Posts Tagged Chicken Tips

More Chicken Tips and Resources

I’d add one more tip which comes from my research about the chicken respiratory system.  They exhale a lot more moisture than humans.  So don’t coddle your chickens.  It’s fine to love them like pets, but when it comes to temperature, they do much better and are much healthier if you think of them as wild birds and let them adjust to the colder and even freezing temperatures which nature has designed for them to handle.

Unlike most coops which are totally closed boxes and promote chicken diseases from lack of fresh air and excessive chicken out breath moisture, ours have an open front, and this is the best for winter too.  A chicken will only have problems with drafts if it hasn’t been allowed to grow a winter coat of feathers, and they will if allowed to naturally adjust to the seasonal changes.  Just increase their feed if you observe them eating more in cold weather.  Chickens that are hardy like this will lay more eggs in winter too.

Here are some chicken info websites:  (Feed suggestions) has a decent breed selector and some how-to guides

Please feel free to ask any questions and we look forward to helping you.

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15 Chicken Tips

What we have learned about raising backyard chickens for eggs and pets

This info provided from kitchen table wisdom of new chicken owners.

1.  Chickens are legal in Fairfax as long as they are 25 feet away from your neighbor’s window or door.   For goats you need 200 feet.  Check your  local ordinance.

2.  For chicken starters, what you need is a brooder box, depending on how old the chicks are when you get them.  Basics include big box, heat lamp, temperature gauge, wood shavings, waterer, food tray, and starter crumble.  You have about 6 weeks to get your coop together once you get your birds.

3.  When we picked ours out one had pasty butt.  It ended up being OK but it was always small and we were afraid we would lose her. If I had  it to do over again, I would have chosen another chick.

4.  Baby chicks are high maintenance-they need a bigger box than you think, really good temperature control, they constantly knock over water and food and they can get out of any box without a lid.  And you have to check them for pasty butt.  If they have it, you have to tear it off, and they don’t like that. If you start at even 5-8 weeks you get good chick time without much of the work.

5.  Having less than three chickens is not ok for their social structure.  Chickens really love to free range.  Provide a secure place for them to do so.

6.   Chickens start laying when they are 5 months old and keep laying for up to 5 years, they can live to be 8-9 years old.

7.  A happy hen will lay one egg a day during the spring, summer and fall.  They slow down in the winter and when they molt-that means they lose some feathers and look a bit raggedy.

8.   You  don’t need a rooster to get your hens to lay eggs.  This is one of the most frequently asked questions.  Roosters can defend the flock but they can also make a lot of noise and can beat up on the ladies.

9.  Straight run means you will get a mix of hens and roosters, a  Bantam is just a smaller chicken, and a pullet is a young lady chicken.

10.  A balanced  chicken diet includes scratch grains, layer crumble, oyster shells for strong shells, decomposed granite for  clearing crop.  We feed scratch on the ground and crumble in a tin attached to the wall of the fence and mix the oyster and granite in a separate feed bowl.  Water must be available at all times.

11.  Chickens need space to run free.  Or they start pecking each other a  lot.

12.  To stop them from flying over the fence you can clip the top 2-3 inches of feathers on ONE wing only.  The point is to put them off balance so they can only fly in circles.  Do this every 6 months if your chickens free range.

13.  Predators-Hawks will pick up young chickens, raccoons will dig under a coop and kill chickens.  Bobcats, mountain lions, coyote, and fox can smell a nice tasty chick from a mile away.  Secure everything.

14.  On  hot days provide good shade and water.  If they are panting provide ice blocks.                                                                                                  

15.  Learn to do a health check–From Kamin my 11 year old chicken checker.

a.  Feel  their bellies to check if there are eggs getting bound up.  If you feel more than three eggs, you may have to extract manually.  Yep.  We have never had to.

b.  Feel around their crop or throat.  If it is bulgy or hard your chick needs grit in the form of decomposed granite.

c.  Check wings to see if they extend and flap normally, check to see how the clipping is doing.  Note if feathers are growing out.

d.  Look for any mites or bugs on the skin.  Chickens need fluffy dry dirt to dust bath in order to keep their skin healthy.


Chickens in Your Backyard-A Beginner’s Guide by Rick and Gail Luttmann

Living with Chickens-Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Flock by Jay Rossier, Geoff Hansen and American Poultry Association

Purchase your supplies at Toby’s Feed Barn in Pt. Reyes Station, or at Rivertown Pets in Petaluma-both sell baby chicks.   Joan the Chicken Queen of Petaluma on Craig’s list also has chicks and older birds (  Marin Tack and Feed in Fairfax and Redhill Pets in San Rafael carry some supplies and are happy to order them for you.

I recommend Red Hill Pet Center for organic chicken crumbles.  Find what brand of feed you want and then speak with the owner, Elvis, who specializes in special orders and tell him Susan sent you.  He always gives a fair price and he’s conveniently located at 1566 Fourth Street in San Rafael.  He’s generally there from 3:30-6:30pm 415-457-0927

Local vet who treats chickens- Central Marin Cat and Exotic Hospital San Rafael  415-479-2287

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