Tag Archive | backyard chickens

Why you’re getting soft shell eggs

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When I first thought of getting some chickens many years ago, I thought oh it’s easy, throw some food, give them some water and collect eggs. OH BOY! Was I naive!?

After 2 of my babies died, I realized there is a lot more to it to keep your flock healthy and happy. So many things could go wrong! I decided that I wanted to raise them as naturally as possible. Using no antibiotics, unless as a last resort, and trying all holistic methods. We also switched to Organic feed. Because if we are going to do it naturally then go all the way!

When my girls started laying, it was so exciting! I had one start, then a few days later I would have 2 laying and so on. But then one day, I found this in the nesting box. Two eggs laid by the same chicken (I know this because I only had 1 more to start laying at the time), but both eggs had soft shells. One would always be broke and the other intact, but squishy.

Let me start by saying I flipped out when this happened.

But then my quest for knowledge started and I was determined to find out why my chicken was laying these no shell eggs. My hubby looked it up right away the first time and said it can be common in new layers. I accepted that and moved on with my week.

3 weeks later I was still getting them here and there, so to the internet I went.

After much research and question asking on forums, I came to the conclusion that it was probably lack of calcium. She is a little low in the pecking order, so maybe the higher ups were keeping her from getting the oyster shell she needed. She just needed a little help.

I bought plain organic yogurt and took some of the egg shells from some eggs I used up and made an egg laying soup. My chickens actually hates oyster shells. I have never seen them touch the stuff. I still offer it but also offer monthly crushed egg shells.

Now the rules for giving chickens egg shells for calcium:

  1. Only egg shells that were from eggs from your flock. No store bought and no other farm’s fresh eggs. You don’t want any contamination.
  2. Dry your eggshells really good. During the summer I use to put them outside in the hot sun for some natural baking. During the winter or bad weather, just bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes and then cool.
  3. Make sure you crush or pulverize the shells. Easier for them to digest and they won’t recognize it as an egg or you might have trouble.

Use your food processor (warning: the egg shells will smell YUK!) and then add the amount of yogurt you think would feed your flock. I use one of the small cups or 1/2 of a bigger container.

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Now I did say that Nutmeg was low on the pecking order so I put down one dish on one side of the run for the higher ups. And because Nutmeg is a little spoiled, she knows to follow me because I will let her eat out of the bag of worms or container of food where no one can bother her. I knew she would get her fair share from the second bowl on the other side before the others discovered it.

I have to say I really think it worked. We have had no problems since. And I do this about once a month just to make sure everyone is getting their calcium fix.

 

This post was part of the blog hop on Oak Hill HomesteadSimple Life MomTimber Creek Farmer and The Chicken Chick.

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2 weeks of craziness

Sorry for being MIA but life kinda took over again. Ya know 4 kids can keep a girl busy. Plus losing 2 of our chickens was awful and rough. But life came full circle when 3 days later our first batch of chicken eggs started hatching. This was a small batch.

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As you can see we started with the 6 in the front, 1 wasn’t developing. So 5 went into lockdown. The 3 white eggs in the back are our duck eggs. They ended up not being developing either. Out of the 5 that went into lockdown, I got 4 to hatch! Not too shabby for a first timer. Of course, I had been watching the first cracked egg for hours and nothing major was happening. So I went out to run my errands with the kids and my Grandma called and said you have a baby and it is chirping extremely loud. My poor cocker spaniel was going nuts trying to find the babies. By the next morning, I had 3 waiting in the incubator and the last one hatched while I was cooking breakfast. Those little boogers can move fast when they are ready to break free!

About 48 hours old here

Here they are after their first night in the brooder. Everyone is doing great and seems very healthy. When they were waiting in the incubator to dry, they were extremely loud and responded whenever I talked to them. Now they recognize “the hand” and enjoy pecking food out it.

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Here they are 4 days old and already starting to get their big chick feathers. They are growing so fast!

In other news, Lil man has lost his first tooth! This momma is mad because she missed it. I was out to dinner and literally pulled into the drive way about 5 minutes after he yanked it out. But he was very excited because his tooth fairy didn’t bring a dollar, instead he got a new Skylanders Trap Team Trap. Yup, that kid is spoiled rotten by everyone, including the Tooth Fairy. But how can you not love him!?! Look at this smile.

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We also went to local Renaissance Festival with my Dad and Aunt. We had never been and it is something my Dad really enjoys. It was an experience to say the least. LOL But the kids got to try a lot of new things and had a lot of fun. I will post more when I can figure out how to get the photos off my stupid phone.

The kids are on Spring Break this week. So we are just relaxing and putting up a new fence. More on that later.

Plus it’s U-pick’em season here Plant City. And I found a wonderful Organic U-pick’em. Be prepared for lots of Strawberry recipes!

Plus more babies! Our next batch goes into lockdown on Monday and we have a new set of duck eggs in the incubator. Those should be hatching the Saturday before Easter.

Roosters~love them or eat them

 

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Let me start by saying I am by no means an expert. This is my first year raising chickens. But in that years time, I have learned a lot.

I got 12 chicks total. Not knowing what they were; male or female. Two didn’t survive and I was left with 10 that thrived.

Out of those 10, I ended up with 3 males and 7 females.

Our first confirmed male, Speckles, got rehomed really quick because he was beating up my girls pretty bad. That is something you don’t want. You want your girls relaxed and comfortable and safe in their home so they can lay eggs comfortably. Under the constant stress, the chances of eggs go down. They will not lay to their full potential, which I know for most folks is the whole purpose of owning chickens. Plus beating up my baby girls to point of drawing blood was not cool with me.

 

Here are my 2 roosters that I have left.

Lil Baby~ light brahma rooster

Lil Baby~ light brahma rooster

Ninja~Frizzle Cochin

Ninja~Frizzle Cochin

 

Pros of having a rooster:

  • Protects your flock when free ranging.
  • Gives you fertilized eggs, which then gives you babies (YAY!)

Cons of having a rooster:

  • Can be rough with your girls or the other roosters. We had an incident which may or may not have been a fight between the two roosters. One was pretty badly beat up and I thought I was going to lose him but he pulled through.
  • Can become aggressive with you or your kids. I have one rooster who likes to chase my one daughter. She is special needs so I don’t know if he has picked up on that, but it’s only her, never me or anyone else. And when they kick at you it hurts. Especially with those nails.
  • Can be very skittish and not real lovable. Even as chicks, they ran and hated being picked up. And now they steer away from us and are not very friendly at all.
  • Do not follow directions at all (typical MAN!). If I shake the worm bag or call the chickens, all of the girls come right away. The boys not so much and we end up having to trap them into running into the enclosed area. Too much work!

Now the next reason can be a pro or con depending on the type of person you are. I personally love to hear them crowing. But others might not. I will say mine start between 4-5 am. BUT I can’t hear them in my room and neither can my kids. So it doesn’t bother us. Others might not be so happy with that.

While most people would say eat them. I am not that brave or experienced yet in butchering one of our own chickens. And I highly doubt that I can find someone to come out and butcher just one. I am not at all against it. I am hoping to add some meat birds later on down the road. But one step at a time. If you are experienced or knows someone who is, then butchering could be an option for you.

I am on the fenced about getting rid of Lil Baby. He is the trouble maker and he is the one that dislikes my daughter. She loves being with them. So most likely I am going to try to trade or sell him.

So my conclusion is a rooster is not necessary, but some people like them while others don’t. I don’t see Ninja going anywhere. He is the sweetest little thing I have ever seen. So much smaller than a normal rooster; probably a bantam. And just keeps to himself and treats the girls very nicely. I most likely won’t have fertilized eggs anymore, but that is a price I will pay. I can always order more chicks or go to local feed store!

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So tired

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So very very tired

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I’m awake!

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Darn wind!

 

 

Fun weekend!

It’s the little things in life that make me smile. This weekend was one of those times that just made me giddy.

Saturday was the big day! The day I have been waiting for since April, when I bought all those fuzzy chicks home. That’s right folks! I got an egg!

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Here is proud egg layer!

Thing 1

Thing 1

The first egg arrived on Saturday morning. I happen to hear one of the other hens singing the egg song so I went rushing out there thinking she laid an egg. But really she just likes announcing when others have made a nest and our laying their eggs. That is when I found Thing 1, not in the nesting boxes, but in her own little homemade nest. So for about an hour, I kept peeking at her and finally it was there. And I squealed like a girl. But hey, farmer’s can be girly!

Then Sunday, she took almost all day to lay again. And I sent little man out to gather the egg. But she wasn’t done yet. So we found these beauties in the garden instead.

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Thirty minutes later, little man and I went out again and found our 2nd egg.

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Needless to say, my kids are so excited about having to check for eggs everyday.

Check in with my flock

It’s been a while since I have done a chicken post. Mostly because I have been waiting for an egg, but they are almost 19 weeks and nothing so far. So that will have to be another post later; whenever it happens. Let me start by saying that everyone is right. Having chickens is addicting! I am already planning a bigger run for them because they are spoiled rotten. But anyone that knows me knew that was gonna happen.

Photo Bomb! I’m the center of attention!

 

This journey hasn’t been without bumps in the road though. In the beginning, we lost two of our baby chicks to Coccidiosis. It is fatal to chickens, but thankfully because of the internet and some wonderful bloggers, I was able to treat the rest and have had no problems with that.

Then there was the too many rooster problems. I ended up with 3 and one became aggressive towards the others. We had a lot of injuries. So it was time to relocate him to our next door neighbors, where he found a hen that is his twin and fell deeply in love.

Be nice to your new girlfriend, Speckles.

Be nice to your new girlfriend, Speckles.

 

Next, was the summer cold of 2014. It hit a few of our girls pretty hard. I didn’t want too, but had to give out antibiotics. Within a day, they were all good. I am trying to do the natural thing, but with this the oregano, which acts as a natural antibiotic, wasn’t cutting it.

Lastly, I had to escapees. Two different times, two different hens! They got so excited that Mommy was coming in with treats that they ran out the door. As soon as they realized they were out and the others were in, they paced the fence trying to get back. So I was able to easily catch them.

Okay~ on to the chickens now.

Little baby at the beginning of summer.

Little baby at the beginning of summer.

Little baby now

Little baby now

Big Bertha then

Big Bertha then

Nutmeg then

Nutmeg then

Big Bertha (right) and Nutmeg (left)

Big Bertha (right) and Nutmeg (left)

Midnight then

Midnight then

Midnight now

Midnight now

Precious then

Precious then

Precious now

Precious now

Thing 1 and Thing 2 then

Thing 1 and Thing 2 then

Thing 1 now

Thing 1 now

Thing 2 now

Thing 2 now

Luna then

Luna then

Luna now

Luna now

And last, but not least

Ninja then

Ninja then

Ninja now

Ninja now

And I just want to add he is the perfect Rooster. Let’s the girls eat first, watches out for predators and is the first out in the morning and the last one in at night.

UPDATE: I started writing this 2 days ago and as of 15 minutes ago, Thing 1 is in the coop making a nest. We are hoping for an egg by the end of the day. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for updates.

 

Here comes the chicks…..

Now that our babies are getting bigger and have their feathers coming in, I am able to give them proper names to fit them and their personality.

Introducing our flock……

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This is Big Bertha. She is the oldest by a few days and the biggest of our chickens.

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This is Luna. It took me forever to come up with a name for her. She is starting to get more comfortable with me and will jump on me every once and a while.

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This is Precious. This one belongs to Brianna. Which is appropriate because she is the same age as Luna but so much smaller, just like her owner.

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Twinsies! They were easy to name because they are always into something. Thing 1 is at the top, she has a smaller and lighter colored beak. Thing 2 at the bottom, much larger beak and even has some black lines running through it.

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This is Speckles. This one belongs to Alissa. UMMM I am not sure what it is; girl or boy! But it’s pretty.

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This is Nutmeg. She has adopted herself as mine. When she sees me, she finds a way to jump on my back. She likes to look me eye to eye and talk to me. She is a gossiper.

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This is Midnight. She too has become a Momma’s girl. Her and Nutmeg like to fight over who sits where on Momma’s back.

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This is Ninja and in case you can’t tell; yup he’s a rooster. No eggs from this little fellow. He belongs to Cailin. And she changed his name from Fizzy to Ninja when he started running around and karate kicking the other chickens. Now before you say what happened to his feathers. It’s okay; He is a Frizzle chicken. Let me just say if anyone was going to pick the odd ball of the bunch it was going to be Cailin. And she is very proud of herself.

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Last but not least, Lil Baby. This one was named by Dakota. He took a liking to the youngest of the group. I am 95% sure Lil baby is a rooster. But he is so darn cute!

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Look at that he could be a chicken model! Adorable!

So here they are! We have had no health problems and they are the highlight of our day. Someone is always checking on them, feeding them snacks or thinking of something new to make for them. It really has been a fun family project.