Things I’ve learned about raising chickens:
1) Keep the waterer level with the height of their back to avoid them getting it clogged with yuckies.
2) Auracanas may lay blue or green eggs (which is pretty cool) but they’re a damn annoying breed. Plus note: they lay up to 2 times a day per bird, easily twice the production of anything else I had.
3) rooster spurs are incredibly sharp. Also .. roosters are jerks.
4) If they start pecking each other, put petroleum jelly where they peck. It will sour their taste for it in the short term and if done quickly in each instance over months, they will stop veritably altogether.
5) The best thing for a sick chicken is solitary bed rest and hand watering. Hand watering is accomplished by using a straw and lifting their head, opening the mouth and dribbling water in.
6) A sick chicken can look very, very dead, but be very, very alive.
7) There is no more humane way to kill a chicken than to cut it’s head off. A few drops of clove oil will numb/sedate them beforehand. Apply to mouth via dropper or straw.
8) Breaking a chickens neck doesn’t always kill it. See #7.
9) Flipping a chicken upside down will usually calm it down.
10) Cultural chicken references are much more interesting after owning chickens. “Stop hen-pecking.” “Top of the pecking order.” etc.
11) Kids freak out over chickens and chicks. At least, my 2yo does. He absolutely loves them.
12) Pine chips are not good bedding. It creates an unhealthy and unsanitary dust.
13) before laying the bedding down, put a tarp down attached to a wooden frame (Got this idea from a friend of mine who raises 40-60 ducks), put the chips on that and when you need to change the bedding just pull out the frame.
14) Onions are bad for chickens. Read and memorize this list:http://birds.about.com/od/feeding/tp/poisonousfoods.htm
15) Chickens need lots of consistent light to lay… well consistently. Naturally lit northern birds don’t like to lay in winter without an extra light on a timer or something.
16) Chickens lay in cycles naturally. Factory ‘force laying 24/7’ gives the birds a very short lifespan. Mine are still laying after 4 years.
17) Chickens cheer each other on when one is having trouble laying an egg. It’s pretty funny. “Comon Alana, you can do it! Push that egg out! SQUAWK!”
18) If on the off chance you have a VERY sick set of birds and need to use antibiotics, you cannot eat the eggs for a week afterwards. Which makes you wonder why we can eat factory-farm produced eggs that have antibiotics in the feed.
19) Hens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs (sounds basic but when I first started, this was hugely revelatory to me)
20) And last, but not least… factory produced eggs taste like cardboard, home grown eggs taste unbelievably good. They also have significantly higher nutrient value: http://www.backyardfarmers.com/nutrition_egg_facts
Mike Messina of http://www.flsgear.com
The best thing you can buy is quality!