Signs of Calving: 5 Things to Watch

when will my cow have her calf?

“Honey, can you hand me my phone so I can take a picture of the cow’s mucous?”

That’s pretty much how the conversations have been sounding around our house lately…

Calving is always an exciting time, but I’m especially excited this year since we bred Oakley (our milk cow) to a super nice Brown Swiss bull. Usually, we just borrow a neighbor’s bull and end up with a half beef/half dairy calf. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve been wanting a full dairy heifer to keep alongside Oakley, so we found some lovely Brown Swiss semen this past summer and had Oakley artifically inseminated.

And I’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

What’s the secret to knowing exactly when your cow will calve, you ask?

Well, there isn’t one… When it comes right down to it, you just gotta be patient. The gestation period of a cow will be anywhere from 270-290 days, so it’s all about the waiting and watching game once the time approaches.

However, there are some definite signs of calving you can look for that’ll clue you in to when the time is getting pretty close.

5 Signs of Calving

1. Rapidly growing udder

Now, this can be a bit deceiving, since a cow will start “bagging up” sometimes months before their calving date. However, when the time gets really close, you’ll see the udder get much bigger, much faster. There will no longer be any wrinkles in the bag or teats, and the teats will “strut” or stick out at a slight angle. I felt bad for our Oakley– I thought her bag couldn’t get any bigger, but it just kept growing and growing right up until she calved.

signs of calving

If your cow is a heavy producer, sometimes milk will start dripping out a bit, but I don’t suggest squeezing the teats or trying to express any milk until after the cow calves.

Time Frame = Bagging up will begin months prior, with fastest growth happening in the week before calving

2. Springing in the Back End…

Also know as a puffy, relaxed vulva. Yup– you’ll want to get up close and personal with your cow and see how things are looking on the back end… As calving time approaches, her vulva will get very loose and relaxed. On Oakley’s last few days before she calved, I noticed her vulva would even bounce a bit as she walked.

cow springing before calving

Time Frame= Springing will often begin several weeks before birth, increasing as time passses

3. Disappearing pelvic ligaments

Does your cow’s tailhead seem to be sticking up a little more than usual? That’s a good indication her pelvic ligaments are softening to prepare for birth. However, like the other signs, this can be deceiving because what you *think* are super-loose pelvic ligaments might not actually be near as loose as they will be right before calving.

pin ligaments before calving
Two days before calving. Starting to sink, but not all the way there.

Also, on beef cows or fat cows, it will be much harder to use the ligaments as a determining sign. Our Hereford cow calved the day before Oakley, and her tail area didn’t seem to change at all. Oakley, on the other hand, showed considerable change as time progressed.

pelvic ligaments before calving
Just hours before calving

Time Frame = You may notice softening in the pelvic ligaments up to several weeks before calving, but you’ll notice the biggest changes 12 hours before birth.

4. Mucous & discharge

Noticing a little bit of slimy discharge under your cow’s tail? That’s totally normal, and you can expect to see it one to two weeks before calving, or, you may not see it at all.

I noticed some mucous strings on Oakley’s tail the day before she calved. Not a lot, but just enough to let me know we were getting close.

Time Frame = You may see discharge/mucous from your cow up to two weeks before calving

5. Restlessness and weird behavior

The day Oakley calved, she wasn’t quite acting normal. While her friends were out grazing in the pasture, she stood in the pen by the water tank and kinda “zoned out.” Several hours later, my husband caught her in the barn pressing her head against the wall and stretching her back legs out.

Her abnormal behaviors were the signs of early labor, however she continued to graze and act normal on and off throughout the day, so her labor didn’t become “intense” until the last hour or so.

calving signs
In her restless phase the day of calving

Once the cow is REALLY ready to calve, you’ll see her pacing, pawing, and getting up and down.

Time Frame= I usually notice the most weird behavior 12-24 hours before calving

Oakley’s Special Surprise

Although I do watch our cows carefully during calving season to make sure there aren’t any problems, I try to give them plenty of space, for the most part, to just let them do their thing. However, I was bound and determined to get some good calving pictures this time around, so I pretty much stalked her with my camera during that last week.

My persistence paid off, and Prairie Girl and I were able to witness Oakley calving for the first time ever. We stayed fairly hidden so as not to disturb her, but I was still able to snap some pictures of the process.

how to tell when a cow will calve

You can see the water bag here– it has ruptured and although not visible in this photo, there were two small hooves beginning to peek out.

(Note: We have a barn with stalls, but I prefer to let our cows calve outside, in a small pen where there is fresh air and grass. Oakley happened to choose a spot right by our post pile (argh), but I didn’t want to disturb her by shooing her away from it.)

cow having a calf

Front legs and a head. At this point, I even caught the calf blinking as it took its first look at the outside world.

cow-calving-6

It’s hard to see here, but the back legs are just about done coming out.

cow-birth

Oakley is a fabulous mama and always gets right to licking and cleaning the calf.

At this point, Prairie Girl and I decided to head inside and give Oakley and her calf a little time to bond. I’m not a fan of jumping right in the middle of things if I don’t have to. This is a very important bonding time for calf and mama, and since I know Oakley has a strong maternal instinct and knows how to clean off a calf very thoroughly, I wanted to leave her alone for a bit.

But when we came back out an hour later, we had quite the surprise.

milk cow with twins

Because there wasn’t just one calf on the ground, there was TWO.

TWINS!

And twin heifers, no less! I was absolutely beside myself. :)

At this point, it was starting to rain, so we decided to take everyone into the barn for the night.

Oakley had an instant bond to both calves, which was a relief as sometimes mamas will reject one twin.

new calf

Prairie Girl helped dry them off a bit more as hubby and I made sure everyone was figuring out out how to latch on and nurse. Making sure any newborn baby gets their first drinks of colostrum is absolutely crucial in the first few hours after birth. One of the twins was slightly weaker than the other, but both were able to get up and had strong sucking reflexes.

When it comes to cattle, twins are often not a welcome outcome. There can be issues with rejection of one of the calves, or sometimes the cow doesn’t have enough milk. Also, if the twins are mixed-sex (one boy, one girl), it is very common for the heifer (girl) to be sterile (aka a freemartin heifer).

Thankfully, Oakley is used to multiple calves, as we often graft bum calves on to her due to her copious milk supply. And since they are both heifers, we likely have side-stepped any fertility problems. Whew! Therefore, I’m seriously celebrating my two-heifer year. We have decided to keep both for a while and will halter break them and breed them before selling them.

Here are some more baby pics, because, well, I’m a little obsessed…

milk-cow-twins

We kicked them out of the barn the next day so they could enjoy the sunny skies and fresh air.

oakley-twin-portrait

It looks like Prairie Girl has decided to name them Elsa and Anna. Although I’m still having a hard time telling who is who, since they are pretty darn identical!

How to Keep Wild Birds Out of a Chicken Coop

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

As homesteaders, we get pretty used to being the weird ones…

Because let’s face it, I’m betting that *most* of your friends probably aren’t rendering tallow, or figuring out how to skim the cream from their fresh milk, or pulverizing homemade sauerkraut.

But I recently started doing something that is on a whole new level of weird… So much so, that I often warn friends beforehand so they don’t think I’m completely off my rocker. (At least, not any more than they already do)

The Backstory:

Last summer, every time I’d walk into my chicken coop, it felt like I was in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. As soon as I’d open the door, I would be greeted by a frenzied flock of sparrows who would proceed to fly wildly around the coop and get uncomfortably close to my face… And hair. Not that my hair is any sort of masterpiece or anything, but I sure didn’t want one of their tiny bird-legs stuck in my messy bun.

Something had to be done…

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Why Wild Birds and Chickens Don’t Mix

Some of you might be thinking I’m a bit cold-hearted for wanting to boot the sparrows out of my coop, but I do have two rather legitimate reasons for my vendetta, other than the whole bird-in-my-hair thing:

1. Wild birds can carry disease which may be passed to your chicken flock.

2. Wild birds will mow down your chicken feed. For reals. It felt like I was refilling my chicken feeder non-stop last summer. Adding a flock of 20 sparrows will do a number on your feed supply, and considering how I’m feeding a lovely non-GMO, custom-blended feed (my recipe is available in my Natural Homestead book), I didn’t really feel like sharing.

My Crazy Solution for Keeping Wild Birds Out of a Chicken Coop

When I started looking for a way to solve my sparrow problem, all the advice seemed pretty, well, blah…

Folks suggested just keeping the coop doors closed all the time (my hens would be furious..) or only offering a very small amount of feed, multiple times per day, to avoid thievery from wild birds. (I’m way too lazy to keep up with that sort of program.)

Neither of those options satisfied me, so I dug deeper.

And found my solution in the form of… (are you ready for this? It’s pretty high-tech…)

CDs and baling twine.

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Oh yeah, baby.

Now do you see why I warn folks before they enter my coop? It’s kinda weird.

Of course, I was entirely skeptical at first that it would even work, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

I dug through my CD (yes, as in compact-disc) collection to find any old, scratched ones that no longer played. I tied a length of baling twine through the hole, and attached the other end to the ceiling of my coop, and voila!

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

High tech sparrow-stoppers.

Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.

But Do they Work?

Yes, yes, yes! It looks bizarre, but it works! Within 24 hours of me hanging my CD/twine contraptions, the sparrows were gone. And they didn’t come back.

I’m guessing the birds don’t like the shiny, swaying objects hanging haphazardly from the ceiling, which is why it’s a successful deterrent.

I tested the theory by removing the CDs for a while. Sure enough, the sparrows returned, only to disappear again once I rehung them.

So yeah, I look like a homesteader-gal who’s completely lost her marbles when you walk into my coop, but I don’t care. I no longer have to duck and dive when I check my chickens, and my feed supply is lasting way longer.

And that, my friends, is what you call a good old-fashioned, homestead hack. :)

how to keep wild birds out of a chicken coop

Pssst. Like weird little tips like this one? Every week I send out a email with 4-5 of my favorite tips of the week. It usually includes a recipe or two, animal stuff, and crazy findings like this one. I call it the Homestead Toolbox. It’s 100% free, and you can sign up for it HERE. 

More Posts You’ll Enjoy

 

 

 

8 Ways to Use Chickens in the Garden

 

how to use chickens in the garden

I’m honored to have Justin Rhodes from Abundant Permaculture guest posting today. Justin is a wealth of information when it comes to sustainable chicken-keeping, and you’re going to love his tips for putting your flock to work in the garden. He is also currently in the thick of producing a documentary all about Permaculture Chickens. I’ve NEVER seen anything like this– this information has been so hard to find up until now, but Justin is making it easy to access. I’ve already donated to the Kickstarter campaign— I hope you will too! This is the kind of information that has the potential to really make a splash!

I am continually blown away by the power of chickens in the garden! They’re such great workers, I would keep them even if couldn’t eat their eggs or meat. Plus, they reproduce themselves, unlike any man-made tool.

In this article, I’ll explore eight different ways you can use chickens in the garden. You’ll discover how you can put chickens to work by providing nitrogen for your compost pile, replacing machine tillers, fertilizing your garden, turning compost, spreading mulch, disposing of your garbage, controlling pests and sanitizing your orchard. Let’s go…

Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography
Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography

8 Ways to Use Chickens in the Garden

1. As a Nitrogen Source for a Compost Pile

One chicken can produce eight pounds of manure a month according to Ohio State University. That’s about enough to compost one cubic yard of leaves!

To make great compost, you need a carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio of about 30:1. Chicken manure is very rich in nitrogen and is rated at about (10:1). This means you won’t need much to balance it out with its readily available counterpart; carbon materials like leaves, hay or straw. Leaves for example, are rated at (47:1), so for every 1 pound of chicken manure, you’ll use 45 pounds of leaves! A little goes a long way with chickens manure!

How to do it:

Harvest your flocks’ manure regularly and store it in a leach-proof container until you are ready to build your pile. If you don’t want to store poop, then you can apply the manure with the carbon material as you go. For more information about compost building check out my article on composting with chickens, “I Cut My Chicken Feed Bill 100%

Ingrid Pullen Photography
Ingrid Pullen Photography

2. As Tillers

One chicken can till 50 square feet of established sod in just 4-6 weeks!

By scratching and eating practically all vegetation, chickens make great tillers. Although they take much longer than a machine tiller, they require no fossil fuel, they’re much quieter, and you don’t have to do any of the work. I sold my machine tiller years ago and have been using my chickens ever since. Based on my own experience, 1 chicken can till about 50 square feet of reasonably short sod within 6 weeks. (Jill: Keep in mind that chickens will also till areas you might want to keep, so consider fencing them out if you are wanting to preserve certain areas of vegetation or sod)

How to do it:

Simple leave your flock in one place long enough! For small jobs, like individual garden beds, I suggest a chickens tractor suited for your particular garden design. For larger projects, I suggest mobile housing and temporary electric netting. Feel free to estimate your timing based on the size of you flock and garden plot on the 50 square foot per chicken statistic.

You can see in the photo below how chickens can clear an area of vegetation:

ground cleared by chickens
Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography

3. As Automatic Fertilizers

One chicken can provide enough nitrogen fertilizer for a 50 square foot garden in a little more than a month.

The chickens nitrogen levels in manure isn’t just great for compost, it’s the key ingredient to fertilizing our gardens. Based on the eight pounds one chicken will poop in a month, the average chicken will extract about a quarter pound a day! There’s 1.5% nitrogen in their manure, so that’s .004 of nitrogen a day. If we’re shooting for a solid .30 pounds of nitrogen every 100 square feet, it will take one chicken 75 days to fertilize a 100 square feet. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly when you have multiple chickens. At this rate, 24 chickens could fertilize 1200 square feed of garden in just 6 weeks!

How to do it:

Confine your chickens to the area you want fertilized and figure their length of stay based on the size of the area and how many chickens you have. Be careful not to leave your chickens in one place too long (without mulching) as you can have too much of a good thing!

using chickens to fertilize
Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography

4. As Compost-Turners

One chicken can help do a quarter of the work of turning a compost pile!

In order for your compost to break down, it must get oxygen. The more air you give it, the quicker it will break down. Many gardeners make a habit of “turning” their entire compost pile regularly when they need some of the precious material quickly. Turning is a laborious job, but your chickens can do at least a quarter of the work for you. I estimate they’ll do a quarter of the work, because they won’t take down the entire pile and they certainly won’t re-stack it for you. However, they will take down a good chunk of it, and all you’ll have to do is turn what they left of the pile and re-assemble what they spread out.

How to do it:

Assemble your compost pile and allow it time to heat up. If contains only fresh ingredients your chickens won’t show much interest. Once it’s warmed up and had time to start to decompose it will be swarming with life! If you need to protect your pile while it heats up, you can put it in protected bin, temporarily fence it off, or keep it covered. Once it’s had time to heat, your chickens will show great interest in the live biota that now makes up the pile. Later, you’ll come back and re-assemble the pile. I re-assembly and turn the piles once a week and within 4 weeks I have finished compost.

how to use chickens in the garden

5. As Mulch Spreaders

One chicken can level a large pile of leaf mulch within two days.

Chickens can level a pile in no time. If I want to spread mulch or compost, I just pile the material where I need it spread and fence in my chickens around it. My flock of 30 can easily spread a large pile of leaves in a half a day, and one cubic yard of compost within two weeks!

How to do it:

Confine your chickens around a pile of mulch or compost where you want it spread. Leave them until the work is done! Time to spread will depend on size of pile, material, and age of material. Older material will have more biota and the chickens will show more interest. If your chickens aren’t showing interest in a pile you need spread (like fresh wood chips), try spreading their feed on the pile, so they have to scratch for it.

chickens spreading mulch in the garden

6. As Garbage Disposals

One chicken can convert up to pounds of food “waste” a month into fresh eggs and meat!

17% of what Americans throw out as “trash” is food according to the Gossamer foundation. Chickens are omnivores, like us, and will eat practically everything we can and more! Why not give our food scraps to our chickens and save money on trash disposal and lessen the burden of our landfills? Based on my own experience, chickens will easily eat a 1/4 to a 1/3 pound of food in a single day. That means a small flock of six could eat up to 60 pounds of food “trash” a month! (Jill: This is also one of my favorite ways to save money on chicken feed!)

Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography
Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography

How to do it:

Collect your food scrap in a food grade container or bucket. Chickens will eat practically any type of food your throwing out, including meat. If your not sure it’s safe for you chicken, try it and see what they do. I believe they have the sense to know whether it’s good for them or bad. You can clean up what they won’t eat or let it decompose where it’s at.

7. As Insect Control

One chicken can easily de-bug up to 120 square feet a week!

Chickens will thrive on all kinds of insects, beetles and grubs. They’ll snap up pretty much any thing that moves above the surface and they’ll scratch down more than six inches in garden mulch for grubs! A couple of years ago, I moved a flock of 15 around the pasture in 1700 square feet of mobile electric netting. Those birds easily eliminated the bug population in that area within a weeks time.

How to do it:

There are several options here. Before you plant the garden, you could confine your chickens in a tractor or with electric net over the area, then move them out when you start your garden. You could also free range your birds, while protecting your garden and other areas you don’t want them. I’ve heard of folks fencing the chickens around the entire garden. This would work to protect the garden from any crawling insects and the chicken manure might attract harmful slugs out of the garden, to the chickens. You could also move the chickens around the garden or property with a tractor or mobile netting depending the size of your operation. Finally, you can allow them supervised time in the garden or give them in 30 minutes to an hour before dusk. That way they’ll have just enough time to get at the bugs, and they won’t have any time left for your goodies!

using chickens as insect control in the garden

8. As Orchard Sanitation

One chicken can de-bug an entire fruit tree within an hour, breaking the life cycle of pests and disease.

Disease and insect problems plague your typical orchard, but it should come by no surprise that the that the chickens can help in this area too. With some strategic timing, chickens can significantly boost orchard production! Two years ago some of my friends ran their flock through my granny’s abandoned/low production orchard. That next summer, we harvested so many apples, we’re still enjoying the applesauce!

How to do it:

Typical fruit trees don’t need a lot of nitrogen so you’ll wanted to limit the birds time around them and use some strategically timed planning. I suggest running the chickens through during the spring when the adult worms are coming out to lay their eggs. I would run the flock through again in the Autumn to eat the fallen fruit that that insects might use as housing throughout the winter.

using chickens in the orchard
Credit: Ingrid Pullen Photography

gardening with chickens poster

 

(Want the printable version of this poster, for free? CLICK HERE. A HUGE thanks to Justin and Abundant Permaculture for creating this for Prairie Homestead readers!)

Don’t forget to head over and check out the upcoming Permaculture Chickens film— I’m stoked to be a part of this project by donating, and am counting down the days until it’s released. This is just the kind of information we need more of to empower more people towards homesteading and self-sufficient living.

About Justin: 

Once Justin discovered self sustainable farming around 2004, he has enjoyed many years of practicing “beyond organic” and permaculture methods on his 4th generation, 75 acre, family farm near Asheville NC.
 Justin trained under the highly accredited Geoff Lawton of PRI Australia for his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and has trained under popular authors Joel Salatin and Pat Foremen. He’s passionate about teaching from his own homestead on the chicken systems essential to more sustainable living. 
 With a great combination of business and permaculture skills, Justin is well positioned to deliver high quality educational films of this nature.

 

Supplemental Lighting in the Chicken Coop

how to use supplemental lighting in the chicken coop during the winter

Your frying pan is crying out for scrambled eggs and omelets…

The egg cartons are empty, and the only place you see those brown-shelled eggs is in your dreams…

Winter is a rough time of year for a chicken owner.

Shorter days equals fewer eggs, and you watch the dollar bills fly out of your wallet to pay the feed bills, with little to show for it.

So what’s an egg loving homesteader to do?

Why Chickens Stop Laying in Winter

There are a couple of different reasons you should count on seeing fewer eggs in the nesting boxes come winter:

1. Decreased daylight — The reproductive cycle of a chicken is stimulated by light, and chickens need 14-16 hours of light each day to maintain peak egg production. In some locations during the winter months, you might only see nine hours of light each day, which signals to the chicken’s system to cease production of those gorgeous orange-yolked eggs.

2. Molting — Each year, a chicken undergoes a process of losing feathers and growing new ones. This is the molt. Generally, chickens will molt in the fall or early winter, although it can greatly vary from flock to flock. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty big deal to grow a new set of feathers, (feathers are made of almost pure protein), so it totally makes sense why a chicken would stop laying during the molting period. Their body needs to spend its resources on feather production, not egg production.

3. Temperature Changes — While drastic drops in temperature may play a small role in decreased egg production, I’m going to venture to say that the other two factors are the biggest players here. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if a heavy-duty cold snap throw your flock into an eggless state as well.

artificial light in chicken coop during winte

Two Ways to Increase Egg Production in the Winter

1. Forced molting — (Note: I don’t recommend this, but felt it needed to be mentioned anyway…) Molting is a bit of an issue for commercial poultry operations, as it’s really not profitable to have non-laying birds sitting around for a portion of the year. Industrial flocksters have come up with ways to control or force a molt by withholding feed or feeding drugs or hormones. However, this is a practice I have no plan of incorporating on my homestead, so don’t expect to see tutorials any time soon. 😉

2. Increased lighting — Although still an artificial method, providing supplemental lighting in the chicken coop is a slightly kinder way to maintain egg production, without the severity of forced molting. However, there is definitely a method you’ll want to follow if you decide to use artificial lighting for your birds.

The Dos and Don’ts of Supplemental Lighting in the Chicken Coop

  • DO wait until your chickens are at least 20 weeks of age before introducing any artificial lighting plans.
  • DO use a regular 25 watt or 40 watt bulb, hung in a place far away from feathers and bedding.
  • DON’T make a sudden switch (i.e. going from zero supplemental lighting, to an extra five hours every day)
  • DO gradually increase your lighting over a period of time. Many experts suggest increasing in increments of 30-60 minutes each week.
  • DO shoot for 14-16 hours of light each day, for best results. Anything less than 14 hours will mean fewer eggs. Anything more than around 16-17 hours may stress out the birds and cause them stop laying altogether.
  • DON’T add the extra hours at night. Opt for the early morning hours instead, as plunging them into darkness when the bulb shuts off at night can be an unnecessary stress.
  • DO use a timer so you stay super consistent with your lighting efforts.

is it natural to use lights in a chicken coop during winter?

So You CAN Use Lights, But Should You?

Believe it or not, there is considerable debate surrounding the topic of artificial lighting in chicken coops…

Pros of Supplemental Coop Lighting

  • EGGS! (need I say more?)
  • You’re getting something in return for feeding your flock alll winter long.

Cons of Supplemental Coop Lighting

  • You have to deal with the hassle of  setting up a timer, or turning lights on/off
  • There’s a potential fire hazard of keeping a light bulb on unattended in the coop (this is the #1 reason I do not use heat lamps in my coop…)
  • Forcing hens to lay with supplemental light prevents them from following their natural reproductive rhythm and some chicken advocates argue it is hard on the birds and causes them to “wear out” faster.

supplemental light in winter chicken coop

My Conclusion…

After hemming and hawing about supplemental chicken light for several years, I’ve finally decided to embrace eggs as a seasonal food. This is an obvious concept when you’re growing fruits and vegetables, but can be harder to grasp when it comes to other food products, as we are accustomed to having them available 24/7 at the grocery store.

As we’ve amped up our personal food production efforts, it’s become increasingly clear to me that milk and eggs are just as seasonal as corn and beans. It’s OK to have times of the year when we don’t eat scrambled eggs 4x per week.

Therefore, we currently don’t use any supplemental lighting in our coop. It simplifies chicken keeping for us, and I feel good about giving my hens their natural break. Sometimes I still get a few eggs per week, other times I get none, but I adjust my cooking as needed and we always survive until laying picks up in the spring.

If you’re still struggling a bit at the thought of being eggless, here are a few strategies to soften the blow:

  • Egg fewer eggs: This one is obvious, but I’ve found we really can survive on fewer eggs for a portion of the year, and nothing terrible happens. And then of course, we glut on omelets, custards, crepes, and fried eggs when the hens are laying heavily. It’s a happy trade-off.
  • Preserve eggs during peak production times: As some of you know, my past efforts with preserving eggs have been a little rocky, but it’s definitely doable. Just in case you’re interested, here is my tutorial on how to freeze eggs, and here are my misadventures with dehydrating eggs (hopefully you have better luck than I did!)
  • Buy from the neighbors:  Every so often, a neighbor’s flock will continue to lay like crazy during the winter, and I’m happy to buy or barter eggs from them.
  • Get creative with your feed bill — If it totally makes you cringe to be pouring the feed to your flock, even though you are eggless, check out this big ol’ list of ways to save money on your chicken feed bill.

supplemental light for chickens during the winter

Do you use supplemental light in your chicken coop?

Other Posts from the Coop: