Water Glassing Fresh Egg Storage

Spring brings on the egg laying which can quickly lead to an abundance of fresh farm eggs. What methods work for fresh egg storage? One method called water glassing has been around since pioneer days and probably earlier. Is this method of fresh egg storage safe? Let me share with you what one of my friends learned using this method. Barbara Whitford Fox wrote the following guest post for this site. Barbara and her husband farm in Utah and she can be messaged through Facebook or Instagram.

fresh egg storage using the water glass method

Guest post by Barbara Whitford Fox

During the late fall and winter, our chickens don’t produce quite as many eggs as we would like. One of the things I love about the homesteading lifestyle is the self sufficiency. It bothers me when I have to buy eggs. Food preservation is a key aspect of homesteading and self sufficiency. I began to look at different ways to preserve eggs. Freezing eggs individually is one method. Dehydrating cooked eggs is another but the amount of work seemed daunting to me. Pickled eggs are also good but not for everyday. None of these methods gave me the fresh egg satisfaction that I was seeking.

Water Glassing for Fresh Egg Storage

In my research I learned about a way to preserve fresh eggs. There are numerous ways to get longer storage of fresh eggs. This method uses no electricity and no fancy equipment. The water glassing method was used in the 1800’s. Deciding I had only the risk of it not working and ending up with rotten eggs, I set up my experiment.

The following describes the method I used for water glassing fresh eggs storage. Here are the items you will need.

  • three gallon food safe plastic bucket with a lid
  • pickling lime-https://amzn.to/3mZAzxS (calcium hydroxide) often found where canning supplies are sold Other names may include slaked lime or hydrated lime.
  • clean water. If your water is high in iron or other mineral content, you may want to purchase distilled water.
  • scale for measuring the lime. (8 ounces of lime by weight for each quart of water)
  • eggs! 7 or 8 dozen will fit in the bucket but you can preserve the amount you choose. Do not wash the eggs. Use eggs clean of dirt.

 white food grade three gallon bucket

The bucket can be found in the paint department of home improvement or hardware stores. A large crock can also be used for water glassing fresh egg storage, but the crock will be heavy once filled.

Using the clean water, and weighed lime, stir to mix the two together and dissolve the lime. Some people suggested boiling the water before adding to the lime for easier dissolving. I used cold water and the lime never fully dissolved. Next time I will boil the water first. Cool the water to room temperature.

Collecting the Eggs to Preserve

You will want to use fresh eggs that you collected recently. (Within the past few days) Do not wash the eggs as that will allow the lime to seep into the eggs. Washing the eggs will remove the bloom on the egg that is added as the egg is laid. It protects the egg from bacteria. For this reason, do not use store purchased eggs for water glassing!

fresh egg storage

Start adding eggs to the bucket of lime water. As you add eggs, try putting them in pointy side down. When you add more eggs it’s easier to get them to stay that way! I ended up with about 80 eggs in a 3 gallon bucket. Honestly, I lost track of how many but this is a close estimate.

Did it Work as a Method of Fresh Egg Storage?

I began the experiment at the beginning of September. I left the eggs at room temperature until the middle of February. It was time to try the eggs. Did this fresh egg storage method work?

fresh egg storage water glass method of egg storage

First, I broke a fresh egg from that day’s collection into a glass bowl. Taking a second glass bowl, I broke a water glassed egg into it. Side by side the eggs were identical. Both eggs smelled exactly the same. Now it was time for a taste test! The water glassed egg was dropped into the frying pan and a little salt and pepper added, just as I do with our fresh eggs. I took a bite. Amazing! It tasted just like the fresh eggs we had for breakfast that morning. Six months in the water glassing solution and the eggs are as fresh as they can be. I am super excited to have found and tested this method.

Fresh egg storage

What You Need to Know…..

A few things you should know when you have your own water glassed eggs.

  • If you are going to hard boil the water glassed eggs, first do a pin prick through the shell. After sitting in the water glassing solution, the egg shells are no longer porous, and will quickly pop when you start to boil or steam the eggs.
  • Rinse the water glass preserved eggs well before use. The lime water will cause the eggs to curdle if it drips into the bowl of fresh egg.
  • The eggs will feel very smooth when removed from the solution.
  • Store the bucket or crock in a cool area of the house, out of direct sunlight. This is true of any preserved food.

The water glassing method is said to preserve fresh eggs storage for up to two years. I am not sure I want to do that. For our family, keeping the eggs fresh for six to eight months is plenty of time.

Editor note: The recommendation is to store and use the eggs within the same year. Older water glass preserved eggs can start to rot.

fresh eggs in bowls

A Word About Using Lime

It isn’t expensive. If you’ve found yourself with quite a bit of lime left over after this process, you can use the lime in the creation of other pickled items. Although pickled eggs do not call for the use of pickling lime, here’s a tasty recipe for pickled eggs should you want more than one fresh egg storage idea.

If you are looking for a lime product specifically made and safe for chickens and livestock, look for First Saturday Lime.

I love the connection to the past that this method brings. I was talking to my father who is 84 years old. He remembers going into the pantry when he was young and getting eggs out of a big bucket of water. Of course he had no idea at the time that it was lime water. This was just how they preserved eggs on the farm. I love that we can use this method and bring back some of the old ways to our homestead.




Shop Small Guide for Homestead and Independent Businesses

Two glasses of mulled wine for Christmas and winter holidays on the wooden table.

The businesses included in my shop small guide, are folks that I personally know or do business with. Did you know that your buying decisions have a wide reaching impact? Where you spend your money is your decision. And thank God for that! For years I was in the position of owning a brick and mortar storefront. Let me tell you, we depended upon people choosing to shop small.

Things have changed and now I have an online shop at my Timber Creek Farm Etsy shop. These days my inventory is stored in nooks and crannies and baskets throughout the house. Instead of shop hours, my shop is open 24/7! Every single time I see a purchase come through, big or small, I am thankful.

The lists below feature those business owner I know and do business with. It’s my hope that you’ll get to know them too when you look through what they have to offer and when you purchase gifts through these shops.

shop small guide to soaps and body products
Photo credit www.5Rfarm.com

Shop Small Guide to Soap and Body Care Gifts

The difference between handmade, well crafted soaps and commercial brands is astounding. You may have already discovered this for yourself. Why not spoil gift recipients on your list with the real deal. Here are some of my favorite creators. Buying from small shops listed in this shop small guide or other resources will do much good this year!

Yarn and Yarn Creations

Y’all know this is a subject close to my heart. And while I would love to have you shop from my store. I know I can’t be all things to all tastes and yarn needs. So here are a few of my favorite yarn or creative product sellers.

Shop Small Guide to Farm Products

We all need some sort of support if we raise animals and poultry. These are my favorite vendors for farmwear, animal feed, poultry treats, as well as barn and coop products.

shop small guide to farm products

Pottery and Candles

While I don’t have many recommendations in this category, I can assure you that these businesses are top notch. I can assure you that any one of the vendors on this list will be glad you read about them in the shop small guide!

Homestead Products for You, Your Home and Barnyard

White Chicken
Shop small guide

When the person on your lists needs something to make their daily chores and home life easier or more comfortable, or more delicious, these are some vendors that can help make that happen.

Books and Courses

Learning should never end. It should be a lifelong process. These small business owners know that and strive to teach as many people as possible through books they’ve written or courses that they’ve developed.

I hope this shop small guide has given you some awesome gift ideas for your shopping list. Check back because I will be adding to the list as I am sure I left off some of my favorites!

shop small guide




Can Chickens Eat Mashed Potatoes?

can chickens eatCan chickens eat mashed potatoes? Believe it or not, too much of any food can upset the delicate balance in the chicken’s digestive tract. Being Omnivores means that technically, chickens can eat anything they want to eat. Their diet in the wild would consist of varied plants, bugs, dead animals, and live rodents. However, they have some of the choice taken away from them when we keep them in coops and runs.

Faced with a delicious plate of mashed potatoes, next to the regular dish of layer feed, the chicken is going to binge eat those potatoes! In the wild, they wouldn’t have this handed to them in such a great quantity. And there’s the key to the question, can chickens eat mashed potatoes. They can, but everything should be offered in moderation. Offering too much of any food besides layer feed, free range grasses and bugs, can lead to stomach upset. 

Can Chickens Eat Vegetables Fresh From the Garden?

What about other foods commonly left over from our family meals. Cooked vegetables are almost always ok to serve to your chickens. Can chickens eat all vegetables raw, right from the garden? The answer to that would no. Some raw vegetables contain chemicals that are toxic to chickens. Vegetables from the nightshade family includes, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. The solonine in these plants is the toxic substance that can build up in the chicken and cause toxicity and death. The fruit of the tomato and the pepper is fine in moderation, when it its fully ripe. Never allow your chickens to feast on the tomato plants, pepper plants or any of the green leaves from the nightshade family.

can chickens eat

Note* Sweet Potatoes are not from the nightshade family. They are from the morning glory family and the sweet potato and the leaves are both safe to eat.

 

Greens – Most greens are good for chickens. The exception would be spinach which contains a heavy amount of oxalic acid. This compound, in large quantities can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Small amounts of spinach aren’t a problem but large or frequent feedings of spinach, beet greens or Chard might lead to soft egg shells.

The leafy lettuces, kale and other greens are great treats for the flock. 

Can Chickens Eat Dairy Foods Like Cheese, Milk, Yogurt?

During a recent episode of viral information on social media, a discussion was going on about whether or not chickens can have dairy foods without consequences. There was a huge response with people again arguing that they do so all the time, and have no stomach upset in the flock. Others mentioned that chickens lack the enzyme necessary to digest milk protein (lactose). Yogurt can provide a boost of calcium, protein, energy, and probiotics and yes yogurt is a healthy food for humans. Chickens can benefit from small amounts of unsweetened plain yogurt. It does provide some probiotic benefits. 

However, it is a dairy product. Large amounts of dairy are not good because it can lead to loose stools and upset stomachs. So again, we come back to that age old rule of moderation and small amounts. Feeding a large bowl of yogurt might not kill your chickens or lead to toxicity but it probably will cause some digestive upset.

can chickens eat

Most Chickens Don’t Like Citrus Fruit

There are differing opinions on feeding citrus. There isn’t any definite evidence that it is harmful. Too much citrus and vitamin C, can lead to weaker egg shells because it interferes with Calcium absorption . I am not too worried about this because mine reject citrus fruit anyway. I have heard this from many other chicken owners. 

can chickens eat

Meat Scraps

Being omnivores, chickens can handle eating meat protein. Have you seen the excitement when they catch a field mouse? Even a snake is a delicious form of meat. So feeding them the carcass from a roasted chicken, if you aren’t making bone stock, is fine. Fried or fatty meat should be avoided and anything cooked in a heavy sauce could lead to diarrhea.

can chickens eat

Legumes and Beans 

Fully cooked beans can be fed to the chickens. Raw beans of all kinds contain hemaglutin which is a natural insecticide and toxic. The cooking or sprouting of beans or dried beans destroys the chemical and then the beans are safe to feed to the chickens. So your leftover green beans and other legumes from dinner are perfectly fine to give as a treat.

A Few Other Foods to Mention 

Onions and Garlic are from the same family but contain different chemical make up. The allium family, particularly onions, contain large amounts of thiosulphate, a toxin. It is interesting though, that garlic contains very little thiosulphate. Garlic is completely safe and extremely healthy to add to the chickens diet.

Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol are three of my favorite treats. But the chickens should have none of these substances.

Avocados– These actually do contain a fatal toxin in some parts of the avocado. I do not give any part of this to my flock.

Apples– Some people may mention that fruits with seeds and pits can be toxic, too. They can but it’s a much lower toxicity and mostly the chickens will just eat the fruit. To be safe, cut up the apple and don’t feed the cores. Remove the peach pits. This is not a problem with watermelon which is a favorite treat!

Rhubarb – This is toxic in so many parts that I wouldn’t take the chance of feeding it to my flock. The leaves are toxic to people too so be sure to avoid them in your foraging.

can chickens eat

Toxin Build Up in Chickens

I know many will read this and argue that they or their grandparents always fed the chickens green tomatoes, or onions, or any number of things, and no chickens died. And they would be correct. Very few toxins will kill people or animals immediately. However, toxins eaten on a regular basis or in such an amount that buildup occurs over time, will die or become sick. You may not tie it back to the potato peels you fed to the chickens three times a week. Or the free ranging in the garden where they had access to pepper plant leaves and potato vines.

It’s the same with people. Toxins in our food build up in our bodies over time. We are just beginning to realize that plastic packaging, chemical dyes, and other contaminants can cause problems with kidneys, nervous system, and the heart. The liver is a prime candidate for toxin build up leading to disease too. Our poultry and livestock are no different. They can eat many different foods that we share with them. It doesn’t mean it is without risk or without an effect further down the road.

What to do 

My final point to answer the question “can chickens eat…?” is this. As our grandmothers said, everything in moderation. In the past, few farmers kept a large flock of chickens over the winter. The best layers might have been kept but most were processed for food so they didn’t have to be fed through the winter when free ranging food was scarce. Not keeping hens past a year or two probably didn’t show the toxicity symptoms that might show up in older hens. This is your flock. You get to make the decisions. Remember that not every bad decision will have an immediate consequence. Also, not everything you do is not going to endanger the life of your chicken.

Feeding a good quality layer feed, supplemented with safe foraging and free ranging, and delicious safe treats from your kitchen will help you keep a healthy flock. Meal worms and dehydrated grubs are tasty treats that normally don’t lead to problems. Remember that the answer to “can chickens eat” this food is, only in moderation. 

 

can chickens eat

can chickens eatCan chickens eat mashed potatoes? Believe it or not, too much of any food can upset the delicate balance in the chicken’s digestive tract. Being Omnivores means that technically, chickens can eat anything they want to eat. Their diet in the wild would consist of varied plants, bugs, dead animals, and live rodents. However, they have some of the choice taken away from them when we keep them in coops and runs.

Faced with a delicious plate of mashed potatoes, next to the regular dish of layer feed, the chicken is going to binge eat those potatoes! In the wild, they wouldn’t have this handed to them in such a great quantity. And there’s the key to the question, can chickens eat mashed potatoes. They can, but everything should be offered in moderation. Offering too much of any food besides layer feed, free range grasses and bugs, can lead to stomach upset. 

Can Chickens Eat Vegetables Fresh From the Garden?

What about other foods commonly left over from our family meals. Cooked vegetables are almost always ok to serve to your chickens. Can chickens eat all vegetables raw, right from the garden? The answer to that would no. Some raw vegetables contain chemicals that are toxic to chickens. Vegetables from the nightshade family includes, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. The solonine in these plants is the toxic substance that can build up in the chicken and cause toxicity and death. The fruit of the tomato and the pepper is fine in moderation, when it its fully ripe. Never allow your chickens to feast on the tomato plants, pepper plants or any of the green leaves from the nightshade family.

can chickens eat

Note* Sweet Potatoes are not from the nightshade family. They are from the morning glory family and the sweet potato and the leaves are both safe to eat.

Greens – Most greens are good for chickens. The exception would be spinach which contains a heavy amount of oxalic acid. This compound, in large quantities can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Small amounts of spinach aren’t a problem but large or frequent feedings of spinach, beet greens or Chard might lead to soft egg shells.

The leafy lettuces, kale and other greens are great treats for the flock. 

Can Chickens Eat Dairy Foods Like Cheese, Milk, Yogurt?

During a recent episode of viral information on social media, a discussion was going on about whether or not chickens can have dairy foods without consequences. There was a huge response with people again arguing that they do so all the time, and have no stomach upset in the flock. Others mentioned that chickens lack the enzyme necessary to digest milk protein (lactose). Yogurt can provide a boost of calcium, protein, energy, and probiotics and yes yogurt is a healthy food for humans. Chickens can benefit from small amounts of unsweetened plain yogurt. It does provide some probiotic benefits. 

However, it is a dairy product. Large amounts of dairy are not good because it can lead to loose stools and upset stomachs. So again, we come back to that age old rule of moderation and small amounts. Feeding a large bowl of yogurt might not kill your chickens or lead to toxicity but it probably will cause some digestive upset.

can chickens eat

Most Chickens Don’t Like Citrus Fruit

There are differing opinions on feeding citrus. There isn’t any definite evidence that it is harmful. Too much citrus and vitamin C, can lead to weaker egg shells because it interferes with Calcium absorption . I am not too worried about this because mine reject citrus fruit anyway. I have heard this from many other chicken owners. 

can chickens eat

Meat Scraps

Being omnivores, chickens can handle eating meat protein. Have you seen the excitement when they catch a field mouse? Even a snake is a delicious form of meat. So feeding them the carcass from a roasted chicken, if you aren’t making bone stock, is fine. Fried or fatty meat should be avoided and anything cooked in a heavy sauce could lead to diarrhea.

can chickens eat

Legumes and Beans 

Fully cooked beans can be fed to the chickens. Raw beans of all kinds contain hemaglutin which is a natural insecticide and toxic. The cooking or sprouting of beans or dried beans destroys the chemical and then the beans are safe to feed to the chickens. So your leftover green beans and other legumes from dinner are perfectly fine to give as a treat.

A Few Other Foods to Mention 

Onions and Garlic are from the same family but contain different chemical make up. The allium family, particularly onions, contain large amounts of thiosulphate, a toxin. It is interesting though, that garlic contains very little thiosulphate. Garlic is completely safe and extremely healthy to add to the chickens diet.

Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol are three of my favorite treats. But the chickens should have none of these substances.

Avocados– These actually do contain a fatal toxin in some parts of the avocado. I do not give any part of this to my flock.

Apples– Some people may mention that fruits with seeds and pits can be toxic, too. They can but it’s a much lower toxicity and mostly the chickens will just eat the fruit. To be safe, cut up the apple and don’t feed the cores. Remove the peach pits. This is not a problem with watermelon which is a favorite treat!

Rhubarb – This is toxic in so many parts that I wouldn’t take the chance of feeding it to my flock. The leaves are toxic to people too so be sure to avoid them in your foraging.

can chickens eat

Toxin Build Up in Chickens

I know many will read this and argue that they or their grandparents always fed the chickens green tomatoes, or onions, or any number of things, and no chickens died. And they would be correct. Very few toxins will kill people or animals immediately. However, toxins eaten on a regular basis or in such an amount that buildup occurs over time, will die or become sick. You may not tie it back to the potato peels you fed to the chickens three times a week. Or the free ranging in the garden where they had access to pepper plant leaves and potato vines.

It’s the same with people. Toxins in our food build up in our bodies over time. We are just beginning to realize that plastic packaging, chemical dyes, and other contaminants can cause problems with kidneys, nervous system, and the heart. The liver is a prime candidate for toxin build up leading to disease too. Our poultry and livestock are no different. They can eat many different foods that we share with them. It doesn’t mean it is without risk or without an effect further down the road.

What to do 

My final point to answer the question “can chickens eat…?” is this. As our grandmothers said, everything in moderation. In the past, few farmers kept a large flock of chickens over the winter. The best layers might have been kept but most were processed for food so they didn’t have to be fed through the winter when free ranging food was scarce. Not keeping hens past a year or two probably didn’t show the toxicity symptoms that might show up in older hens. This is your flock. You get to make the decisions. Remember that not every bad decision will have an immediate consequence. Also, not everything you do is not going to endanger the life of your chicken.

Feeding a good quality layer feed, supplemented with safe foraging and free ranging, and delicious safe treats from your kitchen will help you keep a healthy flock. Meal worms and dehydrated grubs are tasty treats that normally don’t lead to problems. Remember that the answer to “can chickens eat” this food is, only in moderation. 

can chickens eat




How to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

We are heading into the prime season for a chicken coop fire. Cool weather leading into actual cold weather begins and soft hearted chicken keepers try to keep the coop warm. There are methods to keeping the coop comfortable for chickens and still avoid causing a chicken coop fire. The same prevention strategies will also help avoid barn fires.

Understanding the Chicken and Cold Weather

We might be tempted to view chickens as fragile, helpless birds that need us to dress them and supply a heater in the coop. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are some less cold hardy breeds of chickens that may need special care, the majority of chicken breeds can withstand even subzero temperatures in fine shape. Here’s a great article written by a chicken keeper in a very cold area of the country.

What You Can Do

There are things you can do to lesson the risk of a chicken coop fire.

light bulb and cord covered in heavy layer of dust. This is a chicken coop fire hazard.

If you reside in an area with lengthy sub zero winter temperatures, look for the full size, hardy breeds such as Orpingtons, Brahmas, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Sussex, Delawares, and Buckeyes, to name a few. These breeds and others will feather out heavily after the fall molt. The down feathers under the flight feathers will grow in thick and fluffy. The down layer insulates by expanding, creating a layer of warm air close to the chicken’s body.

Chicken coop fire title image for pinterest

Roosting bars, positioned so that the chicken can cover it’s feet while roosting, helps prevent frosty toes and frost bite. The roost bar should be big enough for all to claim a space. You will notice on cold nights the chickens will perch closer together to share body warmth. They know instinctively what to do to survive cold weather.

Provide a coop that is well ventilated but draft free is the best coop structure.

roof line vent in chicken coop blocks good air flow of damp air. Chickens will be colder in a damp coop.

In short, providing the correct environment for your chickens will help you avoid using additional heat and prevent chicken coop fire.

Cleaning the Coop to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

Cleaning the coop with fire prevention in mind includes more than cleaning out the floor and nest boxes. Other areas will have formed cob webs or dust bunnies, and often these hang down from the ceiling, adding to the risk of a chicken coop fire. If the dust bunnies sit too long on a hot light bulb or heat bulb, they can cause sparks and lead to a chicken coop fire.

Barn and Chicken Coop Fire Safety

Here are some tips to help you increase your farm fire safety awareness.

  • Using power strips, or surge protector blocks can actually increase your fire risk. Drawing too much power can overload the wires and cause a fire.
  • Choose heavy duty extension cords if you have to run electricity to the coop or barn. I get it. We don’t have our barn and coops wired for electric. I know it’s a risk and we check the cords for heat, frequently. When using extension cords, choose the heavy duty outdoor rated cords. Going for the bargain cords in this scenario is adding barn and chicken coop fire risk to your homestead and your animals lives. Don’t skimp on this.
  • Clean the dust from ceilings, light fixtures, bulbs, cords, outlets. Just clean the dust, ok? Seriously though, chickens cause dust. I don’t know how but they do. We don’t even brood chicks in the house any more because of how much dust they create. Big chickens equal more dust. Those dust strands on the ceiling are a fire risk if you have light bulbs, cords, and heat lamps. Grab the broom and sweep the ceiling and walls. Dust any light bulbs. All of this goes a long way to reducing the risk of chicken coop fire.
  • Heat lamps are dangerous. I know, I hear you sighing. You’ve probably heard it all before and think that your system is safe. At best, you might lower the risk of fire. Using a heat lamp in an outdoor chicken coop is the number one cause of a chicken coop fires. Yes the alternatives cost more money. But, it’s my homestead at risk and my animal’s lives. There are safer alternatives for keeping chicks warm. Ninety Nine percent of the time, chickens in an enclosed coop do not need additional heat provided. If you’re cold, put on a sweatshirt. Your chickens are most likely fine if they are healthy and have a draft free coop to shelter in. Check these alternatives to heat for chicks.

Where do you store your animal hay?

  • Hay storage is another potential barn and chicken coop fire disaster. Any moisture left in hay, can cause spontaneous combustion as the hay sits. Wet hay causes heat to build as it ages. Store your hay away from the barn and monitor the temperature. Break open any hot bales. In addition to being a fire risk, hot hay bales can cause mold to grow. (Don’t feed moldy hay to your horses, goats, or sheep.
  • On the same topic, hay does not make a good winter bedding for your chickens. The moisture content of hay is higher than straw and can result in a damp coop. Dampness can lead to frost bite and respiratory problems.

Predators and disease aren’t the only causes of death for chickens. Unfortunately, a chicken coop fire can wipe out your flock, and possibly spread to your family home. Take the precautions now while getting ready for cold weather. Let’s have a safe winter!




Fall Chicken Care Tips For a Healthy Flock

fall chicken care tips

Getting ready for fall starts in the late summer. Fall chicken care thoughts begin to run through my head. Chilly weather will require some changes to routine, and buildings need to be checked for repairs. Using the days with pleasant weather to get these things done keeps us from repairing and scrambling during a storm. Are you preparing now? Here are some of the things we begin to do.

Health Check – Beak to Tail Chicken Checkup

Making sure that your individual flock members are ready to weather the upcoming changes is important. Some minor ailments can be treated successfully when found early. Are any chickens showing loose runny droppings? How about bony breast bones or crop issues? Is the flock eating a healthy whole grain organic layer feed? Quality ingredients help your backyard flock maintain a healthy digestive tract and resist parasites and other diseases.

Molting season has begun here. The flock requires an increase in protein during the feather regrowth period. You want to support this nutritionally with a well balanced feed and tasty supplements such as grubs, cooked meat scraps, and even scrambled eggs if you have any to spare. Help your feathered friends get fluffy before the snow falls and the temperature drops.

fall chicken care tips

What about Pumpkins and Chickens?

The facts about the health benefits of feeding pumpkin seeds and flesh might surprise you. We have all probably heard that pumpkin seed can help your birds repel internal parasites. While there is a tiny grain of truth to this and I have even said it before myself, there is more to the story.

Pumpkin seeds, in fact the whole pumpkin supplies a powerhouse of nutrients for the flock. Chickens love fresh pumpkin and it’s a great nutritional boost.

Pumpkins have a richly colored flesh that contains high levels of beta carotene. The beta carotene is the precursors to vitamin A. In addition, fresh pumpkin is a source of Vitamin C and E and contains most of the B complex vitamins.

Do Pumpkin Seeds Repel Internal Parasites?

Feeding pumpkins is a good part of fall chicken care And, if you can get a hold of some free pumpkins from neighbors or friends after the holidays, take them! If they haven’t been carved into jack o’ lanterns, they will store a long time in a cool area of your home or basement.

The seeds from the pumpkin are also packed with good nutrition. High in protein, pumpkin seeds are a smart choice for a chicken flock treat right in the midst of the fall molting season. Increasing protein during molt helps your birds grow in their glossy new feathers with less metabolic stress. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Fall Chicken Care Tips

Another theory on fresh pumpkin is the possibility that the seeds will help your chickens avoid an overload of intestinal worms. This is a partial truth, so be careful not to count on it. Especially if you have birds that are suffering with internal parasites.While the seeds of pumpkin and other squash contains cucurbitacin which acts as a paralytic agent on tapeworms and round worms, it is a very mild treatment. In a mild intestinal worm situation, the pumpkin seeds may be enough to paralyze the worms so they can be excreted. But don’t count on it. In order to use the pumpkin seeds most effectively, a tincture should be prepared, and then used to dose each animal by adding it to the water.

Feed Healthy High Protein Treats as Part of Fall Chicken Care

Meal Worms are always a welcome treat and these little goodies are bringing a protein punch. Great for helping your chickens recover quickly after a hard molt and a great training tool. Chickens will cooperate better when meal worms are involved!

Seed blocks, peanut butter treats and other commercially available boredom busters are good to keep on hand for times when the chickens have to be cooped up. If you don’t normally purchase scratch grain, fall and winter are a good time to have some on hand. I feed a small amount to my flock in the evening during cold weather.

The key is to keep the amount of scratch or seed treats at a treat level. This should not become a major part of your chickens’ diet. Seeds are high in fats and can lead to obesity and internal fat deposits. Use the treats as a tool, to get the flock to go where you need them to go. It’s a great incentive for getting the chickens to go to the coop in the evening.

Coop Upkeep for Fall and Winter

Now that you have taken care of buying lots of pumpkins and treats for the fall and winter, what other fall chicken care steps should you take?

chicken on a nest

Managing the Annual Molt Mess

Molting makes the dust in the coop even messier. I recommend doing a thorough coop cleaning while the weather is still nice. Scrape out old bedding. Inspect for rodent holes, insect evidence, and wet areas. Take care of any structural problems now so you don’t have to take care of building maintenance during a winter storm.

  • Clean the roost bars and treat with DE powder (Diatomaceous Earth) . The DE powder will kill off any mites trying to take up residence on the roost bars.
  • Check for leaks in the roof, or other parts of the building. While you are checking for leaks, also check that your ventilation is optimal. Ventilation refers to the air flow circulating air inside the coop and keeping it from becoming stagnant. Ventilation is very important in winter because stagnant air can also lead to moisture collection. Moisture in the presence of sub freezing temperatures can lead to frost bite on combs, wattles and feet. 

Fall chicken care tips

Decisions about Heat and  Additional Light

I can’t speak about every area of the country but I will say this. Chickens are extremely cold hardy. If the coop is draft free, has good roof ventilation, can be closed securely at night and during storms, there is little chance that you need additional heat. After the chickens go through the molting, they grow in healthy new feathers and downy under feathers for winter. Chickens will go to roost at night, fluff up their feathers and cover their feet on the roost bar.

Chickens are built for cold weather

It is amazing to me, how much heat is generated by my chickens during the night. The coop is usually very comfortable inside when I arrive in the morning. The chickens are happy and there is less chance of fire. Only once in our chicken raising have we used additional heat. Now, perhaps you live in a particularly frigid area during the winter. I can’t make this decision for you. Draft free goes a long way to keeping the chickens warm enough. Don’t rush to heat the coop just because you are feeling the chill of winter.

Another thing to consider is what happens during a power outage. If your chickens have not been allowed to acclimate to the seasonal change in temperature, they are more likely to succumb to cold if it occurs suddenly.

fall chicken care tips

Should Lights be Added to the Coop?

Adding light may in fact keep the hens laying eggs longer into the winter. I prefer to let them have a natural rest. We use lights only for a short time in the evening while we are cleaning up and feeding/watering the birds for the night. This extends their light by possibly an hour and is not really a factor in their egg laying. Naturally, egg laying slows down during the cold, darker months. This gives the hens a rest and allows energy to be used for warmth. I still collect enough eggs for our use during the winter.

As your hens age, they may lay very infrequently during the winter months. This is normal. If you can add more chickens in the spring, your young layers will carry you through the winter with enough fresh eggs.

Fall Chicken Care – Keeping Fresh Water Available

If your coop is a distance away from your home as ours is, you will need to plan ahead. Empty the hose after each use. Filling containers of water to keep at home will help you avoid frozen water when you are feeding in the morning. I refill gallon jugs and sit them by my back door. In the morning, I grab the water jugs and refill the water bowls with room temperature water from home. The chickens all run to get a warm drink!

With just some foresight and minor upkeep, repair and fall chicken care, you, your chickens and the coop will be ready for winter weather.