Episode 39 Show Notes
Shep is Now One Year Old
Our cute little Australian Shepherd / Catahoula mix, Shep (named for astronaut Alan Shepard), turned one year old the last weekend. We like talking about the dogs on the podcast because they are an important part of our predator protection plan. We just had an incident this week where Max chased a raccoon up a tree and kept him trapped there for about 14 hours. What a good boy!
When people think of using dogs for flock protection, they jump right to livestock guardian breeds. The downside of livestock guardian dogs is that they can be quite pricey.
We have three dogs: Shep, Max and Sadie. Not only are the not livestock guardian breeds, none of the three are even purebred dogs. All three are mutts. And all three are amazing at keeping predators out of our yard.
Update on Scarlett
Scarlett Crowhansson is one of our Rhode Island Red hens, and last week we discovered she had a nasty gaping wound from her overly amorous rooster, Cluck Norris.
She is still separated from her coop mates, but she is in a chicken tractor right next to theirs so she can see them and they can see her. She is healing quickly and looks happy, bright and healthy.
I think she is just happy to have a break from Cluck.
Are Bantams a Good Choice for Your Flock?
Sheila emailed us to say that she is finally ready to get her flock started, but can’t decide if she should get bantams, standard sized chickens, or a mix of both.
For the most part, bantams are miniature versions of full-size chicken breeds. They tend to be less than a third the size of standard breeds. Whenever you are trying to decide what chickens are right for you, it is a really good idea to think about why you want chickens.
If you are looking for chickens as pets, this is where bantams really shine. Bantams tend to be friendlier than some full sized birds and they are less intimidating if you have small children.
As for egg laying, you can eat bantam chicken eggs just like eggs from the heavier chickens – the eggs are just smaller. As a rule of thumb, it takes two bantam eggs to equal one medium chicken egg.
If meat birds are your thing, bantams are probably not your first choice. While there are bantam meat aficionados out there, I can’t imagine trying to process those tiny little bodies with my giantg hands.
Although we have never raised bantams ourselves, Suzy likes the idea that they are cheaper to keep than heavy fowl. They eat less feed and require a smaller coop then big birds.
Finally, there are some bantam breeds that do not have a full-size counterpart. These are called “True Bantams,” and these tend to be some of the most ornamental birds you can find. So if you want a chicken that looks like a poodle, you might like bantams.
As far as keeping bantam and heavy breeds together, I wouldn’t be concerned about it so long as they are raised together since they were baby chicks. I would not try to combine an existing flock of bantams with an existing flock of full-sized birds.
Natural Chicken Keeping with Guest Lisa Steele
We are talking about natural chicken keeping, and since that is not my area of expertise, we decided to call in some reinforcements in the form of Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily.
Lisa shares her story of starting with chickens and wanting to feed and care for them in the most natural and healthy way possible.
The happy news for Suzy and I is that we are already doing many of her recommendations. If you are a little intimidated and want to baby-step your way into it, here are some really easy things you can do to start:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water once or twice a week.
Add food grade DE to their feed and sprinkle it in their nesting boxes to help them control external and internal parasites.
Add a crushed clove of garlic to their drinking water once per month to give them a great immune system boost. Chickens also love the garlic water… it’s like Italian night at the waterer!
Give your flock some probiotics every so often to help keep them healthy.
Lisa also had some great ideas for growing herbs and some natural alternatives to antibiotics. Don’t miss this great conversation!