Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just the Tip of the Chicken

  • Chicken feathers can be composted. They can be broken down within 48 hours with good bug activity. Ever noticed a bird's feather standing straight up on your lawn? The ants were towing it back to their nest to eat, too.

  • Clean out open water troughs and containers with herbs to fight bacteria. Avoid using cloths to clean water containers as they can often introduce bacteria where there wasn't any to begin with. Grab a few stems of lemon balm which is renowned for its antibacterial properties, and wipe out any slime and grit from the trough before rinsing and refilling.

  • Add a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to the chicken's water container. This will assist the maintenance of their gut health and to reduce bacterial problems in their water. Water must be changed every 1-3 days if in an open container/trough.

  • Chickens cannot taste or smell garlic and chilli like a human can. Why is this good to know? Because garlic and chilli are excellent natural wormers that can be easily added to your flock's diet.

  • To keep slugs out of your chicken feed simply change the floor covering in their shed. Instead of straw or concrete with deep litter, change to either sand, sawdust or shell grit. Anything that gums them up will deter those kinds of pests. (Change to enclosed feeders where possible to keep food drop from the floor.)

  • Paving or concreting a chicken coop floor will keep out the mice. If your hens have been scared to go into their shed lately, it's either a mouse, lizard or snake.

  • Hens can crow. It is rare but when there is no rooster around one hen may actually take on some male characteristics, even growing a spur or two on their legs like a rooster. Its part of their flock protection behaviour.

  • Old chickens might still lay sometimes. Seasons can affect even the oldest hen who seems to have stopped her laying. Increasing calcium via a little yoghurt once or twice a week, and increasing protein with meal worms or a chop bone with a little meat still on it can often spur a little extra surprise egg laying. If a rooster is in the flock she may also start a few days of attempting to lay just to impress him.

  • Don't place deep litter from the coop into standard compost bins. The reason is that it will compact very quickly, goes hard, and will make composting impossible.
    Good compost must stay open with a balance of ingredients to break down efficiently.
    'Deep litter' usually consists of chicken grain/pellets, straw, dried greens and manure.
    Best used on empty garden beds and dug through 1-3 months prior to planting.

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