Keeping Multiple Roosters in Your Backyard Flock.

Contrary to what is commonly thought, keeping multiple roosters in one flock is a worthwhile decision especially if your birds free range. It is a misconception to assume that only one rooster is best to oversee your flock. However, in order for multiple roosters to live in peace with each other, several requirements need to be meet. In this post, I am going to show you how my 6 roosters cohabitant while presiding over their girls. But first, allow me to introduce you to all the boys.

Dracula and Frankenstien: Dracula and Frankenstien are Easter Eggars they roost in The Kuntry Klucker, they grew up together and are buddies.

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Van Gogh: Van Gogh is a Polish part of the same clutch as Dracula and Frankenstein. Because they grew up together and roost in The Kuntry Klucker these three are civil with each other and get along well.

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Enigma: Enigma is a Motted Cochin, he is the oldest of The Kuntry Klucker boys. At 3 years old, he is the senior rooster in The Kuntry Klucker. He is civil with the other three roosters in the coop but prefers to put distance between himself and the others during the day while free ranging. He looks after the oldest girls, Buff Orphingtons who are pushing 9 years old this summer. He also adopted two White Crested Polish ladies that live in another coop further down the “coop-hood” as part of his section of girls to look after.

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Devros and Micky Smith: Devros and Micky Smith share responsibility in taking care of the Silkies that live in the TARDIS. They collectively look after these girls and will run the larger boys off that cross over their boundary line.

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To successfully keep multiple roosters in your flock these three requirements need to be meet.

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1.Ample Space

The first thing to consider in keeping multiple roosters is space. Roosters, if several are present in a flock will divide up the free ranging space into territories. Each rooster will look after a portion of the girls in “his” specified territory. Each rooster will know the boundaries of his dominion. If a rooster should step outside his bounds a confrontation would then ensue. To ensure that your roosters will live peacefully with one another they must have enough space to roam.

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For example, I have 6 roosters roaming my backyard every day. Three of my boys who grew up together (Dracula, Frankenstein and Van Gogh) inhabit the same territory. These three boys have their own hens but are more than comfortable to be near each other during the day, sharing the same territory.

My other 3 roosters are a bit more territorial. Enigma, who roosts in the same coop as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Van Gogh does not really appreciate these three individuals near his ladies. When they are in the backyard he will run them off from the section of the yard that he has claimed as his jurisdiction.

Devros and Micky Smith (my Silkie Roosters) grew up together like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Van Gogh they are civil in sharing the same territory with each other. However, if any other of the boys breech their territorial boundaries they will collectively run off the intruders.

2. Several feeding and watering stations

When free ranging it is the job of the roosters to look for food for the girls. He will hunt for bugs, seeds, or weeds for them to dine on. He will also lead them to food and water if he feels that it’s time for them to eat. Each rooster leading a section of the hens, multiple feeding and watering stations makes it possible for them to take care of the girls while avoiding confrontations over the food and water supply. Each of my coops have their own food and water plus an additional one in the yard to ensure that all my chickens and especially the roosters have ample access to nourishment for both themselves and their ladies.

3. Sufficient number of hens

The roosters and hens will decide amongst themselves who belongs on which rooster team, there needs to be enough hens to go around. It is typical for one rooster to manage and service anywhere from 6-10 hens individually. If there are not enough hens to divide amongst the boys serious problems can arise.

If there are too many rooster for too few hens the hens can become injured through over mating. The hens will be mated too often which can cause feather loss, wounds on her back, and other injuries by aggressive mating by too many roosters. If there are too few hens, fighting amongst the roosters will be more frequent as they compete for the hens.

To combat this problem there are a few solutions that can be implemented. If you want to keep all your boys, you can establish a Bachelor Pen for access roosters. I have two, one for my standard size boys and one for my bantam size boys. All members live peacefully in their bachelor digs.

Another option would be to re-home or cull your access boys. The long and short of it is either an increase in hen number is needed or a decrease in rooster numbers in needed.

I have about 50 hens total and 6 roosters in the yard to look after them and care for them when I am not around. I do have more than 6 roosters, my rooster total is actually 15. I chose the best roosters to be in the yard with the girls, the rest I have placed in bachelor pens. Not all roosters will be best for your ladies, some can be bit rough or too aggressive during mating or with other roosters. The roosters that have the best temperaments with the other boys and gentle with the girls made the cut.

If an unfortunate event transpires where I lose one or more of my boys either to illness or a predator attack, I will then pull from the bachelor pool to fill the job opening. I also keep my boys for breeding. I tend to gravitate towards the more rare breeds so being able to procreate my flock is of value to me. Thus, unlike a lot of backyard chickens keepers I hang on to all my boys. I have found throughout my years of keeping chickens that a rooster is a creature of value and worth. I may not need the service of all 15 at one time but there may come a time where I will need them.

I hope that you have found this post helpful in managing roosters in your flock. If you live in the city, roosters are most likely not permitted. However, those that live in the county or country have more options when it comes to roosters.

I am of the persuasion that roosters are an amazing creature. I value them for the part they play in the social structure of a flock. In the past, I have sustained a span of several years where I did not have a rooster. During this time I learned the true value of a rooster and the completion and balance that his presence truly brings to my flock.

Roosters are not the blood thirsty vicious creature of the past. When hand raised and raised with care they make a very admirable addition to the backyard or barnyard setting.

Before I go, I want to leave with you a video of my roosters greeting the new day.

As always, thanks for reading!!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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The Essential Beginners Guide to Backyard Chickens.

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So, you want to raise chickens but you have absolutely no idea where to begin. In this post I will tell you how I began my adventure with raising chickens and show you how to begin your own chicken journey as well.

It was about 10 years ago when I first thought about keeping chickens. I had never had chickens before nor was I raised around them. My grandparents had a farm where they raised produce and pigs. I visited every summer but that was the extent of my country upbringing. I had a pretty good handle on how to garden and grow crops but as to livestock, I had to start from square one.

In a world where we can buy literally everything we need at the store I waned to have a say as to where my food comes from. I wanted to have farm fresh eggs and a garden where I could grow organic produce for my family. I did research on gardening and how to cultivate this hard red clay that we have here in Tennessee into something useful.

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I found through this endeavor that soil conditioning and fertilizer in the form of manure is a good place to start. I also found out that chicken poop in particular is the best from of fertilizer. Chicken as opposed to cow or horse manure does not contain seeds because chickens process everything they eat. Due to their grinding organ, the gizzard all seeds are broken down into usable fuel for a garden. Cow and horses’s on the other hand do not process all the seeds they eat resulting in fertile weed seeds for your garden. So in order to have the homestead and garden that I wanted I had to get chickens. Thus stated the adventure with my backyard divas.

Why do you want chickens?

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If you are reading this blog post you have already decided that you want to get chickens. This is the first and foremost thing to consider before getting your first flock. Keeping backyard chickens is very rewarding with many benefits but they do require daily care and attention. Knowing why you want to dedicate the time and resources required in keeping a backyard flock is very important.

Know your zoning laws.

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Before you even look at coop designs and hatcheries you need to find out what your zoning laws require. Every state has a different zoning law when it comes to livestock. Unlike a cat or dog, there are strict laws concerning pet chickens or as the state views them “livestock”. If you are in the city, if they are allowed, you will be limited to a small number of hens in your backyard, usually 6 or so, omitting roosters. Most city ordinances do not allow roosters per the noise issue.

If you live in the county or country in your particular state then livestock is most likely permitted. But still you need to check your zoning laws to be sure of any and all restrictions. For example, I live in a rural county in East Tennessee. Although I am outside city limits I still have to abide by certain guidelines when keeping livestock. Such as my coops need to be at least 250 feet away from my neighbors front door, my animals must be contained by either a fence or pen attached to their coop, and I need to have a good waste management routine implemented to reduce both varmints and odors that may bother my neighbors. I have meet the requirements of all these stipulations and more. My girls coops are in our backyard which is enclosed by a 6 foot wood privacy fence. Their coops and pens are cleaned and maintained daily and I practice good manure management which aids in both good health for my girls and odor reduction.

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Do your research..Breeds, temperament, disposition.

 

 

This is where you need to ask yourself what kind of chickens do you want? Do you want to keep a flock of chickens for eggs or do you want them for meat for the table?

Do you want to involve your kids in keeping backyard chickens? Do you want to keep them purly for the enjoyment and fun of owning backyard chickens? What temperament do you want in your backyard flock?

These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself. Of course chickens can offer much for then eggs and meat, they can be pets, forms of entertainment and as much of a companion as a family dog. The spectrum is so wide ranging when it comes to chickens that you can literally have your cake and eat it too.

Most people want to have a flock of chickens that are docile and friendly. If kids will be involved with caring for the chickens this is most likely of upmost importance to beginning keepers. Luckily there are many breeds that would fit this bill. I will list a few of the most friendly breeds for you below. I have most of the breeds or have interacted with them at some point and can vouch for these breeds as being very friendly. As with people, chickens have personalities as well, some may not be as friendly as others but when viewed as a whole these breeds will be great choices for a beginning backyard setting.

Buff Orphington

Silkie

Polish

Silver Lace Wyandotte

Australorp

Cochin

Easter Egger

Brahma

Sussex

Faverolles

Leghorns

Rhode Island Reds

Plymouth Rocks

If eggs is what you want some of the best breeds for egg laying are Orphingtons, Australorps, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, Production Reds, Leghorns and Plymouth Rocks.

As for meat chickens, typically any standard or large duel purpose bird will do. However,   Cornish Crosses are typically chosen to meet this need. I do not raise chickens for meat so I am not educated enough to speak into this. There are many youtube and other sources on the net to help you get started on this path.

Where to get your chicks? Hatcheries or Feed Store.

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After you have decided what purpose you want your chickens to fill you need to decide where to get them. I have purchased chicks from both feed stores such as Tractor Supply and Rural King and from hatcheries. There are pros and cons to both. I will list them below for your consideation.

Feed store chicks

~ pros: cheap, no waiting time, you can hand pick your chicks, usually older chicks typically a week old or more, don’t need to be picked up early in the morning at the post office.

~ Cons: usually only basic breeds, depending on store the care of the chicks can be poor, easy to purchase too many (I struggle with this one, I want them all), typically sold as straight runs (not sexed, you WILL get both hens and roosters), chicks tend to be more high strung and flighty due to feed store environment, sold during the spring months only (February thru April) although some locations may have chicks in the fall.

Hatchery

~ Pros: Chicks are sexed (you can purchase only pullets or hens omitting roosters), chicks are usually in better health, can purchase rare breeds, chicks are typically of better quality, can order your chicks to be shipped any month (except winter months).

~ Cons: more expensive (you will need to pay shipping which can be as much as $45 depending on location), you will need to schedule a time to be home to receive your chicks ( you will need to clear two days from your calendar to pick up your chicks at the post office, they can be delayed in the mail), chicks will arrive at your post office (you will be called early usually between 5-7am to pick up your chicks when the overnight truck arrives), some chicks may die in transportation (be prepared to open you box and find dead chicks, this has only happened to me once in 10 years), orders typically need to be placed in November around Thanksgiving for spring chicks.

Given both methods of acquiring chicks, I prefer to work through hatcheries. Yes, it is a bit more expensive but I have several reasons for this preference. I will list them below.

1.) I like knowing that I am the only one to care for them from the moment they arrive. Such things as the feed I give them to the quality of the water and vitamins I administer in their water.

2.) I  like the wider selection that hatcheries offer. I tend to gravitate towards more rare breeds not offered in the feed stores.

3.) I find that they are healthier and less traumatized than those purchased at the feed store.

4.) I have found that they are less flighty. Chicks sold in feed stores constantly have hands grabbing for them causing them to be more flighty and high strung. The chicks that I purchased from the hatchery despite traveling are much calmer and easier to hand raise. Chicks bought from the feed store are very skittish and harder to hand raise. Due to their exposure to the feed store setting they are often terrified of hands.

If you decide that chicks from the feed store meet your needs, visit your local Tractor Supply or equivalent in your area and begin your backyard chicken adventure.

For those who decide after careful consideration that hatcheries are a better route for you, do your research before you order. There are many hatcheries out there to choose from. Who you order from will have a lot to do with what breeds you want. Some hatcheries specialize in heritage breeds where as others offer more of the rare breeds.

I have ordered from several hatcheries all with good experiences. I will list the hatcheries below that I have personally done business with and can vouch for their service and quality of chicks.

Cackle Hatchery – I ordered my first clutch of chicks from Cackle. 9 years later, I still have 5 of the original 17 Buff Orphingtons that I ordered.

My Pet Chicken – I order all my Silkies and White Crested Polish Chickens from MPC. They are great outfit and offer some of the more rare breeds of chickens.

McMurray Hatchery – I have ordered some of my very rare Polish breeds through McMurray. They also stock some extremely rare breeds if you are interested in something a little bit different for your backyard flock.

Preparing The Brooder.

 

 

Now that you have ordered or plan to pick up your chicks at your local feed store or co-op its time to set up their brooding digs. A brooder is basically a heated home for your newly hatched chicks. In nature, the mother hen would be the brooder. She would keep them warm, teach them how to drink and what to eat. Since you picked up or ordered your chicks you essentially have to be the mother hen to these little ones. Don’t worry, it’s really not hard at all. There are just a few very important steps that need to be taken to insure the successful transition of your chicks.

     what you will need:

1. Enclosed container with sides

     2. Heat source

     3. Feeder and Feed

     4. Waterer and vitamins to put in the water

     5. Pine Shavings

     6. Other accessories such as perches or toys to keep them occupied.

For my brooder set up I use a Puppy Play Pen these can be found on Amazon and most pet stores. I like to use these for brooders for several reasons.

~ 1. They are completely enclosed, this means that all the shaving stay in the brooder reducing much of the mess. The screened sides allow for air flow and visual access to your chicks. Due to the fact that the chicks can see and observe their world outside of the brooder, I find that chicks that are raised in puppy play pens are more chill and less flighty.

~ 2. They have a top. This will become important when the chicks get to the flying phase of their development.

~ 3. They are easy to clean, fold up, and store easily.

Heat:

As for the heat source, I discourage the use of heat lamps. Most people associate brooding chicks with the big red 500 watt bulbs blasting the chicks with intense heat and light. This was the common way of brooding chicks during our grandparents day. As for todays chicks, brooding has taken on a better much safer route to supplying heat to your chicks. Brooder lamps as they are known are very dangerous. There is no way to safely mount a lamp around shaving (kindling wood) and flying animals as to not accidentally start a fire. I cannot tell you how many times I have had people tell me or I see on facebook coop, barn, and house fires caused by the humble heat lamp.

In lieu of a hazardous heat lamp I use a Brinsea Ecoglow Radiant Heat Plate . These heat plates mimic the heat from a mother hen rather than blasting the chicks with unnatural light 24/7. These are a much safer option for heating and do not carry the risk of fires, injury, and death that the heat lamp bulbs of years past do.

Feeders:

Next, you will need chick feed and a feeder. When it comes to chick feed there are two school of though. Medicated or unmedicated. Medicated chick feed has a medicine in the feed to prevent or give the chicks an immunity to coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is a disease of the intestinal track which chicks are very susceptible to. Coccidiosis contributes to a large percentage of deaths in young chicks. The medicated feed prevents this condition giving them a much healthier start in life.

Unmedicated feed is also a good choice used mainly by people who choose to give their chicks a more organic start to life. Either is fine, you as the caretaker just need to decide which route is best for you. As for me I am pro medicated chick feed. Since I switched to medicated feed I find that I lose less chicks and that they are healthier from the get go. As for the feeder, feed stores have a wide variety of feeders to chose from. Just pick the one that fits your brooder set up the best.

Waterers and vitamins:

The type of waterer you have is very important. The goal of the waterer is to give your chicks access to clean fresh water taking great care to make sure that they do not get wet. Once again when it comes to waterers there are two schools of thought, traditional waterers or poultry nipple drinkers.

The traditional waterers are widely available at feed stores, just make sure that you get a small one to prevent the chicks from getting wet. The poultry nipples can be found at some feed stores, but most of them have to be ordered. I do not use the nipple drinkers so I cannot speak too much into how to train your chicks to use them. I know that others use them with much success, I have just never taken the steps to train my girls to use them. I find that the traditional waterers work best for me.

Like people, vitamins are very important to young growing chicks. I put vitamins in my chicks water daily for the first several months. The vitamins insure that the chicks are getting all the nutrients that they need to get a good start in life. Some vitamins have probiotics in them which gives them an additional boost in the right direction. Most feed stores have poultry vitamins available, I typically pick them up at Tractor Supply.

Shavings or bedding:

Brooder bedding serves the purpose of absorbing moisture, keeping your chicks healthy and happy. The safest bedding to use around chicks is pine shaving. Most feed stores stock pine shavings, they can also be found at Walmart if your local feed store is out. An important note about shavings, cedar in particular is toxic to chicks, take care to make sure that you use pine shavings in your brooder set up.

The pine shaving should be cleaned out once a week and replaced with fresh, more often if you have a quite a few chicks in your brooder.

How to Introduce your new chicks to the brooder and teach them to eat and drink.

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When you first arrive home with your new chicks, the first thing you want to do is teach them what water is and where to find it. After traveling for several days, they will be thirsty. To relay this important survival information to your chicks, dip their beaks in the water as you remove them from their shipping container as you place them in the brooder. Do this for every one of the chicks. You may need to dip their beaks in the waster more than once for them to make the connection. You will know that the connection has been made when they soon after drink from the waterer on their own. They will be thirsty so it will not take them long to appreciate the water.

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Chicks naturally have a pecking instinct, this means that they will peck at anything that is in front of them. It is your job as a caretaker to teach them what is safe to eat. The best way to do this is to line the bottom of your brooder with paper towels for the first few days. On top of the paper towels scatter some chick feed. The chicks will instinctively peck at the feed teaching them that “this is food”. If you put new chicks on the shavings they may eat the shavings mistaking them for food. After they learn to identify their food and the source by eating from the feeder you can remove the paper towels and expose the shavings. They will enjoy scratching in the shavings looking for food, much like adult hens do when looking for bugs in the grass.

Once everyone is eating and drinking on their own, you can take a sigh of relief. From this point on they are able to take care of their needs and will regulate their food as water intake as needed. The first week they will spend a lot of time under the heater and sleep a lot. Beginning in the second week they will be a lot more active and enjoy interacting with their caretaker.

Once the young brood is completely feathered out they can move into their outdoor digs. The time of year you acquire your brood will make a huge difference on when they can be moved outside to their coop. If you get them during the colder months say in February or March, depending on your location, you may have to keep them inside a bit longer. To get around this I typically request my hatch dates to be in May and June. During these months the temps are warmer especially at night. I do this so that I can get them outside a lot sooner. During these summer months I can even brood my chicks outdoors in a protected coop. I often resort to this method of brooding. I find that the chicks do much better early on if raised outdoors. Additionally, it frees me from the shaving mess and dust that chicks produce giving all of our allergies a much needed break.

I set up a brooder outside just the same as I would set up one indoors. I provide the essentials food, water, and heat. I simply purchase an industrial outdoor extension cord, run it to the coop and hook the power up. I am currently brooding a clutch of 6 White Crested Polish Bantam chicks in The Coop De Ville. All are doing well and are enjoying the coop life.

 

 

Getting the Coop purchased and constructed

Now that that you have your new additions home and brooding, if you have not already, it’s time to get their outdoor digs ready.

Once again, when it comes to coops there are two schools of thought, hand-built or prefab. I have done both and will link the blog post where I discuss this in detail here. Which ever method you choose is up to you. I really don’t think one is necessary better than the other, its whatever works for you and your family.

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I have 5 prefab coops and find with proper care they last a long time. I also have 2 hand-built coops that too with proper care are long lasting. Both prefab and hand-built coops will require care and maintance. My oldest prefab coop is 5 years old, my first coop, The Kuntry Klucker which I hand-built is 10 years old. What it really comes down to is your budget, skills in wood working, and time. It takes longer to build a coop as well as more money and of course the skills needed to conceptualize and execute.

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If building a coop is not in your wheel house that’s ok, Tractor Supply and other co-ops have a great selection of coops in their stores as well as online. I own three Tractor Supply prefab coops, I am pleased with all of them. They are holding up very well and make excellent homes for all my girls.

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I hope that is you have found this post helpful in staring your own flock of backyard chicks. It may seem daunting at first especially if you were not raised around livestock. It takes a bit of time and research, I can tell you that chickens once you get rolling with them are very simple creatures. They require little but give back a lot in return. Aside from the small amount of time they require, chickens really are lot of fun and are very rewarding.

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Here is a short video of my chicken yard. As you can see I have both prefab and hand-built coops. both make excellent homes for all my chickens.

 

Here is the link to my blog post entitled Bachelor Pens for Roosters that I mentioned toward the end of the video. If you need a solution for extra roosters that you want to keep a bachelor pen is a great option.

If you have any questions please post them in the comments, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

As always, thanks for reading! Till next time, keep on crowing, we’ll see you soon.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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5 Reasons To Love Silkie Chickens.

Silkies, they have been called fluff-balls, aliens from another world, teddy bears and many other things in between.

Without a doubt they certainly are unusual looking chickens!

Aside from their unusual looks they are among the friendliest breed, great mothers, and voted times over the best chickens for kids.

Today we will discuss why we here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm love our Silkies and a bit about their history.

First the history. How did they get here and where did they come from?

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The Slikies are an ancient breed probably of Chinese or Japanese origin. It is believed by poultry experts that the Silkies date as far back as the Chinese Han Dynasty a time around 206BCE.

The Silkie was first mentioned by Marco Polo in his journals on his trip across China, Europe, and the Far Middle East (around 1290-1300). He recorded it in his journal referencing a “furry chicken”.

The Silkie slowly made it was to the western world by means of the The Silk Road a large trading route in the Eastern world. The Ancient Silk Road stretched from China to modern day Iraq. There were numerous other trading routs in the ancient times but The Silk Road was the primary trading route used by the Western World Traders.

After Marco Polo’s mention about a “furry chicken” there was not much said about the Silkie till about 1598. Ulisse Aldrovandi a writer and naturalist at the University of Bologna, Italy, published a work on a “wool-bearing chicken”. He described it as “clothed with hair like that of a black cat”.

After Silkies made it to the Western world the breed was recognized officially in North America with acceptance into the Standard of Perfection in 1874.

In the 21st century, Silkies are one of the most popular and ubiquitous ornamental breeds of chicken. They are often kept as ornamental fowl or pet chickens by backyard keepers, and are commonly used to incubate and raise the offspring of other chickens and waterfowl. Silkies are valued for their broodiness. It has been said that a Silkie could hatch rock, I will explain this more detail a little later.

For now lets get to it, 5 reasons why we love our resident Silkies here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm.

1. Silkies are the friendlies of all chicken breeds.

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Silkies are most definiely a kids chicken. Due to their very docile and easy going temperament, Silkies are a favorite amongst chicken keepers with kids. Silkies tolerate handling very well and will even jump on an owners lap for cuddles and to be petted. Even the roosters are well behaved and even tempered. I have two roosters in my flock of silkies, they take excellent care of the girls and get along with each other quite well. If you are looking to involve children in keeping backyard chickens Silkies are a great breed to have. Be warned though, they are not the most productive egg layers. They will lay about 120 eggs per year. But don’t let that turn you off from having a small flock of Silkies, they make up for the reduced egg count in many other ways. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Silkies make excellent mothers.

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It is often said among chicken entuists that a broody Silkie could hatch rock, and it’s true. Silkies are known for their broodiness, when in the broody mindset they will sit on just about anything. Broody Silkies have been known to gather just about anything that resembles an egg and attempt to incubate it. Items such as rocks, lightbulbs, golf balls, even abandoned baby animals such as a bunny or kitten have been found under a broody hen. Chicken keepers like myself actually keep them in my flock for this exact reason.

I am not one who likes to fool with incubators, I tried it once, its just too much work for me. I would rather leave the incubating to a mother equipped for such a job. When I need to increase the number of a particular breed in my flock, I gather 4-6 eggs and put them under a broody Silkie. Fortunately, I am usually able to find a broody Silkie or in some cases just give them eggs, a quiet place, and they will sit on them for me. In return I get a hands off and trouble free incubator and brooder that raise the chicks for me. It really is that easy!

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Currently I have a broody Silkie Hen Donna, raising a clutch of 7 Silkie chicks for me. We needed some more Silkies so instead of ordering from a hatchery and managing a brooder, I just took a few eggs and put them under her. She successfully hatched and is raising 7 precious chicks for me. Below is a video of Miss Donna and her adorable brood.

 

Although not prolific eggs producers, Silkies contribute to a small chicken farm in other ways. I love my Silkies, they have such a sweet temperament which brings me to my next point.

      3. Silkie Chickens are Masters of Calm and Zen

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Silkie chickens are famous for their docile, sweet and nurturing temperament. Unlike most chickens that get excited as soon as the coop is opened, Silkie remains calm and collected. They enjoy getting up close and personal with their human caretakers. They enjoy being cuddled and groomed, making them excellent pets for kids. Their docile natures make them suitable for smaller backyards or small farms. When free ranging in a backyard setting or open space, they stick close to home not roaming too far. Silkies are your calm in an otherwise hectic world.

4. Fabulous from their Feathers down to their 5 Toes.

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Silkies are simply a cut above the rest in the looks department with those frizzy, fluffy, puffy feathers that make them look like a cuddly teddy bear only with feathers. Their feathers lack barbicels (those are the hooks that hold the feathers together), hence the fluffy appearance.

The main feathering looks just like the under-down of regular chickens. The fact that the feathers do not hold together means a Silkie cannot fly. It also means that the feathering is not waterproofed and so a wet Silkie is a pathetic sight to see. For this reason, an owner keeping Silkies needs to make sure that they have a clean and dry coop to call home. During the cooler and rainy months extra attention needs to be given to make sure they stay clean and dry. If they do get significantly wet, they need to be towel dried or even blow dried – which they enjoy if it is done on a regular basis.

One feature that I really love is the fact that their ear lobes are blue. Most chickens have red, white, or black ear lobes so the blue of a Silkie just looks stunning. In fact the blue lobes are an indication that the birds comes from pure breed stock. Silkies that are mixed with other breeds often loose the signature blue lobes.

Another fun feature are the feet. Silkies have 5 toes as opposed to the typical 4 of other breeds. I am not sure what the function of the 5th toe is for, nonetheless it adds to their all over adorable appearance.

5. The Teddy Bears of the Barn yard

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With their fluffy appearance and rounded body silhouette, Silkies look just like teddy bears with two legs and 5 toes. These cute and quirky girls love nothing more than being tucked under your arm for a little bit of TLC, just like child tucks a teddy bear under their arm. They are so calm and comfortable with humans, many people think of them as little cats or dogs. At the end of the day Silkies are the backyard pet that is sweet, kind and loveable. Silkie chickens are the literal definition of all things cute and cuddly.

Best of all, due to their docile temperament they make great backyard pets for kids. My boys wanted some chickens of their own that they could take care of. After constructing a coop for their chooks, I ordered a small clutch of Silkies for my boys. They were immediately enamored with the cute fluff balls due to their unusual teddy bear like appearance. My boys very quickly fall in love with their small backyard flock of silkie chickens.

Although Silkies are not known for setting egg laying records, they lay enough to keep my boys happy. They love to collect the eggs and spend time with their backyard fluff balls. Even the two Silkie roosters that we have a well behaved and gentile. My boys can pick them up just as easily as the hens in the flock. Silkie’s are without doubt the best breed for kids.

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With their fluffy appearance, 5 toes, and great temperament Siklies make a great addition to any backyard setting. Due to these attributes it is best that they have a coop of their own separate from larger more aggressive breeds. Their unique feathering also means that they do not tolerate being wet. If you live in a climate prone to long wet seasons make sure that they have a clean and dry place to call home.

If you want a little something different and well tempered for your backyard flock, Silkies are a great breed to try.

I hope that you found this post helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

As always, thanks for reading! Till next time, keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker and Crew ~

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Bachelor Pens for Roosters

When faced with a surplus of roosters many people panic because they don’t know what to do. They know of several options from days of old such things as freezer camp (butchering surplus roosters), giving them away, or just hoping for the best with so many boys around. Might I suggest another approach. A bachelor pen. I currently have two bachelor pens for my boys. One for the Standard size and another for the Bantam size boys. I could probably keep them together in one large pen, but I feel better separating them into two pens.

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A rooster is a selfless creature, often sacrificing himself to save the lives of your girls. A fearless warrior with a heart of gold. Majestic and beautiful, a natural born singer who writes his own songs. A dancer, who loves to waltz for those he cares about. A true gentlemen. And sadly the most abused, unwanted, and forgotten of all the creatures.

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I love roosters, I value their role in a backyard flock as protectors and caretakers of my hens. I have found myself in the past not having enough roosters and needing them desperately.

 

 

 

 

 

When I first started out with chicken keeping I was terrified of roosters. I did not want one at any cost. I prayed and hoped that my batch of chicks were all girls like I had ordered. Well as fate would have it, I had three roosters, I panicked! What was I going to do with all these roosters? I could maybe stomach keeping just one, but the rest had to go. After some time of hard work, I found homes for the other two and just kept one. His name was Roy, through him I learned how wonderful roosters really are. Roy taught me so much. I owe him a debt of graditude, he was a gentleman with feathers. I was shocked at how tame he was, I realized how wrong I had been for being so afraid of him.

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To my detriment Roy passed after several years due to illness. I was without a rooster for 5 years. Till finally throughout the years my girls passed away and I needed more chickens. This time I was excited as my chicks got older some began to crow. I finally had roosters!! Now I have about 15 roosters, a little more than what I was hoping for but a surplus at least.

So now the question comes up, what am I going to do with all these glorious boys? Well, instead of freaking out and trying to unload as many as I can, I am going to keep them ALL. I cannot keep all of them with my girls, that would be an unhealthy situation for my hens. Instead I am going to prepare for them their own digs, a bachelor pen.

Roosters, when raised up in the same flock are more corgial than most people might think. If raised together from chickhood they can and do cohabitant together very well. Roosters fight when they have something that they need to defend. Without access to hens, there is nothing to defend. This is how a bachelor pen works.

So, all of my surplus roosters will find their forever home here on my farm in their own special digs. Separate from the hens, they will live in a bachelor pen. They will have a large outdoor pen for which to roam and hunt for bugs when the weather is good. But they will have no access to the hens, squandering any need to fight or claim territory over one another. I will choose a few that will run with the girls and protect my flock while they are free ranging. As for the rest, instead of freezer camp they will live peacefully in the bachelor pen that I have prepared for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find a lot of value in roosters and will not re-home any of them. If for some reason one of the roosters heading up a flock becomes ill or even worse passes away, I will have others to take his place. A situation I did not have years ago when I needed it so desperately.

So for those that are panicking because you have more roosters than you counted on, don’t freak out. Prepare a bachelor pen for them to live in. You don’t need to go to all the work of trying to franticly find a home or someone else that will take him off your hands. Keep your boys, just put them in a separate coop and pen and enjoy the songs they sing for you.

Roosters really are wonderful creatures and deserve much better than what they are often dealt. You don’t have to get rid of your boys, the time may come when you will need one. Whether for protection from predators or the need to procreate your flock.

I hope that this post was helpful in sorting out a common rooster issues.

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions feel free to post in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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7 Reasons to Love White Crested Polishes.

With their crazy 80’s rock band hair do, it’s hard not to love this fancy breed. Dressed in black and white, they look like they’re going to a fancy “Chicken Gala”. These classy girls leave all other chickens in the dust when it comes to clucky high class couture. The distinct white feathered crest on their head contrasting with their sleek jet black bodies sets them apart in a flock. Beauty may only be skin deep, but these girls are gorgeous inside and out. Read on to find out why we at The Kuntry Klucker Farm are head over hills in love with these black and white beauties.

 

      1. Every polish chicken is crowned with white crest.

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White Crested Polish chickens and all Polish breeds always stand out due to the large fluffy bouffant of feathers that adorn their head like some kind of glamorous crown, the most iconic feature of this fancy breed. It’s this feature that makes them a very popular choice for those who want something a little “different” in the flock. They will make visitors ask, “what is that?” due to the fact that they do not look like a standard chicken. As aesthetic as their crest may appear, be warned that these guys and gals need a little bit of “hair care”. Do to their crown of feathers their vision is limited and may need to be trimmed or put in pigtails to allow them to see better. Because they are unable to groom their crests they are susceptible to mites and lice. To prevent this problem an owner needs to take proactive steps to keep these guys and gals looking their best. Because they do not tolerate being wet or dirty, an owner needs to provide a leak free dry coop and run. If a keeper can provide these services, this breed will bring great joy and diversity to the flock.

2. Non-broody hens who have more time to lay eggs and pose for pictures. 

Broodiness is not a trait that is possessed by the Polish chicken, broodiness is the desire to incubate eggs and hatch chicks. Some breeds are prone to broodiness such as the Silkie and Orphington, the polish is one of the few breeds that are not. Because of this, they will continue to lay eggs for their keeper. Be warned though they are not prolific layers like other breeds, they lay about 120 small white eggs a year.

But don’t let this turn you off from the White Crested Polish chicken, they make up for the low egg output in other ways. For example, they make excellent and unique subjects for all kinds of photo ops. They are very docile and even tempered so working with them is a breeze.  Which brings me to my next point.

 

3. Loyal and loving backyard companions. 

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If you are looking for a loyal backyard friend, look no further than the White Crested Polish. Due to diminished vision, a consequence of their glorious crests, they will happily sit in the protection of their owners lap. Polishes become very attached to their owners often following them around the yard much like a dog. They crave human interaction and are happiest in the company of their owners. They are nervous and flighty by nature needing a dedicated and compassionate keeper who doesn’t mind giving them a little extra attention. If kept in a flock due to vision limitatios, they tend to be at the bottom of the “pecking order”. For this reason, it’s best if they have digs of their own separate from larger or more aggressive breeds.

4. Delightful and unique personalities. 

The personality of the White Crested Polish is just as unique as their appearance. These guys and gals love to jabber and talk to their owner. If you want a chicken that you can have a conversation with, the White Crested Polish is the breed for you. They get very excited when their owner comes to the backyard, run, or coop. They want to follow you around and tell you all about their day. They eagerly bock, squeak, or trill all the details of their adventures. For this reason they are one of the noisier breeds, they are not quiet much like the Silkies. If this is okay for your situation then I highly recommend these little gossip gals.

 

5. Stunning phasic! 

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These guys and gals have a beautifully proportioned silhouette. Aside from the crest feathers that get in the way and diminish their vision, Polishes really have a shapely and attractive figure. They have full breasts, shapely wings, and deep bodies. As they strut towards you they have a playful bounce to their gate which further accents their crown of feathers. These guys and gals will truly be eye candy in your backyard flock.

5. Make excellent birds for poultry shows.

Polish chickens always stand out due to the large fluffy bouffant of feathers that adorn their head like a glamorous crown. It’s no surprise that the stylish look of these distinctive chooks make them a popular choice in poultry shows all round the world. When it comes to male crests in the competitive world of show chickens the bigger the better whereas a more round and even shaped crest is favored among hens. The roosters are very distigueshed, but due to their larger crests the feathers seem to take on more of a 80’s rock hair band look. When trimmed and kept nice a well groomed polish rooster can steal the show.

 

6. Great breed to have around children. 

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If you want to involve kids with keeping backyard chickens, the Polish is a great breed to choose. Due to their appearance kids are often times captivated with the White Crested Polish. They are a gentile breed that is docile and not prone to aggression. Even the roosters are fairly good natured as compared to other breeds. Due to their vision limitations from their crests, they are fairly easy for kids to catch and bond with. They are a bit flighty which might startle young kids at first but once they get used to their behaviors they will really enjoy their feathered friends in the backyard. Currently I have 9 Polishes of different colors all of them are great with my boys.

7. Mysterious History. Where did they come from? 

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It is not really clear where these stunning birds came from. You may be thinking that they came from Poland. But this is not the case. Their name is derived from the Dutch word “pol” which means head, however that is still being debated amongst poultry experts. It has also been hypothesized that they originated in the Netherlands, whereas other enthusiasts think that they were brought to Europe during the time of the Medieval Mongols. Other fun loving chicken lovers such as myself ponder if their origins are not of this world at all. Possibly like H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, they came from Orion or another world out there, just kidding 🙂 . In all seriousness though, no one really knows where these crown jewels really came from. Still today there remains a lot of mystery surrounding their origins. Maybe we will never know, but for rare breed chicken lovers that does not really matter. If anything, it just makes these cuddly backyard buddies even more lovable.

Are these classy chickens right for your backyard flock?

If you choose to keep these unique chickens several requirements must be meet.

~ A secure coop and outdoor pen are a must. Since they are unable to see well they can be vulnerable to arial predator attacks. If you are unable to supervise them keep your birds secure in their pen till you can spend time with them.

~ Due to their crest feathers they require extra vigilance that they do not get wet. During the winter if their crest feathers get wet it can freeze causing discomfort and in some cases illness to the bird.

~ If you decide to keep these girls, a separate coop for them is a must. Due to their diminished vision they often times reside at the bottom of the pecking order and can at times be picked on.

~ Making sure the they have a clean and dry place to themselves will assure their success as a part of your backyard flock. While your at it, have a little fun with their home. A classy chicken with a personality such as the Polish need a coop with some character. Many places like Tractor Supply and Hayneedle have adorable coops the would compliment your fancy couture wearing girls nicely.

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As always thanks for reading!

If you have any questions regarding the Polish breed feel free by leaving a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

10 Joys of Keeping Backyard Chickens.

I’m almost about 10 years deep into my backyard chicken hobby and have loved it every step of the way. From ordering chicks, getting the coops set up, watching them grow, and collecting eggs, keeping backyard chickens has been one of the highlights of my life. Chickens are animals that require little but give back much in return. In this post I will highlight the 10 joys I have experienced as a backyard chicken keeper.

1. They are always happy to see me

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No matter how bad my day has been at work or other wise my girls are always happy to see me. In the mornings when I enter the backyard opening the coops for the day they are thrilled at my presence. They cluck with joy as I prepare their food, water, and clean their coops. They are genuially happy to see me. After a long day at work or just a bad day in general,  I can always go to the backyard and find happiness on their faces. They flock, running sometimes flying in from the far ends of the yard thrilled to see me. Their joy in response to my presences lifts my spirits and in return brings joy to my day.

2. Companions in the backyard.

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Dogs come to mind for most people when thinking about backyard companions. But chickens, can be just as much of a companion as can a family dog. For example, Tilling Day is a flock affair! Tilling up the garden for the upcoming garden season is a big deal . They follow in the path of the tiller gobbling up all the worms that were unearthed, all the while further assisting me in turning the soil over. It’s not just gardening that attract the flocks attention, the girls are alway eager to be involved in what ever I am doing. Anything from painting coops to mowing the yard attracts all kinds of “hen-help”. Chickens are very curious creatures, they want in on everything that I am doing. Sometimes they get rewarded with a big juicy worm while gardening and other times its dust bathing in the potting soil bag or eating fresh grass clippings Either way, no matter what I am doing, I often have a flock of curious girls wanting in on whatever is going on.

3. Collecting Farm Fresh Eggs daily.

 

There is nothing quite like collecting farm fresh eggs from the backyard. After eating organic pasture raised farm fresh eggs its hard to go back to store bought. The feeling of finding an egg or more in the nesting box never gets old. Chickens really are the pet that makes you breakfast. There is pure and simple joy that connects one to the days of old while collecting eggs from the coops.

4. Observing the complex social structure of the flock.

 

Chickens are very highly socially organized creatures contrary to what many people think. A flock of chickens are organized into a hierarchy, each member knowing his or her place. The term “pecking order” is derived from this complex social system of chickens and for good reason. At the top of the pecking order is typically the alpha rooster, under him will be the other roosters in the flock. The roosters determine who is the alpha by competing for the position. Following the roosters will be the alpha hen, this is the hen that has earned her right to be at the top of the order directly under the rooster. The alpha hen is usually a little bit bossy in regards to the other hens in the flock. As for the rest of the members, position is established by literally “pecking” another hen on the back indicating that the pecker is above the peckie. This behavior flows from the alpha hen all the way to the bottom of the order. Each chicken pecking someone else on the back indicating their position in the order.

Once the pecking order is established all activities of the flock revolve around the order. Simple things such as the order in which the flock exits the coop in the morning and the order in which they return. Watching this animal behavior in my own flock is very interesting. More importantly the pecking order is always changing. If a member of the flock is sick and needs to be separated for treatment, in the absence of the member the flock order will adjust. The same is true for when a member dies. In the case of a death of a member the order will usually take on an extreme adjustment. For example, when our rooster Roy died the flock was suddenly without its top member, a rooster. The remaining hens in the flock had to decide who would take his place at the top of the pecking order, claiming the position of the alpha hen. For several days the flock worked through this decision and finally come an agreement on who would be the head honcho. As a backyard keeper, this behavior is very interesting to observe. Furthermore, it brings home the literal interpretation and understanding of the term “pecking order”.

5. Watching a mother hen raise her young.

 

Let’s be honest, baby chicks are adorable. Whether they be wild birds or domestic, chicks are just about as adorable as a baby animal can get. What’s even better is having the opportunity to watch them grow. This is one of the simple joys of owning backyard chickens. I have several times throughout the years allowed a broody hen to incubate a small clutch of eggs. Each and every time it is an adventure and a pleasure to watch the process from egg to chick. This spring I allowed a broody Silkie to sit on a clutch of 7 eggs.

After anticipatingly waiting the predetermined 21-23 days for the eggs to incubate, they one by one started to hatch. Over the course of 3 days every single egg hatched into a beautiful healthy chick. The joy of watching this cycle of life is indeed an honor. Over the next several months the mother hen will teach her little ones how to be chickens. Such things as what to eat and not eat, how to dust bathe, where to find water, and where to roost at night.

If you are lucky enough be in the position to observe this cycle of life in person , it is indeed an educational and humbling experience. There is so much that we can learn from a mother hen and chickens in general. Chickens are amazing teachers, all that is needed is a willing soul to watch and listen. Below is a video of Miss Donna and her brood of 7.

 

6. The joy of watching a Rooster care for his flock.

 

 

Roosters are often unfairly stigmatized as being fearsome, blood thirsty, mean and nasty aggressive birds. While they do have a job to do and take it very seriously, they really are amazing and gentinle creatures. Personally, I love roosters I currently have 7 and value every one of them. Roosters, although not necessary in order to keep backyard chickens are an added bonus.

You see, when raised right, roosters are an asset to a flock of chickens. They preform many husbandry duties taking care of all the hens in the flock. If a flock has more than one rooster (such as mine does), they will divide the flock into groups each rooster taking care of a section of the hens.

They are much more than just merely protectors for the hens, they serve the flock in ways beyond this. For example, a rooster will hunt for his girls. He will actively look for food, things such as a big bug, juicy worm, or vegetation for them to eat. Once he finds something of value he will call his girls over to eat it. He will only eat what is left, he is self sacrificing looking out for the welfare of his hens. It’s as if by evolutionary design he knows the girls need the extra nutrition for the procreation of the flock (laying eggs). As the girls eat what he has found he will keep watch, sounding the alarm if there is a threat and if needed sacrificing himself for the safety of the hens. I have witnessed this first hand with my Buff Orphington Rooster, Roy. One afternoon while out in the backyard he sounded the alarm, I heard his cry from the house, rushed out the the backyard in time to see a hawk fly away. All the girls were safe under a large tree, Roy on the other hand was injured. Lucky, he recovered from the hawk inflicted injuries and lived for several more years. I learned on this day the true value of a rooster. You can read his story here.

A rooster will serve the flock in other way as well. He will lead the girls to the coop when time to roost, help raise young, break up any squabbles among the hens, and of course mate with the hens to propagate the flock. All these things and more make roosters a very valuable asset to the flock. As a backyard chicken keeper, I have peace of mind knowing that when not around the guys are on duty. It gives me great joy to hear my roosters crow in the morning and watch them interact with the flock.

7. Beauty a flock of chickens bring to my property.

 

There is just something soothing about a flock of chickens happily hunting and pecking on a lush green lawn. Their feathers contrasting with the surrounding greenery like little yard ornaments. Chickens when free ranging are a very welcoming sight, watching them as they search for delicacies to dine on. I allow my flock to free range in the backyard only confining them to their pens during periods of inclement weather. I love go to the backyard and see my flock busy at work, ridding my yard and gardens of all available bugs and pets. My evenings are usually spent sitting and watching them as they go about their business, taking in the ascetic pleasure they bring to my property. They really are beautiful, the different breeds together in the yard adds a diverse contrast to the evening setting. So for me, one of the joys of owning backyard chickens is simply sitting and appreciating the beauty they add to my homestead.

8. Observing the diversity of their personalities. 

 

Many people think that chickens are void of any personality or individual characteristics. This is so far from the truth. Chickens are a very social creature and with that comes  distinct personalities. They all have preferences of nesting boxes for which to lay they eggs. Some are more outgoing while other more reserved choosing to reside on the sidelines. Some want to be held while other prefer to be appreciated from afar.

Chickens are very complex creatures with individual personalities to match. I have a few girls that love the camera and will pose at any chance they get. Two of my flock hams are above Aphrodite (White Crested Polish: left) and Miss Sweet Pea (Buff Orhpington: right). These two girls are the standouts among all the flock members. They love attention and will do just about anything to get it.

Chickens are much like dogs in the fact that they love to interact with their care takers. Some members may be more upfront with human interaction while others more distant, but all my girls at one level or another want to feel appreciated. It was not until I had chickens that I realized how much of individuals they really are. It’s these characteristics that make them easy to identify and name. People often ask me if all my girls have names, I say “yes”. All 50+ chickens that I have are all named and often are assigned names based on their personality traits. It’s not as hard as you would think to name 50 or so birds and not get them confused. They make it pretty easy to keep all their identities straight. Which bring me to my next point.

9. Constant comedy in the backyard.

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Chickens are without a doubt constant comedy! They are one of the funniest animals that I have had the pleasure to keep. Whether it be something funny that an individual does or something that whole flock does, chickens are the comedians of the barnyard. One of funniest interactions that a flock can engage in is something I call “the chicken keep away game”. When a hen finds something such as a juicy bug or big worm she will announce to the whole flock with glee that she has found a prize. With the object in her beak she will run around the yard while the others chase her wanting to get a piece of her find. Depending on how large the trophy bug or worm is, this could go on for quite some time. Changing beaks several times till finally someone eats the morsel or looses it. It’s just about as close as a flock of chickens can get to touch football.

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Another funny chicken oddity is the Polish chicken. Pictured above are two White Crested Polishes, Aphrodite and Apollo. Out of all the breeds that I have, this breed holds the crown for comedy. Due to their crests their vision is limited, not able to see what is above them. For this reason just about everything spooks them, simple things in their environment can get a rise out of them. They have a tendency to be flighty and high strung for this reason. Additionally, they are a very curious breed always getting them selves in trouble, then not being able to see well enough to get themselves out of it. They will often time call for other flock members to rescue them from their predicament. Typically one of the roosters will come to their rescue if I am not there to physically lend a hand. I have around 13 polishes in my flock of various colors all of them possess this particular niche for comedy. They are one of my favorite breeds to keep. They require a bit of special care but are well worth the trouble just to have them around.

10. A connection to the past: A lesson in simplicity

 

There is just something about keeping backyard chickens that brings us back to our roots. Times of old, days gone by when just about everyone had a flock of chickens to supply eggs for the family. A time when gardening was not just a hobby but a way of survival. A time when your land was how you ate and your animals were how you survived. Getting out of bed putting on my boots and heading out to the backyard opening the coops after the night bring a bit of that nostalgia. Cleaning the coops and collecting the days eggs has a feeling of purpose and self sufficiency that many are seeking today. In a world where we can buy literally everything we need at the store, being able to supply your own food has a purity that money cannot buy. Knowing that I am eating a product that is not only organic but supplied by animals that are well cared for and happy brings happiness to my soul.

In our busy and hectic world today, it’s nice to come home and just watch my girls as they forage in the backyard. To be able to escape the chaos of life and just simply be. Chickens are simple creatures, they don’t ask for much but give back much in return. They are content just to be able to hunt and peck their way through life. They don’t worry about much but instead are just happy to be given this day. It’s a lesson in simplicity that I think we all need. For this lesson and more I am ever grateful for my chickens. My chickens give back to me in many way,  but one of the best thing they give is a lesson in keeping it simple, a lesson in simplicity.

With this I bid you ado. I hope that you have found value in this post. If you are just staring out with chickens, I would love to hear from you. It is my goal and mission to help others with their adventure of keeping backyard chickens.

For those that are seasoned chicken keepers, I would love to hear the joys you experience in keeping backyard chickens.

Thanks for reading!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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Coops and Blooms

Spring has sprung at the Kuntry Klucker Farm, chicks are peeping and flowers blooming. I am going to dedicate this post to the plants and flowers of the chicken yard. It is no secret that I tend to go overboard when it comes to decorating the backyard for my girls, this will be a virtual tour, a flower walk if you will. So, I guess we will start from the coop closest to the yard entrance and work out way out.

When entering the backyard the first coop we come to is Henwarts. Henwarts is the newest addition to the “Coop-hood” and shares a large outdoor pen with The Kuntry Klucker. So thus some of Henwarts decor is shared with The Kuntry Klucker. In front of The Kuntry Klucker I have a row of cinder blocks. These blocks have two purposes, keeps the girls and the dirt in the outdoor pen area and doubles as planters for flowers. Every year in this cinder block row I plant petunias. I love these little super bloomers for many reasons. A few of  the most important are the fact that they display lot of color, tolerate the hot afternoon sun well, and most importantly hold up well around chickens. I do have a row of chicken wire in front of the cinder blocks to offer some protection against the girls pecking but this by no means keeps all of the girls out of the flower row. I have a few ladies that despite the obvious boundary will still hop over the fence and help them selves to an afternoon snack of petunia blooms. The petunia’s being the prolific bloomers that they are do not look any worse for the wear recovering very quickly.

The next coop we visit on our backyard tour is my largest coop The Kuntry Klucker. For this coop I thought that hanging flower baskets were perfect. Found at the dollar store these cute little baskets are just the perfect size for a few flowers. Instead of using cocoa liners that seem to loose their shape after the first two waterings I opt to use thick weed barrier to hold the potting soil. What cute chicken home wouldn’t complete without a window basket. Attached to the wood of the pen I have planted a variety of flowers in these baskets. Petunas once again taking center stage. I feel that they add a bit of fun to the girls homes.

As we proceed on our coop tour we come to The Coop De Ville. No one lives in this coop, but rather this coop is used for storage and a few nesting boxes. Even though no one lives here I still just cannot pass up an opportunity to decorate a coop. Like The Kuntry Klucker I have mounted hanging baskets to this coop as well. Once again Petunia’s take center stage.

Next we come to the spice garden. In this garden I have lot of things planted. The tall bush with the small red blooms is a red honeysuckle bush. Taller than me (I’m 5’8″), this bush is one of the largest in the garden. These highly fragrant little blooms blanket the whole backyard with a sweet fragrance and attract many butterflies and hummingbirds to the backyard, adding to the beauty of the girls surroundings. I have many of my kitchen spices planted here among the two coops that call this plot home. Roy’s Roost and Betsy’s Bliss are situated here among all the plants a spices. This year I planted a red butterfly bush, in a few months it will be beautifully loaded down with blooms giving the butterflies another place to rest and spread their wings. The chickens are fenced out of this garden area so all the creatures that visit these plants are protected from the girls. This allows many caterpillars to spin coccons among the thick foliage of many of the plants here.

In the center of this garden I have planted an Arona Berry bush (kin to the Acia Berry), this bush which too is taller than me has the most beautiful white blooms. I use many of the berries that this bush produces in my smoothies. The chickens also love these berries, another reason that I have to fence them out of this garden area. After the berries appear I make sure that the girls get a good share of the spoil which they go absolutely nuts for. Amongst other plants in this garden I have a Goji Berry Tree, Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and Mint.

Next we come to the TARDIS! This is one of the funnest coops in the “coop-hood”. This coop belongs to my son who is a massive Dr. Who fan, he even named all his Silkie girls after the characters in the Dr. Who series. Being that this is my son’ coop he did not want me to decorate it too heavily with flowers. After all the real TARDIS does not have flowers attached to the sides of it. Naturally, I had to agree with his point and allow him to put his personality into decorating his coop. I did however get away with planting a rare Red Hydrangea next to his coop. I thought that this plant would add a nice pop of red and contrast well with the blue of the TARDIS.

Finally we come to the Bantam Boutique! This coop too belongs to my son. Each of my boys have their own coop with their own special breed of girls. This coop is home to White Crested Polishes, my youngest son’s favorite breed. Again I have to lay off the over the top flower decorating but I got away with a few things. At the end of the Bantam Boutique I have a pot with several colorful annuals in it. The Polishes enjoy jumping on top of the pen to take a few samples from the flowers. On the far side of the Bantam Boutique I have planted two yellow butterfly bushes. Not only are these bushes beautiful, they offer lots of afternoon shade for the Polishes that call this coop home.

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With this we come to the end of our little backyard tour. Every year I pretty much plant the same annuals varying the colors from year to year. As far as the perennials, bushes, and spices I only replace them as needed. The girls seem enjoy their little piece of heaven living the good life here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm. As for me, getting to play in potting soil and frequent my local plant nursery is as close to blissful as it can get.

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I hope y’all enjoyed this post and the tour of my backyard, coops and blooms.

Till next time keep crowing, the girls and I will see you soon.

Before departing, below is a short video of The Kuntry Klucker Farm Chicken Yard.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

The Kuntry Klucker Farm is in FULL Bloom

Its been a busy spring here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. The coops have all been painted, seasonal annuals planted, and chicks flourishing in their new digs. Spring is always a busy time here but this year has been especially busy. I did something that I have never done before, painted all the coops in the expanse of one week. If your asking if I am crazy the answer is, yes! It was a hard task, but with the weather not being very corporative I had to strike with the iron was hot. That meant painting all the coop in a week between strong cold fronts, ahh, the joys of spring. I usually like to pace it out a bit more, but usually I have weather patterns that are bit more subtle. But you have to work with what you can, so all the coops got a new coat of paint in the span of a week. The girls seem to enjoy their newly updated homes.

The TARDIS in particular got quite the facelift. This coop which is home to my “little kuntry klucker’s” Silkie’s is a huge Dr. Who fan. He named his coop the TARDIS from the beginning even painted it a TARDIS blue to match. This year during our coop painting projects the TARDIS finally got it official lettering. Might I add that he did all this work himself, he is quite the budding artist. Those that follow Dr. Who will relate quite easily to his art work. Those that are not Dr. Who fans that is more than ok, I am a recent convert myself, so I understand. With out further ado, I unveil the chicken TARDIS here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

Two other coops additionally got their official lettering. Henwarts and the Coop De Ville. But first, Henwarts. Earlier this spring I added a 7th coop to the “coop-hood” here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. This coop was named “Henwarts”. Named after the Hogwarts School of Magic only with a bent towards chickens. Henwarts has officially been added to my growing collection of chicken coops. Painted after the colors of Raven Claw, one of the four houses at Hogwart. I thought that this theme would fit well for a flock of Buff Laced, White Crested, and Tolbunt Polishes. The residents of this coop will officially move in in a few weeks. They are still being kept with the other chicks till they are old enough to move into their own coop.

Finally, the Coop De Ville. I have had this coop from the beginning. During the infancy as we were drawing up the plans for the Kuntry Klucker Farm it consisted of two large coops like the Kuntry Klucker. However, I found a need for a storage area for garden tools and so forth. So instead of attaching a pen this coop stayed as it was for a long time, an unfinished storage area. Well, this year I finally decided that it needed a name and a theme. So I decided on the name “Coop De Ville” and the color theme of John Deere. Its a bit of a mix match but I feel that it suites that chicken yard very well. So, showing her colors for the first time here on The Kuntry Klucker, the Coop De Ville. It’s still a storage area for garden tools, but I allow the girls to go up into the coop and lay eggs there by setting out a few nesting boxes. The girls really seem to enjoy the quietness of this laying area.

Now that the spring planting season on the horizon tilling the garden is my next task, in the mean time the girls have been helping me plant annuals. The girls know what fun awaits them when flats of flowers and bags to potting soil come into the backyard. I get lots of “hen-help” with planting the flowers in the various potting arrangement in the chicken yard area. They enjoy tasing all the different colors of the flowers and of course dust bathing in the potting soil bag. A hen’s life here is a good one.

And finally the chicks! These were the little peeps that were in my indoor brooder just a few short weeks ago. Chicks grow so fast is almost insane. Anyway, they moved from the brooder to the TARDIS which was their outdoor brooder for a short time. Then as they outgrew the TARDIS they move to Henwarts for a short while, as they needed more space they finally ended up at their final coop location The Kuntry Klucker. The Polishes will take up residence in Henwarts when they are a little older. They have taken to the move and adjusted well. They love the extra room for flying and of course all the meet and greets they get from the other girls as they walk by the Kuntry Klucker to see what all the peeping is about. The older girls are getting to know the new kids on the farm as the new kids are getting to know them. In just a few short months they will be out in the yard enjoying the plentful bounty in the backyard.

Well, I think that pretty much does it for the news here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. All feathered residents are doing well awaiting the next exciting event, tilling and planting the garden. I will start tilling up the garden in the next few days providing the weather cooperates.

Till next time, keep on growing, we’ll be back soon.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Farm Crew ~

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Welcome to Henwarts!

Hello everyone, I know its been a while since I posted a blog. Some of you have reached out to me to make sure all is well. I want to say how much I appreciate your concern and thank you for caring. We are all fine, the girls are good and we are looking forward to spring and nicer weather. This past winter has been a tough one, between snow, frigid temperatures and lately the torrential unrelenting rains it has been a tough season.

I am sure that many of you have read or heard in the headlines about all the rains that the southern part of the United States has received, well this is us. It has rained here the entire month of February, even into March we are still dealing with wash out weather. Our home and the girls coops have luckily been spared. The only damage we sustained from the heavy rains was to one of our cars which had to make a visit to the shop. Not because we drove through high water but for other moisture related reasons due to the constant heavy rain. Anyway, it has been a trying time for us here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. They girls are doing fine, all are still alive and well, looking forward to dryer weather and warmer conditions.

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The girls and I have a full on case of spring fever, with the grass greening up and the spring bulbs pushing through the ground we cannot help but look forward to better days. With that being said, if there is one thing that spring means here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm its chicks!! That’s right, the girls are going to be welcoming new neighbors to their yard.

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But before we get to the chicks, let talk about the new coop that is being erected on our farm. The “Big Girls” are used to the yearly constriction that takes place on the Kuntry Klucker Farm, they know what it means. But the Bantams that we added a few years ago and last year are new to the routine. They don’t know what it means yet but they soon will. Needless to say I had lot of help getting the new coop set up.

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As all coop construction begins, I make a timely visit to my local Tractor Supply Store. This years addition is an Innovation Pet Deluxe Farm House Coop. I have several kit coops on my property, my favorite brands is Innovation Pet. They do such a great job in coop design and place a lot of care into the durability of their products. This is my third Innovation Pet coop purchased from Tractor Supply.

During the months of March and April Tractor Supply has their “Chick Days” sale. This is when chicks appear in their stores along with coops and in the case of this purchase mark downs. I purchased this coop for $160, it was half off, so I was needless to say thrilled to get this quality coop at such a steal.

Anyway, as all coop projects begin, the unboxing. Typically as we unbox the coop we place the coop portions on one side of the yard and the pen portions on the other side of the yard. Next comes inspections. The girls and I look at each piece to make sure that they all look good and no improvements are needed before assembly.

Here the “Big Girls” are making sure that the new addition passes a rigorous pecking inspection process. They Bantam Crew does their own inspection, but since they are newer to the scene they are not too sure what to look for. They are a bit more cautious but are curious nonetheless.  Two of my White Chested Polishes, Aphrodite and Athena are taking a look at the new coop under construction.

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As the sections come together, we get more inspectors throughout the process. Several hours later, the project is complete and our new addition is placed in the “coop-hood” here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

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This coop will be the fancy new digs for 8 Black Australorp Chickens. The Australorps are a new breed that I am introducing this year to the Kuntry Klucker Farm. I have wanted this particular breed for several years and am just now finally getting around to adding them to the existing flock consisting of Buff Orphingtons, White Crested Polishes, Silkies, and Cochins. These girls are the stars of egg laying. The record holder for the most eggs laid in a single year belongs to an Australorp. These are large birds that have beautiful black plumage, black legs, and stunning red combs. I am thoroughly excited to add these black beauties to my backyard flock.

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The name of this coop will be “Henwarts” after one of my favorite book series, Harry Potter. Since I am a Ravenclaw as depicted by the qualities the houses exhibited, the coop will be painted blue and silver the colors associated with the Ravenclaw house. This is also fitting for a group of chickens to be in a coop painted the colors of the Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts. The Black Australorps will look absolutely stunning in this coop once everything is complete.

As for the chicks themselves. They arrive next week, I will of course be back with a post from the brooder after they arrive. So once again the chicken adventure continues and grows as we add a few more girls to the Backyard Divas here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

I hope that you enjoy this post. Once again I am so sorry for the lack of posts, but as we move into spring there will be a lot of share with you. I will be back soon with pics of the chicks once they are situated in the brooder. Their little lives will be captured here for you to see and enjoy.

Till next time, keep on crowing! See you soon!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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Ready for Ol’ Man Winter

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Fall greetings every one! It’s amazing how fast the summer just flew by. I am not sure if everyone else has the same opinion, but for me if felt like one of the fastest summers on record. I know that the girls enjoyed the summer, they dutifully patrolled my gardens for bugs and made sure that they helped themselves to some of the spoil on the veggie plants they were maintaining for me. Although I enjoy summer and all of the pleasure it brings, I find myself ready for the seasons to change.

As summer turns into fall and my gardens produce the last fruits, it’s time to prepare for the season ahead. As a chicken owner this means several things, giving all the coops a good end of year cleaning and preparing them for winter.

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For me this means putting up the wind barrier that will protect the girls form the cold winter winds along with the winter precipitation. During the summer and warmer months I allow the coops to be as air friendly as possible. Allowing air to flow through the mesh fencing on the coops helps keep the girls cool during the months of late spring and early summer. But as the bite of fall and winter approaches I need to assist my girls in surviving the winter outdoors.

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After a thorough coop cleaning I begin to put up wind barrier plastic on all my coops. The plastic I use is found at Tractor Supply along with other stores such as Lowes or Home Depot. It is a construction grade plastic designed to be used as protection when building home and other building during inclement weather periods. It runs at about $15 per box, normally for all my coops I need to purchase two boxes. The process of putting up the plastic is relatively simplistic. I simply screw the thick plastic sheeting into the wood on all the coops. It is very durable so it goes up without much trouble.

I typically put the plastic sheeting up around Halloween after we get our first frost. The girls surprisingly don’t seem to mind the process of preparing thier coops for winter. They are great assistances is trial testing the plastic to make sure that is passes chicken industry standards. They have learned over the years that the plastic is an alley in their survival of the winter months.

Encasing the coops in heavy construction plastic does several things.

  1. In serves as a wind buffer. As the cold winds of winter blow the plastic sheeting protects the girls from the wind thereby making their coops and pens much more comfortable. Simply blocking the cold winter winds greatly assist the girls in keeping warm during the colder months.
  2. It keeps the pens dry by keeping the rain, snow, sleet, and ice out of the pens. This keeps the sand in the pens dry so that the girls will have a dry comfortable space to call home during the colder months.
  3. Is keeps the girls living quarters warmer naturally. As the afternoon sun radiates on the plastic it traps the warmth of radiation in the coop and pens. On fringed sunny days the pens will be a good 10 degrees warmer than the air outside. It acts as an isulater allowing the girls to stay warmer during the winter months

Before winter sets in I supply all the pens with a fresh bedding of sand. This allows the girls to dust bath in the sand. During the winter ,the ground outside stays wet and non condusive to dust bathing a very important natural activity for chickens. The plastic assists in keep the sand dry providing the girls with a dry and warm place to wait out old man winter.

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Additionally, I supply all the coops with Christmas light to give them a little extra light in the colder months. This also provides us with light to take care of our chores when the sun sets earlier and earlier. On cold winter night the Christmas lights give a soft glow of warmth and comporting coming from the coops.

I hope you have enjoyed this post on The Kuntry Klucker. As winter sets in I will do more posts on how to keep a flock of backyard chickens happy and healthy during the harsh winter months.

Till next time keep on crowing, the girls and I will see you again soon.

~ the Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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