I am so impatient to start building up the farm part of our farm. A small part of that is because I know that we have a whole lot of work to do, and a very short season to do it in. What I can do for now, is learn. Pouring over websites and blogs, joining related local facebook groups, and lots and lots of reading and note taking.
There’s things I know from having chickens before, like the obvious keeping the coop clean and regularly gather eggs. But the list of things I don’t know is longer. We have a lot more predators, in a lot colder climate, so our chicken yard is going to need good fencing, and the coop will need to be well built with both insulation and proper ventilation. So this book is in my shopping cart —>
There’s training the dog that will need to be done. The chickens will be fenced 100% of the time until I’m sure she’ll treat the birds like she does the cats and just play. She has a high prey drive but she’s well raised, confident, and smart, so I’m thinking it’ll be alright. I’m just not going to take any chances until I’m sure. A 105lb Rottweiler playing can still cause damage – she likes to hop around like a damn bunny and being squashed by her would not be fun!
Some things in this situation are (or seem) important; I’ve seen a lot of posts around having a place in the winter for their dirt baths with a tub of wood ash (and/or other materials)… Lots of consider and determine if it’s something that I should buy for, or wait to see if it’s a problem, like fleas/lice/mites. Will they get them? Maybe, maybe not, probably? What do to about them? Garlic, diatomaceous earth, store bought products like ivermectin? I think this book will help a lot. I have the Storey Meat Goat book and it’s fantastic for all my random questions.
Thanks to the internet, I have (what I think are) better ideas that we used before, for food and water. Both can be DIY with buckets, some pvc pipe, and the nipples for the water buckets, and it’s a lot cheaper to do so. But these ideas keep both the food and water far cleaner than any bowl or tub could hope to. The way to healthy chickens, like almost all other living creatures, is a clean living area and good nutrition, so I’m trying to think of everything, like the floor surface of the coop. I have rolls of vinyl flooring that are sitting unused, so I’ll give that a try. That would keep the floor under it cleaner, dryer, and warmer, and allow easy cleaning and regular sanitation, but I worry about it getting slick, especially when it’s well below freezing, so it might not be a keeper.
There’s so much to consider, and there will be so much learned with time and practice! What are some chicken keeping tricks you’ve learned?