Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicken Keeping Food For Thought... And a Winner!

By Leigh:

Every now and then, I’m going to infuse this blog with little bits and pieces from the perspective of a Chicken Newbie… (that would be me). I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful mentor in Bee – and some other “Old Timers” that we’ll be hearing from later on down the road.

You see, when I first became interested in keeping chickens, I wanted to do so for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to have my own source of organic, free range eggs.

Ironically, information junkie that I am, the more I read for the purposes of learning how to raise my own chickens, the more I learned about the use of chemicals and medications…

So… if I de-worm my chickens 4 times a year with chemical de-wormer, if I put antibiotics in their water at the first sign of a ruffled feather and if I rub my flock down with chemicals to treat or prevent mites and lice, how would I be eating organic eggs?

I wouldn’t be!

It was only by chance (or fate) that I happened to stumble upon an informational forum thread on a popular chicken website… and I found Bee and her no-nonsense, all natural wisdom. This was what I had been looking for all along! If I wanted to use chemicals and antibiotics, what would be the purpose in raising my own chickens? Why not just buy chemical and antibiotic-laden eggs at the store?

So how does this chicken newbie do things differently than she would have if she’s followed the most common advice out there?

  • I don’t use poop boards or clean out my coop daily. I use the deep litter method which is healthier (and more natural for my flock.
  • I do NOT useDiatomaceous Earth (DE) in my coop or on my chickens… ever. I don’t want to kill off those good nematodes that feed on the larvae of mites and lice!
  • I provide wood ash for my birds to take dust baths in. Wood ash kills mites and lice, and my chickens love to roll about in it. And it’s free. Can’t beat “free!”
  • I feed my birds chopped pumpkin seedsevery now and then – it’s a natural, organic de-wormer… and the chickens think it’s a delicious treat.
  • I ferment the chicken’s feed – they are better able to absorb the nutrients in this feed, and I’ve cut my feed costs by 2/3rds!
  • I use unpasteurized apple cider vinegarin their fermented feed and in their water. The U-ACV has many benefits, including making my chicken’s digestive tract a “hostile environment” for parasites. It may also change the pH and mean more of their fertilized eggs will result in female offspring. Not proven, but I’ll report back on that when I start hatching.
  • I understand now that if kept healthy, most chickens with good genetics will not succumb to common illnesses like coccidiosis.
  • All critters – including humans and chickens – carry parasites and bacteria. It’s a fact of life. It is only when there is an overgrowth of either that we have problems. Balance is the key! Living in a sterile coop is no better than living in filth. The most natural and organic way to achieve health is by finding that middle ground where a symbiotic relationship is created with both bugs and bacteria – not too many and not too few… just the way life was created and developed on this planet.

So there’s my perspective on some of what I have learned so far.

Oh… and you’re still probably wondering who won the key chain?

Drum roll please…

Commenter #7 – Aoxa

Anonymous November 21, 2012 10:50 AM
Wow! Awesome post :D

I often get eggs with blood on the shell and never considered it abnormal. Usually it is from pullets coming into lay or really big eggs like Bee said. :)


(And if you’re wondering, multiple comments by one person were counted as one, and MY posts don’t count. I also didn’t count those that were just a question about another comment.)

So congratulations, Aoxa! Please email me at with your mailing address and your choice of keychains!

Leigh –


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