Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Research Notes on Chooks

For about a few weeks I've been researching both online and in books on how to take care of chooks organically and what plants to include in their own fenced area. Here's what I've compiled, so feel free to comment or correct or add to what I've got listed (mind that none are cited from what sources I got them, just felt that the sources are reliable). I am still waiting for Alanna Moore's "Backyard Poultry - Naturally" book to arrive - so this list is not 'complete'.

Feedings:
  • Chook Mash 1: 3 scoops of bran & pollard mix (from feed store); 1 scoop of meatmeal (or fishmeal, or even cooked soymeal); All in a big bucket & paddle in. Then Add: 1/2 cup skim milk powder; a glob (tablespoon sized) of molasses (from food store); 3-4 cups of warm-hot water to dissolve in. Then add liquid mix to the dry bran mix - mix all till moist. Feed daily. On a full moon, add 1 garlic clove (crushed) per chook. For worming, add crushed pumpkin seeds. For parasites, add a pinch of sulphur. For Calcium, dry oven the egg shells, crush them finely and added to mash then mix throughly.
  • The Chook Concoction: Finely chopped onion (with or without skin); 2 cloves of garlic, chopped; tsp of sulphur; tsp of dolomite. Mix together with apple cider vinegar. Give every couple of months.
  • Summer: rolled oats in morning, a cold sloppy mash at lunchtime & wheat in afternoons, supplemented with sunflowers. The Mash consists of wheat bran with fine shellgrit & seaweed meal, mixed with cold water & any excess goat's milk. It may occasionally contains linseed meal, tea or ginger beer gregs and the pulp from the juicer.
  • Winter: hot mash in the morning with molasses added along with the grit and seaweed. Early afternoons they have cracked corn and then rolled oats in evenings.
  • Wet Mash: consists of: mill run (pollard & bran mix), meatmeal, molasses, lime (for calcium), and sulphur. In addition to this mash, they also receive sprouted grain twice a day.
Remedies:
  • Moulting: Add dill, anise, fennel plus seaweed. Or Nettles, cleavers and all onion family including garlic (both promotes plumage growth). Feed at moulting time. (not sure how?)
  • Off Laying: feed them with half a kg of cottonseed for 20 fowls daily, twice a week. Or from an old wives remedy: chillies and diced onion - added into the moist pellets in mornings.
  • Loosy motions/dirty feathers around vents: add slippery elm powder to the mash.
  • New chicks: feed them with mashed hardboiled egg yolks (with finely chopped lettuce if there is little green pick) for a couple of days. Then feeed them with budgie seed and finely ground rolled oats. Grain is gradually introduced and by six weeks they have the same diet as the adults.
  • Control wormings: Give garlic and sulphur at the change of seasons, on the week leading up to the full moon when worms are most active. Give approx one clove of garlic per chook into their morning mash.
  • Worm expeller remedy: Slightly crushed pepitas (pumpkin seed kernel) added to a little feed or given on its own for a day or until all is consumed. Repeat every full moon. This is excellent for treating new stock before introducing them to the fowl pen. Pepitas can be used for pigeons, cats & dogs (in mince) and goats.
Water:
  • A fresh clove of crushed garlic placed in an old tea leaf holder, which steeps in the drinking water. Replace this fortnight (both water and garlic), and do not use plastic container when using garlic!
  • Have a largest water bowl shaded so could have apple cider vinegar added, except during the full moon when they get crushed garlic added to alleviate worms.
  • A brew of rosemary or southernwood with cider vinegar added to water on weekly basic.
Big No-No's:
  • No chocolate, coffee, avocado or rhubarb for chooks as all are toxic! (need to check if there are parts of those that are toxic and what are not toxic)
  • Don't give them tea leaves, coffee grounds, citrus peels, banana skins and salt.
Husbandry:
  • Preventing lice & mites: Add shredded wormwood leaves into chooks nest boxes (can use tansy and a variety of geraniums too - need to check what variety!).
  • Bedding: Use Dustless Sawdust/Wood Shavings - untreated, esp being raw!
  • Clear out once a year - 3 inches deep.
  • Can use rice hull
  • From a lister with experience, his list of preferences in using materials for bedding is listed from high to low: 1. Wood Shavings; 2. Rice hull; 3. Paper; 4. Straw.
  • Layered bedding materials: newspaper on bottom; pea straw on top of newspaper; then sprinkle derris dust/neem powder; and add wood shavings on top.
  • DEEP LITTER METHOD: Put an inch or two of wood shavings & shredded paper on floor, add more when fresh bedding is needed, sprinkle some DE ("food grade DE - diatomaceous earth") in between. Then at end of year (autumn/spring) clear out, air then restart. (Stir before adding 'new' layer?) Throw some stale bread on floor to have chooks scratch it up or rake it around. IMPORTANT to keep it DRY - air it often.
  • Water containers outside, tray for poo under roosting posts, etc.
  • Clean up chook hut: sweep, hose & dry it then paint with "whitewash" (lime) - it goes on every bit (walls, ceiling, roost & boxes) - a bag of lime - a kilo and half of lime mixed into a bucket of water and stir. Paint with large paintbrush.
  • To entice new chooks, feed with grains and make noises so know the association of food and 'master'.
  • Mark the egg of an sitting chook with a texta (is this a good idea, or should use pencil?) on the blunt end so other eggs can be removed out of nest.
  • Keep a Guinea Fowl with chooks to keep "Stickfast" fleas off the chooks.
  • For "Scaly Leg" mites - mix a teaspoon of pyrethrum, ten drops of tea tree oil, and half a teaspoon of neem oil in one litre of water. Dip legs into the mixture and spray underneath fowls and on their roosts when they're going to bed. Repeated a few days should suffice.
  • Once a year, paint perches/roosts with eucalyptus oil mixed with borax. If dust bathe in the same place regularly, add some derris dust to bath weekly.
  • Group of chooks to a rooster - up to 12 only per group.
  • New chooks to be separated from present group for up to 2 weeks (quarantine), and during the separation, dust for lice, mites and scales.
  • Put all together (both new and present) in first thing in the morning to distract from harassing as all will be focused on feeding.
  • Pecking order among chooks will lessen with a rooster present.
Plants to be included in the Runs:

Fodder:
  • Tagasaste
  • Almonds
  • Wormwood (only Elderberry, Margureite daisy and Jasmine can be tolerant being near this plant)
  • Coprosma repens
  • Grapevines on fences
  • Figs
  • Black Mulberries
  • Local acacias
  • Local salt brush
  • Kangaroo apple (solanum aviculare)
  • Quandongs
  • Sunflowers
  • Strawberry Spinach
  • Ethiopian Cabbage
  • French Sorrel
  • Russian & Toscano Kales
  • Perpetual Spinach
  • Plain & 5 colour silverbeet
  • Chilli bush
  • Pigeon Pea
  • Elderberry
  • Rhubarb Chard
  • Golden turnips (greens)
For Winter plantings of fodder:
  • Dandelions
  • Horseradish
  • Comfrey
  • Purslane
  • Nettles
  • Lucerne
Remeber to put chicken wire and rocks around young plants and roots from being damaged by chooks.

Fruit plants can be included in the Chook Run:
  • Cherry
  • Apricot
  • Pear
  • Mulberries
  • Lillypillies (or other native bushfood)
  • Persimmon
  • Paw Paw, Feijora, Tamarillo
  • Strawberry guava
  • Custard apple
  • Peach
  • Bananas (chop up stems)
  • Figs
  • Jaboticaba, Grumichama
  • Brazilian cherry
  • Plums
  • Mangoes (read elsewhere its toxic to chooks??)
Greens to include in Chook Run:
  • Arrowroot, New Zealand Spinach syn., Warrigal greens.
Other plants that can be included in Chook Run:
  • citronella geranium
  • lemon myrtle
  • wheat
  • mustard
  • sour thistles
  • broccoli leaves
  • brussell sprouts
  • fennugreek, celery, dill, cardomon, lettuces, mixed bird seed, chinese stir-fry vegies, carrots, beetroots
  • "chou moulier" from Eden Seeds
  • Rue, Thyme
  • 7-years beans
  • Brambleberries
  • pepper vines
  • Neem trees
  • White Cedar
  • Corns
  • Clover
  • peas
  • beans
  • Other Crops: potatoes, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, honey locust, taro, yams, oaks (acorns), walnuts, olives, kumara, Jerusalem Artichokes, sunflower roots & chokos.
Chooks will eat:
  • Watermelons
  • Tomatoes (usually small ones)
  • honeydew
  • rockmelons
  • capsicums
  • grapes
  • pea leaves
  • meatmeal
Other ideas:
  • Grow spinach and silverbeet in pots and give chooks several leaves a day or two each day.
  • For a special treat, cut a watermelon in half or a plateful of strawberries.
That's all for now, folks!

Remember I am a newbie to the world of chooks, so those are what I've collected and will need to test over the time. I do appreciate if anyone can tell me which really works and what doesn't, and explain why so, etc.

Cheers till later!

1 comment:

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