Raising chickens in your backyard
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Keep your flock healthy
Minimizing Health Problems......
Starting out with a healthy flock from a reputable breeder and the correct housing conditions can get your flock off to the right start. Choosing the correct feed, housing and lighting are a good start in the right direction.
  • An average of 4 sq. feet per bird of living space. Crowding birds can lead to health problems in your flock such as stress and illness.
  • Fresh water in the house and run at all times. Chickens drink a lot of water especially in the summer.
  • Start your chicks out with a heat lamp on 24/7 that provides a temperature of 95 degrees for the first week. Drop the temperature 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered out. 
  • The structure MUST have adequate ventilation to reduce a build up of ammonia fumes and other contaminates but not be drafty. 
  • Deep dry litter such as pine shavings should be used on the floor and in nesting boxes.
  • Watch the housing structure for signs of insect infestation such as mites, lice, ticks. etc.
  • The structure should keep them dry during bad weather.
  • A quality medicated feed made exclusively for chicks should be fed to the chicks until 4 weeks prior to egg laying.
Health Facts
Whitewash paint has antimicrobial properties.  
Adding whitewash paint to the interior walls of your coop. The coating provides antimicrobial properties that provide hygienic and sanitary benefits for animal barns. Making whitewash is easy:

 Mix in a large five gallon bucket:

  • 3 large coffee cans of hydrated lime ( 12 cups)
  • 1 pound can of salt (4 cups)
  • 2 gallons of water

When you mix this together, mix a little lime, then a little water, then lime, etc. If you mix it all together at once it is very hard to stir. Allow the mixture to sit over night before using. Whitewash is watery because it is a wash and not a paint.

Researchers say home grown eggs are healthier.  
Recent research published by Mother Earth News, a magazine dedicated to self-reliant and healthy living, found that eggs from chickens allowed to forage naturally have, on average, seven times more beta carotene (which is what makes pastured egg yolks so orange), three times more vitamin E, two times more omega-3 fatty acids and two-thirds more vitamin A than factory farm birds. Pastured eggs also have one-third less cholesterol and one-quarter less saturated fat, on average.
Chickens are useful for pest control.  
Allowing your chickens to free roam on your property will reduce the number of pests in your lawn and around your home. Chickens are excellent for natural pest control without having to resort to chemical pesticides. 





Raising healthy, happy chickens
You can raise a much healthier and happy flock in your yard.
I am 100% convinced that anyone can with a little common sense and knowledge, raise much healthier chickens (who lay healthier eggs) in their own backyards than they will ever buy in a store. Store bought chickens and eggs are still raised in crowded conditions even though they advertise them as being pasture/cage free raised. No one regulates the terms "pasture raised" or "cage free raised" not even the USDA. Your backyard raised birds will be healthier and lay very tasty eggs. 

To keep your flock healthy just requires good nutrition and animal husbandry practices. Like humans, chickens can also be affected by illness, diseases and parasites. All are manageable by the small flock owner. If a sick bird doesn't respond to home treatment then it will be time to either cull the bird or take it to a vet that will accept chickens. Many vets do not, so call around in your area to see if vets accept chickens.

Backyard raised chickens are generally isolated from most microorganisms that can cause illnesses in your birds. Healthy living conditions help our birds resist infections and grow up to be healthy, happy adult birds. It is important as a poultry keeper that you keep your birds living environment clean and comfortable. This includes cleaning the water and feed containers on a regular basis along with the coop. Another trick you may employ in your coop is to add whitewash paint to the interior walls. The coating has antimicrobial properties that provide hygienic and sanitary benefits for animal barns. 

When starting out with day old chicks I would recommend that you feed them a medicated chick feed for about 20 weeks, then switch them over to a layer ration of mash. This will give them a good immune system boost guarding them against coocidiosis, the most common poultry disease problem. I have had good luck in the past with the use of medicated feed for the first 20 weeks.

A bigger threat to you flock is external parasites. There are many parasites that can infect your flock such as mites, poultry lice and ticks. Scaly leg mites seem to be the most likely critter to invade your flock. Applying petroleum jelly to the legs, feet and other infected areas will smother and kill the mites. Permethrin spray, Sevin powder and poultry powder will also kill the mites but I prefer a more  environmentally friendly method of eradication, diatomaceous earth known as DE can also be used to keep birds free of lice, mites and other parasites. It can be applied directly to the bird  and/or sprinkled throughout the coop and run area. Birds taking a dust bath in it will do wonders in keeping the pesky critters away from the birds.


Disease Prevention and Parasites  
Below are additional resources on information about poultry diseases and parasite infestation. 
USDA Animal Health Poultry Health Basics
Poultry Help Poultry U
Poultry Health Articles McMurray Hatchery Help
Backyard Chickens Forum Poultry One


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