We are very happy with the success we always had and have with our chickens' health. Their immune systems are very strong and their plumage are so rich in color. If you see a beautiful breed of chicken you usually stop and stare but our chickens(even the most boring) will you have you in awe. Everyone just wants to sit down and see the attractive chickens prance around their coop, including me!
If you are interested in caring for your chickens the same way we do, we encourage you to do so! We have been so successful with our chicken's diet by experimenting and searching through other flock's management. We now found the management that fits our needs and change it whenever we feel needed to do so.
When they begin laying we switch them to Purina Sunfresh Recipe at about 18%. All hens and chicks recieve cooked eggs to boost the percentage of protein, especially if we plan on hatching eggs. We also offer oyster shells free choice to laying hens along with Sea Kelp and Grit. We also mix diatomaceous earth into the chicken's feed, at 2 cups for every 50 lbs. of feed. Diatomaceous earth is an organic pesticide that keeps instects out of the feed and parasites out of the chickens.
The birds also get chopped eggs and grated carrots once a week, greens like kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce as they are available, leftover tomatoes, or any fruit that is starting to go bad. They also enjoy watermelons. In October, after Halloween, we purchase all the pumpkins at a bargain price and feed it to the entire farm. I have heard that it is a good wormer. If you plan to do this also, please make sure there were no pesticides or anything else used that can harm your chickens. We had made a special deal with the man so he wouldn't use anything harmful for our chickens.
Twice a month, we feed a yogurt grain mixture that the birds love and that contains the good gut bacteria necessary for good digestion and health.
They always have a supply of water. During the summer they have unlimited amounts, but during the winter the pipes freeze and we switch to our other method, waterers. We make sure each flock never runs out of water by checking twice daily, but it is never necessary since we make sure they have more than enough water for them to drink. We add a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar with live cultures.We also sometimes add molasses as a treat on the cold winter days or hot summer days.
We clean coops weekly and occasionally every other week. If you don't want to go out there and clean the coop, there isn't a problem with you being lazy(for most cases) but actually the coop. When your coop is easy to clean, you don't have a problem doing it and your chickens are healthier. That is why we make sure our coops are very easy to clean so it does not take us all day. Whether is is pulling a tray out or doing a quick sweep of shavings. We like to use saw shavings for bedding. We disagree with the deep-litter method as we feel it retains moisture and is just unhealthy for them. We sprinkle lime and diatomaceous earth before laying the fresh bedding to control ammonia odor and to keep away parasites.
We have switched to a new method of feeding which we had learned from AmberWaves flock. We changed the recipe a little bit to fit our needs and below it is:
We feed MEDICATED Chick Starter around 20%-24% until the chicks are at 8 weeks of age. It is a lot of controversy of medicated feed because you do not know the EXACT amount they are getting, but we have been doing this practice for many, many years now and have had successful results. We also add grit for them as it is vital for them to digest their food. They also recieve carrotsm hard-cooked chopped eggs, greens, and occasionally some yogurt.
We then feed them Grower at 20%-24% until they are at 6-7 months of age.
In a 5 gallon bucket, fill approximately 3/4 full with base feed and add:
-1 cup crimped oats
-1 cup crimped barley
-1 cup wheat
-1/2 cup safflower seeds
-3/4 cup sunflower chips
-1/2 cup flax seeds
-1 scoop Manna Pro Sho-Glo
-1 heaping tablespoon Brewer's Yeast & Garlic Powder
Mix together well, and add:
-1/2 cup wheat germ oil blend or vegetable oil
-1/4 cup Red Cell
Mix together very well to distribute oil and red cell evenly.
Since we have a lot of birds to feed, this is my recipe, but you can adjust it for your number of birds.
1 gallon bucket containing equal amounts of crimped oats, crimped barley and wheat
1/2 quart plain yogurt (with active cultures)
1 quart buttermilk
Mix together, add a little water if necessary, and refrigerate overnight. Feed the next morning, after grain has absorbed buttermilk and yogurt.
We believe fresh air is a must for all animals, and not just a door open to allow a breeze in to the coop. All chickens have access to go outside, whether in a pen or free-range. We have many predators up here including bears, coyotes, foxes, racoons, opposoms, hawks, falcons, and much more. As much as we would like to have our chickens free-range, we cannot let them be loose at all times. That is why each coop has a run and at least once a week a flock is allowed to roam.