Mites, mites, mites

One day, all of a sudden, so it seemed, Charlotte started loosing the feathers on her back right above her tail.  Soon after, Sandy followed.  We would stand at the chicken run, trying to figure out who was doing the pecking.  As much as we would stand there, eyes peeled, we did not see any pecking going on.
Charlotte with mitesSandy with mites

 

 
After doing some recon/research, we found out that mites were the problem and are one of those things that is a “normal” occurrence with chickens.  GOOD NEWS!  There is an organic solution – food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE).  The sharp edges of the DE cuts the exoskeletons of the mites (and other insects), which causes them to become dehydrated, and therefore, die.

We take a 4″ high plastic bin and the bucket of DE into the chicken run.  One by one, we pick up one of the girls, place them in the plastic bin, with one of us holding the chicken while the other one sprinkles and massages the DE into the chicken’s feathers.  In the beginning, the girls would squirm and try to fly away, and once released, would shake, run, and shake again.  We applied DE yesterday for the 4th or 5th time.  Each chicken stood in the bin, with no resistance, closed their eyes while being massaged, and walked away when placed on the ground.  No squirming, no fighting, no shaking.  The white on the back of the girls is the applied DE.
Girls with DE in their feathersSandy with DE appliedPunky with DE applied

Personalities

A very good friend of mine told our students that I was talking about my chickens as if they had personalities.  Little does she know about chickens!  Of course, those of us who have chicks absolutely know and experience their personalities on a daily basis.  Check out the chicken personalities Ernest Goh caught on camera, http://www.ernestgoh.com/animalia/cocks

The serpents are pretty cool as well…

animal feed

We’ve been feeding the chickens fermented grain for the last couple of weeks and they love it!  And we have been feeding the dogs their raw “paleo” diet one day a week for the same amount of time.  The dogs are also very happy with this change!  What dog wouldn’t love raw organ meat, raw fresh eggs, sardines and vegies!

For me, I could do without both of these things… the smell is noxious.  I woke up around 5am this last Saturday, stumbled out of bed and headed to the kitchen. As soon as I rounded the corner between the end of the hallway and the dining room area, my nostrils were met with fermentation sour and sardines.  I stopped dead in my tracks, gagged, and made the fastest u-turn back towards the bedroom that I could make.  Yesterday afternoon, I fell asleep reading.  As soon as the dogs were finished with their paleo dinner, Roxy, one of the Jack Russels, jumped up on the bed and started licking my face.  It was the smell of sardines on her breath that actually woke me up.

What is good for the farm is not always the best for the farmer…

Organ Meat Treats

I forgot to show everyone what we did with the leftover, thawed organ meat…

I sliced it into small pieces and put it into the food dehydrator for dog treats.  The dogs love them and would like to have them cut into larger pieces… ; )

Organ meat treats

Fermented Feed Day 2

We lifted the towel off the buckets of fermented feed this morning – did it smell!!  I don’t know what smelled worse, the fermented feed or the sardines in the dogs’ raw food…Isabella loves fermented feed!

I took the bin out to the chickens and Isabella came right up, no hesitation today!

Girls belly up to the binSeconds later, all the girls bellied up, finding their spot around the bin.

Before I could let myself out the Girls in the bindoor of the chicken run, a couple of them had jumped into the bin for easier access.

Canine Ancestral Diet

Our dogs are all getting older and their bodies are showing signs of ill health. One of our Jacks has been on porcine enzymes all her life because she is challenged with digesting proteins.  The other Jack Russel eats dirt, rocks, and poop.  Her poor digestive tract is exhausted.  The Papillon is on thyroid and blood pressure meds.  Our Weimeraner is the healthiest, but he also the youngest.

We recently had a new vet come to the house to evaluate the dogs to let us know if there were any alternative methods we could employ to help them stay healthy.  Her top recommendation was feeding the dogs raw food.  She suggested that we read “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way” by Steve Brown.  ‘A’ stands for the Amount of fat, protein, and carbs based on the ancestral diet of dogs, ‘B’ is for Balancing the fats, and ‘C’ is for Completing your dog’s nutrition needs by feeding your dog fresh, whole foods.  Sounds like Paleo, if you ask me…

Raw dog food ingredientsWell, we know that health begins with food.  Therefore, we committed to feed the dogs raw foods once a week to see if it makes a difference.  Tonight was the first night we made a batch of food.  The ingredients for our four dogs (approximately 137 pounds of total dogs weight) for one day are 20.3 ounces of organ meat (heart, liver, kidneys), 19.3 ounces of fruits and vegetables, 10 eggs, and 6 cans of sardines (packed in water).  We used green beans, a tomato and a sweet potato for the fruits and vegetables in this batch.  And here’s what it looks like blended… Raw Dog Food blended
Not so visually appetizing, but we’ll see what the dogs think tomorrow morning!  Stay tuned for more paleo dog updates!

 

Fermented Chicken Feed

We have been talking about fermenting our chicken feed ever since we purchased our baby chicks. There are many benefits to eating fermented food, both for the chickens and for humans: more available probiotics and digestive enzymes, boosts the good bacteria in the digestive tract, makes food more palatable to chickens.

We finally started this week by purchasing a bag of corn, oat, barley grain mix (COB) and a bag of wheat berries.  The rancher we purchase our grass fed beef from suggested following the recipe given at Scratch and Peck.  To start, we used 1 pound of grain (approximately 2 ounces for each bird) mixed with a gallon of water in a bucket, then let it sit at room temperature for 4 days.

This morning, the 3rd day, we drained the water from the grain mixture, poured the liquid back in the bucket to start the next batch of fermented feed, and placed the grains in a short plastic bin to take out to the chicken run.  I placed the bin in an area of the chicken run where the girls could gather around all of the sides.  Like all new things, the chickens stood a foot or so away from the bin, looking, pacing a bit, and looking again.  Isabella, one of the White Leghorns, went up to the bin first to take a taste.  She took one grain and placed it on the ground outside the bin, then another, then another.  Soon, the rest of the girls bellied up to the bin and started eating.  Sandy, one of the Buffs, took one grain and ran 6 feet from the bin, ate a little, then dropped it to the ground, ate a little more, then dropped, and then finished it.  I have never heard the girls so quiet…

TRoxy cleaning fermented grainshey didn’t finish all of the fermented feed this morning so I sprinkled it on the ground under the tree.  I brought the bin in to clean up for tomorrow’s feed.  As soon as I placed the bin on the floor, Roxy helped me clean up.