Tag Archive: Raising Chickens


I'm mentioned in an article on ModernFarmer.com !

I’m mentioned in an article on ModernFarmer.com !

Lori Rotenberk has written a great article on ModernFarmer.com about the uses of chicken feathers titled “Flock Star: From Computers to Cars, Chicken Feathers Are Everywhere” – and I’m mentioned for The Feathered Egg and Just A Couple of Chickens!

The article describes how chicken feathers are being used, both commercially and experimentally. There are some amazing things being made out of feathers.

Lori contacted me through my website and we talked by phone and email. She wanted to add an art element to the scientific and manufacturing focus, and my small feather business was just the thing.

Check out the article and learn, as I did, where feathers are headed in our future!

by Lauren Scheuer and Available Now on Amazon.com!

by Lauren Scheuer and Available Now on Amazon.com!

Lauren Scheuer has written a book called “Once Upon A Flock” about her journey and discoveries in backyard chicken raising, and it is the book I wish I’d had when I was raising chickens.

Lauren is an illustrator, and it is her photographs and whimsical illustrations that gives a third dimension to the book, taking it beyond the world of story telling and information sharing. This is the kind of book that parents and children can enjoy hand in hand as we enter the chicken world.

Lauren and her family went through a chick hatching experience, nursed a sick chicken back to health, and successfully managed adding a new hen to her small flock. We get to go along on all of these important chicken journeys as if we were there, by her side, because of the window she creates with her pictures. Full color, beautifully illustrated pictures.

There were times when I was raising my poultry, before Lauren wrote her book, and usually in the middle of the my coop, in the middle of the night, when all of my pamphlets, and university extension office resources left me feeling very alone.  This was the old way of learning by doing. Lauren’s book is an example of a new age. Books that entertain and warm while they teach and show. Books that show and tell and show some more.

Once Upon A Flock is not only the perfect book to have in hand while starting up a chicken project, it is also a great bedtime story for my daughter… the kind we read while snuggled together, side by side, so that we can see the beautiful pictures! (plus, there’s more to see once we’ve finished the book because Lauren has an excellent blog)

Available on Amazon.com, and in Kindle format, by Atria Books, of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Silver Laced Polish in Just A Couple Of Chickens

Silver Laced Polish Chickens enjoy heat lamps in the winter… and I learned to hang them high enough to clear their head feathers! But now I have to watchit for teflon-coated heat lamps as well!

I used red heat lamps extensively both when I was brooding my 100 poultry chicks, and each winter of their lives, to keep them comfortable.

Other than the Polish Chickens burning their head feathers on the hot bulb, I had no problem… but that was more than two years ago and there’s a new technology out there resulting in red heat lamps that are coated with teflon.

And teflon is extremely toxic to birds when heated… teflon fumes = dead chicks. The teflon makes the bulbs shatterproof, and these bulbs are intended for food warming, but this new development makes it important that backyard poultry farmers be very careful when choosing the right heat lamp bulb.

In another new technology development, there are energy efficient, ceramic heat lamps available that don’t put out any light… and have no teflon threat, and Rocio Crespo, DVM, MS, DVSc, Dip ACPV suggests that we use them for our brooders and not risk the red heat lamps.

Dr. Crespo presented a talk to the Pacific Northwest Poultry Association (PNPA) in November this year, and I was very happy to be able to hear her speak. For one thing, I totally would have used heat lamps for my birds – and potentially gassed them all to death, and for another thing, she had many other valuable pieces of information. I learned a huge amount!

Rocio Crespo is the Branch Director, Associate Professor at the Avian Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in Puyallup, WA. Her knowledge of chicken keeping, and her availability as a knowledge resource is amazing. People contact her with chicken health mysteries they cannot solve, and this is how she learned of the teflon danger. An entire brooder of new chicks expired one night, and Dr. Crespo narrowed down the clues until a light bulb moment appeared overhead. A red teflon light bulb.

I had kept my chicks in constant light, thinking that was better for them, and for me (checking on them in the night), but the lightless heat of the creamic bulb gives the chicks a chance to learn the cycles of day and night, which Dr. Crespo says is better.

SO!  good to know… no more red bulbs for me for poultry. And no more overheating my teflon frying pans… if it isn’t good for chickens it probably isn’t good for children. (Oops.)

Thank you Dr. Crespo and the PNPA!

 

Jodi McDonald supplied the Button Quail for Just a Couple of Chickens

My Button Quail came from Jodi McDonald who has written “A Closer Look At Button Quail” which is the best Button Quail book out there!

Jodi McDonald was the quail breeder in my book whom I called when I needed a girl quail to go with my boy quail, which I bought thinking he was a girl quail who would lay lots of quail eggs… and she was the person who taught me all the things I should have known before I got any quail.

She breeds, raises, and sells Button Quail from her Bracken Ridge Ranch in California.

A couple of years ago, Jodi came out with her book about Button Quail, and it is the absolute resource for everything there is to know about this little bird. It’s the best button quail book I’ve ever read!

The Button Quail is a borderline pet in the US today, but it is also a true quail and needs all the things that poultry need, and a few things more.

Jodi builds and sells a cage specifically designed for Button Quail success. It copes with their bonking issues, their escape plans, and their egg laying production. I tried to handle all of those quail-isms myself and in addition to Jodi’s book, I’d use Jodi’s cages next time.

Button Quail eggs are the size of a penny, and so delightful. They are in great demand in egg art. Button Quail chicks are literally the size of bumblebees – so cute, so tiny. My quail hens, which were Jodi’s quail hens until I bought them and she shipped them to me in perfect health and comfort, laid so many eggs that I am still selling them on www.TheFeatheredEgg.com.

If it’s about Button Quail, which, as Jodi says, is actually the Chinese Blue Breasted Quail, then Jodi is the one to ask.

Quail Queen… Jodi rocks.

 

Just A Couple Of Chickens Is About Raising Chckens

Self publishing a book about raising chickens is turning out to be a lot like writing a book about raising chickens!

I raised over 100 poultry chicks and I wrote two books. One was about raising over 100 poultry chicks.

And I’m writing about how to self publish a book… and I’ve noticed a very big difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens.

When I fussed about the brooder temperature for the chicks, they grew…
And when I changed their feed and water, they grew…
And when I went in and out of their pen, they grew….

They grew no matter what I did. And if I had left the roosters to their own devices, they would have also multiplied.

But when I was writing the book, every time I stopped typing, the book stopped progressing.
And even if I left it under a warm lamp, with plenty of food and water, it still didn’t grow.
Every time I turned my back on the chickens, they grew, but despite turning my back frequently to my book, it didn’t grow…

Unless I wrote another word, and another, and about… 100,000 more.

Then I went and self published my book, and once again, nothing grew unless I made it grow. There was some independent progress, as word of mouth drove book sales, but mostly, it was like writing it.

One bright side of all this work is control. I can choose when to write, where to publish, and what things look like. Some of my poultry grew surprisingly out of control, either in size or behavior. And I never knew what they were going to do next… whereas my book rarely surprised me with plot turns or out-of-control sales.

But maybe one day, there will be a writing project that grows when my back is turned. It has happened to self published projects before, and it is happening more and more each day.

So maybe the difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens is similar to the difference between nature’s creation and literary creation… that’s kind of deep!

 

Silver Laced Polish Chickens love Just A Couple Of Chickens

My Silver Laced Polish chickens were some of the sweetest in the flock, and the easiest to catch and snuggle, maybe because they couldn’t see or hear as well as the other chickens. But hey, this is a fabulous face. That is it’s face… all those fabulous feathers are the face.

100 years ago, I wouldn’t have had much choice in chickens.
I would have been limited to whatever chickens my neighbors raised.

Today I can choose my chickens based on all kinds of preferences:

  • big or small,
  • brightly colored or monochrome,
  • weird combs or standard,
  • old breeds or new,
  • mellow or feisty.

Now, I know enough to choose a bird that is well suited to my climate – but only because I didn’t choose properly the first time around.

My fancy top-hat Polish chickens were not comfortable in the minus 10 degree winter days of Northern New Mexico. They would spend all day under the low hanging heat lamp, regularly torching their top hat feathers into little puffs of smoke.

I also didn’t realize that the kinds of chickens that lay lots and lots of huge, perfect eggs are not always the same kind of chickens that sport fantastically decorated feathers.

Since my egg and feather business at www.TheFeatheredEgg.com offers blown eggs and natural feathers that were raised with love and care in my own small flock, I wanted exotic feathers from my hens, and so my second flock was full of exotic wonders.

They didn’t lay well at all.

And I learned that heritage breeds of chickens, ducks, and turkeys were definitely healthier, hardier, and more able to beat me at chess.

I learned that if I want eggs… I should choose a heritage egg layer.

If I want meat, I should stick with the broiler breeds – which will also lay eggs, and some of them will lay very well.

And if I want feathers, really special feathers, I’m going to have to compromise on both eggs and meat.
Beauty comes at a price.

There is a super-cool chicken selector tool at www.MyPetChicken.com to help with this process… I could spend hours on that thing!  It’s so fun!

Faverolles, Chantecler, Minorca, Australorp – ah, that one I had, White Leghorn – great chicken although not heritage – mega egg layer, Cubalaya… whassa cubalya?,
I should stop….
maybe one more spin on the chicken selector tool… really, I should stop… just one more time….

 

Does this sound like a strange question?

Not what breed is my chicken…. not what kind of chicken is this…. what color is my chicken?

Crele is a feather color Corinne didn't have in Just a Couple of Chickens

I made a Crele color quilt for myself to share the wonder. Crele is a color found on fairy chickens, also known as Modern Game Bantams. It is my new favorite chicken color.

When I placed my first hatchery order for the minimum 25 chicks, I went for “hatchery choice” because it was the least expensive way to get a wide variety of chickens. It also happens to be a good way to get a box of roosters, but I didn’t know that at the time…. the story makes for a very funny book, “Just a Couple of Chickens”, which I wrote in 2009.

I spent the next two years trying to figure out what chickens I had. I used their:

  • comb configuration,
  • feather shape,
  • body size,
  • laying habits,
  • and most of all, their feather colors.

And I still couldn’t figure out some of them, because if I thought there were an amazing number of chicken breeds in our world…. I hadn’t even begun to discover how many colors existed.

Inside each breed can be different colors and patterns and feather types, layers and layers of speciality that go deeper and deeper until I am totally lost.

This is where poultry shows are so exciting. The breeds and colors and patterns and feather types are all presented in perfect order, with experts and judges and breeders standing right there, ready to talk!

Which is how I learned about my new favorite color for a chicken… called “Crele”

It is a kind of coppery, gold, buttered, barred, starred, glorious cascade of tawny, scintillating, auriferous, honey-tinted feathers.

I saw it on some roosters at the PNPA show last season and have never been the same. Best of all, Crele comes in Fairy Chickens!
(aka Crele Modern Game)

But it seems to be best on the roosters. Which is a problem, as there are no roos in my future. Urban chickens are not roosters.
Okay, but what about the Crele Penedesenca Hen!  Now there’s an aurulent, caramelized bedecked neck of feathers…

I’m not sure that backyard chickens is so much a hobby as it is a… condition.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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