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Stress and Chickens

Yup, it’s true, humans aren’t the only animals that experience stress. Chickens have a tender disposition and can get stressed-out easily – and when they do, it can affect not only their health, but their behavior as well.

Stress is a major contributor to poor health in chickens and can make them prone to a number of vices such as feather picking, egg eating and pecking. Stress is also a common reason for reduced egg production.

What causes stress in chickens?

There are many sources of stress in chickens; over handling, changes in their environment, bad weather, extreme cold or heat, overcrowding, lack of fresh food and clean water, and predators can all cause stress.

What can I do?

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to reduce stress on your birds. First, establish a routine and stick to it as best you can. Chickens are creatures of habit, so feeding, watering, and foraging should be as regular as possible. Don’t make major changes all at once – make them slowly so the birds can adjust one change at a time. And try not to over handle them, and when you must, do so calmly and gently.

By minimizing stress on your birds, they will be less prone to illness and bad habits, and will be happier, healthier and more productive.

Reviving the Domestic Arts

Try to find a definition for the phrase “domestic arts’ and you’ll encounter old favorites such as ‘home economics’ or more contemporary alternatives like ‘family and consumer sciences’. Personally, the ‘arts’ portion of the phrase is what intrigues me the most; I believe it invites us—maybe even challenges us—to be creative problem solvers.

So, while pondering and Googling the topic, I came across an interesting article entitled Reviving the Domestic Arts in a Slow Economy. It’s an intelligent and well-considered article by Tera Schreiber, who suggests that it’s high time we regain some of the practical know-how our forefathers (and fore-mothers) had.

The article lists several of the more popular ‘arts’ we see trending these days; gardening, canning and preserving, something called ‘wild-crafting’ and yes, raising chickens. The article is informative and filled with common sense advice, and given the state of the economy, common sense is bankable.

To read the whole article, visit seattlewomanmagazine.com
Root Cellar image courtesy of  loghome.com

Cottage Food Laws

Part of the expanding movement to localize food systems and stimulate small-scale food production is the trend in cottage food production and distribution.

To support this trend, Cottage Food Laws, also known as Baker’s Bills, are emerging all over the country. These are laws that allow people to prepare certain foods in their own home kitchen for sale and distribution. Such initiatives support individuals who would like to start their own food business but can’t afford the financial and logistical burden of having a commercial kitchen.

By taking the first small steps at their home kitchens, budding food businesses can begin to develop a customer base and raise part of the capital that will eventually expand their companies.

Currently, there are more than two-dozen states in the U.S. allowing some sort of commercial homemade food sales. Guidelines differ from state to state; check out this full list of states with Cottage Food Laws.

The trend goes hand in hand with other behavior changes sweeping the country; namely awareness and demand for locally grown and produced food and goods, sustainable agriculture, backyard chickens, and small batches versus mass-produced products.

If you would like to start a home-based food production business, or would simply like more information about Cottage Food Laws & resources see:

 

Photo credit: Pike Place Honey Jars
Copyright All rights reserved by Laura Zimmerman

Recipe No 13: Egg Muffins, Paleo Style

For people with certain dietary restrictions and food allergies, eggs can be an essential part of a healthy diet. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with a ‘no’ carbohydrate/high protein diet known as the Paleo diet, and lucky for us eggs are on the menu! Interestingly, we have many friends who are vegetarians and they chuckle at the idea of a ‘caveman’ diet, after all, it does sound pretty meaty doesn’t it? ‘-) Fortunately, between fruits, vegetables and eggs, we can still share a meal with those same meat-shunning friends.

We all know that eggs are a great source of protein and yes, eggs are high in cholesterol, but they are also low in saturated fats and rich in hard to find nutrients such as vitamin D (in the yolks) and choline. And remember, eggs from pastured birds are proven to be healthier and more nutritious than traditionally produced eggs.

Basic egg muffin recipes ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 8 – 10 pastured eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (almond milk is a great substitute if dairy is not in your diet)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with shortening of choice
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt and pepper and milk
  4. Use a measuring cup to fill muffin wells with egg mixture, about 1/4 cup each
  5. Bake the egg muffins for 20 to 25 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle, cool on rack 5 minutes before serving

 

Variations:

Feel free to mix and add other ingredients as you desire, and as your diet permits. You can add things like cheese, fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and meats or meat substitute and even smoked fish. Need some ideas? Here are a few egg muffin recipes we really like: