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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Using fresh & dried herbs for your chickens & why they are important

          
My Pipper girl all bundled up during the very  old spell we had last month (Feb 2014)

Hello everyone, well the computer is still here at the moment & I wanted to do a blog on things you can grow for your chickens health.  I have been doing gardens for the 'kids' since I got them years back & love the fact they are getting healthy veggies/fruits & herbs that I grow for them.

I just got the new issue of 'Chicken' magazine & a wonderful article done by Lisa Steele was in it about using fresh herbs for your chickens. years back I did research & found that fresh or dried herbs can been very good health wise for your flock.

I bet some of you never knew a chicken has a very good sense of smell so having these wonderful smelling herbs in their coop/nesting boxes & run will help them not only in the smell but in the eating of some of them.

I am paraphrasing much of Ms. Steels article, but if you are really interested the magazine is by Hobby Farms called Chickens & is issue May/June 2014....definitely worth buying it if you can as it does a better detailed explanation of the herbs.

The main use in this article seems to be based on broody hens who are in-activity while they sit on eggs.  Since they tend to eat less & have little exercise adding fresh (or dried) herbs can benefit them in health.

By growing herbs & adding them to the coop either in bundles tied to the ceiling or thrown on the floor where they can eat what they like also can create a coop that is fresher in smell as well as deter bugs, which as a chicken raiser is important to me...the less bugs that bother my chickens the better.

You do not have to use every herb I list if you don't grow them or want to get them.  Plus many herbs have more than one use, which can be nice if you are wanting to help the chicken itself as well as get rid of smells & bugs in the coop/run.

For repelling bugs, you can make bundles of herbs & tie them to the ceiling, tuck in the nesting boxes, sprinkle in the corners & floor:

Bay leaves
Lavender
Catnip
Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass (chop up into small pieces so they don't get gizzard bound)
Marigold heads\
Mints
Rosemary
Sages

You can also use the dried herbs that are listed above but they may not have the same power as the fresh.

Herbs with good antioxidants:

Bay leaves
Cilantro
Dill
grated fresh Ginger
Marigolds
Sages
Tarragon
Thyme's

These can be put in bowls around the coop/ run or thrown out with their treats or scratch.  Don't mix it with the feed as it may cause the feed to mold over time.

Good Protein herbs: Give fresh if possible, but even dry will give them some benefits

Basil
Chervil
Coriander (the whole upper plant)
Dill (the whole upper plant)
Fennel
Marjoram
Oregano
Parsley
Sages
Spearmint
Tarragon
Thyme's

Herbs to maintain overall good health:

Bay leave-immune system
Garlic-immune system
Oregano- believed to combat E. coli, salmonella, coccidia  plus other transferable diseases
Parsley- has lots of good Vits in it

Herbs for respiratory ailments:

Bee Balm
Cinnamon (use powder inside nesting boxes mixed in with bedding)
Dill
Echinacea
Marjoram
Rosemary
Thyme's
Yarrow

If you have a sick chicken you can create small bundles tied up & placed inside the coop or loosely used in the nesting boxes or sick boxes for them to inhale &/or eat.  You can also steep the herbs as a tea, drain & add to a humidifier inside the coop to add a healthy moisture to the coop for the sick chickens.  I also do a mints & eucalyptus tea that once strained is added to the dehumidifier for my chickens with bad sinus ailments, sneezing & coughing.  I have the humidifier on a timer so it shuts off before all the water/steam is gone.

Herbs for a Broody hen:

To keep them calm & relaxed-(also good for sick or injured chickens as well)

Bee Balm
Catnip
Dill (all upper plant)
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Yarrow

To keep nesting box cleaner-all these have antibacterial & anti fungal properties which can keep molds.fungus/bad bacteria from growing under the hen as she lays on the eggs....Just check daily & remove if they start to go bad or mold  & add fresh for them.

Basil
Bee Balm
Cilantro
Nasturtium
\Oregano
Spearmint
Thyme's
Yarrow

Herbs to use for hens who aren't laying due to stress/illness/injury or change





Fennel
Garlic
Marjoram
Nasturtium
Parsley

As you see many have more than one use, so those would be wonderful to grow so that you can supply the chickens these all during the growing season fresh then use dried during the colder non-growing months.
Using the herbs with proteins in the laying boxes gives the hen something to eat when she is not wanting to leave the box & if you have ever had a broody hen, you know how much weight they tend to lose so giving them these different fresh herbs helps keep them healthy & content while sitting there all those weeks.

Some of you know I do a separate garden just for my chickens & do a large herb bed, so this year I will be adding many more herbs so that I can add more to their diet & to make the coop/nesting boxes nicer for them.

While at the farm I did grow Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano which they didn't seem to mess with even when they were in the herb areas but my Roo CeeCee did love digging up the Parsley & laying under it & Pipper loved to lay under the Rosemary.  So for the ones I have now, I know they don't really care for these herbs but they do love Marigold blooms.  So I will experiment this year & see what things I do grow that they might eat if I throw them out as scratch/treats for them.  Some of the herbs listed aren't all used as eating herbs like the lavender, but it is used like aromatherapy & a pest repellent, so it should be interesting to see what helps with them.

This is one of the reasons I so enjoy raising chickens, as there is so many simple things you can do for them that benefit them.   Plus I love playing in the gardens so it also benefits me.

Have a great chicken day!

M' & crew




Monday, March 10, 2014

Dazed, confused & its still winter

Good morning everyone!

Once again I will be off line for quite awhile as this notebook is leaving the house either by give away or trashed. But before I do that I wanted to do a blog to catch you up on things.
 The 7 hens I brought home that made it through raccoon attacks & a very cold trailer, are doing well.  I have Lauria, the crooked neck hen & Pipper the twisted leg hen both in the house, Lacey is in today with them as she gets so cold even with the ceramic heat lamps she shakes really bad form the cold.  She has never gotten a good set of feathers & just can't stay warm so I have no problem bringing her in on the really nasty days to visit with Lauria.  She picks on Pipper so I keep Pipper up in the living room with me on those days.

We just had 2 fairly decent days of mid 30's & lower 40's but today its getting cold again & they say more snow is headed this way.  I love winter but this up & down of the weather where it rains, then ices up, then snows then heats up is driving me nuts as is it for the hens. 

I try to open the shop door on the nice days so they can get  a bit of sun & lay on the dry bedding that's outside on the snow.  Without the bedding hay down they won't come out if they see just snow.  I worry they are not getting the doses of Vit D they need so I am glad when they venture out even if its for just 10 minutes.

Thomas did not check his VA for school & it will be cut off April 13th, yet he still has classes until the mid of May so no income except for the $365 from military drill......so I have had to put my antique wood cooking stove & turn of the 19th century file cabinet up for sell. 

Saturday took all my good silver & gold jewelry in to a jewelry store that buys gold/silver....about 30 pieces of nice jewelry got only $600, so that hurt big time when it was at least a few $1000 in jewelry...had to give up my wedding rings also....So nothing left to hand down to my adopted grand daughter, which made me really sad.

Its not so much that I was attached to all I am having to sell but its the fact I am the only one giving up things in the house. Its like I am the only one who is worried & trying to keep the house, but soon I won't be able to help.

Now before any one yells at me & tells me to get a job, I live in a small town & check jobs often to see if there is anything I can do that I can get to.  We have one car & Thomas has it from early morning to early evening, plus one weekend each month so even finding a midnight shift that ends before 6:30 a.m. is hard but I have looked here & in towns I can drive to.  I don't care if I am washing dishes or cleaning bathrooms, I did that before I went to college & I never minded those types of jobs.

I also spent 4 days in Feb in the hosp for blood clots in my right lung & left leg again & am now on blood thinners again which means until every thing is balanced out I have to go have 2 bloods tests a week which is proving to be a pain as I have to work around Thomas school classes so instead of getting them when the doctor tells me I have to wait until Thomas decides to come home & take me....so its always late going to the doctor, so I never know what med dose to take to keep everything on the right side.  Plus my poor tummy is all bruised up from the twice daily shots but at least they don't really hurt just look really bad.

The big problem is between the shoots & pills I have daily migraines & if you deal with migraines you know how bad this can be.  I am living on migraine medicine & lots of coffee everyday trying to dull them so I can even think. 

So its like everything is ganging up on me at once & I am just at a loss of what to do besides tend to the hens.  At least they are easy & love seeing me, even if its for treats.....Now Prudence does sometimes complain about the others to me but usually she vents to me & then goes on like everything is back to better.

Its times like this I wish I was back at the farm with everything crazy but manageable & it was up to me to tend to it or it didn't get done.  Didn't have to depend on anyone else so it made it easier for me or help me.  I figured out yesterday that to be here in this house its nearly $2000 for the house, house insurance, car insurance, electric, wood for wood stove, gas for car, phone land line....that doesn't include food, propane, oil , military credit card...& on the farm with Rent, food & electricity for the coop, chicken feed was $300 or less a month....

Needless to say I was shocked at how I could live that cheap but here its so high & even though soon some of the things will be shut off...ie land line, computer & Thomas cable...that will save $200 a month but there's still the house payment, insurance etc that has to be paid & I just don't know how it will be.  If I had my way everything would be shut off & we would live like I did at the farm with just the wood stove & oil lamps, which may be a reality soon & I am fine with that. 

We are having to apply for food stamps at the end of the month & I am unhappy over that cause in my mind that's for families with children not for ones without children, so that has me in a tail spin.  The only reason the hens have fed is I got $50 for my Birthday & I kept $20 of it just for them.  I also still have about 300 lbs of their winter mix I did up at the farm so have been feeding them more of that over the winter even on the warm days as its got lots of healthy things in it for them.  Plus once it warms up the hens who still lay should be producing more eggs for us to eat & that will help. Plus when things get to be too much for me I can go out & be with them & they make me happy...so they are staying.

I don't understand why things have gotten so bad here but I do know it could be better if it was a team working together instead of just me trying to fix things.....I think things have gone too far & may never get fixed....things as so broken there may not be enough glue to put them back together.

So anyway this is a sucky post but I needed to let off some steam & let you know I may not be posting anything for quite some time.....even so there are plenty of articles I have written on chickens if you need them.

Have a great chicken day