Category Archives: Poultry

How to Keep Chickens Cool

How to Keep Chickens Cool

The hottest part of summer is here. We think about keeping ourselves cool and if we have chickens, we’re concerned with how to keep chickens cool. If your chickens are spreading their wings, neck outstretched, and panting, they are too hot. These tips will help you keep chickens cool and put your mind at ease a bit.

how to keep chickens coolcelebrate the harvest

  • Spray the roof of the coop.
    Cooling down the roof can cool the inside temperature 10° quickly. Spray the roof until the water running off is cool. If you live in a particularly hot area I suggest putting a sprinkler on the roof for convenience. Adjust it so that it sprays only the roof, and turn it on and off at the faucet.
  • Place an exhaust fan at the high point of the ceiling. It will pull the hot air out at the top and the cooler air in through the windows. Let it run all night if possible. Chances are the neighbors have their windows closed and the AC on and won’t hear the fan.
  • Provide shade. That seems like a no-brainer but there might be something here you hadn’t thought of. Shade the windows on the south and west sides. You can hang a curtain rod outside the coop. Leave a couple of inches between the cloth and window to allow air flow. Shade the pen by clothes pinning a reflective tarp on the outside wall. It will provide shade up against that wall and reflect the heat.
  • Chickens will stand in a shallow pan of cool water. I thought at first that I had some chickens that weren’t very bright, then I realized they were doing it only in the summer. Add a block of ice and place the pan in the shade to keep the water cool longer.
  • Make a muddy spot in the shade. It doesn’t need to be dripping wet, just damp.
  • Add a block of ice to their drinking water. I water my chickens outside most of the year because it keeps the coop neater but on hot days, they’re waterer is inside, out of the sun.
  • If possible, let them spend the day on grass in the shade.
  • Freeze water bottles and place them in the coop. It might take them a while to figure out but eventually they might start using them.
Buff orpington, layers, laying hen

Buff Orpington

If you discover a chicken in serious distress you should cool the bird by submerging it in cool, not cold, water. Let it shake off and dry indoors or in a cool corner of the barn. Be sure the chicken is drinking. If you think it needs a boost, mix up a batch of homemade electrolytes.

Homemade Electrolytes

1/2 gallon of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar

Remember to keep air circulating, provide shade, and act quickly when you have a chicken in distress. Stay cool!

Homestead Planning – Poultry?


Are you planning a new homestead? Or adding to what you already do on your homestead? We’ve been talking about planning.

Where do you want to live?

Cooking & Heat

Let’s talk about poultry. Will you want to raise birds? When I first got chicks nearly 20 years ago someone made a point I’ll never forget. He said, “Chickens are as simple or difficult as you want to make them.”

Buff orpington, layers, laying hen

Buff Orpington

He’s right. Chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, pheasant, geese – whatever birds you want to raise, really don’t need a lot. Food, water, shelter and safety outdoors make up their short list of needs.

Food is simple. You can buy commercial food, usually in pellet form, by the bag. A 50 pound bag of layer pellets starts around $12 a bag. Exact prices varies from area to area and $12 is a starting point. A quick phone call the feed store will give you the current price in your area. There are foods available for all birds you might consider keeping. I keep the poultry feeder inside the coop so that weather and pests don’t ruin the food.

poultry feeder, chicken feeder

Poultry Feeder

If you have lawn or pasture you can let the birds out onto you’ll decrease your food costs. They’ll eat grass, weeds, seeds and other plant matter. Food scraps from your kitchen are like candy to poultry. With a few exceptions your birds can eat most unprocessed foods. Fruit peels, leftover vegetables, stale bread – all appreciated by the birds.

poultry water, heater base

Poultry water heater base

Water is essential, of course. It can be tricky to keep enough water thawed for the birds in winter. They need to stay well hydrated to be able to keep themselves warm. A heated base for the water makes it simpler. If you’re in the planning stages I suggest considering electricity to the coop. I wish I had it running to mine. Being able to plug in the heater base without running an extension cord would be a blessing.

In warmer areas and seasons I recommend poultry nipples. Birds adapt to this method of watering easily and it keeps the water clean. Even chickens and turkeys will walk in their water if you’re using a pan on the floor or ground.

Shelter will probably be your largest expense. It’s money well spent. You want your coop to allow good air circulation without creating too much wind. You’ll need to keep predators such as snakes, weasels and raccoons out so it needs to be sturdy. A full-size “people” door will let you in to gather eggs, tend to the birds’ food and water, and clean the coop. A poultry door is much smaller and usually opens into a pen. The birds walk up and down a ramp to go in and out. Your nest boxes will be inside or attached to the outside of the coop and accessible to the birds from inside. I prefer them to be attached to the outside because it makes collecting eggs and cleaning simpler. Waterfowl will want to nest on the ground.

Safety is vitally important. If you have room to let your poultry roam you’ll need to keep them safe. You have options. A livestock guardian dog is a wonderful addition to a homestead. Some breeds will herd as well as guard.

Electronet is portable electric fencing that allows you to move the birds to fresh ground as often as necessary without a lot of hassle. I like to fence my birds into an area around the coop. I break it up into thirds to give the grass and clover time to recover before the birds return. Electronet has a downfall – it doesn’t keep birds of prey out.

Permanent fencing is great, especially in winter if the grass is covered in snow. Once it’s built it’s low maintenance. Wear and tear on the pen’s ground is the biggest downfall of permanent fencing.

Occasionally a bird might get hurt or sick. There are dozens of online forums and thousands of websites full of information. And don’t forget your vet. Some of them treat poultry. Learn what you can and before long you’ll be taking care of poultry like a pro.


[NeighborWoods] Puddle Love


[NeighborWoods] Neighbors in or out of the woods but always outdoors. Created by Robin’s Outdoors. Please leave a comment and include the link to your [NeighborWoods] blog.

Welcome to the NeighborWoods! Puddle Love. Fawn and white runners and Khaki Campbell ducks enjoy the last open puddle before the polar vortex sinks in.

[NeighborWoods] Fawn White runner and Khaki Campbell Ducks

Fawn and White runner and Khaki Campbell Ducks

Chicken Tractor

Myth Busting for Meat Chickens

Myth Busting for Meat Chickens

I’ve been watching my meat chickens while I work outdoors this afternoon and thinking about how simple they’ve been to keep. Raising chicks for the first time about 15 years ago was nerve wracking. I had to keep them between 95 and 100 degrees for the first week, then decrease the temperature by five degrees weekly. They had to be taught how to eat and drink as soon as they arrived. Never, ever let them run out of food and water. I was a helicopter chicken momma, hovering over them constantly.

There’s so much misinformation out there about raising Cornish cross or similar breeds. There’s no need to hover. Let’s do this the simple way.

Myth #1: You must teach the chicks to eat and drink when they arrive.
You don’t. Instinct, hunger, thirst and curiosity will take care of this. Put them in the brooder with food and water and watch. They’ll have it figured out in a few minutes.

Myth #2: You must keep chicks very warm at all times.
You don’t. Give them a source of warmth in the brooder and the ability to come and go and they’ll make themselves comfortable. I use a heating pad under one end of the brooder. I dislike heat lamps. They’re a fire hazard. If the chicks are cold they’ll move to the warm spot. If they’re hot they’ll move to the cool spot. They’ll move around and generate their own warmth if you let them.

Myth #3. Meat chickens are filthy.
This is true only if you choose to raise them in filthy conditions. I raise mine in chicken tractors.

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Tractor

The tractor is moved to clean grass every day. I feed them in the morning, outside of the tractor. They race out the opening to get to the food, and while they’re busy eating and I know where they are, I move the tractor. I pick up one end and slide it to the side. Repeat on the other side, then back to the first side to straighten it up. Done. The chickens run around either free or inside electronet for the day so manure doesn’t build up.

TIP: I get my chickens in early August. It’s warm enough to keep them from getting chilly at night. By the time they’re big enough to get too hot it’s September and the days are much cooler.

Myth #4
All meat chickens do all day is eat and poop. This is true but it doesn’t have to be.If you put an endless supply of food in front of these birds they will lay down to eat and not get up. I feed my birds in the morning so I can move the tractor and again in the evening. I feed them inside the tractor in the evening so that they go in on their own. They spend the rest of the day finding their own food.

Just like laying hens, meat chickens will spend their days chasing insects. They’ll eat crickets, grasshoppers and other garden pests they find in the grass. Free protein! They’ll eat rodents and frogs (chickens are not vegetarians), worms and small snakes. If you’ve never seen a chicken running with a screaming frog in its beak, well, you’re missing out.

And just like laying hens, meat chickens will take dust baths and scratch for grubs and worms. Keep your birds searching for some of their food and you’ll eliminate growth that’s too fast for their hearts and legs. Just like us, they need to be up and moving.

An old friend said something to me 15 years ago that I still repeat often. “Raising these chickens is only as difficult as you decide to make it.” He was right. You need a feeder and waterer, shelter, and preferably some grass. Add fencing if necessary. That’s it. My meat chickens are five weeks old now. They’re running loose with the laying hens and Khaki Campbell ducks. Our English Shepherd keeps them safe from predators. It’s as simple as I decided it should be.

Setting up for chickens

It’s spring and time to get busy on the flock of chickens. Is it time to start your first flock of layers? Or maybe some of your older hens need to be retired and replaced. Homesteader’s Supply has the equipment you need to get going or add to your equipment.

chick daysThe Small-Scale Poultry Flock


A little time spent reading before bringing your chicks or chickens home can save you some heartache and back break. We have books you’ll find to be helpful whether you’re just beginning or have been raising poultry for years. You’ll find all of them listed here.

Superbowl bucket feeder for poultry

Holds 50 lbs of food

The Superbowl bucket feeder holds up to 50 pounds of food, decreasing trips to the coop with more food. It’s easy to fill and can be hung up or placed on a base to discourage hens from scratching their food onto the floor.

Poultry can make a mess of their water quickly by stepping in it and throwing dirt in when they dust bathe and scratch. Suspend a bucket fitted with Poultry Nipples. There’s no pan needed because it doesn’t drip. It’s also excellent for ducklings that are prone to getting soaking wet (the way ducks do…) and cold.

Poultry Nipples

EZ-fit Chicken Coop 5ft X 8ft

EZ-fit Chicken Coop 5ft X 8ft

The EZ-fit Chicken coop will provide a safe, secure place for your poultry. It’s available in three sizes. Shipping is free to the lower 48 states!

The optional skids make moving your hen house to fresh grass easier. The skids don’t get stuck in ruts as easily as a tire will. They’re also a good way to keep the coop off off the ground. Hens bring mud into the coop on their feet. A ramp helps remove some of the mud, helping to keep not just the coop but the eggs cleaner.

The nest boxes are located on the outside of the coop for easy pick up and nest box cleaning. Other features include:

  • Chicken Door & Ramp
  • Inside Roost
  • Predator-resistant Wire Mesh
  • Man Door
  • Window(s)
  • Standard window color is white
  • 25-Year 3-Tab Shingles
Egg basket

Egg basket

Our egg basket is coated with plastic to help keep it clean, and make the clean up it will eventually need easier.

Dimensions: 14″ top diameter x 9″H x 10″ bottom diameter.

You can see our entire line of poultry supplies on our website.

Beyond Sustainable – Advice on Homesteading and Chickens

Beyond Sustainable … a weekly blog from Homesteaders Supply Here we will highlight articles from homesteaders and related helping organizations blogging about their experience and insights for creating a sustainable lifestyle. Many of these articles will demonstrate their creative ingenuity for income, insights into the care of the land and their animals, and how to effectively grow, preserve, and prepare the foods we need for a healthy lifestyle.  We will also highlight articles from organizations that are helping us in our efforts toward a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Homemade Non-GMO and Organic Chicken Feed Mix

By   on the website blog for

Homemade-Chicken-FeedHomesteading starts usually with having a couple chickens and enjoying the bounty of their wonderful eggs.  But what about what we feed them?  Read Tracey’s store and the recipe she shares for making organic and Non-GMO chicken feed!

“After plunging into backyard chickens to rid our yard of chemical laden pesticides, we began enjoying the great benefit of having chickens: the eggs! That was until we read what we were feeding them. Handfuls of words we couldn’t pronounce, nor did we have the faintest clue what they could be. Certainly, I thought, our eggs were better than ones in the store, yet in my mind remained a nagging doubt. Were they really?”  Read more for her homemade NON-GMO recipe for chicken feed…

Homesteading advice from the master… an interview with Joel Salatin

by Carol J. Alexander, photographs by Amber Karnes, originally published in the June/July 2013 From Scratch Magazine


“FS: Living a sustainable lifestyle is a trend. Never in my life have I seen a more powerful thrust to provide for one’s own family, live off the land, reduce one’s carbon footprint, eschew chemicals, cook whole foods, etc. And everyone wants a front-row seat on the green bus. But is everyone cut out to grow their own food? Share with us the traits the successful, modern homesteader possesses.

JS: Everyone can’t grow their own food, but everyone can live as if they were. And everyone can do something, even if it’s just a vermicomposting bin under the kitchen sink and using cloth diapers instead of disposables. The point is that every single act should be a physical manifestation of our thought process, a conscious decision. Mindless acts have no place in our lives. Even wanting to do something mindless like watch a silly movie should be for a reason: “I need a break from the 120 percent I’ve been giving all day to such-and-such an activity.”   While I appreciate the desire for self-reliance, I’m much more in favor of mutual inter-dependence. Sometimes we can become so independent we do things we’re not good at or deplore, and then burn out or fail miserably. Part of self-reliance is building a resilient community of hard goods and soft goods (spiritual, emotional, educational) around us, proximate, and relationally-oriented. All that said, here are some traits to think about:   ”  Read more…


Get Joel Salatin’s newly published book Fields of Farmers






Chicken Treat Chart The Best Treats For Backyard Chickens

by Buff Hooligans  posted on

chicken and lobster

“This is a list of everything you can feed a chicken. However, everybody’s chickens have their own tiny brains full of likes and dislikes, so while one person’s chickens may come running for grapes or watermelon, another person’s chickens may turn up their pointy little beaks at it. Anything on this list is worth a try. AND …  Don’t feed the following things to your chickens:”  Read More for both lists….