The Chicken Chick®

Jan 5, 2018

Monkey Bread Cupcakes (Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread)

Monkey Bread Cupcakes (Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread)
Monkey bread cupcakes is the smell of Christmas morning in our house! If you've never had it, you don't know what you're missing. If you've never made it, it's time! Monkey bread is traditionally baked in a bundt pan, but I like baking it in individual serving sizes by baking it in a cupcake pan instead. It creates the illusion of portion-control for this obscenely decadent, ridiculously delicious dessert that passes for breakfast food once a year. My recipe is a compilation of many different versions from the four corners of the web-o-sphere and my daughter's Girl Scout troop and I think we've nailed it. Take the help from the refrigerated dough section of your grocery store. I've made it with home-made dough, but the finished product pales in comparison. Less work, more yum? Count me in! I hope you'll try it and love it too. 
GIVEAWAY!
Spruce The Coop Herbal Fusion Nest Box Herbs (affiliate)
ENTER TO WIN a 1 pound bag of
The Chicken Chick's Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion Nest Box Herbs!
Spruce the Coop is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon at this affiliate link! (disregard the "unavailable" note on the listing, it's actually available and shipping!)
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Jan 2, 2018

Caring for Broody Hens in Extreme Cold

I received a sad and shocking message from a chickeneering friend in town this week; when he went to collect eggs mid afternoon, his favorite Silkie hen was in a nest box, deceased. Temperatures have been in the single digits and she hadn't been there more than a few hours. Her passing was not in vain, however, as we can learn some important lessons for our own flocks from her untimely end.

Dec 17, 2017

DIY Sugar Scrub with FREE Printable!

DIY Sugar Scrub with FREE Printable!
My winter hands appreciate being treated to a decadent coconut oil sugar scrub occasionally, but the thrifty DIYer in me knew I could make it myself easily, so I experimented with a few simple ingredients and came up with a combination I loved enough to give as Christmas gifts last year!  You can't beat this scrub for exfoliating and moisturizing dry skin, or as a thoughtful, handmade gift any time of year!

The only essential ingredients are sugar and coconut oil - the remaining ingredients are up to your imagination! My current favorite sugar scrub combination is lavenderbergamot and vanilla bean, but orange zest and clove oil is an amazing combo too! 

Nov 17, 2017

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

This recipe is pure comfort food coming straight at ya from Grandma Chicken Chick! My mom made this recipe for our family of 7 and it remains one of my all-time favorites to this day! When this dish popped up as a topic of conversation at this week's Happy Hour with Hens, I thought it was high time to share the family recipe. I hope you enjoy it too!

Oct 18, 2017

Why Nesting Material Matters for Backyard Chickens

Most of us never think about the purpose of nest box material for our backyard chickens, but the topic deserves some consideration because most of us are getting it wrong.
Most of us never think about the purpose of nest box material for our backyard chickens, but the topic deserves some consideration because most of us are getting it wrong. The purpose of nesting material is to protect eggs from breakage when hens lays them.  Because a hen squats when laying eggs,(check out my video of it here!) nest bottoms should be cushioned to prevent shells from breaking as eggs drop from a hen's vent.
I quickly found that my hens scratched and kicked-out most of the straw from the nest boxes, leaving a hollow in the center of the box exposing bare wood, resulting in no protection from breakage for the eggs.
When I began keeping chickens, I mistakenly believed I was supposed to use straw in the nest boxes without understanding the purpose of nesting material. I quickly found that my hens scratched and kicked-out most of the straw from the nest boxes, leaving a hollow in the center of the box exposing bare wood, resulting in no protection from breakage for the eggs. Long strands of golden straw make a lovely, rustic-looking nest for photographing eggs, but regular straw does not perform well in nest boxes or in chicken coops in general. A few of the most common, effective nesting materials range from pine shavings to plastic pads and chopped hay/straw/ zeolite litter blends.
GIVEAWAY!
ends 10/23/17
Hens do seem to enjoy rearranging nesting material, but its function is protecting eggs, not entertaining the hens.
Hens do seem to enjoy rearranging nesting material, but its function is protecting eggs, not entertaining the hens. Some chicken keepers mistakenly believe that nesting boxes should provide a comfortable seating area for hens, but nesting material is not intended to provide a cozy sanctuary for hens to settle in for the long-haul. If you have a broody hen who would like to spend all day sitting in a nest box, set her up for hatching success somewhere eggs aren't going to be laid by other birds.
Some chicken keepers mistakenly believe that nesting boxes should provide a comfortable lounging areas for hens, but nesting material is not intended to provide a cozy sanctuary for hens to nestle into for the long-haul.
Broody hens should be located where they cannot interfere with laying hens' daily work.
Eggs that have a soft spot to land will be less likely to break than those that drop onto the bottom of a hard nest box. I use plastic nest pads  and bottoms with or without chopped straw or Standlee Flock Fresh or chopped straw on top of them. The plastic nesting material cannot be kicked out of the nest by hens, protects eggs, is easy to clean in the event of a broken egg and is easy to sanitize. That's a winning combination in my book!
Nest boxes with chopped straw and Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion Nest box herbs.
I enjoy the scent of dried herbs and flowers in my nest boxes, 
but the aromatherapy benefits are mostly for me! (more about nest box herbs below)
Eggs that have a soft spot to land will be less likely to break than those that drop onto the bottom of a hard nest box. This is also a good way to prevent hens from becoming egg-eaters. I use Nest box pads  and bottoms/liners with Koop Clean bedding on top of them. The Koop Clean  isn't necessary with the pads and liners, but I think the hens enjoy rearranging it and it seems more cozy than plastic. I don't use straw anymore because the hens scratch it out of the nest boxes.
Plastic Nest box pads and bottoms.
Plastic Nest box pads and bottoms.
Ensuring adequate nest box material reduces the likelihood of broken eggs in the nests, which can promote egg eating within a flock. Broken eggs in nest boxes is an invitation to hens to eat the broken eggs as well as break intact eggs. To further reduce the odds of hens producing weak or soft-shelled eggs, always provide laying hens with a complete layer ration to avoid nutritional deficiencies as well as a separate hopper of oyster shells. Last, limit hens' dietary extras to no more than 2 tablespoons of snacks/treats/fruits/veggies/table scraps per bird per day...and not every day. 
Ensuring adequate nest box material reduces the likelihood of broken eggs in the nests, which can promote egg eating within a flock.
While there are a variety of strategies to dissuade and reform egg-eaters, which I discuss in this article, the only tactic guaranteed to protect eggs from being eaten by chickens is to use of rollout nest boxes. Roll out or roll-away nests allow eggs to roll gently down an incline into a covered tray as soon as they are laid. The hens can't reach them and they wait patiently for you collect clean eggs each day.

Adding colorful, aromatic dried herbs and flowers to a nest box is a fun way to spruce up the coop, but beware of misleading claims that herbs tossed inside the coop or grown around it offer a wide array of beneficial properties that they do not provide.
Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion Nest Box Herbs coming to a retailer near you and on Amazon in November 2017!
Adding colorful, aromatic dried herbs and flowers to a nest box is a fun way to spruce up the coop, but beware of misleading claims that herbs tossed inside the coop or grown around it offer a wide array of beneficial properties that they do not provide (including: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiparasitic, calming, laying stimulant, natural deworming, rodent-repelling, stress relieving- seriously?!).  At best, the strong scents of dried herbs and flowers may offend some smaller insects, but it does not repel, offend, alarm, discourage mites or lice from infesting your hens.

A word of caution: the warmth and humidity from a hen’s body can hasten decomposition and encourage mold growth in both fresh herbs and straw, so avoiding both inside nest boxes is advisable.
Spruce the Coop Herbal Fusion mixed into the nesting material
Dried aromatic herbs and flowers spruce up nesting material and smell heavenly!
The Chicken Chick's Guide to Backyard Chickens: Simple Steps for Healthy, Happy Hens