Heather Thelen is a managing partner and the corporate secretary and treasurer of her family’s Hawthorne Country Store, where she also works with a horse rescue organization and helps people prepare for wildfire evacuations with large animals.
So your girls have stopped laying? It’s August and some of this springs batch of babies who just started laying have now some have stopped.
After the summer solstice in June the days start to get shorter and this triggers in the girls into a natural part of their yearly cycle, molt.
- 1.(of an animal) shed old feathers, hair, or skin, or an old shell, to make way for a new growth.
“the adult birds were already molting into their winter shades of gray”
- 1. a loss of plumage, skin, or hair, especially as a regular feature of an animal’s life cycle.
You may see some extra feathers on the ground and be concerned about a predator or some other stressor (which is always a concern) but more likely it is the time of year for the girls to get ready for winter.
Some chickens will molt slowly, losing only and few feathers at a time and growing in new plumage over several months. Other chickens will have a “hard Molt” meaning they lose a LOT of feather all at once and look horrible but they usually come through molt faster and will start laying faster.
What can you do? You can support this yearly time of transition with nutrition help, protection from elements, and not making fun of the poor naked girls.
Nutritionally, hens in their molt can utilize more protein, and less of the egg making support we provide the rest of the year. There are products like “feather fixer” from Nutrena, Flock raiser from Purina, Chicken Broiler from King, or turkey starter from Modesto that can serve this purpose for you depending on your needs and wants for your family.
In Southern California we are certainly not cold in August and September so if your girls start in this time period providing shade from the sun is more important than if we were in the Midwest or far North and the girls started molting later in the year. Without their feathers they could use additional warmth through the molt if there were a cold snap.
Mostly just understand that this is normal, and look forward to new pretty plumage.
Generally speaking, you should be able to take care of a small flock of chickens in just a few minutes each day, less time than it takes you to take your dog for a quick walk.
Ok, let’s start with the obvious reason – you’ll have the best tasting supply of fresh eggs on hand. Not to mention the convenience, as you’ll have absolutely no need to get out of your pajamas and head to the store to make a fresh, healthy breakfast.
#2. Better for your health:
Free range eggs from your backyard have been shown to have a far greater nutritional value than commercially grown, AKA factory farmed. There are more than seven times the Vitamin A and Beta Carotene (essential for good eyesight) and almost double the Vitamin E in free range eggs (Vitamin E considered a strong anti-oxidant). When it comes to the essential fatty acid Omega 3 (which is necessary for heart health, healthy cholesterol levels and positive mental and behavioral health), the free range variety win again with an incredible 292 mg, versus a pitiful 0.033mg in factory eggs. You’ll also get less saturated fat in free range eggs.
#3. City chickens as a backyard organic exterminating service.
Chickens love to eat protein-packed insects, which works out well because they can serve as the organic pest-cleanup crew in your garden and devour ticks on your property. They also love to eat many weeds, and serve as post-harvest garden bed gleaners, potentially making your work as a gardener very, very easy.
#4. Heritage-breed & 7city chickens as an extinction-prevention task force.
Because factory-farm operations prefer pretty much the same type of high-volume laying breeds (or in the case of meat, heavy, fast-growing meat birds), the preservation of rare, heritage breeds is threatened. If we lose these beautiful breeds, we wipe out genetic material from a species, perhaps losing genes that could save the poultry industry one day if the standard production breeds fall susceptible to illness. To learn more about heritage breeds, Please check out your blog on what chickens are best for you.
#5. Urban chickens as soil builders and savers.
The health of your food is tied directly to the health of your soil. And chickens perform multiple functions that can turn parts of our boring old yards into fertile garden patches. Their natural scratching and digging tendencies serve them well and can help you create top-notch garden beds. They are expert in mixing manure with mulch to create raised beds, which allow you to grow more produce in a smaller space and use less water, which is particularly useful to urban gardeners. They also act as gasoline-free, pleasant- noise tillers, mixing the top layers of soil with compost or other mulches. (OK, I think hens sure do make cute noises, adding entertainment value for the whole family!)
#6. Urban chickens as antidepressants; your own serotonin.
Ever hear of oxytocin, the love hormone? It’s a stress-lowering chemical in your body that’s unleashed when you hug someone you love, or even pet your dog or cat. And anyone who has raised backyard chickens can probably contend the same effect holds true for hens. Believe it or not there are actually hens employed as therapy chickens! That’s something to sing or cluck about!
#7. Urban or city chickens as cheapest backyard city workers.
This aspect of keeping chickens has been studied for centuries and concludes that the most economic and politically compelling reason to keep hens is to recycle food and yard waste, therefore keeping it out of landfills as it composts into an invaluable organic soil conditioner for your garden. The idea is that you feed your chickens kitchen scraps, they poop out a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and you compost it with leaves and other untreated yard waste.
To quote one study in Belgium, one city is actually giving three laying hens to 2,000 homes in an effort to reduce landfill costs. City officials expect to recover a significant portion of the $600,000 a year the city spends on dealing with this type of household “trash.” According to Foreman, a single chicken can bio-recycle about seven pounds of food residuals in a month. If just 2,000 households raise three hens, it could divert 252 tons of waste from landfills annually.
Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers, and Local Food Producers (Good Earth Publications, 2010).
Every spring Hawthorne Country Store in Escondido offers for sale at least 50 different varieties of chicks, all two weeks old or less. This is our annual Chick Day; this year Saturday, March 11th from 9 AM to 5PM Chicken lovers come from L.A., Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Palm Springs, Tijuana for the broadest selection of chicks on one day in Southern California. With hundreds of customers, Saturday will be crazy.
But for a few, they come in after closing by appointment the night before chick Day. This is the Peep Show; Friday, March 10th from 6:15 to 8:00 pm. for $20 per person 21 and up only; you get hors devours , wine personal attention with your chicks, no parking hassles and first pick of all the rare, exotic and best laying breeds.
If this special offer sounds like a fun night out, call or e-mail now. We sell out every year.
✉ firstname.lastname@example.org or call ☎ 760-746-7816
Either day, you’re going to have a great time.
Approximately 30 starts per bundle
Black Sex Links are a cross between a Rhode Island Red males and Barred Rock females. This breed lays large brown eggs and has the added advantage that they can be color sexed as baby chicks. The adult males are black and white barred, looking very similar to Barred Plymouth Rocks. They sometimes have a small amount of gold plumage mainly in the hackles. The females are solid black with some gold hackles and neck plumage. They both have a single comb with five points. The beak shanks and feet are clean and yellow.
The heads of the female baby chicks are solid black, but the males have a small light yellow spot on top of the head. Both male and female are solid black with yellow wing tips and sometimes, yellow throats and abdomens. They also have yellow and black legs and feet.
Gold Sex Links are a brown egg commercial layer cross using Rhode Island Red males and Rhode Island White females. This breed can be color sexed as babies. They are production layers but also can be utilized for meat. The males are white and the females are light red with lighter tails, wing tips, hackles and body undercover. The male chicks are light yellow and the females have a variety of red down.
The Orpington breed was developed in England and was originally black. They were first used as a meat bird. Today the most popular color is the Buff and they are used for production of brown eggs although many still consider them to be a dual-purpose bird.
Orpingtons are heavy but loosely feathered with rich golden buff plumage. The chicks are light buff or straw colored. The color is even throughout the body except for the occasional darker buff colored head. They have single combs and clean, white legs and feet. They usually have a very quiet disposition.
The Jersey Giant has two varieties, black and white with the black being the better known. They are known as a general-purpose breed, which is probably best suited to meat production. They will produce eggs, however. They are totally black without a green sheen like Australorps. The chicks appear to be black but have white wing tips, chest and abdomen. They have single combs and clean, yellow and black legs and feet. The chicks may be difficult to distinguish from Black Australorps, but the bottoms of the Black Giant’s feet are yellow and those of Australorps are white. They are considered to be slow growers, so not very good for broiler meat.
The Sussex breed originated in Sussex County England as a meat bird and is considered relatively rare and unique. The predominate color of the female is mahogany bay with each feather being tipped with a small white spangle and a narrow black bar dividing the white from the from the remainder of the feather. The chicks have a single comb and dark brown backs with two light brown streaks lengthwise down the back. They have white wing tips, chest, and abdomen. Their beaks are brown and white while their clean legs and feet are white. Chicks can be separated from other chicks with similar plumage by checking the bottom of the feet, which are pinkish white.
Plymouth Rocks are one of the most popular brown egg breeds, and White Plymouth Rocks are the second most popular variety of Plymouth Rocks. They lay large brown eggs. All of the feathers of White Plymouth Rocks are white which produce a uniformly white bird. The chicks are smokey light yellow. They have single combs and clean legs and feet. The beak, legs and feet are light black or gray in color.
The Partridge Plymouth Rock has a plumage pattern, which is very striking. They are a dual-purpose bird but are mostly used for producing brown eggs. The Partridge Rock hens have deep reddish bay heads and the plumage of the back, breast and body is a deep reddish bay with distinct black penciling. The chicks are light brown with the head and body being much darker. The clean legs and feet are primarily brown with some yellow. The beak is brown with a yellow point. Partridge Plymouth Rocks are considered to be a rare variety.
The Rhode Island Red breed is one of the best known breeds and is classified as a dual-purpose breed although very few are used for meat production. Most of them are used for egg production and the breed is known for the high production of large brown eggs. The hens are primarily a lustrous, rich, dark or mahogany red with a black tail. The chicks are dark red with some having even darker red streaks down the back. The wing tips, chest and abdomen are much lighter with the wing tips appearing to be white. The chicks have single combs. The beak, legs and feet are yellow with some reddish horn. They have clean legs and feet.
New Hampshires are a dual-purpose breed, which can lay large brown eggs. Their color is primarily chestnut red with a black tail and they appear to be much lighter in color than Rhode Island Reds. Chicks are uniform light red having light chests and wing tips. They are much lighter than Rhode Island Reds but darker than Buff Orpingtons. They have single, serrated combs and clean, yellow legs and feet. New Hampshire Reds and Rhode Island Reds were used as foundation stock in producing Production Reds.
The Silver Laced Wyandotte is the original variety of the Wyandotte breed and is the most popular variety of the breed. They are a hardy, active, medium weight, dual-purpose fowl used for production of both eggs and meat, but primarily for eggs. The close fitting, sharply marked, silver laced plumage is one of the most beautiful color patterns ever developed. The plumage of the female’s head is silvery gray and the tail is black. They have yellow shanks and feet. The chicks are black with streaks down the back. The chest and abdomen may be either white or gray, and the wing tips are white. They have rose combs and clean legs and feet that are yellow with some black or gray.
The general appearance of Wyandottes is a short, deep, wide-bodied bird. The unusual, striking color pattern and docile nature are the characteristics that make this variety popular.
The Golden Laced Wyandotte is a hardy, active, medium weight, dual-purpose bird used for production of both eggs and meat, but primarily eggs. The hen’s head is golden and the tail is black. The feathers have dark penciling. The chicks are brown and black with brown streaks down the back. Some have a light chest, abdomen and wing tips. They have a close-fitting rose comb with yellow and brown, clean legs and feet. These birds are generally very docile in nature and make great back yard birds.
Originally produced in India, this breed was introduced to the U.S. under the name of Brahmapootra, which was later shortened to Brahma. Light Brahmas are a most attractive bird with Columbian plumage color pattern, pea combs, feathered shanks and toes and striking black and white plumage. Light Brahma chicks have gray backs with light yellow heads, wing tips, chest, and feathers on legs and toes. They have pea combs, and the legs and toes are yellow. Although they were bred as dual purpose birds, most are now raised for their beauty and uniqueness. They also make great pets because of their quiet temperament.
Many attributes of the Dark Brahmas are the same as the Light Brahmas. They differ mainly in coloration. The hen’s head is silvery gray and the feathers have distinct penciling. Dark Brahma chicks have pea combs, brown backs and heads with light gray wing tips, chest and feathers on legs and toes. Their beak, legs and toes are yellow.
The name Black Australorps is an abbreviation for Australian Black Orpingtons. This is a prolific egg layer even in warm weather. The green sheen of this solid black plumage is really beautiful. The beak is black. The chicks are primarily black with white wing tips, chest and abdomen. They have single, serrated combs. The legs and feet do not have feathers and are white with some black. They are difficult to distinguish from Black Giant chicks, however, the pads of the feet of Australorps are pinkish-white and those of Giants are yellow.
With the unusual warmth this past February, it felt like spring to a lot of us.
- Spring makes Country Folks think about new animals like our annual Chick Day event, new goat kids and foals. Continue reading
Hay is a field crop, whether planted or naturally occurring, which has been cut and dried for storage, usually baled, for later use as livestock feed. It includes alfalfa, oats, wheat, timothy, orchard, bermuda, clover, and most any grass, legume or grain grown to feed livestock the whole plant, stalk and seed. Straw is not considered hay because it is stalks only and not grown for feed since it has no nutritional value. Hay can be loose chopped, baled, pelleted or cubed. Continue reading