- 6 Chicken hens – brought home as approximately yearling hens 12/31/17, resumed post-molt laying mid-January. Currently laying between one and three (usually two) eggs a day. Three are puffy partridge cochins, one is a tiny, gold laced wyandotte, another is a probable White Rock and the last, Beans, is a bold little Rhode Island Red.
- 2 Muscovy drams, Utka and Anka, & 1 drake, Oli, brought home 1/10/18, and 2 drams, As-Yet-Unnamed, and the lovely As-Yet-Unnamed, purchased at 5 months old on 2/16/18
Muscovies, along with turkeys, are one of two domestic fowl originating in the Americas and are, in fact, a distinct species from, Cairina moschata; often written to be more closely related to geese than to the mallard-derived domestic ducks.
- Producing less oil than true ducks (inside and out; the meat is also less greasy), muscovies are only slightly more water-resistant than the chickens, and are mercifully not compelled to bathe in any bit of water they see.
- They are also said to be ‘silent’ ducks, and while they are quackless, have a variety of vocalizations are are usually talking to me or to one another. The male, Oli, huffs if anyone crowds him, and Utie and Anka chirp and trill. I also recently attended some sort of duck meeting, where they were all bobbing their heads, puffing their wings, and making a sound like geese whispering and croaking.
- Henhouse: Chicken Coops Northwest Resort – we were lucky enough to get one of the last of their coops with wooden (fir) roofs, instead of their new asphalt design. While wood can’t beat asphalt for weatherization, we have plans for water catchment, and want to avoid the asphalt metals in the chickens’ water.
To further weatherize the wood, I painted all exterior parts with walnut and mineral oils; both edible and unlikely to impact anything using water that’s come into contact with it. If I were doing it over again, I would oil all parts of the coop, not just the outside, since bird poop is moist, and the rain around here isn’t considerate enough to stay outdoors.
(2/21/18) Within the first month, symmetrical roof slats on the nest box lids had swollen and peaked up, and the thinner woods of the sliding windows and the inside of the nest box lids has mold spots, and the latter has swollen and popped out a couple of its staples. None of these seem to actually have any effect beyond aesthetic, but it’s still a little disappointing.
- Run: 12′ of 1/2″ galvanized wire, included as part of the coop kit. They are only confined to this area when no humans are home, which is rare.
- Litter: White pine shavings, like everyone else. Going through one bag of the pellets so quickly made it clear that they’re not the economical choice for our situation. White shavings, however, come in a big horkin’ white bale for the same price as a little bag of pellets, and lend themselves well to staggered coop freshening vs. The Full Scrape
Nature’s Bedding kiln-dried pine pellets. I’ve used this bedding at other people’s homes in the context of pet litter, and love how absorbent it is, with zero dust, and no propensity to get mucky. It just seems to puff up forever, but is clearly read to be changed when the pellets crumble into heavy powder. I was concerned that the chickens might try to eat it, as it’s a similar shape as the Layena, but the litter pellets are much larger, and the chickens spend nearly no daylight time in the coop. With Scratch & Peck being their primary feed now, as well, their litter and food no longer bear a resemblance to one another, though the chickens already did not appear to be eating the bedding.
- Nest pads: White pine shavings here, too. I’m not certain I’ll stick with them forever, either, but they’re easier to spiff up periodically to maintain pretty, clean eggs. And dirt cheap.
aspen fiber nest pads by Precision Pet. I got these as a fun “splurge” for the brand-new coop. The price is a little steep for 10 pads, but each fluffs up a great deal, and can be split generously between two nests, which brings them within the realm of reason. They get pretty gross, but no more than any other material, and unlike shavings, the whole pad can be removed, shaken free of poops, and replaced. While this certainly doesn’t leave a spring-fresh pad behind, it extends the acceptable life of the nest considerably. I plan to place pellets and shavings in different nest boxes, and see if they change the birds’ perception of which nest is best.
- In addition to regular poop scoopery, I sprinkle the nests and litter with diatomaceous earth shaken with dried calendula, lavender, and rose petals, ideally to help with potential pests, but also for an inviting coop odor. Should the chickens opt to eat the calendula instead, they’re an excellent source of xanthophylls, the yellow pigments that contribute to deep, golden yolks.
- Scratch & Peck Naturally Free Organic Non-GMO layer – I have no economic excuse or justification for this feed – I saw this feed after a lifetime of grey poultry crumbles, and this is the food I want my birds and their eggs to be made out of. I’m able to get 40lb bags locally, at less than $1/LB, but that’s still fairly steep compared to X-Cell Feeds’ $16 or so for 50lbs
- INGREDIENTS: organic linseed meal, ground limestone, oyster shell, fish meal, organic sesame meal, organic vegetable oil, monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, organic dehydrated kelp meal, salt, dl-methionine, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, organic wheat flour, dried aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, dried aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation solubles extract, dried trichoderma reesei fermentation extract, silicon dioxide, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, active dry yeast, selenium yeast, niacin, copper sulfate, d-calcium panthothenate, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin supplement, vitamin D supplement, thiamine mononitrate, calcium iodate, vitamin B-12 supplement, folic acid, sodium selenite
- Scratch & Peck Naturally Free 3-Grain Scratch Organic barley, wheat, oats, and flaxseed oil – same kind of tasty goodness as the complete feed, but costs significantly less per pound (sans vitamins) and is less wasteful to scatter on the grass for the birds. To get more value and less waste out of the complete feed, I pour the vitamin fines over my scratch barrel, which turns the scratch into nearly the same food as the layer formula.
- Purina Layena Plus Omega – my first bag of feed, the ubiquitous grey pellets.
The birds love it[Not when they have access to the Scratch & Peck! Probably because they like to pick out their vitamins], AND there are no unincorporated “fines” (the vitamin, etc, dust), for them to sift out, so I don’t mind continuing to use this as scratch alongside the far groovier Scratch & Peck. I had a devil of a time finding the ingredients online, but the bag itself has a tag:
- INGREDIENTS: Grain Products, Plant Protein Products, Processed Grain By-Products, Calcium Carbonate, Flaxseed, Molasses Products, Oyster Shell, Lignin Sulfonate, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Yeast Extract, Manganous Oxide, Tagetes (Aztec Marigold) Extract (Color), Natural Flavor, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E), Sodium Selenite, Choline Chloride, Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Citric Acid (Preservative), Calcium Pantothenate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Dried Chicory Root, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, Organic Soybean Oil, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Extract, Nonfat Dried Milk, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Extract, Nonfat Dried Milk, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation product, Calcium Iodate
- Dried black soldier fly larvae (dried black soldier fly larvae)
- Oyster grit
- Dried mealworms
- Black oil sunflower seeds
- Grocery store waste, much of it organic, as untreated produce has the disadvantage of an unextended shelf life. Apples, pears, cabbage, mandarins, mesclun, romaine, delicata squash, sugar pumpkin, navel oranges, chard, potato, tomato, bananas, kiwi, green beans – I’m enormously grateful for access to this tremendous resource that would otherwise be going to waste, or trucked elsewhere, when I can walk home with a box from the grocery store. It keeps the birds’ vegetable intake very diverse, and I wouldn’t cry to find a volunteer delicata or tomato in the corner of the yard.
- Occasional kitchen leftovers, or pea, lentil, oat, garbanzo and/or potato porridge
- Fresh aloe slices
- Anything that moves in the yard
- Worm bin worms
- The birds spend every day loose in the yard, picking through straw, dirt, brush, some rotten snack logs, and, of course, eating lots of grass, bugs, and weeds.
Note: None of these are affiliate links, but it would be neat if they were!
I’m simply linking to the products I’m using when links are readily available.