Squirrels in the corn feed

I love my chickens and everything about caring for them, collecting the eggs, hatching out the eggs, and so much more.  They are very entertaining at times and I even have a two person swing next to the chicken yard.

Additionally, their food attracts other hungry animals.  I love watching the birds and squirrels run around snitching the chicken feed.  The squirrels have even figured out ways to get into the containers that hold all that delicious corn.  They have chewed holes into the rims of the barrel that holds the corn.  But, the most creative thing they have done is chew around the edge of the lid and put their little paws between the top and bottom edge and actually push the lid off of the bucket.

At first, I thought I was just leaving the lid off the bucket which I found hard to believe, but, no one is perfect.  I was really irritated because it drizzled rain and the top layer of the corn was slightly wet.  I fussed at myself and vowed to not do that again.

But two more times, the same thing happened.  The lid was off when I came to feed the chickens in the morning.  Dang.  I took my fingernail and easily lifted the lid and I knew the squirrels had to open the lid.

Another time, the squirrels swiped all the plum seeds out of the jiffy pots that I had planted and set out on my porch.  I had planted some in the yard, too and they never grew so I know why now.

So when I had a hand full of pecans I wanted to attempt to plant, I knew I had to figure out a ways to keep those pesky squirrels from digging them up.  So, I planted them in plastic pots but covered the pots with netting draped over the edges.  Well, much to my dismay, the squirrels broke into the sides of the pots and pulled the pecans out in all five of the pots.  I just hope the squirrels forget where they buried the pecans and I end up with some trees randomly growing on our two acres.

There are two stray cats that often find their way into my yard and I thought they were after my chickens but they are really after the squirrels.  I am not a fan of cats period.  I wouldn’t hurt one but I would be very happy if they disappeared.

I was having a discussion with my daughter and told her I didn’t want the cats to eat my squirrels because if the whole economy crashes, EMP, end of the , zombie attack, etc. scenerio happens, i may need to eat those squirrels.  lol  My sister-in-law says squirrels taste good.  I hope I never have to find out.

Getting more eggs out of your chickens during the winter

I watched a u-tube video by Becky’s Homestead that said if you feed your chickens corn and bread during the winter months, your chickens will continue to lay.

I can buy day old bread for sometimes as low as 50 cents a loaf or I make my own bread for about 50 cent a loaf.

I do always feed my chickens corn but I added bread (on purpose ) instead of just giving them the leftover bread (end pieces) as well any leftovers from our meals.

I did continue to get just as many eggs during the winter months as I did get during the other months.  I do live in Florida so I have a lot more sun anyway but I do think it made a difference to give the chickens the bread.

 

Cheap food and water containers

I have found quite a few food containers for my chickens at the thrift stores.  I buy ceramic bowls, preferably pretty heavy, to put water and food in.

I like the bowls so I can quickly fill them with water with my water jugs I keep in the chicken yards.  So much easier than the water dispensers that you have to carefully flip back upside.  And so much easier to clean, too.

As far as food containers go, I like the heavy bowls that are deep.  The problem I had was how they like to stand inside the bowl and scratch all the food out.  My solution:  I buy deep bowls or pots and often put a small bowl upside down in the middle so the chickens cannot stand in the food and scratch it out.  Sometimes, I put the pellets in the outter part of the bowl and put the small bowl in the middle with cracked corn or whole corn in it instead of putting it upside down.

My chickens are kind of spoiled and when I put food in the dispensers that you fill and it lasts days or weeks, they just don’t eat a lot of it.  I think it is fresher when I put it in the bowls.  Sometimes, I add water to the pellets and they really seem to love it.  I don’t like to buy the crumbles because there seems to be a lot of waste.

Also, I have lots of fat squirrels from them eating my corn I feed to the chickens.  I cannot leave corn out for the chickens  so I throw a little out to them every morning.  The squirrels are even trying to eat thru my plastic barrel that I keep my corn in.  Funny that they don’t do that to my pellet barrel.  Smart squirrels.

Another dish I use for water and food is plastic dog dishes, the kind that cannot tip over because of the way it is made.

 

 

Watering your chickens

We have our chickens in the back part of our two acres which meant we were dragging a very long water hose to the area and then dealing with the hose kinking.  It was very aggravating.

We drink a lot of juices.  The plastic jugs the orange juice and tomato juice and even prune juice come in are great for storing water.  We actually used them to stock up water for hurricanes in case we lose our electricity.  That water would be good for washing dishes, brushing teeth, and even flushing our toilet.

So we took a few plastic tubs and filled them with the juice bottles filled with water and keep it stored out in the chicken yards in a shady  area.  We have around 90 jugs/bottles now.

Every two weeks or so we drag the water hose out to the chicken yard and refill the bottles as well as scrubbing down all the water bowls/dispensers with bleach.  But twice a month dragging the hose out there is so much better than every day or two.

It also makes it so much easier when we ask my sister-in-law to chicken- sit for a few days.  We make sure all the bottles are full of water and she can just quickly refill the water bowls if they get low.

 

Purchased chicks from McMurray Hatchery

I haven’t had much luck lately getting my two-year old Barred Rock hen’s eggs to hatch out except for a couple chicks out of the 8 that I would put under a Silkie hen.

So, I ordered 25 chicks (plus the free rooster) that are Barred Rock hens.  The BR hens seem to sell pretty well here.  I want to keep maybe 5 for myself and I will raise the other 20 to sell.  The first of June 2016, they will be four months old.  I should be able to get $15 each.  That is 300 dollars and I am paying $95 for the chicks. I will make a little money out of it.  I will have to pay for four months of feed plus a little extra on the electric bill for the heat lamp during the cool nights.

I just enjoy raising the chicks so much that I am not really trying to make money out of the deal.  I would love to make some extra money, don’t get me wrong.

My Barred Rock chickens are at least two years old and I still get 2-4 eggs daily from the 8 hens.  I hatched out BR hens on September 10 and two more on November 14 of 2016 so I do have four more hens that will start laying.

I also have two Cochen/Silkie mix hens that just started laying in the last couple months.

My five Silkie mix hens are still pumping out the eggs daily.  They have been laying for about 17 months.

So even though it is winter in Florida, I am getting between 5-10 eggs a day which is a gracious plenty (as we say in the South) for just me and my husband.  It was 71 degrees here today.

So, just a thought, maybe buying about 25 hen chicks might work out well for you, too.  I do have 2 acres so that makes a difference, too.  Lots of room to keep the chickens healthy.

Isn’t it amazing that they can mail baby chicks to you thru the post office?  I know the chicks can last three days without food or water because they have absorbed the yoke from the egg as food.

I will go to the post office on Jan 30th when the chicks will be mailed off and give them my phone number so they can call me as soon as they come in.  I don’t want my mailman to deliver them to my house.  I think it is mandatory for a phone number to be provided to the post office to call you to pick them up. I expect I will get them the 31st or Feb 1 at the latest.

I am so excited.  Good luck with your chickens.  Keep their water clean and their yards clean and it is not hard to have healthy chickens.

Update:  12 May 2017, added comment.  Unfortunately, I ended up with four roosters out of the 25 chicks I received that were suppose to be all hens.  I called McMurray and they credited my credit card for the four roosters but it still remains a problem that now I have to find homes for the roosters.  That sucks.  I did manage to give one away to a person who purchased 5 hens from me.

I ended up selling the chickens earlier than I expected  because I needed to go out of town.  So, I sold  3 sets of 5 hens for 50 dollars so I made $150 off the chickens.  I put them on Craigslist for 12 dollars each or 5 for 50.  I am keeping five of the hens for myself.  So, I made about 55 dollar plus the 11 credited back to me and I got the five hens free basically.  Since I have not gotten ride of the roosters, I am thinking of processing them myself and putting them in the freezer.