Saturday, May 28, 2011

The chicken guru has a PhD

We had our second Purdue University Extension class last night on Keeping Your Back Yard Flock Healthy.  In a previous post I referred to the instructor as "the chicken guru."  On the way home last night Doug and I were talking about the lecturer and  I said to Doug "you know she is educated by the way she talks."  She used a lot of the scientific proper terms.  We came home and I was doing dishes and I turned my head to the left and looked at the side of the refrigerator where the flyer was hanging and I read that the chicken guru has a PhD.  Oh my. 
I felt overwhelmed by the first chicken class.  A great amount of information was presented.  A lot of worst-case scenarios and a lot of diseases and illnesses that our chickens may never have. 
Plus, this past week- for the first time- one of my chickens bit me on the thumb.  The one that bit me is one of them that is looking a bit rooster-ish.  I wanted to say to the chicken "haven't you ever heard don't bite the hand that feeds you?"  Plus, they are turning into rude teenagers, pushing and shoving at feeding time to the point that it frightens me.  To the point that I think they might hurt one another.  I think the situation will be better once we move them outdoors but we've had so much rain and a lot of storms this past week that we haven't been able to finish the pen.  (We were able to work on it this evening.)  So I've been having some second thoughts this past week about being a chicken mama. 
One subject the chicken guru talked about this week was what kind of food you feed your chickens.  She said it should smell good- like something you would want to eat, yourself.  If it doesn't smell good, don't feed it to your chickens.  She said you can even taste it if it is quality food and it isn't going to hurt you.  She told us that if your chickens aren't getting enough protein that they might not lay well or the eggs might not have good shells or a yolk.  She said not to let your chicken fill up on junk food like cracked corn or white bread- that it is like giving them candy.  A lot of empty calories.  She said seeds and grain are good.  Black oil sunflower seeds make the feathers shine.
The chicken guru shows chickens so after class she gave a chicken a bath that sothat we might learn how.  You need to use tepid water, not hot or cold.  You put your soap first, then rinse in the second bucket.  The third rinse you can put a bit of vinegar in to cut the soap.  She used dog shampoo for fleas and ticks. 
You lookin' at me?
 She brought her modern game bird to class again.
showing us how to check a vent
 Putting the chicken into the soapy water.
how to wash a chicken

scrubbing his feet with a toothbrush

Final rinse

 Then to dry the chicken, she rolled it in a towel. 
rolling the chicken in a towel

chicken burrito
While the chicken was in the towel she trimmed the tip of his beak which was a bit crossed over.  (With fingernail clippers.)  She also trimmed his claws.  She oiled his legs to treat for scaley leg mites.  She said not to ever put a wet chicken out into the sun because you will cook it.  Sometimes it can take a chicken a day or two to dry so keep that in mind if you are showing your chicken. 
When we got home Doug asked me if I thought I would ever wash one of my chickens.  I said "well, I'm not going to say no because one thing I've learned is that every time I say I'm not going to do something- I end up doing it.  But I think it is unlikely."
My new worries include wondering if my chickens already have mites and if the pen and room they will be in will be big enough- because in class she covered what will happen if they don't have enough space.  I'm sure once they are moved outdoors everything will be fine.  If not, I'll just call or email the woman with the PhD!


Kris said...

Oh my goodness, you have no idea how much I would have loved to attend that seminar on chickens!!!! Wow...what a lot of great information! I am having to learn by reading and trial and error! I have given my Snacker a little spit bath. She is black and gets a bit of a messy rump, so I cleaned her in much the same manner as was described. She is still under the weather a bit too. I would have loved to ask your guru some questions about it. I just read your previous post too about the storms. How scary!!!! Wow, you will have to wait a bit to put the little chicklets out side. I have mine in the pen and they are happy campers with their little night light on. The youngest three, in the play pen now, will go out in about 5 or 6 weeks. It should be quite warm by then. Fun to read your blog and get to know you a bit!!

ain't for city gals said...

I don't know very much for sure but I do know I will never be a chicken mama...this reminds me of the book The $50 tomato...or something like will just continue buying my eggs at the organic health food store and be happy....

Christine said...

You are going to be just fine! Stop worrying. She's telling you everything that could possibly go wrong and how to deal with it. That's a lot of information to take in. I've had mine for years and have never had mites. Chickens are nowhere near as fragile as you think. You will love raising your chickens. I don't ever want to live without some.

You really do want to make sure to provide them with enough room, that is the number one mistake people make, even me. Now that I'm down to 10 birds in a 10'x10' space we have no issues whatsoever.

Holly said...

Chicken baths? Seriously? I'm ashamed to admit that I thought you just bought chickens, put them in the back yard and threw some corn at them and let them do their thing. After reading your blog and Kris's blog, I swear I will never own a chicken. Good little, "nuggets' of info though. (, I just tried to be funny)

Privet and Holly said...

I just knew that
keeping chickens
wasn't as easy-breezy
as some make it out
to be. God bless
those that do, cause
I do love my eggs....
But, wow, that's a
lot to learn. Good
luck to you and your
xx Suzanne

Hope said...

I can't believe you were there too! I didn't even get to meet you! We have chickens too!

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