Monday, February 13, 2006

How to Feed Your Chickens (includes MUSIC!!!)

Never before have we seen a feeding frenzy like this! We really dig the soundtrack too.

Watch this video and others over at

Raising Your Home Chicken Flock

Greart article from the University of Maryland!

    A successful home chicken flock requires good breeding stock combined with careful management, disease control and a feeding program adequate for the production or growth level expected for the flock.

    Why Have a Small Flock?

    A small flock offers the convenience of having fresh eggs or poultry meat right at home and the possible reduced costs of production incurred by using available housing and farm feedstuffs.

    Poultry also can be kept as a hobby or as a learning experience for 4-H or FFA projects. Purebred poultry can be exhibited at fairs and poultry shows. There is also the pleasure of observing different shapes and colors in a home poultry flock. Purebred poultry may include chickens (large fowl and bantams), geese, ducks, turkeys, game birds and guineas. Bantams are ideal for those who have only a small space available to keep chickens.

    Before You Plan a Flock

    Some local, county, State and even Federal zoning and environmental regulations prohibit poultry flocks. Zoning regulations are usually specific about animals and environmental considerations, such as flies, odor and noise. Check with your county Extension agent or representatives of government agencies for approval before planning a flock. Also consider the proximity of your neighbors and their opinions.

    Home flocks, even small ones, require water, food and daily care including weekends, vacations and holidays. The time and effort required for this care should be considered in weighing your desire for a home flock against other possible uses of your time and labor.

    What Kind of Chicken?

    There are two basic choices in the type of poultry to keep: a strain bred primarily for egg production or one that is bred for meat production.

    Commercially available White Leghorn strains produce approximately 250 to 300 white eggs each year on a small amount of feed. Sex-linked hens, which are a little larger than Leghorns and lay brown eggs, produce approximately 180 to 240 eggs per year. Egg- producing stock can be bought as day-old chicks or as started pullets at 18 to 22 weeks of age. Yearling hens (hens with 1 year of production) can be purchased from a commercial egg flock.

    The most economical meat production comes from commercial broiler-type birds, which can be used for broiler, roaster and capon production. These meat birds typically produce few eggs.

[ Finish reading this poultry article here ]

Frequently Asked Questions about Raising Chickens

As a beginner, and even as an expert, there are some questions that frequently pop up in the course of a day.

    Q. "What does 'broody' mean?"

    Q. "My chicks are growing fast. How can I tell which ones are hens and which are roosters?"

    Q. "If my Rhode Island Red hen won't brood, what will make her set? Do they need a special laying feed to make them go broody?"

    Q. "How often will a grown hen lay eggs? How many a day? What's the physiological reason that a chicken lays an egg?"

    Q. "We'll probably get a couple of chickens now, and then maybe another later. Is that okay?"

    Etc etc etc....

Well, we've found the perfect article for you! You can read those questions and more, as well as the answers (of course!), over at It's another great poultry blog and we know you'll love it!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pastured Poultry pt 2

Now that you're interested in raising pastured poultry, let's look at the income returns on such a venture.

The following data was collected from 4 farms between the years 1997 and 1998.


The average net return per bird per year for all farms was $2.43, with a range that varied greatly from $-2.82 to a whopping $7.05.

The average net return per farm per year for all farms was $3,580.25, with a range of $-1,609 to a HUGE $11,040.

There are other variables, such as the price of feed and the farm's location. The primary goal for raising pastured poultry, whether monetary or something else (attracting customers, building soil fertility, being a "green" consumer, health reasons, etc), also explains the wide financial range.

[ Data from UW - Madison ]
This is too funny! We found it on, and it's definitely a hilarious read!

    Raising Chickens for the first time can be intimidating. When I first called the Feed Shop, I was trying to sound like a pro. I asked, “Do you sell pullets?” “Yes”, the man replied. “Are they all females?” It’s been an uphill battle ever since.

    Pullet parenthood is an much of an adventure as child rearing, only with more feces per pound of body weight. However, I’ve been reading quite a bit on poultry matters. (Yes, my coolness just turned over in its grave.) So if I am correct and I am quite certain I am not, here is how chicken rearin’ goes.

[ Finish the article on Chicken Rearing 101 ]
Courtesy of

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Chicken Saturday!

Happy Saturday from your favorite chicken blog! We are the *finest* poultry blog ever, or at least our rooster thinks so. He keeps crowing and won't stop! Probably because he heard the poultry jokes below:

    Q: Why did the dinosaur cross the road?
    A: Because chickens hadn't evolved yet

    Q: Why did the chewing gum cross the road?
    A: Because it was stuck to the chicken!

    Q: Why did the horse cross the road?
    A: Because the chicken needed a day off

*groooan* Ok ok, enough "road" jokes. Here are a few others, and if they don't make you smile then you woke up on the wrong side of the coop today!

    Q: Why did the chicken end up in the soup?
    A: Because it ran out of cluck!

    Q: What happened when the chicken ate cement?
    A: She laid a sidewalk!

    Q: What did the chicken do when he saw a bucket of fried chicken?
    A: She kicked the bucket!

    Q: What do you call a crazy chicken?
    A: A cuckoo cluck!

    Q: What happened to the chicken whose feathers were all pointing the wrong way?
    A: She was tickled to death!

Ooooh boy. We hope that made you laugh. It sure dragged a chuckle out of us, albeit with a few groans and rolling eyes. :)

Remember, NovaPoultry at is your best friend in the poultry world! We are constantly posting stories, interesting articles, tips on raising chickens, and links to other relevant sites. We also take user contributions! If you want us to include something in our blog, let us know in a comment! We'd love your suggestions.

So spread the word, tell a friend, and start a revolution! A poultry revolution, that is. Please don't use violence, and don't scare the baby chicks!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Raising Pastured Poultry

What's pastured poultry?

The term "pastured poultry" is a common way to raise chickens! It includes putting a bunch of young meat chickens in floor-less, transportable pens during the growing season. These pens are moved every day by sliding them along the ground, providing fresh pasture to the birds. The chickens also receive regular grain feed to supplement their pastured diet. They are then butchered and sold like regular meatbirds.

Why pastured poultry?

You should raise pastured poultry for many reasons, including your health! Some studies show that free-ranged and pastured chickens are better for you than regular cage-grown birds. Here are a few other reasons!

  • Can be run by one person

  • Strong demand

  • Low capital investment

  • No need to invest a large amount

  • Potential for extra income!!

  • Provides sustainably produced meat

  • Chicken manure is great for the soil

So what are you waiting for? It's a great opportunity!

Reducing coop heating costs

This article is especially relevant what with the rising costs of energy bills. While you can't make winter any shorter or any warmer, you *can* do a few things to reduce the energy used to heat your coop. We found the following information very timely, courtesy of our favorite poultry resource website: poultryOne's Guide to Raising Chickens.

    Rapid increases in the cost of fuel have forced broiler producers to reassess
    their energy conservation practices. Most of the energy used in poultry
    production is for brooding. Adverse weather conditions can favor survival
    needs before productivity. Growth rate declines, while feed consumption rises. Respiratory disease problems are more prevalent because of reduced air quality. Utility costs increase, even while the grower tries to maintain comfortable house conditions. The following management tips suggest points to consider when evaluating energy programs. These tips can help producers lower energy usage and costs.

    Insulate Houses

    Keep the poultry house and equipment in a good state of repair and make changes, if necessary, to prevent excessive heat losses. Insulate poultry houses to provide a minimum thermal resistance (R-value) of R-12 in the ceiling and R-8 in exposed walls. Replace or repair insulation damaged or destroyed by birds, rodents, and insects.

    Install/Maintain Vapor Barriers

    The R-value of most insulation materials decreases drastically when moistened. Installing a vapor barrier on the insulation's warm side protects against moisture saturation. Seal tears and damage to exposed vapor barriers.

    Stop Air Leaks

    Eliminate drafts by sealing air leaks and wall cracks. Uncaulked sill plates are the most common source of uncontrolled air entry. Seal cracks with expanding polyurethane foam. A 1/8-inch crack along both sides of a 500-foot house is equivalent to 10 square feet of open wall or a 2-foot section of sidewall left uncovered.

    Seal Curtains

    Repair all curtain holes and eliminate cracks between the curtains and house. Curtains must fit close to the wall and cover the entire sidewall opening. Seal bottoms of curtains with a tack-strip. Install pocket flaps over the tops and ends of the curtains to reduce uncontrolled air entry. Cracks around the curtains also hinder ventilation control.

    Weather-Strip Openings

    Thoroughly weather-strip
    all door openings against air entry when doors are closed.

    Monitor Control Devices

    Clean and check timers and thermostats for accuracy. If they cannot be adjusted or repaired, replace them. Usually, a thorough cleaning is all that is necessary to restore use of the devices.

    Control Water Wastage

    Reduce litter moisture by properly ventilating. Repair leaks in waterers and water lines. Leaking water systems require additional heat to evaporate spilled water. Check the pressure regulator and filters for cleanliness and proper adjustment.

    Ventilate Properly

    Adjust ventilation so it meets the needs of the birds and house conditions. There is no need to overventilate, but watch for any sign of stress that needs immediate attention. Excess litter moisture in the house requires valuable energy for moisture evaporation and removal.

That's not all! Finish the article here.

By Tom W. Smith, Ph.D., Extension Poultry Specialist

Information Sheet 1617
Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress,
May 8 and June 30, 1914. Ronald A. Brown, Director

Copyright by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved.

This document may be copied and distributed for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Egg Drop Syndrome?

KJ Theodore is one of our favorite online poultry authors. In the following article, she discusses one of the problems you might encounter when raising chickens for eggs.

    If you have a serious problem with thin-shelled or shell-less eggs, or a marked reduction in egg production, then you could be dealing with EGG DROP SYNDROME. I would not worry about the occasional thin-shelled or shell-less egg that comes at either the beginning or the end of the production season, nor the occasional less-than-perfect egg that is produced by a young hen when she comes into �first egg� (sexual maturity). Egg Drop Syndrome (EDS 76), should be considered though when you have a chronic problem in your flock in terms of egg quality or quantity � especially at the height of production.

    EDS 76 is caused by a duck adenovirus and is typically spread vertically, although the incidence of lateral spread does exist. The virus affects the pouch shell gland, which is responsible for producing the eggshell.

    EDS 76 is not typically a big problem with domestic ducks or geese, which are natural hosts, but when affected through drinking water contaminated by feces, chickens can experience a profound affect on their egg production. Although the virus doesn�t actually spread through the feces, what happens is that there could be exudates from the oviduct, which finds its way into the feces.

    There are several things you can look for in the eggs that your hens produce to determine if you�re dealing with an EDS 76 problem in your flock.

    A loss of pigment in an otherwise brown or dark-shelled egg is one. Thinning at the pole of the egg is another. This is when the egg appears normal except for an appearance of thinning or translucence at the large end of the egg. When pressure is applied, the shell will break at this point first. Eggs that are thin-shelled and fragile overall is also a sign. Sometimes these eggs will feel like sandpaper to the touch. The most noticeable signs though are in the soft-shelled, or shell-less eggs. Sometimes these are hard to detect because the hens typically eat these before you see them. Look for the shriveled membranes in their litter � they�ll leave those. Otherwise, check early in the morning before the hens have a chance to eat the shell-less eggs.

[ Finish the article at the Poultry Youth Association ]

For more information about the PYA, one of the few website for kids, visit their website at

The Open Directory Project

There are a lot of great poultry sites on the ODP.

One example is their Poultry Sites list (which we also link to in our navigation bar on the right). Lots of high quality stuff there.

Well, yesterday we figured that since you love us and all, we deserve being listed too! Besides, all these search engine people say that an ODP listings will help improve NovaPoultry's search engine ranks and is the best thing we can do to promote this blog. However, after scouring the web and reading up lots of geeky stuff, we discovered that it's a lot harder than it sounds. It takes most "excellent" sites up to 2 years just to be listed!!! (shocked gasp)

We submitted our site yesterday, so please cross your fingers for us. In our humble opinion, we're better than "excellent" maybe it'll only take us 6 months.

Open Directory Project at

Woman saves her chicken....with mouth-to-mouth!

This is from the "I love my chicken so much I'd do anything, including really weird stuff" Department. :)

    Sometimes a chicken does have lips, just sometimes not her own. Marian Morris saved her brother's exotic chicken, Boo Boo, by administering "mouth-to-beak" resuscitation on the fowl after it was found floating face down in the family's pond.

    Morris, a retired nurse, said she hadn't had any practice with CPR in years, but that she was interested to see if she "still had it."

[ Continue the story at ]

Well, at least you know who to call the next time your birds need help!

Killing baby chicks


    While on a trip to the local garbage dump to gather leaf mulch (conveniently prepackaged in plastic bags), my friend Tom and I discovered a yellow heap of dead chicks lying near an air-befouling incinerator.

    In answer to my shocked questions, Tom explained to me that the local hatchery often dumped its "worthless" rooster chicks there ... birds that—since they couldn't produce eggs—"nobody wanted".

    Well, that pile of dead birds set my brain to working, so later that afternoon Tom and I drove to the hatchery and told the dealer that we'd be glad to take a batch of those doomed roosters off his hands. The gentleman was most agreeable, and we left with instructions to pick up our gratis fowl on the following Friday. Our great chicken-raising adventure had begun!

[ Click here to finish the article ]

Asia bans homes from raising poultry!

Here's some poultry news from around the world:

The avian influenza virus, aka The Dreaded Bird Flu, is spreading in Africa.

Meanwhile, the government of Hong Kong bans homes from raising poultry! Here's an excerpt from an article found at Bloomberg's

    Hong Kong Bans Homes Raising Poultry; Bird Flu Spreads in Iraq

    Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong announced regulations on residents keeping poultry in a bid to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus, as the World Health Organization said the disease may have reached an area of southern Iraq.

    Households will be banned from raising chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons and quails in backyards from Feb. 13, Hong Kong's Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said today in a statement on its Web site. Residents will face fines of as much as HK$100,000 ($12,900) for violating the regulations.

    Iraq is treating seven people for suspected bird flu in the country, where a possible third fatality indicates the lethal virus may have spread to the south, the WHO said. Most patients ``have reported a history of direct contact with diseased poultry,'' it said.

    At least 19 countries have reported outbreaks in birds, which risks infecting people and increases the chance that the virus may change into a form capable of causing a lethal flu pandemic. Such a virus may touch off a pandemic similar to the one that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918.

[ Finish the article here ]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

All about The Chicken

You raise chickens, but do you know everything there is about them? That's why you have an encyclopedia!

Wikipedia entry for "Chicken"

Wikipedia entry for "Raising Chickens"

National Animal Identification System

You might not have heard of it yet, but it is an issue that could potentially have a huge impact on how you raise your chickens. The NAIS (National Animal Identification System) is a program run by the US government. It's goal is to improve animal health surveillance by identifying and tracking specific animals. This could, theoretically, help protect us from biosecurity threats such as rabies or avian influenza (the much-talked about "bird flu"). It is administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a branch of the US Department of Agriculture, the NAIS will also be overseen by your state's animal health boards.

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) will affect nearly all livestock species, including your chickens! Besides poultry, the NAIS will include cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, certain fish species, and other farm animals.

Locations where these animals are raised, such as your coop and backyard, will need to be identified under the NAIS. Also, the animals themselves will be identified and tracked whenever they are moved (such as when you travel across the state to a poultry show, or sell them to a breeder).

The goal of the NAIS is to be able to traceback to the animal within 48 hours of a diseased animal's movements. This traceback would help animal health officials identify all the animals and locations that have had direct contact with the animal. In situations like the bird flu, this could be crucial in stopping its spread.

More information about the National Animal Identification System [ from ]