What have you learned that wasn't in the books?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by new chick 203, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,376
    46
    173
    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    For you that have been doing this for a while now, what advise do you have that wasn't in the books. Time to share the inside info.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    124
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    What have I learned that wasn't in the books? Just about everything. I threw the book away. ;)

    I've learned that all my fowl (chickens, ducks, geese) need quality, age-appropriate food, fresh water, protection from predators, and very harsh weather: also a reasonably clean enviroment. Rather than spend time reading the books, I spend the time observing my flocks. That way, I know how each individual bird appears and behaves when they are healthy, making it easy to spot when there's a problem. Every evening at free range time, I make it a point to walk a circle around my flocks - 3 seperate chicken ones, my geese, my ducks. I look at each individual bird, pick up one or two to check weight; I even take a gander at a few poo droppings. I keep a rough idea in my head of egg production. If it drops, I look for the reason - is someone molting? Hiding eggs? Do I have an egg predator?

    I've also learned not to borrow trouble. I stopped reading the illness section of the forum a long time ago. Remember, I'm observing my flocks daily so if there's a problem there's an excellent chance I'm going to catch it early and I'll deal with it then. Back when I was new to owning chickens I read the illness section obsessively. Every time a hen stopped laying for a couple of days I was sure she was eggbound. A rooster would get a black scratch on his comb, yep, must be pox. My limping hen? O-M-Gee! It must be Marek's (she sprained a leg, most likely from jumping down from a too high roost). My crossbeak hen that was sure to die in her first week of life? She just turned two years old.

    So provide your flocks with what they need for a good life, including daily stimuli to keep them entertained, keep an eye on things to be able to spot trouble early and nip it in the bud, and then just enjoy them. [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

    596
    43
    188
    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
    The first thing that comes to mind: when my first flock was just starting to get out and forage, I noticed how much they liked to dig in the leaves on the forest floor. So I started dumping fallen leaves in their run for them to dig in when they couldn't be out. Not only did it give them something to do, but it kept the run from becoming a mudhole, the way the books warn it will.

    Later, a similar idea shows up in Harvey Ussery's book "The Small Flock", so now it IS in the books. ;)

    The other thing is to take all the books with a grain of sand. A lot of time they present A way of doing things as THE way. The difference is huge.
     
  4. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

    596
    43
    188
    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
    Well said. I laughed out loud at what you said about the illness section. I have a limping hen right now -- forgot to worry about mareks, but managed to rule out bumblefoot. ;) Current treatment is to leave her alone and let her heal.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    124
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Yes, I do check for bumblefoot first when I see a chicken limping. I have a 5 year old hen that is the Bumblefoot Queen. Forget the almanac; I can tell it's spring (our rainy season) when Sunny gets her yearly bout of bumblefoot. [​IMG]
     
  6. coffeenutdesign

    coffeenutdesign Chillin' With My Peeps

    242
    15
    93
    Jul 24, 2012
    Texas
    I learned that you need twice as many nest boxes as chickens and then they still all want to fight over 1. Just kidding, wow, I have learned a lot, mostly from this forum because I never read any chicken books. The most amazing thing I never realized (even though I have had chickens before) is how the rooster looks after his girls and will inspect any food stuffs first before giving it to the girls and he has a special sound he makes to let them know it's okay for them to eat...if he finds a good spot for yummies, he'll make a little noise and then point to it with his beak so they can find it.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by