so show them that it produces water. Then let them go and wait for them to start pecking at the red valves. That's all there is to it.

The BriteTap water is a patent pending poultry fountain that makes it easy for backyard chicken owners to give their birds clean water.  BriteTap(TM) is a registered trademark of

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Give Water to Your New Baby Chicks

If your buying baby chicks from your local feed store, or ordering them from a hatchery, your new birds will be stressed for several days after you bring them home. This is particularly true if your chicks were purchased by mail from a hatchery since they will not have had food or water during transit.  Hatchery birds may have had a bumpy trip through the mail and, despite being packed tightly to keep them warm, they may be pretty cold upon arrival.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

To ensure a high survival rate, it's important to immediately provide your new chicks with adequate food, water and shelter. You should have your brooding area set up and ready to go. The brooding area should be warm (90-95 Fahrenheit). Set out a chick feeder filled with a high quality chick starter formula but before placing your chicks in their new home, take care of their water needs first.  Here are our recommendations...

Recommendations For Watering Baby Chicks

  • Room Temperature Water - Generally, we advise our customers to give their older chickens water that is cold to cool. (36-60ยบ Fahrenheit) Adult chickens prefer cool water and studies have shown that hens that drink colder water lay more eggs. However, baby chicks may be shocked by cold water, so it's best to provide room temperature water for the first few days.  Since water from the tap can be cold, we recommend filling up your waterer in advance of picking up the chicks and allowing the water in it to come to room temperature.
  • Water Comes First - Chickens don't go in search of water if they are thirsty. They need to be shown where to find water and this is particularly true of baby chicks. Before releasing them into the brooder, introduce your chicks to their water supply. If you are using a traditional waterer, dip each chick's beaks into the water dish before releasing them. If you own a BriteTap chicken waterer, you we recommend starting baby chicks on it immediately. The BriteTap waterer is completely covered so your chicks water will will remain free of contamination by droppings and bedding material. 

The BriteTap poultry waterer is fully covered. Chicks drink from special
valves located on the bottom of the waterer.

  • Using The BriteTap Chicken Waterer - Hold the chick in your hand and bring it over to the BriteTap waterer. Gently tap the birds beak against the stem of the valve to release some water.  Try to get you chick to drink a little water. Once you get the chick to drink, release the it into the brooding area. When setting up the BriteTap waterer, it should be placed at a height that positions the stem of the poultry nipple at the chick's eye-level.  When your chick reaches 6 days old, raise the waterer so that the stem of the valve is at head level. (see below)

The BriteTap poultry waterer is a patent pending device that makes it easy to keep the chicken water free of dirt and droppings. BriteTap is a trademark of

Saturday, January 19, 2013

When To Expect Your Chicken To Lay Its First Egg

With spring approaching, everyone is thinking about baby chicks.  And baby chicks beget thoughts about when we can expect those first wonderful eggs.

Without further ado, here are the factors that influence when you can expect that first egg to make its way into the nest box.

Factor #1 - Breed

Chicken breeds that are generally considered to be "layers" tend to lay sooner than those considered meat or dual purpose breeds.  The hybrid laying breeds start laying as early as 16 weeks.  Heritage laying breeds tend to lay about 4 weeks later (20 weeks) and all other breeds will begin laying between 20-32 weeks of age.  

I have no hard evidence to prove this, but I suspect that the breeds that lay the most eggs each year are also ones that are likely to lay the soonest. For a list of breeds sorted by annual egg production, check out my previous article How Many Eggs To Expect Your Chicken To Lay.

Factor #2 - Season & Sunshine

Breed notwithstanding, you generally won't see any eggs until the amount of available daylight exceeds 14 hours.  This is because egg laying is tied to hours of available daylight. 

Specifically, a chicken's egg laying is triggered when light falls on photo receptors located in a chicken's skin. The light stimulates a gland to produces a hormone that cause the chicken to lay.  

In the winter, there isn't enough light to produce sufficient hormones, so egg laying declines.  Egg laying picks up again in the spring when light levels exceeds 14 hours per day. 

If you get baby chicks during the late summer, you probably won't see any eggs till the following spring.  There just isn't enough light in the fall or winter to stimulate those photo receptors.  

However, If you buy chicks in the spring, you'll need to wait until your bird is both mature enough (See Factor #1) AND the amount of  daylight is sufficient to trigger your chicken's egg-laying response.

Let the Sun Shine

Yankees Rule

So when can you expect 14 hours of sunshine?

Due to the tilt in the Earth's axis, it depends on where you live. Folks living in the northern part of the U.S. will get 14 hours of sunshine sooner than those who live in the South. That gives folks in the North a bit of an advantage. They are likely to get the first egg sooner than those in the South all other things being equal (same breed, hatched on the same day) 

Below is a table that shows the first day when each of three representative cities in the U.S. will receives 14 hours of daylight.  

Want to know exactly when you will get 14 hours of sunshine? Check out the "Sun & Moon" calculator at  You'll need to click on the "change location"button in the top box of the web site to set your location. Then change the months till you find the first date when the amount of daylight exceeds 14 hours.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Backyard Chickens: Ten Tips for Dealing With Bacterial Food Poisoning

Campylobacter jejuni is a bacteria that is a primary source of food poisoning around the globe.  The bacteria is common in chickens and is easily spread through their feces. Often, chickens carry the disease but show no outward signs of infection.

Presence & Source of Contamination

In 2005, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) tested raw chicken breasts and found that 47% of samples contained Campylobacter.*  While some cross-contamination is possible, the high level of Campylobacter indicates that the bacteria is widespread in commercial poultry flocks. 

Microscope photo of Campylobacter bacteria. These nasty little devils can cause stomach
cramps and diarrhea

Backyard flocks can also harbor the disease. According to a research done in 2009 at by the University of Delaware, about 11% of backyard flocks tested positive for Campylobacter.** This is not really surprising since Campylobacter can be transmitted to chickens by a wide variety of sources:
  • Domestic and farm animals including dogs and cats, ducks, turkeys, sheep, and cattle.
  • Wild birds
  • Insects such as beetles and fleas.
  • Mice and rats.
  • Environmental sources such as ponds, puddles, streams and soil.

Once infected, chickens can pass the bacteria to uninfected birds via their feces.  A study published in the February 2013 issue of Poultry Science*** showed that Campylobacter stays viable for up to 6 days.  The bacteria’s survival time suggests that chicken feces are an important reservoir of infection and can create a permanent source of infection.
Chickens harbor Campylobacter in their guts. About 11% of backyard flocks are infected

Ten Tips for Dealing with Campylobacter

While most people get sick from eating contaminated meat, it is possible to get sick from touching poultry or eggs that have come into contact with poultry feces.

Here are ten tips are for controlling Campylobacter and limiting your risk of getting sick:
  1. Fence off your coop and run with poultry wire to prevent wild birds and other animals from transmitting Campylobacter to your flock.
  2. Remove your bird's poultry food at night to discourage mice and other rodents from visiting your run.
  3. Provide 1 nest box for every 4 hens in your flock to help keep eggs clean.
  4. Change nest box bedding regularly to also keep eggs clean.
  5. Provide safe water. If you wouldn't want to drink it, don't give it to your chickens.
  6. Protect your bird's water supply from fecal contamination. If you use a traditional waterer, make sure it is raised off the ground to limit contamination. Consider switching to a completely covered waterer like the BriteTap poultry waterer since it completely shields your chicken's water supply from dirt and droppings.
  7. If you use chicken bedding to make compost, make sure you get the compost pile hot to help kill harmful bacteria.
  8. If you add chicken manure directly to your garden, be careful to wash any produce taken from the same area for at least a week since Campylobacter can remain active in droppings for 6 days.
  9. Wash your hands after handling poultry or eggs.
  10. If your eggs are soiled by droppings, wash them prior to placing them in the refrigerator. For more information about egg washing, check out our previous article, Should You Wash Your Eggs.

* Reported in the July 6, 2012 Oregon Public Health CD Summary Report.

**Campylobacter jejuni, coli, and lari prevalence in wild birds and backyard poultry, Judith Keller, Masters Thesis, 2009, University of Delaware

***Survival of Campylobacter jejuni in naturally and artificially contaminated laying hen feces, M.F.M Ahmed, J Schulz, and J. Hartung, Poultry Science, February, 2013.