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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Chickens! How to raise chickens a complete beginner guide for your backyard flock

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Bird sounds Rooster crowing in background


baby magpie duckling

piano music

wild birds chirping in background

rooster crowing

wood pecker in background

squawking sound from hen

high pitched crow

chicken sounds in background

in this segment

we'll talk about mail ordering chicks

there are lots of mailing resources out there, take your time

make sure you read

about the characteristics of the breed you want

understand their needs

bantams take us less space, eat less food

if you have small spaces, they are a good choice

there are many breeds available

large hens, lay large eggs, but eat more feed

they also require larger coop space

we till start with Bantam Chicks

Dark Brahmas and Partridge Plymouth Rocks

I will show how to brood the chicks

order early

hatcheries often sell out of specific breeds

you may be disappointed if you wait too long to order

starting birds in Feb or March is a good idea

Keep them warm, maybe in the basement

Consider family members who may be allergic

protect them from family pets

here is how to order through a catalog

Join organizations like the ALBC

They feature all breeds and species of farm livestock

these are various annual catalogs

The Poultry Press has show chickens all over the country

If you want champion breeds/lines, the Poultry Press

Will show you who is winning and has great lines

There are all sorts of poultry related articles in the Poultry Press

Breeders have listings and prices on their birds

You can order fertile hatching eggs, or in some cases, live chicks from breeders

You will know they come from top stock

In this catalog, photos of chicks and adults help you make choices

There is also a brief write up about each breed


when they list breeds, they give shipping times that they will be available

They ship once a week

Pick the best week for you

when you are ready to care for them

straight run only

this means you will receive male and female chickens together

bantams are generally not sexed

when ordering live chicks

the minimum is 25 chicks

we're ordering

Dark Brahmas

10 each

and 15 of another variety

they will come straight run, approx 50/50 male and female

we want them in February at the end of the month

we're also getting Partridge Rocks

take time to study and understand the traits of the breeds you select

Bantams like these take up less space and are cheap to feed

great birds for kids

large breeds offer sexing

male, female or straight run

you can avoid getting roosters

hens are the most expensive

Ordering online

think about the minimum number

if 25 is too many, maybe share your order with someone else

25 chicks are important as they keep each other warm in shipping

do you want vaccines?

I suggest that you choose them

vaccines to NOT ruin your organic status

you don't need medicated feed if your chicks are vaccinated

here is the final order

It's important to order from the hatcheries,

it keeps them in business

and preserves the breed resources

NPIPflocks will want the P-Certificate

If YOU are a NIPI participant

as I am, you will need to get your birds from NPIPcertified breeders

If any chicks arrive dead

they will refund the cost

they will not ship single replacement chicks

even though it's late January now

I requested delivery

the week of Feb 13th


while waiting for your order

take time to study chickens

learn about specific breeds

traits and special needs if any

this is a great beginner's book

read to your children

this is a great book, hard bound

deals primarily with chickens in the North East United States

Deep book on the history of the chicken and its part in humanity

The Chicken Book

the part chickens have played in human culture world wide

incubation as far back as the Egyptians and China

this book is hard to find now

nice photos and breed traits

college text books are also great resources

Fred is a licensed poultry technician through the PA Dept. of Ag

old school text books like this one

are often out of print

search by the isbn

you can find it easier

amazingly cheap!

The NPIP is available online for review

even small flock owners can participate in the NPIP

find out about other breeders

by looking at the participant list in the NPIP for your State

piano music playing


wind blowing

distant thunder

thunder getting closer

rain falling

ducks quacking

lightning and thunder

loud thunder

wild birds singing

let's talk about housing chickens

Not everyone wants permanent buildings

free range may not be an option either

neighbors may not like your chickens

keep them out of gardens

portable coops are one option

the open floor

allows chickens access to the ground

you can move it often

there is a nesting box/roosting bos

a place for them to sleep at night

let's go over the features

keep in mind that there are many varieties

you can buy them pre fab

or design and build your own

prints of this coop I designed are available through my Fred's Fine Fowl website

it can withstand winds and still light enough

to move it around

children may not be able to move it

but a single adult can

when it comes to your own design

keep it simple

too many components

may make it too heavy

you want to be able to move it easily

I recommend a book titled The Chicken Tractor

it's as much about gardening as it is about chickens

using chickens to tend soil you want to garden in later

here are some of the features of this coop


portable or permanent

make it large enough for grown ups to service

if it's too small

you won't want to go inside for chores

you will be carrying feed or water

consider that when designing

this one is six feet tall

seven feet long

three feet wide

keep it narrow so you can lift it by the handles

the door

is very light and easy to open

a portable coop with an open bottom

is better than

having a pen that never changes

chickens will wear out the ground

portable coops keep the chickens moving and the earth healthy

soil constantly tread on by chickens

can become unhealthy

even parasites may build up

portable coops allow you to move chickens and their home

complete with nest box


and water

this saves the soil

and keeps chickens safe

neighbors will not be bothered

and your pets can't get to them

this coop is designed

for bantam chickens

full size birds probably won't be happy with this small space

this is for five bantams

one rooster and four hens

though this is enclosed

you need to protect your birds

weasels and other small predators

can get under it

same as regular coops

this must be lockable

this box provides protection at night

if predators got through the wall or bottom

the birds are safe inside

close it every night

the ramp goes to the front of the structure

it does not rest on the ground

start new chickens inside the roosting bos

they will find the outside on their own

and will soon know that this is their home

suspending feeders and drinkers

keeps them level

at night

elevate the feeder

preventing mice and other critters from eating the feed

this one hangs on a hook under the roosting box

move the coop every couple of days

to fresh soil

the side opens

this is important access for cleaning

and you can collect the eggs

removable perches

easy cleaning

these are litter raised

dried pine shavings

these can be used later in the garden

keep chicken droppings dry

hay and straw do NOT absorb moisture and are not good for nesting areas

this next box is sized for bantam hens

12 x 12 x 14 inches

this can also be put out in the pen area

this is how I provide outside perches

easy to put in and take out

this is 1 x 2" wood

rounded tops for chickens to perch on

fits well in 1 x 2 cage wire

do NOTuse chicken wire.. it doesn't last and is thin

four foot length wood is perfect

this is a regular steel spike

available at hardware stores

keeps from having perch pulled through

won't fall when birds are on it

pull the spike and remove the perch whenever you need to

easy for cleaning

when not in use

I put them up here

they are always there if needed

you can put them at any height

solid rubber tires at one end

move the structure like a wheel barrow

don't use air filled tires, they generally go flat

this coop is small enough

that you can wheel it inside

if you need to store it or

shelter it for winter

this full video is also available via

finished with exterior wood stain

do not use metal roofing

before talking about designs of coops

let's talk location

keep away from woods

away from lots of trees

predators hunt these areas

if you can, put your coop in the open

this is a good location

sloped ground is good for runoff

no standing water

no damp soil

good drainage is important

ventilation is important

these are solar powered fans

wood roofs are good insulators, metal roofs are HOT or COLD depending on the season

venting without making it drafty is important

physical size is important

4 sq ft of floor space per bird

this is 8 x 8 or 64 sq ft of floor space

good for 16 full size chickens

even though there is plenty of outside area

think about winter

the birds will be inside for weeks, maybe months

plan for the size flock you want

birds concentrated in small spaces are stressed

they may even attack each other

each structure is elevated off the ground

this prevents mice and other rodents from living underneath

also dries out the ground

chickens can go under to get out of the rain

or to dodge a hawk

or just to get in the shade

you want all areas to be accessible

concrete pads at the door are a good idea

this avoids muddy messes

security for the birds is important

shelter from weather extremes

strong lockable doors

this saves the birds from predators

think about predators in your area

chickens return the the coop on their own

people size doors are also important

windows are also important

14 hours of daylight on average

produces the best egg production

this is the interior

deep pine shavings are all over the floor

this is called "litter raised"

the shavings absorb moisture

good garden mulch

sound dampening

deep substrate protects chickens from foot injury

heavy birds jump down

and can injure their feet if the floor is hard

every coop should be self contained

fresh water and food

nest boxes are also important

this drinker holds 5 gls

clean it out, even if it's not empty

at least every 48 hours

cage wire keeps the chickens off of the drinker

you don't want chicken droppings IN the water

this is a heated base

it automatically comes on at 34 deg.

and automatically turns off above 34

birds need plenty of water to survive in the cold

you need one nest box for every four hens

do not put the nest boxes low enough for the birds to see in when hanging out

elevate the boxes

and keep them in a darker part of the coop

how to get your hens to lay eggs in the boxes

I put decoy eggs in each bos

decoys are made in many different materials

stone, ceramics, concrete and wood

the wood eggs are best in my opinion

they don't get cold and have a weight and look

very similar to a real egg

chickens see eggs in a nest and think it's safe for their own eggs

if every egg went away, the hens may seek hiding places for their eggs

keep litter clean and maybe put DE in to keep them safe

large feed bins are important

this one holds over a hundred pounds of feed

have a trough wide enough

several chickens need to be able to eat at the same time

a small area may be guarded by one dominant hen

this is a larger coop

8 x 16 feet

that's good for 32 chickens

every coop needs a people door

one trait I want you to notice

is the length

and the access door

is far from the nest boxes

you want hens to walk through dry litter

on their way to the nest boxes

this is intentional

it keeps the nest boxes dry and clean

this coop also has a large feeder

low perches were good for Cochins in hte past

I did not like the low back wall 4:

I would not repeat this low ceiling design

other things to think about

walls should prevent drafts

you need soffit venting

for good air flow without drafts

the health of your birds comes first

even on very cold days, they are fine

all walls are single wall design

I want every surface accessible

double walls provide spaces for mice

I do not insulate walls, chickens will eat insulation

metal walls and ceilings are too hot in summer and too cold in winter

Metal walls and ceilings also frost up during winter, on the inside.

areas where chickens may be able to reach the insulation

the insulation is covered with interior metal flashing

insulating ceilings keeps the coop quieter

and prevents overheating by the sun

all of our coops have electricity

for lighting and for heated drinker bases

these are fluorescent bulbs that are rated for outdoor use.

14 hours of light is the minimum for dependable egg production

lights on timers can provide that for you

short winter days would naturally cause most hens to go off lay

the bulb can be very low light capable.. this is a 15 watt light

bright white bulbs may actually cause stress

the hen door should have latch

it should lock open as well as shut

without a open holding latch, the wind could blow the door shut.

this coop is sized for 40 large chickens

8 x 20 feet

this is another variation on the hen door

a simple hole with a spike through it

this holds the door open

simple and cheap

on the ramp, you can do many different things

solid for them to walk on

and some way of keeping them from slipping

here I have used old garden hose

cut and fastened with stainless steel screws

this is my favorite design

on the interior

it's all for the birds..

adding off floor entertainment is important

this branch is hanging by chains

it's 12 feet long

when birds perch on it, it's like a branch blowing in the wind

this gives them some activity

set up different perches at various heights

some birds even will roost in the rafters

others sit on the window sills

40 hens, require only 10 nest boxes

keep nest boxes out of normal line of sight

you don't want them to eat their eggs

keep them low enough for hens to fly to the ledge

each hen will select a a favorite nest box and use it over and over

if storing feed inside the coop

use metal cans

mice and rats can chew through plastic bins

we have never had a rodent problem

this is a brooder or hospital pen

it's important to have it INSIDE the coop

this keeps babies and injured birds

connected with the larger flock

separate feed and water can be provided here

these are guinea keets

one of the best ways to tame your birds

is to hand feed

coming to people for food

makes them look forward to your visits

even nervous chickens can be more tame through hand feeding

when chickens are not ranging

they require a balanced diet

it's your job

to provide the best quality feed

don't skimp on feed quality

don't price shop

consider contents first

understand completely, what the feed is made of

chicks start on crumbles

these are pellets that older birds eat

pellet form is cleaner

older birds

need a layer formula

a laying hen may need suplements

this is oyster shell

keeps up the calcium levels for laying hens

egg shells take lots of calcium from hens

do NOT feed calcium to developing chicks

their organs can be damaged

after laying the first egg

shift to a layer ration

then you can offer calcium supplements

chickens need to digest and process feed

grit helps them grind up feed

no nutritional value


do not breath DE dust.... wear protection

you can add it to feed in order to absorb moisture

some say that eating DE will aid in parasite control

In winter,

rations are very important as they are the sole ration

do not leave feed outside for wildlife

grit is not necessary for feed forumlas exclusively

chickens on open range

are omnivorous

they eat everything

plants and animals

this tiny snake

would even be chicken food

environmental health is VERYimportant

small reptiles like this brown snake

are indicators of good environmental health

if pesticides were being used

the food chain

would be toxic

they would die off

chickens eat mice



and other amphibians

the presence of reptiles like this northern brown snake

everything is connected, don't use pesticides

sounds of chickens and wild birds chirping

birds raised exclusively for exhibition...

roosters crowing

Curt... you've been raising poultry for how many years?

since the age of eight

showing at the Crawford County Fair

46 years of experience exhibiting

most varieties of poultry, including water fowl

settled on the Leghorn

as a favorite breed

I was ten or twelve

when I began to collect eggs

and began incubating

helping his father and mother

father and mother both exhibited their own birds

is this the farm you grew up on?

We've always lived in this town, but a few different locations

I've lived here for about 40 years

leghorns and waterfowl are the primary breed interests

these are two standard leghorns?

These are what they call large fowl and yes, they are leghorns

both are male

with long tails

and long saddle feathers

larger heads and combs than the females have

this is a rose comb

and this is a single comb on the buff

both are for exhibition

white and buff leghorn roosters

they are looking really good at this point

would you mind taking them out and showing us their features and traits?

you should have your birds coop trained

leghorns are very stylish

be sure to not have them too calm

or they won't be perky enough for the judge

this is a single comb buff leghorn rooster

one of his outstanding traits would be the nice buff coloration

right through the sickle feathers

this male bird is several years old

starting to have spurs

they have been trimmed off for show

they have legbands

when looking at a bird for quality

make sure the feathers are complete with none missing

none broken

check both sides

sometimes they get broken off

or may be chewed up

these are the long saddle feathers

with the points on them

indicates the male

at least in this particular breed

these are the ear lobes

should be clean and soft


those are the main traits

more important than color

is the physical composition and stance of the bird

nice sweeping back line is favored

they should stand proud

this is a rose comb

white leghorn rooster

large fowl

it's best to remove them head first from cages

some birds are flighty

this male has

extremely long tail feathers

beautiful long saddle feathers

you can get them a little too long

maybe these could be shorter

evaluate the wing condition on both sides

this is a younger bird

not so many testing bands on his legs

this is the rose comb

flatter wider

little bumps

long leader on the back

again.. the type is more important than color

stance is also important

Normally he would be shown in a double coop

so he can present himself


a double coop would allow him to walk around and show better

is there a competition where they are shown with females?

yes, they can be shown in trios

one male and two females

all of the same breed and variety

males are 50% of the points and the females would also be 50% of the grading scale

you would want to match them well

females should appear very similar

this is a female of the same breed and variety

female lacks the pointed feathers on the hackle and saddle areas

again handle them carefully when removing from the cage

this female has been in the breeding pen

her tail feathers are a little rough

check wings and other traits just as you would with the males

looking for a nice even color throughout the body and through the tail

notice the female comb, in the leghorn

is supposed to lop over to one side

it's a defect in a male

part of the standardization of the breed

most female chickens in or near production are permitted to have lopped combs

this is an example of

old english game bantams

considered a "true bantam"

a "true bantam" has no larger counter part

they have the true bantam gene

some have been downsized from larger standard fowl

but these and breeds such as black rose combs only exist as small birds

silver duckwing color pattern

note the difference in color between the male and female

again the male has the pointed feathers

these have not been coop trained

they are young birds

around six months old

notice that they will need some training

these have not yet been shown

they are almost at showing age

the Old English Game bantam should have tight feathering

nice solid body

this is the male of the same variety

silver duckwing old english game bantam

young and not used to being shown or handled

he is not coop trained

but is nearly mature

his main sickle feathers will still get longer

note on this particular bird

the comb has been docked

the waddles also have been trimmed

because these are game chickens

originally bred for fighting

they can be very dangerous to each other

they grab the beaks and waddles

and can really cause a lot of damage

this is another bantam example

not a true bantam

there is a large standard version

this one is not considered show condition

he's molting

the tail is not full

some things you may do to prepare a bird for show

keep them separate from other birds

away from females

also keep them on premium feed

high protein

this helps grow feathers

this is a colorful bird

brown leghorn

the tail has a bright green sheen to it

consistent even color is important

feed has a lot to do with a good appearance

he also has molting on his breast

that will fill out

toe nails may need trimming

his nails are a bit long

these need trimming before a show

as with any pet, the center of the nail

ends about

half way

you can see the darker area

trim the nail beyond the dark area

otherwise it may bleed

sharp wire cutters are good enough

not all nails require trimming

some breeds seem to have longer nails than others

snip those off

then use a small file to smooth them out

then they will be much nicer for handling

this bird, though not ready now, may one day be in good enough condition for show

once they are ready for show

they can be washed

not difficult to do

get a couple tubs of warm water

dog shampoo is ok

that's what I use

soap them up

it's a nice soft soap

wash all different parts of the body

rinse them thoroughly

remove all soap

you can use a hair dryer

if it's a sunny day, you can just put them in the sun

let them air dry if it's nice and warm

I recommend a hair dryer for the smaller birds like this one

you can also wash the feet and toes

some people put ointment on the comb and waddles

a little shine can be favorable

what kind of ointment?

There are products they use

vasoline even works

camfer is also ok

brightens the comb and waddles

this bird has been inside

putting them outside adds redness to the comb

how do you keep feathers from fading?

yes, if they are in direct sunlight for longer periods of time

in the sun all the time

the feathers will absolutely fade

one of the main concerns people have when raising poultry

is finding a sick bird

or found one dead in the yard

what are some of the concerns

regarding handling

and what conditions should be watched for


When should birds be turned in for lab testing?

It depends on what you see

if you note respiratory signs

foamy eyes,

nasal discharge,

open mouth breathing,


anything one associates with infection

that would be cause for investigation

you may have to turn in a live bird for diagnostics so you can get some good information

and offer a better diagnosis

the dead bird itself

if it's just one dead bird

and it's obviously been killed by something else

you don't need to send that one in

but, if it's

more than one bird dying or inappropriate for its age... then look carefully at those conditions

at least discuss that with your clinician

have them make suggestions

regarding which birds to bring in for evaluation

or even necropsy

personal protection is not a huge deal

general disinfection and washing is in order

maybe put gloves on that are disposable before handling dead birds

put the body in double bag protection\

in bags that don't leak

you can also wrap your hands in an inside out plastic bag

with enough dexterity to pick up the bird

as with any dead animal, good cleaning of hands and body parts in contact with the body

when is a bird no longer suitable for submission to a lab for testing?

It's surprising...

sometimes we can get some good information

from a bird that has been dead for quite a while

even a couple of days

if the weather is cooler, then it's going to be better preserved

if the bird is really flattened or starting to turn green or slimy

that's probably not a good candidate for submitting to a lab

not for any kind of meaningful diagnostic workup

we like to see birds that have been dead less than 24 hours

the quicker the better

if you can refrigerate it the better... obviously already bagged

or even a regular cooler

put ice packs or cubes in it

either drive it or ship it to the appropriate lab

we get a lot of things shipped in via UPS FEDEX

or other overnight shipping methods

we can do a lot of meaningful workups if it arrives within 24 -48 hours of death

72 hours is pushing it

but as long as it's been kept cold, that's even workable


if you can't get it there in 48 hours

I would recommend going ahead and freezing it

it will destroy some of the testing possibilities


it's better than nothing

and we can still get a pretty good idea regarding what happened

once frozen, you can keep it weeks or even months

what I tell people is

if you're not sure if you want testing

freeze the bird and hold it

and then if more die, send a fresh and frozen bird in at the same time

that would give us a better

sample than just seeing one specimen

this saves you from diagnosing unrelated causes

when people start off with birds

they may buy from online, swap meets or local farms

are there concerns

regarding the health and origins of those birds?

Yes.. there are

not only if starting out, but even if you already have birds

where you get your next birds, becomes very important

In general

I would recommend

that you go to some source

that is selling chicks that

come from

monitored flocks

the national monitoring program is called the NPIP

National Poultry Improvement Plan

under that plan, breeder flocks are screened

for diseases

especially those diseases that are passed on genetically

from parent to chick through the egg

buy from them and you can be assured that if you purchase chicks from them

they won't come to you

already infected

with something like pullorum disease

so.. look for a NPIP breeder flock

For the backyard poultry person

what are the health threats

most common to their stock?

Do chickens today face different threats than those in years past?

The threats have remained the same as they have been for many years, even decades

Depends on the situation

how they are housed

predation is a health problem

parasitic diseases


which can be controlled

by using medicated feed

or medicated water

pretty much all birds will be exposed to coccidia

external parasites

if you don't control them, can be a big problem

mites and lice

flocks can really suffer from those infestations

but you need to know that you have it and need to know what to look for

Infectious diseases

some I see commonly

in new flock owners

that get chicks from other people

that just hatch out their own chicks

is merricks disease

it's a common virus

and pretty much all of our chickens

will be exposed

it's controlled effectively by vaccinations

they can even vaccinate the embryo while it is still inside the egg

but if you get chicks from uncontrolled sources

you risk all of those diseases

I would say the other thing

that is a little harder to get a handle on

is the genetics

of our birds

A lot of folks may get ahold of

genetic lines of birds

that are grown commercially, for example meat chickens

they have been selected for very fast growth

under very stringent conditions

and so you get them out into

a situation where

they are in full day light in summer

are eating as much as they can

growing as fast as they can grow

you actually get into some... what I call...

diseases of

excellent health

I know that sounds backwards.. but

these birds are growing so fast

that they

actually get into some heart failure problems

some leg problems

if you don't actually slow them down

and so genetically.. I think

we get into some strains of birds that are programmed

to grow or produce eggs

in a certain controlled setting

we're putting them into a very different setting

and they actually get into some problems

due to growth, egg production

and just their behavior

they may have been selected to do well in cages

and we put them out in the barnyard

they may not be "street savvy" so to speak

most of them are very adaptable

it's amazing to me

how healthy chickens are.. but

that's one thing I try to talk about

with small flock people... is

try to get

if you want a dual purpose animal.. try to get a dual purpose animal

eggs and meat

and do well in an outdoor setting

Rhode Island Reds for example

but even those....some strains of Reds have been bred

towards broilers

don't be fooled by the color... laugh

One other thing along that line is...

a lot of laying hens, that have great potential to lay a lot of eggs...

but in those birds, we see increased incidence of tumors

it's usually reproductive tumors

people bring in great producers that have generally been great layers

and then two or three die off in a several month period

You find that they often have tumors of the oviduct

actually they lay so well

they are under a high estrogen level

they mobilize a lot of fat through the liver

especially under the estrogen stimulation... during high egg production

they tend to get some tumors

it's not going to hurt those who eat the eggs

or those who eat the meat

but the hen

just suffers due to selection for high egg production

Is there an average that those hens experience those issues?

I see it in those more after a year to two years

Generally, hens are most productive during the first 18 months

Yes, some commercial strains

are set for the first 70 weeks of age

20 to 70 weeks I should say

What about people who raise other animals on their land?

People often like to keep a variety of birds and animals on their micro farms...

are there any health concerns associated with that?

Keeping chickens with other poultry and livestock?

there are some potential dangers

Turkeys and chickens together can be a problem

Turkeys are prone to get blackhead

it's carried by chickens... chickens don't get sick form it

but the turkeys do

If you do Turkeys and Chickens together...

and you want to keep the turkeys

for hobby or

not for use as human consumption

there are drugs that can be used

to prevent blackhead

so you can keep them together, but there are diseases to be aware of

pea fowl are another type of

bird that is somewhat capable of contracting blackhead

so if you have chickens and pea fowl together, that may also happen

coccidiosis is species specific, so they don't share those

water fowl and chickens

especially if you have other wild water fowl flying in

might be a source of

water fowl influenza

or other viruses that may affect your domestic birds

it could pass to your chickens in some circumstances

If someone were going organic....

you would definitely have trouble housing your species together

If your place was large enough to isolate turkeys from chickens

separate housing at night? No... at ALL Times.. keep them separate

Keep water fowl and chickens also well separated

Pigs... you asked about other livestock...

they can get along fairly well

dogs may disturb your chickens... depending on your type of dog

another combination from a disease standpoint you may want to watch

is between swine turkeys or chickens

there are bacterial diseases that can pass between turkeys and swine

that one can actually affect people...

use gloves

you can get bacteria

into a cut on your hand

and cause a really painful


before you setup your incubator

consider the location

you should avoid windows

avoid drafts

not in direct sunlight

find a room with constant temperature

once you have that space

make sure the surface is level

and can be cleaned easily

incubators have water in the base

so a level surface is important

aside from being level

it's important to be on a smooth surface

there are often vent holes in the bottom

air flow is drawn from underneath and drawn out through the top

if on carpet or other thick material

air flow would be restricted

air exchange inside the incubators is important

these are considered hobby incubators

they each can handle 42 eggs

it's not necessary to have TWO

I have two because I use one as a backup

I run one incubator without water

and the other with water

both at the same temperature

if eggs in the dry incubator are dehydrating at the proper rate, they are good

if the air cell appears too large, then I will move those eggs to the incubator with water

these have the automatic egg turners in them

these are Little Giant incubators

and they both have the preferred forced air fans

forced air units are more temperature stable

these are the egg cups for the chicken eggs

easy to clean

the eggs we hatch are sanitized

this is the thermometer which comes with the Little Giant

already marked at 99.5 deg. f

that's optimum for a forced air incubator

these styrofoam units hold temps great

they can be hard to clean and sanitize

disposable trays help keep the bottom clean

pathogens may build up on the surface of the incubator

I don't hatch in these incubators, I move then to another incubator for hatching

other than the provided thermometer

I use a calibrated thermometer

I run the sensor through the side

this reads the temp across the top of the eggs

put it at the upper 1/3 of the egg

these eggs are from Rose Comb White Leghorns

it's 31 deg. f where they came from

so we kept them here to gradually warm up

allowing several hours to match the temps inside

if eggs are already clean from the hen

there is a protective coating on the shell

this is called the bloom

protects from bacteria while allowing an air exchange

because some of them have dirt on them

we are going to pre-sanitize the eggs

1/2 ounce per gallon

one side is clean, the other side is dirty

I wash hands before handling the clean side eggs

clean hands before inserting them in the gloves

sanitizing eggs has proven to reduce infection of eggs during incubation

hatcheries are required to sanitize all eggs

water must be warmer than the eggs

this water is at 98 degrees f

after washing/sanitizing

less than five minutes

I dry them with a blow dryer

do not cool the eggs with the dryer

use a warm or hot setting

now the eggs are sanitized

they are numbered for record keeping of parent stock and blood lines

now that all of the eggs are dry

the calibrated thermometer

verifies that both incubators are running at the proper temp

99.4 degrees f, this is a good temp

now we will place the eggs

the light blinking on and off

shows that it has arrived at its set temp

turning to the right, increases the temp, to the left, decreases the temp.

the target temp is 99.5

wait an hour or more when setting up, to make sure the temps are not in flux

then fine tune in small increments

after your hands are clean

handle the eggs and inspect the shells

if there are cracks or damage

don't incubate them

this is a good egg

a small air cell, shows that the egg is fresh

this one is cracked

do not incubate this egg

this one is ok for incubation

turn eggs slowly

always place them pointed end down

same is true for storage

air cell up

this is a bantam egg

compared to a standard size egg

incubator is OFF while loading

a forced air unit like this one

will keep constant temps

throughout the incubator

if the room is hot, avoid putting eggs next to the motor

the motor heats up

the blower and turner both generate heat, so if the room is too hot, those motors can overheat the eggs and ruin your hatch

remember this one is dry

expect temps to fluctuate during the re-start

don't fiddle with the settings

give it time to stabilize

the plugs in the top, help reduce or increase air exchange

limiting air flow, increases humidity

I personally remove all plugs

I live in a high humidity part of the United States

Your climate may be different

this is the heat control module

this is the heating element

this is the blower

if you don't have a forced air blower

you'll operate your still air system at 102 deg. f

at the upper 1/3 rd of the egg

with a forced blower, you would set it at 99.5

the egg turner is optional

on the 18th day of incubation

you will remove the turner

and put the eggs on the screen bottom

hatching with the turner in place will possibly injure chicks and make a difficult to clean mess

if not using the turner

turning by hand is an option

mark each egg

with a zero and an x on opposite sides

use a blunt pencil

don't poke holes in the shells

children have to be cautioned not to use too much pressure

having a level incubator is very important here

the eggs should not roll to one side or the other

turn at least three times a day

with a different side left UP each evening

at a minimum, turn them first thing in the morning

then at noon

then again at night before going to bed

do this every single day

VERY important during the first 11 days

always wash hands before and after handling

note the location of the thermometer

always clean the incubator between hatches

sanitizer remains on the egg shell and continues to protect the embryo from contamination during incubation

set up your brooder well before the chicks arrive in the mail

there won't be time for setup when you receive the call that your chicks are here!

here we have located our brooder in the basement

our children play here and this gives the chicks the chance to see people often

it calms the chicks to be near people

the bottom is lucite

water proof

easy to clean

under the lucite is a heat strip

common in reptile cages

this is a red heat lamp

red or blue is preferred to white

by hanging the lamp, we can control temps by adjusting the height of the bulb

start with 95 deg. f

this is a 75 watt red bulb

ceramic heating elements are also available

but they are expensive and don't cast light

chicks generate lots of dust

if kept inside, you will need to filter the air and catch the dust

this is a standard whole house filter that was used for the last brood

you don't want this dust floating around your house

use a fine particle filter

we use computer fans to move air through the filter

they use very little wattage

this one has a speed control also

it does not move so much air that the chicks would get cold

next, we put down many layers of news paper

just to start them off... do not leave news paper as the only substrate

we also place perches

the chicks are going to be too small for these at first

but it's good to already have them in place

you can also hang a feather duster in the brooder, this makes the chicks feel more calm

check in with the post office to make sure they know you are expecting chicks

they will put your contact info in the receiving room bulletin board

tell them to call anytime 24/7

this is a chicken drinker

I do not recommend open water surfaces

such as a pie plate

chicks will dirty that water very quick

they can also fall in and drown

this drinker has warm water with some sugar added

this trough is full of chick starter crumbles

I don't recommend mash

sprinkling feed on the bottom, encourages the chicks to pick and eat

I don't start with pine shavings, because new chicks may actually eat the wood over the food

commercial feed is the best way to start

make sure it says that this is a complete ration

these rations have been formulated over many years of testing

this is more complex than it needs to be

we use this system to introduce new people to baby chickens...

there are many brooder setups available from sources all over...

keep them away from pets

cats can jump over those cardboard walled brooders

even if you delay just a few hours, that could mean life or death for mail order chicks

some postal workers to NOT care about your birds

remove the lid so heat gets to them

This one is cold and weak

start with the weakest chicks

dip the beak of each chick

then place them under the heat lamp

noisy chicks are either cold, thirsty or hungry

as they become more quiet, they are feeling better

if you tap your finger, chicks will run over to see what you are doing

mother hens direct them to food by pecking and making a special noise

if chicks are not piling under the lamp, then temps are good

if huddle in corners away from the heat lamp, they are too hot

the weak chick is now doing just fine

there were no losses due to shipping

this is a good pattern

thy are very quiet now... and can observe the world beyond the brooder

make sure you have placed pine shavings on the newspaper... leaving news paper may cause leg problems

bantams generally do not have leg problems, but larger standard chicks may suffer splayed legs on smooth surfaces

flight feathers grow first

this helps chicks fly away

keep drinkers and feed troughs clean

dump and replace remaining food, don't just add to it

feed is available 24/7 as is the water

I never "ration" feed

this silver sebright would later become a Champion

this is the base of the Brower Top Hatch Incubator

I prefer this system for hatching

incubate in the Little Giant units as they keep good temps

on the 18th day, I put the eggs in this unit

it comes apart and can be washed in your dish washer

note the groove on the bottom

it lines up with the arm mechanism

as the arm rotates, the bottom moves forward and back

rolling the eggs 180 degrees

this is a forced air unit, the fan is in this center shroud

the light bulb is the source of heat

keep extra light bulbs handy

partitions separate the eggs

the metal screen on the bottom is plastic coated

the partitions stop the eggs, causing them to roll

there is a slot for the thermometer

this system runs at 99.5 degrees

all of the components are plastic polymer

children really enjoy being able to see through this clear top

remember, I don't like to use the vent plugs

it's up to you, based on the humidity levels where you live

always candle your eggs to see the air cell size

that is the BESTway to know if the humidity is proper

heat control knob... clockwise increases heat, counter clockwise reduces the temp

the light flickers when it reaches your set temp

this unit is very noisy

mother hens can actually hear the chicks still inside their shells

after pipping through the shell, a chick may still take 24 hours to come completely out

pecking sounds are heard

do not open the incubator during the pip

leave the lid on while all chicks hatch out

chicks will talk to one another during pipping

this causes activity in all of the hatching eggs

keep humidity high at this point, so chicks to not stick to the shells

at this point, they do NOT need food or water

these are Rhode Island Red chicks...

expect them to do a lot of sleeping

remember to start on newspaper so they don't eat wood chips

after they discover what food is, you can fill in the wood shavings

so, Nadia

talking about eggs

what should someone look for in eggs as the store?

be familiar with egg sizes

look at the eggs and insure that they are clean.. cold... and covered

another good idea is

that the wide end of the egg should be UP

that is where the air cell is

one mistake people have made is

old fridges had openings in the door for eggs and that was a very bad idea

eggs were exposed and not covered


what is a AA egg?


that means that AA egg

has a very small air cell

the yolk would be in the center of the egg

there would be thick white

no thin white

that is what you would be looking for when you break that egg

weather frying

if eggs were stored on their side, would the yolk rise to the side?

yes, that is a possibility

one of the reasons to store eggs on end

keeping the yolk centered

yes, exactly

how long can you safely store eggs

assuming they are fresh at the start

if you keep the egg


and you got it fresh

from the coop or store

eggs will keep

five six seven weeks...

and still be edible

how do you know if an egg is still good and safe to eat

the best way

is when you break the egg

you can also drop the egg in water

the egg may float

or rise up on end

then you know that egg is no good

you can also open it on a plate and notice how thin the white is

larger air cells indicate an older egg

ok, so when the air cell is large

is the egg unsafe to eat?

You were an egg grader with the Dept. of Ag right?

yes, that's right

and you worked for the extension office?


when you opened eggs to grade them, what did you look for?

when breaking eggs open for inspection

you noticed how thick the white was

air cell size

the yolk has to be quite high, not flat

they don't have to be discarded if a little older

they are good for baking

put it in custard and so forth

and if you are going to scramble eggs

no reason you couldn't use them

but I would not like them hard cooked, or poached

poached and fried eggs should be really fresh

I called it hard boiling eggs and you corrected me

you don't hard boil an egg, there is a distinction

between hard "boiling" and hard "cooking" an egg

boiled eggs are toughened

eggs are a protein food

they cannot take a high temperature

long long cooking is bad

what you want to do is

steam the eggs

that is using a small quantity of water

and bringing it to a steaming point

shorting the cooking time

at lower heat

then timing the egg after that

Nadia passed away in 2015... we all miss her

bid difference between store bought eggs and farm eggs?

Yes, for number one

I'm never sure the eggs in the store are really fresh

claims are often inaccurate

even when baking I will always open the egg into a small cup first

to make sure it's fresh

angel food cake requires nice thick whites

even in pie making... fresh eggs are important

would you mind showing us?

let's go to the kitchen...

I'll be glad to Fred...

I have four eggs in this sauce pan

for the first egg I am using four table spoons

for each additional egg

I use a table spoon per egg


there isn't much water in there

not even half covered in water

we're hard cooking, NOT hard boiling

high heat

eggs have cooked for 15 minutes

and they have been removed from the cooking pan

none of them have cracked at all

and these are fresh eggs

is there a trick to removing the shells?

just rolling them... that's all

in your hands in this manner

very fresh eggs like these are

are a little more difficult to peel

older eggs are easier to peel

now we can tell when the egg is nicely done here

by slicing the egg


there is no GREEN edges that are shown in overcooked eggs

no problems here at all

not gummy, just tender

one of the things you mentioned Nadia

was clean, cool and covered

what is the recommended storage temperature

40 degrees F would be a safe temperature

milk also

now let's see a fresh uncooked egg

first thing I do is look

at the air cell

notice how small it is

very small and this indicates a very fresh egg

this is good

what we want

notice this little white spot

people often ask about that

that is present on every egg

you may not see it as it's often on another side

it is the site where fertilization would and could take place if the hen were kept with roosters

it's a cytoblast

fertile or not, it's going to be there

note the thick white

the yolk sits right on top of the white

exactly what we are looking for in a fresh egg

if this were a much older egg

the white would be watery and spread over the entire plate surface

an egg left at room temperature

would deteriorate

at 7 to 1

that is an exposed uncooled egg ages seven days for ever one day it's out as compared to one in the fridge

worst place to store eggs is next to the range

an egg left out, has a very short shelf life

once eggs have been cooked

it's not ok to leave them out

still place them in the cooler

the leg bands expand as the chicks grow

at six weeks of age

you can see pretty clearly

that this is a pullet

her comb is pale

and small

there are very small wattles

in this six week old male

his comb is larger

bright in color

and has little developing wattles

we banded the males with red bands

and the females with yellow bands

they are feathered enough now, that we can transfer them outside to a coop

they still require protection from drafts

but they can handle cooler temps at night

here is one of the dark brahma


he's now twelve weeks old

at the tenth week, we changed their rations to a grower preparation

if this were a hen, we would keep her on grower until her first egg

cockerels will be fed the same as the hens

this is a dark brahma pullet

she's nicely feathered out

hawk feathers

foot feathers

she's in great shape

this is the silver sebright hen


12 weeks old

she can fly very high

if you wanted to keep her in a pen

you would have to select one wing

and clip off the primary flight feathers

not both sides

clipping one, makes her a unstable flyer

we're candling eggs here

using a mag light

you can see by the shadow

that this egg is fertile and has a developing chick inside

check the air cell for proper dehydration

this air cell is just right

turn the egg very slowly

these are one week into incubation

as you move the light up and down the side

you can see a shadow

if there is a shadow, keep the egg in incubation

the embryo is clearly moving in this egg

turn eggs very VERYslowly

always wash the oils off of your hands before handling eggs

remember, any shadow, keep the egg

lots of movement here

you can also see the blood vessels

this egg should be removed

no shadow and the air cell is on the side

this is a dud, never fertile to begin with

look how fast the embryo moves in this egg

just one week old, these are bantam eggs

this flash light does not generate heat

another good one, lots of activity inside

even if it's not moving... keep the egg, there is a strong shadow here

there is evidence of blood vessels

this incubator has no water in it and the development is perfect

the darkest spot is the eye

black and white magpie ducks

today it's only 32 deg. f

ducks go out in almost any weather

chickens are a different story

chickens like grass

they don't like to walk on snow

chickens will fly over snow to get to grass

these chickens have all been raised together

that's why they get along so well

The Rhode Island Red rooster is at the top of the pecking order

short conflicts are ok.... these birds do not stop

those who raise free ranging poultry

may enjoy wildlife around also

there may be some disease risks

waterfowl specifically

are known

to carry a number of infectious diseases

do not allow wild birds to feed at the same location as domestic birds

wild turkeys

as you can see

I've caught a possum in this live catch trap

the trap is made by havaheart

he killed a duck

I used the remains to trap him

put the trap where the attack occurred

once you have caught the predator

take him/her several miles away before releasing


possums eat eggs as well as chickens

chicken coops must be secure at night

our dog Race, died in 2014, he was a great flock protector

we do not use chemicals on our land anywhere.. at anytime

in this segment

I'll share with you about how I use waste from the coops

in order to benefit the garden

as you can see

I have tomato plants

we are in mid July

and the growth is already impressive

I use no industrial fertilizers

we never use pesticides

I just take the droppings mixed with pine shavings from the chicken coops

twice a year, I put it on the garden

pine shavings here on top, prevent week growth

each fall

we place a mulch layer of shavings and droppings

and then till it in during spring thaw

after spring plants have started

I add more shavings and droppings from the coops as a mulch

so each year, we improve the soil through amending the soil with chicken droppings and wood shavings

if you had pure manure, it would just burn your plants

dry manure mixed with pine shavings will not burn your plants

plants that have a high nitrogen demand, benefit greatly from chicken manure

after the fall season, kale remains as a good crop

a vitamin rich super food

for people or chickens

here I am using corn stalks as supports for beans

sweet peas

some people claim that chicken manure is too hot for growing, but you can see here that it works fine for me

for a successful veggie garden

you will have to fence the chickens or fence the garden

chicken wire is the least expensive fence material

it comes in a variety of heights

in this case, it's just three feet tall

do not use a top bar

if chickens can see a top bar

they will jump up on it

if they cannot see a top bar, they don't generally jump up or fly over it

reflectors keep your dog from running into it

a drive way marker

stiffens the fence

and visually warns your pets not to run into it

in this segment

we're talking

about hatching chicks naturally

beneath a brood hen

make certain that you have broody hens first

a broody hen will remain on the nest for days at a time

only getting off for food and water, then going back

this mille fleur hen is broody

this is a great hen for brooding eggs

you can put eggs from any chicken under her

they hatch anything

they will even hatch duck eggs

this dark brahma hen is also a good brooder

hens that are broody do not produce eggs

they conserve their energy for setting eggs

the cycle is broken by allowing them to hatch chicks

this is a black tail japanese bantam

she can't sit on too many eggs

select a dominant hen so she can protect and mother the chicks after the hatch

a hen that flies off of the nest would not be a good choice

DE is a very good protective measure for chickens

it actually kills parasites

parasites are scratched by the DE and then dried out through the wounds

these are like microscopic razor blades

fresh water DE, food grade is best

put it in the nest box

you can also dust the birds directly on their body

The Description of Chickens! How to raise chickens a complete beginner guide for your backyard flock