Supplies necessary to vaccinate a chick:
So, you got a few pullets for eggs. They have grown up and are outside living happy, cute chicken lives. And now, chicken math has set in and you have another bundle of chicks inside brooding that you either hatched or bought.
Now comes the hard (sorta) part; introducing new chickens to the flock.
Fermented Feed and how to make it is a must! Everyone who has chickens is familiar with the term chicken math. And for those of you just looking at getting chickens, you will soon learn about chicken math.
Essentially, most chicken keepers start out with a modest little flock and somehow that flock seems to just exponentially multiply. While chickens, overall, are pretty simple to care for, quickly growing numbers of chickens can cause one yucky consequence – Large Feed Bills!
When we started expanding our flock, we started looking at how to cut feed costs. We buy organic feed and it is not cheap.
Our layers already free range, so they get to find themselves lots of extra goodies. They also get garden scraps and some left over food from our meals.
However, the (at the time) flock of 17 was still going through about 3 – 50 pound bags of feed a month. You can figure out how much food your chickens will need a month to figure out your estimated feed cost.
We were just going through way more feed than we wanted to. So, here is where fermented feed entered the picture.
Upon first reading about fermented feed, it almost sounded too good to be true. Not only is it more healthy for the chickens, but they eat less and waste less leading to a decreased feed bill.
It did take a while for us to make the leap to fermented feed because, for some reason, it seemed so complicated to do (it really is not!). We have cut our feed bill in half since starting with fermented feed.
Plus, there are lots of other benefits: there is virtually no waste with chickens scratching the feed out of the feeder, the chickens are able to better digest the feed, their poop seems to be less in amount and grossness, and, did I mention it cut our feed bill in half?!
Fermenting feed seemed at first like a big task, but it really isn’t. If you are ready to start fermenting, here is a quick how-to:
1) Get some jars or containers to store the feed. We bought 1 gallon pickle jars and emptied them out to have some nice, large glass containers for cheap.
We have since switched to a large 5 gallon food grade bucket. We can make more feed less often and is not as fragile as glass jars.
2) Get a spoon specifically for the fermented feed. You can use a large cooking spoon or ladle to use. Trust me, the fermented feed can be messy and smelly and you will want a spoon dedicated specifically for this use.
3) You will put the dry feed into your jar (a canning funnel cuts down on the mess), add water to cover the feed plus an inch or so, stir and cover. The feed will expand….A LOT.
We started with about half the amount of dry feed we usually fed. We did have to adjust amounts a little until we got the right amount.
You don’t want the chickens to leave excess feed out, but also don’t want them to eat it all and still be hungry. If you keep an eye on them, you should be able to find the right amount after a few feedings.
4) You want to always keep water up over the line of feed, so you may need to add additional water and stir once a day or so.
5) We do things on a 3 day rotation. One jar is enough feed for one day – morning and evening feeding. So, as we empty the jars at night, we refill with feed and water. This way, since we have 3 jars, when we use the feed it will have been fermenting for 3 days at the time of use.
If you’d like to see the step-by-step process, check out our YouTube video (and don’t forget to subscribe!):
Ready to make the leap into the world of raising baby chicks? If you’ve read our other posts, you should have a firm grasp on how to tell if you have fertile eggs, items you need to hatch your own chicks and how to incubate chicks. Now that you are hatching your own chicks you probably have a ton of questions.
How will you take care of them? Or maybe, how long do baby chicks need a heat lamp? How long to feed chick starter feed? Or just plain, how to raise baby chickens?
Raising baby chicks is really not too hard. You will need a few supplies. You might want to find out how long chickens live before committing to raising baby chicks that way you know how long you might have your new chickens.
How to incubate chicken eggs is our current obsession! We are pretty obsessed with using our incubator to hatch chicks. It is so exciting! We were rather intimidated at first. We had no idea how to incubate chicken eggs.
It seemed so complicated with the humidity and the temperature, the candling and the turning. So far, it really has not been too bad though (I suppose the real test is when we see what our hatch rate is….just 11 more days!).
We have already given a quick tutorial on How to Tell if an Egg is Fertile and also What You Need to Hatch Chicks, so today we are going to give a quick how to incubate chicken eggs with an incubator….
We just got a trio of Jubilee Orpingtons. We also just ordered an incubator, so now all we need is fertilized eggs! So, now we have been waiting (impatiently) for our first eggs from the Orpingtons and today we finally got one.
Then we thought, great, now how do we know if this egg is fertile?
You can always just take the chance and plug them into the incubator, wait a few days and then try candling. But, who wants to wait?!
So, how do you know if an egg is fertile?
The best way to tell is to crack the egg open and look for a “bullseye”. The bullseye is actually called a blastoderm. Even an unfertilized egg will have a white spot in it (which is actually a blastodisc). In the unfertilized egg, the white area is more of an irregular shaped area whereas in the fertilized egg it is a more circular defined area with a bullseye around it.
Today we brought in our first Orpington egg and eagerly cracked it open into a bowl. We couldn’t see anything at first in the yolk, so we had to carefully turn the yolk over with a spoon. Luckily, we did find a bullseye! If you look closely at the yolk below (toward the middle right) you can see a light bullseye. (It is difficult to get a good picture). Now we will spend the next few days collecting eggs and then set them in an incubator (We recommend the Brinsea Eco 20 or the GQF Digital Sportsman Cabinet Incubator 1502).
We can’t wait to have little fluffy baby chicks running around. Do you check to see if your egg is fertile before starting to set eggs?