Many people choose to raise chickens in the winter in the hopes of getting eggs that spring. Keeping the chicks warm enough is always a concern during the spring and especially in the winter months. Chicks need to be kept at 95 degrees for the first week or so and then dropping the temperature by five degrees a week as their feathers come in and begin to do the job of keeping them warm. Another reason people choose to brood chicks is for the fair. Having chicks in January brings mature and fully feathered birds to the county fair each year. Those couple of extra months provide for a lot of growth and mature birds for the fair.
Raising chickens is a fun hobby with eggs or meat as a benefit. In the picture above I have Buff Orpington and Fast Growing meat birds. The meat birds were a huge failure. We live just under five thousand feet in elevation and the warning for the birds was to not raise above five thousand feet. I thought I’d be safe… well four thousand six hundred feet is apparently close enough to five thousand feet.. because I lost each and every chick to pneumonia as they grew older. I also found out that free feeding these chicks is a no-no… they will eat themselves to death. Food for twelve hours on and then twelve hours off (pull the food through the night) is the most recommended feeding schedule I’ve seen out there. My other failure came in with raising egg birds and meat birds in the same brooder. They tended to pile up at night and as time passed the meat birds were twice the size of the little buff chicks. When I’d check on them in the morning I’d find flat buffs on the bottom of the huddle. The temps held fine, the birds just liked to huddle. It was a learning experience for sure… I’ll certainly do things differently next time!
There are a lot of tricks and tidbits to raising chickens, turkey poults or any birds. What tidbits have you learned over the years.?
I have been working with the local feed store trying to get loose minerals for Cookie cow and the calf. They’ve both been licking the ground lately and since I know I haven’t dropped molasses there, I figured it was time to fill the loose mineral feeder. (Licking up dirt is a tell tale sign that their bodies are craving minerals)
The feed stores out her don’t carry dairy cow minerals, just goat minerals. From what I’ve read, goats have much higher selenium needs than dairy cows do and an overdose of selenium can stop the heart… so what to do… READ and READ, well at least that’s what I did.
Apparently it takes a very large overdose to hurt your cows and the greater amount in goat minerals is not so much that it will kill you cow. If dairy minerals are available, they are much better suited for your milking girl, but so far Cookie is doing just fine on the goat minerals and thankfully she’s stopped licking the ground!
What do you do when loose minerals aren’t available for your animals needs?
Cookie cow and the other furry kids have a nice size water tank with a drain plug for weekly scrubbing. (For those of you who don’t live in the desert, the sun is quite the algae builder!) Winter’s are cold in the mountains of Arizona and temperatures can drop down below zero at night. When fluke cold snaps hit in the early fall, I have been seen out at the water tank with an axe breaking up the ice so the livestock could get to the water. It’s then that I typically pull out the heavy duty extension cord and hook up the deicer for the livestock tank.
This is one of those items that no livestock owner should be without, that is unless you live in Florida or Hawaii… or Phoenix, but for those of us with winter weather, a water tank deicer is imperative. Most units are thermostatically controlled and only kick on when freezing temperatures warrant the need. I slide the large tank up close to the fence and tuck the cord for the deicer through the fence at the lip of the tank. This keeps the calves from playing with the cord and either unplugging it, or worse, chewing through the insulation to the wires. Guards can be purchased if you need to keep a plastic bucket of water from freezing, but I am always nervous about a heating element and plastic. If a stock tank is too costly, go to your local hardware store and purchase a large 35 gallon metal garbage can or two. It would likely require daily filling, but would offer your furry kids a clean source of fresh water.
Do you have an electric free trick to keep an ice free livestock tank? If so I’d love to hear some of the ideas out there!!!
Simple No Knead Homemade Bread Recipe
A few years ago I found this recipe in an issue of Mother Earth News and have been hooked ever since. I’m not a big fan of sour breads, so I make it the day I want to bake it, but if you like sour bread, you can let it ripen in the refrigerator for a few days and you’ll have that nice sour bite. The recipe is so simple…
A simple recipe for homemade no knead bread
3 cups luke warm water
1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cup flour
Put away the ol’ Kitchen Aid because this is a NO KNEAD bread!!!! Mix all ingredients thoroughly and let rise for 2 hours. Once risen, punch down and refrigerate until one half hour before your ready to bake. At baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Pull out the dough onto your lightly floured counter, form into two loaves. Sprinkle corn meal onto a large baking sheet and then place your loaves onto the sheet. With a sharp knife, make some slits into the top of your loaves and let rise for 20 minutes.
Before placing your loaves in the oven, place another pan beneath the rack that your bread will bake on. I use a 9×9 pan and fill it about half way with water. Slide your cookie sheet onto the rack above and set the timer for 30 minutes. Your loaves should be a nice golden brown and firm to the touch when ready. I brush the loaves with butter just after I pull them from the oven to soften up the crust a bit.
Here’s the link to the entire article if you’d like to see all the fun they have with this dough!
I wanted to share this with you because I’m baking it today myself… it goes great with a ham and lentil soup!
Homesteader’s Supply will have a booth at this event offering great tidbits, a raffle (all proceeds go to the FFA) as well as amazing items for sale! Come on by and see us!