Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicken Keeping Food For Thought... And a Winner!

By Leigh:

Every now and then, I’m going to infuse this blog with little bits and pieces from the perspective of a Chicken Newbie… (that would be me). I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful mentor in Bee – and some other “Old Timers” that we’ll be hearing from later on down the road.

You see, when I first became interested in keeping chickens, I wanted to do so for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to have my own source of organic, free range eggs.

Ironically, information junkie that I am, the more I read for the purposes of learning how to raise my own chickens, the more I learned about the use of chemicals and medications…

So… if I de-worm my chickens 4 times a year with chemical de-wormer, if I put antibiotics in their water at the first sign of a ruffled feather and if I rub my flock down with chemicals to treat or prevent mites and lice, how would I be eating organic eggs?

I wouldn’t be!

It was only by chance (or fate) that I happened to stumble upon an informational forum thread on a popular chicken website… and I found Bee and her no-nonsense, all natural wisdom. This was what I had been looking for all along! If I wanted to use chemicals and antibiotics, what would be the purpose in raising my own chickens? Why not just buy chemical and antibiotic-laden eggs at the store?

So how does this chicken newbie do things differently than she would have if she’s followed the most common advice out there?

  • I don’t use poop boards or clean out my coop daily. I use the deep litter method which is healthier (and more natural for my flock.
  • I do NOT use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in my coop or on my chickens… ever. I don’t want to kill off those good nematodes that feed on the larvae of mites and lice!
  • I provide wood ash for my birds to take dust baths in. Wood ash kills mites and lice, and my chickens love to roll about in it. And it’s free. Can’t beat “free!”
  • I feed my birds chopped pumpkin seeds every now and then – it’s a natural, organic de-wormer… and the chickens think it’s a delicious treat.
  • I ferment the chicken’s feed – they are better able to absorb the nutrients in this feed, and I’ve cut my feed costs by 2/3rds!
  • I use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in their fermented feed and in their water. The U-ACV has many benefits, including making my chicken’s digestive tract a “hostile environment” for parasites. It may also change the pH and mean more of their fertilized eggs will result in female offspring. Not proven, but I’ll report back on that when I start hatching.
  • I understand now that if kept healthy, most chickens with good genetics will not succumb to common illnesses like coccidiosis.
  • All critters – including humans and chickens – carry parasites and bacteria. It’s a fact of life. It is only when there is an overgrowth of either that we have problems. Balance is the key! Living in a sterile coop is no better than living in filth. The most natural and organic way to achieve health is by finding that middle ground where a symbiotic relationship is created with both bugs and bacteria – not too many and not too few… just the way life was created and developed on this planet.

So there’s my perspective on some of what I have learned so far.

Oh… and you’re still probably wondering who won the key chain?

Drum roll please…

Commenter #7 – Aoxa

Anonymous November 21, 2012 10:50 AM
Wow! Awesome post :D

I often get eggs with blood on the shell and never considered it abnormal. Usually it is from pullets coming into lay or really big eggs like Bee said. :)


(And if you’re wondering, multiple comments by one person were counted as one, and MY posts don’t count. I also didn’t count those that were just a question about another comment.)

So congratulations, Aoxa! Please email me at with your mailing address and your choice of keychains!

Leigh –



  1. :D YAY!

    Emailing you now!


  2. Good post! I've read so many "organic chicken" posts elsewhere that have me stumped as to where the "organic" comes in due to all the chemicals and unhealthy advice that seems to be out there.

    And... maybe it was a "blessing", rather than luck or fate, that we found this info! :)


  3. Being a "read everything before doing something" type person I had the same issue as you. I drew the line when I read the, worm them every three months thread. I just didn't think that could possible be healthy, and when in the world were we going to eat eggs if we were always poisoning them? I stumbled onto the FF thread, and it was like a wonderful light bulb went off.
    And now we have this thread where you have taken all the best parts of Bee and made them easy to find and read. You've done a great job, and it is appreciated by all.
    Woohoo for giveaways!

  4. Love the list above with quick synopsis and links to full descriptions. A list like that with updates and additions deserves to be "stickied" at the top of your homepage.

    Great job on this site and Thanks,

    Congrats Aoxa!

  5. Great summary! It's really discouraging reading so many forum threads of HELP! and hearing about all the vet bills and chemicals and such. In their natural state chickens are very healthy and happy and really it doesn't take that much to keep them that way! You are doing a great job getting all this info out there for newcomers! Still think you ought to make a facebook page!

  6. Congrats, Aoxa!!! I am also appreciative of BDMs efforts with this is nothing short of miraculous the amount of work she has done here and it is so easy to access. I'm still blown away from it every time I see it!

    1. This blog would not be if it weren't for Bee! Bee - you're the big sister I never had!

  7. Have you considered using Kombucha instead of ACV?

    1. I'll have to look into that :) Bee and I always enjoy suggestions!

  8. Is that fresh pumpkin seeds or can they be dried cut up pumpkin seeds?

    1. You may feed either fresh or dried - both work just fine. (But if you buy pumpkin seeds, be sure to rinse off any salt that may have been added.) I now chop or grind the seeds up to make sure my piggier birds don't eat them all and leave the others with none. Dry seeds are easier to chop or grind... the fresh ones have this funny little habit of sliding about.

  9. Just found this site; thank you for the info. Quick question, I'm getting my first chicks at the end of April (black australorp) and LOVE the FF idea. I'm wondering though, with time can I undo any harmful damage that may have been done by the breeder prior to my getting the chicks? In other words, if they've been fed medicated feed prior to my getting them, will the trace of chemicals/meds be gone in time and replaced with the "good creepies" that their intestines need? Thank you

    1. It is never too late to start birds on a healthy diet! Your chicks should be just fine, and kudos to you for doing your research!


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