Category Archives: chickens

Litter Bucket Nest Boxes

My pullets are now about 16 weeks old. Time to install some nest boxes!

(Full Disclosure: The Mister did most of the cutting and assembly for me! I don’t have much skill with power tools.)

First, I found 4 empty litter buckets like this:

credit: http://www.petflow.com

I took the lids off and had The Mister cut access holes. Then I screwed the 4 buckets into a 4×4.

IMG_20130920_122532A frame of 2x4s, a hinged plywood roof, and viola! Nest boxes! All the materials were on-hand, so this project didn’t cost a dime!

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After this picture was taken, I used the smaller pieces of the hinged lids to make a lip on the front, to keep the hens from kicking their nesting material out. I also put hay in the buckets, but the chickens ate it all pretty quickly… silly birds.

Now I can collect eggs without walking through the poop in the run!

How do YOU use repurposed materials around your property?

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How to Mix Your Own Chicken Feed! (Feed Calculator file included)

I like to avoid soy in our family’s diet, so it makes sense that I would want to avoid soy when feeding my chickens as well. Most commercial chicken feeds use soybeans as the main protein source. There are soy-free blends out there, but they are MUCH more expensive and I like knowing exactly what’s going into the chickens’ food.

So I make my own. With ingredients from the grocery store!

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My regular feed consists of old-fashioned oats, split peas, cracked wheat, and flax seeds. And that’s all.

I also ferment the feed before giving it to the chickens. You can read about all the benefits of fermenting feed here.

This is what the feed looks like after fermenting and draining:

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There are SO many benefits to fermenting animal feeds. I highly recommend that you check it out!

Now, back to the feed composition…

This is my homemade feed calculator. It allows me to figure out what the protein content is with different combinations of ingredients.

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This spreadsheet is fully customizable – all you have to do is add rows to add other ingredients. You can find crude protein percentages for feed ingredients here. You could also do a Google search of “crude protein percentage (ingredient name)”

The total protein percentage is found by multiplying each ingredient’s protein content by the number of pounds being used in a 100 pound batch of feed. These totals are added up, and the total pounds of protein per 100 pounds is equal to the crude protein content in  your feed.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a complete layer/grower/starter feed.

Oyster shell is required for calcium (for hard egg shells).

My chickens also get a lot of greens in the form of weeds from the garden, extra fruits and veggies, and wheatgrass, which I grow hydroponically as fodder. The chickens get plenty of vitamins and minerals from all of our kitchen scraps as well.

This is a vegetarian formula, but I also give the chickens meal worms and calf liver for animal protein. When The Mister and I start raising catfish or Tilapia, we may use fishmeal as a protein source.

Here’s a link to a downloadable version of my feed calculator.

Happy feeding!

Completed Chicken Run Reveal

It has certainly been an eventful few days! A major storm hit only minutes after I finished my post on Friday night. It’s “monsoon season” here in the Mojave, which means we’ll have particularly violent storms on occassion throughout the summer.

The storm on Friday night panicked my poor chickens. They all huddled into one corner of their coop, smothering the three at the bottom of the pile. There was another equally violent storm on Saturday night. We happened to be in the city visiting my parents and celebrating The Mister’s birthday. The storm hit while we were there. After 10 minutes of rain, the flooding was past the curb in many places, including the road we needed to take to get home! We tried to go home, but only made it a few miles before a nail punctured our tire. The spare also had a hole in it, so we were stuck overnight! We filled the punctured tire and limped back to my parents’ house, then got the tire repaired Sunday morning.

Rain continued to fall for much of Sunday, but during the dry times I worked on my chicken coop and run. The run itself is constructed with heavy wire pig panels. It will certainly keep large predators out, but it won’t keep the chickens in! Over the last week I lined the run with deer netting to keep sparrows and crows out, then with heavy poultry wire to keep the chickens in. I mounted a gate to serve as a temporary door, but The Mister is going to build me a better door that will fit the opening properly.

2013-07-21_17-42-44_476The chickens were VERY happy to go out to their new space! It’s about six times larger than the outdoor brooder they’d been living in. They’re running around, stretching their wings, and chasing down ants. Their entire run has a plywood roof, which keeps the entire area about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the yard! Right now they’re using a 4 gallon galvanized waterer, but soon I’ll mount the 5 gallon nipple waterer made from a kitty litter bucket. 

Moving the chickens out of the brooder also meant that the ducklings could move into that brooder! The six ducklings have been living in the house (in a brooder, of course) for the past three weeks and they smell awful. Poultry and waterfowl have a unique talent for stinking up an entire house.

Now all of my birds are safe, have more space, and are out of my dining room!

 

Uses for kitty litter buckets

We have no cats – I’ve sworn them off after a few bad experiences. I’m open to the possibility of a barn cat in the future, but no more indoor cats, thankyouverymuch.
My parents have cats, though, and they save empty litter buckets for me since they’re so darn useful! I use them to store feed ingredients and homemade laundry soap, as small trash cans, and now as a chicken waterer! I bought some poultry nipples on ebay, had The Mister drill some holes, and screwed the nipples in. The waterer is upside down here — the red nipples are the bottom and the chickens drink from those. 

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There’s been a fairly large fire in my region of the desert this past week, which is a big part of why I haven’t been posting. We haven’t been evacuated, but it’s a possibility. A news article I read says that the fire now covers 6000-8000 acres and still isn’t contained at all. I can see the flames from my back door, especially at night. I’m not gonna lie – I’m worried. Today has been extremely windy.. the fire is still almost 40 miles away, but it’s just a stretch of flat, dry desert with extremely flammable brush. Thoughts/prayers are very much appreciated.

In other news, we brought home some ducklings a few days ago. There are six 5-day-olds and two 8-week-olds. They are mallards and are just beautiful. More pictures to come when I’m not posting from my phone!

Painting by Moonlight

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The sun was setting and the moon was rising as I trekked out to paint my chicken coop. It’s been too hot to paint during the day, and I can’t go out while the kids are awake anyway.

I’m really excited for the supermoon tomorrow night. It should be beautiful, especially with our lack of city lights! I only wish we had a telescope.

I got the inside and outside of the coop painted. Once we get the roof and door finished, we’ll be ready for the chicks to move out of their brooder.
The sun had been down for over an hour by the time I finished, but the moon was bright enough to paint by. I played music and relaxed while I painted. It was a wonderful and relaxing moment at the end of a hectic day!