We have had chickens on our ranch for about 10 months. Let me tell you, they come with many benefits and very few downfalls.

Chickens just keep getting more and more popular. It seems like everyone is discovering how great it is to have a pet that gives back in edible eggs (that are ideal for our six large dogs,) and they are the best at bug control. Consequently, there are a lot of people new to chicken-keeping who are unsure how to tell when their chickens sick.

One of my chickens just recently got sick and I had to do some fast and furious research to get my chicken well. What I learned is that chickens do their very best to look normal and healthy even when they are sick. By instinct, they know that if they act ill predators will target them or flock mates will pick on them. So it’s often hard to tell if a chicken is sick until it’s so sick it can’t act normal anymore.

It’s important to try to recognize early signs of illness to have a better chance of turning it around and saving the bird. It can be challenging if you have several chickens to observe each one as an individual. There are some things to look for that can help you spot a sick chicken sooner.

  • Look for birds that wander away from the flock or keep their distance from the flock. This might be the bird that stays in a night-time coop longer when the others have left in the morning or they might just always seem to be sitting or pecking away from the others. If you have roosts in the night-time coop, look for a bird that doesn’t go up on the roost.
  • A hen that stays on the nest could just be broody. This is a hormonal state that tells the hen to incubate her eggs, not just lay more. To tell if a bird is broody, take her off the nest, block it off and watch her. If she eats, drinks, walks around pecking like the others, she was probably just broody. If she just sits down or stands in one place, it probably means she has other problems.
  • Look for birds that are getting in fights or showing signs of being picked on. Flock mates will pick on a bird that isn’t acting normally or is showing any sign of weakness. Normally the flock has an established pecking order that isn’t challenged so things stay pretty peaceful. If flock mates start challenging or fighting with a top chicken, it often means she has a health problem.
  • Look at your bird’s feathering. If you’re seeing dirty or matted-looking feathers on the shoulders it could mean the bird has a sinus infection. Birds will wipe a runny nose on their shoulders. If you see dirty feathers around the vent that usually means the abdomen is swollen or the bird has diarrhea or too much urine.
  • Look at your bird’s combs and wattles. The combs and wattles should look plump and waxy. If they are looking shriveled and dry it often means they are ill.

These are all things you can watch for in your birds at a distance whenever you are out with them. If you see a bird that you think isn’t right, pick it up and examine it. If you don’t know what is normal, pick up a bird of the same breed that is acting normal for comparison. Here are some of the things you can look for in comparison.

  1. Look at the eyes and see if they look bright, shiny and round. They shouldn’t have bubbles or be watery.
  2. Look at the nose.It should be dry and the nares should be open without anything plugging them up.
  3. Hold your bird’s beak closed and listen closely to it breathe through its nose. You should just hear dry puffs of air, no whistles, wheezes or wet sounds.
  4. Open your bird’s mouth.It should be pink and moist but not wet.
  5. Feel your bird’s breast muscles.This is where comparing to another bird of the same breed really helps. Different breeds have different amounts of muscling on the breast. See if your bird’s muscling is normal. If the center keel bone is sharper or more prominent with smaller pads of muscle on either side it means your bird is too thin.
  6. Feel the bird’s abdomen.If the bird is an egg-laying hen it should feel a little rounded and doughy-soft. A rooster or cockerel, non-egg laying hen or pullet should have a firm, drawn up abdomen. If the abdomen feels really round and hard or like a water balloon in any bird, something is wrong.
  7. Look at the vent area to make sure nothing is protruding and that there isn’t an accumulation of droppings around it.
  8. The skin and feathers should be clean. You can find external parasites by parting the feathers on top of the base of the tail or in the vent area. If you see tan, oblong bugs running around, your birds have lice. If you see black specks, like fine pepper, your birds have mites.
  9. Look at the bird’s legs and feet.Make sure you don’t see any swollen areas or sores.

Once you decide something is wrong with your bird you should get professional help to determine what the problem is. Most of the symptoms birds show are not specific to any one problem, so without doing tests you won’t know what the cause of the symptoms is.

Take a little time every day to observe your chickens and you can catch problems before they’re too severe to deal with. Plus, watching chickens is good for the soul. They’re very entertaining.

The journey of moving to the country was a long and rather difficult road that my family went through. Some think that we just picked a spot and moved to the middle of nowhere just to get out of the city living. The crazy part is, is that it took many years and many prayers for us to find our perfect country living property that we are able to call home. One thing that adds to this perfect property is our Cows!

When my husband and I bought our property, the previous owners owned cattle. Well it so happens that during the buying process, my daughter and I created a bond with these cows and when I thought about the previous owners selling these amazing creatures to someone else, or worse… It broke my heart.  So my loving husband bought all of the cows so they can live a happy life on our land.

Did you know that cows are actually really smart animals? Cows are actually very intelligent, curious and able to think critically and solve problems. Studies have shown that cows are capable of learning associations and using past experiences to determine their future actions. When faced with a challenge, cows get very excited with elevated heart rates and brainwaves. Some cows even jump in the air as if they are yelling, “I did it!

Cows also have great memories and are very good at remembering and recognizing faces even after long periods of time. Cows also have good spatial memory. They can remember where things are located such as food, water, shelter, best grazing spots and most importantly, the location of their babies. It amazes me everyday how my cows actually recognize my family!

Cows have personalities! They are unhappy when the weather’s bad and practically smiling when it’s sunny outside. Like humans, cows seek pleasure and love to play. When let outside after being cooped up for too long, cows run, prance and jump with joy. Cows can be moody and sensitive. They may dislike certain individuals and can hold a grudge for years against other cows and people who have crossed them. It always cracks me up when I get back from a vacation and my cows will actually give me attitude because I was away for a couple of days. Its crazy!

I honestly hope that everyone can experience what it is like to own cattle. When I think about these cows of mine, it breaks my heart to think that people would actually kill these beautiful animals. I truly don’t understand why people would eat such amazing animals, especially when there are so many alternatives for people to choose from.

Here are 11 vegan meats that PETA says are changing everything! https://www.peta.org/living/food/meat-replacements/ feature

Even though summer isn’t technically over until September 21, Labor Day marks the unofficial end to a season of cookouts, lazy days by the pool, family beach vacations and shortened Friday work days. You’ve got one last three-day weekend to enjoy, so take advantage!

I have created a labor easy recipe for your labor day weekend. It’s a quinoa salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa (leftover is great)
  • 1 green onion, sliced (just green parts)
  • ½ red sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ⅛ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • dash of cayenne

Instructions:

  1. Briefly boil the edamame and the corn, just until tender. Drain very well and cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the edamame, corn, quinoa, green onion, red pepper and cilantro.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, salt, chili powder, black pepper, thyme and cayenne until emulsified. Drizzle mixture over salad mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least two hours.

Notes:

This recipe is easily adaptable. Feel free to experiment. If cilantro isn’t your thing, try parsley. If you like garlic, add a small clove of garlic (minced) to the dressing mixture. Like a little more heat? Increase the cayenne. The green onion could be swapped for red onion. You get the idea.

Enjoy!