Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sweet Lil' Ms. Cross Beak

  One of the main reasons for really researching about fermented chicken feed was because we have a cross beak or scissor beak chicken. She is one of our Americana chicks and she is only about 4 months old and the cross beak is really causing some problems. She is noticeably smaller than the other girls and it seems like its just by chance that she ever actually eats anything while foraging. The dry food seemed to be the same way, she had to work really hard and I would say she only eat about 50% of what she tried for... if even that. I knew she could eat pieces of strawberry like a champ, so I made her scrambled eggs and added some water to a bit of feed and brought her into the extension to eat by herself to see how she did, and she did very well. This is what started the soaked/fermented feed experiment. I actually started that night at making the porridge after I did some research. So, she is my number one fan of the soaked feed. We have one other cross beak friend, Mr. Roo, but he is not nearly as bad as Lil' Ms.
   Glenn and I have both read a ton about cross beak and all sorts of suggestions from trimming the beak to nutritional deficiencies. We will do what we can and what we think is best for her and her quality of life. For now its soaked/fermented feed. A lesson learned for us is who and who not to purchase a flock of chickens from, next time we will go to a big well know hatchery.

Fermented Chicken Food

To someone who is not in love with fermentation and all the awesome benefits of the good bacteria, fermented chicken feed may sound a little wrong. But let me tell you (as a huge fan of fermentation), I am quite certain it is not wrong at all. It's also super easy, which you will notice I am a huge fan of that too. All you have to do is add water to your chicken feed (I would recommend a small batch to start with). I started with a quart jar and filled it a little less than half way with chick/grower feed and then added water and stirred. Put the lid on but not sealed tight and left it outside overnight.
    The next morning I took it over to the girls and plopped the porridge onto a plate for them and they went crazy! Loved, loved, loved it!  Now I just started this a week or so ago, and so far I am still only getting the food soaked, its not actually fermented, I have been increasing my jar size thinking that I will have enough left so that I can get some fermenting started, but the girls are eating as much as I will give them. Right now the chicken porridge smells sweet when I feed them, and fermentation generally takes at least 24 hrs to do it's thing. So, after telling you how awesome fermented chicken feed is, I'm telling you that I am still working on making that happen, but the soaked chicken feed is indeed fulfilling to the girls as well.
 One HUGE bonus to giving the girls soaked or fermented food is that when the temperature reaches a scorching 100 (like it did yesterday) I can add ice to their food just like I do for their water! It is a winner in my opinion, just for that simple fact. So I will either put ice cubes on their plate and put the porridge on top of that, or put their porridge in a bowl made of ice, or add ice to the mix of porridge just before I serve them. I have been doing a mix of these things plus putting ice in their water about 3 times a day, sometimes more depending on how hot it is. I think this is really helping them through the heat. Plus it keeps me from feeling like I should invite them into the air conditioning... well it helps.
Now I am going to start a separate jar of feed that they will not get until it has fermented, I will give an update on how that goes for me and for them as soon as it has fermented. Yeahhhh! Oh the joys!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hot! Hot! HOT!

So, it has been really hot! We are very lucky that it wasn't this hot in the beginning of the summer, or even just a few weeks ago, because we just got our refrigerator and our ac unit all tested out and indeed they preform flawlessly running off of the solar array! Even though its burning up outside (ok, it's only 97 in the shade), I am nice and cool inside at 80 degrees! Feels sooo good.
             Mojo is inside too, although he has a baby pool filled with nice cool well water that he takes advantage of almost every time we do go out.
As for the girls and Mr. Roo, they are chilling under the house where it is shaded and cool. I have been making lots of ice for them, trying to get a stock pile of it, but I seem to be using it about as fast as I make it. I put cubes in their water, and I also put cubes in their fermented food. It does end up watering it down way too much once all the ice melts, but I just dump out the excess water and add more ice again.Last night I froze an ice bowl for the girls, and put their food in it this morning, I don't think they were as impressed with it as I was.  I also put a box fan in the window of their coop once they all start heading to bed, just to get some breeze in there and hope to push some of the extra heat out for the night. I only do this for a few hours though, the box fan eats up more energy than I thought it would, so unfortunately we can't keep it on all night for them.


 I did the dishes today, outside of course, and am happy I got them all done before it got too hot out. I really do enjoy doing the dishes with the garden hose, if I get carried away and spray water all over, it really doesn't matter at all, I think the plants and bugs actually prefer I go a little crazy with the water in this heat.