Clean Eggs and Less Feed

 

There is less wasting of time, energy and other resources when you work efficiently. It is my preferred method; I can get more done in a day that way.

I give credit to my dad for this one. A while back he mentioned he wanted to find some of those mats that are sort of like fake grass. They used to sit by most front entry’s and were great for getting the bottoms of your boots semi-clean any ways. I happened upon them when my husband and I were out of town. I picked up a couple for dad (and later a few for us too). You see, these can be cut to fit in the nesting boxes for the chickens.

The mats I picked up were about $14 each. It took 2 of them to fill 6 nesting boxes. You can buy ones made specifically for this purpose but they tend cost more and are no guarantee to if a custom made box. I know, I’ve got straw bales and I’ve got hay bales, why would I want to spend money for fake grass rugs in the coop? For quite a number of reasons; all really worth-while ones too!

The hay/straw gets picked through, some munched on and all usually ends up on the floor. Then is the problem of poop in the boxes which sticks to the eggs and a few cracked shells from the eggs being laid on the plywood. By putting the mats in the boxes the eggs no longer crack when the hit the wood and if/when the birds poop in the box it goes into the “grass” and the eggs come to the house much cleaner. The eggs still need a rinsing but they look a heck-of-a-lot better than they did before.

Cleaning the boxes is a breeze. I just lift out the mats, spray them with the hose when needed and they are as good as new. There is no scraping scat out of the boxes trying to get the corners cleaned. There is no more trying to keep at least some of the straw in the boxes. It’s great!

The first couple days after putting the mats in the boxes I did put some straw in with them, mostly to give the chickens something to scratch at and get them used to the new texture. It only too a day or two and they didn’t seem bothered by the change.

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I can’t stand the wasting of anything, especially feed. All winter long I had been going nuts when we would clean the coop. There was always a wheel barrow load of feed that was scooped off the floor and wasted. I would have loved to put it back in the feeder but even I know it was not all feed and reusing it would not be wise.

We tried pellets, and tried having the feed ground smaller and then went back to the usual whole/cracked feed we started with. Nothing seemed to make a difference in their wasteful ways. Finally I have got it figured out. I put a tub just a little bigger than the bottom of the feed pan underneath. It catches the feed they dig out and rather than it being wasted on the floor it can be reused. The tub is tall enough that they don’t kick shavings into it and small enough they can’t sit on it and poop in it. Perfect!

chicken feeder

It’s the little victories that can make my day.

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Back to the Egg Eater…

There have been a lot of talk about the cows lately and now the chickens are taking the spotlight.

Chicken http://wildflowerfarm.org

We have a chicken eating the eggs in the nesting boxes. To the point that I am having to make several trips to the coop in the morning to collect eggs and even then, we loose a handful because they have been so damaged. My disturbing them more often can cause problems too. Mike caught Wilma doing it once and then a caught two others pecking. This tells me that it’s not just one broody bird. There is something more going on and I shouldn’t sharpen the ax just yet.

A few of the most common reasons chickens will peck and eat eggs are:
Lacking something in their diet, commonly calcium, protein or vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause the birds to loose their feathers and poor feather regrowth as well as cannibalism.
Lacking Clean Water can cause birds to peck open eggs to rehydrate.
Winter boredom in the north can be a big problem as well. The birds were used to roaming around outside, pecking the ground, eating fresh greens and bugs. Winter came over night this year and did not give the girls any time to adjust to the cold or indoor living.

Just by looking at a couple common reasons, I have a starting point. I know they have clean water. I am out there every morning and my husband checks on them at night. We both make sure the water stays clean and full. It did freeze in the tray one night. From then on we have a light bulb in the cinder block the waterer sits on. This has prevented and further freezing.

The feed they are getting is a high quality layer feed that is made to order at the local feed store in town. It’s “real” feed, meaning I can see the chopped up grains that it is comprised of and it has oyster shells mixed in. However, I do find a lot of it wasted on the floor since the girls have been stuck inside.  Also ever since Lucifer removed everyone’s tail feathers, most of them have grown back but there are a few birds that can’t seem to fill in their rear. The rooster included; poor guy still only has one mangy looking tail feather.

That being said, they may need some extra vitamin D, that, I can put in their feed by means of Cod Liver Oil. Mike had been eyeing the scratch blocks at the farm and feed store for a while. He was pretty excited to pick one of those up. That will serve more than one purpose too. The block has extra protein for the birds and provides some entertainment.  I have been working on making something of the sort in which I have added crushed eggs shells for added calcium. That project will be shared later. They have also been given a separate container for oyster shells. This way they can get what they need without it settling in the feed or falling to the floor uneaten.

Then the winter boredom I’m sure is a factor as well. We have a very bold and rowdy bunch of birds; more so than any bunch I’ve ever had. The Wyandotte’s especially do not like to spend nearly this much time inside.  I don’t have time to go  out and play chicken Bingo everyday so for now the scratch block will do. It’s always got a crowd around it. I have also seen people have hung a head of lettuce for the birds to peck at and play tether ball with. I might hang a head of cabbage when the block quiets down.

That’s where we are starting. After a week or so I will reevaluate and go from there.

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