sorry for no updates – started an egg business!

Hello:  My apologies for those who have been reading this blog… I have not been posting for some time because I have started a farm and doing, what else, chickens. Our farm is in Wrenshall and we have now almost 2,800 birds on pasture…. the name of our business is Locally Laid Egg Company. You can find us at www.locallylaid.com or follow us on Facebook….

thank you to everyone who has followed this little blog.. I am grateful…

Jason Amundsen

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what I was doing wrong

My hens were sleeping in the nesting boxes and every night I’d pull them out and put them on the roosts. Until I realized the mistake I was making – the roosts were way too low, lower than the nesting boxes.

As a result, I’ve ripped out two of the unused nesting boxes and put in a new roost made out of 2x2s and it’s made a huge difference. The hens aren’t sleeping in the nesting boxes and are up on the roost. As a result, the remaining nesting box is cleaner, which means cleaner eggs..

This was something I clearly should have thought of earlier….

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thoughts on a mild winter

it’s been a pretty easy winter… I’m keeping up with clean water changes every morning – my hens use an electric dog bowl heater to keep the ice from taking over during our Minnesota cold snaps.

Since my hens don’t have access to grass I’ve been making fresh sprouts and them those fresh greens in the morning. The afternoon is scratch (along with whole shell black oil sunflower seeds for fat, fiber and protein). Keeping a light on in the morning I’ve been able to get a lay rate of over 80%, not bad. I think it’s the extra nutrition from the sprouts and the extra calories from the scratch.

The hens still like to go outside and look for food. The winter hasn’t stop them. In particular my gold sex links are escape artists- they love to leave the run.  Anyone having winter-related challenges with their chickens?

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Sick Hen

I had a sick hen. My normally flighty, pain in the ass, full-of-energy Americauna was listless. She wasn’t eating and loosing weight. When I threw scratch (corn, wheat, and black oil sunflower seeds) down on the ground all the other hens would scramble for it. She just stood there.

After doing some internet research she had all the symptoms of coccidiosis. An intestinal parasite, it is an old-time parasitic disease found often in poultry. That’s why chicks are often vaccinated against coccidiosis at an early age. At its worst, birds will die after their intestines become overwhelmed by parasites.

In my chicken keeping circle a bag of amprolium- a widely used coccidiostat – tends to circulate in my chicken keeping circle. I was able to borrow a bag. The directions on the back of the bag are designed for dosing cattle, so I had to guess how much of the white powder I should put in the water.

Well, it worked, and fabulously. I put in the water of all the hens and the next morning the Americauna was eating along with all the other birds. I picked her up today and she’s gaining back her weight. I’ll be dosing the birds for five days.

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Chicken Photography

There’s a chicken photographer that you, my readers, might have an interest in…   The name of the photographer is Rolf Hagberg and he has done some wonderful chicken photos. They are available on his website www.rolfhagberg.com.

Here’s a video which Rolf\’s chicken photo shoot

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Fresh Air

When I built my coop I made sure to incorporate some ventilation. But I look back last winter on the smell I’d occasionally come across inside my coop. It was ammonia. I didn’t know any better, but that was a warning I wasn’t heeding.

This winter I pledged to do better by my birds. I still wanted to keep them cooped up and safe at night. With the division of my hens between younger and older sides, an opportunity presented itself.

In short, I cut a big hole at the bottom of my coop roughly 12 inches tall by 10 inches wide that my Barred Rocks can go in and out of . This hole in the coop is providing oodles of fresh air and I’m not going to close it up, even as it gets colder throughout the winter in northern Minnesota where I live.

Why? Most chicken health issues are respiratory. Chickens breathe at a faster rate than humans and their lungs are very sensitive to particulate matter.

In fact, there’s a lot of old-school writing done on the importance of fresh air for poultry, including Dr. Prince T. Woods Fresh Air Poultry Houses written over 100 years ago.

Don Schrider in the October/November 2011 issue of

Here's the permanent opening into the coop. This is one of my Barred Rock hens going in from the outside.

summarized his chicken health philosophy, especially for winter: exercise and fresh air. Schrider emphasized the dangers of a closed coop in the resultant “buildup of moist air, dust, and ammonia – which work together to weaken the lungs. A better approach is to provide fresh air in conjunction with exercise. Please keep in mind that frostbite on the combs of chickens has more to do with moist air and poor circulation of blood than cold weather.”

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Winter

A quick blog post. Yesterday was my day for finalizing work for winter…    I went to my local feed bin and bought three bags of feed – two bags of pelletized, vegetarian feed and an 50# bag of egg mash, also vegetarian.

winter feed set upstraw, all set aside for winter

I mixed the pelletized feed and the egg mash into a bin. I put it next to my winter mix of scratch- corn and wheat – into which I have some black oil sunflower seeds that add protein, fat and fiber into the hens diet.  Scratch is used to provide energy to the chickens during winter- instead of heating the coop I provide them with extra calories that they use to heat themselves. I usually give them the scratch in the afteroon.

I stocked up on straw that will be kept under an eave and won’t get too much snow on it.

The hens water dish is a electrically heated dog food dish. I don’t heat the coop so there’s nothing to worry about there…   As far as winter prep there’s not much else to be done…  Anyone else have any thoughts about what they do for winter?

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