Saturday, June 6, 2009

Week One: June 6, 2009

WOW, Saturday morning and they look like they've grown significantly. From left to right: Sunny (Buff), Loa (Arcauna), Hoot (Arcauna), Kapalua (Arcauna), Scat (Buff) and Millie (RIR - she is already an old hen).

My daughter did a fresh water change and food refresh as we are taking off for the rest of the day.

Feed Stores Opening at 9:00am?

A feed store opening at 9:00am on a Saturday? Isn't this like Starbucks opening at 9:00am or a restaurant closing at 6:00pm? Concord please open a little earlier than 9am... on Saturday...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Raising Chickens for Meat

I am not into this... sometimes you need to draw line and turning my home into a poultry processing plant is not OK. Especially with kids naming the chickens - "Dad, this looks like Roxy!?" Or... "Dad, where is Roxy?" or worse, "Dad why is there a pile of Roxy's feathers in the garbage can?"... anyway someone may find this interesting.

Solar or Not To Solar...

I love the sun and so do chickens... purportedly chickens that run on the beach, frolick around pools and work out in the sun, produce healthier eggs. Amazing, you mean we shouldn't slather them up in SPF 150 and put a hat on them and send out for 10 minutes before herding them back into the coop for protection? I know, we can create a whole line Chick Sun Shirts - you know the ones that all the kids are wearing now for swimming. What a paranoid trend this is - these kids look utterly ridiculous running around a swimming pool with an outfit on.. a little swim blouse. You know the sun is our enemy and you will die - so go buy another 30 tubes of goo!!!

No....the sun is good - Yes very good... Vitamin D, Omega-3 and Vitamin E all show higher levels in cage-free sunnyside up chicken eggs, versus those standard grocery store eggs. I think our kids would not be so paranoid too, if we let them be kids versus letting become videots with white talcum powdered skin. Ergo, let them be free as well your kids.

This thinking has led me to the idea of a solar powered coop. I fumbled around the web looking to see what and who had done what, and surprisingly like many solar hopes, is a tough egg to scramble. Heating a coop with solar is nearly impossible - here is an example. A 250w IFR lamp, which is what is recommended to keep chicks warm throughout the night, would only run about 4 hours on one PV cell... a full-size PV cell. So to run it all night, two cells would get the job done. So, who wants to drop $1600.00 to power a heater in a coop? Not me. The standard PV cell is 800w and costs nearly $800. So, let's look at another sustainable way to heat the coop. Solar water heater, pushing warm water through the hens roost floor and a section of the bottom floor. Keeping in mind, the coop would need to be properly insulated during the winter. With another smaller PV cell, power a small light, manage water via sprinkler contoller as well, run a small fan through the coop during warm days, just to maintain air flow. I have read where you can also install a thermostat to control a mister mounted to the perimeter of the coop to keep air temps down - some say as much as 15 degrees. Anyway, being sketched out right now and for eventual posting will be a radiant floor and roost powered by solar water heater - this one is HUGE, but smaller are available with updates coming. If I was smart I would figure out how to use iRobot vac to suck the manure up and deposit it in the compost heap. Wait that's what kids are for...

Week One: June 5, 2009

These birds are the perfect kids... the sun goes down and they go to sleep and the saying "Up With The Chickens" has meaning as well... the sun comes up they wake up and are ready to go. The picture was taken last night with Loa (Arcauna) in being closest to camera. The heat lamp goes on around 9:00pm and off around 5:30am.

Came out this morning and they were up... coop is in need of a freshening up, although adding a little deodorizer will be the course of action with some hay added on top. I am going to try the "hot method" of coop management, allowing for a little waste to build with Diatomaceous Earth and Stall Dry added to the coop. Stall Dry and others are used in horse stables and other poop generating situations, to keep the smell in control and combined with DE (Diatomaceous Earth) can keep pest like fleas, ticks and other pesky creatures out. Update later...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Best Manure

"In the 1960's, when the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) secret gadget-makers invented a listening device for the Asian jungles, they disguised it so the enemy wouldn't be tempted to pick it up and examine it: The device looked like tiger droppings." Great idea, although we could never use this today because we'd be violating someones rights.. maybe Poo would be offended and file a class-action suit against the United States... on the grounds that; "The government is insinuating - we are not pretty, we don't smell good, this tarnishes who we are and what our kind is striving to be!" (oh for pete's sake... really? your Poo!!!!) See, this is where we are headed, right down the path of insanity, where everything that is right is considered wrong and vice-a-versa...
Anyway, on to greener pastures...

Manure! also known as: BM, ammonia, bowel movement, buffalo chips, ca-ca, castor-bean meal, commercial fertilizer, compost, coprolite, coprolith, cow chips, cow flops, cow pats, crap, defecation, dingleberry, dressing, droppings, dung, enrichener, feces, feculence, fertilizer, guano, jakes, movement, muck, night soil, nitrate, nitrogen, ordure, organic fertilizer, phosphate, sewage, sewerage, shit, stool, superphosphate, turd

A couple key points;
1. Manure from meat eaters = bad ( parasites and bad bacteria)
2. Manure from vegans = good
So, there are a number of good manures and we'll show you how they pile-up. Let's get started.

Manure is ranked on the N-P-K scale; Nitrogen, Phosphoric Acid and Potash. Now don't get confused. Chemicals at your local garden center (fertilizers) are missing one irreplaceable ingredient called "organic matter". No amount of chemicals can replace this and therefore, manures will always have the edge. At Home Depot 1 cubic foot (100lbs) of Chicken Manure costs $3.07 versus 20lbs of Miracle Grow for the Garden at $24.00. Don't be fooled, marketing is slick, but enjoy it from a distance. Sometimes simple is best.

So, as they go; here is the list:

Chicken Manure

Poultry manure (chicken in particular) is the richest animal manure in N-P-K. Chicken manure is considered "hot" and must be composted before adding it to the garden. Otherwise, it will burn any plants it comes in contact with. It has been suggested to cut-it with dairy manure or allow it to mix with hay and other soil around the yard for six months prior to applying to your plants. And use it as a soil amendment, not a mulch to layed up next to the plants. So... mix it in, let it sit and then use it. Or, once your garden is wrapped up in the fall... spread the manure over it, to be turned under in 4-6 mos when you plant for spring.

Dairy Manure (this is not manure from milk but from the cow)

Dairy Manure may be the single most useful soil-builder around," says Ann Lovejoy, lifetime organic gardener and writer in Seattle, Washington. "Washed dairy manure from healthy cows is just about perfect for garden use; it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement," she adds. Dairy manure is preferable to steer manure, which has a higher salt and weed seed content. Though cow manure has low nutrient numbers, that's what makes ist safe to use in unlimited quantities.

Horse Manure

Horse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure. And, like chicken droppings, it's considered "hot". Horse manure often contains a lot of weed seeds, which means it's a good idea to compost it using a hot composting method.

Steer Manure

Steer manure is one of the old standbys, but it's not the most beloved because it often contains unwanted salts and weed seeds.

Rabbit Manure

Rabbit manure is even higher in nitrogen than some poultry manures and it also contains a large amount of phosphorus--important for flower and fruit formation. I think this is much harder to come by unless of course you raise rabbits or live by someone who does. A friend happen to tell me his family made a handsome living on rabbit manure, both by selling it for fertilizer and by sifting out all the worms which crawled up into the manure and selling them to fishermen. Hmmm.... black gold!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tractor Coops

Tractor Coops? Really?

It was recommended to install wheels on my new coop... "Wheels on the coop?" Genius...! This way you can move it back and forth thus allowing for the "waste" to be left behind, so to speak, and then cultivated into the soil. Move the coop and viola' you have a new area for the restorative chicken poop process to take place. I did some further research and good grief, Tractor Coops are as prevalent as zits on a teenager. What a sad time in a teenager's life really, the daily war on acne and at one of the cruelest times in our lives... "Hey Billy is that a muffin or a big foul zit on your face?" Cruel and wicked time. Anyway, Tractor Coops, who'd a thunkit? Instead of cleaning out the Coop and dumping the poop into a compost heap, just move the COOP! Instead of taking out the trash just move the house back and forth. Complete sense... anyway, I like the idea, never know when your may need to pull up stakes and head out with coop in tow. See ya later suckers!!!! Baaaaak buuuuk! These are elaborate coops too, some are just dumb, but the wheels aren't square so no matter the detail, it should do the trick. Check some of these designs out....

These are pretty cool, but I think there is a way you can build your coop the way you want it while avoiding the whole Jed Clampett - RV for Chickens.

So, here are some ideas on wheels. BTW, I am not talking about cheap casters or sad little plastic wheels removed from the unused Big Wheel out back, I am talking about hardy, stout wheels that could transport a bear and the camper filled with donuts he is trying to assault.

Rollaway Soccer Goal Wheels
These wheels are found on large soccer goals that require movement of on a daily or, at least a frequent basis – simply lift the goal up a few inches, push the wheel down and it locks in place for transport. These wheels are comprised of 10" pneumatic tires mounted on 3/4" diameter stainless steel axle with all stainless hardware. Stainless pull-pin allows the wheel to be easily inserted or removed for storage. How cool is this.. insert four pins into the skirt board of the coop and remove the wheels when not in use. Likewise these are very stout wheels and can manage semi-rough terrain and not get hung up. By the way, wheels are great, but if the coop is heavy you will still need help pushing it or pulling to the new location. A simple caribiner on the front and rear of the coop for attaching a winch or come-along might be wise.
These wheels are available at soccer supply house and are not cheap. $350 for four. As I write this I am looking for a more reasonable price via or would love anyone who might have a source to post it.

Week One: June 1, 2009


This is a blog about the Le Coop du Jour.. or The Chicken Coop this Dad got coerced into installing. While I could tell you I built this... I didn't have to, Thank God. My neighbor had this coop in his backyard for 5 years and after determining a boat would be more fun, they gave this to us. For soon to be chicken parents, this is a 4x8 coop with a roosting platform and the egg box on the right ( you can see it just to the left of the coop ). Before I dive into the details and travails of chickening... a little background is in order. Ahhh forget it, no one wants to read about other peoples least not any more. This is going to be more about the day-to-day raising of chickens. From all accounts, it is suppose to be fun, rewarding and poopy, but the jury is still out.
So, the coop began with my daughter's class incubating 24 eggs. As the story goes - "Dad, can I bring a chick home" argh.... "OK honey"...... DOH!!!! What have I done?

Well, after moving the coop down the street on a furniture dolly and a Razor scooter, we have chickens.

The Coop is now inhabited by;

1 - Rhode Island Red named Millie

3 - Arcuanas "Easter Egg" layers named Kapalua (hatched and probably 2 weeks older than the others), Loa and Hoot

2 - Buff Orpingtons named Scat and Sunny.

The chicks were purchased at Alamo Hay and Grain in Alamo, California. By the way, what a cool place - kind of a time capsule of a farm store.
The coop has a base of brick, with DE and hay.

In the coop we have a waterer, feeder, 250W heat lamp which goes on at night and shuts off around sunrise.

Pictured above is "Hoot" an Arcuana and very friendly.

More to come... in the meantime, is a great site to get any and all information on raising chickens.