As chicken enthusiasts, we spend many hours decorating our coops, shopping for just the right accents to tie the coop together. While the girls might not appreciate our efforts, as a chicken owners, we want our girls to have a nice place to call home. Backyard chickens provide many things eggs, companionship, entertainment, fun, and decoration. Today I invite you inside and show you how I use my chickens to decorate my home.
My house is a simple, one-level ranch-style home. Some people see simplicity as mundane, I see simplicity as a blank canvas. The hub of my home is the kitchen. As a family, we spend many hours cooking, gathering, and sharing life’s stories in this room. Naturally, it’s my favorite room in the house. As a chicken keeper my kitchen theme is chickens.
First, I decided what colors to reflect my country chicken theme. I decided on sage and dark brown. I painted the cabinets to incorporate these colors. The lighter sage color offers fun, dark brown below brings grounding. The butcher block wood countertop adds an overall farmhouse feeling to the room.
To break up the brown, I hung towels over the bottom cabinets. The towels add an extra touch with chicken embroidery. On the floor in front of the cabinets, I have rugs with the incorporated colors of sage and brown.
The pantry is free-standing in one corner of the kitchen. To tie the color of the cabinets together, it is the same dark brown.
The space above the cabinets is a decorating platform. I have collected various chicken theme objects that I continuously add. Because the top of the cabinets is shrouded in a shadow, I weave some mini LED lights to illuminate my collection.
Over the sink, I adorned the window with ruffle curtains in a country chicken print. The curtains have various sage and brown hues.
Opposite the stove, nestled in the breakfast nook, stands an antique drop-leaf table. Painted a yellow accent color on the table rests an indoor spice garden. Above hangs a Tiffany stained glass light fixture. This light fixture introduces splashes of yellow and sunflowers into the overall kitchen decor theme.
Pictures of my girls comprise the wall decorations. In the hallway leading to the guest/hall bathroom, hang photos taken of the girls throughout the years. Guests that visit my home stop and take in the pictorial journey of my ladies.
Above a canning shelf hang photos of my first flock of Buff Orpingtons.
In the corner of the dining room, a triple-tier metal basket holds eggs collected from my flock. As a free-standing storage basket, this allows eggs to be kept at room temperature while saving much-needed counter space.
Above the egg tier, hang more pictures of my flock. Directly across from the front door, this display initiates many conversations about the lavish life of my girls.
Throughout my home, accents of my chickens are seen. From the sofa to the living room plant display, my girls are the focus of my farmhouse.
Keeping backyard chickens has many benefits beyond the humble egg. You can use images, eggs, and other gifts from your girls to decorate your homes. Many make wreaths from feathers shed during molting, ornaments from egg shells, and decorations from feed bags. It only takes a bit of imagination and a little creativity to create a farmhouse theme utilizing your flock.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like this blog, please visit my writing portfolio.
Daylight is retreating, leaves cover the ground and frost blankets the early morning hours. This is natures way of telling us that a change of season is upon us. As backyard chicken keepers, it’s time to prepare the coop and flock for the coming cold weather and winter precipitation. Old man winter is on his way.
For new keepers, the first winter with chickens can be a time of apprehension and anxiety. I know these feelings all too well, I was there 12 years ago with my flock as winter approached. Fortunately, winterizing a chicken coop is very simple with minimal cost, no more than the cost of a bag of feed.
Chickens are very simple creatures; all they need is a clean and dry place to call home. Contrary to popular opinion, chickens do not need heaters or other “creature comforts” to weather the worst of old man winter. They come factory installed with down coats, all they need is a barrier around their coop and pen to buffer the worst of the winter winds and weather.
Typically, I use construction grade plastic to buffer the worst of old man winter. This year, with rising inflation and supply issues, I decided to wrap my coops with feeds bags.
We are all familiar with these feed bags. They are tough heavy bags sold for 25 or 50 pounds at farm/feed stores. Due to the weight, they have to contain, they are made of tough material. They are water and weather-resistant and make excellent barriers to buffer winter winds and precipitation.
The procedure for this project is fairly straight forward. Remove the ends of the bags by cutting away the reinforced seam, then cut the bags down the side to allow them to lay flat. With a staple gun, simply staple the bags to the wood around the coop and pen. This is best done with a few helpers, someone can prepare the bags, another can assist in positioning the bags against the wood. That’s it, it’s that simple to prepare your coop and flock for winter.
Summer has surrendered to fall, leaves wrestle in the wind, fall, then scatter on the ground. The gardens have been harvested, tilled under, and prepared for the coming season’s rest. The girls are finishing their yearly molt, roosting increasingly earlier each evening. All this signifies the coming of winter, along with all its challenges for the backyard chicken keeper.
Many new backyard chicken keepers find themselves intimidated and overwhelmed wondering how to overwinter their flock. I know because I have been there. Over the years, I have learned a trick or two on how to keep your girls happy, healthy, and comfortable as outside temperatures plummet and winter weather rages.
The secret to successfully overwintering your flock is to keep it simple, enhancing your flocks naturally ability to weather the elements. Many new backyard chicken owners make the mistake of judging their flock’s comfort by their own. This is the first and essentially the riskiest mistake that a flock owner can make. This is true for several reasons.
Chickens come factory installed with a down coat, the same coat that we put on when the mercury dips below a certain point. Many owners often forget that their ladies and gents are already bundled up for winter. Increasing the temperature in the coop hinders their health and can even cause death. Reasons are these.
Heating the coop: Additional heat to the coop or pen hinders the flock’s ability to naturally adjust to falling temps. In the presence of a heated coop, your ladies will fail to grow in the down coat necessary for winter temperatures. This becomes problematic in events such as a winter storm knocking out power for hours or even days. The flock has acclimated to a warmer living environment, when this heat source is abruptly removed, shock and death can result. Like us, if resources to keep warm are removed, the inability to adequately adapt to the cold environment may result in one falling prey to the harsh conditions. In the same situation, we put on warmer clothes, huddle under blankets, sit by a fire, or drink and eat warm substances. All these necessities are not available to the backyard flock who suddenly finds themselves freezing due to dependence on a heat source. This is the first and the most serious mistake that a backyard chicken keeper can make. It is best to let them adjust to the cooler temps gradually, growing in their thick and heavy down coat as nature intended.
Heat lamps: The second mistake that new backyard chicken owners can make is the use of the humble heat lamp. Heat lamps = coop fires!!! I cannot recount how many times I saw on social media or heard about coops destroyed due to heat lamps. Heat lamps are very dangerous for a variety of reasons, when used as a winter heat source, they can be deadly. Heat lamps, (sometimes called brooder lamps), consist of a large 500-watt red bulb that is used to create a warm environment to raise chicks. While heat lamps are a danger even when used as a brooder heat source, they are even more dangerous when used around adult birds in an enclosed space. Why? There is no way to safely mount a 500-watt heat lamp in an enclosed space where the occupants can fly, accidentally knocking them down. With a coop full of pine shavings, dry straw, dust, and feathers, this is the perfect kindling and prime to start a fast, furious and complete coop fire. If you take anything away from this post, please, please do not use heat/brooder lamps to heat your coop. They will in most cases cause a devastating disaster. There are much better natural ways to assist your girls in overwintering the cold months. Below I will share safe methods that I employ to keep my flock happy, healthy, entertained, and content during the long winter season.
But first, let’s answer a simple question. What does a backyard flock need in order to weather the worst of Old Man Winter? The needs of backyard chickens in winter are very few. All they really need is a clean and dry place to call home. They do the rest. It is the job of a keeper to provide the necessary accommodations in order to meet their basic needs. Chickens are well adapted to live outside; all they need is a little help to weather the bitter winds and elements.
How is this achieved? The main thing I do to overwinter my flock is enclosing their pen with construction grade plastic sheeting. The purposes are triple fold.
Wind Break: The plastic acts as a windbreak. As the bitter winter winds blow, the plastic surrounding the pen blocks the wind, allowing the girls to retain their body heat. Chickens are more than capable of generating their body heat. Using their feathers and down coats, they can regulate the heat their bodies produce, thereby keeping warm in the winter. The cold winter winds disrupt this thermal regulation by lifting their feathers, exposing their skin to the bitter winter winds, and losing the warmth they worked so hard to maintain. A simple wind barrier helps them immensely. If allowed access to free range on a cold day, they will come and go from the protected pen as needed depending on their individual needs. If it’s a cold day, they will stay in the wind-free environment of the pen. If it’s warmer, they may spend more time outdoors hunting and pecking. Allowing them access to the outdoors while providing a wind-free place to retreat, will keep them happy and content as they weather Old Man Winter.
Precipitation Barrier: The plastic keeps the elements out of the pen, providing a dry place to call home. We are all familiar with the mystery that the cold winter rains can elitist. The same can be said for the snow and ice. Chickens prefer to avoid these elements if they can. However, since they live outside, their options may be few. This is another benefit of enclosing the pen with plastic sheeting. As the elements rage outside, the girls are protected from the snow, rain, sleet, and ice that plague the winter season. This simple barrier from the elements creates a dry and wind-free place for your flock to call home. Simply keeping the elements out of the pen helps them immensely as they weather the worst of Old Man Winter. If protected from the wind and precipitation, the cold temperatures are not an issue for the flock.
Clean and Dry Digs: Providing clean and dry digs for your flock is essential. Along with providing a wind and precipitation break, a clean coop and pen go a long way. The flock will undoubtedly spend more time in the protection of the coop/pen during winter. It’s a keeper’s job to see that their digs remain clean and dry. This is simply done by making sure the coop and pen are cleaned and maintained daily. This is necessary to keep moisture down in their living areas. We all know that chicken poo can be wet and sticky. Due to the moisture content of their poo, this creates the ideal situation for frostbite. When too much moisture is present in the coop, frostbite will settle on the combs and wattles of your roosters and larger combed ladies. Removing the poo daily from both the coop and pen prevents these conditions. Frostbite is no fun, it hurts and can be dangerous if not properly treated. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a cure.
By simply enclosing your coop/pen in construction grade plastic, you provided a conducive habitat for your flock to weather Old Man Winter. Below are some pictures of my coops and pens that have been prepared for the coming bitter season.
As the bitter weather rages, the girls will be safe and warm in their pens. Below are some pictures of the ladies braving the elements in their winter digs.
Along with enclosing the coops and pens in plastic, providing your flock with some entertainment will go a long way. During the coldest days, your flock will undoubtedly spend more time in their pen. If this occurs for consecutive days, they may begin to suffer from coop boredom. Just like us, if we spend a lot of time in a tight enclosure, we get a little restless and bored. Chickens are no different, it left too long in these conditions, they will begin to peck at each other, creating injury and a hostile flock environment. To prevent this, provide games to play and things to peck. Below are a few things that I do for my flock, to keep them happy and healthy.
Flock Block: A flock block is a very simple entertainment tool I often use during the harshest part of winter. Additionally, because they are unable to forage for grains and seeds, a flock block provides these nutrients. Flock blocks are large blocks that consist of seeds and other goodies compacted in a hard square-shaped formation. The chickens will spend hours happily pecking at the block, keeping them entertained for days on end. One block will last my flock for an entire winter. They are found at most feed stores, usually under $20. It is also possible to make your own. At the end of this post, I will leave a recipe that I use when I want something a little more tailor-made for my girls.
2. Peck the Bottle: This is a little chicken game that keeps my girls busy for hours. Additionally, it is very entertaining to watch them peck at the bottle. The supplies needed for this game are very simple. In an empty plastic water bottle adds some scratched or cracked corn. Take the bottle and poke some small holes large enough for the corn or scratch to fall through. Inside the bottle, fill the bottle half full of the treat. Place the bottle in the pen.
The flock will peck at the bottle, trying to free the corn or scratch contained inside. One by one, the flock will each peck at the bottle, moving it around the pen in an effort to consume the treat. This will keep a flock busy for days. If you have a larger flock, place a few more bottles in the pen. If you want to step up their game, fill the bottle with dry mealworms. Your flock will go crazy, working extra hard to get the worms out of the bottle.
3. Cabbage in a basket: If you want to add some greens to your chicken’s winter diet, veggies in a basket or suet feeder are a great choice. With grass and other delectables long since dormant for the season, greens are in short supply. To supplement your lady’s diet with green veggies, this wintertime trick is ideal. Simply take a suit feeder, open it, and place the veggies inside. Hang the feeder in the coop and let the games begin. Your ladies will go crazy for some fresh greens. Since it is cold outside, the greens will stay fresh for a while. Once the suit cage is empty, refill and play again. You can also put a head of cabbage in a metal hanging basket, placing it in the pen or yard for your girls to pick at. They will enjoy the fresh greens, all the while staying healthy and entertained.
4. Sand Box Spa: As winter sets in, the ground becomes covered, and saturated with snow or rain, and the girls will find it hard to keep up their beauty regiments. Simply placing a sandbox in the pen and filling it with sand goes a long way. If your pen is too small to fit a sandbox, pour the sand directly on the pen floor. Not only does this provide them a place to dust bath, but it is also provides them a great way to scratch around.
Chickens love to scratch at the ground as they hunt and peck for delectable to dine on. In winter, however, this past time is hindered due to the ground conditions caused by winter. To keep them further entertained, sprinkle some scratch or mealworms on top of the sand and watch the fun begin. They will spend hours digging in the sandbox, making sure that they have found and consumed every last morsel. This will quickly become a flock activity that they love and relish during the cold miserable days of winter.
Finally, I come to my last tip for winter care for your flock, water. Many keepers underestimate the need for clean and fresh water during the winter months. While they will drink more water in the summer to stay hydrated and cool, water is necessary for them to regulate their body temperature. During the cold months, while a flock is working hard to regulate its body temperature, water is essential. For their little bodies to keep their furnaces stoked, access to liquid water is necessary. One of the major hindrances to this process is the cold temps causing the water to freeze. To combat this, I use several methods.
The haul it method: For those who do not have a large flock, simply hauling fresh unfrozen water to the backyard several times a day is ideal. If your flock is small and someone is at home during the day, this is the simplest and cheapest method to combat freezing waterers. Since it requires no electricity or expensive accessories, this method is best if applicable.
Heated waterer: If your flock is larger and no one is home to see to the water needs of the flock, a heated waterer is ideal. Although these waterers are a little bit on the pricy side, they are a lifesaver. You can find electrically heated waterers at most feed stores. They range from $40 to $60 and are long lasting. I am still using the one I purchased 5 years ago and it’s still going strong.
3. Light bulb in a metal tin: The last method that I use is the light bulb in a metal tin. Like the heated poultry drinker, this method requires electricity supplied to your coop. If you have several coops, purchasing a heated poultry drinker for each one can get expensive. I use the purchased heated drinker for my largest coop, the rest I use this simpler method.
Simply take a metal tin (cookie or other round tin), drill a hole just large enough for a cord, string the cord through the hole in the tin, purchase a light bulb and a socket cord (used for restringing lamps) and simply screw the light bulb into the socket that is connected to the tin. Put the tin lid on, place the plastic or metal drinker on top, and presto, you have a heated poultry drinker.
The radiant heat from the bulb will keep the water from freezing. Since you need to keep the water warm enough to remain liquid a 15- or 25-watt bulb is best. You don’t want to heat the water too high, making it too warm for the flock to drink. The goal here is to keep the water from freezing. This low-watt bulb will supply just enough heat to keep the water in a liquid, drinkable state. If you don’t have any metal tins around suitable for this purpose, a terra cotta flower pot turned upside down will also do the trick.
That’s a wrap. Above are all the techniques, tools, and tricks of the trade I use to keep my flock happy, healthy, and content during the harsh winter months. As promised, below I will leave the recipe that I use to make a homemade suit treat for my girls. The ingredients used in this flock treat are typically found in every kitchen and are cheap to purchase if needed.
The Kuntry Klucker Crew’s Favorite Flock Block
2 cups scratch grains
1 cup layer feed
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup of raisins (for added fun)
1/4 cup whole wheat flower
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (aids in respiratory health)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (helps circulation)
3 whole eggs (provides calcuim , shells included, crushed to fine pieces)
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 coconut oil, liquified
preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Pat into several small baking dishes, so your blocks are approximately 2″ thick (this way they can fit into suit feeders).
If you plan to hang the flock block treat in your chicken pen, use a chopstick to make a hole large enough for twine or rope to fit through.
Bake for 30 mins, then cool completely. If you try to remove them from the pan while still warm, they will fall apart. Once cool, run a knife around the inside rim of each pan and invert to remove the block. Serve to a flock of very happy girls.
Leftovers can be refrigerated or wrapped in foil and frozen then defrosted as needed.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful or useful. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer and blog contributor. If you like my work, please visit some of my other sites.
As the Autumnal Equinix approaches the long days of summer finally retreating, this is a perfect time to consider worming your flock. Chickens, if allowed to free range, will spend most of the “dog days of summer” dining on, bugs, weeds, grass, and other delectables they find scurrying about. Worms are mostly associated with dogs, such as the dreaded heartworm, but chickens can also contract worms as well. Because most backyard chicken flocks have access to green grass, sunshine, fresh air, and bugs, they will most likely pick up worms.
While worms in your flock may be a scary prospect to face, take heart, the fact that your flock needs routine deworming means your ladies are living the good life. Look at deworming your flock as a badge of honor, a testament to the freedom and contact with the outside world that many chickens are denied.
Knowing that worms are a given in a backyard flock that lives the good life, how it is determined that a flock has worms?
The worms that infect the digestive tract of chickens are large roundworms. They are most often discovered while cleaning the coop or removing the poop from the previous night’s roost. Worms present in chicken dropping will look like fine angel hair spaghetti (I know the word picture is rather discussing, sorry about that). The worms may or may not be moving, however, it will be clear to any keeper that white spaghetti strands found on your coop floor are not a normal occurrence.
If you find worms on the floor of your coops when cleaning, this indicates that not only does your flock have worms but the load within their bodies is escalated. Allow me to explain.
A chicken’s body can handle a worm load within the normal parameters. Chickens evolved to live outdoors in constant contact with these parasites. Their bodies up to a certain point can tolerate a normal worm load in their digestive tract while remaining healthy. It is when this balance becomes compromised that problems arise. One of the indications of problems is finding worms on the floor of your coop when cleaning.
What problems do an unchecked heavy worm load cause?
Chickens with a heavy worm load will succumb to several health issues, the most common is weight loss. If you notice a hen who has begun to look rather skinny despite eating well, she may have a higher-than-normal worm load within her body.
You will also notice chickens with worms will have a dirty vent area, often caused by runny poop which sticks to their vent feathers. Listless is also common in chickens with a heavy worm load. The worms in the digestive tract consume energy from the food they eat. This will leave hens with a heavy worm load weak and often present with an appearance of ill health. A hen who does not move very much or does not leave the coop during the day is most likely weak and suffering from a worm overload.
If the worm load in the hen’s body is allowed to persist keepers can find worms in the eggs. In the end, a heavy worm load will eventually result in the death of the hen. Worms in a flock will need to be addressed.
So how does a keeper deal with worms in their flock?
Treating your flock for worms is a very easy and straightforward procedure. To address this issue in your flock you will need several things a dewormer, a syringe with the needle removed, and a partner.
To date, there is no dewormer on the market that is FDA approved for chickens. What this means is that the FDA has not specifically set aside funds and performed a test to determine the effectiveness of dewormers developed specifically for chickens. Do not let this bother you, it is safe to use dewormers produced for other livestock administered at certain doses that are safe for chickens.
**Disclaimer** The following is my methodology for deworming my flock. Keep in mind I am not a professionally trained veterinarian nor am I suggesting that my opinions should replace proper vet care given the situation. I share this information based on my experience in treating worms in my flock throughout the past decade. I do have some resources that validate my methodology.
For treating worms in my flock, I use Safeguard dewormer marketed for goats. I like Safeguard because it is a broad-spectrum dewormer. Not only will it treat roundworms in your flock, but it will also treat other worms as well (gape worms, flatworms, lungworms, etc.).
Safeguard is sold OTC (Over the counter) at most farm/feed stores, it carries an MSRP of about $30-$50 depending on location.
To deworm with Safeguard you will need to orally administer the dewormer to every individual in your flock. This dewormer is NOT mixed in food or water, it has to be administered following a specific dosage directly to the bird.
For Bantam, breeds administer 1/2cc or 1/2 ml. (metric system measurements; I cc converts to 1 ml)
For Standard breeds administer 3/4 cc or 3/4 ml
Using the measurement indications on your syringe, measure the correct dosage directly from the bottle (do not dilute) and put it directly into the beak of the chicken. The chicken will need to swallow the dewormer, so if they spit it out, you will need to try again.
I have found through experience that obtaining a syringe with a curved tip is best when orally administering a dewormer to the flock. These syringes are often stocked by dentists and oral surgery offices. When I visit my dentist for my annual cleaning, (in addition to the oral care sample bag) I will ask for some of their curve-tipped syringes for my chickens. They happily oblige my rather strange request.
Once your flock has been dewormed, you will need to administer it again in 10-14 days. The first dose of dewormer will kill all of the live worms that reside in the digestive tract of your birds. The second dose will kill and remove any eggs that may have hatched during the first dosing.
Note: during treatment, you will need to observe a 20–28-day egg withdrawal. Any eggs laid during treatment are not edible for human consumption. In addition to residue from the dewormer, it is possible to get worm fragments in your eggs. If you sell your eggs, advise your customers that you will not be able to sell any eggs till the egg withdrawal period has passed.
Once your flock has completed the deworming treatment process, your flock will be free of worms and your health status should improve.
Another Note: It is not necessary to deworm as a preventative, this does more harm than good. A chicken’s body has evolved to handle a certain worm load without any ill effects on health. Only when you notice an indication of an advanced worm load in your flock do you need to act. If you worm your flock as a preventative, you will reduce the natural ability of your flock to regulate a worm load within set evolutionary parameters.
Think of it like antibacterial soap. If we constantly wash our hands with antibacterial soap, we reduce our body’s natural ability to build immunity to the normal bacteria in our environment. Thus, reducing our body’s natural ability to adapt to the contact of these particular normal microbes. The same is applied to your flock. It may be tempting to act as a preventative but in the end, your flock will incur more harm than benefit.
Only deworm when signs of increased worm load are present in your flock.
Below I will link a video from my YouTube channel demonstrating deworming my flock. This will allow you to see my methodology and process so you can address worms in your flock.
I hope this post has helped you navigate worms and the process of deworming your flock.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like my work, please visit some of my other sites.
When acquiring a backyard chicken flock, most people opt for a flock of ladies. But for those who want a rooster or two, but are apprehensive as to which breads are best, this post is for you.
My flock total clocks in at around 50-60 birds (according to chicken math), 30-40 or so hens, and 13 roosters. Half of the gents’ free range with the girls, the rest reside in a bachelor pen. A bachelor pen is a coop/pen assigned to house just roosters. There are no hens in a bachelor pen. Contrary to the prevailing opinion, roosters can and do cohabitate well together. However, there are some tricks to successfully house roosters together. To see how I use and manage a bachelor pen, click here.
I have three large coops that house my girls,and within each of these dwellings, I have two roosters. These gents care for and protect the ladies while they are free ranging. That means, on any given day, I have 6 roosters in the yard with the ladies.
The roosters of yesteryear, which star in our nightmares, were often played by the game cock, according to today’s breeding standards. The rooster we met on our grandparents’ farm was very aggressive and for good reason. Our grandparents kept chicken to supply the family with eggs and meat, a defensive rooster was needed. However, many things have changed since our grandparent’s day.
The backyard chicken hobby has exploded, with chickens replacing the family dog in terms of popularity. Backyard chickens are quickly becoming the go-to for a backyard homestead. In the wake of COVID-19, everyone wants more control over their food supply. Backyard chickens have never been more popular than they are right now. Correspondingly, the breeding industry has responded. Hatcheries and breeders are selective breeding for behavioral/temperament traits such as calm, friendly, docile, and low-key. Most breeds today meet the needs of the backyard chicken hobby keeper. Gone is the bloodthirsty aggressive rooster that roamed our grandparent’s farm, meet the roosters of today.
Using my 13 roosters, I will provide a breed profile overview. I will highlight behavioral and temperment traits associated with common breeds developed for the backyard chicken keeper.
The first breed that I will present for consideration, is the Buff Orpington. Orpingtons as a breed are known as the “Golden Retrievers” of the chicken world. Their demeanor is calm, friendly, and low-key. They are big balls of feathers, looking bigger than they are. My very first rooster was a Buff Orpington named Roy. Roy exhibited many of these behavioral traits; he was a gentle giant. In my presence, he was very calm and relaxed. He would beg me for treats that he could give to his ladies. He was in one word a gentleman. He was never aggressive towards me and took excellent care of the ladies.
One day I witnessed his heroic efforts to save my girls from a hawk. Prepared to lay down his life, he sounded the alarm. The ladies ran for cover, while he battled the hawk. Although injured, with love and care, he made a full recovery. I learned the true value of a rooster from this experience. After that event, Roy lived on for several more years as a decorated war hero. He sadly passed away 5 years ago. I never thought I would miss a rooster so much; he was my rooster teacher. He taught me a lot about chickens and the sacrificial nature of a rooster. Ever since Roy, I have fallen in love with roosters. Today, they are one of my favorite creatures, worthy of respect and admiration.
The next gent to introduce you to is Enigma. Enigma is a Mottled Cochin Bantam. Like the Orpingtons, Cochins are also big balls of feathers. The cochin is a very docile and friendly breed. The girls make excellent mothers, and the gents make excellent roosters. No bigger than he is, Enigma has established himself as the alpha rooster of the chicken yard, all the other guys answer to him. He is a very sweet rooster and takes very good care of his girls. He is calm around humans and will even allow me to pick him up for his health inspections without much issue. He too will beg me for treats that he can offer to his girls. He allows the girls to eat first, then if there is anything left, he will partake. When free-ranging, he will often follow me hoping that I can give him a morsel to take to his favorite lady. Out of all my boys, Enigma is my favorite.
These next guys with the fabulous 80s hair are Polishes. Polishes are my favorite breed, I have more of them than any other breed on my farm. The Polishes are known as the “comedians” of the chicken world. As a breed, they are very curious but high-strung. Due to their fabulous crests, their vision is limited thus everything spooks them. Simple even mundane objects in their environment will startle them. Due to their limited vision, they cannot see what is above them. For this reason, a keeper needs to ensure that they have a covered run. If free-ranging, provide them with ample coverage as protection from aerial predators.
I only allow my polish flocks out when I am in the backyard or have multiple roosters on duty. Polish gents make great roosters for a keeper who does not mind their antics. They are very easy to pick up and hold, due to their limited vision. They are a bit high-strung making them an entertaining breed to own.
All my polish roosters are very sweet, however, curious. Due to the feathered crests, they are a bit jumpy. I talk to them before I pick them up to not give them a jolt. Characteristically, they do not make the best roosters for protection. I have ample coverage in my backyard as a hedge of protection for my polish boys.
They are very curious, often following their curiosities into predicaments, then not able to see well enough to get themselves out. They are an endless form of entertainment in the backyard. The roosters are a bit high-strung, panicky, and flighty, yet very sweet. I have several Polish roosters, all are very friendly, approachable, and curious. The ladies will often perch on my legs or arms, making them great lap chickens.
Silkies are known as the “Teddy Bears” of the chicken world. Due to their feathers that are “fur-like”, they are the cuddle bunnies of the flock. Silkies as a breed are known the world over for being very docile, friendly, and calm. They have voted time and time again as the best breed to have around kids.
I currently have a flock of 14 Silkies, 4 are roosters. Two roosters are in the coop with the ladies, the rest are in a bachelor pen. My Silkie gents are well-behaved, shy, and timid. The ladies are very friendly and enjoy interactions with their caretakers. I have no trouble with my Silkie roosters. Like the Polish, it’s best to keep Silkies in the protection of a covered coop and pen unless you are outside with them. Due to their overwhelmingly shy nature, they would rather run from a predator than protect the ladies like most roosters. When I hold my silkie roosters, they are very docile and calm in my arms. They would rather hide under a rock but are very easygoing if I need to handle them.
Next, Dracula and Frankenstein. These two guys are Easter Eggers and although not known as an exceptionally docile breed, these two boys are well-behaved. They are very curious and want in on whatever I am doing. Due to their breed, they are a bit larger than my other roosters. Despite their size, they are very calm and friendly. They do not like to be held, so I only pick them up when needed.
Silver Lace Wyandotte:
My final breed to highlight is Silver Lace Wyandottes. Wyandottes are a large breed, and Smaug is the largest member of my flock. He easily towers over the other roosters in my flock. At 12 pounds, he is a big boy. Despite his size, he is very calm, friendly, and easygoing. He is best described as the gentle giant of my flock. Due to his very relaxed nature, he is at the bottom of the rooster pecking order. I can easily pick him up and hold him when needed for health inspections. He prefers not to be held but will tolerate check-ups when needed.
While there are many more breeds available, the breeds listed I keep and can expound on associated temperament and disposition. Most roosters bred today for the backyard keeper are well-behaved. Don’t get me wrong, a rooster has a job to do, and he takes it seriously, but most are calm and friendly. I currently have 13 roosters; all are very well-behaved gents. They take good care of the ladies and are not aggressive to humans by any means. They are often my welcoming committee when I enter the backyard, curious about what treats I may have brought them.
I hope that this post has been helpful for those thinking about acquiring roosters for their flock. It is very possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to keeping roosters. Selecting gents from breeds that are well-known for being calm and docile is an excellent place to start. If you have any questions, please feel to leave a comment. You can also drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like my work, please visit some of my other sites.
Roosters, you either love them or hate them, there is no in-between. What to do with the male chicken? In some city areas, the choice is pretty clear, roosters are banned. But for those who live in the country, we have a few more options than our city-dwelling counterparts.
I am on the lover side of the rooster debate. I marvel at them as a creature and value them as an asset for my large free-ranging flock. What are the best ways to manage roosters in your flock? In this post, I will list my top three rooster management techniques.
1. Establish a bachelor pen:
After this past spring chick pick-up at local feed stores, I ended up with 7 roosters. This is the most that I have ever had in one season. I already had 6 roosters in my established flock, bringing my total rooster count to 13! But I did not freak out, why you may ask. I had a plan – A bachelor pen. Picking chicks out of the straight-run bin has its associated risks. 😊
You may be surprised to know that roosters when living together, can and do exist peacefully. Most people associate roosters with fighting when near one another. This is true if and only if hens are present. Roosters will fight to establish dominance in the presence of hens. The coveted position is that of the alpha rooster 🐓, or top dog. However, if there are no hens present, there is not much to fight over. Roosters in a bachelor pen will still maintain a pecking order but fighting will not be an issue. No hens to fight over, no problem.
I have 13 roosters, 7 free-range with the hens, as for the rest, the bachelor life it is. The 6 residents in the Coop De Ville (bachelor pen) can see the hens, but they have no contact with the girls. Because there is no contact with the hens, there is no fighting for position. I plan to leave them in the bachelor pen. If I need an individual to perform a task such as breeding or protection, I can select from the bachelor pool.
Having a few roosters on standby is an asset. If you free-range your flock, it is possible to lose a few roosters. A good rooster will often give his life for the flock. They are biologically wired with this protective behavior. It is for this reason that many keepers who free-range their flocks will have multiple roosters on guard. For example, I free-range my flock daily. Daily, I have 7 to 8 roosters in the yard with the girls. To date, I have never lost a rooster to a predator. I have had to nurse a few back from the brink due to injuries from an aerial attack by a raptor, but that is the extent.
2. Re-home extra roosters:
In the past when I only had one coop, I re-homed roosters that I could not keep. This is what it sounds like, finding a new home for your surplus roosters. In my experience, it’s easy to find a new home for your extra roosters. However, when doing this, you have to understand that the new owner may see him as dinner or a fighting contender rather than a pet.
I was not aware of this when I first re-homed some of my boys. If you list your rooster online, it is possible that he will be used for illegal cock fighting. So, it’s best to take care to find a good owner for your extra boys. If you know a friend who has a large farm, they may take him for protecting their flock. Or if you know someone who is looking to breed, this is also a good re-homing choice. If you live in an area of the country where keeping chickens is very common, it’s easy to find a home for your boys. If you are a city dweller, this may be harder to come by. You may be forced to cull him or call your state veterinarian for the best option given your area.
Another option is to connect with other chicken keepers. Join a poultry club if your area has one. The backyard chicken-keeping movement is exploding all over the country. In response, many poultry clubs are popping up in every corner of the United States. A simple google search or Facebook group search will yield plenty of options. Many of these clubs offer trading/swapping/rehoming services. By connecting with other keepers in your area, you will be able to easily find a good home for your extra boys.
3. Sell them.
On my farm, I raise rare breeds. I have the standard Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, and Australorps that you find in most feed stores. I also have other breeds that can only be purchased from specialized hatcheries. For the rare breed boys I end up with, I find that I can sell them to others who want to breed. It is these circumstances that allow me to sell one or more of my surplus boys. The same goes for my White Crested Polish, Silver Lace Polishes, Silver Lace Wyandotte, and Buff Laced Polish roosters. They can at times go for as much as $100, especially if I throw in a few hens to seed a good starting flock.
Buying from specialized hatcheries is expensive, additionally, you have to order a mandatory minimum and then pay to ship. For those who want to expand their flock themselves, this saves a lot of money. So really, it’s a win-win-win situation. They win, I win, and the roosters win by going to a good home.
You may have noticed that none of my techniques include killing my roosters. Those are viable choices as well, for me though, I love roosters and choose to allow them to live out their natural lives. For those who can process extra roosters, a freezer camp is an option. Many people use this method to manage rooster populations in their flocks. I have nothing against this, however, since I don’t butcher my boys, I cannot speak by experience on this matter. There are many videos on YouTube on how to successfully butcher and process a rooster. For those who need tutorials, this is a great resource.
I hope that you found this post helpful. If you have any questions that I did not cover, please leave them in the comments. You can also drop me a line at email@example.com.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like this blog, please visit some of my other sites.
If there is one breed that will always steal the show, it’s the Polish. If there is one variation of Polish that will take your breath away, it’s the Silver Lace Polish. The Polish breed of chickens has taken over the backyard chicken enthusiasts’ movement by storm. This year, the number one selling chicken breed, you guessed it, the Polish. What is it about the Polish breed that has backyard chicken keepers so smitten?
Polishes are characteristically very quirky, entertaining, and affectionate. Due to the ample feathered crests that crown their heads obstructing their vision, Polishes can be a bit flighty and jumpy. Just about everything in their environment startles them, and for this reason they are often the comedians of the backyard chicken world. In addition, they are very curious, often following their curiosities into humorous predicaments. Unable to see well enough to get themselves out, they call for other members of the flock to come to their rescue. For this reason, the Polish breed can be a bit more vocal than other breeds. It is this combination of attributes that makes Polishes one of the most beloved breeds within the backyard chicken movement. Now that the Polish breed has our attention, many new variations are becoming more readily available. One of the most loved variations is the Silver Lace Polish. Here are my top 5 reasons why Silver Lace Polishes are topping the charts.
(1). Stunning Appearance:
Let’s start with the obvious. These ladies and gents are absolutely beautiful!! They look like something right out of a Van Gogh painting. The command of color and contrast in their plumage leaves the observer breathless. The densely feathered crests topping their head completes the look. These fancy gals and gens appear as though they are dressed up for a chicken Gala. All of these attributes combined comprise their unique appearance that commands the attention of anyone who happens upon them. Make no mistake, Silver Lace Polishes will quickly become the gems of the flock. Many keepers including myself, keep these beauties to enter poultry shows. When not winning ribbons, Silver Lace Polishes add a bit of refinement to a backyard flock.
Often the first comment I get from visitors addresses my Silver Lace Polishes. They inquire about their unique appearance; some disbelieve that they are in fact chickens. The unique appearance of the Silver Lace Polish leaves onlookers and keepers captivated by their beauty.
The roosters of the Silver Lace variety are even more spectacular. The additional tail and crest feathers take their ravishing look a step further. Roosters command attention, but Silver Lace Polish roosters leave the observer breathless. These ladies and gents are by the far the most loved individuals of the backyard chicken Polish enthusiast. I have several Polish color varieties; the Silver Lace is hands down my favorite.
(2). Friendly, funny, feathered friends:
The Polish are known to be a very friendly, affectionate, docile, and curious breed. Silver Lace Polishes are much like their other Polish breed counterparts. The only difference between Silver Lace Polishes and other varieties is the feathered plumage. They possess all of the challenges that other Polish varieties possess.
They are very curious, friendly, and form a strong bond with their keepers. Due to their feathered crests that obstruct their vision, they can be flighty and jumpy. To keep Polish chickens successfully, a keeper must make sure to provide a covered pen, confined free-ranging space, and ample coverage. The feathered crests limit their ability to see what is above them, making them easy prey for aerial predators. Additionally, due to their crests feathers, they can be high-strung. Because of this, a keeper must be aware when picking them up as they may startle. It is this combination of attributes that makes them entertaining to keep and watch.
(3) Great for an Urban setting:
If you live in the city limits or a neighborhood and want fancy chickens, you’re in luck, Silver Lace Polishes fit the bill. All Polishes, including Silver Lace Polishes, tolerate confinement well, making them perfect for the urban setting. Due to their feathered crests, Polish chickens tend not to stray too far from the safety of their coop. If a threat is detected, they like to be close to a place of safety. Because of this, they tolerate confinement in a coop and pen very well. Other more adapt breeds for free-ranging such as the Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and Orpington become restless when confined to a coop and pen.
Another plus for the urban chicken keeper is the body size of the Polish chicken. Silver Lace Polishes and all Polish chickens come in both a standard and bantam (miniature or ornamental) size. Even the standard-size Silver Lace Polish chickens are a bit smaller than most standard-size breeds. This is an added benefit to the urban keeper. Due to their size, Silver Lace Polishes are easier for a city keeper to accommodate on smaller plots of land.
(4) Egg Potential:
Contrary to popular belief, Polish chickens lay a fair number of eggs. They are by no means record holders like the Australorp or Orpington, but they do lay eggs. For those who want a small flock for an urban plot or hobby farm, Silver Lace Polishes are great. They will give you enough eggs for your family without overwhelming you with an egg surplus.
Polish eggs are typically a medium size and white to off-white in coloration. One hen will typically lay anywhere from 2-3 eggs per week. Some hens may lay more, others may lay less. On average, I can expect one of my Silver Lace Polishes to lay an egg every three days.
Another benefit closely related to egg production is broodiness. Polish chickens are not known for being broody, for the urban keeper, this is a huge benefit. Not distracted by wanting to brood a clutch of chicks, they will give more attention to you, their keeper. This sets the Polish apart making them truly “pet” chickens. This brings me to my last point.
(5). The Ultimate Pet Chicken:
If what you are in the market for is a “pet chicken”, Silver Lace Polishes are a breed to consider. They are a quirky, loveable, friendly, and approachable breed. Due to their feather head crests, they are easy to catch and pick up, which makes them great for being around children. This means that Silver Lace Polishes are great for a family flock. Pet chickens are a great way to teach kids how to take care of animals, responsibility, and respect for other creatures. As the saying goes, “chickens are the gateway drug to farming” thus, a great way to teach lessons in sustainability. Being that Silver Lace Polishes and all Polishes are so friendly, they are great to have around an urban backyard hobby farm.
I hope that you have found this post helpful. If I did not address any questions that you may have regarding Silver Lace Polishes, please leave a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you enjoyed this blog, please visit some of my other sites.
When one thinks of fancy chickens, Silver Lace Wyandottes often come to mind. With the striking black and white plumage forming a lace pattern, it’s hard to not love these ladies. These lovely ladies and gents are uniquely American, dating back to the 1800s with admission into the Poultry Standard of Perfection in the 1890s. As an American breed, Wyandottes have become synonymous with the backyard chicken movement in the United States. Widely available at most farm and feed stores, Wyandottes are the poster chick for the American backyard flock. They say that beauty is only skin deep, not for these ladies. After keeping these fancy ladies (and gents) for several years, I have compiled 5 reasons to be head over heels for Silver Lace Wyandottes.
(1) Beauty :
Let’s start with the obvious, these girls are stunning. In a flock by themselves or in mixed flocks, these ladies steal the show. The black/white lace pattern of their plumage is striking against the background of a freshly cut green lawn. If you want to add a bit of high class to your flock, you can’t go wrong with Silver Lace Wyandottes.
Visitors to my farm, often inquire about my Silver Lace Wyandottes. As a breed, they are showstoppers and often the subject of discussion. Visitors cannot get over the beauty this breed brings to the backyard setting. I am often asked for fertile eggs so they too can have a flock of these stunning ladies.
(2) Gentile, Docile and Enduring Disposition:
If you are looking for a breed that is docile and friendly, Silver Lace Wyandottes are a great fit. When I step into the chicken yard, my Silver Lace ladies are often first to greet me. They are excited at my presence, whether I bring treats or come empty-handed. They love attention and enjoy handling and petting. If you are in the market for a lap chicken, Silver Lace Wyandottes are the breed for you.
Silver Lace Wyandottes as a breed are very curious. They always have to get into and investigate anything that I am doing, whether it be planting crops, cleaning coops, or yard care. They are my supervisors, always wanting in on what I am doing. They are very sweet, offer plenty of “hen-help”, and want nothing more than the full attention of their keeper.
Silver Lace Wyandotte roosters are well-behaved and friendly. Smaug, our resident Wyandotte rooster is a gentleman. He takes good care of his ladies and is friendly toward his humans. He is as close to a cuddle bug as a rooster can get. I have 13 roosters of various breeds, all are very well-behaved, but Smaug gets the prize. At 12 pounds, Smaug is a gentle giant and the cornerstone of the Kuntry Klucker Farm.
(3) Dependabel Egg Layers
Wyandottes are excellent layers of X-large dark brown eggs. The Australorp, also known for being an excellent layer is only outclassed by the Wyandottes in terms of egg size. While the Australorp gets the prize for the most eggs laid in a year (364 is the world record), Wyandottes are larger, proving that quality is better than quantity. In the photos above, I have placed a Silver Lace Wyandotte egg next to an Australorp egg. While the Australorp egg is dark brown and large, the Wyandotte egg (sitting to the left) is slightly darker and noticeably larger. When I first started getting eggs from my Wyandottes, judging by the size, I figured them to be double-yoker. However, this is not the case. Wyandotte eggs are very large and a beautiful dark brown. These are by far the largest eggs I have ever received from my backyard flock. With eggs this size, I plan to keep Silver Lace Wyandottes in my flock for years to come.
(4) Made in America:
If you are looking to buy American, Silver Lace Wyandottes are it. While most beloved backyard chicken breeds have origins in another part of the world, Wyandottes are born and bred in America. Uniquely an American breed, Wyandottes were first developed in the 1800s, properly named after the indigenous Wyandotte people of North America.
Silver Lace Wyandottes are a Heritage Breed. One of my principal passions within the backyard chicken movement is the conservation of Heritage Breeds. In 2015, Silver Lace Wyandottes were listed as “endangered” by the Livestock Conservancy. As of 2020, they were listed as “recovering”. Today they are no longer endangered and removed from the list.
It is through our efforts as backyard chicken enthusiasts that these beautiful birds are thriving. Without backyard chicken keepers, breeds like the Silver Lace Wyandottes and others would easily slip into extinction. While keeping backyard chickens is an exciting hobby, its roots run much deeper. As a backyard chicken keeper, you are also acting as a conservationist. All of us play this important role, whether we are aware of it or not.
(5)All Weather Breed:
Unlike other breeds such as the Silkie or Polish, Wyandottes can tolerate many different climates. They come factory installed with this superpower which has made them one of the most enduring breeds in the United States. Due to their rose comb, Wyandottes tolerate cold climates without suffering issues of frostbite as other larger comb breeds often encounter. Although heavily bodied, Wyandotte perform well in hotter climates.
For Example, here in East Tennessee, mother nature throws it all at us. In the winter we experience ice and snowstorms. In the spring we experience strong/severe storms, many with torrential rains and the threat of tornados. The summer is hot and humid, summer highs easily top 90-100F. Through it all, my Silver Lace Wyandotte ladies don’t seem to mind what the wild weather here does, they just keep on keeping on. In an area that encounters many different kinds of weather, this is an attribute that a keeper should look for in the breeds they choose.
This ease-of-care breed has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. If you are looking for a breed that is easy to care for, Silver Lace Wyandottes are a breed to consider. If you want a colorful flock, Wyandotte chickens come in a variety of colors (Golden Lace, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and Blue/Red Lace).
I hope this post has been a helpful breed profile for those interested in keeping Wyandotte chickens. If you have any questions I did not cover, please post in the comment section, or drop me an e-mail at email@example.com.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like my work, please visit some of my other sites.
Many people associate roosters with being aggressive nightmarish birds recalled as the barnyard terrors we encountered on our grandparents’ farm. Sadly, roosters are often type cast into this role by an unfair association.
Roosters are amazing creatures, worthy of admiration. Recent breeding methods have changed as the backyard chicken movement has exploded and evolved. The selective breeding methods by many breeders have yielded roosters better suited for the backyard setting. In our grandparents’ day, when a flock was kept for food be it meat or eggs, a defensive rooster was needed. However, chickens today are kept more often as pets that have the benefit of making breakfast.
The breeding industry has responded, breeding for behavioral trait qualities such as docile, calmness and friendly. Many breeds available today have roosters that possess these qualities. Breeds like the Polish, Silkie, Cochin and Orpington all are breeds that are widely available that typically have well behaved roosters. I have all of these breeds and can validate for good behavior in roosters of the aforementioned breeds.
Don’t get me wrong, roosters have a job to do and take it seriously, but most backyard flocks have well-behaved gents. Sometimes, a rooster can be so well-behaved that they are for all purposes useless.
How can a rooster be useless, you may be wondering. Allow me to introduce you to Pantaphobia, the useless rooster.
He is afraid of food:
Pantaphobia is not the fear of pants, it’s the fear of everything, including pants. As his name suggests, Pantaphobia is afraid of absolutely everything. He is afraid of ordinary mundane things chickens often encounter in their environment, such as bugs. While the other chickens in the flock can be seen chasing a juicy morsel like a fly or a moth, Pantaphobia is often running from these meals to go. Since he is also afraid to go into the coops, this also means that he does not partake of the food readily available in the feeders. He lives on weeds, grass, worms, and other morsels that he can find crawling on the ground.
He never hunts for the girls:
One of the necessary things that a rooster does for his flock is a food search. A rooster will take it upon himself to actively look for morsels for the girls to eat. Once he finds something of value, he calls his girls over to partake in his hard work. It is by evolutionary design that a rooster knows that the hens need extra nutrition to sustain the flock population. If there is anything left, only then will he eat. A rooster is a self-sacrificing soul, caring more for his hens than himself. He is more concerned about their welfare than his. Pantaphobia is quite the opposite. He spends most of the day occupying himself with hunting for grubs in the grass, but he has no interest in sharing with anyone, including the hens.
One thing that a rooster is supposed to be able to do very well is mating with the hens. In Pantaphobia’s case, this too is something that he elects not to participate in. He will never approach a hen with the intent to try to woo her for a date. He simply ignores the hens and occupies his time looking for grubs to dine on. For this reason, he never gets into many confrontations with the other roosters in the flock. He simply keeps to himself, hunting and pecking his way through the day.
He never warns the flock of danger:
It is a rooster’s primary job to keep an eye on the skies, constantly scanning for danger. While out in the yard with the rest of the flock, it is the other gents that keep watching for any threats. If the alarm is sounded, Pantaphobia will run for cover along with the hens. He will not attempt to protect the girls from the imminent threat like the other roosters in the flock. He simply runs and hides till the “all clear” is announced.
He hardly ever crows:
If there is one attribute that is always associated with roosters, it’s crowing. Roosters crow for many reasons, to establish dominance in the flock, to check in with the other roosters when free ranging, to warn the flock of danger, and just because they can. Pantaphobia, on the other hand, has no interest in this time-honored tradition. He will sometimes crow in the mornings as dawn moves over the land, but other than that, nothing. He is the quietest rooster that I have ever had. Early on, I wondered if he was a hen, but there is no question, anatomically and definitively he is a rooster.
So, why keep him?
You may be wondering why I would hang on to such a useless rooster. Well, here on The Kuntry Klucker Farm, I allow my ladies and gents to live out their natural lives. I keep Pantaphobia for the same reason that I keep my senior hens who are no longer laying, all have value. Although he performs absolutely no service for the flock, he is still a delight to watch.
Additionally, he is a White Crested Polish, my favorite breed. The Polish have the habit of being flock comedians, due to their head crests that obscure their vision. Pantaphobia does not disappoint in this department. While the other Polish residents have figured out what to be afraid of and what not to fear, Pantaphobia has not. The other Polish members will actively chase after a flying treat, Pantaphobia will run in terror. You have not adequately spit out your coffee till you see a rooster run from a butterfly.
While he may be useless in every other sense of a rooster’s role in the flock, he is not a disappointment when it comes to the entertainment value. In this respect, I got my money’s worth and then some.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. While most of today’s roosters are well-behaved (a far cry from the game-like aggressive breeds of yesterday), roosters come in all personalities. Some make good caretakers of the hens, others not so much. A rooster is a creature that it is worthy of respect and admiration, even those who are a bit of the special needs variety.
If you have any questions about roosters or chicken keeping in general, please leave me a comment. I make it a priority to respond in 24 hours. You can also drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like this blog, please visit some of my other sites.
Nothing strikes fear faster in a backyard chicken keeper than the threat of a highly contagious pathogen that could wipe out their entire flock. Bird flu is a concern and for good reason.
Over the past decade, my flock and I have weathered many bird flu watch scenarios together. During a particularly tense scenario, our little farm was two counties away from a large commercial farm that had to euthanize all of its birds. It is a scary thought for a backyard keeper who considers their flock pets or companion animals.
Although the thought of bird flu affecting your flock is scary, I am here to help put a bit of perspective into the equation and arm you with a realistic plan to help protect you and your flock.
To borrow a line from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, step one: DON’T PANIC!!! I agree with Douglas Adams 100%. Stay calm and always carry a towel.
I will start with detailing to you how I handle a bird flu scare.
Bird flu strains generally originate in Asia. There are several strains of bird flu, like the human flu, and the RNA is constantly changing and mutating. The pathogen then travels to the United States via “air mail” within migratory bird flocks as they migrate from place to place. Waterfowl are the most common vectors, but they can also be carried via songbirds and other wild birds.
When I hear of bird flu outbreaks in Asia, I pay attention, just being aware that a strain has emerged. If it stays in Asia that’s good, if it makes its way out, that’s something to pay attention to.
There are several flyways that waterfowl migratory birds take that can bring the flu into the country. My flock is most affected by the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways.
Once the virus has been reported in the United States, I pay close attention. I don’t panic, I will still allow my flock to free range and maintain their coops normally.
Once there are reports of bird flu in private farms or commerical farms within two states from my location, I will start my bird flu watch readiness plans.
During this time, I will allow no one to visit my birds or tour my farm, I will stop selling eggs, and I will cancel plans to adopt any new birds for the time being. Bird flu can easily be transmitted by these means, as I am at greater risk of myself being the vector that brings the pathogen to my flock. In the same accord, when I return from the feed store, I will change my clothes before I enter the flock environment. I will also up my biosecurity practices. I always practice good biosecurity, but during a possible flu impact, I will pay special attention to these safeguards.
Once the flu has entered my state, I will put my flock on lockdown. I only reserve this action when the threat becomes imminent. During a lockdown, my entire flock will be confined to their coop and pen. All my coops have covered runs, they will not come into contact with any wild birds, likewise, the wild birds will have no access to the flock. I will then strictly manage who enters these pens and biosecurity practices before entering the backyard and coops.
Once on lockdown, the flock will generally have to stay in this state till the treat passes. Depending on the month (spring vs fall) it could be longer or shorter. In 2016 when bird flu was detected just two counties away, my flock was on lockdown for about a month before it was safe to allow them to free range again.
I have only needed to put my flock on lockdown once, this was the year when the bird flu wreaked havoc in the United States sparking an egg shortage. Our little farm was only two counties away from the commercial farms that were affected. Although tense, I didn’t panic. I worked to the extent of my limits to protect my flock, after that it’s up to fate.
My flock has bird flu. What do I do?
However, if the worst-case scenario does occur and my flock is affected by bird flu, I ready myself for what I call my “Code Red Action Plan.”
If you suspect that your flock has contracted bird flu, a keeper needs to act fast. Bird flu is very easy to identify in a flock. The affected birds will become lifeless, the combs will be purple, and death will occur very fast (24 hours or less; multiple birds may die at once). If you have any birds that exhibit these signs, your flock has bird flu, and as a keeper, you have only hours to react.
Bird flu will not only wipe out your flock in a matter of days, but depending on the strain, those close to the affected birds can become affected. Some Bird flu strains are zoonotic and thus humans can contract it from their birds, although this is rare, it’s worth knowing. The main impact will be the quick depopulation of your birds due to deaths from the virus.
The first thing a keeper should do if they suspect their flock has bird flu is to call the USDA or their State Veterinarian. These numbers can be easily found via Google search. Once you have alerted them to the condition of your flock, an inspector will be dispatched to your farm to test your birds.
If bird flu is positive, you will be contacted by a federal agent to assist you in managing bird flu in your flock. Should a large quantity of your bird be affected or deceased in most cases they will reimburse you for your lost birds.
Some may wonder if you have to report bird flu in your flock. The answer is YES!!! A keeper is legally obligated to report suspected bird flu cases in their flock. Failure to do so is considered a crime and a keeper could be prosecuted, so yes, you have to report your flock’s condition. The good news is, if your birds all perish, most states will reimburse the keeper for their lost birds.
In some states, inspectors may be dispatched to test flocks within a certain distance of a known case. For example, currently in Indiana bird flu has been reported and dramatically affected several commercial farms. Several of my fellow feathered friend keepers were shocked to have an inspector knock on their door to inspect their flocks. In some cases, this will happen, and keepers are stunned to have inspectors show up at their door to inspect birds. All my friends affected had clean bills of health for their flocks which was a huge relief. But yes, depending on the state and the outbreak reported, this can happen.
What I am doing now? Currently, bird flu is within two states in my location. My birds are still free ranging in the backyard while I pay attention to the reports. Right now, I’m relaxed, not putting too much energy or concern into the situation. I have upped my biosecurity measures and am not allowing any visitors to my flock or adopting new birds. Other than that, it’s business as usual.
However, if reports of bird flu are found in my state of Tennessee, I will then pay closer attention. I will concern myself with the proximity and the rate of affection and prepare to put my flock on lockdown. The girls and I have been through this before, I’m sure we’ll do it again.
I respect the pathogen that causes bird flu, but I don’t panic over it. Typically, small backyard flocks are rarely affected but it can happen here and there. Backyard keepers typically take better care of their birds, living conditions are improved, and most backyard flocks have access to sunshine, a natural environment, and green grass as compared to the commercial flock which often suffer catastrophic bird flu repercussions. All of this helps increase your flock’s immunity, but it’s not full proof. So don’t panic, just have a preparation plan in the back of your mind if needed.
This post was intended to put some perspective into a bird flu scare and equip keepers with measures to protect their backyard flocks. I hope that I have achieved this objective. Bird flu is concerning but keepers don’t need to panic.
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