Table of Contents
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Join Nicole as she answers some common backyard chicken questions from Backyard Bounty podcast listeners.
What You’ll Learn
- Answers to Common Backyard Chicken Questions
- Effects of light on rearing chicks and egg production
- How to introduce new chickens to your flock
- How to water cheaply and easily
- Good feed choices
Nicole is a Colorado native and an outdoor enthusiast. A retired firefighter/paramedic, Heritage Acres Market and her family are now her main focus. When not working on the farm, she enjoys creating new content for the blog and recording new episodes of the Backyard Bounty Podcast.
Nicole is also a certified Colorado Master Gardener, chicken enthusiast, and Master Beekeeper. You can read more about Nicole here.
Heritage Acres was started in 2016 by Nicole Gennetta. It is a simple 2-acre backyard hobby farm in Pueblo West, Colorado that Nicole runs with her husband, Patrick.
They have a quaint peach orchard, charming garden, several bee hives, a variety of flocks and their Rottweiler, Honey.
Nicole and Patrick enjoy the hard work and satisfaction that comes from running their little piece of paradise. There is never a dull moment on the farm and at the end of the day, it’s always worth it.
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Resources & Links Mentioned
- Text Nicole with your questions 719 292 3207
- Leave your questions for future Q & A episodes on Speakpipe
- Heritage Acres Market Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube
- Introducing new chickens
- Link to Wintertime Webinar by Univ of Penn
- Summertime feed
- Brooder light
- Raising mealworms
- Fermenting feed
- Ultimate list of what chickens can eat
- *Chicken nipples product and Informational post
- *Essential nutrients seed blend
- *Sweeter Heater
*Denotes affiliate links
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Announcer:: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com where we talk about all things backyard poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living, and more. And now, here's
your host, Nicole.
00:00:18,240 --> 00:02:24,000
Nicole:: Good morning, everybody. And thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host, Nicole. And today, I'm really excited to do something a little bit
different for this episode. Today, I'm doing a listener Q&A. So I reached out to the wonderful folks that listen to the podcast, and I asked for you guys to submit your questions for the show. And I
got about 11 or 12 wonderful questions about backyard chicken keeping. And I'm really excited to answer your questions today. Hopefully, this episode will be useful for you. And hopefully, this is
something that we can start doing more episodes in the future. So this episode, in addition to being available on all of the podcast players will also be available on our YouTube channel. So please
check that out, please subscribe to it. I know that you probably are tired of hearing about that from folks that are on YouTube. But honestly, subscribing to our channel actually really does help and
helps the channel grow. So you can find me over there. The channel is called Heritage Acres Market. And then of course, it'll be on your podcast players. And if you'd like to submit a question for a
future Q&A, you can do so by going to my website, HeritageAcresMarket.com. Click on the podcast tab and scroll down and you'll see a way to submit your question via SpeakPipe. SpeakPipe is super easy.
It's you can do it on your phone on the Safari browser. I'm not sure about Android, but I'm sure there's a way you can do it on there. Or you can do it on the computer. It's just a real simple way to
submit your questions for the show. And then I can include them and answer them on a future Q&A episode. So please submit your questions over there. And as long as the questions keep coming in, I will
keep releasing these these Q&A. So to get started here, our first question here is from Illiza. And here is Illiza's question.
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Illiza:: Hi, my name is Illiza and I have a brooder lighting related question. So I'm using a radiant heater that doesn't give off visible light. But I put a dim amber light bulb over the brooder just
to make sure the chicks can find their feeder and water okay. I've read that too much artificial light can cause chickens to develop too quickly. So I'm wondering, is it okay to provide continuous
supplemental lighting for chicks? Or is there either a recommended duration of darkness or maybe just an age at which I should switch off this artificial light entirely?
00:03:03,330 --> 00:04:41,700
Nicole:: So thank you, Illiza, so much for that question. You know, this was actually a really good question. And I did some research to be able to give you the best possible answer here in the
University of Maine has an article titled "Maine Poultry Facts Lighting for Small Scale Flocks". And I just wanted to read you the snippet from there. And what they have to say about it, and I think
it should answer your question. So their article says, "If chicks are brooded during winter months, you may find it necessary to keep brooder lights or heat lamps on for longer than usual. I'm sorry,
for longer than the usual four week period, some might worry about the effect of this extended light on subsequent sexual maturity. As long as the light is cut back before the chicks reach eight weeks
of age, there should be no adverse effect." And I will of course, include that link for you to read more on. So basically, you're okay, as long as you reduce that light before they reach eight weeks
of age shouldn't be an issue. In fact, the article does go on to say that when they're young, the light needs to be on for 24 hours a day for the first couple of days. And then on on at least 12 hours
a day following that so that they can find their food and water. So sounds like you're doing everything great. Just about before eight weeks of age, I'd cut that light back. So our next question is
from Rammi in the UK.
00:04:43,380 --> 00:04:55,140
Rammi:: My chickens have stopped giving eggs for the last two, three months. It's because I'm cold and wet it is. What can we do to make things better? I'm in the UK. Thank you. Bye.
00:04:59,160 --> 00:07:26,100
Nicole:: So I know Rammi you are in the UK but this is a common question everywhere right now here in the United States as well. So a little bit of, I guess information background information on egg
production to answer your question. So while the cold is a stressor in anything that stresses, chickens will reduce their egg laying. It's not necessarily the cold that's causing the decrease in egg
production, but the amount of light. So chickens need 14 to 15 hours of daylight. And that's what triggers the hormones in their body to, to, to produce eggs to release the egg and go on through egg
production. So during the winter months, of course, there's less daylight. Unfortunately, we're all familiar with that. But that serves a really important purpose for the chicken. So obviously, baby
chicks need to stay very warm. We just talked about that in the previous question. So it would be not good for the continuation of the species, the for a mother hen to lay her eggs and to hatch them
out in the middle of winter, it's too cold. So that decrease in lighting pre reduces her egg production. So she's not going to be hatching chicks when it's cold outside the if you've ever noticed
first year layers, so chicks that you got in the spring, they generally lay eggs throughout their first, first winter with with no reduction. And that's because they have lots of hormones. They're
young pullets, lots of hormones, they produce eggs at first winter. But then in subsequent winters, they'll stop laying. And then as they age, they just lay fewer eggs in general. Generally, it's only
the first three years of a chicken's life that they are at their peak production. So my suggestion, what I would do if I was you, is I would just let them rest. egg production is really stressful on
their body. And in my opinion, they take that break for a reason. So I think that it is best to let them have that break. Let them rest let their bodies recover, you know, they just got done typically
00:07:26,100 --> 00:08:25,170
going through a molt, winter is already stressful on them. So I like to just let them rest. So some some ways to handle that. I guess, what I like to do is I store extra eggs in the summer. Typically
in the summer, I have more eggs that I know what to do with. So I'll either keep them in the fridge, they can keep in the fridge for several months. Or you can freeze them, you can dehydrate them.
Looking around online, there's lots of different egg preservation techniques, depending on what what works for you. But if you're absolutely dead set you want your chickens to lay throughout the
winter. And that's, you know, your decision for your flock. A couple suggestions here, the one thing that that is kind of necessary is to increase the amount of daylight. So like we mentioned, they
need at least 15 hours of daylight. So you can hang up like those tube, but like string lights, the the ones that are in kind of the rubber tubing, and you can hang those up, plug them in and put them
on a timer so that your chickens are exposed to 15 hours total daylight, you could do something like solar lights or Christmas lights. Of course, anytime you're adding any sort of electricity into
your coop be very careful for fire purposes. I would not put up a heat lamp which we'll talk more about actually in a question here in a little bit. But just a light source light to get to that 15
hours. Another thing to do would be to keep them warm, because cold is a stressor on the chickens and anything cold is going to reduce laying. So there's ways to do that without without heat. So you
can wrap the if they have an attached run, you can wrap that in some clear plastic, so that causes sort of like a greenhouse effect so it will trap and absorb some heat. Another thing that you can do
is to feed them a high protein feed in the winter that's 16%. Eggs are mostly protein so that high protein feed could potentially help them lay more eggs. And then another kind of different solution
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would be to just include spring chicks. Add a couple spring chicks every year to your flock. And that way you should always have some eggs in your first winter. So hopefully that helps and and that
answers your question. So our next question is from Bill.
00:10:16,920 --> 00:10:38,940
Bill:: Hi, I have a question about nipple feeders. I'm wondering if you can recommend a nipple feeder that stays automatically hooked up to the water. We had one before but is no longer available. And
we would like to have one the nipple feet are the type that made you hanging from the top of the of the pin or something like that. But it's it's basically always on. Thank you very much!
00:10:48,360 --> 00:13:17,130
Nicole:: So I promise you, for those that are familiar with the store that we have, Bill's question was an honest one it was it was not a listener question plant, a genuine question. So Bill, thank
you for asking. We actually do have a watering system that I think is exactly what you're looking for and will will will be the solution to your problem. So we sell the Columbus Aqua horizontal
poultry nipples. And they are an automatic waterer, basically that you can either screw into a bucket or onto a PVC pipe. And you can then make an auto fill water. Or if you're using PVC, you can have
it so that it's hooked up to a garden hose. So that you would always have water available for your chickens. So these are a really great inexpensive way to build a water. The Columbus Aqua ones, which
are the ones that we sell in our store. They're the only ones that are not made in China. They're the original one that's been on the market, they've actually been in existence for about 25 years now.
The Chinese look alikes just recently came out but unfortunately, the ones being China are not the same quality and her prone to leaking and having some problems. So we actually offer a lifetime leak
free guarantee on ours. And again, you can put them on the side of a bucket or a 55 gallon drum or a PVC pipe, you can set it up so that it's either a high volume, so like we use a 55 gallon drum
works great, I only have to fill it up about once a month. If you did a PVC pipe sort of thing, you can use a pressure regulator and hook it up to a garden hose so always has water supplied to it. Or
you can use a five gallon bucket or you know, container like that. And just fill it up on occasion. So that way they always have water available. Another really nice thing about these watering nipples
is the the nipple itself, it doesn't hold water in it because the the barrel has a slant to it. So they're basically self draining. So what I do on our 55 gallon drum is add a 250 watt submersible
00:13:15,130 --> 00:14:01,650
tank heater. And I don't have to worry about winter water which is great. They they have fresh water year round. And it's it's a game changer for sure. So check out those colombus Aqua horizontal
poultry nipples are available in our store. I also have a blog post, which I'll include the link to that talks about how to install them, how to train your chickens to use them. And I even have some
project blueprints so that you can get some inspiration on how to make your own water. So hopefully that helps. And you can give your chickens some fresh water there. So our next question is from
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Barb:: Hi, I'd like to ask about your thoughts on chicken swings. So I made a chicken swing for my chickens. And I thought that they would love it. And I've read from you know, other places, other
sources that they do, but my chickens don't use mine. I've tried setting them on it gently I've tried putting treats on and they'll hop up long enough to eat the tree and then be gone. They don't use
it regularly. And I'm wondering if maybe I should change it from just a single board to more of a platform swing, or what I did initially start with it kind of load to the ground and they would like
hop over it and stuff. But as I gradually raised it, they had no interest in it. And I'm really kind of bummed because I thought that would be a really cool thing for them to have and spend time on
plus an extra roost and I was hoping for comments or suggestions about whether it's even worth Trying to modify it, or don't bother with it. Or maybe I'm doing something else wrong. I'd love your
comments on this. Thanks.
00:15:28,260 --> 00:17:05,310
Nicole:: Well, Barb, I would say rest assured you're not doing anything wrong. Like you, I saw all the cute videos online of the chickens on the chicken swings. And I've also seen, you know, the the
chickens that play the xylophone. So I added a chicken swing to my round as well, I thought they would love it. And, and they don't hate it, they will either run around it or hop over it. And it
really does nothing but get in my way when I'm trying to clean, clean their perch. I think that it's just one of those things where you some flocks are just fortunate enough to have an individual
chicken that or maybe a few chickens that like to sit on them. But generally speaking, chickens aren't really a roosting bird. You know that little roost up at night. But typically they want to spend
their time on the ground and foraging and pecking they don't really, you know, sit in a tree all day or perch kind of thing. So I don't know that it's really the most the most compatible with sort of
normal chicken behavior, if that makes sense. So I think I think you're kind of in the same boat that I am we're we have one and they just unfortunately don't like it. don't really think that there is
a solution for it. I think it's it's just one of those things, unfortunately.
00:17:08,580 --> 00:18:32,310
So before we go on to our next question, I just wanted to let you guys know that another really great way to get a hold of me, in addition to submitting your Q&A for upcoming podcast episodes, is to
send me a text. I have a texting platform that I can answer questions easily. And sometimes I don't get to them right away, because unfortunately, I am a little bit busy. But I get to everybody,
eventually, then I do my best to answer any questions that come through and send you to the most applicable resource or answer your questions as best as I can. So the best way to do that is to text me
and my number there is 719-292-3207. Again, 719-292-3207. And I'll put that in the show notes as well. So you don't need to hurry up and write it down. But what you can do is, send me a text there,
ask whatever questions you'd like. And also if you would like to receive podcast updates, new episodes and like what like the the request for questions that I sent out for this episode, I do that
through the text message platform. So when you text me just text the word podcast, and I'll make sure that you're added to that to the podcast topics that I send out. So my next question is a very
common one from the Blue Truck Farm.
00:18:46,200 --> 00:19:10,170
Blue Truck Farm: Hi, Nicole, this is Blue Truck Farm. The question I have for you on chickens. How do you what's the best way to introduce new chickens into the flock? I've had some issues in the past
year. And I'm wondering if there's a better way to do it. Both from a chick perspective, and also from a pilot perspective. You can let me know that'd be great. Thank you.
00:19:15,059 --> 00:21:43,769
Nicole:: So I know that this is a question that that is a stressful one. For all folks. I know I've been through this on more than one occasion and I absolutely hate introducing new birds into my
flock. I don't know who it's more stressful for me or the chickens. But this is a question that I actually get very regularly in my email and in my text message platform, and I'm working on a blog
post for this I don't know that it will be done by the time this episode comes out. But I am working on that I do hear you guys i and i know i know that this is a bummer. So I have this is probably
going to be my longest response to the Q&A here. And and hopefully I don't ramble too much but hopefully answer your question and give you some tips that can be useful for you. So the very first thing
that I would say is, if you're adding new birds to your flock, absolutely make sure that you quarantine them first bare minimum quarantine them for 13 days, Texas A&M actually recommends quarantining
them for six weeks. And I would tend to agree with the longer side of things. The last time that I added birds to my flock, I quarantine them for 30 days and thought everything was fine. Put them in
with my flock and come to find out the new birds had a respiratory illness that didn't present itself in those 30 days. So I definitely wish that I had them separated for six weeks because it was it
was a nightmare. And the unfortunate thing about respiratory illness and birds. It's kind of one of those things that once they have it, it can show up again at any time. So lesson learned there, we
all make mistakes, right? So quarantine them, not going to be so much of an issue if you have chicks, but especially if you are getting adult birds. So I found an article and I'll include the link.
But this is from Dr. Jackie Jacob from the University of Kentucky and I just wanted to read a quote here, and then expand upon it because I think that this is going to be really helpful. So the quote
00:21:43,769 --> 00:23:47,729
in this article reads, birds that normally form a social hierarchy, such as chickens usually attack a new bird of the same species or breed that is introduced into the pin or cages. In order to develop a pecking order, birds must be able to recognize individuals in a flock. This ability allows them to identify and peck only those hens lower in the pecking order. It is not clear what clues chickens are using in order to identify individual chickens within a flock. Research suggests that laying hens are able to recognize about 30 individuals, this social structure developed in small groups begins to break down in flock of 30 to 60 birds. When there are more than 60 birds in a flock, the chickens become less aggressive and more tolerant of each other. So my takeaway from this is to get more chickens, at least 60 birds. But obviously, that's not realistic. But the reason that I read this, and that I think that it's important is because it goes on to talk about an experiment that they did, where they had an established flock. And they had chicken that had a column that apparently kind of flopped to one side, they pulled that chicken from the flock, took that column and flopped it over to the other side and put the chicken back in. And they found that that chicken was then was then picked on, you know, because they didn't recognize the bird. And so they found that when they saw that that happened to just that one individual hand, it all of a sudden didn't look the same, they didn't identify it. So they harassed it. So what they found was when they removed a large number of of is that established hens from this flock, and altered their parents and then put that large number of those large number of birds back into the existing flock. These are birds that were once familiar and and established in the pecking order.
00:23:49,079 --> 00:26:12,299
When they did this with a large number of birds, instead of just an individual bird, the flock was able to establish a new pecking order. So I think the important takeaway from that is, if you're introducing new birds to the flock, don't just introduce one bird at a time, if you can introduce as many new birds at at the same time. So one bird getting added into a flock of a dozen or however many is really going to be targeted. But if you're introducing five birds into a flock of a dozen, you know there's there's going to be more disruption of that social hierarchy. And it's not just one birth is going to be targeted than all of the new ones are going to be targeted. But the benefit of that is instead of everybody going after one bird, that kind of harassment is going to be distributed through those five new birds. And so that's going to help lessen the overall pressure. And so if you're adding chicks, one of the things that I would recommend is to wait until the chicks are the same size as as the adults or the existing members of the flock. And so that's that's going to really help help them blend in and and That way it kind of levels the playing field. Then if you were to introduce some juveniles into a flock of adult birds, another thing that you could consider if you are getting flocks, if you have a broody hen that might take, take the chicks in, if you feel comfortable with them being raised by that broody hen, that's that's an option because that way, they're pretty much immediately established into that flock because mama hen will make sure that everybody except her babies, and she'll protect them. And then just some kind of other general tips, nothing really in a specific order. But I would make sure that your coop in your run is large enough to prevent overcrowding. So the bigger space that you have to introduce those new birds, the better, because everybody can kind of find their own corner, they get away from each other, if needed. And overcrowding in general can just lead
00:26:12,299 --> 00:27:44,789
to some some problems even in an established established flock another thing that i would do is add a second feeder and water during that adjustment period one thing that happens when new birds are
bullied is they're often chased away from the feeder and water so if you can add a second food and watering station that'll make sure that the new birds will also be able to eat and drink while the
dominant established birds do as well one thing that I like to do is all add some sort of like a pile of twigs or some sort of structure that the birds can kind of hide behind so if they start to
really get harassed they have a way to get away away from the birds another thing that i'll do is i'll add sort of a couple of new purchase obviously the chickens like to stay on the ground so by
adding a number of purchase those new birds if they if they're getting harassed they can kind of get up on the perch and most of the time if they're up on that perch they're kind of left alone so i
found that that really kind of helps give them somewhere to just take a breather what would really be ideal if possible and i know that this isn't something that they can really be done in a lot of
situations but if you could divide
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the coop and run depending on whether or not you have them attached or not some people you know just have a coop that opens up into into the prairie while other people like myself have a coop with an
attached run so that's kind of where i'm going with that if you can add a partition so that the new birds have their own they're divided and they can have their own part of the coop in the run where
the other birds can't get to them that will really help them to start to associate each other and then after a few weeks and you can you can work to integrate them but instead of just throwing a new
strange bird into the flock if you can have that partition where like wire so that they can see them they established flock can see the new birds that will also really help help those chickens learn
that that that that's a new flock member if you will and then when you finally go to introduce them what i like to do is to add that new the new those new birds into the coop at night chickens don't
see very well at night see who can take the new birds and just place them on the perch in into that new into the coop at night and that will kind of help so in the morning they're just like oh hey
you're new and that seems to help help with that adjustment some other suggestions would be to allow the flock to free range as you're introducing these new birds so that gives lots of space for
people to people for for the birds to interact without being confined into a run or a coop so it's sort of like that part of the thought process behind the partition they can interact but they're not
necessarily confined with each other if you have an individual like one individual bird that's just being especially aggressive you can remove that bird and that also kind of upsets that hierarchy so
that bird if it's being the biggest bully is typically the alpha, whether or not it's a rooster, or a head hen, or however your flock dynamic is. So if you take out that main bird, then then there's,
00:30:14,069 --> 00:32:22,799
there's that whole shift of the pecking order, the social structure all of a sudden has been interrupted. And so that will, the existing flock will be kind of preoccupied with with that, oh my gosh,
we don't have a leader now. And I think that that really helps take off the pressure of the new birds. But also if one birds being really aggressive and really harassing the new birds, taking that
bird out can can alleviate some of the stress on the new birds. And then of course, if anybody is injured in the process, make sure that you removed that, that injured bird right away and treat any
injuries as needed. As you may be familiar with chickens, they tend to be cannibalistic, for lack of better terms. And once they see blood, they're just going to keep pecking at it. So if somebody is
injured and bleeding, you'll want to make sure that you take them out and get them treated so that they're not further further targeted. Another source of some flock fighting, if you will, is is
multiple roosters, if you have a very large flock, or a very large area for them to roam, you may be able to get away with multiple roosters. But generally speaking, you're just gonna be able to have
one that's just kind of, that's just how it is. So I would not recommend trying to add a new rooster into an existing flock. Unless maybe if it was an immature rooster, you might be able to get away
with it. But as soon as that new rooster becomes mature, it's going to be an issue. So it's something I would just probably avoid in general. If you are moving or changing coops, then one really good
way to introduce new birds, to an existing flock is to move everybody into a new place at the same time.
00:32:24,119 --> 00:34:03,509
So when you take an existing flock, and your new birds and put them both into a new place, you know, that's nobody's nobody's home ground, nobody's territory. So the chickens or the the existing flock
isn't going to be so inclined to be as territorial because it's new to them, too. So I think that that's probably a less likely scenario, because most the time people aren't going to be moving their
entire flock into a new place. But if that is something that you're doing, then that'd be a really good time to introduce them to each other. And then my last tip, I guess, would be just to understand
that unfortunately, the pecking order is natural. It sucks. Nobody likes it. It's stressful for everybody. But there's no point in spending your whole day out there and breaking up every little. Every
little tip that happens in the flock. It's necessary has to be done as long as nobody's bleeding or getting hurt to the point that the Bloods being drawn. It's just something that needs to be
accepted, unfortunately. And within a period of time, you know, everybody, it'll stop eventually. So I hope that answers your question. Again, I'll have a blog post coming out soon. I don't have an
exact date, but soon that curse is in more detail. And hopefully, hopefully that answers your question. So our next question here is from Phyllis.
00:34:05,519 --> 00:34:06,119
Phyllis:: Yes, what is the best and cheapest store bought chicken food slash mix. I just wanted to know, Tractor Supply to me doesn't have a very good selection. Thanks.
00:34:19,350 --> 00:36:48,750
Nicole:: So typically speaking, I would say that best doesn't necessarily coincide with least expensive. I've personally tried a variety of different food feeds that are available. Here in my area we
both had we have both a Tractor Supply and a Big R. And for a while we had a local feed mill. And I preferred to use the local feed mill. That was the cheapest food available because it was made
locally and it was great to support a local small business. But unfortunately they ended up closing down so that option was no longer available. So I would say that if you live somewhere where you do
have a a mill that's going to be your cheapest is going To be even cheaper, if you can buy in bulk, most people don't really have the place to store you know, 1000 pounds of food sold in bulk. But if
that's something that you can work out, that is going to be your, your absolute cheapest option. I would say that some of the best feeds are, of course, the most expensive, I would say that some of
the best best feeds that I've come across would be the Big Sky organic feed. That's something that I personally use for fermenting, but it's very, it's expensive, it's $25 for 50 pounds. But when you
ferment food, it's a little bit goes a long way. And I do have a blog post that talks about fermented food. If you'd like to get more information on that scratch and pack feeds also makes a really
great food as well for for chicks and layers. But otherwise, I've tried to the cheaper brands at at Tractor Supply and I personally don't like them. I found that the chickens there, they were
smellier, their poo was smellier with it. And they just didn't seem to be as healthy after their molt their feathers didn't really come in as nice and I just, I just didn't really like it. So
personally, what I use from Tractor Supply is the Nutrient Naturewise layer feed. I use crumbles, and it's the one in the red bag. That's just that's just what I use. But I don't really know that that
00:36:50,580 --> 00:36:56,760
Nicole:: answered your question. But hopefully that gave you gave you some guidance, I guess. And so our next question is going to be from Abigail.
00:36:58,590 --> 00:37:03,450
Abbigael:: Okay, so my question is on frostbitten chicken combs, what can you do to prevent it? And what can you do to fix it because the other day when it was really cold, here our chicken's combs
are now frostbitten.
00:37:04,740 --> 00:37:16,860
Abbigael:: Okay, so my question is on frostbitten chicken combs, what can you do to prevent it? And what can you do to fix it because either way, when it was really cold here are chickens combs are
00:37:18,150 --> 00:39:59,700
Nicole:: So I can understand Abbigael, I, I'm assuming that you probably live in Texas. I don't know that for a fact, but I'm assuming you do. And frostbite is is a challenge. So again, from the I
have an another resource from Dr. Jackie Jacob from the University of Kentucky that talks about frostbite and chickens. And I can include that link for you. But just to kind of give you a summary as
far as preventing frostbite, and I'll talk about treatment in a minute. So preventing it obviously in your situation. Unfortunately, it's a little too late to prevent it, the damage is already done.
But going forward to try and prevent something like that from happening again in the future. frostbite is generally due to moisture in the coop that's that's pretty much what causes it. So if your
chickens got frostbite, I can pretty much tell you that your coop is not properly ventilated. And, and potentially you're also are having some additional moisture sources in the coop. So here in
southern Colorado, we got down to negative 20 during this recent snowstorm, and I have no heat lamps, nothing like that. It's just the chickens in the coop. And I did not have any frostbite on any of
my birds, including including the lake horns, I have a really big comb. So I'm not telling you this to glow, but just to tell you that it is very feasible for chickens to live or to be exposed to a
very cold temperature and not end up with frostbite. So dry bedding and proper ventilation are an absolute must. In my chicken coop there's just a dirt floor and I have ventilation. Just some holes
cut with some like those event register covers that are up high so you want ventilation up above the birds as they're in the coop at night. And they go to the bathroom and they breathe and all that
they actually release a lot of moisture and that moisture needs somewhere to escape. If the coop is retaining that moisture, you're going to have frostbite. So another thing would be to make sure that
00:39:59,700 --> 00:41:56,040
you don't have have water in your coop. Again, that's going to be a source of additional moisture. So I would encourage you to take a look at your coop and add some ventilation as needed. Another thing
that you can do that I don't do yet, but this is in my summer plans here, the deep litter method, it the deep litter method puts off some heat in the in the winter as things break down. So that's a
way to safely heat your coop. It's not a ton of heat, but it's it's some heat. And another thing that I would recommend the chicken nipple waters that I mentioned earlier, I that's of course what I
use and the waters out in the run. But one thing that I really like about that versus an open water in addition to all the other benefits like preventing disease because open waters one of the biggest
cause of disease transfer and respiratory infection in chickens is these nipple waters keep waddles the chickens walls dry. So typically, you're going to see frostbite on combs waddles in toes, so the
water is a really good way to keep. keep their waddles from getting wet, and then getting frozen. As far as toes in order to prevent frostbite on toes, you want to make sure that you're using a perch
that as the chickens sleep, they can kind of tuck in their toes and their feathers. So if you're using a two by four, you want to make sure that it's not the narrow edge, the chickens are perching on,
but the wide edge so turn this, turn the two by four on sides so that it's the wide the wider side that they're they're perching on. And the reason for that is when it's the narrow side, that's up the chicken's toes, curl around that two by four so far, that when they when they puff up, and they, they rest their their feathers are over
their toes, the tips of their toes are still going to show because they can't get those covered up by their feathers. So the flatter the perch, the better for them to be able to protect their feet. I
hope that makes sense. And then, you
00:41:57,360 --> 00:44:25,770
know, I know that heat lamps, of course, you can heat a coop with a heat lamp. But I will tell you, again, we had negative 20 degree temperatures with no frostbite, the heat isn't going to necessarily
prevent the frostbite if you're still having a moisture issue it the heat is unlikely or could potentially not heat the coop. enough to prevent frostbite, I saw lots of posts on Facebook where people
had heat plates or heat lamps and their birds still ended up with frostbite because it's still it's still got cold and there's still too much of a moisture issue. If it's negative 20 outside a heat
lamps, not going to heat your coop up to 85 degrees or or whatever it is. So know that and then I will tell you, for those that are are new to listening, I know I've mentioned this in the past, but I
spent about a decade of my life as a firefighter and I will tell you that I do not use heat lamps because they are in extreme fire danger. I don't care how well you secure the coop. Rather secure the
light to the coop. It's not necessarily that every time that the light falls start to fire sometimes it's nice that you cords sometimes it's other it's just other things so i i for not only for the
fire danger strongly recommend avoiding the heat source, whether it's a heat lamp, oil heater, or heat panel. Another reason for that is that if you do have a heat heat source in your coop, and your
birds are used to that heat source, and all of a sudden you lose power, like they were having issues within Texas, that sudden temperature change will kill your birds. So I just I can't I can't
caution you enough on heat lamps and heat sources. But I will say if you if you don't want to listen to me, it's your choice. But I would if you're dead set on using a heat source, I would recommend a
heat panel instead of a heat light or an actual heater. I am a big fan of sweeter heaters. They're a radiant heat so it doesn't it doesn't heat up the temperature in the coop, but the birds can get
00:44:25,860 --> 00:46:58,080
next to it and it's a radiant heat so it warms it warms up the bird not the ambient air and they are known for being the safest option. But again, you No electrical source in your coop is going to be
100% safe. So I would consider checking them out again, I have one in and they work well. That's what I typically would use for my brooders. For my for my checks. I know that one thing that's pretty
popular online is putting Vaseline on combs and wattles. While that can work in some more mild temperatures, it's not necessarily the most effective if you're having some ventilation issues, so I
guess you could it's not going. As far as I know, it's not going to hurt anything to use it. I need to do some more research on that though. So I can't tell you 100% but I know that is a common thing.
But you're more, you're better off fixing the ventilation problem in a coop. So one thing that I will add a link in the description, I did find the University of Pennsylvania has a winter time wet
ventilation webinar, specifically for small scale poultry, backyard chicken flocks. And it's a little over an hour, it's an hour and 10 minutes. And they go into much more detail about setting up your
chicken coop to have have great ventilation. And that will really help with with preventing frostbite. So they take what I said and expand much more on it over a period of an hour. I previewed it,
it's a really great webinar again on include the links I would recommend taking a look at that.
00:46:59,460 --> 00:49:41,100
As far as treatment for frostbite. There's different treatment for Comb injuries, a common model injuries I guess, and for feet injuries. So starting with treatment for frostbitten combs after the
frostbite has already occurred. If you just found that your bird has frostbite, you want to rewarm the frozen area slowly and by slowly like take the bird inside either in the house or in a a garage
or someone that's warmer. Don't use a blow dryer. Don't use warm water, don't rub it. You don't want to do any, any act of rewarming just move the bird into a warmer place and let that tissue thaw
out. Just just slowly that's that's the best way to do it. Don't cut off any of the blackened skin that happens from the frostbite unless that skin is infected if you cut it off, and that's going to
make the bird more susceptible to to infection. If you find any blisters, make sure you leave those blisters alone. I know that they look, they look gross, but the the squishy stuff inside of the
blister is sort of a natural band aid and it's going to actually help heal the injury. So you want to make sure that you that you don't intentionally pop those or remove them. And it can take up to
four to six weeks for that tissue to heal and know that that the tissue that's turned black, it's dead tissue, it's not going to come back it's eventually hopefully going to just just just kind of
shrivel up and fall off so don't don't be surprised when that happens. So basically in a nutshell, move the bird to a warmer area and and just kind of leave leave the injury alone and let it heal
naturally. If it does end up infected, then you'll want to treat that infection. Make sure you don't use hydrogen peroxide hydrogen peroxide is is going to damage the fresh tissue and never use like
neosporin that has pain reliever in it because that pain reliever component can actually be potentially fatal to chicken so you can use just plain plain ointment but never the only man with pain
00:49:41,100 --> 00:51:07,680
reliever and as far as treatment for feet and just so you know these treatment options are from that Dr. Jackie Jacob article and I can include that link here also. So for treatment of feet, she
recommends to to soak the feet in slightly warm water not hot water but slightly warm water to slowly bring back the temperature to normal. And then you should keep the chicken out of further cold. So
once you've warmed up the chickens toes, you don't really want to put the chicken back outside in the cold that thawing and refreezing will cause more damage in the long run. And then again, same with
toes, there's really nothing that can be done at that point. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Anything that's turned black is, is dead tissue, it's not going to come back. And
eventually, it's just going to shrivel up and fall off. So if you have a chicken whose toes are blackened, that blackened parts going to fall off, and then you might have to make some modifications
for chickens that might have some issues, perching, and things like that, unfortunately, so just something to be aware of. So our next question here is from Phyllis once again.
00:51:09,330 --> 00:51:15,540
Unknown: Yes, what is your take on feeding small amounts of cheese to baby chicks.
00:51:17,970 --> 00:53:21,720
Nicole:: So, Phyllis, I would respectfully say that I wouldn't be feeding cheese to chicks. Just because that's not really the best treat for for chickens in general, but especially for chicks because
they, they are still young and developing. If you're wanting to give your chicks a treat, so that you can kind of you know, work on hand taming them, or you just enjoy giving them a little special
snack, I would recommend sticking to something more natural mealworms are a really great treat for chicks. You can also give them you know, maybe something like some berries or seeds, or I would just
stick to something more natural. Typically, milk products aren't really the best for chickens. They're they're not the most equipped to process milk products. And then I would also mention that
anytime you're feeding chicks anything other than their regular chick feed, they are going to need a chick grit. If they're just, if you're just feeding your chicks, the regular chick starter feed,
they don't need grit. But anytime they're eating something other than the feed, they do need that grit to help break it up the whether it's the cheese or mealworms, or something else. mealworms are
really easy to raise, I do have a complete article on raising mealworms very inexpensive, easy to raise. It's a great high protein treat for chicks that helped them develop properly, gives them lots
of vitamins and nutrients. So I would say that I would probably avoid, I'd probably avoid the cheese and stick to something like mealworms instead. Our next question is from Pat.
00:53:23,130 --> 00:53:54,720
Pat:: Hi, Nicole, this is Pat. We're going to have some chickens out on the grassy prairie near Elizabeth. And my question is can I allow them to run around in the open in the grass? Or will I lose
them to predators? I'm wondering if I need to absolutely have some sort of overhead wire netting fencing so that they're completely enclosed. mainly for birds of prey. Thank you.
00:53:56,490 --> 00:56:29,100
Nicole:: So that's a great question, Pat. I know that that's that's a very common problem. In our recent backyard chickens survey that we sent out to folks, predators were the biggest, the biggest
concern with hawks actually being the most common problem, problem predator. I've definitely had issues with this as well. So I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to go. So I'll go ahead and let you
know. Let me try that. Again. I'm screwing this up now. So I'll let you know some things that I've come up with along the way. But I would also recommend that you take a listen to our predator podcast
episode with Dr. Matt Springer. He's a wildlife biologist and does a lot of education on on backyard chickens and predator management. So that's going to really give you a more detailed answer but
just kind of some key points that that i can offer you in a short period of time if you live in a more rural area i would add some guinea fowl to your flock i love to use guinea fowl as a watchdog
they're much more aware of what's going on around them and they're much more inclined to see danger coming before the chickens usually do and also if you can have a rooster roosters make really good
really good protectors but that might not necessarily be an option where you're at i'm not sure how much land or your your rules against chickens are roosters anything like that another thing if you
can and i realized that this isn't really an option for most people but a livestock guardian dog of course that's that's their job is to protect your birds so that would be a really great choice if
you can otherwise what i would do is i would provide the chickens some things some things to get away from the predators so for overhead predator protection you're going to want something that the
entire flock will fit underneath so something like a half of a drainage pipe sort of thing like a lot obviously a large drainage pipe so the birds can get underneath there or if you can build build
00:56:29,100 --> 00:58:34,950
some sort of like plot platform structure that they would fit underneath something like that would be great because as long as it's tall enough for the chickens to fit under you know a hawk that's
coming in to get the chickens isn't going to fly underneath a two foot surface to get a chicken or two foot roof sort of thing but i would also add in addition to the overhead protection some
purchases or structures that are high for chickens to get away from ground predators even if you live in a more urban place there's always the chance of coyotes or stray dogs so you want something
high enough that the birds can get up on to and away from something like a dog overhead protection if if you can provide it is great something like maybe a chicken tractor so that way the chickens are
confined but you can move the tractor around so they can forage different areas if you have a run that you're going to confine them in you know maybe that's attached to your coop or something like
that for example in my setup i have a chicken coop with an attached a large attached run and i only free range the birds when i can be out with them because we do have a predator issue especially
coyotes so when they're in the run that run has a roof that of course has sides and then it also has a metal skirting so on the bottom of the of the of the run on top horizontally on top of the ground
is some wire so that a digging animal can't dig into the coop we cover all of these in more detail in that predator podcast
00:58:36,660 --> 01:00:05,490
so that would kind of be my i guess my recommendation for those or like i said just be out with them but when you do free range them i would not recommend things like scare tactics like hanging cds or
streamers or the you know owl put like a little owl fake decals that you put out they're not going to work they might work for a few days but eventually the birds the predators are going to realize
that it's it's not a threat and they're just going to get used to it so it's not a long term fix and then i would just remind people listening when it comes to birds of prey that they are a federally
protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them so whereas you can shoot things like coyotes legally although it's not recommended and we cover that also in that in that predator podcast it
is it is federally illegal to kill birds of prey is protected by the migratory species act so please please don't shoot them so i hope pat that answers your question predators are are a challenge for
sure so next we are going to hear from Kelly from the Chicory Pond Farm.
01:00:05,490 --> 01:01:19,560
Kelli:: Hi, this is Kelly from Chicory Pond Farm. I was just thinking that I would love to know, what are some recommendations for a more sustainable diet for chickens that you know you can grow at home
smaller farmers, I've 10 acres can grow on their own, what would give them a complete and balanced diet? I'm looking at things like sunflowers, peas, raisins, mealworms, but I would love some more
insight. I also grow millet and amaranth. But um, yeah, I'm still kind of in the baby stages of researching that. So I would love some more insight into what are some good things to grow, to start
being able to provide more food over the winter for my chickens, I do. You know, free range them and pasture them. In the summer, I do have some in tractors, but they move around, they get bugs, they
get grass, but over the winter, we're covered in snow. So I'd like to start growing some things to help reduce our feed costs. So that's what I would like to know.
01:01:19,890 --> 01:04:03,750
Nicole:: Kelly, I appreciate your question. I would say it's definitely definitely has several layers to it. So I guess they would answer each layer is sort of kind of sort of its own question. So I
would say that as far as being more sustainable with growing chicken feed, I think that, that that's going to be a challenge. I'm not sure how many chickens you have. But I don't know that with 10
acres, you could grow everything that you would need to be able to create the proper nutritional mix of chicken feed on on a large scale, you might be able to grow enough to get you a few months of
food. But I don't know that the cost and the time involved and everything would be worth it. And then getting the ratios correct to make sure that you have the right amount of calcium and the right
amount of protein and all of that i think i think it could be a challenge. So it would be interesting, it'd be interesting to see if you're able to do that. Kind of I know that the storebought foods
are the ones that they sell at the feed store might not necessarily be the best because of corn or soy or or however you choose to feed your chickens. But I would say that those feeds are are
nutritionally nutritionally balanced. And that's one of the biggest challenges on making your own food blend, whether it's buying the ingredients individually and mixing it yourself or, or growing
them. So I guess, personally, I would probably just stick to the storebought layer feed or chicken feed. But there are definitely ways that you can offset food costs and provide your chickens with a
variety of food in winter. So I know we talked about it earlier, but one thing that I would recommend for winter would be mealworms. That's a good high protein feed, it's really easy to raise them
there next to free, there's really not a whole lot of expense involved. Like I mentioned earlier, I have a complete blog post about it so you can go from not knowing what to do to having a successful
01:04:03,750 --> 01:05:56,400
meal worm farm with that post and I would definitely check that out if that's something that you're interested in. You know, they can't just live off meal worms but it's a great way to supplement
their, their feed. Another thing that I like to do is I have a seed blend that I offer in my store, and it's called the essential nutrients seed blend. And I sell it in a little bag and it's it's
meant to be sprouted in like, like a seedling tray or in a flat and then you can trim off the tops of the of the the seedlings with as they're growing or, or depending on how far you want to let them
grow. And then you can give that to your chickens. So that's a really great way to give them kind of a snack but also some green stuff to eat in the winter when when like you said all of the grass and
things are dead. That seed Mix, I did a lot of research, when I put it together, it's really easy to grow, it's really inexpensive, you get a lot for the price, it lasts a long time. And it has a
really high germination rate. And, and I definitely, definitely like to grow that for them. I have a post on my website, I'm not a huge fan of just doing like wheat grass. There's a lot of research
that shows that wheat grass is sort of insufficient in nutrients, it's it doesn't really offer a whole lot of benefits. And I talk about that more in the blog post. So that's why I like the seed blend
that I researched, because it has it has a variety of different seeds in it that actually do provide some nutrient supplements and increases the omega three in your eggs and things like that. So
definitely something to consider there.
01:05:58,200 --> 01:08:24,870
A couple other things that I would recommend for just general offsetting of food costs. And I know that I mentioned it earlier. But to expand on it a little bit more is fermenting feed, I'm a big fan
of fermenting feed. As much as I am a fan of it, I'll be honest, I don't do it year round, just because there are times that I don't have the time to invest into it, so I'm not able to do it. The
great thing about fermenting feed is I wish I guess I should probably tell you a little bit more about what fermenting feed is, before I get into the benefits. Simply put, what you would do is take
some feed and put it in a container, you can do something small scale, like put it in a mason jar or something larger scale and use buckets. So it's something that you can completely replace their
food, like their regular layer crumbles with, you can ferment any kind of food, whether it's their regular layer feed the blues, I'm sorry, the big skyfi that I mentioned earlier, you can even ferment
chicken, scratch or mash any any sort of chicken food you can permit. So the process in a nutshell is to add some feed into a container, cover it with water, the feed will expand as it absorbs the
water. After a couple days it will ferment and then you can you can feed it to your chickens. And it's really great for a couple of reasons. Because that food absorbs the water and physically expands.
One cup of dry food turns into about a cup and a half of wet food. So if you just think about a volume on a volume level, your your chickens if they're if their stomach normally holds half a cup of
food, let's say I'm not really sure I'm just making that up half a cup of dry food. It let's say that's what they normally eat. Well, that's really less when it's expanded so that that one cup of dry
food. If our chicken stomach holds a half a cup would feed two chickens right? Will one cup of dry food becomes a cup and a half of what foods that one cup of dry food would then feed three chickens,
01:08:25,050 --> 01:10:32,070
assuming that that's really how much chickens eat. So just that expansion thing your food will go a lot further. But also the process of fermenting it adds in good bacteria so you're giving them
probiotics and things that really support their, their gut health and, and then the fermenting process also breaks down some some seed protection that that some some chemicals that the seeds have that
protect them basically. So once that seed coating is broken down, the chickens are actually able to absorb more nutrients from that feed. So not only does your food go further, but it's more easily
digested. It gives them more nutrients and it really adds a lot of probiotics so fermenting feed, if you're looking for to stretch your feet, your food costs. Fantastic, I can't recommend it enough.
And then my only other recommendation would be to feed your chickens kitchen scraps. So as you're cooking in the kitchen, save your food scraps, save any leftovers that didn't get eaten, things like
that. And that that's a really great free thing to give your chickens free isn't you know, of course you already you already purchased it. And then so you can just give those to your chickens and use
that to help offset some feed costs. So I do have a source on my website. I have a post about fermenting feed I have a post about to grow mealworms and I also have a post called the ultimate lists of
things that you can and can't feed your chickens. So you can look and see what food scraps are safe for your chickens. Spoiler alert, they're pretty much most everything's okay. But there are some
things that you shouldn't feed your chickens. So I hope that that that answers your question, and that can help offset some of your food costs. So next, we will hear from Alison.
01:10:33,090 --> 01:10:52,050
Alison:: Hi, my name is Alison. And I'm wondering, I know that chickens need more protein in the winter. But is it bad for them to have a lot of protein in the summer as well? That's it. Thank you
very much. But is it faster than in the summer as well? That's it. Thank you very much.
01:10:53,760 --> 01:13:29,100
Nicole:: So Allison, it This was actually, I thought, a really interesting question because it was honestly not something I had thought about. And the research that I did on it was was very
interesting. So I found an article from the Alabama Extension Service. And it's titled nutrition For Backyard chicken flocks. And I will just read, read a portion of the article here and then I think
that'll pretty much answer your question. So here we go. The article says, during summer feed consumption tends to decrease as environmental temperature increases, so protein, energy, vitamins and
minerals must be increased in the diet. In winter, the opposite is true. birds eat more to maintain their body heat. Growing birds require more protein than do mature chickens. In addition, heavy meat
type chickens require more protein than do lighter egg laying strains. There are also seasonal effects on feed consumption. For example, a hen may consume up to 340 kilo calories of metabolizable
energy per day during winter to keep warm. But in summer, she may consume only 260 kilocalories of mehtab metabolizable energy during the day. Therefore, during summer when temperatures are high, a
higher protein feed level should be fed. During winter, when chickens are low, a lower I'm sorry, during winter, when temperatures are low, a lower protein diet can be fed without affecting egg
production. So I think that pretty much should answer your question other than the fact I can't pronounce metabolizable. So in summer, the chickens aren't eating as much so but their their egg
production is at a max. So that higher protein feed is actually more beneficial to them in the summer than it is in the winter. While in the winter, they are staying warm, they're not laying those
eggs. So the higher protein needs really aren't there. So the article goes on to recommend a 15 to 19% feed for the summer. And I'll I'll include the link to that article. So you can read that if
01:13:29,100 --> 01:14:24,720
you'd like. But I would also just point out that if you free range your birds, they're likely getting some additional protein from from foraging and eating insects and different things that they come
across. And also that higher protein feed is really helpful as they're molting. So I think that most people understand that eggs are mostly made up of protein, so they need high protein feed for the
egg production. But also feathers are almost entirely protein. So if you can increase their their protein intake, whether it's by giving them like a feather fixer feed that 10 does fast, feeding them
mealworms or different things like that, that's also going to really help with their feather production during the molt. And so our last question for this q&a episode is from Amy.
01:14:26,370 --> 01:15:00,720
Amy:: Hi, Nicole, this is Amy. I live in Illinois. And biggest problem I'm having right now is with the melt in my chicken yard. I have my chickens outdoors and there's a lot of water which they are
drinking and it's really not clean at all. And I'm kind of wondering what you would recommend for materials to absorb that water if it's good and we don't know if winters over here so there could be a
potential freeze on too that.
01:15:01,530 --> 01:17:40,890
Nicole:: Thanks so much for your question, Amy. Another question, I feel your pain. We don't get a ton of snow here. But our soil here is a clay soil. So when things get when the snow starts to
melt and stuff, it can get pretty messy around here too. So to expand on your chickens drinking the water, that's just sort of just a chicken thing. I have found that it doesn't matter how fresh their
water is, if you just cleaned it. chickens, for some silly reason will always drink dirty water available. I don't know why I honestly don't know why, but it's just kind of a quirk of theirs I guess.
But as far as the the mud and things in there run, probably not something that you could do right now. But once this all clears up, I would go through and add sand to the coop in the run or wherever
your mud issues are. The sand will help help that a lot. Keep the area a lot drier. So as far as right now, I can't really say that there's a good a good product or suggestion to necessarily absorb
all of that moisture, things like straw that you could put in there. The The problem with that is the straw can then mold and then they can get her a respiratory infection. I'll probably mispronounced
that. But it's Aspergillosis something like that anyways. So I think that the best thing to do right now is just to kind of accept it, I guess. And then once things dry out, add that sand. Or you
could do pea gravel, too. But I don't like to do pea gravel as much because the chickens do kind of like to dig and stuff. And they can't really dig in the pea gravel. So another thing that you can
do, I am a huge fan of First Saturday Lime, I highly recommend it. And I actually have a coupon code where you can save 20% off your first order. I'll include the link to that in the description. That's
the best, easiest way for me to share that coupon with you. But I definitely recommend checking out for Saturday lime, I use them. I use that product everywhere. And I do have a post about First
01:17:40,890 --> 01:18:52,560
Saturday Lime coming out as well so you can learn more about how to use it and how I can how I use it around our farm here. Well, that was all of the questions for today. I hope that you guys found
this useful. I'm sorry, this episode was a little bit like three times longer than most of them. But I just wanted to make sure that I got all of the questions that came in for this episode answered.
If you guys did find this useful, please send me more questions. And I would love to keep doing these. As long as the questions come in, I would love to do at least one of these a month and
potentially do both one on backyard chickens and another one on beekeeping. So please send your questions over. Again, this is on YouTube. And if you're listening on YouTube, it's also available on
all of the major podcast players. And then if you have any other questions, please feel free to shoot me a text. And that number will be in the description as well. And thank you so much for joining
me for another episode and we'll see you again next week.
01:18:56,220 --> 01:19:23,340
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