Squeal Worthy Facts About Mini Pot-Bellied Pigs as Pets

 
From snuffly snout to curly tail, miniature pot-bellied pigs have become a much loved addition to the exotic pet scene. Pot-bellied pigs are highly intelligent, social, and inquisitive and BEWARE because these little cuties will capture your heart!
Whether you’re considering adopting a piggy of your own or simply looking to learn more about these adorable oink monsters, Star Milling has compiled the ultimate cheat sheet when it comes to everything pig!

The Cute, The Quirky, and The Piggy

Despite their rising popularity, pot-bellied pigs remain a mystery to many pet owners who’ve considered adding one to their family. Let’s start by exploring the ins and outs of piggy parenthood.

A Brief Overview

Pot-bellied pigs are highly intelligent animals whose goofy, cuddly personalities make for excellent pets. Their average lifespan is 12 to 18 years, with some senior pigs reaching their early 20’s! This means that sweet little piglet is a friend for life. It’s important to consider the commitment prior to leaping into piggy parenthood.

Another factor surprises many owners is size. While mini pot-bellied pigs are far smaller than their barnyard counterparts, a tiny piglet can easily grow to be over 100 pounds! That’s the size of a medium to large breed dog. The good news is that pot-bellied pigs do in fact make excellent house pets. Backyards are ideal for exercise and playtime, while daily walks allow even the most energetic pigs to get that extra energy out, so your big baby is ready for cuddles and naps by dinner time.

Fun Facts to Squeal Over

  • Pot-bellied pigs come in a four main colors; solid black, pink, white, and spotted.
  • Pigs are opportunistic omnivores which means they love to snack! It’s no accident that their good name has become synonymous with eating almost anything. While showing your pet some love with the occasional table scrap won’t hurt them, it’s important for owners to maintain a high quality, nutritional diet for their snack monsters.
  • Pigs are very vocal, communicating in a range of squeals, oinks, and whines. Mama pigs even sing to their piglets!
  • Belly rubs are the way to a pot-bellied pig’s heart.
  • Due to their high intellect, pot-bellied pigs respond very well to clicker training. They can be quite stubborn, but when given a task that satisfies their curious nature, pigs are quick to learn and respond well to obedience and behavioral training.
  • The idea that pigs are dirty couldn’t be farther from the truth. While they do enjoy a good mud bath to protect their sensitive skin from the sun, pot-bellied pigs are very clean animals.
  • A male pig’s tusks grow throughout their entire lives, much like a hamster’s teeth, and require routine trims by a veterinarian to keep them in top shape.
  • The best age to spay and neuter pot-bellied pigs is between 4 to 6 months.
  • Pigs are highly social creatures and will quickly develop a lifelong bond with their human companions. When trained properly, pot-bellied pigs have a sweet, gentle demeanor that’s sure to charm their human family.

Pigging Out on High Quality Nutrition

When it comes to fueling your pig’s adventures, providing a wholesome diet is key. High quality pot-bellied pig feed should closely mirror an animal’s natural diet. This guarantees the same level of protein and vital nutrients that pigs crave. As omnivores, a wild diet would consist of roots, veggies, nuts, seeds, berries, eggs, and small insects.

Their opportunistic nature means many pet piggies will pick and choose what produce they want to eat while discarding the rest. While fruits, veggies, and healthy treats are excellent for rewarding your piggy on a job well done, offering a “salad” as their main meal can result in fussy eaters ingesting their favorite bites only.

This is why pellets are the preferred main diet for pet pigs. Owners can rest easy with the assurance of complete nutrition in every meal their piggy enjoys. The team at Star Milling Co. offers the best nutrition for our pet parents and their piglets with products such as Kelley’s Mini Pot Bellied Pig feed or Ace Hi Pot Belly Pig pellets.

Connect with us on social media and share your favorite piggy pics, tips, and owner insights with the community!

Gather Your Flock with The Best Backyard Chickens for Beginners

You’ve got your coop. You’ve got your feed. Now it’s time to spread your wings and fly with these great backyard chicken breeds for beginners!

Picking out your flock is an exciting step in poultry parenthood. It’s understandable that most backyard coop enthusiasts are eager to jump in faster than a chicken after a mealworm. Hold the excited pecking! From temperament to egg production, there’s a lot to consider prior to acquiring your first flock. Discover the world of backyard chickens with Star Milling Co.’s handy guide to gathering your flock.

What to Look for in Backyard Breeds

Before choosing the perfect feathered friend for you, there are a few characteristic to keep in mind. What are your goals and interests when it comes to backyard chickens? What kind of climate and environment are the birds going to be kept in? Will you be the sole caretaker or will younger members of the family want to try their hand at junior poultry wrangling?

These questions can determine which chickens will make the best addition to your yard. Ideally, beginners should seek out a breed that is hearty and well adapted to moderate hot and cold temperatures. If you live in area with extreme climates, further research may be in order to determine which chickens fare best in your neck of the woods. Popular breeds typically have robust health and are easy for beginners to care for.

You’ll also want to scope out egg production. Whether you’re a hobbyist or looking to start your own farmer’s market stand, it’s important to know typical laying patterns beforehand.

Lastly, pick a breed with a mellow, easy going temperament. Although most chickens don’t love being picked up, many “people friendly” breeds can come to enjoy the occasional cuddle from their poultry parents. Not only are social breeds more fun, but their trusting, relaxed nature makes them less of a task to wrangle if need be.

One last note — pick a breed that is quiet for the sake of your neighbors!

Top 3 Breeds for Beginners

Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk a little about the perfect breeds for beginners. The below recommendations are ideal for people with little experience who are looking for backyard chickens which are easy to manage, require little maintenance and most importantly… lay lots of eggs!

OrpingtonsOrpingtons

These colorful birds are the fluffiest, friendliest backyard friends around. Orpingtons are a popular choice for first time owners due to their docile nature and hardy dexterity. They come in a variety of beautiful colors from brilliant blue and lavender plumage to orange, black, and white shades. With Orpingtons, you’ll enjoy the traditional farmer’s market brown eggs, of which they are quite prolific at laying. Typical egg counts average 200 eggs per chicken, per year.

Plymouth RocksPlymouth Rocks

Think Little House on the Prairie with this classic Americana breed. These barred beauties are quite curious and brave. They love the free range through the yard, pecking at bugs and investigating their new home. Where many chickens can be skittish, Plymouth Rocks charm their families with their inquisitive nature. They’re also fantastic egg layers and do well in both winter and summer climes.

Easter EggersEaster Eggers

Want to enjoy colorful eggs from Spring to Fall? Easter Eggers lay a variety of teal, baby blue, opal, and green eggs, hence their comical name. Their fluffy leg plumes keep them warm in adverse temperatures and make for chicken Instagram worthy pictures of your pantalooned flock out enjoying the sun. They’re social and bond well with their owners in addition to being great explorers. Many Easter Eggers are even proficient hunters, catching small prey from worms to mice!

Ready to start preparing for your first flock? Star Milling has everything poultry owners need from rich, holistic chicken feed and scratch to knowledgeable chicken lovers to help you out along the way. Enjoy the backyard chicken coop journey!

An Egg in Every Hue: The Secret to Colorful Chicken Eggs

colorful eggs in a heart shape

If you’re a new owner of backyard chickens, you may be wondering where in the world these colorful eggs are coming from! Unlike generic store bought eggs, backyard hens lay an interesting variety of colors and sizes. Finding teal eggs in your coop can be a baffling surprise for many owners, but don’t worry; “green” eggs may have a simpler explanation than you think.

Deciding which breed of chickens to add to your flock in order to partake in the rainbow of colors takes a little research. First, a hen’s breed determines what color eggs she’ll produce. Second, a hen will not change their eggshell colors, say from white to pink during their lifetime, although it has been noted that egg colors may become deeper and more intense at the end of their laying cycle. Third, the types of feed you provide has no effect on the color of eggs laid. Lastly, different colors don’t taste different, an egg is an egg.

Classic White

white chicken eggsThis is the shade everyone imagines when owning backyard chickens. While white eggs may appear pristine and picturesque, there is no actual difference in nutrients from one color to another. Think of the shell as your chicken’s way of decorating! Interestingly, white eggs are typically white all the way through, while other colors may exhibit slight variance in layers.

Believe it or not, a chicken’s earlobe may actually be a good indicator of egg color. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the hue and guess the type of egg. Chickens with white earlobes tend to produce white or very light teal eggs, while chickens with brown earlobes usually produce brown eggs.

Popular breeds that produce white eggs include Ancona, White Leghorn, Campine, and Blue Andalusian.

Farmer’s Market Brown

brown chicken eggsBrown or speckled eggs can make your coop look like a picturesque country farm, even if you keep chickens in an urban environment. Taking a closer look at the thin inner layer will reveal the calcium formation that occurs when an egg is produced, giving it the classic white aesthetic on the inside and beautiful brown outside.

If brown eggs are your favorite for a farmhouse breakfast, consider adding Australorp, Plymouth Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, or Sussex hens to your flock.

Easter Egg Teal

teal chicken eggsBlue eggs are among the most popular colors for backyard chicken enthusiasts. These eggs range from light whitish teal to brilliant sky blue. Perfect for Easter decorating and everyday harvesting, blue eggs make the morning routine more fun. You never know what you’ll find in the coop when you have a flock of colorful layers.

While there are a few breed options for blue eggs (Ameraucana, Easter Egger), Cream Legbar Chickens are our favorite due to their easy going nature and friendly personalities. Cream Legbars are also hardy and resilient — perfect for first time owners or experienced pros.

Cozy Cocoa

dark chocolate chicken eggsA variant on the standard lighter brown or Farmer’s Market egg, some hens lay brilliant dark chocolate eggs. Shades can range from hot chocolate to a deep cocoa. These eggs are unique and make a beautiful addition to the breakfast table.

Marans are among the most popular “chocolate egger” breed. These birds are generally docile and make excellent foragers. They’re also well suited to colder weather and do well in northern climates.

Evergreen Olive

olive chicken eggsOlive or “green” eggs are another shade that belongs in an Easter basket. There’s quite a lot of variance in tone with green eggs and a few speckled varieties as well.

It’s no surprise that the most popular breed for laying springy green eggs is aptly named the Easter Egger. Their eggs tend to be extra large and can range in color from teal, to green, and even light pink! These chickens make great family pets due to their cuddly nature and tolerance of small children. Their outgoing personalities provide hours of entertainment for their chicken moms and dads.

When it’s time to fuel your colorful flock, reward your hens with an all-natural diet that supports egg laying. Holistic health and wellness is critical for your busy hens. Say “thank you” to your girls with Star Milling Co.’s full range of feed, treats, and more for poultry and the people who love them!

Roost & Chill: Prepping Backyard Chickens for Cooler Weather

Autumn is upon us and that means pumpkin spice lattes, bonfires, and prepping your backyard coop for cooler weather! Now is the time to begin creating a winter wonderland to keep your chickens snug and warm before the cold weather arrives. Whether you’re new to owning backyard chickens or a chicken aficionado (cat ladies were so 2018), take a look at our short list of essential care tips for raising chickens in the winter months.

chickens in snow

THE COOP & RUN

Get your fall projects underway by patching any holes, gaps, or cracks in your coop. This will minimize drafts and fortify the enclosure against rain and snowfall.

Although no one likes a drafty coop, it’s important to maintain adequate air flow, even during the cooler months. Lack of appropriate ventilation can lead to ammonia build-up and respiratory ailments for your friendly flock. Mold can also grow in bedding due to warm, moist environments.

A good way to manage temperate while reducing humidity is to place vents near the roof so that the chickens are kept out of direct air flow (brrr!). Try a mesh vent with a hatch for easy venting during the day and convenient closure for the chilly night hours.

Looking to upgrade your coop to a chicken mansion? Consider adding a sunroof! Well insulated windows are great for trapping heat in the winter months and keeping your birds comfortable.

BEDDING

If you’ve never heard of the deep litter method, you’re in for a game changer. This technique provides a sustainable way of managing litter, while insulating your flock. Layer pine or aspen shavings over the floor of the coop. Stir the litter daily with a rake rather than removing or replacing the soiled bedding. This creates natural movement and aeration and the dispersal encourages scratching and pecking as well.

Top the litter off weekly until a healthy compost layer forms. This allows good microbes to flourish in a self-cleaning environment while bad bacteria is readily consumed, keeping the coop insulated all year round.

FEEDING TIPS

Chickens, like humans and other animals, expend more energy in the cold. This means more calories are necessary in the winter to maintain health and wellness. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to feed 1.5x more than you would over the spring and summer. In cooler months, chickens are recovering from egg laying and require extra carbohydrates and protein.

Supplement your chickens’ normal feed with tasty snacks like oatmeal, mealworms, scratch, nutrient dense leafy greens, and even a drop of yogurt. Healthy treats are a great way to show your chickens some extra love while looking after their seasonal needs. Tis the season after all!

BEST BREEDS FOR COLD WEATHER

If you’re in the planning phase of your backyard coop, consider the top 5 chicken breeds best suited to cold climates:

Australorp chicken

Australorp

Not only does this breed have a thick plume of feathers to ward off the chill, but Australorps are excellent egg layers that will provide you with year round omelettes for breakfast!

Silkie chickenSilkie

Everyone loves the fluffy, crazy haired Silkie! These chickens aren’t just adorable; they’re even tempered, easy to care for, and perfect for beginners.

Plymouth Rock chickenPlymouth Rock

Plymouth Rocks are the classic chicken that remind us of white picket fences and country fields. These chickens are a solid choice for colder climates and sure to delight owners with their goofy antics and colorful personalities.

Dorking chickenDorking

The Dorking is the dolly of the flock—they are sweethearts! Dorkings are extremely friendly, great mother hens, and feel right at home in chilly climates.

Cochin chickenCochin

The first thing you may notice about Cochins is their built-in “snow boots.” Like the Silkie, they’re cute, fluffy aesthetic and sweet personality makes them a favorite for backyard coops. They aren’t the best egg layers, but they’re ideal for a small, family flock.

MOLTING

Backyard chickens molting can be stressful for both owners and hens. Don’t be alarmed if you enter your coop and see feathers everywhere – your chickens are just molting. Most chickens molt in the cooler fall months, in response to decreased light as summer ends and winter approaches. During molting season, your hens will generally stop laying eggs and redirect their energy to regrowing quality feathers for the winter season.

If you notice your girls are looking patchy, increase their protein supply with mealworms, peanuts, dried grubs, or treat them to a fun and tasty seed mix like Pinata Party Mix. Next, fortify their straw and bedding. This will ensure your chickens are comfortable while she rebuilds her feathery coat.

Looking for more great backyard chicken tips for the fall season? Learn more about why pumpkin isn’t only great in lattes — it’s great for chickens too!

 

How to Start Your Backyard Flock

The current chicken renaissance has gathered momentum. It is now common to find coops in both urban and suburban backyards. This may be attributed to the surging interest in organic and local foods, and the fact that most people find chickens to be great pets. If you are considering bringing some farmyard into the backyard, then this short read will guide you on how to get started.

Why keep a backyard chicken?

Backyard chickens are increasingly popular because they are inexpensive, easy, and produce eggs!

    • You are in charge of what goes into them, which I’m guessing will not be the antibiotics, steroids, and other drugs that may be in store-bought eggs.
    • Chicken manure and eggshells produce fantastic nitrogen-rich fertilizer that is excellent for growing food.
    • They offer natural pest control by  scratching and pecking for larvae and insects to eat.
    • Most chicken breeds make great pets and enjoying cuddling and petting.
    • You can get the freshest eggs possible, mostly with fewer calories and fat than those bought in the store.

Important tips for starting your flock

Here’s what to consider before purchasing your first chick:

#1 – Understand the local regulations

The first step is to check the municipal laws or any homeowner association requirements on rearing backyard chickens. Some areas have limits for the maximum number of animals kept in each household. Most communities ban roosters, but this may not be a deal-breaker since hens can lay eggs without them.

Furthermore, some areas will require you to have permits and a signed agreement from your neighbors. You may also need to appear before the zoning board to discover restrictions on the placement and size of outbuildings. Some areas, however, have no restrictions at all.

By understanding the local requirements, you will be able to begin your project without any conflict with your neighbors or homeowners’ association.

#2 – Pick your breed

One advantage of rearing chickens is that you raise beautiful birds with a range of unusually colored eggs.

Most breeds come in two varieties: standard or large breed, and bantam (typically a quarter the size of the large bird). Both varieties do well in the backyard. However, standard breeds lay larger eggs than their counterparts.

When choosing your unique flock, consider the physical and behavioral characteristics as well as each breed’s climate suitability. Check out our comprehensive guide to find the right breed of chicken suited just for you.

#3 – Build the coop

Not only does it provide shelter for your chickens, but it also forms part of your backyard landscape. So when planning for your coop, consider the chicken’s needs and aesthetics.

You may build a stylish coop that complements your home, or even create a fancy customized coop that includes leaded stained glass windows placed above the nesting boxes. No matter what you choose, create the perfect space that you will love and with plenty of room to keep your chickens happy and healthy.

#4 – Feed and take care of your new pets

Your new chickens may be accustomed to digging up part of their food, but you also need to provide chicken feed. Their diet should be balanced and match their specific need such as if they are chicks, layers, or for meat. Moreover, growing birds, young chicks, and layers have specialized poultry feeds to keep them healthy. As a treat, you can feed Ace Hi or Kelley’s chicken scratch, or add vegetable scraps or grass clippings into the run.

Lots of water is particularly essential for consistent laying. If a layer goes for over 12 hours without drinking water, then this would mean weeks out of production.

Your birds ultimately become your friends and will appreciate the way you interact with them. They may get accustomed to a particular call or noise and will always flock around the gate with their cute ‘awk! awk!’ greeting noises.

#5 – Chicken health

As with any other animal, health problems also affect chickens. Therefore, you should always call your vet to help you with diagnosis and treatment whenever there is a health issue. Notably, you should monitor their health every day and you can even create immune support at home for your new flock.

Healthy birds are active, alert, have clean eyes, and silent unnoticeable breathing. Seek assistance if you notice dropping wings and tail, weakness, discharge from eyes and nostrils, paralysis of one or more limbs, or loss of appetite.

#6 – Gardening with your chicken

Although they are mostly kept for their fresh egg supply, backyard chickens can also benefit the garden. At the end of the gardening season, release your birds into the gardening space and see how they will go crazy! They will uproot the stalks and stems of weeds then gobble up the remaining overripe or damaged vegetables.

Any seeds or insects in the soil will also be eaten. Furthermore, the hens will peck apart the vegetable remnants such as carrot tops, broccoli stems, kale, and chard. All this will be done with endless curiosity and enthusiasm.

There is a lot to consider when raising backyard chickens but ultimately you will be rewarded with lots of feathered friends that will save you money in many ways. If you have already checked the local ordinances and understand the necessary commitment, there is no better time to start your backyard flock than now!

Unique Backyard Chickens to Add to Your Flock

Whether you’re looking to start a new flock or searching for new breeds to add to your established collection, there are plenty of unique backyard chickens to choose from. Every chicken breed has its own interesting characteristics, but some breeds are known for being extra quirky, loving, smart, and more! We have the scoop on interesting chicken breeds that will quickly make your backyard flock the talk of the neighborhood.

Orpington

Orpington Chicken

Imagine looking out your window and seeing a happy, ginger-blonde fluff ball wandering around your backyard. Adorable, right? The Orpington is known for being cute, sweet, patient, and extremely docile, so if you have young children this is especially a great pick! The ginger-blonde color is the most popular, but they also come in blue, black, and white. Orpingtons lay one medium/large light brown egg about every other day. Since they have quite a lot of fluff plumage and are heavyset, this breed is great for withstanding cold weather.

Naked Neck or “Turken”

Naked Neck ChickenOnce you lay your eyes on the Naked Neck chicken, you’ll see exactly why they’re so special. This quirky and distinctive breed naturally have no feathers on their necks. It’s been rumored that they are a cross between a chicken and turkey, however, this has been debunked. Since the Naked Neck has the fewest feathers compared to any other chicken, they need shelter from the sunlight to avoid getting sunburnt and to stay warm in the winters. They produce about 100 eggs per year.

Frizzle

Frizzle Chicken

This stunning chicken is sure to turn heads due to their unique, frazzled, and fluffy feathers galore. While Frizzles are certainly known for taking home ribbons after shows from their dashing looks, they’re also known for having loving and gentle temperaments. They produce around 150 cream-colored eggs each per year. Frizzles love cuddles, attention, and treats, so don’t be surprised when they make themselves at home quickly within your family.

Barred Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rock ChickenIf you’re looking for an inquisitive, talkative, and sweet chicken – look no further! The Barred Plymouth Rock chicken is extremely friendly and smart. In fact, out of all chickens, they’re the ones that will come running first, jumping for cuddles, and following you around the yard like a puppy! Their chitter-chatter sounds like soft sweet coo’s. They’ll typically lay around 4-5 large, light brown eggs per week and can withstand heat and cold very well. They love having free range but can also handle being confined if needed. These black and white spotted beauties make excellent backyard birds!

Barnevelder

Barnevelder ChickenThe Barnevelder is a one-of-a-kind gorgeous chicken with unique double laced plumage and is known for its rare chocolate-colored eggs. They lay about 3 large eggs per week. This breed is easy-going, friendly, mellow, and quiet. You probably won’t find this breed in your local stores due to them being so rare, but you can find them through a private breeder. The Barnevelder can tolerate being confined and can handle the cold. You simply have to see their gorgeous feathers for yourself!

Dominique

Dominique Chicken

You’ll find this lovely breed following behind their favorite humans closely and being very sweet. Their distinct black and white patterns make them easy to spot along with their flattened rose comb. Since they’re so gentle they do have a chance at getting picked on by more aggressive breeds. They make terrific mothers and are auto-sexing which means you can tell the sex of baby chicks just by looking at them. Male chicks have scattered head spots while females head spots are smaller and clumped together. They do very well in the cold because of their unique combs.

Crested Cream Legbar

Crested Cream Legbar Chicken

Known for their bright blue-green eggs, this is a rare breed that everyone wants clucking around their backyard. Crested Cream Legbars have the cutest head poufs and big floppy combs. They are sweet-natured and very inquisitive so they will likely want to be all up in your business! They’re great at avoiding predators and move quickly when needed. Cream Legbars are tolerant of confinement, heat, and cold and lay 4-5 of their gorgeous blue-green eggs per week. Similar to the Dominique, they are auto-sexing so it’s easy to tell baby chicks apart. Their quirky personalities will be a welcome addition to your backyard.

Silkie

Silkie Chicken

Talk about unique… the Silkie breed looks just like a cuddly teddy bear! These cuties are often kept as beloved pets rather than for egg production. Silkies have fluffy, unique feathers ranging from blue, black, white, grey, buff, partridge, splash, and are typically raised as show birds. They lay 2-3 medium, cream-colored eggs per week. Since their silky feathers do not stick together, they can’t fly! This makes them an easy target for outdoor predators and needs higher protection. They’re an easy target for bullying so it’s best to keep them with flocks of their same breed or similar breeds like the Polish.

It’s hard to pick just one breed, isn’t it? They’re all so wonderful. These unique chickens will certainly put a smile on your face every time you look out into your backyard.

Eggs with Blood Spots – Safe to Eat?

First of all, WHAT IS A BLOOD SPOT?!

Do not panic.  If you’ve eaten eggs from your own chickens before, chances are you’ve seen a blood spot.  If you’ve only eaten eggs purchased at the grocery store, and you’re making the switch to “homemade” eggs, then you’re in for a few surprises!  That’s because commercial eggs are screened for perfection, and any unusual eggs don’t make it to shelves.  In reality, eggs are individually made in an intricate and complex process, and sometimes come out looking a bit strange.  One of the many fun features of being a chicken keeper!

egg and egg yolk with a blood spot
The tiny red speck is a blood spot.

Blood spots in eggs are exactly that; tiny spots of red blood that you’ll see when you crack open a fresh egg.  All eggs, fertilized or not, contain tiny blood vessels that anchor the yolk inside the egg.  In a fertilized and incubated egg, those blood vessels will deliver nutrients to a growing chick embryo.  There is common misconception that seeing a blood spot in the egg means it is fertilized.  This is not true.  Both fertilized and unfertilized eggs can have blood spots.

Blood spots occur when one of those tiny blood vessels is broken during the laying process.  This is most commonly due to a hen being startled while laying her daily egg.

Blood spots are fairly common, and not cause for concern.  They are perfectly safe to eat, although you may want to scoop the discolored bit out with a spoon for aesthetic purposes.

If you notice quite a bit of blood, or blood spots accompanied with other unusual egg characteristics, you may want to evaluate your hen’s health.  Infrequent odd eggs are normal, but ongoing odd eggs can be an indicator of disease or nutritional deficiency.

If you are actively monitoring your chickens’ health, and feeding them a balanced feed like Ace Hi or Kelley’s lay feeds, designed specifically to meet the needs of egg laying hens, then you should have a happy flock!

 

 

Pumpkin Season for Your Chickens Too?

chicken jack-o-lantern

Before the first leaf of autumn falls, pumpkin spice season is upon us! Grocery store shelves are lined with pumpkin flavor everything, pumpkin spice coffees are in every hand, and soon pumpkin patches will be taking over parking lots. Can your chickens enjoy pumpkin season just as much as you? Absolutely!

chickens eating out of a pumpkin

Pumpkins are loaded with so many great nutrients, they make a perfect seasonal treat. Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins A, B, C and zinc. And pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamin E. Your chickens will enjoy all parts of the pumpkin: the stringy guts, the seed, the flesh, they’ll eat every bit until there is only a thing skin left. They’ll happily eat your jack-o-lantern leftovers!

Have you ever considered starting your own backyard pumpkin patch? Pumpkins are loaded with seeds and fairly easy to grow. You can create your own supply of pumpkins for years to come!

Feeding Chickens Seasonally: Summer

What is best to feed your chickens in summer?

What we eat changes with the seasons, and our chicken’s diet will change with the seasons as well. Consistently offering a feed made specifically for your chickens, like Ace Hi or Kelley’s Lay feeds, is important to their overall health, but what we feed as supplements and treats will change based on seasonal needs.

Feeding your flock properly during the summer months will help them stay healthy during the heat, but also set them up for a successful fall and winter.

You may notice that your chickens consume less of their feed during summer. This is normal, as the heat causes a loss of appetite, just like in us humans. If your chickens are free ranging, they may eat less of their feed because there are plenty of other options like grass and bugs available to them.

chickens in a grass field

Make sure you consistently offer them a high quality ration. A balanced feed will deliver the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your chickens need. In addition, you can supplement with summer time treats. Offering a little yogurt can deliver a probiotic boost. Careful not to over do the dairy. Watermelon is a terrific treat for providing cooling hydration on a hot day. Home made chicken popsicles allow you to get creative! Freeze herbs, fruits, and vegetables in some ice, and your chickens will get hours of refreshing entertainment.

chicken eating watermelon
a cool juicy treat!

During summer, you’ll want to limit the amount of scratch grains you feed. The high amounts of corn found in scratch can increase their body heat production, and make them feel even hotter in summer. Instead, encourage your chickens to scratch and forage by giving them leafy greens, grass, weeds, or dandelions.

frozen strawberries and weeds
a chicken popsicle!

Electrolytes: Immune Support You Can Make At Home

Chickens are not well equipped to handle high temperatures. During hot weather, they are vulnerable to heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and are even at risk of death. They cannot sweat to cool themselves. They expel heat by panting and holding their wings out to increase air flow, which are not very effective during hot summers and heat waves. One strategy you can use to help your chickens stay healthy during heat waves is giving them electrolytes.

Electrolytes can be used to support your entire flock, or to treat a chicken in the sick ward. Electrolytes replenish the nutrients and minerals lost under extreme heat and stress. They boost immunity and support kidney and respiratory functions.

Electrolytes are also useful during times of stress, flock illness, or traveling. They give your chickens a little pick me up whenever one is needed.

Electrolytes are easy to mix at home with items you already have in the kitchen. The strength of the mixture will depend on its intended use. Dilute the mixture when giving electrolytes for general support, and give a stronger mixture to a sick bird needing more health care.

Make sure to only give your chickens electrolytes as needed, and only for a few days at a time. Make sure to have fresh, regular water also available at all times. Too much salt can be detrimental to your chicken’s health.

salt, baking soda, sugar, and a measure spoon are the ingredients needed to make homemade electrolytes for chickens
easy make-at-home electrolytes

Homemade Electrolyte Recipe for Chickens:

1 gallon water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together until dissolved.