Online advice from "experts"

TP2

In the Brooder
Aug 8, 2020
21
27
33
Hi all-
Up until recently I have been relying on animal husbandry books and some farming friends to keep the girls healthy. Then I searched online and fell into the rabbit hole.
The amount of online advice from people like the Chicken Chick, Fresh Eggs Daily, and a plethora of others is always so different. Lately it is the use of DE, giving your chickens oatmeal, and using sand in the coop/run.
I would like to hear from you all what you think about the above topics. I don't use sand only because I cannot compost it and we get brutally cold winters here. Thanks!!!!
 

RainbowHen

Make eggs, not war
Premium Feather Member
Jul 10, 2020
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My Coop
I don't use DE. I find it way too dusty, irritating to lungs, and mostly ineffective against mites and lice. So pointless for me. Oatmeal makes a nice treat for the birds especially on cold days. Just don't over do it. I use sand in my run and absolutely love it. We have clay soil so it help to keep everything dry. The girls pick out and eat the rocks and love to dust bathe in it too. I just rake the top and scoop the junk out whenever it gets gross (every few months or so).
 
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TP2

In the Brooder
Aug 8, 2020
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Do you have harsh winters? I am worried about the sand freezing...
 

alwaystj9

Small goats & big chickens + 1 old horse
Premium Feather Member
Aug 20, 2019
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SE Louisiana
I evaluate what I find online against my own practices, I don't make changes quickly. I have a farm with chickens and I have had it for 30 years... I still continue to learn and find new management ideas from many sources. This has been a great source. I really evaluate what I find online and compare it to what I know. Being able to bounce information off others here is a blessing!
I didn't find DE to be any benefit except in my garden, it is only useful there when dry and it is not good for anythings' respiratory system.
There is random sand in my yard, just leftover from other projects. It tends to sink down into whatever it's put on top of over time & has to be reapplied.
My chicken feed is mixed in a big barrel and when someone gives me out of date breakfast products: oatmeal, cereal, grits...if it is dry, it goes in the mix. Yesterday I mixed in 2 boxes of "Frozen" cereal and some three year old, totally dried out raisins. I give eggs to "old" people and they love to save pantry clean-out items, stale bread and over-grown garden veg for my chickens. Also egg cartons. I am the only chicken person I know who gives away egg cartons. I don't deliberately cook oatmeal for my chickens but I can't think why it would be harmful.
 

Tonyroo

Songster
Mar 29, 2020
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N. California
Well with sand, I find it super stinky in warm climates when it gets wet. Smell like you have a mountain of chicken poop that's how gross it smells.

As for DE I wouldn't bother with it, the only thing I notice it does is deters ants, doesn't kill them. And gets super dusty when a strong breeze hits it.

My chickens use to like warm oatmeal, then a month later they absolutely hate it. Oh well. They are developing there taste buds so I get that. Hope that helps.
 
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NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,652
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The amount of online advice from people like the Chicken Chick, Fresh Eggs Daily, and a plethora of others is always so different. Lately it is the use of DE, giving your chickens oatmeal, and using sand in the coop/run.
I would like to hear from you all what you think about the above topics. I don't use sand only because I cannot compost it and we get brutally cold winters here. Thanks!!!!
So online advice from random strangers on a forum, to compare with online advice from random strangers with websites?

DE--most sources seem to agree that breathing it is bad, and that it doesn't work when wet.
A chicken coop is always either dry or wet. If DE doesn't work when wet, and if it gets thrown in the air to breathe when chickens scratch in dry bedding, then I don't think that's a good thing to use. But I don't think it's deadly dangerous either, more like a slightly-harmful waste of time and effort.

Oatmeal--I would serve wetted chicken feed instead of oatmeal. Easier (no cooking), probably cheaper, and certainly has the nutrients balanced right. Wet it with cold water in the heat of summer and for a cool treat, use warm or hot water in winter for a warm treat. Chickens seem to love it. But oats can be an acceptable food for chickens, and should be fine in moderation.

I have issues with the oatmeal article on the ChickenChick website. No point in cluttering up this post with them, but I listed them at length here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...meal-to-chickens.1339256/page-4#post-21942543

Sand--apparently wonderful for some people and some places, but not for everyone. Good especially for those who like being able to scoop the poop out ever day and live in dry climates. The threads I've seen complaining of stinky sand seem to be mostly in wet climates. I've never used it myself.

I have tended to combine chicken run with compost pile, so anything suitable for compost just gets thrown in the chicken run. The chickens stay busy and happy digging through it and eating little bits. Anything suitable for coop bedding (dry leaves, hay, straw, wood shavings, etc) tends to get put in the coop first, then later moved to the run, and then later yet it may get moved to the garden. (When I say "anything" gets thrown in the chicken run--not if its really poky, like blackberry plants. Or poisonous, like potato leaves & rhubarb leaves. But I include plenty of things that chickens "shouldn't" eat like orange peels and avocado skins and onions, because the chickens don't eat enough of them to cause a problem-- like how chickens do not eat enough wood shavings or sand or coffee grounds to cause a problem, when those are used as bedding.)
 
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Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
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So online advice from random strangers on a forum, to compare with online advice from random strangers with websites?
I was thinking the same thing! :D

But in all seriousness...the dirty little secret is there is no one perfect way to raise chickens. There are just way too many variables - climate, costs, flock size and breed, available space and materials, level of effort, and what’s important to you - to name just a few.

So, do what you do, keep reading and learning, and make changes when and if they make sense. I find that most of the things that will keep a chicken alive and thriving there is consensus on (clean, dry, ventilated coop for example) and a lot of things people disagree on (feeding food scraps, best bedding), plus a lot of outright incorrect info (“potatoes and apple seeds are poisonous to chickens”).

Sort through it, challenge assumptions, and don’t assume a “year one chicken owner” blogger knows what they’re talking about.
 

Red-Stars-in-RI

Songster
Mar 24, 2014
712
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Rhode Island
Two more thoughts...

My approach sounds similar to @NatJ - I compost in the run and feed lots of food waste. This idea may not be practical in some people’s situation...and it absolutely horrifies others. Doesn’t make any of it wrong.

If you DO make changes, make they slowly and make them one at a time - or else you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. That’s just good science!

Also, consider variables you can’t control, like the time of year - you see “I fed my chickens X for 2 weeks and I’m getting way more eggs” all the time. If that is posted say in March, it’s useless as the daylight increase during that time likely explains any increase in lay.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
All good points above!
There's so much advice out on the web, good, bad, and really bad, and it takes a while to figure things out. Something that sounds good and keeps birds alive for a while, doesn't mean it's good advice, or healthy for either the birds or their owners.
And because someone's great grandparents did something with their chickens ninety plus years ago doesn't often translate into modern chicken genetics or modern environments.
Mary
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
Chicken keeping doesn't need to be difficult! The priorities should be having a predator proof coop, at least, for night, and a safe/ predator proof run, and maybe free range time, realizing that free ranging chickens will involve losses.
Good food! The easiest and least expensive method is to buy a fresh complete diet in bags at the feed store, and the 'best one' will vary, depending on what's available where you live.
Extra food items are just that; extras, not the main diet. Adding things to a substandard base diet is a bad plan, and home made diets are difficult and expensive to make balanced.
Have enough space for the size of your flock, and lots of ventilation in the coop. Store bought 'chicken coops' are almost always badly built, way too small, and underventilated.
Enough for now...
Mary
 

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