Feeding Vegetables to Backyard Chickens
Best Vegetables for Healthy Chickens
Most backyard chicken farmers provide their chickens with pre-ordered chicken feed which is fast and easy, providing your chickens with the nutrition needed to grow and flourish. However, to keep your chickens in prime condition, maintain healthy egg production, and flourishing plumage, we recommend adding some vegetables to your chicken's diet. Once your chicks reach two months of age, they will develop an appetite for vegetables, and will eat many common vegetables, although a few stand out as favorites which are preferred by most chicken breeds. The list below provides the best vegetables to maintain healthy backyard chickens:
Pumpkin seeds have been shows to increase growth performance for young chickens as an ideal dietary supplement addition, helping them to reach full maturity and weight. This holiday season, consider pumpkin seed supplements for your chicken's diet, which will help to maintain weight and will serve to insulate, especially during the winter months in colder climates.
Adding spinach greens to your backyard chicken's diet will boost their supply of Vitamin A and Vitamin C which are antioxidants essential for promoting healthy skin and immune system functions. Additionally, spinach will provide your chickens with essential folic acid, calcium, and iron. Many backyard chickens will eat spinach whole, although you can also chop up spinach to add to your chicken feed.
Cabbage provides antioxidants and selenium to your chickens to boost their immune system. Cabbage is an all-time favorite for most chicken breeds! In fact, studies show that selenium from cabbage is highly bioavailable and may improve chickens immune system.
Broccoli is an excellent antioxidant for your chicken's diet, serving as an favorite vegetable for your chickens, which can be served whole or chopped. Additionally, broccoli extract may effect the antioxidant response element in broiler chickens, which may serve to reduce oxidative stress and improve the health of farm animals.
For backyard farmers looking for extraordinary egg yolk color, red pepper dietary supplement may help to improve egg yolk color quality. This is important for backyard chicken owners that produce eggs for personal consumption, as red pepper supplement for chicken diet may improve the egg yolk colorant quality of your eggs.
How to Raise Chickens- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Raise Happy Chickens- Frequently Asked Questions
A chicken egg a day keeps the doctor away! Depending on your breed, your chickens will behave differently. More broody and guarding chicken breeds tend to be more stubborn and reluctant, such as the cochin, orpington, brahma and Sussex. While other breeds are more friendly and docile, such as the rhode island red, easter egger, black australorp, and jersey giant. Depending on your desired egg quality and production, we recommend selecting a chicken breed that meets your interest. Here are a few helpful answers to some frequently asked questions to guide you through chicken breed selection.
Can I Have Chickens if I Have a Dog and Cat?
Yes! Although you will need to keep your chicks separate from family pets until they are adults, many proud backyard chicken owners also have dogs, cats, horses, llamas, cows, and more! Although we do recommend that you keep dogs on a leash when introducing them to your new backyard chickens, a slow process until they recognize each other will help to reduce social anxiety.
Can chickens ship safely?
Yes, day old chicks ordered through californiahatchery.com are shipped via USPS and are shipped with packaging to survive for several days to anywhere in the continental United States. Believe it or not, day old chicks thrive in warmer temperatures, so you don’t need to worry if the summertime temperatures are high, you’re chicks will be just fine during transit. Additionally, we include instructions for your local post office to call you when you’re chicks arrive, so you can pick them up immediately. We advise that you provide them with sugar water upon arrival, as this really helps them rejuvenate after their journey.
Is it hard to raise chickens?
Raising backyard chickens requires a small time commitment, to anything from feeding, watering, and cleaning, although the work is worth the effort. In the end, the health benefits from fresh backyard eggs goes way beyond the work. In the morning, you will need to let your chickens out of their coop, and provide them with fresh water and feed. At night, we recommend that you lock your chickens inside their coop to protect them from predators. We highly recommend cleaning your chick bedding from their coop once a week, and also that your rinse their feed and water dishes as well.
How much does it cost to have chickens?
Believe it or not, chickens are less expensive than most typical household pets. A 50 lbs. bag of chick layer developed feed costs $65 (including shipping) through californiahatchery.com, which provide enough feed for six chickens for one month. Chicken maintenance is fairly easy, as long as you provide your chickens with shelter, food, and water, you can enjoy fresh chicken eggs every morning. By far, the biggest investment will be your chicken coop, which is more affordable when you build on your own, or you can purchase a chicken coop for as low as $200. On rare occasions, you may need to provide veterinary care to your chickens (a listing of avian vets can be found on tillysnest.com).
Do I need a rooster?
No, you do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs. Generally, you will only need a rooster if you want your eggs to hatch. However, if you’re looking for the morning ‘cock a doodle doooooo’ at sunrise, then you may want a rooster to have a traditional farm experience. Fortunately, we offer a guarantee when you select the sex of your breed, so you can be assured that 99% of chicks shipped are sexed accurately.
How Many Days do Backyard Chicken Eggs Stay Fresh?
We recommend that you collect your backyard hens eggs daily, although the eggs should be considered fresh even after several days. After you wash chicken eggs, we recommend that you refrigerate them immediately.
Starting a Duck Farm
Six things to know before starting a duck farm- guidance and tips to keep in mind when keeping ducks on your farm to keep your ducks the happiest and healthiest they can be:
Ducks are Waterfowl
If you want your ducks to be the happiest and healthiest they can be, you will need to setup pools and provide an adequate source of water for your ducks. This means, you will need at least 5 gallons of water per adult duck per day. Ducks require water for drinking and bathing, and several ducks will require multiple duck baths in your backyard, or access to a natural water source such as a pond or a lake. Also, when the seasons change to the winter months you may need to purchase a water defroster to prevent their water source from freezing.
Ducklings Need Extra Attention
Ducklings need to be able to dunk their heads in water and clear their eyes, however, you will need to make sure your ducklings water supply is very shallow, otherwise your ducklings could submerge if they aren’t old enough to swim. Young ducklings will not have their adult feathers, so you should use caution when introducing them to their water supply until they are young juveniles, making sure their water supply is shallow.
Ducks are Hardy
Ducks are considered to be hardy because they generally tolerate a variety of climates, from very cold to fairly warm. Their behavior may change based on the weather, but in general, ducks can survive in colder temperatures because of their coat of feathers, and they will be fine in warmer weather as well, provided they have access to a cool source of water.
Ratio of Males to Females
Generally you want to limit the number of drakes (males) in your flock as they will compete for females. In general you should have five females for every male, this will keep your flock calm and generally easier to manage.
Ducks for Egg Production
If may take seven to eight months for your ducklings to grow large enough to start laying eggs, with the first eggs starting the lay at five months of age. However, once your ducks reach egg laying age, they will typically lay one egg per day, depending on the breed and variety. Ducks eggs are slightly larger than a chicken egg, have more yolk, and have been referred to as the “baker’s secret”! If your goal is to lay quality duck eggs, we highly recommend the khaki campbell duck breed. The average khaki campbell duck will lay about three hundred (300) eggs per year . Khaki campbells start laying eggs at seventeen weeks of age. The other popular egg laying duck breed most highly sought after is the golden 300 hybrid layer duck, which can lay up to three hundred fifty (350) eggs per year.
Ducks Have Personalities
Ducks are very open to human connection when they are young, and if you raise them as ducklings they will form a bond with their owners. This is especially helpful for keeping them as backyard ducks, since they will not leave your property once you form a bond with them. However, not all ducks are the same, and each will have a unique personality! Ducks will also respond to verbal commands, and you can train them with word associations using food as a reward. Ducks tend to stick together in flocks, so you can often times train them to move together. While all duck breeds will form bonds with their owners, some duck breeds will bond faster than others, such as the runner duck breed and pekin duck breed, which are also known to be extremely friendly.
Henhouse Tips- Keeping Backyard Chickens
Incubator Temperature Guidelines for Hatching Eggs
Backyard Chicken Terms- What is a Broody Chicken?
Customer Experience Ordering Day Old Chicks at CaliforniaHatchery.com
Rare Chicken Breed Highlight- The Egyptian Fayoumi Chicken
Vitamins and Electrolytes for Day Old Chicks and Chickens
Best Summertime Chicken Breeds
Indian Runner Ducks- A Favorite Backyard Duck Breed!
Feed and Nutrition for Ducks
What is Gro-Gel?
Gro-Gel is a special formula that has a jello-like consistency with a vibrant green color, designed for day old ducklings to enhance the development of their immune and gastrointestinal systems. It is prepared and attached to a plastic trough during shipment, so that your ducklings can receive proper nutrition during shipment. Gro-Gel will hydrate and provide nutrition to your ducklings during shipment. Gro-Gel contains grains, proteins, fish-by products, vitamins, and amino acids. Gro-Gel will reduce the stresses of shipping and travel for your ducklings.
Gro-Gel can be added to your order of ducklings during checkout. We recommend ordering 1 pack for every six ducklings in your order.
What to Feed Day Old Ducklings?
After your ducklings arrive, feed them duck starter feed to provide proper nutrition. Duck starter feed should contain the right amounts of proteins and vitamins. Plan on ten ducklings eating about a pound of duck starter feed per day. Make sure to always provide water for your ducklings as well.
What to Feed Young Ducks?
After your ducklings are 4 weeks old, we recommend transitioning to duck maintainer feed. Duck maintainer feed should be slowly added to duckling starter feed for the first week to make the transition from duck starter to duck maintainer feed. Duck maintainer feed should be fed to your ducklings until they start laying eggs, once your ducklings start laying you should transition to duck mash feed.
What to Feed Adult Ducks?
Duck mash feed should be fed to your ducks as soon as they start laying eggs. You may also supplement duck mash feed with calcium or osyster shell supplement depending on the density of the egg shells your ducklings are laying.
Duck feed for ducks of all ages can be purchased at californiahatchery.com!
Raising and Caring for Turkey Poults
Turkeys are not any harder to raise than chickens or ducks, but they do require some special considerations:
Domestic Turkeys vs. Wild Turkeys
- Domestic turkeys generally lack the ability to fly, so you will generally only need to make sure they are protected from predators. However, wild turkeys usually have the ability to fly, so you will want to consider a covered run to prevent them from flying.
- Domestic turkeys are generally larger than wild turkeys because they are raised for meat. In general, domestic turkeys have as much as 2-3 times more breast meat than wild turkeys. So if you choose to raise your backyard turkeys for their meat, consider choosing domestic turkey breeds such as the Broad Breasted White Turkey, Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey, Narragansett Turkey, Bourbon Red Turkey, and Midget White Turkey.
Food and Water for Turkeys
To provide a healthy start for your turkey poults, we recommend adding vitamin and electrolyte supplement to their water supply once you first receive them, this will help them to recover from any stresses they may have encountered during shipment. Also, we recommend making sure the water you provide to your turkey poults is luke warm in temperature, not too cold or too hot. Provide non-medicated Turkey Grower Feed to your turkeys for optimum performance and growth. If you want to maximize turkey egg production, add some calcium supplement to your turkey feed once they reach egg laying age.
How are Chicks and Ducklings Shipped?
The answer: Chicks purchased from Californiahatchery.com will ship through the US postal system using either express or priority delivery, depending on the quantity of chicks in your order. All chicks will ship the day they hatch. Typically, your chicks will arrive within 2-3 days after they ship. We include instructions for the post office to call the customer as soon as their order arrives at their local post office. We advise our customers to contact their local post office and let them know they are expecting a delivery of live poultry, which will help to facilitate our safe arrival guarantee.
Californiahatchery.com a great resource for ordering poultry online, with small minimum order quantities, and a safe arrival guarantee to anywhere in the United States, we offer the backyard poultry farmer the option of placing a smaller order to accompany their needs. Additionally, we offer high quality poultry at reasonable prices. We consistently receive positive reviews from our customers, and we thought we would share some of these reviews with you:
- "I purchased the duck maintainer to switch my duckling over from chick starter feed when he was about 4 weeks old. I gradually mixed this feed with the chick starter until I had fully switched him to the maintainer. He loves it, and showed a lot of interest in it from the first day I offered it to him. I also really like how all the supplements necessary for ducklings (niacin!!!) are already added into this food so there is no need for me to continue adding brewers yeast to prevent him from being bow legged. Most of all, its extremely convenient that this feed is available in a 10 lb bag instead of 25-50 lbs only, which is much more than I need and would be a huge waste. Thank you, I will definitely be ordering more!"
- "I have mallard ducklings in my yard annually. In short, the journey to a pond is not survivable so I have opted to help the hen nurture them for a period of about one month after which we relocate the family intact to a local pond where they successfully brood. This year I purchased the baby duckling starter feed from CaliforniaHatchery.com and they loved it! As well, these ducklings were the strongest and best-developed of all of my clutches. After 3 weeks I transitioned them to the maintainer feed. If I have another clutch next year, I most definitely will be getting feed from CaliforniaHatchery.com! The ducklings thank you!"
- "I ordered 4 hatchlings and got them on May 3rd in the middle of a heat wave. But baby chicks like to be warm, so not a problem. They are now almost 3 weeks old, growing fast, getting plumage and combs, eating well and seem eager to get out and do some serious bug hunting. I think I have 3 females and a little rooster that seems to be lagging behind the girls a bit in size, but he's just as playful and active as they are. So far, so good. They certainly have vigor and are strong, healthy and fun-loving. I am pleased with my little R.I.Reds."
(Click below to read more customer reviews and comment to share your experience at californiahatchery.com with others!)
After your pheasant chicks arrive we recommend dipping thier beeks in fresh water before placing them in the brooder box. Make sure you have prepared sufficient amounts of feed and water which should always be available for your pheasants. Make sure your temperature is set correctly for your pheasants based (see guidelines for raising baby chicks), as most pheasants will not survive the first two nights unless the temperature of their brooder remains consistent and is set correctly. Additionally, make sure there is ample branches and alphalpha hay (away from the heating lamp) in the pheasant pen for the pheasants to peck on, otherwise they may begin to peck on each other.
(Read more and please feel free to comment on your backyard pheasants...)
Favorite Chicken Breeds
Barred Rock Chicken
The Barred Rock Chicken originated in Holland and lays large dark brown eggs about three (3) times per week. The barred rock chicken has a friendly and calm personality and a greyish "rock like" coloring making them a popular backyard chicken breed in the United States. The barred rock chicken has a friendly personality and can be housed with any other breed of chicken.
(Pictured Above: Barred Rock Chicken Breed)
Buff Orpington Chicken
The Buff Orpington Chicken originates from England and lays large brown colored eggs about three (3) times per week. The buff orpington is a favorite breed for many backyard chicken owners due to their appearance, as they have been bred as a show bird rather than for utility purposes. Their docile and friendly personalities make them easily adaptable to live with other chicken breeds!
Chickens for Eggs- Best Egg Laying Chickens
1) Delaware chicken- This breed will usually lay four (4) large brown eggs per week depending on conditions. The breed originates from the United States and will provide a calm and friendly demeanor as one of your backyard chickens.
2) Rhode Island Red Chicken- The Rhode Island Red chicken breed typically lays five (5)extra-large brown eggs per week. This is by far one of our most popular egg laying breeds. This breed is calm and easily handled as part of your backyard chicken flock.
3) White Leghorn chicken- This breed will lay about four (4) large white eggs per week of excellent quality. They are an active and energetic breed that will add some personality to your backyard flock! We highly recommend the white leghorn chicken as one of your primary white egg laying chicken breeds.
What to Feed Chickens
To get started, we have listed the kinds of feeds to provide for your chickens at different stages in their lives:
Chicks- Should be fed organic chick starter feed with at least 20% crude protein, and other ingredients to include lysine, crude fat, crude fiber, calcium, phospohorus, and salt. Other ingredients in chick starter feed may include corn, soybean meal, dicalcium phosphate, diatomaceous earth, lime, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, kelp, dried lactobacillus fermentation product, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, folic acid supplement, copper sulfate, niacin supplement, and Vitamin B12 supplement. Chick starter feed should be fed to your chicks up to 14 weeks of age before transitioning to chicken layer developer feed.
Chicken layer developer feed contains the same ingredients as chick starter, except it should have less protein- generally around %17 crude protein. Chicken layer developer should be fed from 14 weeks of age until your chickens start to lay eggs, at which point you should switch to Organic Layer Mash Feed, or Organic Layer Pellet Feed. Organic Layer Mash Feed and Organic Layer Pellet Feed should contain about %16 crude protein and various amounts of other minerals. It should be fed to chickens that are laying eggs in order to provide the right amount of nutrients for your chickens!
Guidelines for Raising Baby Chicks
1) A heating lamp and brooder area- The heating lamp temperature should change according as your chicks grow. Follow the heating lamp temperature guidelines below to provide optimal temperature for your chicks:
Week 1: 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 2: 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 3: 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 4: 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 5,6,7: 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 8: 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit
Week 9: 65 degrees Fahrenheit
The heating lamp should be placed 12-18 inches above the floor of the heating area. Some signs that your heat is too low- Your chicks will huddle together in the brooder. If the temperature is too high, your chicks may be dispersed throughout the heating area, and they may look tired. If the temperature is set correctly, your chicks will be evenly dispersed throughout the heating area, and they will look lively while making lots of peeping sounds!