Friday, April 4, 2014

Peek at the Week {Week of 4/4/2014}

This week was super fun! It was very sunny and warm so everyone free ranged for hours and hours for a couple days in a row! Here are some fun shots from the past couple days.


Portia was very photogenic this week and enjoyed running all over like a maniac!


Portia and Popcorn went worm searching for a little while! 



Pepper was very photogenic as well and had lots of fun in the sun! Her sister Luna, on the other hand, was not too keen and stayed inside the run mostly except for a brief couple of moments which are pictured below.


What's up? Two chicken butts!


Popcorn running over for a cuddle.


Ellie II posed very well behind the eggs. This photo will be on the post advertising the fresh eggs we sell down the street.


Even the silkies enjoyed coming out for a little bit! Lefty's flock and Cluck Norris's flock stayed separate except for a little squabble between the two guys over a piece of watermelon, which was ended when I broke it in half.


Ruby pecking around in hopes for something good, like a nice juicy worm!







Chick Days


It's the time of year where all the feed stores and hatcheries start selling chicks! Wherever you go you feel like you can still hear them cheeping, tempting you to buy a few. You have spring fever, and can't resist any longer, so you go to the local feed store and look at the chicks. You come home and immediately look up chick care and great chick care products and you find this post. Well you won't be disappointed, we will be able to tell you everything you need to know, and where everything can be bought.

Choosing the right breed for you
If you want to do a little better than the local feed store's meat or egg production hybrids, check out MyPetChicken.com. They offer many rare breeds and can give you the lowest minimum order of chicks out of all the hatcheries, just three chicks! If you aren't sure of the breed you want but know what purpose they will serve for, then use My Pet Chicken's Breed Selection Tool! They can help you find the right breed for egg production, meet production, or just plain cool looking!

Here is a Black Silkie Chicken available from My Pet Chicken. Silkies are much smaller than common chicken breeds and have soft, fur-like feathers. They also lay petite little eggs! 

Here is one breed you'll surely recognize; the common White Leghorn. Leghorns are great if you're interested in a good laying bird. 

I bet you've never seen any eggs like this at the supermarket! These are from a breed called the "Olive Egger" which is a mix between the Ameracauna, which lays dark green eggs, and the Black Copper Marans, which lays a chocolate colored egg. These breeds are among the favorite breeds sold at My Pet Chicken so if you want a few you should check in the mornings on Mondays and Fridays when they recount and may have some extras.

Basic Chick Care
Raising chicks is one of the best parts of having chickens. Seeing them grow up from little balls of fluff into big gorgeous gals (or guys) is amazing. But if you don't take good care of them, they may not grow up into the birds you wanted them to be. Chicks can get small deformities such as spraddle leg and curled toes that can be easily cured or prevented in the first place. Nearly all of these deformities can be prevented by avoiding vitamin deficiency. Vitamin deficiency can be avoided by adding things to your chicks water like Save-A-Chick. Chicks will also need a artificial heat source for the first few weeks or even months of their life, to do the job of the mother hen. Most people use a heat lamp to keep their chicks warm, but is it really worth the risk? Many people loves there chicken coops, barns, and sometimes even houses, to fires caused by heat lamps. Depending on the scale at which you will be raising chicks, here are two kinds of brooder heaters and what we like and don't like about them, and our personal experiences with with.


Pros: Low energy, Not a fire hazard, self-suspended, less likelihood of pasty butt.
Cons: Not great for use in rooms where temperature drops below 50*F, Not a very big chick capacity in Ecoglow 20 or Ecoglow 50, chicks quickly grow out of it because of its short height, cannot see the chicks when underneath it. 
Personal Experience: I only use these for chicks that are new out of the incubator and under a week old because they quickly grow out of it and because I can't stand not being able to see them anymore. Would suggest the Ecoglow 20 for under 10 chicks in a heated room. 

Pros: Low Energy, Not a fire hazard, has large chick capacity, chicks and chickens of all ages can use it, can be used in barns and unheated spaces during winter, available in many sizes, less likelihood of pasty butt. 
Cons: Must be mounted to wall or hung by chains.
Personal Experience: These are great for us because we brood most of our chicks in our barn, where it can get cold at night and very cold during the winter when we sometimes brood chicks. They can also be used for keeping the adult birds warm during the cold winter nights. 

Feeding
Feeding is something that varies upon a few important factors but generally isn't too difficult to figure out. Here are the most common feeds and why they are different than the others.

Exclusively from My Pet Chicken, Chickie Puffs! Chickie Puffs are healthy, and encourage your chicks to eat! They can be mixed in with any of the chick feeds below to make your chicks enjoy them even more! To prove how much chicks love Chickie Puff, My Pet Chicken took this video.

This is a great way to boost your chicks' immune systems and get them off to the right stat in life. This is especially important if your chicks aren't vaccinated, as it keeps them safe from diseases while they are most vulnerable. While it may cost a little more, it's worth it if it means healthier and happier chicks. 




Non-Medicated Chick starter is a good choice for those who cannot afford medicated feed or have chicks that have already been vaccinated. Non-medicated feed is much cheaper which makes it better for larger batches of chicks.


Organic Chick Starter is great for those who want to one day be able to sell organic eggs. Organic eggs sell for much more and so do chickens, if you chose to sell any. While you might make more selling organic eggs in the future, you will have to suffer through the bill for this first! On the bright side My Pet Chicken has a much better price than most other suppliers do!

Where to keep the Chicks?
Whether in your bathtub or spare dog crate, the chicks will need to go somewhere! If you only plan to brood chicks once and a while, you can make it by with a cardboard box or some brooder panels like the ones below. 

...Or maybe you will build your own so you can show off some of those carpentry skills you haven"t been able to put to use...


Here's ours that we have in our barn for LOTS of chicks! It has since been modified with a lid and has a large sweeter heater installed inside too. It can hold whatever we want including grow-outs and adults so its very handy to have around. 

Whatever you chose to keep your chicks in, make sure it's the appropriate size and they can get away from the heat source if needed so they don't overheat. And if you really have to use a heat lamp please make sure it's well mounted to avoid it from falling and starting a fire. 


Wish you could get it all in one big kit? Well you can! My Pet Chicken offers this wonderful Baby Chick Starter Kit so you will have everything you need to raise some chicks for the first couple weeks! This is what we used when we raised our first couple chicks and it worked like a charm! 


Hopefully this covers most of the things you were wondering about before you got chicks, but if there's anything I missed, email me at chickens@hensandhooves.com.






Monday, March 31, 2014

"My Pet Chicken Handbook" Giveaway Winner



The winner of the "My Pet Chicken Handbook" giveaway is... Alice Mullinz! Congratulations Alice! 

Thank you to our sponsor My Pet Chicken™ for giving away this awesome prize. Stay tuned for more giveaways and fun events coming up! 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Peek at the Week {Week of 3/17/2014}

This week was full of lots of fun. With all the warm weather everyone got outside to peck around or graze and get some exercise. With the ground moist from all the snow, the chickens got tons of worms! The sheep had fun goofing around but unfortunately there hasn't been much grass to eat just yet. Here are some shots from this fun-filled week.

Bo was feeling very photogenic when he posed for these two photos. He cannot wait to be sheared as he has a lot of wool in front of his eyes. The twins will be sheared some time in April by the President of the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Society! We have already found someone who has interest in their wool so they will be picking it up soon after to make something out of it. We may be getting a blanket made of their wool as a souvenir! 





The girls had a ball running all over eating worms and scratching around. They are happy not to be stuck inside anymore because of the snow. They enjoyed sunbathing and dust bathing as well. 



Popcorn being her beautiful self, as usual! 



What's up? Chicken Butt! Stringbean's butt to be exact! 


A nice shot of the barn, where all the new siding is finally starting to darken to the shade of the existing wood. Hopefully it won't take as long to become that color, because the barn is very old, and so is the existing wood! 




We have been very busy with hatches and chicks so I will ne making a post with a chick count soon. Happy Spring to our wonderful readers and check back soon for new posts. 


If you haven't already, enter our giveaway for a signed copy of the "My Pet Chicken Handbook" by clicking the photo above.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Pet Chicken Giveaway!

This week My Pet Chicken officially became one of our sponsors! Since we use so many of the great products from My Pet Chicken already, it was a perfect fit! We'll be sharing lots of great products we use from My Pet Chicken and of the chickens we have gotten there! We thought we would start this new sponsorship with a bang, so we will be holding a giveaway! 




My Pet Chicken has released a new book! Get your own signed copy by entering our giveaway!

This awesome giveaway starts 3/16/2014 at 12:00 AM and ends 3/30/2014 at 12:00 AM eastern. Sign up before it's too late!


HOW TO ENTER "MY PET CHICKEN HANDBOOK" GIVEAWAY: 
1. Like and Share Hens and Hooves on Facebook. 
2. Subscribe to Hens and Hooves via Email.
3. Like My Pet Chicken on Facebook and tell them "The Hens and Hooved sent me!"
4. Check out MyPetChicken.com.
5. Comment something you like about My Pet Chicken on this post!

Winner will be notified via Email when the Giveaway ends!

Good Luck! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Meet Lefty

Today we welcomed Lefty, a Buff Frilkie Cockerel, to our farm! He's around 3 months old and is the most wonderful guy ever. He is the same color as Butterscotch was, I'm sure Butterscotch has a major crush on him in heaven right now! He is a frizzled silkies, AKA a Frilkie! He's a wonderful little guy, already very friendly and has such a personality! He's very pretty and will probably become even more pretty as his plumage grows out. 


On the ride home he jumped out of his box for a pet! He couldn't wait til we got home I guess! He looks very handsome in his chicken diaper, although I don't think he fancies the flowers on it. Maybe we need to get him a tough guy chicken diaper! 



No doubt he is very curious too! He follows us around until he gets attention and a pet! You can see the evidence of a yogurt snack on his beak too!




Saturday, March 1, 2014

{Guest Post} 7 Myths and Truths about Handling Hatching Eggs

Our first guest post is brought to you by Lisa Murano at www.MuranoChickenFarm.com


7 Myths and Truths about Handling Hatching Eggs


I always have a full incubator. Or 3! I know a lot of you are like me. After all, hatching chicks is addictive isn't it? There are lots of do's and don'ts of hatching eggs. The funny thing is that what one person swears never works, another person swears it's the reason their hatches are so successful! Over the years I've tried just about every method possible to increase my hatch rate. I've put these myths to the test many times over. 5 years and thousands of chicks later.....here are my results:

Myth 1) Absolutely do not wash an egg before incubating. 

ReasonIt washes away the 'bloom' and allows bacteria to enter the egg. Just brush off any dirt or don'tset the egg if it's too dirty.
Common rebuttal: All the big hatcheries wash and sanitize their eggs first.
Personal opinion: I have done it both ways and have tried to see a difference but I can't 

Answer: well, yes and yes. First, you really don't want bacteria in your incubator. It could ruin your whole hatch. Second, yes the big hatcheries clean their eggs first...however we don't know their hatch rates...so we can't really use that as an argument.
    
Myth 2) Do not use odd shaped eggs, or eggs that are abnormally small or large

Reason: larger eggs are often double yolk eggs which very rarely hatch. (and always need assistance)often small eggs are pullet eggs which shouldn't be hatched. Odd shaped eggs won't allow the chick proper room to grow and it will die in the egg or be malformed.
Common rebuttal: pullet eggs are perfectly fine to hatch, big eggs just hatch big chicks and it all depends on the odd shape.
Personal experience: Lots of big chicks and no pullet eggs, however....I never incubate double yolkers.

Answer: hatching pullet eggs is up to you! There are lots of us that refuse to hatch pullet eggs because of multiple bad experiences. There are others that swear they always hatch just fine. I know the itch to hatch those first eggs is unbearable! Technically they should be fine....but since people seem to have varied experiences with this, it's a personal choice. Large eggs do hatch larger chicks, just candle first to make sure you don't have a double yolker. It may be cute to have 'twins' but do you really want to watch one die as it hatches? As far as odd shaped eggs go....how odd shaped is it? Can a chick fit in it? If it's just a little bit long or round that's one thing, if it's shaped like a snake.... 

Myth 3) Eggs must be stored small side down before incubation.

Reason: This allows the egg to settle and the air cell to 'set' in place
Common rebuttal: This doesn't matter unless the eggs were shipped or jostled in some way. Mama chicken doesn't sit her eggs on end before going broody. 
Personal experience: I try, really I do! Sometimes I end up with eggs in a basket before hatch though and they are laying all kinds of ways. I haven't noticed a difference in hatch rate. However I always allow shipped eggs to set upright to settle before hatch.

Answer: Yes, the egg has an air cell which needs to be fixed at the top for incubation. Allowing it to set with the wide end up allows this to happen

Myth 4) Rotate eggs 3 times a day during storage 

Reason: It keeps the yolk from sticking to the side of the shell.
Common rebuttalIt won't stick once it starts developing and is being turned regularly.  
Personal experience: I hardly ever do this. I forget all the time and I haven't noticed a difference.   

Answer: ummmm...all the research says to do it. Seriously, that's all I got on this one! 

Myth 5) Do not refrigerate eggs before incubation. Store at a humid 55-65 degrees.

Reason: Humidity keeps the egg from loosing moisture. (eggs are porousTemperature below 65 keeps the egg from starting to develop too soon. Temperatures too low destroys the eggs ability to develop.
Common rebuttal: Fertile eggs from grocery stores and farmers markets hatch all the time. Cooptemperatures are not kept this stringent and a broody takes days to collect a clutch before incubating.
Personal experience: Refrigeration seems to lower the hatch rate on average. Deviation from 50-70 have been fine. Eggs have been left in the snow covered coop for 2 days then have hatched. I don't recommend it, but I have pulled eggs out of the refrigerator and stuck them in the bator from time to time. 

Answer: This is a game of odds. Your best odds are when the proper temperature and humidity are kept, however they can still hatch if you deviate slightly from these. 


Myth 6) Let eggs warm up to room temperature before incubation.

Reason: If the eggs are cold condensation can cause bacteria to grow on the eggs. Bacteria in your incubator can ruin the whole hatch.
Common rebuttal: This one always seems to be "I tried it and it was fine" 
Personal experience: I do this when it's too cold outside however....my storage is in my laundry room which is usually  60-65 and I never move them to a warmer room to warm up before incubation. I haven't noticed a difference.

Answer: This one is true. However, if you stored your eggs at 55-65 you shouldn't have far to go to get to room temperature (70)  

  
Myth 7) Don't incubate eggs older then 10 days. The hatch rate decreases after that. 

Reason: The egg begins to breakdown as it gets older and there is less of a chance it will develop and hatch.
Common rebuttal: A mama hen often collects a dozen or more eggs before setting. At one egg a day, that is past the 10 day mark.
Personal experience: If you're tight on incubator space, skip the older eggs...unless you really want that particular egg to hatch. Then what the heck, give it a try.

Answer: This one is true....but remember we're saying the hatch rate decreases...so some will still hatch, but the older the egg gets the less chance there it that it will hatch.
  
So, to sum it up....all of these points can contribute to your hatch. We all want 100% hatch rate and sticking to these points can help you get that. However, slight deviations may not impact your hatch too much. 

Happy hatching!

~La Murano
Murano Hatchery