A Kid’s Perspective on Home Butchering

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It’s Just the Facts of Life

Ever since I can remember, I have grown up with home butchering. Whenever we got some kind of poultry or livestock, we always had the intention of butchering them later on, so it was never a surprise to me when Fluffy the bunny was in our stew the next week.

In my eyes, they weren’t really pets, but they weren’t really livestock, either. We just had animals that I loved to snuggle, and then later . . . loved to eat.

That was that, no hard feelings.  

A Kid's Perspective on Home Butchering 1

Should You Name Your Meat Livestock?

My favorite part has always been when we first get the animals and they are all so cute and tiny. As soon as I heard that a new litter of bunnies had arrived, I would race out to the garden to marvel at the pink little squirmy blobs. Of course, I wouldn’t pick them up until they were old enough, but the moment they were, those poor little bunnies would be dressed up in bows and sent through little obstacle courses made out of cardboard boxes and various bits and pieces from around the house.

My mom always insisted that I didn’t need to take the bunnies out to the trampoline to learn how to jump, but I was sure that it was my job to teach them this important life skill.

Some people have a rule that they don’t name their livestock, but I’ve never had a problem with it. As soon as I could tell them apart, they all had names. Some of my favorite names were BunBun, Officer Hoppers, Gravy, and Pinky. It seems like every litter had a bunny or two named Fluffy. (Thinking of names is hard—sometimes you have to reuse a name a few times!)

Even when they grew bigger, I would often bring them inside and continue to dress them up and snuggle with them against my dad’s will.

One Benefit to Home Butchering Is Learning Anatomy

When it came time to butcher the bunnies, I would help my mom round them up and bring them to the barn, where I would then pick out who goes first. This sounds really morbid, and my 7-year-old self didn’t think much about it, but I would determine who gets butchered next by how much they liked snuggles. If you were squirming to get away, you were next . . . .

I have a vivid memory of one time when my mom was butchering a rabbit and my brother, who is 2 years older than me, was crying and pleading for her not to do it. I didn’t really understand why he was so upset about it, because I knew that’s why we had rabbits in the first place, and I really liked rabbit enchiladas . . . soooo, what’s the problem here?

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That was also the very special day that I got to hold a real heart for the first time. For as far back as I can remember, I have always been intrigued by anatomy and how the things inside of your body work, so I would always hang close to my mom and ask what that weird organ was and if I could touch it. I thought the heart was the coolest organ, so when I got to hold one for real, I was ecstatic.

It’s a Badge of Honor

I was much more involved with the bunnies because they were nice to snuggle with, but when we had chickens, I would sometimes play with them when they were at prime cuteness.

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Although I don’t mind the butchering of our chickens, I do mind defeathering 50 to 70 chickens in one day. Usually we will get a hundred or so baby chicks in the spring, raise them up, and then butcher them all in the summer. Not all of them survive getting here and growing up, but still, 50 chickens is a lot of birds to pluck, even with 4 or 5 other people helping.

My brother and I would invite some of our friends over to help, and to our surprise, they were all excited to learn about home butchering.

Actually, most of the kids in our neighborhood wanted to learn how to process a chicken.

My mom says this is a skill that all kids used to know, and apparently, most kids are into it if given the opportunity. Even my older brother became proud that he could teach his buddies how to do it.

I enjoy having the bunnies and chicks around for a while before they land on the dinner table. There is one kind of animal, however, that I am ready to butcher as soon as we get them . . . geese. I’ve never liked geese, and I never will. They’re bullies, they hiss at you for no reason, and they poop anywhere and everywhere that they can get their butts to.

You can tell me that geese aren’t that bad, and they are actually sweet animals on the inside or whatever your reasoning is for liking geese—but in my opinion, having goose stew is like sweet, sweet revenge.

It’s Important to Honor the Full Circle

I’m sure that each kid is going to have a different reaction to home butchering. Although not every 7-year-old is going to want to play with all of the organs in a rabbit, I do think it’s nice to include kids in the butchering process somehow.

It’s a good learning experience about death and giving thanks.

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My mom and I would always do a little ceremony and sing a special song after each rabbit died to recognize its life and what it was giving us. If you want to see her perform this ceremony, it’s in the butchering section of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD set. You can click here to pick up your own copy. (There’s also some footage in there of me doing dishes when I was little.)

The whole butchering process really made me think about where my food is coming from—and about how much of a blessing it is for a living being to give its life for my nourishment.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Be Canning Your Own Meat

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LIMITED TIME ONLY: 99 cent/pound boneless chicken breasts! I have been buying Zaycon Fresh chicken for years and highly recommend it. Click this link to order your chicken, ground beef, salmon, and a lot more. There’s no time to waste, though. Place your order today for fall delivery.   You’ll be hooked, I tell you.  Once […]

How To Make 5 Meals From One Rotisserie Chicken

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Have you bought a rotisserie chicken from Costco lately? Oh, my goodness, they are juicy, moist chickens already cooked and weigh about 3 pounds! I would love to say I have chickens in my backyard, but nope, that’s not going to happen. I live in an HOA and to be honest with you, I couldn’t kill one and then eat it. I can hardly debone one. Okay, let me say this, I do not debone them, Mark does. He fills a container that holds 9 cups!! One rotisserie chicken gives me 9 cups of juicy chicken for only $5.00. I love it!

Here’s the deal, we are all trying to cut our grocery bill, right? I know I am. I decided to buy one chicken a week, debone it and separate the meat into 5 baggies. One for each meal. I use one for the first night and one for the second night. I’m always nervous about meat so I freeze three of the bags for the other meals. The night before going to fix my dinner for that day, I grab a bag from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator. It’s totally cut up and ready for any one of the recipes below.

Rotisserie Chicken

When I raised my own family, I could stretch a meal with one cup of chicken. I must confess, I would stretch a can of tuna to make seven sandwiches. Oh, my, looking back those must have been really thin tuna sandwiches. I would add lots of pickles (I canned) and lettuce from the garden when it was summertime. No one complained, that’s how we lived and saved lots of grocery money. And I made the bread so that made them taste even better.

Rotisserie Chicken Frugal Meals

Rotisserie Chicken

1. Chicken Noodle Soup


2 cups of cooked chicken

6 cups water

1/4 cup Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base or substitute equal amounts of water with chicken broth

3/4 cup freeze-dried onions or 1 fresh onion chopped into bite-size pieces

3/4 cup dry dehydrated carrots or 1-1/2 cups diced fresh carrots

3/4 cup dry freeze-dried celery or 1-1/2 cups diced fresh celery

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried sweet basil

1 teaspoon pepper

salt to taste

1 package Grandma’s frozen egg noodles (11-ounces) cooked and separated as directed, or boil your pasta of choice

2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. ***BUT add the Grandma’s Noodles the last two hours or they will be mushy. Enjoy!

PRINTABLE recipe: Recipe by Food Storage Moms

Linda’s Homemade Dinner Rolls

2. Rotisserie Chicken Casserole


2 cups cooked chicken cut into bite-size pieces

3 cups cooked rice

½ chopped fresh onion

1 cup fresh celery chopped into bite-size pieces

1 can water chestnuts drained, sliced or chopped (approximately 8 ounces)

1 cup mayonnaise or miracle whip

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup almonds, slivered or sliced (add to the top of casserole the last 5-10 minutes-continue baking)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, except the almonds. Stir the mixture until blended well. Place in a 9-inch by 13-inch greased pan and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until heated through. Add the almonds to the top of the casserole during the last 5-10 minutes of baking.

PRINTABLE recipe: Recipe by Food Storage Moms

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup


2 cups cooked chicken

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon taco seasoning

½ teaspoons garlic powder

½ teaspoons salt

1 cup minced onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 cup chopped red pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 can (10-ounces) Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies

2 cans (15-ounces each) black beans, drained

32-ounces chicken broth

4 cups hot water

4 tablespoons tomato paste

*Add more chili powder or taco seasoning, if desired


Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours. After cooking add a few broken tortilla chips with a dollop of sour cream on top.

PRINTABLE recipe: Recipe by Food Storage Moms

4. Chicken Enchiladas


1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1 cup sour cream

1-8-oz. cream cheese softened

1-4-oz. can green chilies, chopped

2 cups grated Tillamook cheese

12 flour pre-cooked tortillas

1-10 oz. can enchilada sauce of choice

1-10-3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup grated cheese to sprinkle over the enchiladas


Combine the ingredients, except for the mushroom soup, enchilada sauce, and one cup grated cheese. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and evenly scoop the chicken mixture into each flour tortilla. Fold the sides in toward the center and roll and tuck the other sides under and place in a greased 9 inch by 13-inch pan. Mix together the soup and enchilada sauce and spread over the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining one cup grated cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until fully cooked.

PRINTABLE recipe: Recipe by Food Storage Moms

5. White Chili With Chicken

3 cans (15-ounces each) of small white beans (not drained)

1-1/2 to 2 cups chicken cooked and shredded

1/2 cup butter

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup mozzarella cheese (grated)

4-ounce can green chilies (diced)

1/4 cup chopped onion

16-ounce jar of salsa

Sour cream to garnish

Tortilla chips crushed for garnish


Add the ingredients in order into a slow cooker and cook on low 5-6 hours. Serve with crushed tortilla chips on top of the chili with a dollop of sour cream.

PRINTABLE recipe: Recipe by Food Storage Moms

I hope these rotisserie chicken recipes help you stretch your grocery bill once again. I love it when I can buy a $5.00 chicken and make 5 meals, gotta love it! May God bless you to be prepared for the unexpected. Be safe my friends.

My Favorite Things:

Soup Pot

Lasagna Pan

Copyright pictures:

Slicing Chicken:  AdobeStock_167517470 by Steve

Cut Up Rotisserie Chicken: AdobeStock_141912933 by Danielle

The post How To Make 5 Meals From One Rotisserie Chicken appeared first on Food Storage Moms.

‘7 Ways to Feed Your Garden for Free’

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Last year, David the Good filmed a fun (and funny) presentation for The Grow Network’s Home Grown Food Summit on how you can keep your garden fed and maximize the nutrition in your food without spending a dime.

Well, we’re a Community of sustainability-minded DIYers who like to find ways to turn trash into garden treasure, so is it any wonder that David’s video on “7 Ways to Feed Your Garden for Free” ended up being one of the event’s most popular presentations? (Plus, you know, David is just a likeable, funny guy, so that probably helped, too. 🙂 )

Read More: “Homemade Fertilizers—15 Simple and Inexpensive Options”

Anyway, David posted this video on YouTube on February 4, aaaaaand it’s already got more than 10,000 views. Translation? You should watch it now, too! 🙂

Here it is:

As David says, “The presentation clocks in at about 45 minutes long and should be a great inspiration for your spring gardening plans.”

Amen to that!

Then, let your TGN Community know in the comments: What are some other ways you like to feed your garden for free?


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Cold-Weather Chicken Care: The Tale of the Frostbitten Chicken and Lessons Learned About Prevention and Treatment

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Frostbite isn’t normally something I worry about in my holler here in Surry County, North Carolina. However, this year, with record-breaking cold temperatures lasting for weeks at a time, I learned a few lessons in preventing and treating the frostbitten chicken.

It all started when Rasputin, my rebel rooster, refused to use good sense and get out of the cold. As our temperatures dropped into the single digits and 40 mph wind gusts sent the rest of the flock running for shelter, Rasputin planted his feet firmly—in a few inches of frozen-over snow—and held his ground.

I don’t know if it was the wind that made him crazy, or if the idea of being stuck in a coop with 22 unhappy hens kept him from the coop. But, even as his comb began to swell, then turned white at the tips, and his feet flushed red … he stood tall.

Now, Rasputin happens to love being held and cuddled. So I repeatedly picked him up, gave him a warming snuggle and took him to one of our many straw-laden sheltered areas. Yet each time I went back out to deliver warm water to my flock, I would find him out in the cold. Again.

So, here’s lesson No. 1 in frostbite prevention:

Lesson 1: If your chickens don’t have the good sense to get out of the cold (and stay there), lock them up!

Our coops keep predators out, but they can also be used to keep chickens in. They might not like it. But for their own safety, don’t hesitate to keep your chickens in the coop during extreme cold.

Now, I have to confess, I wasn’t really thinking about the frostbite when I carried Rasputin back to the coop. I was concerned about how much feed he would eat if he burned all his calories out in the cold. He’s a big rooster, with a big appetite, and I like to keep my feed costs low. Also, I had a few other hens out in the yard—namely my Buckeyes and my Salmon Faverolles—showing no signs of cold whatsoever.

It was only later, when I noticed that some white spots on Rasputin’s comb started fading to black and shriveling up, that I realized what had happened. Now, Rasputin is descended from a rescued fighting rooster, so he is very heavy and tall and has a few circulatory problems. His comb is more susceptible to episodes of ringworm than the combs of my other chickens. So, even though the timing was odd, I thought those white spots were just a little ringworm recurrence.

Discovering that I’d missed the early signs of frostbite in my big boy helped teach me these next two lessons:

Lesson 2: Comb size matters. Pay extra attention to your roosters with large combs and wattles and to any chickens with standard combs.

My cold-hardy breeds like the Buckeyes and the Salmon Favorelles have small combs that sit tight on their heads. In cold weather, your chicken’s body will preserve heat by cutting blood flow to the comb. This puts chickens with larger combs at greater risk because large combs are more exposed to the elements.

Many people who keep chickens in cold climates swear by slathering petroleum jelly on larger combs and wattles to help prevent frostbite, and some talk about lanolin as a more eco-friendly alternative. Keep in mind that humidity, even more than cold, is a factor in causing frostbite, so make sure you have proper ventilation (but no drafts) in your coop to keep the humidity level as low as possible.

Now, even cold-hardy breeds, with cold-suited combs, can be subject to frostbite on their feet. Which brings me to my next lesson:

Lesson 3: Know how to identify the early signs of frostbite and take action sooner rather than later.

Early frostbite looks a whole lot like a minor case of ringworm. Patches of pale white appear on the affected areas on the comb and wattles. As the frostbite continues, the areas start to darken and spread. If the area becomes solid black, it then begins to dehydrate and look a bit like crispy bacon (though not nearly as appetizing).

On the feet, frostbite shows up as splotches of red. The tend to be most prominent between the toes, but the splotches also show up on the legs. Some cases may result in swelling and blistering.

Severe frostbite can also impact behavior. Frostbitten chickens can become lethargic and disinterested in normal activity, and can lose their appetites.

Once you know what to look for, then you need to be prepared to act if necessary.

Treating Early Frostbite

If you see the early signs of frostbite while they are happening, take your chicken to a warm place and slowly bring affected areas up to temperature. For example, have your chicken stand in a warm foot bath (around 100ºF) and gently press a warm wash cloth around the comb area. Do not rub either of these areas as that will likely be painful for your chicken.

Once your chicken is sufficiently warm, give them time to dry before returning them to their coop.

Treating More Severe Frostbite

If your chicken is showing signs of lethargy and loss of appetite as a result of frostbite, this is likely a more serious case. Keep your chicken confined to a warm area and monitor their affected areas and behavior for a couple of days before returning them to their coop.

If they develop more severe symptoms like blistering or continued loss of appetite, infection may be a concern. At that point you will want to refer to your chicken health manual for details on how to treat infection and when to enlist the help of a veterinarian.

The one I use and recommend is The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow.


What Happens After a Chicken Suffers Frostbite?

In Rasputin’s case, he recovered quite quickly from his frostbite. He never faced infection and always had his appetite. However, the most affected areas on his comb are in the process of sloughing off as the damaged skin dries and withers. A little while from now, he may lose some of the tips of his once-stately rooster comb. He probably won’t notice this loss most of the time. However, in hot weather, his reduced comb area may impact his ability to cool himself quickly. So, I’ll need to give him a little more attention in hot weather now, too.

In case this crazy cold weather has made you consider cold-hardy breeds for your coop, the next post in our series Cold-Weather Chicken Care will highlight a few breeds to consider for your spring purchase. Or for emergency cold-weather care ideas, check out this post:

Read More: “Cold-Weather Chicken Care: 11 Quick Ideas to Improve Chicken Comfort”


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The post Cold-Weather Chicken Care: The Tale of the Frostbitten Chicken and Lessons Learned About Prevention and Treatment appeared first on The Grow Network.

Is This Organic Chicken Feed Good or Evil?

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A Funny Thing Happened at the Fair

A couple of years ago, I was invited to speak at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, Kansas. I gave my talk about “How to Grow Half of Your Own Food in an Hour a Day.” The talk was really great and several people in the audience came up to me afterward to tell me how excited they were about starting to grow some of their own food and medicine.

I just love that energy when someone gets excited about working toward real food independence!

After my talk was over, I was walking around the aisles at the fair and chatting with all of the people there. There were some pretty cool products on display—heritage crafts and folk art, these awesome modular livestock fodder systems, local organic seed companies . . . you name it.

If it’s about sustainable living or traditional organic foods, it was there.

So I was walking around, taking in the sites and soaking up as much info as I could retain, when I had a chance encounter that I want to tell you about . . .

Read more: Grow Your Own Chicken Feed the Easy Way

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Strangers in the Crowd

This encounter didn’t exactly start out on a positive note.

To tell you the truth, we were in each others’ way. I was trying to round the corner on a crowded aisle, and I had identified a tiny little narrow pathway where I could just squeeze through.

But about halfway through, I realized that there was someone else coming from the other direction who was also trying to squeeze through the same narrow opening in the crowd.

We met in the middle and started trying to shimmy around each other, but the space was too tight. We were stuck there together, caught in the crowd face to face, and neither of us could get to where we were trying to go.

We were both a little embarrassed, and we both gave each other a slightly sheepish smile when our eyes finally met.

“It’s pretty crowded today,” I said, in an attempt to break the ice and relieve the awkward vibe that was going on.

“Yeah,” she said, “I can’t believe how many people came out.”

The crowd started to thin around us, but we had already struck up a conversation, so I decided to stick with it. “I’m Marjory Wildcraft. I just did a presentation over there at the stage in the back corner. Did you see it?”

“No, I’ve been in the booth all morning long,” she said. As she spoke, she pointed to a big booth across the aisle.

I had to do a double take, because the booth she pointed to had a huge logo on the banner that I recognized instantly. It was the infamous red-and-white checkerboard of Purina.

Read more: Ferment Your Feed for Happier and Healthier Chickens

A Fox in the Hen House?

I was a little bit shocked . . . .

There I was, surrounded by all of the latest and greatest products in the organic, sustainable, traditional living marketplace.

Purina was one name I definitely had not expected to see in this crowd.

I looked around a little bit to see if maybe she had pointed at the wrong booth.

And that’s when I noticed her name tag.

There it was, right in front of me the whole time—that same red-and-white checkerboard right above her name, “Jodi.” I tried not to be rude, but I simply had to ask…

“What are you doing here?”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, trying to take a step backward in the conversation. “I, uh, I’m surprised to see that Purina is here at the Mother Earth News Fair.”

“Oh. Ha, ha, yeah, a lot of people have said that to me today.” She smiled, and I knew that she wasn’t too offended by my surprise.

Read more: Are You Prepared for Peak Chicken?

Making a New Friendship

When Jodi laughed, we both relaxed. I could tell that she was used to getting responses like mine, and she could tell that I was happy I hadn’t offended her.

But I still had to know. I gave Jodi a gentle smile and took a second try at asking the same question . . . .

“So, really, what are you doing here?”

Jodi explained that Purina sees a lot of value in small-scale family farms. They recognize that homesteading is a growing movement; they think it’s important; and they want to make sure that they’re listening to those customers about what they need and want from the products they buy to feed their animals.

“Huh,” I said, still a little surprised. I was trying to tread lightly so I wouldn’t offend her again. “Have you gotten a pretty good response from the people here?”

Jodi lit up, “We have! We’re just here to listen to people, and I think that people really appreciate that.”

“I see,” I said.

My first instinct had been that the people at this fair would be somewhat hostile toward a company like Purina. But for a company like Purina to show up at a Mother Earth News Fair, just to listen to the people . . . well . . . you can’t really get too upset about that.

I looked over at her booth again, and sure enough, it didn’t look like they were trying to sell any products that day. I noticed that there was a small group of homesteader-type families standing around and talking to the Purina representatives, who were listening intently to what the people had to say.

All of a sudden it started to make sense to me.

“What are people saying to you?” I asked.

Jodi thought it over for a second and then replied, “Organic.”

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Is Organic Enough?

We talked for a while longer. Jodi explained that she had talked to lots of people with lots of opinions. Some of the people at the fair already purchased Purina feed regularly from their local farm supply stores. Others, like me, were just surprised to see Purina there at all.

But, one common thread that she heard a lot that day was that people want to give their chickens organic feed. It was a big deal.

And Jodi explained that Purina was already working hard to get a line of organic chicken feeds out on the market. It wasn’t a small task for them—they had to source all new suppliers, create a new production process, and find new distributors who were willing to stock the product.

I could see that Jodi knew all of the ins and outs of the project, and it sounded to me like Purina was serious about creating this new line of organic chicken feeds.

But still, even as Jodi was speaking, my mind kept wondering off. I was thinking about the Purina company that I already knew. The Purina company that supplies food to all of those big industrial chicken farms . . . . The Purina that formulated chemical changes in animal food to make eggs come out bigger and make hogs grow faster . . . . The Purina that has been passed around over the years—owned and operated by huge global conglomerates like BP, Koch Industries, and Nestle . . . . The Purina that has been blamed for poisoning thousands of cats and dogs with low-quality pet foods…

I was pretty confused.

Read more: Would You Eat Chicken-less Eggs?

The Benefit of the Doubt

After we had talked for a few minutes, I decided to give Jodi the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, I’m impressed that you’re here listening to people. And I’ll tell you what . . . If you ever get that organic chicken feed on the market, I’m going to buy a bag of it.”

Jodi laughed, “Oh, I hope you will!”

We parted ways, and I kept walking to take in the rest of the fair.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t even think about it again for the next few years. That is, until I bumped into Jodi again at the Mother Earth News Fair in Texas this past spring. This time, I was lucky enough to have Anthony—the Grow Network’s videographer—there with me:

I’m A Woman of My Word

Well, I’ve never been one to break a promise. After we shot this video, I asked Jodi where I could find Purina’s new organic chicken feed, so that I could buy a bag and let my chickens try it.

She said that my local farm supply should have it—if it wasn’t there, I should just wait a month or two and try again. Sure enough, I found it in stock at my local store.

I have been raising a big flock of meat birds for a project we’re working on for The Grow Network this summer. I gave this food to those chickens for a couple of weeks, as a test. Come to think of it, it wasn’t much of a test. I think these chickens would have eaten anything. But they did seem to like the organic Purina feed. They ate the whole bag and I didn’t notice any changes in their health or behavior while they were eating it.

But I’m dying to know. . . .

Would you buy organic chicken feed from Purina?

Some of the people I’ve talked to swear that they’d never touch anything made by Purina. Other people don’t have a problem with it, and they say their decision would just be made based on the price.

So, what do you think? Is Purina’s organic chicken feed good or evil? Drop a comment down below to let me know what you think…

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(This post is an updated version of an article originally published on August 9, 2016.)

The post Is This Organic Chicken Feed Good or Evil? appeared first on The Grow Network.

Ferment Your Feed for Healthier and Happier Chickens

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Sprouting fodder for your chickens to eat is a great way to diversify their diet, and it is also a great way to increase the overall health and immune strength of your flock.  Leslie Parsons provided a long list of seeds that are good for sprouting in various conditions in her article “Growing Your Own Chicken Feed the Easy Way.” I’d like to draw some attention to another method for improving your flock’s diet: fermenting.

Fermented food has picked up a lot of traction in popular media these days, with the success of Sandor Ellix Katz’s books The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation. People have become more and more aware of the benefits of ingesting healthy living cultures of microflora. “Probiotics” has become a household word, and you can pick up a bottle of fresh kombucha at the corner convenience store.

Active cultures are helping people maintain good digestive health, enhance their immune systems, and even lose weight. But did you know that fermented food is good for your chickens too?

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Fermented Chicken Feed Can Improve the Health of Your Flock

Fermented chicken feed has been shown to increase weight gain in growing chicks. Chickens whose diets include fermented foods develop healthier intestinal tracts than those that eat a strictly dry diet. Moist fermented feed helps defend against dehydration, and it even promotes a healthy genetic profile for mother hens.

Fermenting chicken feed can significantly improve the nutrients that are available to your flock.

In an Aarhus University study about Fermented feed for laying hens, fermenting layer rations reduced the concentration of dietary sugar by more than three-quarters, from 32.1 to 7.3 grams per kilogram. Fermented food also has high concentrations of lactic acid bacteria, and small amounts of beneficial yeasts and fungi; so you’re basically creating some homemade probiotics for your flock. If you’ve got a chicken with IBS, maybe some fermented food could help her get regular.

Moist fermented food is easily digestible and its nutrients are more easily absorbed by the chicken than dry feed. Chickens will get more B vitamins, more vitamin K2, and more of several beneficial enzymes from fermented food.

Fermented foods help with immune function in chickens. Chickens with a fermented diet develop a highly acidic barrier in their upper digestive tract that blocks several acid-sensitive bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. One study, published by the African Journal of Biotechnology, considered using fermented foods as a replacement for antibiotic growth promoters in commercial poultry production.

There are also benefits for egg production and egg quality in laying hens.

Incorporating fermented food can help improve the number and size of eggs you’ll get. Yolk size frequently increases when a hen is fed a diet that includes fermented food. A diet that incorporates fermentation can help with problem egg shells too, improving shell quality, weight, and stiffness.

Why You Should Start Feeding Fermented Food

In addition to the health considerations outlined above, there are some benefits for you, the human, as well.

The biggest thing is that fermenting allows you to buy less feed. Chickens eat a little less dry feed when the feed has been fermented. The chickens are able to get more nourishment out of the same volume of feed. So, this is one way to make those expensive bags of organic layer rations last a little longer.

The chickens will also waste less of their food. As soon as a bowl is filled with dry feed, the first thing many chickens do is jump right in and start scratching. They throw the larger grains all over, leaving only the inedible fine dust at the bottom of the bowl. They don’t do that with a moist fermented food. They might still get in the bowl, but they won’t be able to disperse the food like they normally do with dry feed.

Finally, fermentation is an easy way for anyone to diversify their flock’s diet.

Chickens have an adventurous pallet at the table. They like to eat all kinds of things. Many of us don’t have the room to keep our chickens at pasture where they can get a good mixed diet of bugs and greenery.

Growing fresh chicken fodder is a great way to diversify your flock’s diet, but some people don’t have enough confidence in their green thumbs to begin starting seed for their birds. Fermentation is one way that any chicken keeper can mix things up for their chickens to begin improving health and immunity.

How Can I Start Fermenting My Chicken Feed?

fermenting-chicken-feed-in-a-bucketThe type of fermentation you’re going to do is called lactic acid fermentation. I’m not wearing a lab coat, but I think this means that good bacteria digest the available sugars and leave lactic acid as a by-product. You might recognize the sweet/sour smell of the lactic acid from yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

  1. Use any non-metallic container to create the ferment. I have been using a food grade plastic five-gallon bucket from the big box store and it works well enough.
  2. Start with a small amount of dry feed, about two days worth.
  3. Cover the feed with non-chlorinated water. Lactic acid fermentation is an anaerobic process, and it is important that you keep the food completely covered with water, so that it is not exposed to the open air. When the feed soaks up so much water that the feed is exposed to air, cover it back up with more water.
  4. Stir the mixture regularly, several times a day, and add more water as needed. Well water, distilled water, or rain water are fine, but fresh city water contains chemicals that are specifically designed to kill bacteria—so don’t use fresh city water. If all you have is city water, treat it to remove the chlorine or chloramines. [A Guide for Using Tap Water in Your Garden]
  5. IMG_5885Keep the fermenting container in a warm place; keeping it above 65 degrees F will get the best results. Warm temperatures speed up the process and increase the odds that the right bacteria will flourish when fermentation begins.
  6. You can add a starter culture if you want to, to make sure you get the right bugs. Allow at least 24 hours to begin producing a culture of lactic acid bacteria, but allow several days to significantly drop the pH.
  7. The end product should have a sour smell like sauerkraut. If your feed smells rancid or rotten, don’t use it. You might not have kept the mash covered with enough water, allowing air in to the mix. If this happens, throw it out to resolve in the compost, and start again.
  8. Dip a scoop or ladle down to the bottom of the container to get the moist feed. Try to include a little of the water in each scoop, but always make sure that the feed in the bucket remains covered in water. You can add more dry feed to replace the fermented feed you take out, if you want to keep the process going for a while. If you prefer to use up the first batch before starting the second, just rinse and repeat when the fermented feed is used up.
  9. IMG_5898If all of this sounds like too much work for you, consider trading with a friend for something they are fermenting. A neighbor of mine makes beer at home. We worked out a barter agreement where he receives fresh eggs and in exchange I get his fermented grains. My chickens love these grains and fight over them every time I put them out. Just make sure that the grains aren’t being fermented in a toxic metal container that could harm your chickens or you.

Common Problems with Fermented Chicken Feed

The biggest problem with fermented chicken feed is that chickens don’t really love to eat it.

In the Aarhus study I referenced above, the authors attribute irritability in the flock to a distaste for the fermented food. My chickens don’t seem to mind it that much, but I think they do prefer their normal dry rations. I know that they definitely prefer fresh bugs and green plant growth when those are available.

In nature, chickens will eat just about anything that’s small enough to eat. That includes a lot of bugs, a lot of plants, some invertebrates, and lots of odds and ends.

A very diverse diet is the best diet you could possibly feed your chickens.

If you’re someone who feeds only layer rations and nothing else, adding in some of that same feed after fermenting is an easy way to begin mixing up your flock’s diet and working your way toward the diverse diet they crave.

There is also a chance that you could accidentally grow the wrong bacteria, or grow yeast instead of bacteria. Always smell the food before you give it to the chickens. If it smells off, just throw it out.

Raising Meat Chickens_1000x525_2

(This post is an updated version of an article originally published on February 17, 2015.)

The post Ferment Your Feed for Healthier and Happier Chickens appeared first on The Grow Network.

Are You Prepared for Peak Chicken?

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three-step-chickensWe have all heard about peak oil. But have you heard about “peak chicken?” Or peak almost everything else that composes the modern human diet—dairy, meat, corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, vegetables, and sugar?

According to a study in Ecology and Society,1https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss4/art50/ we’ve already been there and done that. We peaked on just about every food-related product considered critical to human survival, except farm-raised fish, in or before 2010.

Thank goodness for carp, catfish, and tilapia! If you don’t like those, you might want to start working on some new recipes and get used to them….

Once you get your head around the idea of peak food—meaning that food production is stagnant or declining—then do an Internet search for “world population clock.”

Sit back and watch as the world’s population increases before your eyes.

It is interesting to watch, until you do the math and realize that declining food production + increasing population = a big problem. Suddenly that population calculator looks a lot like a ticking time bomb, and the $60,000,000,000,000 (global public debt)2http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock/ question is: “When does it explode?”

The truth is that we don’t know if, how, or when the bubble will burst.

Reason to Worry

But according to the authors of the Ecology and Society study, we should be worried. Their findings show that 20 of the 27 key resources for human survival peaked within the 50-year period ending in 2010.

The fact that so much of our food supply peaked within the same time frame makes sense at an intuitive level. Growing food with current industrial processes requires adequate water and fertile land suited to maneuvering large equipment. When we run out of fertile land, we develop undesirable land by leveling or clearing the earth, adding synthetic fertilizer, and pumping in water for irrigation. That works until we exhaust our water stores and deplete easily accessible nitrogen sources.

As land, water, and fertilizer become less available, the natural result is that food production declines, prices go up, and distribution gets contentious.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in wealthy countries like the United States have been insulated from most of the deprivations of peak food.

  • But if you live in rural Mexico, you probably already know what a 733% increase in the cost of a staple like tortillas feels like.
  • Or if you’ve lived in parts of Venezuela in the last few years, you know what it’s like to go to the grocery store and find the shelves inexplicably empty.
  • In India, farming-related debt is so high and weather events are destroying crops so frequently that suicide among farmers has reached epidemic levels.

These are just a few examples of peak-food-related issues already occurring around the world.

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Projections through 2022,3https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/projections/USDAAgriculturalProjections2022.pdf “Although agricultural prices decline in the near term, continued growth in global demand for agricultural products holds prices at historically high levels.” This means that for those of us who live in the United States, Japan, or the EU, our days of food cost stability are numbered as developing countries are expected to outpace us on demand, economic growth, and strength of currency in international markets.

Additionally, the USDA’s Food Price Outlook, 2017-20184https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/ for the U.S. indicates that the most notable inflation increases in food have occurred, and will continue to occur, around the perimeter of the grocery store.

The Rise and Fall of Peak Nutrition

Poultry, dairy, eggs, seafood, and fresh fruits—the most nutritious foods available—are becoming less affordable, and this is expected to get much worse.

In response to price increases, such as the market price of beef going up 10 percent in two years in the U.S., consumers have already diverted their budgets from nutrient-dense natural foods to prepackaged, high-calorie foods, which tend to be less nutritious.

Just as it makes intuitive sense that peak food would follow quickly on the heels of peak land, we can also assume that trading fresh, healthy foods for processed foods to make ends meet will lead to peak nutrition—after which our collective public health will begin to accelerate in its decline.

So, is there anything we can do to change our food future?

In light of their disturbing findings regarding synchronous peak production, the authors of the Ecology and Society study suggest that we need a “paradigm shift” in our use of resources if we are going to be able to adapt to our post-peak realities.

That seems like a polite way of saying, “we need to radically alter our methods for growing and distributing food, or we’re in big trouble.”

Finding Answers

The good news is that you, I, and other members of The Grow Network community are already starting to work on this. The peak calculations were based on data from the 2013 FAO Statistical Yearbook5http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm. That report includes figures reported by international governments like Gross Domestic Product, and is dependent on financial information provided in tax returns and financial statements.

All the home-scale food growing taking place around the world is not included in determining these peak food calculations.

The study also does not take into consideration the black markets and barter markets that are already prevalent throughout much of the world, and may be used by two-thirds of the world’s population by 2020.

Unfortunately, for the same reasons that these data are not included in peak calculations, it is impossible to determine how much of an impact home food growers, barter economies, and black markets are making in relation to peak food.

Anecdotally, though, we know that there has been increased interest in home-based food production:

  • Just look at the number of self-sufficiency publications showing up on supermarket and bookstore shelves over the last ten years.
  • The number of farmers’ markets have increased by nearly 500% over the last 23 years, according to the USDA.6https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NationalCountofFMDirectory17.JPG
  • There’s been an explosion in intensive growing practices—raised beds, vertical gardening, companion planting, permaculture, aquaponics—methods that use significantly less inputs than industrial agriculture while producing a superior product with excellent yields.
  • The Obamas put a garden on the White House lawn, and Oprah started a farm in Maui.

These are all positive signs that a transition to more sustainable food-growing processes is already under way.

A 3-Step Solution

Taking a closer look at the details reveals that our current “peak food” problem is really more of a “peak industrial farming” problem.

What the Ecology and Society study makes absolutely clear is that we cannot feed the world using only industrial farming methods because they depend on resources that have peaked, or will peak, in the near future—such as constant nitrogen inputs, spray irrigation, and mono-cropping on cleared land.

However, we can continue to improve our outlook with regard to peak food by choosing to support a few clear, actionable solutions:

1) Diversifying What We Grow
2) Reintegrating Local Farming Into Our Communities
3) Supporting Community Food Security

Let’s take a closer look at these solutions…

#1. Diversifying What We Grow

sweet-potato-vinesThe fact that our key resources list can be narrowed down to just 27 items that include corn and sugarcane is both an indictment of our modern diet, and a mandate for change.

The Case for Corn

Corn, for example, could be an excellent “calorie crop,” meaning that it has the potential to provide a high calorie-per-acre yield. It has culinary versatility: corn bread, polenta, grits, tortillas, eaten on the cob and off the cob, popcorn, and as a supplemental feed for poultry and pigs.

But less than 1 percent of peak corn grown today actually makes it to your table directly. The rest is inedible for humans as it is grown specifically to go into our cars as ethanol or to be used as feed for livestock like cows, which would never touch it if they tripped over it in the pasture. A good portion of the corn used in our human food supply is corn syrup that is arguably a leading contributor to epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Fields of monoculture corn swaying in the wind might even seem pretty—but don’t walk barefoot in those fields because they are loaded with toxic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that require protective gear to apply.

For the home grower, corn can be a fun food to grow as part of a balanced diet, if you have the space. You need to grow enough corn stalks for good cross-pollination or you need to hand-pollinate, and you have to take some extra precautions to prevent contamination from cross-pollination if you want to save your seeds.

But an even better option is to focus on more nutritious foods that don’t make the peak list.

Think about cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and winter squash. These are also versatile in soups, sauces, and pies, and they can be mashed, added to breads and pasta, roasted, and fried. Pumpkin and squash take space to grow, but there is no reason that they can’t be grown in vertical space. There are compact varieties of sweet potatoes like Bunch Porto Rico that can be grown in containers. These alternative calorie crops also store well without additional processing and they are relatively high in nutritional density, according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.7https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods

Mix these alternative calorie crops up with a long list of other highly nutritious foods that you can easily grow at home or pick up at your local farmers market, such as tomatoes, chard, beets, turnips, arugula, watercress, lettuce, and you will be on your way to post-peak food health and happiness.

A Not-So-Sweet Staple

Now for a not-so-sweet subject: sugar. Sugar is a staple of our diets … really?!

Why is something that significantly increases our chances of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease (according to the American Heart Association) a resource considered necessary to our survival? Sure, it’s got calories, but they are non-nutritive.

If you consume your calories as sugar, you must either overconsume other foods to make up the nutritive difference, or run a nutritive deficit. Both roads lead to poor health.

Currently, roughly 898,000 acres of sugarcane and sugar beets are grown commercially in the U.S. alone. That amount of land, replanted using intensive farming methods, could grow enough healthy vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy products to feed 400,000 people a healthy, balanced diet.

If you’ve got an incurable sweet tooth, how about satisfying it with a source that takes almost no land to produce, is good for you, and the production of which actually increases crop productivity in the immediate area? This is not some manufactured miracle sweetener that we will later discover causes cancer. It’s the oldest known sweetener on the planet, so revered at one time that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were buried with it in their tombs, while indigenous communities risked life and limb to extract it.

Of course, you guessed it: The miracle sugar alternative is raw honey.

Raw honey is loaded with good nutrition. It may also help reduce the intensity of seasonal allergies, which are expected to increase in length and severity as a result of climate change, resulting in greater losses in productivity. Keeping bees near your garden increases pollination rates and raises yields. Since every third bite of food we eat requires insect pollination, and most of this is done by honey bees, adding honey to our key resource list makes much more sense than sugar.

If you want to keep your own bees, try a top-bar hive. You can make it out of scrap materials and it does not require expensive extraction equipment. If you can’t keep bees, buy raw honey from your local beekeepers to encourage more beekeeping activity that benefits our entire food supply.

stevia-growing-in-herb-gardenOr how about growing stevia? Stevia is an acquired taste, but once you adjust your palate, it becomes a viable alternative to sugar in beverages.

The leaves have negligible calories and can be boiled with teas and iced to make a sweet-tasting soda alternative. You can grow stevia from seeds obtained from a reputable supplier or you can grow it from cuttings. The plants do well in containers and can overwinter indoors in zones 7 and below with adequate light. When you harvest leaves by trimming the plants between leaf segments, similarly to how you harvest basil, the plants will become bushier and even more productive.

Corn and sugar are easy targets because there are delicious, available alternatives. But there are endless ways to diversify your diet:

  • Swap rice for bulgur, quinoa, lentils, or split peas.
  • Try goat or duck as a beef substitute.
  • Use buckwheat and amaranth flour instead of wheat.
  • Substitute sunflower seed meat for almonds.

Study your shopping list, identify the things you buy regularly, and then seek substitutes that can be grown in your community. You may be surprised at how much variety is available when you make the effort to look for it.

#2. Reintegrating Local Farming into our Communities

peak-chicken-peak-eggs-fullThe expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has never had more relevance than it does right now.

Checking Into Chicken

Chickens are fairly easy to raise at the home scale and they add fun and beauty to a landscape, so if you are seriously thinking about raising a backyard flock, now might be a good time to start. Make sure you know your LORE (laws, ordinances, rights, and entitlements) before taking the plunge. Also, talk to chicken owners you trust or do research to determine best practices in buying and keeping chickens in your area.

If it’s against the “LORE” for you to keep backyard chickens or you don’t have the space, how about rallying your community to turn underutilized common areas onto vegetable gardens and raise egg chickens or egg ducks there? Not only does this concept make common space meaningful again by doing something productive with it, but it can create opportunities for new farmers to enter the profession, and opportunities for residential “lawnscapers” to become organic “foodscapers.”

baby-ducks-and-chickensLaying Off Lawns

And this leads us to another method for countering peak food—let’s overcome our lawn addiction. North Americans devote 40,000 square miles of prime growing land to lawns.8https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/edible-ground-covers That is more land than we use to grow wheat or corn, it requires half the American residential water supply to grow, and it uses heavy doses of post-peak nitrogen and chemical products that end up soiling our waterways.

In the era of peak food, we really need to kick our lawn habit to the curb.

If you are a DIY type and you already take care of your lawn and landscaping, swap your holly hedge for blueberry bushes, replace flowers with flowering herbs, grow veggies anywhere you currently grow annuals, or build raised beds right over your lawn. Fruit trees like paw paw, jujube, Asian pear, mulberry, and elderberry are less needy than many ornamental trees like dogwood or flowering cherry, so use those as your starting points for planting a “foodscape.”

Surround the trees with a living mulch of Russian comfrey and borage. As the trees grow, prune them for good airflow and a less dense shade profile so you can grow shade-tolerant spinach, lettuce, and peas under the trees. If you have good southern exposure in front of your trees, plant fruit bushes there, plus herbs like chives, lemon balm, and mint to attract beneficial insects. You can also vine grapes up the trunks, making use of that vertical space.

herb-spiral-for-microclimatesIf you are not the DIY type and you spend on lawnscaping, reallocate your budget toward foodscaping to support a new generation of growers.

Many professional farmers and landscapers are excellent machine operators, soil scientists, irrigation experts, and pesticide applicators. But they may not have the expertise to grow a variety of foods without the aid of heavy equipment or purchased fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

To beat peak food and take advantage of prime growing land located within our populated communities, we need more small-scale farmers and growers skilled in controlling pests without chemicals, adding fertility with organic inputs produced onsite, minimizing water usage through smart planting, and applying intensive planting methods to increase food production.

There are plenty of people who want to do this, but we need to create the economic opportunities for them to be able to make a living at it.

To get started, talk to your current landscaper about having them do the work for you. If they don’t have the skills and they aren’t willing to gain them, talk to your local agricultural or gardening extension office, farming schools, vendors at farmers markets, or nearby permaculture schools to find people who are able to help you.

To keep costs low, you can make agreements to let student farmers sell surplus crops and keep the profit in exchange for doing the work. There are also a lot of budding permaculturists who offer their consulting services at discounted rates to develop their resumes and client bases.

Finding ways to grow food in our homes and neighborhoods should be a priority for anyone concerned about peak food.

#3. Supporting Community Food Security

Planting food instead of lawns not only increases food production, but also raises awareness of the importance of doing so. A surprising number of people are not even aware of the issues surrounding peak food. An even more surprising number of people are aware of some of these issues but feel powerless to do anything about them.

By bringing food growing to the forefront of our daily lives, we create opportunities to share our knowledge and help others collaborate with us. Our window of opportunity to beat peak food gets smaller the longer we wait and as weather becomes more erratic and resources less available, so the sooner we spread the news and help others get involved, the more impact we can have.

If you have any doubts about the urgency of building food communities, look to China for guidance. The Chinese government has encouraged its food corporations, through loans and preferential economic policy, to purchase and accumulate companies from around the world that grow and process food products (e.g., Smithfield Foods). This is part of a concerted effort to ensure food security for China’s growing population. And, it might be a wise policy given the reality of peak industrial food.

Yet not all governments are this proactive, and even when food is stockpiled or production is secured, distribution systems may not be fully developed. Also, goods may be distributed with preference for specific populations, like wealthy cities and wealthy citizens.

Realistically, unlike the Chinese government, most of us here don’t have $5 billion to buy up 25% of the pork production in the U.S. “just in case.” But most of us do have some kind of grocery budget and/or a food-growing system in place. Instead of spending our money and resources to support a post-peak industrial food system, we need to redirect our efforts toward local and sustainable food-growing activities.

Home growers can set up food-swapping networks with other growers to exchange products and increase diversity. Non-growers can take their food budgets to the farmers’ market and buy direct from local producers, or pick up weekly baskets from a local CSA. Greater demand for local food means more local growers. More local growers means more food security when declining industrial farms can no longer meet the food needs of a growing population.

We can adapt our eating and growing habits, and make the paradigm shift required to overcome peak food, if we acknowledge the problem and meet the challenges individually, and in our home communities, through thoughtful effort.

We can reach critical mass and cause real change in our society.

But the clock is ticking….



TGN Bi-Weekly Newsletter

(This is an updated version of a post originally published August 14, 2015.)

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss4/art50/
2. http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock/
3. https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/projections/USDAAgriculturalProjections2022.pdf
4. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/
5. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e00.htm
6. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NationalCountofFMDirectory17.JPG
7. https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/95/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods
8. https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/edible-ground-covers

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Which Chicken is the Right Breed?

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Which Chicken is the Right Breed? Host: Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided! To Be or Not to Be-Chickens! Should I raise chickens or not. Though they are relative easy to keep compared with other types of farm animals raising them isn’t a total walk in the park. Now that we’ve looked not only … Continue reading Which Chicken is the Right Breed?

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Chicken Coop Drinking Water De-Icer

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Chicken Coop Drinking Water De-Icer One of the easiest and most rewarding forms of protein to get your hands on is chicken eggs. You will enjoy watching the little feathered dinosaurs walk around and peck away at bugs and pests in your yard. Of course, you will have to lock them up and protect them …

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Chicken First-Aid: 8 Vital Items You Better Have On Hand

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Chicken First-Aid: 8 Vital Items You Better Have On Hand

Image source: Pixabay.com

Standing at the kitchen counter, early on a Saturday morning, I caught a glimpse of a white blur, closely followed by a large black blur. Turning to look closer, I saw a black dog, not belonging to us, attacking my flock. I lost three to that attack, including our rooster.

Thankfully, one wise hen that was attacked did escape by taking refuge with our farm dog. She had a deep wound under her left wing that healed quite nicely after being cleaned and treated with ointment from our first-aid kit.

From frostbite to predator attacks, our flock has experienced a lot in a few short years. Having a basic first-aid kit — and the knowledge to use it — is essential on the homestead. Chickens will be injured from time to time. Sometimes they hurt each other, sometimes it is a predator attack that can leave them wounded, or perhaps it is just a routine illness.

Below you’ll find a list of basic supplies that any first-aid kit for chickens should have. As always, use caution when using any type of antibiotic or other medication and carefully read the instructions.

1. Disposable gloves

Protect your hands while keeping the wound area free from contaminants by having a supply of disposable gloves readily available. They also prevent infection from spreading and make clean up much easier.

2. Rubbing alcohol

A small bottle of rubbing alcohol is perfect for cleaning wounds.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer!

Be careful not to get the liquid near the bird’s eyes. Hydrogen peroxide also can be used; however, it also kills healthy cells surrounding the wound, so it is best to use it for the initial cleaning.

3. Cornstarch

Cornstarch, styptic powder and Wonder Dust are all useful for stopping bleeding due to broken nails or minor wounds. A small pair of nail clippers to trim broken nails on the spot also should be included to keep them from being further torn.

4. Triple antibiotic ointment

Chicken First-Aid: 8 Vital Items You Better Have On HandWhen choosing an antibiotic ointment for your first-aid kit, pick one free of pain-relieving ingredients. The ointment is most useful for preventing infection in wounds and abrasions.

5. Petroleum ointment

Useful as a protectant, petroleum ointment is helpful to fend off frostbite on combs and wattles during extreme cold snaps. It also can be used to treat scaly leg mites. To do this, simply coat the leg with ointment once or twice a week until the leg scales once again lay flat.

6. Blu-Kote

An antiseptic spray, Blu-Kote masks the wound to prevent other hens from pecking at it. It also stops infection and can be used in combination with a triple antibiotic ointment for serious wounds. Carefully spray on affected area as needed. It may take multiple applications each day before the wound has healed sufficiently enough to deter pecking.

7. Oral syringe

For dispensing any liquid medications, an oral syringe is a must. Electrolyte solutions can be easily administered to aid ailing chickens with an oral syringe. For crop issues, specifically a compacted crop, a few drops of a vegetable oil can be given with an oral syringe to loosen and soften the mass, allowing it to pass freely from the crop.

8. Gauze wrap

Occasionally, a wing will be broken and need to be secured. Position the broken wing in a natural position on the bird’s side and wrap the body and wing with gauze to secure it in place. Broken legs can be splinted and wrapped with gauze as well. It is best to isolate the chicken to prevent further injury due to pecking.

Along with these specific supplies, general supplies such as cotton balls, small gauze pads and small scissors are all helpful in emergencies. Keeping all first-aid supplies in a portable kit allows you to easily treat injured chickens on the spot.

What items would you add to our chicken first-aid kit? Share your advice in the section below:

How to Buy and Eat Cruelty-Free Chicken

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In recent years, the price of chicken has dropped so low that shoppers today rarely worry about whether they can afford it.

What was once a luxury reserved for Sunday dinners has quickly become a staple meat for cost-effective meals.

Cheap Price, High Cost

While the rise of cheap chicken is thanks to lower costs of production and improved efficiency from factory farming, focusing only on the economics means that today’s poultry comes at a different kind of cost: one that concerns animal welfare, the spread of disease, and unnecessary pollution instead.

With these considerations in mind, modern-day meat suddenly looks far more expensive.

There’s good news if you’re looking for ways to source your chicken more sustainably.

Thanks to popular demand for higher quality food, it’s never been easier to find poultry that was raised without cruelty.

However, more options doesn’t necessarily mean that the search is simple.

Misleading industry terms and inconsistent labeling in grocery stores and restaurants can make it hard to know what quality bird you’re really eating.1The Guardian: Where Can I buy Safer, Healthier, More Sustainable Meat?

In order to learn how to find ethically raised chicken, follow the advice in this guide so that you know where to look.

Understanding Industry Lingo

If life were easy, all it would take to know the origins of your meat would be labels like “humanely raised,” “all natural,” or “free range.”

Unfortunately, the poultry industry has much to gain from looking more ethical than it is, meaning that the labels on most chicken products often imply far more than they legally mean.

  • For example, labeling a chicken breast as “cage free” is meaningless, as chicken cages are only ever used in the egg industry. In any case, even cage-free chickens are usually raised in stuffy and overcrowded conditions that leave them without room to freely move around.
  • In the same way, labeling a chicken as “natural” means even less. All this term legally means is that the food product was minimally processed after butchering and doesn’t contain artificial ingredients. It tells you nothing about how the animal was raised or about the “artificial ingredients” it was exposed to in life.
  • Even the term “organic” is often used to represent more than it means. Large farm lobbyists have been successful in diluting its meaning to ensure that it’s easier for them to meet the standards. This means that even organic chicken raised in factory-farm conditions and with minimal access to the outside world is at no risk of losing its certification.

Terms You Can Trust

Some food industry terms are far more meaningful than others.

The following terms make it easy to understand how your meat was raised because they have stricter standards and aren’t open to interpretation like other industry phrases can be.

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA): As an independent certification, this label ensures that the chicken in question was raised on a sustainable, pasture-based family farm. A directory of AWA certified products can be found here.

Global Animal Partnership: Consisting of a five-part certification system,2Global Animal Partnership: 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standard for Chicken Raised for Meat the Global Animal Partnership has a multi-tiered approach to animal welfare standards. Look for their 4, 5, and 5+ ratings to seek out the farms with the highest standards for humane treatment for their animals.

Certified Humane: As a leading nonprofit certification standard, Certified Humane certification ensures that the producers met the Animal Care Standards for their animals from birth to slaughter; never kept their animals in crates, cages, or tie stalls; and fed them a diet of high-quality food without animal byproducts or antibiotics.3Certifiedhumane.org

5 Tips for Buying Ethically Raised Chicken and Eggs

In many ways, the best ways to buy ethically raised chicken are hiding in plain sight.

You don’t need to change your entire shopping strategy: simply knowing where to look and the kinds of brands to buy is an easy way to source sustainable, delicious poultry.

Following are five strategies for finding suppliers of humane egg and poultry products near you.

1. Connect With a Local Farm

By far, the best way to understand how your chickens were raised is to visit them on the farm yourself.

If a farm visit isn’t realistic, a good alternative is to look up nearby farms online to see what they’re publicizing about their livestock conditions. When you find a farm with practices you approve of, you can connect with them at local farmers’ markets or as part of their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Need help finding farms around you? These websites are a good place to start.



2. Befriend a Butcher

Quaint as the career may sound, butchers still exist, and they typically are a source for some of the freshest, tastiest poultry around.

Because butchers often buy directly from local farms, they tend to have a good idea about the conditions their animals are raised in. By visiting a butcher, you can gain insight about local farm practices and enjoy the flavors of meat cuts often not available in grocery storesall while supporting a local business.

3. Dig Deeper Into Your Store Selections

Shopping the meat aisle of most grocery stores can be a daunting process.

All the imagery of sunlit barns on beautiful farms makes it hard to imagine the chicken it contains actually came from an airless factory farm.

Knowing which brands are known for their high standards can be tricky, but a general rule is to stay away from big brands that dominate store shelves. Most rely on inhumane practices for raising their chickens and are best avoided if you want to hold them accountable for their actions.

A better choice is to carefully comb through the selection in order to find smaller brands with certifications you can trust, like Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane.

4. Try a Natural Food Store

Unlike regular grocery stores, natural food stores are far more likely to stock chicken from local farms and co-ops.

Because of their small size, it’s easier for them to carry limited selections of poultry from local farms that raise their animals with high standards.

You can find a co-op near you with the Co-op Directory Service.

5. Eat Smarter in Restaurants

When it comes to eating out, tracking down the origins of the meat on your plate is usually all but impossible. Now, that’s changing, thanks to an innovative new app called the Humane Eating Project.4Foodtank: Humanely sourced meals at the tip of your fingers; A new app supporting animal welfare 

Started by a San Diego nonprofit, the Humane Eating Project is a phone application with a database of over 16,000 restaurants that helps you locate ones near you that serve humanely raised meat or vegetarian food options.

The app also shows you maps to nearby restaurants and provides as much detail as possible about where the restaurant sources its food from and the certifications that it has.

Available for Apple, Android, and Blackberry, you can learn more about the Humane Eating Project from the app store on your phone.

6. Raise Your Own Chickens

For anyone with a few spare feet of yard space and a little ambition, one of the best ways to ensure your chicken is ethically sourced is to raise it yourself.

While local regulations5Extension: Developing Regulations for Keeping Urban Chickens may dictate how many (if any) birds you are allowed to have, an increasing number of cities across the country are legalizing small flocks of hens for homeowners.

Keeping backyard chickens is easier than most people expect.

A flock of four to six birds can provide a small family with eggs for most of the year, and the nutritional benefits are truly unmatched.

Compared to factory-farmed eggs, eggs from backyard chickens with access to pasture have 25 percent more vitamin E, 75 percent more beta carotene, half as much cholesterol, and up to 20 times more omega-3 fatty acids.6Mother Earth News: Benefits of Backyard Eggs

Backyard birds who will stay confined need a minimum of 14 feet of coop and run space per bird. If you’re planning to free range your chickens, they’ll need four square feet of coop space per bird. Ideally, you should also plan on having 871 square feet of available yard space per foraging chicken to help keep your lawn healthy and cut some of your feed costs.

Fencing made from 1/2 inch hardware cloth or electrified poultry netting makes it simple to create outdoor run spaces for backyard birds that both keep them safe from predators and allow your hens to supplement their diet with healthy fats and proteins. (And this added nutrition directly benefits the eggs, as well!)

By raising your own chickens, you can control the conditions they are raised in and the food they eat, ensuring they provide you with healthful meat and eggs from ethically raised chickens.

In Summary

Finding sources of humanely raised chicken might seem hard, but it’s far from impossible if you know where to look.

Don’t be afraid to shop in new ways and seek out local options near you, and you’ll be likely to find new sources for the kind of meat you can feel good about eating.

References   [ + ]

The post How to Buy and Eat Cruelty-Free Chicken appeared first on The Grow Network.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Chicken and Duck Keeping

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Hatching, raising, and harvesting the food you put on the table is the best way to know what your family is really being served on their dinner plates. During a long-term disaster or SHTF scenario, it will be the ONLY way to feed yourself and your loved ones. Therefore, chicken and duck keeping is of vital importance.

Chicken and Duck Keeping

Keeping your flock of chickens and ducks healthy so they continue laying quality eggs, breeding, and eating bugs to keep prevent them from destroying the garden, is a survival essential. You won’t likely be able to get help from a vet during a power grid down or other TEOTWAWKI scenario. Learning how to prevent common poultry health issues now, before disaster strikes, could mean the difference between life and death – not just for the chickens and ducks, but for the entire family if disease spreads through the flock an destroys the key food source.

Raising a healthy flock of chickens and ducks does not require the injection of hormones and antibiotics. Common items likely already in your pantry offer a host of preventative benefits for both the flock and the humans who raise them.

Coccidiosis is the number one killer of baby chicks and ducklings. It is a deadly parasitic disease which impacts the intestinal tract of animals and is caused by coccidian protozoa. The often fatal condition spreads from one animal to another via physical contact with infected feces or the ingestion of infected tissue. Chickens, even when only a few weeks old, routinely eat dead or dying members of the flock. Severe and often bloody diarrhea is typically the first sign of a coccidiosis infection.

Adding the spices noted below may substantially help prevent the disease from impacting not just a single chicken or duck, but the entire flock!

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Chickens and Ducks:

1. Black Pepper

The spice is filled with both nutrients and vitamins and also functions as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant. Black pepper aids in the flushing of toxins from the body. It also helps the fowl to absorb nutrients from its food sources. Chickens are prone to respiratory problems. Adding a few pinches of black pepper to their feed or in their water, can help to prevent respiratory problems and to ease coughing.

2. Cayenne Pepper

During the winter farmers have long added the pepper to chicken and duck feed or water to boost egg production.

3. Oregano

The essential oil from the spice is a natural antibiotic. Oregano can be given to chickens and ducks in the form of an essential oil, fresh or dried – as is commonly sold in the spice section of grocery stores. It can help prevent coccidiosis, blackhead, E.coli, avian flu, and bronchitis.  You can add dried oregano to feed or water or simply sprinkle them in the brooder or coop as a free choice snack. Add extra oregano to the diet of laying hens to give them an added immune system booster.

4. Cinnamon

The spice reduces inflammation and boasts anti-infectious, antibacterial and antioxidant properties as well. Cinnamon can also aid in the prevention of neurological disease. A compound in the spice helps to thin the blood and boost the circulatory system to enhance blood flow to feet, wattles, and combs to ward off frostbite. It also may help with the prevention of congestion, coughing, and infection – and may help prevent respiratory problems as well.

5. Turmeric

The spice has been used as nature’s antibiotic for centuries. It is best known for its powerful antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. If a chicken or duck gets “bumblefoot” – intense and highly visible swelling of the foot or lower leg, turmeric can likely help. Chicks suffering from “wry neck” – condition where they are unable to hold their head of properly, may benefit from adding a pinch of turmeric to their water or sprinkled over feed. Add about ½ of a teaspoon to the feed or water to a hen with a cold or one showing general signs of lethargy to help boost her immunity and to fight infection.

6. Salt

Chickens and ducks, just like the rest of us, need to steer clear of too much salt. But, the delicious spice should still be kept in your natural remedies tub for emergencies. During the hot summer months salt might be essential to treating a flock suffering from heat exhaustion. It can be used to make a homemade electrolyte to help save overwhelmed chickens and ducks.

Mix together 1 cup of water, 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt, 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda to made the natural electrolyte. Offer the mixture to the flock members suffering from heat exhaustion or mix it into the waterers for the entire flock to prevent heat exhaustion at a 1 cup per 1 gallon of water ratio. To help keep the flock cool, freeze one of their favorite healthy treats in an ice cube tray and serve – it will be both a cooling and entertaining snack!

7. Garlic

The spice not only helps boost the respiratory and immune systems, it also helps to repel ticks, mites, lice and other common parasites who like to claim your members of your flock for their new home. Garlic also serves as a natural wormer and may even reduce the stench of manure when added to feed on a regular basis. Whole cloves can be floated in the water to administer the spice to your flock, or crushed fresh cloves can be broadcast inside the brooder or pen run as a free choice option. A pinch or two of garlic power can also be sprinkled over dry feed as a natural health supplement for the flock.

8. Apple Cider Vinegar

Add a teaspoon of the vinegar to the waterer twice a week during the warm weather months to help boost calcium absorption. Hens struggled with calcium absorption in the summer far more than any other members of the flock and a drop in calcium will likely cause laying issues and negatively impact egg shell hardiness.

9. Ginger

If a member of the flock has lost its appetite, ginger just might do the trick and spark a desire to eat again. The spice is also often used to help ease an upset stomach, reduce congestion, and as an immune system booster. Ginger also boasts strong anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Add a small pinch of dried ginger to feed or cast inside the chicken or duck habitat as a free choice supplement. A pinch of dried ginger can also be added specifically to layer feed to not just boost performance but also promote the production of large eggs.

10. Respiratory Tea

Serve the sick flock members this delicious and healthy tea to help them get over a congestion or respiratory system problem. They absolutely love it, so no coaxing will be necessary to get them to dive right into the “medicine.”  Boil seven cups of water and 3 teaspoons of Astragalus root or oregano for about four minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and add about ½ teaspoon each of any/all the following ingredients: chamomile, lavender, peppermint essential oil, turmeric, cinnamon, black OR cayenne pepper. All the tea to cool for at least 10 minutes, strain, and then serve in a waterer.

Saving our forefathers ways starts with people like you and me actually relearning these skills and putting them to use to live better lives through good times and bad. Our answers on these lost skills comes straight from the source, from old forgotten classic books written by past generations, and from first hand witness accounts from the past few hundred years. Aside from a precious few who have gone out of their way to learn basic survival skills, most of us today would be utterly hopeless if we were plopped in the middle of a forest or jungle and suddenly forced to fend for ourselves using only the resources around us. To our ancient ancestors, we’d appear as helpless as babies. In short, our forefathers lived more simply than most people today are willing to live and that is why they survived with no grocery store, no cheap oil, no cars, no electricity, and no running water. Just like our forefathers used to do, The Lost Ways Book teaches you how you can survive in the worst-case scenario with the minimum resources available. It comes as a step-by-step guide accompanied by pictures and teaches you how to use basic ingredients to make super-food for your loved ones. Watch the video HERE


Source : survivallife.com


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Inside Chicken Factory Farms—The Awful Truth

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Despite the enormous amounts of chicken meat getting churned out daily, few people have any idea what’s really involved with raising chickens in a commercial setting.

Every year, more than 9 billion chickens1http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html are raised and slaughtered in the United States, which accounts for roughly 95 percent of the land animals butchered for food each year.

The Factory Approach to Raising Chickens

As the meat industry has grown, the large companies that monopolize it consistently find ways to shield consumers from the reality of their meat. Though consumption of chicken meat has more than doubled per person since the 1970s,2https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-consumption-and-nutrient-intakes.aspx few people outside the industry have ever seen the inside of a chicken farm.

While it’s easy to imagine that most chickens spend their lives scratching around in lush pasture, the truth is quite different.

To understand the way that 99 percent of chickens are raised in the United States, you need to look closer at the factory farm.

Origins of the Factory Farm

Until the 1950s, raising chickens for meat was a costly process, so most people made do with the occasional chicken dinner as a Sunday treat.

Eggs were the prized commodity, and chicken meat was considered a bonus byproduct of raising eggs. Most coops were small, housing about 60 birds, and these birds had constant access to the outdoors to nest, roost, dust bathe and enjoy other natural chicken behaviors.

By the 1980s, the egg industry scaled up and began to shift from standard coops to massive complexes that often housed a half million birds per coop.3http://www.factory-farming.com/factory_farming.html

While these measures increased productivity and made economic sense, they came at a cost to the birds’ quality of life with overcrowding, disease and high death rates.

At the same time, advances in breeding produced the ‘broiler,’4http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf a chicken breed that gained weight faster and more efficiently than other varieties, making it perfect for the standardized conditions factory farms use when raising chickens.

Within a matter of decades, chicken moved from a luxury good to a standard meat that most families could afford to eat almost daily.

Conditions on Factory Farms

By nature, chickens are intelligent and social birds.

They prefer to live in groups of 30 in well-defined pecking orders, and they can recognize their flock mates and bond through communal activities like dust baths and prowling pastures in pursuit of bugs.

Hens are also extremely maternal and spend large portions of their lives sitting on eggs and raising their young.

Unborn chicks even chirp to their mothers through their shells.

In almost every way, factory farms stifle natural chicken instincts and force them to live in ways that are highly unpleasant for their physical and psychological health.

Some of the common issues plaguing modern chicken farms are described below.


Space is money in factory farms, so most broiler chicken facilities tend to be extremely crowded, often allotting less than one square foot per chicken.5https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/24/real-cost-of-roast-chicken-animal-welfare-farms

Not only does this make it impossible for chickens to roam, scratch or find any privacy, it thwarts their natural tendency to set up a hierarchy. This inevitably causes social tensions, and chickens respond to the stress by pecking each other and fighting.

To prevent the birds from injuring each other, chicken farmers simply debeak baby chicks with a hot blade (without any anesthesia) mere hours after they hatch.

Not only are most chicken farms critically short on floor space, they are also dark, stuffy and even dangerous.

Chickens evolved in tropical forests,6http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf and they like nothing more than fanning out their feathers on a hot summer day.

Yet, most factory farms are windowless, meaning that the thousands of birds in each house live out their days in a dusty, ammonia-filled space without ever seeing the sun.

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

Questionable Breeding Practices

Most chicken eaters tend to prefer white meat, so the breast and thighs are the most valuable part of each bird.

In the past decades, chickens have been bred to capitalize on this trend, and the resulting broilers have drastically enhanced breasts and thighs, to the point that these body parts outpace the growth rates of their leg bones and organs.

While broiler skeletons are only 85 percent formed at six weeks old, their bodies are required to support far more weight than a regular bird.

This means that most broilers become so heavyset at a few weeks of age that they can barely walk, and some break their legs or suffer heart attacks from the strain.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435038

It’s not unheard of for some birds to die of thirst, as their overinflated bodies can make it physically impossible for them to reach their water nozzles.

It turns out that extra fat is bad for the consumer, too.

Studies conducted in London found that modern broiler chickens have three times the amount of fat they had 35 years ago,8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19728900 mostly due to their carbohydrate-heavy diets and inability to roam around.

Pressure in the egg industry to produce cheaper cartons can also lead to physical problems for hens. Because of genetic selection for birds that start laying eggs younger, some hens struggle to lay eggs when their bodies aren’t fully developed.

This can lead to prolapsed uteruses,9http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html or a uterus that gets pushed partway out of the body and immediately becomes vulnerable to infection and disease.

Because of the expense of treating illnesses like this, most prolapsed hens are left to languish until they die.

Animal Abuse

Of the 300 million laying hens10http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/egg-industry/ in the United States today, over 95 percent of them spend their lives in wire battery cages, most of which provide less than the size of a sheet of paper in living space.

This provides far less room than a hen needs to turn around, flap her wings, preen, or bathe.

These hens are crammed eight or nine in each cage, and the cages are stacked on top of each other, meaning that feces and food spills on the hens below. Fresh laid eggs drop through the wires of the cage for easy collection, therefore stifling the hen’s instinct to brood.

The inability to exercise and constant egg production means that calcium leaches from the hen’s bones, often causing them to break.

Resting against metal wires also causes injuries to her skin and feet, and most hens get severe skin abrasions on their sides. The combined stress of captivity and copious egg production ensures that most hens live for two years or less.

If the living conditions in egg farms are bad for hens, they are deadly for roosters.

As male chicks can’t lay eggs, they are considered to have no value and are suffocated, electrocuted, gassed, or ground up as soon as they are sexed.

Low-Quality Feed

In the wild, chickens spend much of their days foraging for sprouts and insects, meaning that their diet provides them with plenty of nutrition.

Unfortunately, factory farm conditions provide little opportunity for similar diet supplementation.

When factory farms are raising chickens, they feed them only GMO grains, and their rations are often mixed with ground up bits from other animals,11http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/23/cheap-factory-farmed-chicken.aspx including the carcasses of cows, pigs and even other chickens.

Antibiotics Overuse

To keep birds healthy in overly crowded and poorly ventilated conditions, they are fed copious amounts of antibiotics.

This helps control for bacterial diseases that otherwise thrive in coop conditions and helps birds retain water to add on weight before butchering. Widespread use of antibiotics in the meat industry is leading to global problems, including the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”12http://thegrownetwork.com/antibiotic-free-meat/

Spread of Disease

It’s naïve to think that the all chickens in the grocery were healthy when they died.

In truth, many factory farm chickens are sick for much of their lives due to living in unsanitary, overcrowded conditions.

These birds spend their lives walking through piles for their own excretion and feathers, burning their eyes from the ammonia that results. This means that factory chickens have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to catching diseases from other chickens.

These conditions make the salmonella bacteria easy to spread, occasionally resulting in contamination for humans from uncooked meat.

Sometimes, infections become so out of control that an entire coop of chickens needs to be put down to prevent an outbreak from exploding.

In northwestern Iowa, such a fate met the chickens of Sunrise Farms.13http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/24/inside-sunrise-farms-avian-flu-chicken-slaughter.html

Some of the birds in the 3.8 million flock contracted a case of bird flu, meaning that every bird in the facility was condemned to death and that the facility itself was quarantined indefinitely.


Allowing large concentrations of animals to live together in cramped conditions inevitably leads to pollution problems, and commercial chicken farms produce a tremendous amount of waste every year.

According to research, a one million-bird hen house produces 125 tons of wet manure14https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs143_014211 every day, meaning that every truckload of feed that comes on a farm requires another load to carry waste away. This manure is often stored in massive piles where it can leak into the water system and create toxic conditions for nearby ecosystems.

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

Are ‘Free Range’ Farms Any Better?

As customers have gotten more informed about the true conditions factory farms provide when raising chickens, many companies have adjusted their poultry and egg production to be “free range.”

At first glance, this seems like a victory for chicken welfare, but is it?

In truth, there is no uniform standard about what it means to be raising chickens “free range.”

Chickens only need to be kept cage free and have access to the outdoors to qualify, even if they are packed onto overcrowded coop floors and their “outdoor space” is a cement pad that few birds ever venture on.

This means that the majority of ‘free range’ farms are as cramped and windowless as any other.15http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/05/the-difficult-lives-and-deaths-of-factory-farmed-chickens/

Video: A Glimpse Inside

Ready to see inside a chicken farm yourself?

Getting photos or video footage inside a chicken coop is never easy, as the large companies that own them find it better that their customers have little idea of what’s really going on.

Farmers are often reluctant to speak up, as publicly complaining about the company they are contracted with can leave them in a lot of trouble, and often leads to hefty fines and broken contracts.

That’s why this footage from Craig Watts is so valuable.

Risking his business to reveal the truth, Craig allowed a film crew into his coops to get a look at what really goes on inside.

If you want an insider look at the way Perdue is raising chickens, watch this video to see for yourself.

In Summary

Raising chickens cheaply comes at a high cost for the planet, your health, and the well-being of the animals involved.

If you want to make a stand for healthier and more humane poultry practices, it’s important to know the reality of the dismal conditions within chicken farms today.

And consider raising your own backyard chickens … for eggs, meat, or both.   (Watch “Raising Meat Chickens – The Film” to see exactly how it’s done.)

Raising chickens for meat - watch the film.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.upc-online.org/chickens/chickensbro.html
2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-consumption-and-nutrient-intakes.aspx
3. http://www.factory-farming.com/factory_farming.html
4, 6. http://www.upc-online.org/books/prisoned_chickens_poisoned_eggs_2009.pdf
5. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/24/real-cost-of-roast-chicken-animal-welfare-farms
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435038
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19728900
9. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
10. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/egg-industry/
11. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/07/23/cheap-factory-farmed-chicken.aspx
12. http://thegrownetwork.com/antibiotic-free-meat/
13. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/24/inside-sunrise-farms-avian-flu-chicken-slaughter.html
14. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs143_014211
15. http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/05/the-difficult-lives-and-deaths-of-factory-farmed-chickens/

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11 Charming DIY Chicken Coops You Will Love

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11 Charming DIY Chicken Coops You Will Love I don’t know about you but I am a sucker for a great chicken coop or project. I love seeing the creativity of others in what they house their chickens in. I think chickens in cute coops help to balance the world ending scenarios that we as preppers …

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One Week of Food Prep in One Day

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Cooking from scratch is the best way to save money in your family budget. If you can do one week of food prep in one day you will be ahead of the game.

Cooking from scratch is the best way to save money in your family budget, but it can be time-consuming when you don’t have a plan. If you can do one week of food prep in one day you will be ahead of the game at dinner time. I’m excited to have my daughter Allison Easterling, […]

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The Easier-Than-Chicken, Egg-Laying Bird You Can Raise Indoors

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The Easier-Than-Chicken, Egg-Laying Bird You Can Raise Indoors

Image source: Pixabay.com


Keeping backyard chickens is a great way to begin your journey toward self-sufficiency, but the term “backyard chickens” implies that you have a backyard. What if you’re living in a small apartment, hoping perhaps one day to move to land, but wishing you could get experience to try your hand at it before you commit?

Quail are a great and easy way to get started with poultry and experience the independence of raising your own eggs and meat, without the need for anything more than a small bit of indoor space. Simple rabbit hutches with wire floors and solid trays beneath make excellent quail housing, and can be kept indoors anywhere you could keep either rabbits or a domestic bird such as a parakeet. There’s even the occasional story of a country farm kid keeping quail in their college dorm room because they missed the fresh eggs and company of poultry.

Housing & Space Requirements

Quail are very small animals, and the average bird is only 3.5 to 5.5 ounces (roughly 1/4 pound) and about five inches tall, though some commercial meat breeds can be as heavy as 12 ounces (3/4 pound). They’re mostly a ground foraging bird, and need floor space rather than high ceilings, which makes short but wide floored rabbit hutches an excellent housing choice. Shorter cages are actually preferred, as the low roof keeps them from trying to fly when startled, with may result in injury.

Wire floored cages with removable trays beneath are generally preferred because the droppings fall through the wire, keeping the quail clean and healthy. On solid floors, quail tend to stand in their feces and often eat them, spreading disease and parasites. To keep quail feet healthy, use no more than ¼-inch square wire for the floor. Quail are also often reluctant to use nesting boxes, so wire floors make it easier to find the eggs and keep them clean than with solid floors and bedding.

Diatomaceous Earth: The All-Natural Livestock De-Wormer

The Easier-Than-Chicken, Egg-Laying Bird You Can Raise Indoors

Image source: Pixabay.com

As a general rule, each quail needs 1 square foot of floor space, and should be kept at a ratio of 4-5 females to each male. Some people choose to keep their quail in lower ratios in smaller cages, and will put 3 females with 1 male in a standard 18 x 24-inch rabbit cage without issue. Keep in mind that at least 1 square foot is ideal, and smaller conditions could lead to stress for your birds.

Life Cycle

Quail egg incubation varies based on breed, but the most popular breed, the Coturnix, incubates for 16-18 days. Once hatched, the chicks reach maturity for meat or to begin laying eggs at 6-10 weeks. This compares to 21 incubation days for chicken eggs and no eggs laid until roughly 20 weeks. That means that your female quail will be laying for as many as 12 weeks while a chicken started at the same time is still growing and maturing.

It’s easy to see how they could be quickly reproduced to yield a large flock from just a small number of initial hatching eggs, with only roughly 12 weeks between generations.

Quail tend to live 2-4 years and can produce 200-250 eggs per year.

Feeding Quail

Quail are not common enough to have their own commercial food mix, but their nutritional requirements are similar to turkeys. They’re commonly fed turkey feed based on their life stage. Adult quail only need about 15-20 grams of food per day. Quail keepers commonly supplement their feed with small seeds (flax, etc.) and leafy greens to improve the nutritional quality of the eggs and encourage good health in the flock.

Egg Production

The Easier-Than-Chicken, Egg-Laying Bird You Can Raise Indoors

Image source: Pixabay.com

Quail tend to lay eggs at roughly the same rate as a heritage breed chicken, producing as many as 250 eggs per year starting at 6-10 weeks of age. They require 14-16 hours of daylight per day to lay, which is easy to provide indoors. While the main benefit of quail is the small size, which allows them to be kept indoors, it also means that their eggs are very small. It takes 5 quail eggs to equal 1 chicken egg in volume, although quail eggs are slightly more nutritious. Still, quail eggs peel easy as hard boiled eggs and make adorable deviled eggs or fried eggs on top of hamburger sliders. What they lack in size you’ll have to make up for in culinary creativity.

Meat Production 

Quail dress out at roughly 75 percent of their live weight, and the yield will depend on the size and breed of your original bird. Though they’re more attractive roasted with skin on, plucking is very time-consuming for the amount of meat produced; for small-scale home consumption it’s generally recommended to skin the birds rather than pluck them. Since they’re so small, a single serving is generally considered to be 2 birds per person. This may seem like a lot, but remember that they only take 6-8 weeks to reach harvesting size, meaning that even incubating eggs in small batches you’ll have plenty of meals.

Have you ever owned quail? Share your tips on raising them in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

Survival Gear Review: Backpacker’s Pantry Persian Peach Stew With Chicken

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I recently got a few samples of Backpacker’s Pantry freeze-dried meals to review, and I was very excited to try them FM0   FC000111000:zzzzzz0 914b 078043874441663838014c0 bac1c8104 fe1 b40 e6 da5 889 f2 b30 4c3 fb bc3 59f104 c24 63c10d d40 856116 ef5 bbc11f112d104b11610a4 deeout, because Backpacker’s Pantry is one of the few large-scale freeze-dried meal producers to not just feature, but promote and develop a large variety of gluten-free and/or organic ingredient options.  Backpacker’s Pantry, based out of Boulder, Colorado, offers a huge selection of meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks.  Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, no nuts, no soy, low sodium – it’s all there.  A huge selection of different meals is available for people or families with dietary restrictions, or selective diet through personal choice.  I was particularly excited to try these out, because my wife is viciously gluten-intolerant.  This makes life tough not only for her concerning her daily diet, but also for the guy who gets to try to stockpile and save long-term food supplies.

By Drew, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Trying to find a variety of foods that can keep over the long haul is definitely a challenge, and I’ll take all the help I can get; so color me tickled pink to see some decent gluten-free options available.

Oh, Garceau…

When rooting around in the box of sample meals, the first Backpacker’s Pantry meal I came upon that was gluten-free was the Persian Peach Stew With Chicken.  The combination of flavors sounded interesting – definitely different – so  I pulled it out of the box and read the package.  The ingredient list was straightforward, with no 26-letter-long names of made-up ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, no preservatives, no “other natural flavors”.  There are two servings per package, each 290 calories, with 9 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and – the Achilles heel of freeze dried food – a heavy dose of sodium at 660mg.  Everything looked on the level and up to snuff, so I decided to take the meal for a test drive.

Related: The Survival Food Pyramid

Upon opening the package, you’ll find the standard-issue oxygen/moisture absorbing package, as well as a small package of organic extra virgin olive oil (a new one to me), and the dried contents of the meal. When you’re ready to whip up the meal, be sure to pull out the oxygen absorbing package out of the meal before installing the olive oil and 2 cups of boiling hot water, right in the packaging the meal comes in.  Reseal the package and set aside for 13 minutes.

There is a note on the package that states “rehydration time doubles every 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Our directions are set for 5,000 feet.”  Since my homestead elevation is about 400 feet above sea level, I went with the standard 13 minute cook time.  If you live/bug out at above 5,000 feet elevation, you’ll want to adjust the cook time accordingly, lest you have crunchy rice.

peach_persian_stewRelated: Role of Freeze Dried Food in your Food Storage

Once the timer went off, I opened the package to find that the long grain white rice actually looked like rice, and all the rest of the food had nicely reconstituted from nondescript-looking chopped matter into a delectable-appearing meal.  The aroma was promising as I dumped some of the contents into a bowl for its taste-bud audition.

And you know what? Backpacker’s Pantry Persian Peach Stew With Chicken was surprisingly good!  The peach flavor hits quickly, along with a hint of cumin.  But the flavor medley plays nice with the rice and chicken, and the meal is really not bad considering 13 minutes ago it had been completely dried out and sealed in a package meant for long-term storage.  Granted, it’s not homecooked, but it’s every bit as good as any off-the-shelf seasoned rice meals you can pick off the shelves at your local grocery store.  The rice was a bit mushy and the small cubes of chicken were rather devoid of taste – to be expected, but all things considered, I was pleasantly impressed, especially compared to other freeze-dried meal packets I’ve tried.

Perhaps the greatest compliment that I can give to the Persian Peach Stew With Chicken is that my uber-picky 16-year-old son tried the meal and approved.  Normally you couldn’t get him to eat rice if his life depended on it, but he actually said that he would eat this anytime as a side dish to a main meal.  He was surprised when I told him it could be considered to be survival food, and said we should keep some on hand for camping chow.  My wife wasn’t available for the sampling, but I’ll make sure she tries the next gluten-free sample from Backpacker’s Pantry.

Further Reading: Mountain House Freeze Dried Food Review

Overnight gastrointestinal implications were nil – while everyone has different gastrointestinal reactions to freeze-dried foods, I did not suffer any “morning-after” races to the toilet like some preservative-sodden offerings do to me.  The high sodium levels (probably combined with the tasty Narragansett Lager I had with the meal) made me a little parched the next morning, but otherwise there were no personal ugly side effects.  Always a bonus, especially when toilets are a long ways from camp or the tree stand.

All things considered…

The Backpacker’s Pantry Persian Peach Stew With Chicken definitely would be a great addition to a bug-out bag, or your long-term storage plans.  It isn’t available in #10 cans (yet), just 5.1 ounce freeze-dried vacuum-sealed foil packages.  The food quality was very good (say 4 out of 5 stars compared to other freeze-dried foods), uniquely tasty with its peach flavor, and has good amounts of protein to help keep you moving when you’re on the trail. The one-half package serving size was acceptable, but if you’re on the move or expecting lots of sustained movement for the day, you might want to chow down on the whole package. The price tag per pouch is a touch higher than other freeze-dried offerings, but I’d rather pay a couple more bucks and know that I’m not getting lambasted with preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients.

I’m looking forward to trying a couple of the other packages in the sample box; maybe the Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes for breakfast? Keep an eye out for further reviews of Backpacker’s Pantry products by the SHTFBlog/Survival Cache crew.


5 Steps To Get Your Chickens Ready For Winter (And Ensure You Still Have Eggs)

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How To Get Your Chickens Ready For Winter – And Ensure You Still Get Eggs

Image source: Pixabay.com

Preparing the chicken coop for winter should be at the top of any homesteading to-do list. A well-maintained coop will help prevent illnesses in your flock and keep your chickens happy enough to continue providing eggs for your table.

Winter often finds us with frozen water buckets, more cleaning than usual and cranky hens, but taking care of a few fall chores can make overwintering much easier – and make it far more likely your flock will continue producing eggs.

1. Prepping the coop

After every snowfall I am reminded there is a slight gap in the hinged door that rests on top of our coop’s nesting boxes. That results in a small snow drift that materializes and scares the hens from using the far west nesting box until I clean it out. A few minutes with a caulking gun will ensure that doesn’t happen again this winter. Seal crevices, tighten screws and make sure doors close flush with the coop walls.

Now is also the time to clean the vents that allow air to circulate through the coop and clean debris off the outside walls and roof. In addition to general cleaning and maintenance, determine if your building would benefit from extra protection from the elements in the form of wind breaks, wraps or extra insulation.

2. Cleaning the coop

Start winter with a fresh, clean coop. Remove old bedding from the entire coop, roosting areas, nesting boxes and runs. Before loading the hen house with fresh litter, dust the interior with diatomaceous earth (DE). This will deter unwanted pests from finding a home with your flock.

Diatomaceous Earth: The Most Versatile ‘Stuff’ You Can Own!

Some homesteaders choose to use sand in the winter as bedding, because it is easier to spot clean every few days. Others opt for the traditional straw or wood shavings that need to be replaced weekly during the more confining winter months. A few poultry owners choose to use the deep-litter method, which works by adding a fresh layer of bedding on top of the old to act as an extra layer of insulation and requires fewer full cleanings. Those using the deep-litter method must be sure the enclosure is well-ventilated. Decomposing droppings release ammonia, which can cause blindness and other illnesses if levels remain high inside the chicken coop. No matter which method you choose to use during the winter months, you must be certain that the enclosure remains dry. Bedding that is retaining high amounts of moisture will cause your birds respiratory issues.

3. Watering the flock

How To Get Your Chickens Ready For Winter – And Ensure You Still Get Eggs

Image source: Pixabay.com

Keeping the flock healthy throughout the winter months has much to do with water. Too much water in the litter will cause disease in the birds, but too little fresh drinking water will do the same. Chickens will not break through the ice with their beaks, so you must provide water containers that are free from ice. For the busy homesteader, heated waterers are quite a timesaver. A heated pet bowl with a pet-safe cord will keep your flock drinking throughout the day, although the shallower pet bowls may need more frequent cleaning. For those who do not have electricity in their building, or choose not to risk a fire, changing the water frequently, two to three times a day when temperatures are below freezing, should be sufficient. Use thick plastic containers to delay ice build-up.

4. Lights on or off

There is much debate on whether you should provide a light for your chickens, whether for the sake of heat or the sake of artificial daylight for egg production. Much of the debate stems from the risk of fire that arises when heating or lighting a hen house. It takes just a few moments for a heat lamp that has been knocked over to start a fire inside the coop. Heat lamps, or brooding lamps, should not be used in most chicken coops. They produce too much heat and also can stress the birds in the colder winter months.

In most areas, adequate lighting can be achieved with one 40-watt bulb with a reflector for every 250 square feet. Using a timer to achieve 10 hours of daylight will encourage your flock to keep producing eggs while also providing them adequate time to rest.

5. Boredom busters

Poultry cooped up in the coop all day will quickly become bored. That’s where the trouble starts. They will begin pecking at each other, to the point of death in some instances, while others will find mischief in the nesting boxes by destroying precious eggs.

Keep the boredom at bay with a few additions to the coop. A produce bag filled with fresh greens hung from the ceiling works as a healthy treat as well as a distraction from pecking at each other. Similarly, broccoli crowns, cabbages and other vegetables can be hung as a treat as can more traditional suet bags and seed blocks.

What advice would you add for taking care of chickens during winter? Share it in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

9 Foods You Definitely Didn’t Know Could Be Canned

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9 Foods You Definitely Didn't Know Could Be Canned

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People have been canning at home for years … decades actually. With all of this experience, you would think we all would know what can be canned in pressure cookers. We don’t.

In fact, many people are under the very wrong assumption that fruits, vegetables and things like jam and soup are the only things they can home can.

The reality is that you can home can just about anything you serve your family today. You aren’t limited to eating mushy veggies and fruits if you are relying on your food storage.

You are in for a real treat when you see the following list of foods that can be canned and stored for years. Check out nine things you can preserve in your pressure canner so your family will be eating like kings for years down the road.

1. Hamburger patties. Imagine being able to have a juicy burger, perfectly seasoned, after a blackout. The next time ground beef goes on sale or you get a great deal on a side of beef, you don’t have to put it all in the freezer. It isn’t just patties you can preserve. Ground beef, in general, can be stored for years on your pantry shelf – as can meatballs.

The Quickest And Easiest Way To Store A Month’s Worth Of Emergency Food!

2. Chicken legs and thighs. Eating your favorite cut of chicken cooked the way you like is a pretty common comfort food. You can bake it, fry it or put it on the barbecue with your favorite sauce. Your family will love the idea of their favorite meal, just like they used to eat, when things were normal. You can buy packs of chicken legs and thighs for just a few dollars. This is an excellent, inexpensive way to stock your food storage shelves. Chicken breasts are also an option.

3. Fish. Going fishing is a fun activity and instead of wrapping up your catch and popping it in the freezer, can it instead! Salmon, steelhead, halibut and trout are all excellent tasting after the canning process. You can fillet the fish or dice it up. You don’t need to add any salt or preservatives to the water in the jar. Let the fish do the flavoring. Add a little vegetable oil if you like.

4. Pot roast. It often goes on sale and the next time it does, buy a bunch and home can it. Cutting the roast into small chunks, adding a little salt and then processing it in the pressure cooker is all you need to do to add some nice red meat to your food storage.

9 Foods You Definitely Didn't Know Could Be Canned

Bacon can be canned? Yep. Image source: Pixabay.com

5. Bacon. This is something few people want to live without. Canning it and adding it to your food storage means that, during a blackout or crisis, you will be able to make Sunday breakfast like you used to, bacon included.

6. Hot dogs. OK, it may not be the healthiest food, but imagine being able to grill up some hot dogs or whip up a batch of corn dogs for your little ones, even if the food in the freezer is spoiled. Hot dogs are cheap and often go on sale during the summer months, which is a perfect time to load up.

The World’s Healthiest Survival Food — And It Stores For YEARS and YEARS!

7. Butter. This is another staple you won’t want to live without. Load up on butter when it goes on sale and melt it down to put into your canning jars. It is important to note that the USDA does not have any approved methods for canning dairy products, and actually discourages it. However, any seasoned homesteader or canner will probably tell you many stories about eating canned butter without getting sick. Ghee, which is basically canned butter — regularly used in foreign countries.

8. Cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese in all styles like mozzarella, cheddar and even cream cheese. Again, this is another one of those items that people have been home canning for decades, but there is no official approved method. There is always some concern about bacteria growth, but if you go through the canning process the right way and store the jars in cool areas, you reduce the risk of bacteria growing and making anybody ill.

9. Cake. This is something nobody wants to live without, but baking a cake during a blackout or emergency could be difficult. Having jars filled with your favorite flavor of cake ready to eat when you get that craving will be an appreciated luxury. Cake mixes are easy to make or buy in bulk and you can fill your shelves with lots of cooked cakes to make any occasion a little more special.

What foods would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below: 

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Survival Mom DIY: No-Recipe Casseroles!

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food storage casserolesCasseroles. Love them or hate them, they are definitely a comfort food to many and a super-convenient main dish to others. I grew up on casseroles, from the classic Tuna Noodle Casserole to my Nana’s Shlumgum, so I’m a fan.

The casserole can become the best friend to any busy mom or dad, and if you’ve been working on building a food storage pantry, you’ll fall in love with the idea of a No-Recipe Casserole. This is more of a concept than a recipe with specific measurements or even ingredients, and for that reason, it’s the perfect food storage companion.

The building blocks of any casserole

Just about any casserole recipe you find is made up of 5-7 of these building blocks:

  1. A base
  2. Protein
  3. Carbohydrate/starch
  4. Vegetables
  5. Additional liquid
  6. Seasonings
  7. A topping of some sort

Once you get these 7 components in your head, along with a few more bits of information, you’re equipped to rummage through your freezer, fridge, and pantry shelves to produce a casserole totally unique in the world! And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Let’s take a closer look at these 7 building blocks and the individual ingredients for each:

A base

The base of a casserole acts as a binding agent to hold all the other ingredients together. The base of your casserole could be as simple as a can of “Cream of…” soup. Cream of mushroom soup is a classic casserole ingredient, but if you don’t want to use a processed food product, try making your own “Cream of…”soup mix and use that. Another option is leftover gravy or a couple of gravy packets. For added creaminess, add 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese or 1/2 of sour cream.

A source of protein

There are many wonderful meat-free casseroles recipes, but if your casserole is going to be a hearty main dish, you should add a protein, even if it’s just a can of rinsed beans. Any meat or poultry will do, and, in fact, try combining different types of meat, especially if you have leftovers. The secret to my amazing chili is that I combine ground beef, cooked bacon, chopped kielbasa — almost any meat I have, and the results are delicious. You can do the same with this No-Recipe Casserole. Chopped/shredded chicken or turkey, ground beef, tuna, venison — it’s all good. Be sure the meat is cooked and drained before adding it to your base, and figure on 12-16 ounces or so.

I’ve found that freeze-dried meats work wonderfully in casseroles. They are already cooked and diced and only need to be rehydrated. I use freeze-dried diced chicken in my family’s very favorite Sonoran Enchilada Casserole, and you would never know that chicken wasn’t freshly cooked. Home-canned chicken or beef is another option for quickly adding a source of protein.


The beauty of adding a carbohydrate to your casserole is that it will increase the amount of calories and the amount of food at the same time. Extra calories are an important consideration in times of emergency, since these typically require more physical activity from us, and just by adding a handful of rice or macaroni, a recipe that would have normally served 6 people, can suddenly serve 8 or 10.

Carbs that work successfully in a casserole are white and brown rice, macaroni and rotini pasta, wheat berries, quinoa, and beans. These should all be cooked first to an al dente finish (they’ll continue cooking just a bit once added to the casserole and heated), although uncooked rice can be added as long as extra water or broth is also added to the casserole.


It’s with veggies that your unique casserole really begins to take shape. The veggies you add can be frozen, canned (rinse first), dehydrated, or freeze-dried. Add whatever veggies your family likes, although it’s definitely permissable to sneak a little something in for extra nutrition, such as this dehydrated spinach. If anyone asks, tell them the green stuff is just “herbs”.

I typically add chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers to many of my dishes. If you’re adding these to a casserole, which only needs to bake for 20-30 minutes, these veggies will need to be sauteed in a bit of butter or a healthy oil before being added to the casserole dish. This is true of most other fresh veggies.

Diced potatoes can act as a meal stretcher, a veggie, and a carbohydrate. Keep a can of dehydrated potato dices handy just for this purpose. They are wonderfully affordable.

Additional liquid

At this point, you will need to add more liquid. Assess the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and veggies and then add extra liquid. This can be water, beef or chicken broth, a vegetable broth, or milk. Salsa is another nice addition if you want your casserole to have a Southwest flavor.

If you’re adding uncooked rice, you’ll need to add even more liquid. Typically, the ratio for uncooked rice and liquid is about 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups liquid.


The classic casserole will be seasoned with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of garlic powder. Additional herbs, such as basil and parsley add some flavor, as will a teaspoon or two of dehydrated minced onion, if your newly invented recipe doesn’t contain onion otherwise.

A teaspoon of basil and oregano will give your casserole a bit of an Italian flavor, and a Southwest flair comes easy with a teaspoon of chili powder, a dash of cayenne, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cumin.


When I was a kid, it was the casserole topping that was always my favorite. Come to think of it, it still is! The toppings on  your No-Recipe Casseroles can be crushed potato chips, Fritos, Doritos, or crackers of any kind. It could be 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bread crumbs mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt, and sauteed in a frying pan with 2 Tablespoons of butter. Grated cheese is another excellent topping and if your casserole screams “Italian!”, by all means, add a grating of Parmesan cheese as a topping, on its own or mixed with the buttery breadcrumb mixture.

Learning to cook without a recipe is an excellent preparedness skill. It challenges you to use whatever you happen to have on hand, without relying on that quick trip to the grocery store, which inevitably turns into a far more expensive outing. It’s also a great way to incorporate new “food storage” foods into your family’s diet, without them ever knowing, and a casserole is the ideal dish to cook in a solar oven.

As you begin creating your own No-Recipe Casseroles, you’ll want to do one final thing: jot down the ingredients of any casserole that is truly outstanding. If your family cleans their plates and then asks for seconds, you have a winner, and if you’re like me and your memory is a little iffy, you’ll be glad to have a written record of that new family favorite.

Try this no-recipe method with soup, too! Here’s my tutorial.

food storage casseroles

Recipe Chicken with Vinegar

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Today’s recipe of cooking chicken with vinegar is a pretty basic cooking skill.  This of method cooking meat “Adobo” is a cultural cooking process from the Philippines, where meat is marinated in vinegar, browned, and then simmered in the marinade. This process is worthwhile for preppers, homesteaders, or outdoorsmen to know because leftovers keep well without refrigeration because the vinegar inhibits bacteria. In my experience it softens up tough meat, and I especially like using this process with rabbit.  As a matter of fact, I make “chicken with vinegar” far more often with rabbit more than I do with chicken.

The post Recipe Chicken with Vinegar appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

How to Build a Chicken Coup

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How to Build a Chicken Coup

If you’re wanting to start building a chicken coop and keeping your own chickens, you’ll first need to know what makes up a chicken coop. There are lots of different designs you can choose from but the standard coop will have; a run, some nesting area, a perch, insulation, food and some protection.

Stage 1: Understanding the Coop


Chicken run

When people refer to the ‘run’ they are talking about an open area where the chickens can run about and stretch their legs! Generally, this area is open to the environment except for some sort of protection such as chicken wire. We will get to that later!


Within the house you will need to have a nesting area. This is where the chickens will lay their eggs and it must be warm and protected. It’s common to make the nest out of straw or other soft materials like cotton, in a bowl shape that will collect the eggs.


Chickens really like to perch, you’ll see this once you’ve got your own. So most coops will have a branch or beam across the housing, where the birds can rest and perch.


The insulation of the coop has two major parts. Firstly the bedding material and secondly the material of the housing. The level of insulation required will obviously differ from state to state so use some common sense when it comes to building the coop. People often use straw as a bedding material because it is absorbent, cheap and provides warmth. Another alternative that is used is wood chips, although some people believe that this can cause damage to chickens feet. I would suggest using straw although you will have to change it sometimes.

Food and Water

Just like any other animal, these birds will need a good supply of food and water. It’s advised that you keep the food and water in the run rather than in the house because it makes it easier to replace and also allows you to monitor them more easily.

I also believe that its better to keep their water raised from the floor. This can prevent spillages and accidents. One example is to hang a plastic dish from the coop roof with a chain, which allows them to drink. If you’re feeling confident you can then hook a hose up directly to the dish.


Stage 2: Getting Some Good Quality Plans!

If you’ve never made a DIY chicken coop then I would highly, highly suggest that you buy some good chicken coop plans. Skimping on the plans isn’t going to do you any good. The last thing you want is to get halfway through the build only to get stuck because the plans aren’t detailed enough. Buy some good quality plans!

I would recommend these plans: ChickenCoopGuides.com

They are the best in the business. These plans are extremely detailed, with simple and understandable diagrams that will allow you to quickly assemble your coop without any issues. Free coop plans really can’t come close, these blueprints are what you want. Trust me on this, I’ve heard of enough issues with free plans for one lifetime. Buy these plans and forget about it, they’ll do the job better than any others.

Once you’ve got those plans you’ll want to look through them and pick out a coop design or idea that you like, that fits well with the space you have and is within your skill level.

No matter which design you choose, you’ll need some form of protection to keep predators away from your birds. The most common form of protection is chicken wire, which is just a thin metal mesh that you can place across the outside of your coop to keep attackers away. Unfortunately, depending on where you live this might not be enough. That’s why a lot of coops are also raised from the ground, with a ramp going up to them. This will help keep larger predators at bay as they will struggle to climb the small ramp.

Another thing to consider in your plans is the ventilation. You’ll want to ensure that you have some air flow through the coop otherwise the smell will become very strong. You can solve this by simply adding some small windows covered with chicken wire.

Lastly, you’ll need some way to get into the housing and get the eggs. This is normally solved by having a removable side the coop, although different plans may have different ways to solve the problem.

Please include attribution to Gardenaholic.com/chicken-coop-plans with this graphic.

Coop Plans Infographic

Stage 3: Make Sure You Have All The Materials!

Most of the materials which your coop require should be easy to find. Things like wood, nails and screws can be bought from a hardware store like Home Depot or Sears.

Other things like straw and the chickens themselves can be found at local farms. You should be able to buy straw from garden centers if you don’t have any local farms.


Stage 4: Building!

Actually getting down and building your project is one of the most exciting and frustrating times. If you have a good set of blueprints then you’ve got a significant advantage, if not you should be prepared to spend much longer (and more money!) on the actual build. This is because you’re likely to make more mistakes which are costly in terms of time and money.

The build itself isn’t always easy, so we’ve added some extra information and tips down below.


Types of chicken coop

While there are as many chicken coop designs as your brain can imagine, only a handful are regularly used. Each of the popular designs has their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to you to decide which design fits your needs and capabilities best.


The A-Frame is one of the simplest and most common homemade designs. It’s simply a triangular prism, generally with a raised housing section, causing the ‘A’ shape. This is probably the easiest design to build, so if you are worried about the building process and aren’t the best carpenter then you might consider choosing the A-Frame. The main disadvantage to this style is that it isn’t very space efficient, meaning that it won’t be home to very many chickens – often only 2 or 3.

The House

That’s sort of a name I’ve come up with myself because there aren’t many clear cut names for different styles of coop. ‘The House’ is basically the standard chicken coop that you see in nice magazines, with a housing area for the birds to rest and lay their eggs and then a  ramp down to a run which is protected with wire mesh. The reason I refer to this as a house is because it has everything that the birds need within one enclosed area, and the housing areas are often decorated to look like real homes.

The Shed

Lastly, we have the shed which is mainly used by people who let their chickens roam freely during the day. The shed is simply a large box shape with a small ramp up, keeping the building raised from the wet ground. This is another simple design and is often home to a large amount of chickens.


Tips for Building a Chicken Coop Yourself

Be Patient

One of the best things you can do is to take your time, especially if this is your first time building something of this size. Most people will make a mistake at some point, so recognize that it’s common and try not to let it overwhelm you. Sometimes, taking an extra minute here or there can make all the difference to the final product.

Plan Everything Out

Even if you are using the plans I suggested above, I think it’s a good idea to plan everything out with regards to materials. You may consider laying the wood and parts out on your lawn in their correct positions to picture the final design. You should make sure that all the wood is the right length and you have the correct screws and drill bits before starting.


I would personally advise that you try and make the coop as lightweight and portable as possible. This means that if you do need to move it, you can do so easily. Some people even install wheels on one side of the coop so that they can simply lift it and roll it to a new location.

Don’t Use Pressure Treated Wood

If you have the option then you shouldn’t use pressure treated wood. This is because this wood has been treated with chemicals, which as you can imagine is not good for your chickens who will peck at the wood.


Almanac – Raising Chickens
The Future of Chicken Keeping?

The post How to Build a Chicken Coup appeared first on American Preppers Network.

Lost Arts: Bringing a Chicken from Pasture to Plate

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There are many skills that have been lost over time.  Things your great grandparents did in their daily lives that are now left to machines in some far flung factory.  Many of us raise chickens, but how many of us take them from pasture to plate? 

That’s right, how many of us would have any idea of how to slaughter and dress a chicken?  In this really amazing video the host shows you just that, how to catch, humanely kill, and dress a chicken.  It’s really an amazing must see video.

The post Lost Arts: Bringing a Chicken from Pasture to Plate appeared first on Preparing for shtf.

Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial

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Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial via The Survival Mom

Of all the freeze-dried meats on the market, chicken is the one I use the most. It’s such a part of my everyday cooking that I was a bit surprised to hear someone say just this week that they weren’t entirely sure how to cook with it. Well, let me tell you.

How many recipes are there in the world that call for “one chicken breast, cooked and chopped?” Usually when I see something like that, I immediately think of the overhead required to thaw the chicken, cook it, and chop it up before I can get to the rest of the recipe. When I only have 45 minutes to throw a meal together for a hungry family, that’s the last thing I want to do. Freeze dried chicken takes out those extra laborious steps. Just rehydrate it and you’re golden. Specific instructions may vary, depending on the brand you’re using, but typically rehydration involves letting one part freeze dried chicken chunks stand in 2 parts water for 5-15 minutes. After the requisite time, I use my handy kitchen strainer to pour off any excess water.

Because it’s already pre-chopped and pre-cooked, freeze dried chicken is excellent for quick casseroles, chicken salad, and chicken noodle soup. Here are 3 of my tried-and-tested recipes using this handy food.

Layered Freeze-Dried Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of my family’s most favorite meals. It’s not terribly authentic because it is more of a tortilla lasagna than anything, but it’s still tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time to make.


1 1/2 cup freeze dried chicken, rehydrated

1/4 cup dehydrated onions

1 1/2 cup freeze dried cheddar cheese, divided

2 cans enchilada sauce -or- 2 cup homemade enchilada sauce, divided

1 cup sour cream

green chiles – optional (My kids just pick them out, so I tend to omit them.)

tortillas (whole wheat is best – usually 10 store bought, or anywhere from 6-9 homemade ones using the tortilla recipe found here.)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, onions, 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, chiles, 1 cup cheese.

In a 13 x 9 inch pan, put down a tortilla layer, breaking them in pieces in order to cover the whole bottom.

Spread a thin layer of the chicken and cheese filling, then cover with another layer of tortillas. Alternate layers until you run out of filling, ending with tortillas.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the pan, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 min or until bubbly.

Freeze-Dried Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is many things to many people, which is the primary basis of its appeal. All chicken salad has chicken and mayonnaise as the primary ingredients. It can be easily customized, according to preference and availability of ingredients, by adding:

  • chopped apples
  • chopped celery
  • parsley
  • basil
  • tarragon
  • dill
  • pecans or walnuts
  • minced hard-boiled egg
  • pineapple
  • grapes
  • mustard
  • chili powder or paprika
  • red onion or scallions
  • shredded carrots
  • olives

Here is where experimentation is truly king. If you don’t already have a favorite way to make chicken salad, I encourage you to add or subtract ingredients until you find one. If mayonnaise isn’t really your thing, you can also use sour cream or even plain yogurt instead.

Freeze-Dried Chicken Noodle Soup

Making soup with freeze-dried chicken is even easier, because you don’t even have to rehydrate the chicken ahead of time! Just make your soup as you normally would. Add 1/2 cup or so of chicken chunks into the pot once other ingredients are cooked through. Since the chicken doesn’t have to actually cook, just rehydrate and heat up, it’s okay to add the chicken toward the end of the cooking time. This is usually about when I add noodles as well.

NOTE: It’s okay to make soup without a recipe! It’s super easy with this tutorial.

Some people might think that freeze-dried chicken is one of those fluffy “luxury foods” for emergency preparedness – too outer-spacey and high tech for every day use by actual people. Not so! I like to keep a can on hand at all times. After you get used to cooking with freeze-dried chicken, you’ll start to think of fresh or frozen chicken breasts as a waste of time and motions (at least when it comes to making a quick dinner).

A quick word on taste: I used to cook with a lot of canned chicken for the same reasons I now use the freeze-dried version. The thing with canned chicken, though, is that it doesn’t have nearly the shelf-life. Also, and I think anyone who has eaten chicken out of a can will agree with me, it does have a residual taste that you don’t usually find when eating fresh chicken. If you’re worried that freeze-dried chicken will have a weird taste that can only be described as “ugh,” don’t. This very week I made a freeze-dried chicken meal for my family, and I was pleasantly surprised by how normal it tasted. You never would have guessed that this meal came from a can!

If you don’t already have freeze-dried chicken as part of your food storage, I encourage you to change your ways. You won’t be sorry!

Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial via The Survival Mom

The 6 Easiest Ways To Protect Your Chickens From Predators

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The 6 Easiest Ways To Protect Your Chickens From Predators

Image source: Pixabay.com

Predator populations in many parts of the country are on the rise. That means the chances of a predator finding and preying on your chickens is high if you don’t take every precaution to keep them at bay.

First, realize that predators are lazy opportunist. Most attacks on your flock will be because something was too tempting to pass up for a hungry critter. Predators that actually work to break in and steal chickens by chewing through the side of the hen house or digging for hours etc., are rogues that must be exterminated.

The best practice for predator control is to never give them an easy opportunity to dine on your chickens. Yet there is no one tactic that is all-encompassing. It’s more like a lot of little things all working together to keep predators away from your chickens. Here are some tips to help keep your flock safe and sound.

1. Inspect daily.

Do visual inspections daily for holes, loose wire and generally anything that looks out of place or in need of repair to keep predators out of your chickens. In addition, keep your eyes out for any signs of animals prowling around, looking for an easy meal. This could be tracks, scat, signs of chewing or digging, feathers scattered about, or anything that looks out of place. With larger flocks, predators can get a chicken a night and you’re none the wiser until you realize your flock is shrinking.

Diatomaceous Earth: The Best All-Natural Wormer For Your Livestock

This could be tracks, scat, signs of chewing or digging, feathers scattered about, or anything that looks out of place. With larger flocks, predators can get a chicken a night and you’re none the wiser until you realize your flock is shrinking.

2. Keep a rooster with your flock.

The 6 Easiest Ways To Protect Your Chickens From Predators

Image source: Pixabay.com

A good rooster is the first line of defense against predators. If a hawk, owl or any other flying menace comes into view on the horizon, my rooster immediately spots it and sounds the alarm that sends everyone running for cover. Over the years, I’ve lost a few good roosters to predators because they typically will sacrifice themselves to allow the hens to get to safety. I’ve even watched roosters discipline hens for not taking cover when the alarm was sounded. If you don’t see this kind of behavior in your rooster, it may be time to replace him with one that takes his job seriously.

3. Teach your chickens to roost in the coop, not outside.

Training your flock to return to the henhouse each night is as simple as keeping them inside the coop for a week or so when you first get them. Be certain to provide plenty of roosting area. This reinforces to the birds that the coop is home and where they should roost. With an older flock that has never been accustomed to roosting inside the coop, you also can establish the habit by keeping them inside for a couple of weeks. It usually takes a bit longer with older birds that have bad habits.

All The Answers To Every Chicken Question And Quandary …

Rogue birds that will not cooperate should be culled. If you allow a few birds to roost outside, it creates temptation for predators that would otherwise leave your birds alone. They eventually get one of the rogue birds and then become a rogue predator that goes out of its way to kill and eat chickens.

4. Don’t tempt unwanted critters.

The 6 Easiest Ways To Protect Your Chickens From Predators

Image source: Pixabay.com

Open feeders, garbage cans, animal carcasses, or any other type of food will draw unwanted attention to your farm. If a chicken dies, dispose of it immediately, preferably where no other animal will find and eat it.

5. Create an environment that discourages predators.

Predators aren’t fond of wide-open spaces. Keep hiding places to a minimum around coops and buildings. Weeds, piles of junk and lumber all give predators a place to hide that makes them feel more secure. Avoid it.

6. Keep a farm dog.

I have never been without a farm dog. Over the years, that has been one reason we have avoided coons, coyotes, foxes and other creatures of the night. Some dogs can be trusted with livestock … but others can’t. I’ve had both. If they can’t be left out with the flock running loose, I keep them contained until the chickens roost and then let them run the property for the night. Even a dog tied to the doghouse at night near the animals is a big deterrent to predators.

Finally, consider controlling the population of predators through ethical hunting and trapping, or invite someone else to do it for you.

Remember: Predator control is something accomplished daily – and not in a day.

What advice would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

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Chicken-Heated Greenhouse

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Chicken-Heated Greenhouse

Chicken-Heated Greenhouse

As a permaculture design consultant and homesteader I am always looking for ways to integrate different elements of the homestead to work together synergistically. Chickens are one of my favorite homestead elements.

They provide so many different and useful functions: entertainment, garden preparation and clean up, tilling of the soil, pest (bugs and mice) control, fertilizer spreading, food forest management, of course eggs and meat, and heat for a greenhouse!nesting boxes use jpg

Normally, our layers are either paddock shifted or free ranged throughout the growing season from spring to fall. During the colder months we take a different approach for wintering over our hens. We integrate our greenhouse with chickens and sometimes rabbits.

Since I cannot stand chipping ice, I want a simple system designed to prevent the water from freezing. The chickens generate enough heat to raise the temperature in the greenhouse. During the day, when the sun is shining, the greenhouse benefits from solar gain.

Interested in the best self-sufficiency solution during a food crisis? CLICK HERE to learn more!

We use the deep bedding method for the floor. We do not muck out the coop but continue to add carbon material, mostly straw. The nitrogen from the manure and carbon from the straw provide the raw material for the microorganisms to do their work. Deep bedding becomes another compost heating element.  This triple combination largely prevents water from freezing.snow use jpg

In permaculture, the idea of integrating a greenhouse and chickens is not new. The chickens (and rabbits) expel carbon dioxide which benefits the growing of plants. Winter is a great time to grow some microgreens, lettuces and kale.

Even though chickens do not require heat in the winter they seem to have a higher quality of life and lay better in this setting.

Discover how our grandfathers used to preserve food for long periods of time. CLICK HERE to find out more !

The design for this multi-functional structure is very simple and was made from basic lumber, cattle panels and greenhouse (10 mil plastic) remnants. This greenhouse cost us approximately $300!

We are located in Northern Idaho and our winters get cold but nothing extreme so this basic design works out very well for us. If we were in a very cold climate we would have to make our base greenhouse a cold climate greenhouse where we would insulate the structure except for the south facing side.


Source : www.motherearthnews.com

About the author : 

Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and strategies for the property. The property is a demonstration and education site where they raise dairy goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and ducks. The Mitzels have planted more than 200 productive trees, and bushes and enjoy wildcrafting, propagating plants, and raising livestock. They enjoy teaching and equipping others towards self-sufficiency through consulting and hosting workshops. To learn more visit them at The Prepared Homestead

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How To Make Bone Broth, Just Like Your Grandmother Did

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How To Make Bone Broth, Just Like Your Grandmother Did

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Making bone broths should be an activity in every home. Our great-grandparents made these nourishing concoctions regularly, and by doing so used every part of an animal and stretched their food resources.

Bone broth contains many important nutrients that support good health. Some benefits include:

  • Bone broth is one of the best sources of absorbable calcium, especially for those who cannot tolerate dairy foods or who do not consume dairy as part of their home culture.
  • Beef broth, chicken broth and fish broth are good sources of magnesium.
  • Bone broth is a good source of sodium. Sodium is important for many body and cellular functions, such as adrenal gland health, water balance regulation, muscle contraction and expansion, and maintaining a proper acid-alkaline balance in the body.
  • Bone broth that includes chicken or calf feet is a good source of silicon. Silicon is a very important nutrient for supporting strong and flexible bones, healthy cartilage, connective tissue, skin, hair and nails. Silicon also helps to protect the body from aluminum toxicity.
  • Bone broth is a good source of iodine, potassium and other important trace minerals that are easy to assimilate.
  • Bone broth helps to support the immune system and provide the body with resistance to infections diseases.

Broth Versus Stock

For the most part, the words “broth” and “stock” are used interchangeably in culinary applications, but there is a difference. Broth often incorporates leftovers of various kinds, such as from a roasted chicken eaten for dinner. Stock requires more of a prescribed formula, and is made regularly in the traditional kitchen to become the base of sauces and soups.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

Other differences between the two are that stock generally incorporates more bone, and broth incorporates more meat. Stock has a more gelatinous texture and will be clearer in appearance. Broth is thinner and has a cloudier appearance.



It might be tempting in busy times to buy canned stocks and broths from the local grocery store. But these usually contain many unhealthy ingredients that you probably do not want to be ingesting or feeding to your family. These include MSG and other excitotoxins that are harmful to the body, especially to the brain.

Tips for Making Bone Broth

  • Always begin with cold water. This allows the fibers of the ingredients to open slowly and release their flavorful juices into the broth. The broth should be simmered after reaching an optimal temperature to promote clarity of the broth.
  • Be sure to skim the liquid as the impurities float to the top during simmering.
  • Adding vinegar or acidic wine during the cooking process helps to draw out important minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
  • Boiling down stocks will concentrate their flavor, producing a sauce that is useful for many culinary applications.
  • You can tell if your stock contains enough gelatin by letting it chill in the refrigerator, where it should thicken into a gel-like liquid. If it is not thick enough after chilling, you can boil it down to reduce it further.

Stock will keep in the refrigerator for five days (it can be re-boiled if you have passed this time frame by a few days), and in the freezer for several months. Any containers of stock should be labeled with the date made and a description of contents.

Chicken Broth Recipe

  • 2-3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings (free-range chickens are best)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 12 peppercorns


  1. Place the chicken into a large pot, along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the parsley). Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the ingredients at this time will yield more minerals from the bones into your broth.
  2. Bring everything to a boil and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
  3. Skim off all scum as it rises to the top of the liquid throughout the cooking process.
  4. Add the parsley approximately 10 minutes before the broth is done cooking.
  5. Once the stock is done, place a sieve over a large bowl (line it with some clean cheesecloth if needed), and carefully pour the broth into the sieve so that it drains into the bowl below. The cooked chicken meat can be used for salads or ethnic dishes. Discard the remaining solid matter.

What are your best tips for making bone broth? Share your advice in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Food Storage Bulk Buy: Packaging Chicken in Bulk

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Bulk Buy: How to Package 40 Pounds of Chicken for the Freezer | PreparednessMama

How to package chicken in bulk Recently I was able to jump in on a wonderful bulk buy that has filled my freezer and saved a bunch of money in our grocery budget. I purchased 40 pounds of chicken for $65.00. That’s $1.62 a pound! We eat a lot of chicken at our house. I’d […]

The post Food Storage Bulk Buy: Packaging Chicken in Bulk appeared first on PreparednessMama.

The 4 Most Humane Ways To Kill A Backyard Chicken

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The 4 Most Humane Ways To Kill A Backyard Chicken

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you raise livestock for meat, naturally part of that process will be learning how to properly euthanize the animals. However, even if you only keep a few loved pet hens for eggs, you still should understand how to put down a chicken in the event of a severe injury or other emergency.

People who are very sensitive about these things may prefer taking a severely sick or injured chicken to the vet or ask a knowledgeable neighbor to dispatch the animal, but remember that having someone to help you isn’t always going to be possible. If you take on the responsibility of caring for a flock of chickens, you also take the responsibility of having to put down a suffering one if such an event does occur. That goes for any type of livestock and, for some people, even pets if they live in a rural area very far from any veterinarian.

Methods of Putting Down Chickens

Do a simple Google search for how to humanely put down a chicken and you will find a whole slew of different answers — some of which work very well while others shouldn’t be used.

First off, if you are someone completely unfamiliar with euthanizing a chicken, it is easy to fall under the assumption that a “brutal” method must not be humane. For example, using a sharp knife or hatchet to lop off a chicken’s head is often seen as gory and even torturous by some, simply because of the blood. I’ve found many threads in forums about the subject of “humane” euthanasia where the person seems instead to be looking for the best way to kill a chicken with the least participation on their part — even if the method they choose isn’t humane at all.

All The Answers To Every Chicken Question And Quandary …

Here are a list of a few of the most humane methods:

1. Decapitation

Probably one of the oldest methods used, decapitation is a quick death for a chicken when done swiftly. You will need a very sharp, heavy knife/cleaver or a sharpened hatchet, plus someone there to hold the chicken. (You also can use what is called a “killing cone,” which requires only one person.)

Typically, people will use a tree stump as the chopping block. You will want to hammer two nails into the stump, just far enough apart that it will hold the chicken’s head in place. The purpose of the nails is that you can stretch the chicken’s neck slightly (this won’t hurt the bird) so you can get a clean cut. This should all be done very quickly but quietly to ensure the bird isn’t stressed. Have your helper pick up the bird, place the head gently between the nails so the neck is straight, and then chop.

It isn’t a pretty process but this method is quick and humane. It is also fairly fool-proof if you use a sharp knife/hatchet and swing down hard.

2. Cervical dislocation

The 4 Most Humane Ways To Kill A Backyard Chicken

Image source: Pixabay.com

Cervical dislocation, or simply breaking the chicken’s neck, is another method that is humane when done correctly but requires more knowledge and confidence to do correctly compared to decapitation. I cannot stress enough that you must be confident in your ability to use this method correctly. There are many people who actually don’t break the neck completely and this just leads to a painful death for the animal.

There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Snapping the neck by hand ­– This is obviously a very hands-on approach and therefore not suitable for some people. What you will do is hold the chicken in your left arm, grasp the chicken’s head at the base of its skull (you can feel where the skull meets the neck) and snap the chicken’s head in a down and out movement. This is difficult to describe to in text, so I recommend you watch a video on how to do this or ask for an experienced neighbor or fellow chicken owner to show you. I’ve seen people do this on full-grown chickens, but I am not a very big person so I have only used it on young chickens and older chicks.
  • Using the “Broomsticking” Method – The broomsticking method is done by placing the chicken down on a hard surface between your feet, placing a broomstick behind the chicken’s head (just where you would place your hand), stepping down on the broomstick while simultaneously pulling up the chicken’s back legs to snap the neck. Again, please watch a video or have someone show you before trying this to ensure you do it properly. I haven’t used this method on chickens, but it is what I use for rabbits. It is quick, humane and does allow a smaller person to dispatch an animal that may be too large with the above technique.

Cervical dislocation is easy to learn and does have the benefit of being a bloodless method. However, please refrain from trying to just “wring” the chicken’s neck. There are some people who try simply to grab the chicken’s head with both hands and fling it about or over their head in an effort to break its neck. This is incredibly stressful and painful for the chicken since more often than not this fails. Please use one of the two above methods instead!

3. Use a gun or pellet gun

Another humane method is to use a gun (like a .22) or a pellet gun to dispatch the bird. A pellet gun is often more than enough as long as it is powerful enough. The pellet handguns are quite useful. Typically what I will do is wrap the chicken in a towel, place it on the ground and kneel down over the bird.

Learn How ‘God’s Miracle Dust’ Can Keep Your Livestock Healthy

I will then use a pellet gun close to the chicken’s head to dispatch the bird. This is a very easy method but not doable from those who don’t have a gun/pellet gun.

4. Using a CO2 ‘chamber’

This final method is better suited for chicks, bantam or young adult chickens. It requires more work but some people do prefer it for one reason or another. I recommend reading this article for more information. Some people also use a paintball CO2 canister as well.

Another method that seems to get passed around that is not at all humane is placing a chicken in a bag or box which is attached to a car’s exhaust. This is not humane like CO2 and is a very painful death, with the combination of heat and chemicals. If you are going to use anything, go with the above CO2 chamber or use a different method altogether.

Putting down a loved hen or favorite rooster isn’t an enjoyable process but it is important to know how to do it properly – and is necessary if you are raising chickens for meat. As mentioned before numerous times, it is best to watch educational videos or have an experienced person help you. Some rural vets will even give you advice on how to properly dispatch a chicken at home.

What is your preferred method to kill a chicken? Share your advice in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

hydrogen peroxide report

8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

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survival food
I’ll never forget my first, official order for survival food. My friend,  Chrystalyn, was a pro at this, and she guided me through a bewildering order form with products and container sizes I didn’t recognize.
A #10 can? What was that?
A #2.5 can? Is that what I need or is the #10 size better?
What is wheat germade and will my kids eat what I’m buying since it’s not in name-brand cans?

Survival Food Ordering Made Easy

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!

From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.

My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

1. What produce do you use most often in the kitchen? Jot down the fruits and vegetables that you typically buy at the grocery store. Those will be the best choices for your early purchases, since you know they won’t go to waste, and you use recipes that incorporate them.
2. What are a few of your favorite recipes? It’s a good idea to stock up on those ingredients. Example: a hearty pasta and sausage dinner recipe. You could buy sausage crumbles, Italian herbs, dehydrated onions, freeze dried mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and macaroni. Of course you can use some of those same ingredients in other recipes, and that versatility is great.
3. Consider the staples you use most often: sugar, baking powder, herbs, etc. and then compare the food company’s prices to what you typically pay at a grocery store. Keep in mind that these products will be packaged for long term storage unlike those purchased at grocery stores. That is a big bonus. When we moved to a humid environment, several of my cardboard containers of salt were ruined.
TIP: Which size should you choose when shopping for these foods? Here is a link to my complete answer to that question.
4. Keep in mind the importance of snacks. My kids love the yogurt bites in all the various flavors. Perhaps order a few snack items in either the pouch or #2.5 can sizes to try these out. The smaller containers are also good for emergency kits.
5. Do you have some just-add-water meals for emergencies or power outages? Each company has their own varieties to try out. Make sure you give them a taste test, though, before buying in large containers or quantities. They’re lightweight, nutritious, and if you can manage to boil 3 or 4 cups of water, you have a meal in about 15 minutes.
6. When it comes to the various types of meat and poultry, which do you use most often? Prioritize those and then buy smaller containers of the ones you tend to buy and use most frequently. Give them a try in some of your recipes. If you really like the flavor, texture, and convenience, then you’ll know what to stock up on. As always, customize this to your preferences and the recipes you make most often.
7. You’ll need some meal-stretchers, such as rice, small pasta, certain grains, and beans. I like this category because these foods are versatile on their own, but then, when added to a casserole or soup, they help provide many more servings, as well as more nutrition and fiber.
8. Stock up on ingredients for soup. You may not make soup very often, but it’s an ideal recipe for survival scenarios. The concept is simple (start with a broth of some kind) and then add whatever is handy. Have a balance of veggies, proteins, and grains, and you’re good to go.

Chicken Statistics for the Nerds Among You

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Another great one by Chaya Foedus:

Okay, this is the world’s shortest blog post; I just had to divulge my nerdity with someone so that I might feel less alone in this forever-fascinating world.  Do any of you just get curious?  I mean, to the point of spending 2 hours online searching out the answer for your own mental satiation?   I…

Continue reading

The post Chicken Statistics for the Nerds Among You appeared first on Pantry Paratus.

SWISS CHEESE CHICKEN: A Must-Have Meal for Your Freezer & Food Storage!

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Swiss Cheese Chicken Freezer & Food Storage Meal

Wow! It’s been way too long since I’ve shared a recipe! You probably think I never cook (and depending on who you asked, you might be right 😉

I may not have time to make a gourmet meal every night (or ever), but I can always whip up this Swiss Cheese Chicken in no time flat! I thought this meal was great for Thanksgiving too since it uses Stuffing Mix, and even more importantly leaves you plenty of time to shop those Black Friday Sales!

You’ll notice below that along with showing you how to turn this into a freezer meal, I’ll also show you how to incorporate it into your food storage plan – because after you make it once, you won’t ever want to go without!

Cooked Swiss Cheese Chicken

I’m a part of a freezer meal group in my area, and they’re probably ready to kick me out because I bring this meal to exchange all the time – but it’s just soooo good I can’t help myself.

I feel like I’m cheating a little, because it’s almost too easy to make! This week we held our exchange and I made 8 of these meals in less than 30 minutes (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s cheating)!

Swiss Cheese Chicken is also one of those meals that’s great to take to new moms or picky eaters, because it doesn’t have any of the common “I HATE THESE” ingredients in it – like mushrooms, onions, sour cream, or anything green (the things my kids complain about most). But don’t let me stop you from throwing broccoli in or anything else that makes you feel healthy!

All right, let’s get cooking…

Swiss Cheese Chicken

This meal consists of just layering ingredients! If you have a few kids hanging around, have them join in and form an assembly line! You’ll be done in no time!

Layer Ingredients:

  • Cover bottom of pan with Chicken. You can leave the breasts whole, or cut as small as you like. You can even make this with about 2lbs of canned chicken  – it’s not as scary as it seems 😉
  • Layer 6 slices of Swiss Cheese on top of the chicken (I actually tried out Pepper Jack this time, so feel free to mix it up too)!
  • Mix the Cream of Chicken with 1/4 cup of Milk – You can also add more milk to have more of a sauce, whatever you prefer.
  • Pour the Cream of Chicken Mixture over the Cheese.
  • Sprinkle Stove Top Stuffing Mix over the top!
  • Drizzle 1/4 cup melted Butter over the Stuffing mix!

Step by Step Swiss Cheese Chicken

That’s it! Now you throw it (or place it gently) in the oven and bake it uncovered at 350 for 45-60 minutes (or until the meat is cooked through).

Bake the Swiss Cheese Chicken

Once it’s done cooking, serve over rice and eat until your tummy’s happy!

Make it a Freezer Meal:

If you want to turn this into a freezer meal or be a super-mom and give it to someone, make sure to STOP after you put the cream of chicken mixture on top. You don’t want to put the Stove Top Stuffing Mix on or it will get nice and soggy while it sits in the freezer.

If you’re an over-achiever make sure to add some rice to the meal with the directions on it 😉 Nothings more annoying then making a meal and realizing you’re missing a key ingredient.

You could also substitute the rice for noodles, or even omit it completely.

Make it a Freezer MealQuick Tip: If you make freezer meals a lot, I love these disposable pans & lids! They stack great in the freezer, are the perfect size, and look great too!

The ones I use are:

  • 4 Pound Aluminum Oblong Pan – 11.5″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″
  • 4 Pound Foil Board Lid – You can’t forget the Lid, that’s what makes them stackable (and of course pretty)!

P.S. Please ignore the fact that my freezer needs a major defrosting party (unless you’re volunteering)! 

Organized Freezer Meals

Don’t forget to attach the cooking directions so others can make Swiss Cheese Chicken too!

Or even better, print off the recipe below and tape it to the pan – otherwise they will be hunting you down for it 😉  – That’s what I had to do to get this recipe in the first place!

This post was originally shared on Or So She Says

Swiss Cheese Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (or enough to fill pan)
  • 6 Slices Swiss Cheese
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Stove Top Turkey Stuffing (about ½ box)
  • ¼ c butter

  1. Cover bottom of pan with chicken.
  2. Lay Swiss Cheese over chicken.
  3. Mix 1 can cream of chicken soup and ¼ cup milk.
  4. Pour mixture over chicken.
  5. Top with ½ bag (or more) of Stove Top Turkey Stuffing.
  6. Drizzle ¼ cup butter on top.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.
  8. Serve over rice.

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS – After pouring cream of chicken mixture over chicken go ahead and freeze. When you are ready to cook it, pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge (preferable overnight). Then complete the rest of the instructions (top with stuffing/butter & bake).


Make it a Food Storage Meal:

With a few minor adjustments, you can incorporate nearly any recipe into your long-term food storage plan. Here are some suggestions to make sure you can eat Swiss Cheese Chicken all year long 😉

First, know the shelf-life of the ingredients you are storing, or ways to extend it. My rule of thumb is I look for alternative options for anything that won’t last me at least 3 years.

Second, figure out which option or method you will use to store your food. It doesn’t have to be just one either, you can combine a few different options depending on how often you are rotating through your food.

Swiss Cheese Chicken Ingredients

Ingredient Options With Longer Shelf-Life:

    • Once again you can freeze butter (at least I do).
    • Use a Butter Powder (3 year shelf-life)
    • Or Get Canned Butter (2+ year shelf-life)

Baked Swiss Cheese Chicken

How to Calculate a Year Supply of Ingredients
for Swiss Cheese Chicken:

Now that you know what ingredients you want to use, it’s time to figure out how much you need of each!

Depending on the amount of mouths you are feeding and how often you want to eat a particular meal, be sure to customize the amounts to your family’s needs and tastes!

I don’t want to eat the same meal more than once a month, so I get enough ingredients to make each meal 12 times, but you could do more or less – totally up to you!

A Year Supply of Ingredients for
Swiss Cheese Chicken
Ingredient &
How it’s Stored:
Shelf-Life: 1 Meal 12 Meals 24 Meals
(canned chicken)
3+ Years 2 lbs 24 lbs
(24 pint jars)
48 lbs
(48 pint jars)
Freeze-Dried Cheese
(FD #10 cans)
20 Years 2 cups 24 cups
(3 #10 cans)
48 cups
(5 #10 cans)
Cream of Chicken
3 Years 1 can 12 cans 24 cans
(powdered milk)
25 Years 1 Tbsp 12 Tbsp 24 Tbsp
Stuffing Mix
3 Years 1/2 box 6 boxes 12 boxes
(canned butter)
3 Years 1/4 cup 3 cups
(3 cans)
6 cups
(6 cans)
(#10 cans)
30 Years 2 cups 24 cups
(2 #10 cans)
48 cups
(4 #10 cans)

Once your list is finished all you have left now to do is go shopping!

Swiss Cheese Chicken Food Storage MealAre there any meals you have in your food storage that you love?

P.S. Want other simple and easy meals like Swiss Cheese Chicken? Those are the only kind I know how to make 😉 Feel free to check-out my FAVORITE RECIPES  –  the best part is most of them can be made from ingredients already in your pantry! 

The post SWISS CHEESE CHICKEN: A Must-Have Meal for Your Freezer & Food Storage! appeared first on Prepared Housewives.