FLYGRUBS® are an all natural, FDA APPROVED and sustainable CHICKEN PROTEIN TREAT

tips from the FLYGRUBS® team

WINTER IS COMING...

It’s sad to see the summer come and go, but we do love the Autumn and all the beauty it brings. Foliage, Halloween, football season and of course Thanksgiving! Writing this blog has made me realize that I’ve not created any Fall focused blogs and I’m about to jump right into winter, so I’ll be sure to come back to Fall in some future posts! I did want to cover how to prepare for the long winter months. Especially for all of our northern BYC farmer friends and their girls. 

During the winter months, it’s most important to know that the cold temperature isn’t the most important thing to deal with. Moisture is the biggest culprit and can cause the most issues for your flock, so please do make sure the coop is well ventilated, their hen house is up off the ground and there is great air circulation. 

We like a setup with the open side of the coop facing the sun and the sides of the coop that get hit with wind are covered up so the birds don’t have to deal with cold and wind, which is a combination nobody likes. Having the side facing the sun will allow for great circulation and prevent ammonia gas from the droppings from building up. If you're in a super cold location (-20 degrees Fahrenheit avg) we suggest covering up all the sides of the coop with plastic strips but leaving a few inches of open space around the top of the cage. You can also put down some hay bales, but please be very careful not to block circulation. If you reduce airflow and the coop gets hot, the humidity will come into play and then you will need to worry about frostbite. The idea is to block the wind, reduce all moisture and keep your birds up off the cold ground (chickens hate having cold feet). Manure contains a lot of moisture, so be sure to keep your girls up and away from that. 

You will need to make sure the water stays fresh and doesn’t freeze. There are a few ways to do this. The obvious one is to change the water daily to keep it fresh. To keep it from freezing, you could bring it in at night and bring out freshwater in the mornings. Another way would be to use an electric water heater. This will mean your coop will need electrical outlets or you will need to run extension cords from your electricity source. 

After the fall molt, your girls will likely be back to their normal laying schedule yet the daylight hours will be reduced considerably depending on where you live. Your ladies normally get about 10 hours of sunlight so if you want to encourage egg production one way to do so will be to put a light in the coop. We suggest a 40-watt incandescent bulb with a reflector for every 200 square feet of your coop. We also suggest putting it on a timer (as to not over stimulate) and setting it up 7 - 8 feet above the floor.  

You will want to encourage your girls to go out and roam around even if there is snow on the ground. To make sure your girl's feet don’t get cold you should cover the ground with a considerable about of untreated hay and place their food outside the coop and in their walk or in your yard depending on your set up. We first lay out the hay and move their chicken feed to the outside of the coop when we want to coax them out. FLYGRUBS always do the trick too, so spreading a handful on the hay will spark your girl's interest. Don’t be shy with the hay as it allows them to huddle and feel warm all the while getting some exercise. Wood chips are good options for farmers who don’t have to deal with snow yet still have some cold winters.

So there you have it. A quick read for all you that should inspire you to get ahead of the coming cold weather months! Don’t forget...YOU’RE ALL AWESOME!


The PROS and CONS of Free-Ranging

These days I see “Free Range” signs all over the place when it comes to the various types of livestock. Whether it’s legit or not is TBD most of the time. But for us BYC farmers there is usually nothing better than letting our girls out to stretch their legs for the afternoon. We all know the benefits of chickens getting exercise, naturally feeding on insects and all the other natural goodies, BUT what about all the predators that also enjoy praying on our precious girls?  Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, minks, owls, raccoons and domestic dogs are the most common predators for our girls. The solution for keeping these guys out of the coop is one thing, but keeping them away during a free-range session is something entirely different. 

You might be asking yourself, why even bother with free-ranging? Well, here are some of the pros and cons. In part two of this blog, I will discuss how to keep your girls safe while enjoying your beautiful backyards! 

THE PROS

They eat less feed and grit because they are out in the yard all day feasting on what your yard has to offer. They’ll pick up sand, small rocks, and pebbles that aid the chicken in breaking down ingredients that they consume during the day. This means you save where it matters the most (for most of us), your bank account!

Free-ranging will help with insect and other pest control because it’s second nature for chickens and other fowl to actively turning over rocks or stumps in a constant effort to find food aka creepy crawlers. If you have horses, cows or goats you’ve probably noticed the chickens pecking through the manure piles, which may seem yucky, but as long as you remember they are eating fly larvae I’m sure you’ll forgive their manners.

Active birds mean healthier birds and less space needed in the coop! That’s right, if you have a decent-sized yard for your girls to roam, you won’t have to worry about building an oversized coop or raising out of shape hens. Your girls will stay slim and always be ready for the catwalk (lol). We suggest having 4 square feet of space for each bird if they live in the coop 24-7, but if you’re free-ranging you can easily reduce that to 1-2 feet of space since they will be getting plenty of space while they’re outside. The separation during the days will also allow you to spot which chickens have illnesses and treat/quarantine them as opposed to treating the whole flock for illness. Once again, you can save where it matters most.

THE CONS

Since we dove into free-ranging, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out the cons. So here goes…as stated above foxes, coyotes, mink, owls, and raccoons love to hunt chickens at night, but we also need to be wary of day time deviants like hawks, eagles and domestic dogs. We could write an entire blog about protecting your flock (and we will), so for now, just be aware of the culprits and act accordingly.

Egg hunting is another issue with free-ranging chickens, but this could be fun if you’re into Easter egg hunts all year round. LOL! It’s not uncommon to start finding eggs in very random spots after you start free-ranging. One way to remedy this always make up some very attractive laying spots accompanied by a wooden or plastic egg. It’s not a “fix-all” but doing this typically works to reduce the number of random eggs in the dog house. ;-)

Chicken proof your gardens if you want to free-range your girls. If you don’t do this, they will eat your herbs, flowers and anything else they are interested in (everything). The other issue with chicken consuming things in your yard is the possibility of them consuming harmful weed killers, fertilizers or pest poison. Please be mindful of all the things you have going on in your yard before letting your girls roam free.

Chicken Shit! The obvious but not often talked about part of free-ranging. No doubt it’s great for your yard but when you step in it and it ends up on your kitchen floor, IT'S NOT COOL! I have yet to discover a solution for this issue...if you do please share in the comments!

All the best, Emily

 


Should your family be eating BYC eggs?

Not too long ago a friend of mine living in Southern California came across a UC Davis ad which was offering free egg testing to all the local farmers. You see recent fires in the area left contaminants on the grounds which contained heavy metals, building materials, and other chemicals were being gobbled up on the ground and ending up in the eggs. Yikes! My friend, Susan, called up UC Davis and took advantage of the opportunity. Luckily her test results were positive and she could continue enjoying her eggs. See below of the test results from the UC Davis study and draw your own conclusions. 

This led me down an interesting path to discover if heavy metals were an issue around my house. The heavy metal that scares me the most is Lead because of its adverse effects, especially on children.

Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration does not have guidelines for acceptable levels of Lead in the eggs we eat? This was quite alarming when I first read it and I thought it must have been a typo. 


FDA guidelines for consumption of Lead in our food (not specific to eggs) was published in 1993, which states 6 micrograms are the acceptable daily intake levels for children 6 years old or younger. Upon further investigation, I found that contamination issues are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, if you want to test Lead levels in your backyard you can do a soil test yourself or contact an environmental science specialist in your area. If this concerns you, I would recommend doing a quick google search for “your state + environmental science specialist,” to get your soil and eggs tested. Below is a chart describing the side effects of Lead poisoning from the Kern Public Health website with more details.


In addition to the soil and eggs, BYC farmers should check the food and treats you give to your pets. Oyster shells can often have high levels of Lead, so double-check the calcium supplements you're giving to your girls. An alternative calcium supplement to oyster shells is FLYGRUBS. With its high levels of calcium and other healthy nutrients, you can’t go wrong… and YES we are biased:-)

According to the EPA, Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals, causing health effects. It can be found in the air, soil, water and paint in our homes. The vast majority of Lead exposure comes from fossil fuels and emissions from industrial facilities. I encourage you all to read both of the articles linked below and to do some of your own research! 

UC Davis

New York Times

 


Feeding Your Ducks The WRONG Treats?

Here at FLYGRUBS HQ we sure love spoiling our ducks and chickens with great treats. We write a lot about chickens, so today we must focus on our other feathered friends. When giving your ducks treats you have to be mindful of what to and what not to give them. Below is a list of the best treats to give and not to give your ducks. We hope you find this helpful, and your duck's lives get a little bit healthier! When it comes to green, like weeds, cut grass, kale, and chard, your ducks can eat an unlimited amount. As for all other treats, they should not be more than 10% of their daily diet. 

Please note that if you have ducklings, be sure to cut up all their treats into small pieces or puree them. This will prevent choking. Also be mindful to provide plenty of drinking water and grit, as that will help them to digest the treats. 

Fruits 

Ducks love fruits. Our favorites are Strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and watermelon. In the summertime, we often freeze the fruits and give them to our ducks once they've softened. 

Vegetables  

Peas, canned or frozen are ok. 

Corn that is raw, cooked or on the cob

Or ducks love raw or cooked broccoli florets, leaves and grated stalks (easier to eat).  

Whole Grains 

Cooked pasta without salt and butter

Cooked brown rice 

Raw or cooked oats  

Protein & Calcium

Scrambled eggs are a favorite high protein treat, but others we give to our ducks are FLYGRUBS, earthworms, slugs, minnows or feeder fish and shrimp shells.

Treats to avoid

Avoid the treats listed below like the plague. They are all toxic or hazardous for your ducks and can cause health problems or death. Please keep in mind that because ducks are prey animals their instinct is to hide their illness and symptoms, so simply take our word for it and avoid these foods. 

Crackers: They are too salty and typically have loads of sugar 

Citrus fruits & Spinach: They cause acid reflux but most importantly interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to thin eggshells. 

Bread: Will make your ducks overweight 

Mangoes can make your ducks throat itchy. Keep an eye on it. 

Iceberg lettuce: very little nutritional value and can cause diarrhea, stick with cabbage, kale and collard greens. 

Large whole seeds and whole nuts: They don’t digest well and can be a choking hazard.

Apple & cherry seed + peach and apricot pits are toxic. AVOID!

That’s all folks! We hope this inspires you to think twice before giving your ducks the wrong treats as it will make a huge difference!

All the best, 

Emily


FLYGRUBS 1st Customer Video!!



We asked customers to share videos of their girls enjoying our healthy treats so that we could create a video to share with everyone! This first video turned out great! Special thanks to all our AWESOME VIP customers and their chickens, plus our very own (10-year-old :-) videographer Sarah!! This sure did put a huge smile on all our faces! #LoveWhatYouDo #FLYGRUBS 

We will be doing this again in the near future so if you're reading this now, please keep your eyes peeled for the next opportunity to earn free FLYGRUBS for sharing your videos with us!! 

Stay Awesome!! 

All the best, Emily