Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chicken Health: Impacted Crop

Yesterday while I was checking on the girls, I realized Ruby was not herself. She was standing in the middle of the run with her eyes close and oblivious to everything around her. I immediately brought her in and checked her out. After talking to some knowledgeable chicken keepers online I checked her to make sure she wasn't egg bound, didn't have parasites, and a few other things. When I felt her crop there was nothing inside but one object. After remembering the girls trying to eat a mouse a few days before, I realized it was a mouse. It felt like there was one in there too! I was told by the same knowledgeable chicken keepers that it would probably require surgery t remove, either way, we needed to see a vet.

This morning we brought Ruby to the vet and they felt her crop and confirmed it was an impacted crop! 

First they tried doing an ultrasound to see what it was, but it was unsuccessful. 

Next they did an x-ray which gave us a clear image of what was in there, and also made a cool view of what a chicken's bones are like and arranged. 

Although we couldn't 100% confirm it, we believe there was in fact a mouse in Ruby's crop! as of now she is resting in the garage in a crate where we will monitor her bowel movements and keep her on a strict diet. If improvement isn't noticed, Ruby will have to have crop surgery later this week. 

About Impacted Crop 

What is impacted crop?
Impacted crop is the chicken version of indigestion. It's often caused from when they gorge themselves on large treats or scraps and have trouble digesting. 

How is impacted crop caused?
Impacted crop is caused from chickens eating things like string, hay, long grass, and other long string-like things they cannot digest or pass. This is most common in spring when grass is not dead and its tough and hard to digest.

How can I prevent impacted crop?
Make sure your there isn't string that the chickens can eat and don't give them treats that are too big and they may gorge themselves on. 

How can I cure impacted crop?
Depending on how bad, in some cases you can massage their crop, and in worse cases surgery may be require. Please talk to your local avian vet or read about it online before doing surgery yourself or culling the bird. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Flock Members

Now that we have taken the path of chicken breeding, we are keeping most of our silkies for breeding. Since Cluck Norris is very loud and is related to most of our silkie hens, we decided we would find him a home where he could be the only rooster and have all the hens to himself. So we could help him get a home, because rehoming cockerels is difficult, we said we would send his sister to go with him. After a craigslist ad and lots of hoping we finally found a perfect home. Cluck Norris and May will now have a coop and 25 x 30 foot run all to themselves. Finding a cockerel I raised from a chick a good home is enough reward in itself so we charged nothing for him and his sister. I would call this a mission accomplished. 

While some were re-homed, we also gained three new chicks and three new hens! 

From Left to right, Hally an Easter Egger, Buffy the Mealworm Slayer a Buff Orpington, and Chestnut an Easter Egger.

This is Spitz, an Appenzeller Spitzhauben hen. She's very friendly and will scream her lungs out if she can't find Stormie or Missy.

This is Stormie, a gorgeous Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen! She is very curious and immediately began exploring every nook and cranny in the barn until we finally found her and put her back with Spitz, who was screaming out for her. 

This is Missy, a Partridge Rock Hen! She is the most laid back in the group but always follows right behind Spitz her good friend.

Stay tuned for more fun with these spunky hens and chicks! We can't wait until they are done their quarantine and can join the others! Also this morning, their first morning here, we received a big egg from all of them! A good sign they are happy and healthy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to Clover and Bo!

Today is Clover and Bo's Birthday! Clover and Bo are our two Southdown Babydoll Sheep! Today these twins will be turning 2 years old! We got them a year ago the day after their birthday, so we will share all our memories with them in the past year in some fun photos below. These two friendly twins have made many people smile, and make our lives very interesting.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Fun

Today was a super fun day. In the morning we had a sheep shearing party with friends and family, and in the evening the animals all got to free range and are still doing so as I type this. Here are some photos and fun happenings from today.

Here are the freshly sheared, and very happy sheep! Now Bo can actually see and they are both very clean looking. We got a ton of wool from them that we will be selling to a buyer who bought them in advance.

The Flowers are blooming here at Hens and Hooves farm! As long as we keep the animals from eating them there will be lots of pretty flowers soon! 


Here are some photos of some very happy and photogenic chickens! Every single one has been giving us eggs and they are all posing for pictures as well, they must be happy its spring too!

In the silkie coop it's silkie galore! We have the buff sizzle pen, the Blue, Black, and Splash Pen, and the grow outs in the middle!

There was lots of dust bathing today, as the soil is now soft and nice again.

Clover came and visited me when I was working in the barn. This is the kind of motivation that I need! 

Worms galore today! The recently rainy weather has brought out lots of worms!

The Polish grow outs got out today too! They are very hyper little guys and gals!

As you can see, the weather is wonderful and everyone is very happy!

If anyone is in Connecticut and wants a Polish Cockeral please email me at because we have a few that need rehoming because we have too many roosters!

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 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 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