In this episode, we talk about a new chicken restaurant concept in the UK and share a costly lesson we learned last weekend.
Close Call for Della Fitzgerald
During our Christmas vacation, I had my Dad over to help me replace rotting wood on some of our chicken tractors. While we were making repairs, our adorable Delaware flock was roaming the yard in search of treats.
Suddenly, I was aware of some commotion in our neighbor’s yard. I looked up to see our sweet neighbor yelling “No!” at her German Shepherd, Dixie. All around the two of them were enough white feathers to make it look as if a chicken had exploded. As I approached the fence line, she said quietly “I think Dixie got one of your chickens.”
I drove over to her house on our golf cart. When I got there, I pulled poor Della Fitzgerald’s body out of the bushes she made her last stand in. As I picked up her body, her head suddenly sprung up and she started looking around! As it turned out, Dixie was only able to get a mouth full of feathers from Della’s backside.
A very fortunate Della was able to sleep in her own coop that night… although I am sure with a chilly backside.
Why Your Coop Needs a Floor
We received a note from Lauren who described losing her favorite hen to a fox who dug his way under the coop perimeter. It is a sad reminder of the importance of making sure the coop area your flock sleeps in is fully enclosed. Make sure that there are no holes larger that a half an inch in the walls, doors, windows, roof or floor.
My Hens Won’t Use Nipple Drinkers
Sarah contacted is from North Dakota and asked for advice about switching her hens to a nipple drinker system. Afraid that they would not make the switch, she left the bell waterer in the coop along with the nipple drinker system, but they don’t seem to use the new one.
I suggested that chickens usually prefer the bell waterer because they enjoy scooping the water up, and as long as both systems were present they would have no reason to use the nipple drinkers.
As soon as you remove the bell waterer, though, make sure you demonstrate the nipple system to them until they demonstrate they understand it.
Can You Have Two Flocks Without Crossing Them?
Jason emailed us to ask if it is possible to keep two breeds for mating without them cross-breeding. It is indeed possible, but it is a lot of work!
You will need to make sure you keep separate facilities for each. Whether you are using small chicken tractors or large permanent coops, each breed will need their own to keep them from co-mingling. It also creates more work: twice as many stops for feed and water; twice as many stops to collect eggs; twice as many doors to open in the morning and close in the evening.
Can You Hatch Only Female Chickens?
Our good listener Jason emailed to say he had a breeder make the claim that by controlling the temperature of the incubation, she is able to hatch only female chicks. Jason wanted to know if this is possible
There are three methods of manipulating the male to female ration of a hatch by varying the temperature either during the incubation, or during the time right before they are incubated. The problem is, these methods have been shown to be able to sway the ration as much as ten percent, but nobody has demonstrated the ability to cause a hatch that was 100% male or 100% female.
Furthermore, these temperature adjustments stress the embryos which causes a great number of birth defects. It doesn’t help to have ten percent fewer males if twenty-five percent of your hatch now has twisted beaks.
Lastly, the commercial egg and chicken meat industries have incredible financial incentives to control the sex of hatches. The egg industry destroys half of the chicks it hatches every year because it doesn’t want roosters (they don’t lay many eggs). Conversely, the chicken meat industry destroys half of the chicks it hatches every year because it doesn’t want hens (they don’t put as much meat on their bones). If there was a way to make sure you only hatched all males or all females, you can be sure these groups would have figured it out by now.