Our Backyard Poultry Class is highly recommended for both people just starting with chickens as well as people wanting to change over to organic and humane methods. It is a Chicken 101 class but focused strictly on rearing chickens organically, sustainably, and humanely. Also, it seems that so much of the information available to backyard chicken owners is a modified version of factory farming methods. It seems some books don't even take into account that the backyard flock will be out in the daylight hours experiencing the seasons and eating more than the rations provided in commercial feeds.
Organic Backyard Chickens Workshop Outline:
When kept properly, rather than for high production, chickens are wonderful stewards of the earth � a real part of any home or farm that is sustainable. Chickens are the ultimate ingredient in a permaculture system or a healthy organic garden. And you get the freshest, healthiest, most delicious eggs too!
Prepare ahead � have your routine and living arrangements ready before the chicks or pullets arrive. It is extremely hard to break habits in birds!
Coop / Nighttime shelter / Runs / Pasture-Raised vs. Free Range
Roosts for sleeping
Nest Boxes for laying
Deep-Bedding method for Composting within the Coop | Cleaning | Composting of foul manure
Resting of Runs cover cropping (mustard, grains, clover)
Chicks vs. Pullets | Breed Types chicks are adorable, but purchasing older, weather-hardy pullets is easier.
How to care for chicks
Breeds Winter-hardy vs. Mediterranean | brown vs. white egg layers
Roosters or not ?
Incubating your own chicks | quality and instincts in mixed breed chickens | broodiness
Chicken food is usually divided into three categories for egg layers - chick starter, pullet developer/grower, and laying feed. Natures Best / Kraemer Organic Feed / GMO soy and high protein poultry feed Blue Seal also makes an Organic Feed that is easier to find, although we like (and the birds seem to prefer) the Natures Best the best!
Supplements for chicks:
dried green herbs (nettle, plantain, blackberry leaves) or chopped fresh greens (spinach, lettuce, dandelion) lightly boiled egg (mostly yolk is best) slippery elm powder acidophilus powder honey in water garlic and ground pumpkin seeds ketchup or red-colored jam will get them to eat anything!
Adult birds also always enjoy the chick supplements and any table scraps you may have (avoid feeding them bird meat though). Chickens are Omnivores.
Effects of what the birds eat on the eggs
Omega 3 high eggs � fish oil vs. cracked/slightly ground flax seed | Cholesterol myths and eggs
Calcium � oyster shells, eggshells, dark leafy greens, other Ca sources | Granite Grit
Problems to be Prevented � prevention is always the easiest way of dealing with problems!
Tonic foods to keep birds strong and healthy
Feed with changing of season, during times of stress, if you feel a bird is congested, etc.
Nettles, Comfrey, Onions and Garlic, Sprouts
Teas / Watering
Garlic, onions, horseradish, mustard greens, add sardines or salmon to get them to eat it!
Always deworm during the waxing of the full moon and then again 14 days later.
The bug guns of herbal deworming (NOTE: These are all poisonous in large doses!) wormwood, southern wood, sweet annie, tansy, senna pods, hyssop, rue
Nest box cleanliness keep clean and fluffy spicy powders clove, nutmeg, eucalyptus, quassia chip (do not breathe-in quassia chip powder it is a potent insecticide actually).
Spray down walls with eucalyptus/mint/thyme oil
Roost cleanliness ice scraper, spicy powders
Garlic, onions, mustard greens, horseradish
Elecampane root tea
Aconitum napellus and Arsenicum album Homeopathics
Older Birds in the Flock
Heat in Summer and Cold Winter problems
And an individualized Question and Answer session
----more info to come shortly-----
We offer chicks and breeding stock of 3 heritage breeds, and we are dedicated to encouraging people to start their own flocks of laying hens - large or small. We offer workshops throughout the year on Organic and Sustainable Poultry Rearing.
We also offer Ameraucana chickens for sale. These are mostly mixes and are not pure bred stock or show birds, but they are beautiful healthy birds and lay green and blue colored eggs.