The Basics of Raising Chickens for Eggs



By Paylie Roberts

1x1.trans The Basics of Raising Chickens for Eggs

Raising chickens for eggs

Raising chickens for eggs is quite simple, if you have the right tools. I’m hoping to save you some money and time by not having you repeat my mistakes. This goal of this article is to provide a condensed foundation article for those new to raising “back yard” chickens.

Note that I have no affiliation with any companies or products mentioned in this article, nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning them. They are merely products that I have tried for my own use.

Chicken shelter

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The finished coop and run.

There are two types of shelters you need for your chicken. The coop, and the area where they will forage, sometimes referred to as their “run”.

The coop: There are an amazing amount of designs of coops available locally and on the internet, and if you’re handy with a hammer and saw, you can probably build one pretty easily. What kind of coop you decide to build will depend on your needs. If the temperature gets fairly cold, as in below zero, you want a coop that will allow you to place straw, will prevent drafts, and will keep your hens cozy through the cold nights. If you are out in the country, then your coop needs to be predator proof. (Though I did also have an orange tabby ally cat stalking my chickens when I used to live in a major city).

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The roost area…

The recommended amount of coop space is a minimum of two to three square feet per chicken. Smaller than this and they will be too cramped, larger and they may have trouble keeping the coop warm in winter. Chicken coops do not have to be complicated, and I find the fancy ones that cost a lot of money often do not work as intended. You will likely be better off with a simple structure that is elevated off the ground, has a door for the chickens to go in and out of, has vent holes, somewhere for the chickens to roost, and allows access for cleaning. The coop will also need a good roof to keep the snow/rain from getting the interior wet, and which secures well so that predators can’t get in. You will also need some nesting boxes and access to them to collect the eggs.

I have seen coops built out of old enclosed trailers, old travel trailers, and sheds. The good news is that chickens aren’t picky. The bad news is, you do have to clean it, so consider that in the equation.

I built my first 4’x8’ coop out of pressure treated 4x4s for the legs, 2x4s for the frame and nesting boxes, ¾” plywood for walls, standard roofing shingles, paint, and some hinges for the doors. I kept it simple, and as luck would have it, it worked perfect for my needs. Since then I have played with different designs in coops, but I like my simplest model the best.

Once they have good overnight shelter and a safe place for them to lay eggs, you need to consider how much area you will allow for your chickens to free run. The recommended amount of run space is at least 10 square feet per chicken. This doesn’t mean you can’t do with less space, this is just a recommended amount, and if you’re in the city, then you might not have much choice. Just realize that your hens will want to forage for bugs, they will want to sit in the sun and take dust baths, and they do have a pecking order, so they will need room to run and chase.

Once I moved to the country, I chose to have three separate runs for my chickens so I can more easily control breeding selection. The three runs are next to each other, separated by fencing. Each run has a coop, a tree or other structure for shade, and bushes for them to hide in if a hawk flies by. (Note: if you live in the country, predatory birds like hawks or eagles can fly off with your chickens.)

You do not have to settle for chicken wire, as that might not be strong enough to keep certain predators out. If you decide to use different fencing, such as field fencing, you have to consider that baby chicks will be able to get out. You can do a shorter row of chicken wire or deer netting on the inside of your field fencing to keep the baby chicks in. There are other options of fencing available, you will just have to look around and see what fits your needs.

You can also use deer or bird netting over the top of your chicken run. It keeps both chickens in, and unwanted wild birds out. If you choose not to have a cover over your chicken area, you need to clip one side of your chickens’ wings so they can’t get enough momentum to fly out of their area.

Food/Forage

You will have to feed your hens, especially through winter. There are a wide variety of chicken feeds available at your local feed store. I won’t get into feed specifics here as most feeds offer the correct protein ratio. But also note that most feeds are corn based, and that is not a chicken’s natural diet.

There are several chicken forage mixes you can buy to grow feed for your chickens, and if you let them have a big enough run, they will have bugs to eat during warmer weather. You can also place a compost pile near your chicken area which will attract bugs. I once chose to place my compost pile in the chicken area. It took a few weeks, but they finally discovered the worms that were in the compost pile. They didn’t touch their feed for almost two weeks as they worked their way through the pile. The pile was five feet tall when they started, and there was almost nothing left of the pile when they were done.

You might also consider raising your own insects such as crickets, or worms, to feed to your chickens. After TEOTWOAWKI, buying feed from a supplier may be impossible, or too expensive. (Worms also function as compost improvers and fishing bait.)

I have tried the chicken salad mix from my pet chicken (http://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Treats/Chicken-Salad-Seed-Mix-non-GMO-p928.aspx) and was overall very happy with it. My only complaint was that the seeds came mixed. Since my first purchase, I have saved my own seeds and grow my own from these seeds.

I have also tried the poultry package from sustainable seeds http://sustainableseedco.com/heirloom-seed-collections/poultry-package.html and was happy with that as well. The seeds came in separate packages, so that worked better for me. I also liked the fact that it introduced me to growing tobacco. I don’t use tobacco, but as it states on their site, you can use the tobacco leaves to help prevent many diseases that can occur with raising poultry.

The combination of all these plants with insects and worms, should feed your chickens well. You can also add your vegetable scraps to their diet. There are some foods that you may want to avoid as they can cause chickens digestive upset. These include: avocado, onion, chocolate, tomato leaves, apple seeds, and mushrooms. Some of these are up for debate, so best to do your own research.

With your feed, you will also need a good way to get fresh water to your chickens, and a way to keep their feed from being scratched into the ground. Chickens can be very wasteful if you let them.

The double wall galvanized waterers by Miller have worked great for me. But I also empty the water each evening after the chickens put themselves away in their coops, and clean the waterers regularly. I tried the plastic style once, and it barely lasted one season. The combination of hens perching on it, combined with the sun’s UV rays caused it to crack rather quickly. There are other new waterers available there that are quite inventive, but I have not tried these so can not speak for them. I’m also in an area where the temperature can drop to -25’F. These new style waterers would easily freeze and crack. During the coldest days I find myself bringing fresh water to the hens a couple times a day so they have something other than an ice block to drink. They do offer a heated base for these waters, however, I have never wanted to use the electricity for that, so have never used them. I just use my muscles to bring the hens their thawed water.

I have also used the galvanized hanging poultry feeders, and they work fine for keeping the hens from scratching the food out. I can’t speak for any other feeders. I guess I got lucky: the first ones I tried worked.

One more item you will need is some form of calcium if you want strong egg shells from your laying hens. You have a couple of options. The easiest is to buy bags of oyster shells from your local feed store. These are fairly inexpensive (for now), and will last indefinitely if you stock up on a few bags. You can free feed it to your hens. Another option is to find your own oyster shells and grind them down yourself, but you would have to live in the right area to do that. In a TEOTWAWKI scenario, if you do run out of oyster shell, you can feed the egg shells back to your hens (after hard boiling the eggs). You would have to crush them up using a rolling pin before offering to the hens. I would only do that in a situation where I have no other source of calcium, as it may encourage the chickens to start eating their own eggs.

Breeds

You have your coop, your run, your feed, so now for the birds. You have to consider your locale, as some breeds are better adapted to cold/heat than others. You will have to decide if you want birds primarily for egg laying, primarily for meat birds, or a combination of both. As you might expect, layer breeds will lay more eggs, but grow less meat. Meat birds will lay fewer eggs but grow more meat. Choosing both means you will likely be compromising slightly with both traits. You will also need to decide if you want a breed that will sit on eggs and raise chicks (go “broody”), or if you want to use an incubator. Egg color should not be a deciding factor, as there is no nutritional difference between different colored eggs.

Rather than go over a long list of detailed boring information on what chicken breeds offer which traits, that job has already been done by this wonderful chicken tool selector at mypetchicken:
http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/which-breed-is-right-for-me.aspx Just enter your preferences and it will tell you what breeds are recommend for you.

So now you know what breed or breeds you want. Next, how to obtain your chickens. You have some options here, and it will depend on your situation. If you are already set up with an incubator and brooder (more on these later), then you can order the eggs straight from a hatchery, and hatch them yourself. Or, if you don’t have an incubator, you can order the three day old chicks. If you decide to order chicks, you usually have to order between 15 and 25, and you might not have room for that many. Some hatcheries let you order less, but you have to shop around. Depending on where you live, your local feed stores will probably have chicks for sale in early spring. Some feed stores even offer free chicks with the purchase of their store brand chicken feed.

If you don’t have an incubator or a brooder, then you will have to find older chicks, or fully grown hens. The good news is, if you’re not picky about breed, there is usually someone on craigslist that is moving that needs to get rid of their hens. You can also place an ad stating that you are looking for fully grown hens. These will cost you more, but when you consider the cost of feed and heat for growing chicks, it would be about the same cost in the end.

All that manure!

When you first bring your hens home, settle them in their new area, and in their warm straw padded coop, you quickly discover that, my gosh they poop a lot! Yep they do. I use straw in their coops because it helps to keep them warm in the winter, and because it composts well with their manure. I also like using straw because it is something that I can grow myself (stalks of grain plants). You can try other things, but I find the straw to be inexpensive, smells good when freshly laid in the coop, and it works wonders on snowy days when I need to line a path from the coop to the food and water so the hens don’t get their feet too cold.

You will have a lot of chicken manure, and you will have to clean their coop (and the run if it is small) regularly. The good news is that it’s not hard. Just use a rake to rake it out of the coop with the straw into a large bucket, and then dump it in a compost pile. Flip the compost pile once a week (making sure to add other garden scraps to it and water it), and you’ll have a very nitrogen rich soil for your garden. However, be careful not to put chicken manure directly on your garden as it can burn your plants from the high nitrogen content. Chicken manure has to compost for at least a few weeks before it’s safe to use.

How many eggs? To wash or not? How to store, and how to tell if expired

A young hen will generally lay (depending on breed) an egg a day, and maybe miss a day once or twice a week. The older a hen gets, the fewer eggs she will lay. Your hen will be most productive the first year after she turns about five months old.

Hens prefer to lay their eggs in clean nesting boxes, but things happen, and sometimes the egg gets a little dirty. Now, if you ever want to hear a never ending debate and have people get so mad at you that they will never speak to you again, then just suggest to either wash the eggs or not wash the eggs. You can’t win with either one.

So I’m going to tell you what the egg shell is composed of, and let you decide for yourself what you want to do. But don’t tell anyone, I’m warning you, it will be an argument to no end.

The egg itself is a very complicated structure, and it has something like 27 layers. I don’t recall exactly, college biology was a long time ago for me now. But what’s important are two factors. One, the egg shell is permeable, and two, the last layer that the hen puts on the egg is a protective membrane layer that has a bit of antibiotic on it. This prevents any bacteria from entering the egg shell and harming the potential baby chick inside. If you wash your eggs, you are washing off this protective layer. Commercial egg sellers replace that layer with mineral oil in an effort to replace the membrane that gets washed off. The mineral oil extends shelf life, but not as well as the natural membrane. The mineral oil also permeates the shell and seeps in, and is also a laxative. By the way, that’s why store bought eggs taste so plain in comparison to farm fresh eggs.

Storing eggs is another interesting topic. Some people will swear that their eggs will store at room temperature for three months, while others claim six. I have always refrigerated my eggs, so I can’t answer that question. But I can tell you how to test your eggs to see if they are spoiled or not. Simply place your egg in a bowl or pot of cold water. If the egg floats to the top, it’s spoiled, don’t eat it. If the egg sinks, with just the fat end sticking up (where the air bubble for the baby chick is located), then it’s good, and you can eat it.

Of note: if you hard boil your eggs, then it is better to use eggs that are a couple weeks old, otherwise you will never be able to peel off the membrane just between the egg shell and the white. Fresh eggs don’t do well hard boiled. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just won’t separate from the shell for nothing. If you have to eat very fresh eggs, I recommend using a different method to cook them.

Diseases

If you keep your chicken area clean, you will reduce the chance of diseases attacking your hens. However, some things are just unavoidable. Birds are birds, and wild birds will fly into your chicken area for the feed. These wild birds can bring diseases such as general mites, and scaly leg mites.

There are many chemicals available that are recommended to be used as a preventative or treatment. However there are three problems with them. 1. They are expensive. 2. They won’t be available after TEOTWAWKI. 3. Some of the chemicals are ones you might not want to use on livestock that you will eat. So I have done quite a bit of research into old fashioned remedies. Below are some things you can do instead of using chemicals.

First, you have to notice that there is a problem. A drop in egg production is a good indicator that something is wrong. Also, if the combs (on top of the head) and waddles (just below the beak) are looking dull, or if your chickens are shaking their heads a lot, something could be irritating them. Check your hens regularly. Pick them up by their feet, flip them upside down while holding on to their feet, let their wings flap until they calm down, then inspect their vent area. The “vent” is where both the eggs and the high nitrogen fertilizer comes out of – yep, the same hole. Look for signs of mites or scaly irritated skin. Also look at the legs. Scaly leg mites will cause the legs to look (more) scaly.

Hopefully if you are reading this, you have already chosen to heat your home with wood, as a means of keeping yourself warm. And if you’re heating with wood, then you have wood ash. Allow it to cool as you would before disposing of it, and then dump it where your hens like to dust bathe. They usually like to pick a spot or two that they share where they have dug out a hole in the dirt and they literally take dust baths. Dump that ash in the hole and let your hens bathe in that. This will serve as a mite preventative.

If you do find a problem, you have a few options before rushing to get expensive chemicals that force you to throw away the eggs for about a week for your safety. You can treat your hens with extra wood ash, preferably in the evening when they are ready to put themselves away, so they are easier to catch. Just dunk them in the ash bucket (the cold one), and then put them away. You can also spray their coop with an oil, such as neem, or vinegar. The oil will help to break the egg cycle of the mites. If you use vinegar, it usually will kill off any mites that are in the coop; just make sure to allow the coop to vent well. I wouldn’t want to spend the night breathing in vinegar.

If you find your hens have scaly leg mites (you’ll know, their legs get very scaly and deformed looking), you can find an inexpensive oil, such as vegetable oil, pour it in a container big enough to dunk their legs in, and dunk the chickens legs in the oil once a week for 8 weeks, before their bedtime. (You can re-use the same oil to save money). This will break the egg cycle as the eggs won’t be able to hatch in the oil.

There are other problems that chickens can develop, such as sour crop or pendulous crop, egg bound chicken, and an encyclopedia full of infectious diseases. Going into detail about all of these would go beyond the scope of the basic introductory information offered here. However, all this information is freely available on the web and can be downloaded to save for later. A good start is this website that offers detailed information on diseases, and a chart of symptoms: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044. You can also check out this site that offers many details on chicken diseases as well: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-injuries-diseases-how-to-diagnose-treat-your-chickens.

Cold temperatures

You don’t need heating lamps for your chickens, provided: you get the right breed, your coop is draft proof, there is sufficient straw, and you have many chickens in the same coop keeping each other warm.

Without a lamp in the coop, they will stop laying in winter. Also, once a year about the time that your hens stop laying, your hens will lose most of their feathers and look pathetic. This is called molting, and it’s during this time that they don’t lay eggs because their bodies are repairing their reproductive systems, and at the same time, conserving that energy to grow new warm feathers to get them through the cold winter. This is a natural process, and I myself don’t like to disrupt it. If you would like to extend your egg season, you can supplement with lights and heat throughout the winter.

I have never lost a chicken to the cold, but I make sure they have plenty of feed, fresh straw to walk on during snowy days, and that their coop is fully secure. I will sometimes add bottles of hot water in the coop when they first put themselves away in the evening. This helps them get a jump start on generating warmth in the coop to get them through the night.

Roosters?

Whether or not you choose to keep a rooster is dependent on your needs. If you want baby chicks, you better get a rooster. But know they crow, loudly, and at three am. They will fight with other roosters if there’s more than one rooster per ten hens. They also have spurs on their legs, and if you have a mean one, they can attack and hurt you or your children.

You can prevent that type of problem by regularly handling your rooster, so that he is used to you, and he knows you’re the top of the pecking order. But you won’t be able to prevent the roosters fighting with each other. They have a brood to take care of, and they take their job seriously.

You do not need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs. She will lay regardless. But if you do end up having a rooster or two, those eggs will be fertile.

Broodiness

When a hen plucks out all her bottom feathers and sits on eggs and squawks at you when you try to collect your breakfast, she’s probably gone broody. This is hormonal, and no one has yet figured out what conditions cause it to happen. Usually when you want a broody hen, she won’t sit, and when you don’t want one, she won’t get off the eggs.

I have read that some people suggest you put some straw and eggs in the bottom of a five gallon bucket, stick a hen in, put a wire cover over it, and within a few days she will become broody. I have never tried this, and some may find it inhumane, but it just goes to show you how much people have tried to force hens to go broody.

I’ve had hens go broody and have had success when I limited their eggs to only around a half dozen at a time. But I’ve also had hens go broody where they didn’t sit on the eggs properly. Then when an egg started to chirp, they didn’t know what to do and ate the egg. So I gave up on being dependent on the hens and bought an incubator. A cheap $50 one did the job just fine. Sure, I had to turn the eggs three times a day for 18 days, but it was worth it. More expensive ones with automated egg turners are also available and make the process more convenient. I won’t go into details here about raising chicks because that could be an entire article in itself. But I’ll just make a quick mention about brooders.

A brooder turned out to be the easiest thing I ever tried to make. I just used my spare bath tub, taped a large garbage bag to it (unfolded and cut on the sides) with painter’s tape, then put in some wood shavings (not cedar – it can cause respiratory problems in chicks), and turned on a heat lamp pointing at one end of the tub. I put a thermometer in the tub to make sure the heat lamp wasn’t too close or too far.

I changed the bedding weekly, and by week four, I was taking the chicks to an outside chicken run in a pet carrier to get them used to being outside. I still brought them back in overnight. (I tried raising chicks in the dead of winter when no one else would – it was a challenge I decided to overcome.) Then by week six, they’re usually fully feathered and ready to face the real world of living in the elements. By then I’m also ready to move them out of my tub. I provided them with extra straw and extra everything, since they were so young, but the breeds I chose were resilient.

If you do hatch eggs, whether it’s you or the broody hen, you will end up with a few roosters, and you have to decide how to deal with that, just as you will have to decide what to do with older hens who have stopped laying. If you eat chicken or any other meat, than you should really get used to the idea of culling your own animals. If you think about it, when you buy store bought chicken, all you did was pay someone else to raise and slaughter the meat for you, and you have no idea what conditions that meat was produced in. When you raise your own, you have full control over all of that, including a very humane way of slaughtering your roosters and old hens, if that is what you decide to do. I won’t go into detail about slaughtering and butchering either, as again, full articles could be written about those topics. I will mention that older chicken’s meat is tough, and is best cooked in a crock pot for several hours so that it is more palatable.

Dehydrating eggs

I’ve often been asked what the best way to dehydrate eggs is. I can’t answer that, as there is not a proven safe method to do so. That doesn’t mean you can’t, I just don’t have an answer that I would feel comfortable providing publically. I have heard people suggest that you freeze the raw eggs first before putting in the dehydrator, and I have even heard people suggest you cook the eggs first. I myself do neither. Instead, I have become very creative in egg recipes from quiche to egg sandwiches. I have also bartered my eggs for chicken feed. I’m sure after TEOTWAWKI you won’t have any trouble getting rid of your extra eggs. I do know that some people store their eggs for long periods of time by doing things such as covering them in mineral oil, or refrigerating them. Since I myself have not experimented with these long term storage methods, I will not comment on them one way or another. The extent of my experience with long term egg storage is keeping them refrigerated for three to four months and still being able to eat (most of) them.

Training your dogs

Lastly, I want to bring up an important point if you have dogs, or other pets. You have to train them around your poultry. I started with a very wild adopted German Shepherd that everyone doubted could ever be tamed let alone trained. But we worked hard at it, starting with keeping him on a leash when around the chickens, and repeated commands of “no”. We now have two German Shepherds that help us catch and herd our roosters/hens when needed. They are extremely gentle with them and never try to eat them. So it is possible; you don’t have to raise your dog from a pup, you just have to be consistent and patient.

Having a dog trained to protect your poultry is a good idea, for you never know what kind of predators might try to come around (coyotes, foxes, people, etc.).

I hope you found this article informative and helpful, or at least entertaining.

Paylie Roberts is the author of Bugging Out To Nowhere and Life After Bugging Out. She lives with her husband, two German shepherds, and various livestock, somewhere between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mountains.

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Comments

  1. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Paylie,
    Thanks so much for such a positive introduction to chicken farming. I raise Brahmas for both meet and eggs, they don’t fly, are sweet tempered, and do well in heat and cold.
    The first egg we got was a joyous day. Best of all they are easy to care for. Right now I have 22 in a brooder. Half will either be sold or go into the freezer.
    God Bless and thanks again.

  2. Southside says:

    Good article, I have raised chickens for over 40 years and have long lost my fasination with them .They can be aggrevating at times but I love my fresh eggs! I use plastic dish pans for water, I have 6 or 8 and keep a couple filled all the time. They are easy to clean and if they freeze I just flip them over, fill two more and usually the next morning they are thawed, clean and ready to reuse.Another trick,if you discover mites coat your roost poles with vegetable oil, this kills eggs and prevents the mites from moving from one chicken to another. If you must boil fresh eggs after boiling submerge them in ice water till they cool, the shells will come right off.

  3. Buckeye chickens have done well for me. A tough dual purpose breed from the the 1800 hundreds. Much of there diet comes from foraging and are large enough a hawk can’t easily take away.It takes a while to get a rooster you can live with. After 12 years they have served me well. Check them out and have a great day!

    • That’s crazy! Chickens that can protect themselves. That’s what i like. Thanks @Awtnot i will check those out. Do you have a preference on coop plans if you live in a more urban area?

  4. This is a very timely article. We just ordered our first live chicks which should be here in about 3 weeks. The homestead already has a chicken coop with a fenced in area that we’re rehabbing. This will be a new experience; but shouldn’t be all that tough to do, I hope.
    BTW, one additional way to handle an egg surplus is to freeze them. Crack and empty each egg, either whole or scrambled, into one section of an ice cube tray and freeze them. Once frozen, they may be removed and placed into a Tupperware type container or a zip lock style freezer bag and placed back into the freezer. When you need eggs, just take as many as you need and let them thaw in a covered bowl.

  5. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for the information. It’s now in my binder(s). Hopefully we get to start using some of this information next year!

  7. Good Article Paylie.

    For newcomers to raising chickens, I’d like to point one thing out:
    When she was talking about clipping the wings to make sure the birds can’t fly – “…you need to clip one side of your chickens’ wings so they can’t get enough momentum to fly out of their area.” – by that she means clip the long flight feathers, not the actual wings on one side only. If you clip them on both sides, the silly things will figure out how to fly without flight feathers (experience talking here).

    “Egg color should not be a deciding factor, as there is no nutritional difference between different colored eggs.” – true, but I think it is really cool looking at different colored eggs in my cartons – I’m just weird that way!

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      Michelle, thank you for clarifying on clipping the wings. You said it much better than I did!

      And I love having a green egg mixed in my batch of brown and white eggs, I don’t think it’s weird at all.

  8. Sally Wolff says:

    Great article!

    I have had chickens for about 4 years now. We use a simple metal shed that was on the property. Watch out for predators. I am surrounded by homes, and yet have caught close to 50 possums and coons. Keep a havahart set 24/7 before predators strike.

    Also, have meds on hand. I have tended to gashes due to hawk attack,prolapse,respitory illness. A dog crate is useful when you need to keep an ill or injured hen inside. Just went to TSC and almost bought some chicks!

  9. Schatzie Ohio says:

    I have had chickens for the past 30 years or so. Our first chicken coop was a old child’s playhouse that was left at our house in the city when we moved in. I put a screen door on the opening and covered the open window with screening. I put in a metal 6 nest box unit that was actually much larger than we needed but it all worked. This was in southern California so we didn’t have to worry about cold temperatures.

  10. Hooligan6 says:

    Thank you for the article. I’ve been debating building a coop and run to raise chickens, so this article is a great help to me.

  11. texmexmix says:

    Thanks for the useful info. This will definitely come in handy in preparation of the homestead.

  12. Brearbear says:

    Look into fall out shelters for livestock.

    Berming the coop.
    Maybe using culvert?
    Check earth ships…using rammed earth/used tires for walls…
    Post and beam?

    Fallout shelter designs and issues are the same
    for people as for livestock…

  13. Brearbear says:

    A bermed…(soil covered) coop properly made
    Using bermed soil for shielding…and with a
    Proper air vent filtration system would not be to costly
    As chickens need little space but a good design.

    I suggest rabbits also…as part of the same area close by…
    And raising earth worms to feed from the manure.
    Worm castings are black gold…
    first feeding household compost to these livestock
    Then their manure to your worms.

    You can still have above ground fencing/lean to…or free range them …
    (Also rabbit/chicken “tractors” /mobile coops could be part of system.)

    A pit lined in plastic… Filled with excellent soil then tied up airtight…then covered with more tarp and good drainage then cover
    with lesser grade soil might go a long ways to helping ensure
    Future safe soil for gardening. (Keeping fallout dust from your soil).
    (And growing chicken/rabbit/worm food). A filtered/fallout expedient sealed greenhouse could be and I think should be a part of plans.

    The same pit/tarp system could be done with water…but framing a lid/roof over pit using pressure treated lumber then bermed.

    Yes you could just build a simple above ground coop…

    Rabbits/chickens and even earth worms…storing some water and good soil…along with them dang fine castings!…
    …stocking food(chicken scratch and chicken /rabbit pellets…and garden seed for both your needs and theirs…
    …and a expedient type fallout shelter green house is
    Just some of my thoughts on raising/growing survival foods.

  14. JeffintheWest says:

    Fantastic, and very well written article. I sincerely hope you right those other articles you mentioned could be written! Thanks for sharing the information.

  15. Brearbear says:

    From Chapter 1. The dangers from nuclear war:Myths and facts.

    http://www.oism.org/nwss/

    ” ° Myth: So much food and water will be poisoned by fallout that people will starve and die even in fallout areas where there is enough food and water.

    ° Facts: If the falloutparticles do not become mixed with the parts of food that are eaten, no harm is done. Food and water in dust-tight containers are not contaminated by fallout radiation. Peeling fruits and vegetables removes essentially all fallout, as does removing the uppermost several inches of stored grain onto which fallout particles have fallen. Water from many sources — such as deep wells and covered reservoirs, tanks, and containers — would not be contaminated. Even water containing dissolved radioactive elements and compounds can be made safe for drinking by simply filtering it through earth, as described later in this book.”

    “Within two weeks after an attack the occupants of most shelters could safely stop using them, or could work outside the shelters for an increasing number of hours each day. Exceptions would be in areas of extremely heavy fallout such as might occur downwind from important targets attacked with many weapons, especially missile sites and very large cities.”

    I think the threat of a super volcanoe and the dust from (which turns to cement in the lungs)…is a similiAr but of course different issue…
    To research concerning livestock or just survival.
    Building a fallout shelter or an expedient fallout shelter needs to have these issues in mind.

    For volcanic dust/fallout I think having many types of filter redundancy …
    In a layering system…even thick blankets may help when used as part of a greater system.

    • JeffintheWest says:

      Um…you may have posted this to the wrong thread….

      • Brearbear says:

        Actually no…
        I posted this to try to save lives!

        …this last post fits in snugly in my humble opinion with my other two above posts…concerning my ideas on chickens and coops
        (I have experience raising chickens rabbits ducks geese growing up and parents always had humungeous organic gardens)…

        “If the falloutparticles do not become mixed with the parts of food that are eaten, no harm is done. Food and water in dust-tight containers are not contaminated by fallout radiation. ”
        (Keep your chicken pellets/scratch in dust tight containers)!
        (Same with your compost …feed them inside under ground in the coop fallout shelter to keep radiation and dust from chickens,their food AND water).

        “Peeling fruits and vegetables removes essentially all fallout”…”Water from many sources — such as deep wells and covered reservoirs, tanks, and containers — would not be contaminated. Even water containing dissolved radioactive elements and compounds can be made safe for drinking”

        “Within two weeks after an attack the occupants of most shelters could safely stop using them, or could work outside ”

        Livestock have the SAME issues concerning nuclear fallout AND volcanic dust as we do!

        I believe a coop should be built under ground gave some ideas on how to do it… (Designed as a fall out shelter coop)!
        I gave ideas on how to store water and food and ideas to grow food in the future…

        I apologize…it is hard writing on a small phone and I am not a good writer… But I want people to think about fallout/volcanic dust…and that with some precautions…a properly built underground coop shelter that you could still have healthy livestock
        V.S.
        Building an above ground chicken coop and
        WHEN shtf…you no longer can raise and eat your radiated chickens…

        I hope you get my point …
        (typing on a phone only gives you a few lines to read what I have typed and all any writing I do takes a lot of time and effort for me and my big fingers)…

        Even an expedient fallout shelter type coop could go a long ways to protecting your chickens…
        And…
        Jeffinthewest (I hope at the Very least YOU have the basic
        Nuclear war survival skills and tools/materials to at least build a basic expedient fallout shelter for you and your family…?

        • JeffintheWest says:

          And then some. I actually paid attention in all my NBC classes and also collected all the Reagan-era pamphlets on the same stuff.

          The only reason I said that you might have posted to the wrong space was you seemed to be talking about fall-out shelters and never actually mentioned chickens or livestock or anything else in your initial post, so I thought perhaps you had mis-typed your comments in the wrong thread (since this one is about raising chickens for eggs). Now that you’ve clarified your point, I understand where you’re coming from.

          One point though — and that is that radioactive fall-out and dust can be simply cleaned off, but if your area was actually irradiated by Gamma rays as a result of a nearby detonation, expedient decontamination will not work, and you need to consider bugging out immediately after the initial effects subside in order to minimize your exposure. This would be equally true of a Chernobyl type incident. Volcanoes, on the other hand, not so much — your biggest issues there would be clearing the ash fall off of roofs and such in order to prevent collapse. And again, if you’re talking several feet worth of ashfall, you probably need to think about getting out of Dodge, at least temporarily.

          • Brearbear says:

            @JeffintheWest

            1. “never actually mentioned chickens or livestock or anything else in your initial post”.

            Actually…my first sentence in my first post on topic was:
            “Look into fall out shelters for livestock”. All my comments were meant to be together but wordpress will only let you write so much before you get an error…sorry.

            2. “but if your area was actually irradiated by Gamma rays as a result of a nearby detonation”.

            “nearby detonation” is key word here…

            “Exceptions would be in areas of extremely heavy fallout such as might occur downwind from important targets attacked with many weapons, especially missile sites and very large cities.” http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p912.htm

            So.. Yes you are correct…

            Preppers need to MOVE AWAY NOW from potential target areas and from nuclear power instalations.
            Then to plan to shelter in place.
            Learn the basic nuclear war survival skills…gather the tools and building materials at the very least to be able to hastily build OR pre-make an expedient fallout shelter…OR build a better more permanent fallout shelter.

            “Within two weeks after an attack the occupants of most shelters could safely stop using them, or could work outside the shelters for an increasing number of hours each day.”

            “To know when to come out safely, occupants either would need a reliable fallout meter to measure the changing radiation dangers, or must receive information based on measurements made nearby with a reliable instrument.” http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p912.htm

            Survivors would be extremely reliant on communications….beware…grid/e.m.p./sattelite/war time government mis-information/propoganda….
            …knowing for certain information you gain from another source is accurate.

            3. “you need to consider bugging out immediately after the initial effects subside in order to minimize your exposure.”

            Yes…IF YOU are near a targeted instalation. Beware….where are ye going go bug out to?

            “The largest, heaviest fallout particles reach the ground first, in locations close to the explosion. Many smaller particles are carried by the winds for tens to thousands of miles before falling to earth. At any one place where fallout from a single explosion is being deposited on the ground in concentrations high enough to require the use of shelters, deposition will be completed within a few hours.

            The smallest fallout particles those tiny enough to be inhaled into a person’s lungs are invisible to the naked eye. These tiny particles would fall so slowly from the four-mile or greater heights to which they would be injected by currently deployed Soviet warheads that most would remain airborne for weeks to years before reaching the ground. By that time their extremely wide dispersal and radioactive decay would make them much less dangerous.”

            “Fortunately for all living things, the danger from fallout radiation lessens with time”

            http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p912.htm

            Shelter in place.

            • JeffintheWest says:

              Yep — what you said.

              If you live down wind from a major target area, you may want to seriously consider moving if you think nuclear war is a threat.

              The time to be bugging out in a radioactive environment is before it becomes a radioactive environment!

  16. mom of three says:

    My hubby, wants chickens how funny we have a play house, that we don’t use anymore. My problem my back yard, is the size of a postage stamp and would be a mess. One day we might have room! Wonderful article, keep them coming :)

  17. Urbancitygirl says:

    Great timing, I have 4 Golden Buff’s coming the first week of April. I will need to go back and reread the article some more. I know I will take good care of them but really need to pay close attn to my predator protection. Each summer the hawks are circling regularly. Since we are in a large city, my guess is they find prey on vacant lots??

    • Encourager says:

      Hawks eat wild rabbits, squirrels, mice, voles, rats, songbirds, and yes, chickens when they can. If you are going to have a run, lay a support board every so often to support stapling chicken wire to. Works. But make it tall enough so you can walk in the run without being hunched over!!

  18. patientmomma says:

    Paylie, thank you for the article; I really needed your counsel! My neighbor is giving me about a dozen hens next week and some chicks in about 3 weeks. I have read that dichotomous earth sprinkled in the straw will keep the fleas and mites under control; is that correct?

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      Patienmomma, The dichotomous earth is correct in that it will help with pest control, however, do research that some more, as there is a lot of controversy as to whether the dichotomous earth is harmful to the respiratory systems of the chickens.

      • JeffintheWest says:

        Well, if you have a supply of diatomaceous earth, and if it somehow is dangerous to chickens, you can actually use it to make some of the best cooking pots in the world if you can access a pottery wheel (or even just do an amerindian style pot)!

      • Don’t sprinkle the diatomaceous earth (DE) on the chickens. I put it under the pine straw in their sleeping boxes. They don’t roost because they don’t have a roost. They don’t even have a coop, just a Rubbermaid boxful of pinestraw from the yard or leaves I rake up.

        They hate a puff of DE when am applying it and run squawking.

        • Tactical G-Ma says:

          Practical Parsimony
          You are right about putting the DE under the straw. It is also suggested that a little be added to their food and sprinkled on the ground in their run and where ever they take their dirt baths. It can even be rubbed on your outside dogs.
          And there are as many ways to raise chickens as there are chickens. Coop or no coop, nesting boxes or no nesting boxes, there is no one right way. Do your homework. First read up on the different breeds and choose whats right for you, your living conditions, your needs, and weather. They’re just like anything else … Chihuahua vs Pit Bull. Good chickening!

  19. We have hawks but have chosen larger breeds like Jersey Giants, we also have a rooster (only one) and I think that helps keep the hawks away.
    Our dogs never bother the chickens and they free run. Two dogs were adults when we got the chicks five years ago, the Mastif was a puppy who grew up having the chicks around, and the fourth Was an adult pit who adopted us. When he found us he was starving, all ribs showing,, but never went after any of the chicks.

    Our coop is a converted 6×8 garden shed that we added windows, a small door for the chicks and DH built a nice screen door for us to go in and get the eggs.
    But I have a question maybe you can help with, we have a rooster but no fertilized eggs. None of the girls ever just sit on them. I thought with the rooster we would see something in the eggs but they all just lok like regular eggs.

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      R-me, Not sure what you are looking for in the eggs. You can not see a difference between fertile and non-fertile eggs. Just because the hens aren’t sitting, doesn’t mean the eggs aren’t fertile. The only way to see if your eggs are fertilized, is to incubate the eggs and see if a chick is developing and hatches. It takes 21 days for a fertile egg to hatch if it is kept at the right temperature. If you try these, and the eggs do not hatch, get a different rooster.

      • Paylie Roberts,
        You can candle the eggs after about a week. This basically means shiing a very bright light through the egg, which works better on white eggs and looking for development of a chick vs. a simple round yolk. I haven’t tried this with brown eggs; but, it works well on white eggs and has been used since the days of, well . . . candles. A quick search on “candling eggs” will yield a lot of useful information and photos.

    • Hiplains says:

      Most modern bred hens have the “broodyness” bred right out of them. Good for laying but that’s it. Get a couple of banty hens. For some reason they are very often quite willing to sit on a nest of eggs….I am partial to silkies as they are broody and gentle. May not be your rooster at all!

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        I have brahmas and they don’t like to sit. It’s been suggested to get some game birds or bantam hens cause they easily go broody. My neighbors hens are always wanting to have babies. She has to go out every morning and search her bird yard for eggs because the population is just too big!

  20. Patriot Farmer says:

    Great article! I’ve been raising chickens for around 15 years now and this is the first winter that I have lost hens due to the cold. My egg production was cut in half this winter but I hopeful of a nice rebound when the temperatures finally get back to normal.

  21. I’ve kept chickens for about 5 years now. I found a way to boil fresh farm eggs and peel them easily. Bring a pot of water to boil. Ease the eggs into the water one or two at a time. I use a soup ladle to do this. Once all the eggs are in and covered with at least an inch of boiling water, set the timer for 13 minutes. When time is up, remove and pour off boiling water replacing with icy cold water. Cover eggs with cold water and let them set in it for 15 minutes. Knock them around a bit and the shell just slides off. We boil at least two dozen a week with no problems.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Brenda
      Have you ever made boiled eggs by baking them in cupcake pans? I’ve seen this on Pinterest but has anyone actually done it?

      • Yes, I tried it. I have no idea if it worked or not because disaster struck. I put the muffin tin of eggs on the middle oven rack. As I was taking it out I accidentally touched it to the top oven rack and those hot eggs EXPLODED. I had egg shells all over the kitchen and also found bits in the dining room.

        • Tactical G-Ma says:

          No way,
          Lol! Guess I’ll pass on that one!

        • No Way,
          I tried it in both the oven and the the microwave, but the instructions I had said to break a small hole in the shell and the membrane to allow the steam to escape. Even in that case there could be problems. I once cooked sunny side up eggs in the microwave, and had the HOT yolks explode while sitting in front of me on the table. Best to stick to scrambled for the microwave, and maybe even the oven, by inserting something into the eggs and breaking the yolk…

          • Paylie Roberts says:

            Based on what I’m reading here, I think I’m going to stick to hard boiling the eggs in water, and save the oven for making quiche :)

  22. TR from CA says:

    I thought your article was outstanding. I have been trying to learn all I can about chickens, as I want to own some very soon. Your article was detailed, simple, and to the point. I have a lot less fear of messing things up now. Lol. Thank you.

  23. Babycatcher says:

    As an addition, you might want to share with readers that it might be a good idea to plan for future replacements. Chickens usually produce well for 3-4 years, if not lighted. ( the light keeps them producing year round, thereby lessening years of laying). Every other year, my hubby and I get another dozen chicks, at 6 wks old, and raise them separately in their own coop and mini run. It’s designed exactly like the big house, but 25 % of the size. It takes the chicks from 6 wks to 5 months, at which time we put the groups together, then the following spring, we butcher the old hens. That way we always have from 6-10 hens laying.

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      Babycatcher, you have a great system for future replacements. You are right, as the hens get older, they will lay much less, and you have to decide if your cost of feed is being balanced out by egg production. If not, then you have to decide what to do with the older hens, and how to acquire new younger layers, and most importantly, where to put all these chickens.

      I think this is one of those things, where everyone will have to figure out for themselves what fits their needs based on what space they have, what they use their chickens for, and what they choose to do with unwanted hens.

  24. Thank you so much Paylie! We were just discussing raising chickens in our new place; and were missing a lot of information about the process and needs. This article answered a lot of questions. Not so intimidated anymore.

  25. Black Rose says:

    This is my first year with chickens and they are so cute. I have 2 and in the morning they wait for me at the back door. One of my chickens layed an egg yesterday that was not smooth it has light bumps and is a little warped. This has happened on several occasions. Is there a reason for this ?

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      There could be several reasons for this, and it’s hard to say with the little info that can be shared in a comment.

      I find this website to be very useful in identifying what an egg problem could be:

      http://www.thepoultrysite.com/publications/1/egg-quality-handbook/18/misshapen-eggs

      Look to the left and you will see lots of choices for different type of egg problems.

      If your hen just started laying, it is possible that she is still developing her system and she’s going through a few growing pains. If this continues however, it might be something more serious.

  26. Bugjuice says:

    We have raised chickens for many years. I always use a piece of rain gutter with the ends on it and a swamp cooler float for their water. I also run one through my rabbit cages to water them all at once. In MT you can’t do this in the winter but it is almost time to turn it on till fall. We do need to clean it out about once a week but all you need to do is pop off the end, swab it out and pop the end back on.

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      Very interesting. And I love the outside of the box thinking. I’m trying to visualize how it would work, do you have a picture you can share?

  27. Great article. I have six backyard hens and they are a true delight!

  28. Encourager says:

    I will confess I have not read all of the comments…yet. A few things:
    1. Use hay, not straw in the coop. Why? Mites hide/live in the hollow straw. Hay stalks are not hollow so the mites have no place to hide.

    2. The coop my dh built for me has a lift up door on the side of the coop. The roost is at that side of the coop. There is a slanted board that goes from the front of the top of the roost down to where the floor meets the wall of the coop. You just open the door and hook it open, use a hoe to scrape the board of all the poop. Close the door and latch until next clean out. Saves a lot of time.

    3. If you want to have fresh “hard-boiled” eggs , steam them. I use my rice cooker. The shells come right off.
    4. Crushed garlic in the water helps keep chickens healthy.

    5. Many years ago, Michigan State University published a paper about preventing/stopping salmonella in chickens/eggs. The salmonella is passed from hen to egg. They mixed up calf milk replacer at half strength and put it in the waterer for one week. The chickens and eggs tested showed no salmonella. We tried this, and our chickens loved it. But don’t know if they had no salmonella as we had no way to test them.

    6. Make sure any vents are covered with hardware cloth, not just chicken wire. We had a weasel get into the coop by pushing the chicken wire out of the vent and get in. It slaughtered almost all of the chickens just for the heck of it and the ones that survived we had to kill because they were so badly damaged.

    7. We also had a possum (or something) dig under the foundation of the coop wall and come up in the coop. We had a dirt floor. We ended up digging up the perimeter and stapling hardware cloth to the bottom of the support beam and out into the coop by a foot.

    8. We had Australorp chickens and they laid all winter. We also had Partridge Rocks, which laid well and they were the most beautiful, calm birds. But I did love my Banties the best. Small eggs, but for a recipe you just measured eggs until you got 1/4 cup of them (equals 1 large egg).

    • Encourager says:

      Oh! The most important thing – I forgot!!

      GREAT article Payle! Thank you for writing it!

  29. Paylie Roberts says:

    Hi Encourager,
    I’m going to have to look into using hay. I’m having a hard time with that idea because I feel like hay can be used to feed other animals, so to “waste it” on chickens is difficult for me. But I will research it some more, especially if it can help prevent mites.

    I completely forgot to mention the garlic. There was some research that I have saved somewhere that showed that chickens fed garlic regularly had less mite problems. Better chicken health and less infestation, garlic sounds like a winner.

    I am going to have to try the steaming method for the hard boiled eggs.

    You’re right about the vent holes, I’m not sure why I said chicken wire, and why the spouse didn’t catch it when I was reading it to him… hmmm… I’ve never been a good editor.

    I have read about predators digging under the coop. I think that’s what made me decide to have a coop off the ground. I have not had problems with mine. And the chickens like to crawl under the coop for shade or to hide from hawks.

    I think I have decided to try silkies so I can have more reliable mother hens. My research says that silkies are almost guaranteed to sit on eggs. I think I’ve read somewhere that they’ll even try to hatch golf balls if you let them. I’m in the process of replacing my old hens with younger ones for more eggs. Right now I have six golden laced wyandottes in the brooder, and 6 Araucana eggs in the incubator. Hoping to time the silkie chicks to come at the same time as the araucana’s hatch, but I haven’t ordered from a hatchery in a while. So we’ll see what happens. And if the silkies don’t sit, I can use their small eggs in my baking recipes :)

    • Encourager says:

      I did find out they loved the ‘ash bath’. And it seemed to help with the mites. We could only let them out for an hour or two when we were outside. I tried to do it in the evening, that way it was easier to herd them back…along with a little bribery with some grain treat!

      But it was a good article you wrote, Paylie. I REALLY want to get at least some meat birds this spring. Dh doesn’t want layers as we do like to travel. But after purchasing pasture-raised chicken backs for bone broth at almost $5 per pound, he may go along with the meat birds. It only takes 8-9 weeks (we go towards 9 so the average weight of the birds is over 5#) and then they are done and in the freezer. Dh did bring up the fact we need another freezer, one for just meat and one for everything else. Hmmmm…

      • Paylie Roberts says:

        Encourager, I’m so sorry, I just now saw your response, I thought I had subscribed to be notified of all posts, but I must have missed one.
        Glad to hear the ash might be helping. And yes, the price of all natural chicken was all it took to convince my hubby that doing it ourselves was a much better deal. We haven’t raised meat birds specifically, but usually have plenty of roosters after hatching. A little light on the weight, but still delicious.

  30. Brearbear says:

    “What measures should be taken to protect poultry?
    Measures for protecting poultry are the same as those recommended for other farm animals.
    Poultry are somewhat more resistant to radiation than other farm animals. Since most poultry are raised under shelter and given feed that has been protected or stored, and since poultry can be grown rapidly, they are one of the more dependable sources of fresh foods of animal origin that may be available following a nuclear attack.
    Hens that eat contaminated feed will produce eggs that contain some radioactive elements. Radioactivity in eggs decreases shortly after the hens are removed from the contaminated environment and given uncontaminated feed and water.”

    http://www.survivalring.org/shelters/fallout-on-the-farm/

  31. Brearbear says:

    “Be prepared”
    Boy Scout Motto

    “Everyone in an ash fall zone will be exposed to the effects of volcanic ash. Tiny volcanic ash can infiltrate all but the most tightly sealed buildings and machinery and is often small enough (less than 10 microns) to be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Ash fall over extensive areas can prevent travel for days because of poor visibility, slippery roads, and damage to vehicles. Power outages may occur before, during, and after an ash fall either due to equipment failure or because power facilities are temporarily shut down to prevent damage. Afterwards, wind and human activity can stir up ash for weeks to years.”
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/todo.html

    Yellowstone National Park

    “If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to blow today, the consequences would be catastrophic.

    The last major eruption, which occurred 640,000 years ago, sent ash across the whole of North America, affecting the planet’s climate.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25312674

    “From analysis of rock and sediment layers, scientists say another eruption is almost due – at least by geological standards.
    It appears the supervolcano explodes roughly once every 700,000 years.
    Three such eruptions are known: One was 2.1 million years ago. Another was 1.3 million years ago.
    The most recent was 640,0000 years ago”.
    http://nypost.com/2013/12/12/beneath-yellowstone-a-volcano-that-could-wipe-out-u-s/

    “Soil samples reveal that the last time it happened the whole of North America was smothered by ash. The lava flow was almost as great.
    The streams of molten rock were hundreds of miles long, and miles thick.
    Such was the extent of the smoke and debris cloud generated by the eruption that the climate of the entire world was affected for several centuries.”
    http://nypost.com/2013/12/12/beneath-yellowstone-a-volcano-that-could-wipe-out-u-s/

    VOLCANIC ASH
    _______________________
    “Small jagged pieces of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt (less than 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) in diameter) erupted by a volcano are called volcanic ash. Very small ash particles can be less than 0.001 millimeters (1/25,000th of an inch) across. Volcanic ash is not the product of combustion, like the soft fluffy material created by burning wood, leaves, or paper. Volcanic ash is hard, does not dissolve in water, is extremely abrasive and mildly corrosive, and conducts electricity when wet.
    Volcanic ash is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions. Explosive eruptions occur when gases dissolved in molten rock (magma) expand and escape violently into the air, and also when water is heated by magma and abruptly flashes into steam. The force of the escaping gas violently shatters solid rocks. Expanding gas also shreds magma and blasts it into the air, where it solidifies into fragments of volcanic rock and glass. Once in the air, wind can blow the the tiny ash particles tens to thousands of kilometers away from the volcano”.
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/index.html

    “The size of ash particles that fall to the ground generally decreases exponentially with increasing distance from a volcano.”
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/properties.html

    1. Research and know the facts about Volcanoes.

    Exposure to ash can harm your respiratory (breathing) tract.

    Children…eldery and those with respiratory problems to stay indoors and to take extra precautions.

    “Wetting down ash will form a glue-like material (not easy to remove) and add weight to the ash. The best method is to lightly damp the ash (to prevent it billowing) and to sweep it up. Remember water will be in high demand.”
    http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Learning/Science-Topics/Volcanoes/Eruption-What-to-do/Be-Prepared-Volcanic-Ash-Fall

    “Handle the ash in open, well-ventilated areas, and wet the dust whenever possible to prevent its movement.”
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/health/index.html

    “Dry ash should be blown off with high pressure air, while wet ash should be cleaned off by hand or with water at high pressure.”
    http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Learning/Science-Topics/Volcanoes/Eruption-What-to-do/Be-Prepared-Volcanic-Ash-Fall

    2. Protective clothing: (some ideas on a disposable expedient suit/kit)-

    (HAVE/make… MANY OF THESE “KITS”!):

    A. Mask. B. Goggles. (Volcanic ash is abrasive)… C. Disposable Suit. D. Rubber Boots. E. Disposable gloves. F. Duct tape (Seal all seams).
    G. Large garbage bag(for premade kit and disposing of “suit” after use). Dust brushes.

    *Masks: (Ash can set in lungs and turn to concrete).
    A dampened cloth face mask can help.

    http://www.ivhhn.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102
    Research masks.

    Wear protective clothing especially when cleaning.

    Remove outdoor clothing before entering a building.

    3. Building roof collapse dangers…
    …prevent ash on roofs. Prevent vehicles… home and business from ash infiltration.
    100mm ash… for a flat roof collapse.

    4. Ash blocking air intakes into Shelters/buildings…

    5. Vehicles…

    Air flight would be discontinued? Most modern transport would come to a halt?

    “Driving in ashy conditions may be difficult or impossible due to slippery road conditions or poor visibility”. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/health/index.html

    “Ash is harmful to vehicles”.
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/todo.html

    “Keep your car or truck engine switched off. Avoid driving in heavy ashfall. Driving will stir up ash that can clog engines and stall vehicles. If you do have to drive, keep the car windows up and do not operate the air conditioning system. Operating the air conditioning system will bring in outside air and ash.”

    “The abrasiveness of ash can damage farm machinery and equipment, but increased maintenance and a few precautionary actions can signifiantly reduce the cost of keeping the machinery in working condition.”

    6. Food and water…
    “If there is ash in your water, let it settle and then use the clear water. If there is a lot of ash in the water supply, do not use your dishwasher or washing machine. Water contaminated by ash will usually make drinking water unpalatable before it presents a health risk.
    You may eat vegetables from the garden, but wash them first.”
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/todo.html

    On water:
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/water/index.html

    On agriculture:
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/agric/index.html

    7. Livestock…Pets…get/keep them indoors…(they have same health risks as we do…and…respiratory/water/food issues… etc)…
    “Livestock eating pasture that is contaminated with ash can suffer and die from gastrointenstinal blockages”. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/agric/index.html

    “Where there is a significant ash fall, clean water will likely be in short supply. Natural water sources and man-made ponds may be temporarily contaminated by ash, and water-pumping equipment can be damaged by the abrasive rock particles (covering with tarps may provide protection). Restoring quality water supplies for livestock is typically a high priority if livestock are to remain on land affected by ash fall.”
    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/agric/index.html

    8. Basic tools/materials to stockpile: (some ideas)…

    Hand tools…
    Covered/sealed piles of gardening soil…
    Sealed/filtered green houses/coops/barns…
    Lots of plastic and duct tape…
    Lots of big heavy duty blankets for filtering/blocking out ash?(duct tape/screws to help at door entrances).?
    Plastic Bags contractor grade. (disposing ash to dump site)…wheel barrow…buckets…containers…?
    Small hand brooms dust brushes…swiffers..and large brooms…? Dust pans…?
    Air compressor…(“high pressure air” cleaning)? Canned air…? Air blowers? Fans?
    Auto parts/tools for maintenance…? Lots of air filters…?
    Vacuums…lots of filters…hepa filters? Furnace filters?
    …snow shovels…long handled ice scraper?
    Pressure washer…lots of hose…basic hose plumbing parts? Water pumps…(hand pumps)…?
    Tarps/heavy guage plastic…(for sealing doors/windows etc. protecting).
    …and construction tools/materials for for collecting water…sloping roofs(ex. Flat roofs)…100 mm is enough to collapse a flat roof?
    _______

    water…WATER…WATER!

    “Remember water will be in high demand”…

    There are a lot of similarities to volcanic prepping…and prepping for nuclear fallout…
    me thinks…

    Volcanic ash and nuclear fallout dust…

    Something else to consider…if building a coop.

    Hope this helps…

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      That’s a lot to consider for just “building a coop” but still useful information. Thanks.

      Have you read the book “deep winter”? Your post reminded me of that book, as that was part of the plot.

  32. Brearbear says:

    Hi Paylie and all!

    Yes…it is a lot to consider. Such is prepping…

    Times have changed. Volcanoe/nuclear fallout…etc…so many things to prepare for…

    Food/water/soil… is so essential…why not protect it? By building a properly made coop/barn…
    that is designed to protect makes sense to me. And i very much believe in doing it right the first time…built to last. Low maintenance.

    I believe in…as THE major part of planned preparedness…to have a well fortified fallout/volcanic/defendable… etc. ready house/greenhouses-gardens/barn system. That to me means making sure not just that your chicken/livestock are safe from fallout…but YOU can at least try to defend them.
    They have heavily fortified barns as well as housing in old Europe for that reason.

    If ye are nomadic like me it is way harder to have shelters compared to a land owner.
    So i haul and cache MY expedient shelter materials and tools and some preps…
    Am working on a big cache system…
    But once i settle in my region…i hope to build a fallout coop….most likely in the middle of no where tho.
    (my “region”…was to be somewhere close to the B.C. Coast…but Fuchishima…).

    There are advantages to my prepper plan…guerrilla camping/caching…and disadvantages.
    I gave up on that route as Government WILL go house to house…take preps…even use your house if they want possibly…(and throw you in a fema camp)?…and need to be able to bugout of a region FAST…if ye need to.
    so now firmly believe in caching.
    Plus i have so much fun camping and exploring…

    Like i wrote somewheres…Earthships are a very interesting type of architexture…(using old tires as “bricks” for walls. A very economical cheap way to build. (i also like the way they use dif colored wine bottles for non supporting walls)…

    In Earthship building…they ram earth into tires…(takes about 1hour per tyre?)…

    I took it a step furthur:
    Ideas on Tires: there is the “donut hole part, and the “donut” . Pre cement the “donut part” of the tire to make a ” tire brick”, once tire brick has been layed/stacked, the “donut hole” part can then be filled with either more cement or with rammed earth. lay chicken wire down sides of walls and face off with more cement. Using many layers of tire bricks/sand bags and earth bags can make a well fortified structure. Using culvert as tunnels and pvc pipe for vents/waste disposal. A small bunker…(or coop)… can be made. Consider the Hakka chinese design of a circular wall within a wall within a wall.

    Maybe fortifying your existing shelters/buildings with sandbags/tire bricks…then face off with nice stones to look good…but now have thickened your defenses considerably?

    I am very interested in German ww2 bunker designs…dragons teeth…trench warfare(European…and Maori style)…

    As for the book “deep winter”…do you recommend it?

    • Paylie Roberts says:

      Sorry for such a late reply, I thought I had subscribed to all comments, but I’m not getting notification. Anyway, thought I would check back here since I had a small break in my gardening adventures with the warmer weather.

      As far as the book Deep Winter, if you like TEOTWAWKI books, then sure, it’s one to add to your collection. I found some information to be useful, but as with most other books, you have to make good money to make it all happen. Terrible editing, but not a bad read. I did start to read his second book, but end it up putting it down for now.

      You have some very interesting ideas on building fallout shelters. Interesting you mentioned Fukushima, as we chose our location based on Nuclear power plants in the US, and yet, we didn’t even consider Fukushima. Perhaps we didn’t know about it then, not sure, but just goes to show you, no matter where you go, there will always be something.

      Trying to prep for it all can be quite overwhelming. I’m curious though, if you have a well, would that well water not be safe from fallout?

      • Paylie Roberts,
        Yes, modern drilled wells generally are safe from most airborne environmental contaminants. If however, your casing and well head are out of doors (mine is luckily in my basement, it might be a good idea to cover it to ensure nothing can get into and down the casing.

        • Paylie Roberts says:

          Thanks OhioPrepper,
          I figured that might be the case, as that would make sense, but sometimes, you just never know. And luckily mine is in a pump house that we just fixed up (it was in pretty bad shape). So at least that’s a start.

      • Brearbear says:

        “The wells of farms and rural homes would be the best sources of water for millions of survivors.”
        http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p919.htm

        hi Paylie

        i too am sorry for such a late response…
        hope this helps…