Categories
Poultry

Diatomaceous Earth and Chickens: Common Uses and Application Methods

With so much information available on the web it can be hard to get a concise answer as to how diatomaceous earth products are commonly used with chickens. This article encompasses the most common uses of diatomaceous earth for chickens, providing a guide to help you discover new possible ways to use DE.

In Chicken Feed

The Benefits: Red Lake Earth Diatomaceous Earth is meant to be mixed in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid. What this means is that the product prevents grain and feed from clumping together, as well as helping to lubricate feed materials being compressed into pellets.

Application: Red Lake Earth Diatomaceous Earth can be mixed into feed (on a daily basis) at a rate of 2% of the animals’ total diet.

As a Dust Bath

The Benefits: Many people find that food grade diatomaceous earth dust bath materials, such as Fresh Coop Dust Bath, create the perfect dust bath for their backyard birds. The DE absorbs excess oils in the feathers and helps to keep a flock happy and healthy.

Application: Most commonly, individuals spread the Fresh Coop Dust Bath powder in areas where their chickens naturally dust themselves. However, the product may also be dumped into a tub or other container and set out for the birds to use as a dust bath.

In the Coop

The Benefits: Diatomaceous Earth, specifically Fresh Coop Odor Control, is often sprinkled around chicken coops to help reduce moisture and odors, as well as dangerous ammonia levels that build up.

Application: Spread the Fresh Coop Odor Control powder around the perimeter of your coop using your hands, a small scoop or other application device. As well, apply the product in any cracks or crevices throughout the coop.

If you have any suggested uses or application methods we would love to hear from you! Share your ideas with us on facebook or contact us directly by using the form below.I

Categories
Home & Garden

What to Compost: Interesting Things You Can Compost

Does your compost consist of common waste including the usual fruit and vegetable peels, leaves, grass clippings, etc.? Consult the list below to make the most out of your compost bin and start composting some of these surprising items!

  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Paper napkins
  • Crumbs from the counters and floors
  • Plain cooked pasta and rice
  • Bread
  • Olive pits
  • Cereals, crackers, chips, cookies, etc.
  • Nut shells (except walnut shells, which contain a chemical that can be toxic to plants)
  • Herbs and spices
  • Pretzels
  • Pizza crusts
  • Cereal boxes (torn into small pieces)
  • Wine corks
  • Moldy cheese
  • Melted ice cream
  • Old jelly, jam, or preserves
  • Beer and wine
  • Cardboard and paper egg cartons
  • Toothpicks
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Facial tissues
  • Human and pet hair
  • Nail clippings
  • 100% cotton balls
  • Dryer lint
  • 100 % cotton or wool clothing (ripped or cut into small pieces)
  • Pencil shavings
  • Paper business cards (as long as they aren’t glossy)
  • Receipts
  • Newspapers (shredded or torn into small pieces)
  • Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit
  • Latex balloons
  • Feathers
  • Dry dog or cat food
  • Wood chips and sawdust
  • Fabric sheets from the dryer
  • Paper bags (ripped or balled up)
  • Post-it notes
  • Pizza boxes (ripped into small pieces)
  • Paper plates (as long as they don’t have a waxy coating)
  • Paper envelopes, bills and other documents (make sure not to compost envelopes with
  • plastic windows and that the paper has been shredded)
  • Paper or wood-based matches
  • Paper towel/ toilet paper/ wrapping paper rolls
  • Leather belts, shoes, wallets, gloves (it is best if the leather is fairly old)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Masking tape
  • Jell-O (gelatin)
  • Paper muffin and cupcake cups
  • Price tags
  • Candy (with the wrapper removed)
  • Chewing gum
  • Old rope
  • Dead houseplants
  • Halloween pumpkins
  • Rawhide dog chews

Please note that not all of these items are organic and therefore should not be added to your compost if it will be used in an organic garden.

Image by Becky F

Categories
Home & Garden

Fall Gardening: Tips and Ideas

Fall is here and winter is fast approaching! In order to keep your garden healthy and prepare it for the spring there are some crucial steps you should take. Here are some fall gardening tips to help keep your flowers flourishing and prepare your garden for next year.

  • Remove any dead heads (dead flowers).
  • Regularly water your plants and provide them with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Cut back annuals and diseased plants to half their height and they will rebound. Perennials can be cut back too but make sure not to do this too early.
  • Do not dispose of any plant until you are sure it’s dead and can not be revived. To test to see if the plant is dead give it a gentle tug, if its roots hold then it is still alive.
  • Remove the leaves from any grassy areas that you have as it is crucial for the grass to get sunlight during the fall months. As well, remove any diseased leaves from under your plants as they will spread disease spores to your plants in the spring if they are left on the soil all winter.
  • Use winter mulch to help keep your plants at an even temperature as they may die during periods of irregular temperature conditions.
  • Protect your newly planted bulbs from squirrels by planting the bulbs in large groups, flooding the soil above them with water and covering them with leaves. Squirrels are able to locate bulbs by detecting disturbed soil. By creating these diversions you can outwit them and protect your garden.
  • Don’t wrap you’re your plants too tightly in burlap, as this can do more harm than good by holding ice against their tissues.

Image by FilippoD

Categories
Home & Garden

Spring Vegetables

Spring has sprung! And it’s time to start planting your garden!

Early spring is a great time to start growing hardy vegetables like kale, spinach and collards. These veggies are able to withstand hard frost and, in fact, taste best when they mature in cool weather.

However, there are many more vegetables that are suitable for your spring garden! These include:

  • Spinach – depending on the weather, and the variety of spinach that you’ve planted, your spinach can begin to be harvested within three weeks of planting!
  • Swiss chard – while the Swiss chard leaves may take up to 50 days to reach their full size, some varieties of Swiss chard can be harvested as baby greens in as little as 25 days.
  • Peas – depending on the variety, peas may take from 50 to 65 days to mature
  • Brussel sprouts – Brussel sprouts may take anywhere from 90 to 120 days to mature.
  • Onions – from seed onions can take 3 to 5 months to mature. Planting onion ‘sets’ or small bulbs however, can shorten this maturity time to 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Cauliflower – cauliflower can be harvested 30 to 80 days after being planted.
  • Beets – on average, beets can be harvested within 50 to 70 days.
  • Carrots – carrots take approximately 2.5 months to mature.
  • Radishes – many varieties of radishes can be harvested in as little as 3 weeks.
  • Lettuce – while it may take approximately 55 to 75 days for the leaves to be fully grown depending on the variety), baby greens may be harvested in as little as 2 weeks.
  • Cabbage – for most green cabbage varieties, harvesting can occur approximately 70 days after planting.
  • Broccoli – broccoli may take anywhere from 45 to 60 days before it can be harvested.
  • Celery – some varieties of celery may be as little as 60 days to grow to maturity.
  • Potatoes – depending on the variety, potatoes may take 90 – 110 (or more) days to mature. Early varieties including ‘Irish Cobbler’, ‘Caribe’, ‘Red Norland’ and ‘King Harry’ mature in less than 90 days.

Full sized kale leaves can mature in 40 to 60 days, however baby kale leaves may be harvested in as little as 3 weeks. Both spinach and collard can be harvested approximately 4 to 6 weeks after being planted.

Please note: Lettuce and Swiss chard should to be covered if temperatures drop below freezing.

Image by Christine Sponchia

Categories
Poultry

Poultry Mites

One of the most common problems that is faced when raising poultry is that of mites. There are several different types of mites that can infest flocks and poultry housing. These mites can result in production and economic losses as well as eventual death if the problem goes unresolved.

These mites can come from many different sources. Wild birds and rodents entering the coop may bring them in or they may be picked up at sales, auctions or shows where many birds are in close contact.

Chicken mites are the most common type that may infest your flock. Chicken mites are nocturnal and feed on the bird’s blood while they sleep at night. They are tiny and yellow or gray in color however they get darker as they feed. Chicken mites live on the skin of birds as well as in nest boxes and bedding. While they prefer chickens as their host, chicken mites may also infest turkeys, pigeons, canaries as well as wild birds. Chicken mites are also known as red mites, gray mites and roost mites. They are a particular problem in warmer climates and in poultry houses that contain wooden roosts. An infestation may cause your birds to become anemic and lethargic with pale comb and wattles.

Chicken mites are considered to be members of the spider family. They are very quick runners and live in the cracks and crevices of poultry houses, on the roosts, walls, ceiling, and floors. The spring, summer and fall months are when these mites are most active.

The most effective way to get rid of these mites is to treat the coop rather than the birds themselves. In fact, you may never see these mites on your birds unless they are examined at night.

Northern fowl mites are another common type of mite. These parasites infect many types of birds including chickens, turkeys and game birds and are thought to be carried by English sparrows. They live directly on the birds and will feed at all times. They are red/brown in color and will cause discoloration of a birds’ feathers. This discoloration is due to the eggs and waste that is left by the mite. If a flock is highly infested the birds may experience anemia leading to decreased egg production, decreased immune functioning, weight loss and many other negative side effects. Infestations may be found to be more severe during the winter months.

Treatment of the birds themselves is most effective for getting rid of these types of mites.

Scaly leg mites may also pose a threat to your poultry. These mites live on the scales of a chickens legs and feet. The scales will begin to lift and separate from the skin. The chickens legs and feet may become swollen and tender and discharge may form under the scales.

Another problem that is faced by poultry farmers is lice. Unlike mites, lice do not feed on blood but rather on dry skin scales and feathers. They have chewing mouth parts rather than the sucking mouth parts possessed by mites. Lice can be found on the skin of a bird, especially on the head, under the wings and around the vent. The chewing action of the lice as well as their movement on the skin will irritate the bird and can result in loss of appetite, weakness, lowered egg production, and susceptibility to illness.

In the case of both lice and mites, untreated birds may exhibit symptoms such as weakening, loss of appetite, emaciation, lowered egg production, lethargy, and even eventually death. It is therefore important to constantly monitor your flock and to immediately treat your birds as soon as signs of an infestation occur.

A minimum of 10 randomly selected birds should be examined for mites weekly. You can estimate the infestation level by blowing on the bird’s feathers and counting the mites you see.

If there are:

  • 5 mites counted = bird may be carrying from 100 to 300 mites
  • 6 mites counted = bird may be carrying from 300 to 1,000 mites (light infestation)
  • 7 mites counted = bird may be carrying from 1,000 to 3,000 mites – small clumps of mites seen on skin and feathers (moderate infestation)
  • 8 mites counted = bird may be carrying from 3,000 to 10,000 mites – accumulation of mites on skin and feathers (moderate to heavy infestation)
  • 9 mites counted = bird may be carrying 10,000 to 32,000 or more mites – numerous large clumps of mites seen on skin and feathers; skin pocketed with scabs (heavy infestation)

When treating for mites it is important to apply treatment to both the coop and the birds themselves. This is due to the fact that, unlike lice, some mites are able to live both on and off of their host.

A variety of treatments and preventative measures are currently available. Pesticides are a common method of treatment however mites and lice can become immune to these pesticides and therefore the technique will no longer be effective. Diatomaceous earth (such as DE-cide) may be a solution that will not become ineffective over time.

Image by furtwangl

Categories
Poultry

Backyard Chickens: Winter Tips

Caring for backyard chickens during the winter months will require some additional work on your part, as cold weather can produce many challenges.

Here are some tips to consider to help keep your chickens happy and healthy during the winter season:

  • Ensure that your coop has sufficient ventilation in order to prevent moisture from building up. A damp coop during cold weather can lead to frost bite on your chickens’ feet, combs and wattles. Some people will also cover their birds’ combs and wattles with petroleum jelly to help prevent frost bite during very cold weather.
  • Don’t use a heater! This could cause a fire! Rather, provide your chickens with a thick layer of bedding to help keep them warm. Roosts are also helpful in keeping your chickens warm during the winter by keeping them off of the ground. Be sure that there is enough space for all of your birds to roost.
  • Provide your birds with an additional light source, especially during short, dark days. Providing a light source for a few extra hours per day will help to keep your hens laying throughout the winter.
  • Feed your chickens cracked corn. The addition of cracked corn will help your chickens to produce body heat. (As their body’s digest the corn, body heat is generated.)
  • Watch for freezing water! Many individuals will use electric water heaters in very cold climates. If you are not using a water heater, be sure to check and change water buckets regularly to prevent freezing. Providing warm water will also help.
  • The same is true for eggs! Be sure to collect eggs from the coop several times a day to ensure that they do not freeze.

Please note: While it is important to help your chickens stay warm during the winter, it is not necessary to entirely seal up the coop. Chickens will follow their natural instincts and will know whether they want to be inside or out. Providing your birds with an access door so that they can move in and out of the coop freely may be a good idea.

Image by n0rthw1nd

Categories
Poultry

Consumer Reports: Diatomaceous Earth and Chickens

RaChelle from Jacksonville, Florida uses Diatomaceous Earth with her chickens. Below are her suggested uses and the results she has experienced.

I like your product, I use Red Lake Earth DE in my chicken feed every few months.

Fresh Coop Odor Control:

I put it [diatomaceous earth] in a coffee can with holes in the top to dust the area around the coop and inside the run before I put hay down. I use it inside the coop under bedding to absorb moisture, control odor, and make a nice base so that cleaning the inside is easier.

When I’m cleaning the inside of the coop I sprinkle some everywhere, then take a wire brush with a metal scraper on the edge (used for cleaning barbecue grills) and scrape waste easily [away] and the surface is free of poop and debris and ready to be cleaned and/or hosed down without scrubbing or any effort.

Fresh Coop Dust Bath:

Finally, I mix a bath for my birds using ashes (I burn hay), dirt, and DE.

Needless to say the 50 lbs bag is my best friend.

Image by Kristine Paulus

Categories
Poultry

Chicken Facts

Check out these interesting facts about chickens.

Did you know…

  • Chickens are the closest living relatives of the t-rex.
  • The sounds that chickens make have actual meaning. Chickens even have different alarm calls for different predators!
  • A mature male chicken is called a rooster, cock or roo and a mature female chicken is
    called a hen. A baby chicken is known as a chick. An immature male chicken is called a
    cockerel and an immature female chicken a pullet.
  • There are over 150 types of domestic chickens.
  • Chickens were domesticated approximately 8000 years ago.
  • A chickens’ heart beats 280-315 times a minute.
  • A rooster takes 18-20 breathes a minute and a hen 30-35.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds.
  • A hen can live up to 20 years.
  • A hen will lay eggs her entire life. The number of eggs she lays will decrease every year.
  • Chickens lay all different colored eggs, from white, to brown, to green, to pink, to blue.
  • The color of a hen’s first egg is the color she will lay for life.
  • It takes a hen 24-26 hours to lay an egg.
  • Chickens prefer to have private nests. A hen will build her nest by first scratching a hole in the ground. She will then pick up twigs and leaves and drop them on her back. She will then transport the supplies back to her hole where she will let the material slide off her back around the rim.
  • It takes a chick 21 days to develop in the egg.
  • A hen begins to bond with her chicks before they are born. She will turn her eggs as often as five times an hour and cluck to her unborn chicks, who will chirp back to her and to one another.
  • If a rooster is not present in a flock of hens, a hen will often take the role. She will stop laying eggs and will begin to crow.
  • A chicken has 4 or 5 toes on each foot.
  • Chickens have no teeth and swallow their food whole.
  • Chickens are social animals. They will fight to protect their family and even mourn when loved one is lost.
  • It takes 4 lbs. or more of feed to produce 1 dozen eggs.
  • The average hen lays 265 eggs per year.
  • The world record for the most eggs laid is held by a White Leghorn who, in 1979, laid 371 eggs in a year!
  • A fear of chickens is known as Alektorophobia.
  • Chickens are less nervous if their caretaker walks backwards.

Image by Martin de Witte

Categories
Poultry

Do Chickens Like Music?

Could it be that chickens enjoy soothing and relaxing music just as much as we do? Results from a study at the University of Bristol in the UK suggests that they do!

For eight weeks, music was played at various times throughout the day in hens’ nesting boxes. Classical, pop and rock music was used. As well, in some boxes no music was played. This allowed researchers to compare the chickens’ behavior directly as a result of the music.

It was found that all types of music intrigued the hens. In fact, they entered the nesting boxes 159% more when music was playing! However, the study revealed that it was classical music that the hens preferred. While the hens did not lay more eggs overall in response to this music, it was found that they did visit nesting boxes that played classical music more often and laid 6% more eggs in these nesting boxes.

In response to these results, in order to help boost hen happiness, relaxation and productivity, Happy Egg Co. produced a CD, Top of the Flocks, just for their feathered friends! The CD, composed by British composer Jack Ketch has three tracks and is available on SoundCloud at the following link: Top of the Flocks – Relaxing tracks to set feathers a flutter

Share it with your flock and let us know what they think!

Image by Karen Jackson

Categories
Poultry

How Smart Are Chickens?

Just how smart are chickens? Pretty smart, it turns out! In fact, studies have shown that chickens have many cognitive attributes similar to that of mammals, even primates! Check out these amazing facts about chickens that you might not have known:

  1. Chickens have the capacity to demonstrate self-control and even to consider the future. For example, studies have shown that chickens can consciously choose to delay gratification, understanding that if they refused food initially they would receive a larger amount of food later.
  2. Chickens have great memories! They are able to remember and recognize more than 100 different individuals, including humans.
  3. Chickens understand object permanence. That is, they can understand that an object that is taken away and hidden from sight still continues to exist. They even have the capacity to recognize a whole object when it is partially hidden. Very few animals demonstrate this ability, including young human children!
  4. Like primates, chickens are socially complex creatures, forming organized communities and learning from one another. In fact, they even seem to adjust their behavior according to those around them! Chickens have strong personalities, form friendships and have a range of interests.
  5. Chickens have the capacity to empathize. For instance, some chickens are protective not only of their own chicks but also of chicks that are not related to them.

Image by Chris Bartow