Easter Eggs!

 

Easter Eggers

Finally !!! One of our Ameraucana pullets is a big girl now !! A hen!

We found our very first “easter egger” bluish-green egg yesterday !  Our six EE girls were born last February – we got them in mid-April – and we have been waiting for this day since then!!  I was soooo surprised when I went to collect our 5 eggs yesterday (our 5 laying hens are usually on it daily…sometimes we only get 4 though if one is taking a rest day!)  and there were 6 eggs – a smaller bluish green egg along with the normal 3 white, 1 brown, and 1 light brown collection.

Pullets (“baby” hens) typically start laying eggs around 6 months old, but that depends on the breed.  Larger breed like Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks and Orpingtons will start laying a little later, but smaller breeds such as the Leghorns, Stars, and Australorps will start laying sooner.

We got all of our laying hens when they were already laying, so this is a learning experience for us!!!  We are excited that our other 5 Ameraucana (Easter Eggers) will start laying soon, and we also have a Barred Rock and a Blue Andalusian that are the same age, so they will be getting ready to put their eggs into the mix too!

Here is one of our Easter Eggers…maybe this “big” girl is the layer of our first blue/green egg yesterday!

 

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Cleaning the Coop Naturally

 

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Since we are new to chicken “farming”, we wanted to incorporate our love of essential oils in our poultry care! We knew that Lemon Essential Oil is awesome for its cleaning properties and it is all natural, so we decided to use it to deodorize our chicken coop!

This spray works great, is safe for our chickens, and best of all it is  100% chemical free!

  • Using a 16 ounce spray bottle – glass is best – fill 1/2 way with white vinegar
  • add 25 drops of Lemon Essential Oil – you can buy it here – swirling the bottle to mix
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with water

We clean our nesting boxes, roosting bars, and for general coop clean up !

*If you would like more information on how to get your hands on essential oils or how to use them, you can contact me here !

Fun Fact Friday – “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

This week’s read question is “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

As far as “chicken practices”, I am only assuming that the reader means commercial practices in hatcheries and chicken processing plants.  Since we are small backyard chicken parents, I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about the practices in commercial facilities, so I really can’t speak to that.  I have seen articles on Facebook about overcrowding, feeding them steroids for bigger chickens (meaning bigger chicken pieces to sell to consumers), etc. and I don’t agree with any of those things at all! I realize that we eat these little guys and gals and that we, as consumers, contribute to the demand for chicken to eat, but I believe there are farms that are more caring and I am going to make it a point to find some local organic chicken farms to purchase my chickens for eating!  Thanks for that question, it has really made me more aware of what I am eating and where and how the chickens were raised!

Now, coop setup.  This totally depends on how much room and money you have!  Just my opinion.  We have 2 chain link fence dog kennels configured into a 10’x30’ are for our chickens.

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PICTURE HERE

 

We live in a neighborhood, so they can’t free range all over the place, but we do let them in our fences in back yard to semi free range in the evenings while we are outside cleaning coops, tending to the plants, and letting our little dog Mike run around.

 

Ideally, when we have our own property, I plan to purchase a small, pre-built shed to turn into a “chicken house” with a large totally enclosed run for them with a door in the shed to go in and out.  To me, this is the ideal coop set up!  With a walk in door in the shed it makes it much easier to clean, gather eggs, and I will use the front end of the shed to store feed/cleaning items.  Sort of like these (on a smaller scale)…

Photos found on Pinterest

 

Some coop/bedding choices are:

  • Straw and Hay – a very popular choice, soft for the hens and eggs, inexpensive, and durable.
  • Pine Shavings – readily available and very affordable, this is what we use. They dry very quickly, and can be scooped out easily.  They are also great for the compost pile after cleaning out the coop!
  • Cedar Shavings – they work much like pine shavings, except for the scent and chickens respiratory systems. There are differing opinions on whether cedar is safe for chickens,  therefore, not an option for us.
  • Sand – a great choice as nesting box bedding if you are committed to spend time sifting it! I have a cat and I detest the litter box, so this is not an option for me as we have to sift litter inside already!  As a ground layer for the outside run, I would LOVE to have sand, when we own the property where our chickens live 😉   It dries super fast and the hens would love it for dust bathing!
  • Grass Clippings – they could be free but clippings tend to stay more moist. This will make them smell more.  Also, if you don’t know where the clippings came from, they may be full of pesticides or chemicals!  The chickens will pick at it and that could be dangerous!
  • Recycled Paper – again, not a favorite option of mine since there is ink in the paper and can also be slippery when wet. The main drawback is that when a hen lays, the egg is wet and the paper will stick and dry to the egg!

For the Nest Box – pine shavings are our choice.  One nesting box for 3-4 chickens is ideal.

Some ideas for nesting boxes are:

  • Covered or uncovered cat litter boxes
  • Pet carriers (you can find these at yard sales or thrift stores)
  • 5-gallon buckets obtained from restaurants or other sources, on its side
  • Plastic dish tubs
  • Plastic milk and soda crates
  • Wooden crate (harder to clean than plastic)
  • Old drawers from a dresser or desk
  • Plastic storage tub – cut a hole in the lid and lay on its side

Chicken Feed:  totally a personal choice as to what you think is best for your flock.  We chose Nutrena Layer Feed from Tractor Supply.  It has all the nutrients and egg hardening properties for “adult” (over 16 weeks) hen!   We do have 2 that are just under 16 weeks and have also been eating this feed.  I’m thinking now I should go buy this. I just realized they are NOT 16 weeks old yet  – still a few weeks to go!  We tried the pellets first, but our flock seems to like the crumbles better!

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So, I think this week’s Fun Fact Friday is a wrap!  I hope I answered the questions of “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”!!

Next Friday we will be looking into our final reader question…”What would be your number one tip for new chicken owners?” – please come back next week and join us!

 

 

Fun Fact Friday – Do you ever sell chicks or eggs? Is that regulated at all?

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Our next reader question is – Do you ever sell chicks or eggs? Is that regulated at all?   Great questions!!

We don’t raise chickens, so as far as selling chicks, I had to research that and here  is the North Carolina Statutes on Chick Dealers and Hatcheries.  I learned a lot reading through this…thank goodness we never intended, nor had a desire, to hatch or sell chicks!

So, yes, there are laws governing selling chicks and hatching eggs (eggs that have been fertilized and are being sold for hatching purposes).

Selling eggs for eating (unfertilized eggs) we do!  North Carolina law – the “Egg Law” – can be found here.  The short version of the Egg Law is “a producer marketing eggs of his own production shall be exempt from this section when such marketing occurs on the premises where the eggs are produced, processed, or when ungraded sales do not exceed 30 dozen per week.”

Our Oily Homestead Eggs

 

The way I read that is that if a farm sell eggs that their chickens lay and the sale takes place on the property where the eggs were laid, they are exempt from the grading of eggs, or if they sell less than 30 dozen ungraded eggs a week (that’s a bunch of chickens y’all  – 360 eggs a week – that would be a max of 360 hens!!!)  Also, containers must have the word “Eggs” on the container along with the farm’s name.  We purchase our egg cartons at our local Tractor Supply Store.

We sell eggs to our friends that know the value of fresh eggs!  We only do this when we have an abundance of eggs – our main reason for having our hens is so that we are more self-sustainable – but when we have more than we will eat, we sell a dozen or two!

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That’s pretty much it in an “eggshell” – NC laws for selling chicks and eggs – at least that is what my research turned up!

Fun Fact Friday next week will tackle the question – “Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.”

See you next week !

Fun Fact Friday – “Chicken Regulations”

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Our next reader question is… “Are there regulations in your area for how many you can own in proportion to the size of the property you own?”

Yes, there are regulations for those that live inside the city limits of Goldsboro, NC.  The restrictions are as follows:

“The chickens must be kept in a well-ventilated enclosure large enough to give 10 square feet of space for each chicken and at least 15 feet from all property lines and roosters are not permitted unless the property is a bona fide farm or at least 200 yards away from any dwelling, hospital, school, church or eating establishment.”

Source:  Goldsboro News Argus (http://www.newsargus.com/news/archives/2012/10/21/chickens_allowed_within_city_limits/ )

Residents that live outside the city limits (that’s us!) but inside Wayne County (the county we reside in), have no restrictions other than moral/neighborly ones!   We {thankfully} live in the county, we do not own our land, we rent the land our mobile home in on, but since we are not in the city limits, we have no restrictions.  We do, however, consider our neighbors and do not have any roosters – we like our neighbors and don’t want to infringe on their peace and quiet…and we don’t want chicks !!!

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Because our chickens are more like pets that feed us breakfast, we also follow the recommended guidelines for the amount of space that a chicken needs individually – at least 10 square feet per chicken.  Since we have 12 hens, we would need 120 square feet of space for them, and we provide them with 300 square feet of run space – along with daily “yard time” with us and our dog, Mike.

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So there you have it…the “chicken rules” for our neck of the woods ! Very simple regulations, but they were very difficult to find!  I called our animal control department, searched the web and the only thing I came up with was the news article!

Next week we will be covering selling chicks and/or eggs !!! Stay tuned !

Just for giggles….here are  a few fun facts for this Friday –

  • A female chicken is a “pullet” until she is old enough to lay eggs, when she becomes a “hen”
  • Male chickens are called “roosters”
  • Most eggs are laid between 9 and 11 am
  • You can tell if an egg is fresh or stale by dropping it in water…fresh ones will sink
  • Chickens have full-color vision
  • Chickens establish a “pecking order” in social situations
  • Chickens can run at a speed of 9 mph {I’ve seen ours run…and this is TRUE!}

Fun Fact Friday – How many chickens do you need?

The first reader question we got was “How did you decide how many chickens you need? I mean how many would fit?”

That’s a GREAT question !  One that is very important to decide from the start!

In our research, of both the internet and local “chicken parent” friends, we determined that 6 hens would be a good number for us to start out our backyard flock.  Based on averages for our area, a good laying breed, such as the White Leghorn, will lay 5-6 eggs per week – if they are overachievers you may even get an egg every day from them !  Rhode Island Reds are also good layers we hear.

Since our family consists of my awesome hubby and me, we decided on 6 hens to start off so we’d hopefully get a couple dozen eggs each week.  We both love eggs and eat them daily!  We did get 3 hens before we really researched well, and luckily those 3 (a Delaware – named Della – and 2 Welsummers – Brownie and Broody) are great layers too and we wanted some brown eggs along with the white ones from the Leghorns (all named “Holly Hen” since we got them from our friend Holly)!!!  No, we are not very original with our chicken names, don’t judge! 🙂

So, from our 6 ladies we usually get 4-6 eggs a day…those leghorns really ARE great layers – which gives us an average of about 3 dozen per week.

We have recently added 6 Ameraucana pullets, but they are only 2 months old now and have not yet been incorporated into our little flock yet.  They will lay blue/green eggs when they do start producing, one of the reasons that we got them – and they were hand raised by our good friends, Hannah and her son Jacob, at Humble Hollow Farm.

mike and chickens

We decided on the extra hens for several reasons – the first one being that we are addicted to our chickens and wanted more!!!  Seriously, we LOVE have chickens in our backyard – even our little dog Mike likes the hens!  When we let them out of the run to free range a little during the day, he loves to lay and watch them too !  Another reason is that we have family and friends that love fresh eggs, so we wanted to be able to give some to family and sell some too (which is another question we will be answering in our series on Fun Fact Fridays – “do you ever sell chicks or eggs and are there any regulations”.

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That’s our dog Mike with the chickens…he thinks he is a black and white rooster!                          He loves the hens!

So, the short answer to the question of  “How did you decide how many chickens you need? I mean how many would fit?” is that we wanted about 3 dozen eggs a week so we chose 6 hens to make sure we got the amount we wanted.

The answer to the second part of that question is this:  we purchased our coop/run after we decided on 6 hens and bought/built according to the size appropriate for 6 hens.  Our first coop (we bought a second one for the 6 new pullets) will hold 6-8 hens at night and has 4 nesting boxes (you really only need about 2 for 6 hens as they share nesting boxes very well!). We also expanded our “run” to accommodate 12 hens to 300 square feet.

Chickens need approximately 4 square feet of coop space (nighttime roosting and egg laying) and 10 square feet of run space per chicken.  Of course the more room you can give them, the happier they will be and happy hens = good laying hens!

I hope that answered the question well….hubby and I really enjoy learning more about our chickens, so these questions have been alot of fun !!!!  Keep asking and we will be back next Friday for another Fun Fact Friday!

hubby and Blanche

Fun Fact Friday is coming!

Fun Fact FridayWe are doing a series on “chicken questions” – things that some readers wanted to know! Although we are in no way chicken experts, quite the contrary, we are learning as we go! These questions are helping us also.

Here is a list of the questions we have been asked so far…we will be answering the first one on “Fun Fact Friday”!  Each Friday during our series we will learn some fun facts – the first series will be facts about chickens with these questions from our readers !

  • How did you decide how many chickens you need? I mean how many would fit?
  • Are there regulations in your area for how many you can own in proportion to the size of the property you own?
  • Do you ever sell chicks or eggs? Is that regulated at all?
  • Are there any common chicken practices that you believe to be harmful or just less-than-ideal? Certain coop setups, feed, nesting materials, etc.
  • What would be your number one tip for new chicken owners?

So stay tuned for this Friday when we tackle the first question…how we determined the number of chickens we thought was appropriate for our little urban homestead!

See you Friday!

Questions !!!

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We have had a lot of people ask us “chicken questions” so I thought this might be a great blog topic !!  We are still learning the ins and outs of being chicken parents ourselves, so this should prove to be a fun assignment !

All I need for my readers and Facebook followers to do is – Ask Questions !  Ask anything you are wanting to know about chickens, coops, feed – anything, and I’ll do a little research if I don’t know the answer and then we will have a Q&A session on the blog !

I look forward to hearing your questions and researching the answers !

Cleaning the Coop!

A great natural alternative for cleaning those coops! No harmful chemicals, all natural, and safe for your feathered friends!

We always try to use a chemical free product whenever possible, for pretty much everything!  A lot of what we use for household cleaning, skin care, pet care, and now “chicken care” are DIY recipes made with essential oils!

I am loving this coop cleaning spray! Smells fresh and has great cleaning properties!  Read more about lemon oil here, and to find out more about essential oils, check out our “How do I get those essential oils” tab on our main menu!

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