Try out the online Genetics Calculator to see what colours might occur amongst your chicken breeds.
One 'Cluckingham Palace' Poultry Coop installed. CHECK!
...BUT many backyards are missing the essential emergency quarantine or broody coop.
As a poultry pet sitter, I always fear one of my clients' birds becoming sick, injured or broody with no spare coop for isolation from the rest of the flock. In most cases, there is nothing I could even use to improvise with!
But even when I am not there as your pet sitter, having a quarantine coop will serve you well. No-one ever regrets having one ready.
Here is a great guide on simple-to-make quarantine/broody coop ideas that could work in your backyard.
Quarantine coops are used for:
WHAT CAN BE USED?
BROODY COOP ISOLATION FACTORS
As broody hens are only going through a normal hormonal phase, the purpose of a broody coop is to "break" her out of being broody and help her resume normal free ranging and egg laying again.
HATCHING WITH A BROODY FACTORS
Use the quarantine coop for hatching fertilised eggs. Be aware, that if sickness does occur with any other birds in the flock that another quarantine coop will need to sourced.
PESTS AND CLEANING FACTORS
NEED MORE IDEAS?
Visit my Pinterest board - COOP AND RUN DESIGN
Ever seen chicken feet that look really extra thick with the scales lifting?
There is NO extra calcium building up. That's just an illusion.
BUT it does mean that the MITES have moved in!!!
Scaly Leg Mites is fully treatable.
There are a few ways to treat poultry.
ALWAYS apply Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) to the affect bird's legs to smoother the mites and aid relief.
HOME WASH INSTRUCTIONS AND COOP CLEAN
Please be aware, when handling your poultry that mites are likely to also jump onto you during treatment.
Chickens can be infested with many types of worms, with Threadworm being the most common.
But what about Heartworm?
As most dog, cat and ferret owners are aware, Heartworm needs to be treated monthly, like clockwork.
Heartworm is spread via mosquito bites accessing the blood stream. It is not a contagious disease, it must be spread by biting insect to enter the blood. So no place is safe for our four legged friends when mozzies come calling.
The larvae work their way through the blood stream to the heart and develop into adults. Its there that the adults can put a serious squeeze on the heart and arteries. Dogs with a case of heartworm disease start out with mild symptoms like coughing and exercise intolerance but later develop full blown cardiomyopathy (with swelling in the limbs, fluid buildup in the lungs, and reluctance to move as the dog becomes quickly exhausted)
But what about chickens?
You can relax about this one, as chickens are not prone to Heartworm.
Just as dogs and cats need regular worming, so do all poultry.
Schedule poultry worming for every 3 months.
This can be more frequently done if your birds are having frequent reoccurring infections of worms, which may indicate a soil based source, or introduction from the wild bird population (which will need to be controlled).
Please DO NOT USE Advocate or other dog and cat wormers on chickens as the active ingredient in these products are fatal to birds.
List of Egg Farms in South Australia (SA) can be found on the Aussie Farms website.
This list contains those that are currently open and closed.
Egg producers only, NOT hatcheries.
Please visit the Aussie Farms website for an updated list.
This is by no means an exhaustive list as there are many poultry farmers who privately supply supermarkets, cafes, bakeries and restaurants.
If you know of a SINGLE website that contains a list of active HATCHERIES, please let me know as many people search this website hoping to find such a list.
Due to health reasons, I have had to cut out poultry coop cleaning as one of my services.
This has been a difficult decision to make as so many people rely on cleaning help.
My health has to come first.
HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS....
I am still available for all coop cleaning advice.
The majority of my clients just want to know which products are best for their cleaning needs to tackle lice, mites, fleas, rodents, etc.
Techniques and priorities in cleaning are also high on most people's lists, which I can certainly help you out on.
Please feel free to email, message me through Facebook or call/text me on 0409 286 008.
Lice and mites seek out lovely warm blooded bodies to make their new home. Nest sitting poultry become a favourite target, even more so for the broody mother hen sitting on her fertilised eggs for hatching.
The longer a birds sits, the chances of external pests increases significantly.
These pests can cause a wide range of problems for the hen such as discomfort and irritation, anemia, loss of body weight, decreased immune response (some mites can be responsible for introducing some diseases to the birds such as fowl pox and salmonella), and even death.
Body weight decreases significantly in nesting mother hens as their food intake is dramatically reduced.
Summer is mite season. Mite activity is reduced during winter.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE MITES
It may be difficult to identify mites on a hen as mites can be very illusive at the best of times. Her comb will be paler in colour due to her long broody hatching time, which is commonly associated with anemia. Some hens are more prone to abandoning their eggs in the nest to dust bathe more frequently to control the mites.
Depending on the type of mites, some are more visible such as crawling over the eggs.
NO Malaban Wash or Maldisan 50
NO Pestene powder
These chemicals are too strong for chicks
NESTING BOX FOR HATCHING
TREATING FOR MITES AFTER HATCHING
There is only one safe option to treat both mother hen and her chicks: IVERMECTIN.
Ivermectin has an egg withhold period, but mother hen will not be back to her normal laying until the chicks have gained maturity and have left mother hen's side.
Change the nesting material if you get a chance, as mother hen and chicks will get up to eat and drink occasionally.
Ivermectin treats all external parasites on poultry.
Every summer, the fear of overheating poultry strikes every backyard owner. South Australian summers can be particularly dry and nasty. So, being my home state, I am always on the lookout for an easy to use misting system that is portable and friendly for the suburban backyard.
Good news is that Ryobi have taken the up the challenge and created a very robust unit that is really worth looking into.
Ryobi have released their Cordless Fan series with the option of mist or stand-alone fan.
The price difference between these models is around $30* (*at the time of publication).
THIS IS NOT A PAID ADVERTISEMENT - I REALLY DO GET PASSIONATE OVER EQUIPMENT REVIEWS
What you will need
1. Ryobi Cordless Misting Fan
2. Ryobi Rechargeable Battery with Recharging Unit
3. Bucket up to 20 Ltrs (or hose with connector)
Will a misting fan really help chickens during summer?
Miting fans are the backbone to how an Evaporative Air Conditioner works. The cooling action of the fan is increased when a mist of water passes in front, creating an even cooler environment to keep poultry at a more comfortable temperature.
So essentially, water is going out with the air flow.
This means that the coop, yard or your entertaining area will have increased moisture.
If the unit is placed too close to a nesting box or other equipment, they can become a little wet.
Air flow is important. Not just from the unit but from all doors and windows.
TIP #1: Keep the mister a good distance from all objects and allow good air flow.
TIP #2: Ensure that solid doors and coop ventilation holes are fully open during the misting fan operation.
TIP #3: Operate during day light and evening only. Go back to fan only, overnight.
TIP #4: Stand the unit in a shaded position to keep the water cool and unit working at its best.
How much water does it need?
The Ryobi Misting Fan can sit over a bucket of up to 20 Litres of cold water. The unit's tube is able to extend to the bottom of a bucket that size.
Alternatively, a garden hose can be attached to the back on low flow. Please consult the instruction manual for further information. The hose connection is located on the back next to the battery unit case.
The benefit of using a bucket is the addition of ice water. A 50/50 mix of water and ice will help keep the mist cooler.
Energy supply and operating time
The Ryobi Cordless Misting Fan uses the Ryobi rechargeable battery that can be used interchangeably with any of the Ryobi tools.
The rechargeable battery does NOT come with this fan, so it will need to purchased separately with the recharging unit.
There is no electric cord option. Rechargeable Battery only.
Rechargeable Battery and Recharging Unit: $148* (Bunnings)
The unit run time: Approximately 8-9 hours (depending on the setting)
Enough to get through a hot night.
My biggest concern was how much noise this unit was going to make.
I didn't want to scare the hens with it, and if it was going to run all night, could I hear it from bed and could my neighbours hear it also?
I was really impressed with the running noise. Not at all intrusive.
The highest setting is ridiculously strong. I would use the lower setting, only. It is very effective.
Water is dispersed from the brass nozzles which are located on each side of the fan.
Fan Movement Range
There are two types of units available at different prices. I purchased from Bunnings.
1. Cordless Misting Fan (as above) $99 - requires bucket or hose
2. Cordless Fan (stand-alone) $69
If you are using the hose connection or stand-alone fan the unit may be too low for operation.
Place on a flat and stable higher object such as a bucket, barrel, table, or chair.
Very affordable under $100!
IS THERE A BUDGET OPTION?
YES. Non-electrical. Very low flow hose connection only. Also available at Bunnings. Under $20.
Plastic portable mister.
Citrus fruit is on the 'DO NOT FEED' list for poultry because the acidity of the fruit does not agree with their stomach. However, citrus LEAVES can be a favourite with some chickens.
Whether you have citrus planted in your poultry's run or your hens run free range throughout your garden, citrus trees are a great addition and work in harmony with poultry keeping.
BUT there are a few pointers every poultry keeper needs to know...
A small citrus tree it will need to be fenced off from the poultry until it has grown tall enough.
Whether it is planted directly into the ground or in a pot, all citrus needs to be enclosed while small, not just to stop the leaves from being eaten but to also prevent hens from dust bathing directly beneath the tree over the developing root system.
Citrus trees are heavy feeders, so chicken manure and citrus are best friends! This friendship works best when the trees are taller and more established.
Pelletised citrus fertilisers need to be kept away from poultry so that do not ingest it.
Providing a fenced off area around the tree will still allow the use of commercial pelletised fertilisers.
This applies to ALL types of fruit trees in your yard.
If you prefer to keep using pelletised fertiliser as the trees grow larger, fence only during the appropriate fertilising month/s. Remove fencing after fertiliser is no longer visible after being well watered in.
Citrus in pots
Growing citrus in large pots can be a hit or miss with many gardeners.
If your hens have access to your potted citrus, then creating barriers WILL be necessary.
The NUMBER #1 reason why your hens will go for your potted plants is because of the soil as a potential new location for a dust bath. No matter what you plant in pots, chickens are more than happy to scratch them out so they can sit.
If a citrus tree happens to be in a pot, then all the more to attack as they love the leaves.
The taller the tree becomes, the less access the hens will have to the leaves.
TIP for bulbs, use a grate or large mesh over pots so that plants can grow through.
Reduce the hens' desire to get into the pots.
Can citrus recover from being stripped of leaves?
The GOOD NEWS is that citrus generally can recover and regrow leaves even if stripped bare.
An application of SEASOL or POWERFEED will bring it back to leafing.
Take care of the tree as soon as you possibly can to help it recover. If left without leaves for too long it will soon die.
Fence off the attack tree and nurse it back to health.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis (‘EYP’) is a common cause of death in laying hens, and can be confused with a hen being Egg Bound. It is not a contagious disease but it can result in death if not seen to quickly.
What is the difference?
On a scale of probability, a hen is more likely to develop Egg Peritonitis rather than just suffer from being Egg Bound.
Egg binding on rare occasions can be the only problem. But I stress that it is, rare.
Let’s start with a hen suspected of being Egg Bound
Diet is the catalyst that will cause a hen to become Egg Bound. Usually due to a diet lacking in calcium, such as shellgrit. Or an absorption issue which hinders the uptake of calcium. If only kitchen scraps are the majority of the diet, this is most likely the cause.
The diet must be balanced with grains, protein, greens and calcium grit. Ensure that the water supply is always clean.
Egg shell quality diminishes with age, so often it is the older hens that become Egg Bound. The more fragile the egg shells become, the harder it is for the hen to expel the egg successfully.
To home treat an egg bound hen:
It is IMPORTANT to take the hen to the vet as the condition may require further treatment.
A hen that is Egg Bound is merely a SYMPTOM of something more that should be investigated.
If the abdomen rear of the hen is red and swollen, this is a clear sign that infection (EYP) has set in and she requires veterinary care immediately.
Peritonitis follows reverse movement of albumen and Escherichia coli bacteria from the oviduct into the abdomen. If the incidence is high, culture should be done to differentiate between Pasteurella (fowl cholera) or Salmonella infection. Antibiotic treatment of peritonitis caused by E coli infections is usually ineffective. Management of body weight and uniformity, reproductive development (ovary follicle growth and maturation), and drinking water sanitation are the best preventive strategies.
How will the vet diagnose Egg Peritonitis?
Your vet will carry out an x-ray to see if there is any egg matter, as first course.
This may be followed with fluid being drawn from the coelom for samples.
If she is egg bound, the vet is then likely to insert fingers into the hen’s rear to extract the egg. A course of antibiotics might be offered.
EYP is diagnosed by your vet during a post mortem.
Are some chickens more prone to this disease?
Prolific egg layers such as ISA Browns, Hy-Lines, Leghorns, etc. are the most susceptible, but not exclusively to.
Hens who are frequent double-yolk layers are also considered at higher risk.
Over weight hens are also in the high risk category.
Can Egg Yolk Peritonitis be treated?
Treatment for hens is often too late. Early diagnosis is essential. Mortality is high, unfortunately.
Often a visit to the vet can result in the choice of a peaceful passing away instead of suffering.
It is very hard for a bird to show that they are in pain. They are more likely to hide their illness or injury and display more sleepiness and lack of interest in their day to day activities.
Always take time with your poultry each day to get to know what is normal or abnormal so that you can pick up on any early stages of ill health.
Is vaccinating your day old chicks for Marek's going to be worthwhile any more with the change of vaccine available in Australia as of 2017?
The Marek's vaccine for chicks has always been delivered in a freeze-dried format that is then mixed with a carrier for injection into day old chicks. It was fridge stable and was easy enough to transport by order.
Zoetis has now officially ceased to make the freeze-dried vaccine for Australia indefinitely.
Bioproperties makes an alternative Merek's vaccine for the Australia market.
The alternative vaccine costs less than the original freeze-dried variety, however, the cost is considerably more when chilling is calculated into the transportation and storage until use!
This will NOT make it easy for the small backyard breeder with a dozen or two chicks when the cost of dry ice or liquid nitrogen deliveries are added to the cost.
The cells holding the virus in the vaccine need to be storage very carefully in one of two ways:
The vaccine will still need to be correctly prepared with the diluent (carrier) - following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
The benefit to this alternative vaccine is that it will be stable for several hours once mixed unlike the freeze-dried vaccine that could only last for up to an hour.
Once the vaccine has been thawed it cannot be refrozen as it will destroy the cells that hold the virus. So this brings in questions about breaking up the vaccine into smaller batches for later use.
NOTE: Never place dried ice into a deep freeze with the vaccine. Dry ice vapour is also detrimental to most refrigerators.
For more information, see the Australiasian Poultry magazine Oct/Nov 2017 issue pages 24-25.
I receive this question a lot right throughout the year. Here is the honest answer:
Sellers come and go.
People's opinions easily skittle someone's credibility as a breeder especially if they didn't get the hatch rate they wanted.
Seek out breed specific Facebook pages (or go on a friend's recommendation) and build up a relationship with the good breeders.
It does pay off.
When weeds get out of control most people wouldn't give it a second thought. Just grab a good strong weed killer to take care of the job. But when you share your garden with free ranging poultry there is a cause for concern.
Both Roundup and Zero weed killers contain the active ingredient: Glyphosate
Glyphosate is not only an effective weed killer but has been shown to slowly and insidiously kill us over time too. Roundup can be detected in the soil for many years. That means that whatever is grown in that soil is also likely to pick up on the glyphosate and go into our food chain. Glyphosate is non-selective, meaning that it will kill anything that it is applied to.
There have been plenty of agricultural studies that have studied heavy and light use of glyphosate (herbicide) use on crops and how different soils can make a difference. However, the most important part of any of those studies is the toxicity levels - and how long they remain for.
Many Vets will advise that poultry can free range again (3) three days after spraying a herbicide. This is because glyphosate can rapidly absorbed by the plant. By day 3, the majority of the chemical should have been absorbed into the root system of the plants. The safer option is to wait for up to 2 weeks before releasing poultry back to the sprayed area. Different soils and climatic conditions can affect the chemical absorption and break down.
The problem is that free ranging poultry are ground and plant active in their foraging.
Walking on grass and weeds is different to consuming a plant that has been sprayed with a herbicide.
So consuming a sprayed plant is dangerous to poultry health.
ALTERNATIVES TO CHEMICAL HERBICIDE SPRAYS
(SAFE FOR POULTRY)
Boiling water from the kettle or from cooking vegetables can be poured over weeds.
Vinegar can be poured directly over each weed, where it is convenient. Vinegar can be combined with salt for even more effectiveness. Vinegar is safe for poultry consumption as it can be added to their drinking water to aid their health and egg shell quality.
Beware of salt!
Farmers who have used salt lick blocks for their cattle often report that the area in their paddock where it was placed can remain bare for a long time after it has gone.
* Salt intake for poultry can also be dangerous for poultry.
* Epsom salts can also cause some trouble for poultry, such as diarrhea.
However, the levels of salts may not cause a huge amount of trouble as it can be difficult for the poultry to seek out and consume directly from the soil.
A weed torch or flame gun can be very effective so long as it is used responsibly. (Be fire wise)
There are butane gas canister options as well as the larger industrial sized burners which are best suited for smallholding organic gardener.
The second benefit of a weed torch/flame gun is for riding the soil of lice and mites without chemicals.
The cheapest of all options, is get out there and do some weeding by hand or with your trowel.
Burns calories and the chickens will love to hang out with you!!!
You can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl. As an ex-Barossa gal now living in suburban Adelaide, South Australia, Janine Zschech is not only a serious chicken lady but a genuine advocate for self-sufficiency and education of children to the knowledge of gardening and animal rearing. Skills for life!