Monday, June 16, 2014

Feeding Chickens And A Greatly Atticipated New Arrival

My high energy schedule just isn't happening. That means the wheat doesn't get rinsed three times a day. I'm lucky to get one time in and low and behold it still is sprouting. I found a key - temperature. I got to thinking -- wheat in the field sprouts at cool temperatures so maybe keeping my buckets in the kitchen isn't so good an idea. What if I kept my wheat in the bathroom in the garage? The sink is there and it is cooler but not cold. The results of the change is the wheat is sprouting even better. Maybe not vastly better but definitely without nearly as much time and energy exerted. The cooler temperatures mean the moldy smell doesn't build up and I'm much happier because I just can't squeeze in three times a day any more. Smaller amounts of wheat in the buckets still results in a better sprout and so I try to keep four gallon size buckets a third full going most of the time. Normally two buckets at a time are of the same sprouting age. That leaves an occasional day here and there without sprout treats for the chickens but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or rather change is the spice of life. Unless you are making huge changes on a regular basis. That has been Kirk and I lately. It is good for us but oh so hard.

The chickens are molting and look quite the site but are laying very well, 6-8 eggs a day. I have 9 hens. I really don't need that many eggs but who do you illuminate when all the hens seem to be doing such a good job? I'm thinking that 500 percent increase in certain vitamins that the Mother Earth found were present in free range chicken eggs has to be what I'm now getting. Wheat sprouts, free to roam in the daytime catching bugs and eating weeds, vegetable scraps from the kitchen, and a free choice buffet of sunflower seeds, lay mash, and grain not sprouted has to have the numbers up there somewhere in that range.

Oh I forgot, the chickens have been getting red beans lately too. I had some I found at my step-dads and who knows how old they are but I've been cooking them up and feeding them also. Beans are high in protein and eggs have high levels of that so the hens need a diet rich in protein. What better sources than wheat and beans. Beans may not be what most people think of as a chicken food but why not? I think cooked or ground beans is a great idea. As prices rise we need to be more broad minded about our feed choices. I know a gal that feeds her dogs vegetables. I wish my cat would eat something beyond what he catches and cat food. Scraps from the kitchen get a turned up nose no matter how I serve them. Before I had barn cats to feed them to but now they are the one glitch in my recycle program. Maybe when I get another cat for a companion for him this fall the competition might spur some interest in kitchen scraps? I sure hope so.

Funny how cats don't bother the chickens at all. Oh they think about it when they are younger but a few pecks on the head does the trick and the two maintain a respectful distance there after. I once found a terrified kitten hanging from the chicken wire inside my chicken run with three hens in a semi-circle below just waiting for the petrified creature to fall.
I'm always looking for ways to do things less expensively and better. Letting the girls roam the yard in the daytime is definitely less expensive and better. They will be happily pecking along and then start a race across the lawn to another area for no apparent reason. No squawks of alarm, just a spontaneous dash. Kirk and I laugh or at least smile a zillion times a day at the antics of the girls - especially the Wyodottes. They remind me of Robin Hood, the Walt Disney version. Remember Maid Marian's maid in waiting, the big fat hen? Remember how she waddled from side to side as she ran. That is exactly what the Wyodottes do. It makes me smile every time. As for the Auracanas and the Australorps, they don't for some reason. They simply run, no waddle. How boring. It must be the larger chests on the Wyodottes that cause that cute side to side waddle. 

Our son said he just read an article where researchers have found chickens to be quite intelligent. He said they have between 25 and 30 some sounds communicating everything from danger up, danger down to come hither I've a grasshopper for you. Yes, a rooster is known to woo his hens in such a manner for favors extracted later. I found this fascinating u-tube about this subject.  It talks about chickens emotions and of course any of us who have had a pet chicken, we already know some this and are quite fond of our girls but others need to see this to appreciate what we see in these feathered friends.
With so many eggs I'm anxiously awaiting fresh cream. Ice cream is on my mind, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and so much more. Seems like every time I go to the grocery store prices have risen like yogurt went up ten cents a single serving container and then the next week it went up ten cents more. Can't wait for my goats to start producing again for us.
Abigail here is the best little yearling momma. She fusses and fusses over these cuties. The doeling is the one with the white spot on her side and the cute little white and black patches on her legs. Yesterday we went to go and get in the car to go to church and Abigail ran to the fence in alarm screaming, "Don't leave me!!" Poor girl, motherhood is at times a terrifying experience. She did the same thing when we left to go in and say Happy Father's Day to Kirk's dad. She can relax today. The back up team will be on hand all day if she has any questions.

The kids won't be the only ones frolicking about the pen soon. Kirk and I bought two goats Saturday. It will solve our lack of milk problem that a I'm afraid dry Megan has placed us in. It may be for the better as I've been wanting Jujube for three years and now she is ours to pick up, her and her buckling at her side. That means fresh milk for us and a buck to breed with this winter. Of course that also means we will have to come up with a buck pen and cover the metal shed frame we brought from the other place.

I plan on milking Jujube plus her feeding her boy. I'll have to bring her production level up. She definitely can do that as she is 7 years old. Not a spring chick but last year she scored a 90 at appraisal time. Pretty impressive for a 6 year old. I've loved her since she arrive at a friend of mine's. I told my friend then that if she ever wanted to sell her, I wanted first dibs. My friend wasn't so impressed with Jujube until the American Dairy Goat appraisers started coming around and then she knew what she had. As for Jujube and I, it was love at first sight. I can't wait to bring her home.

The breeding lines of the little buck at Jujube's side go perfectly with our Abigail and the doeling laying down in the picture. It will be line breeding with some other good bloodlines in the mix. These little ones dad and great granddad are the same. That sire, Rebel's, bloodline also goes back a few generations to the same sire as the little buckling that will soon arrive. We are hoping for great things but first and foremost we NEED milk.

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