How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource. It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.

Eggs come from happy and healthy chickens, so a few tweaks here and there in your program can improve egg yields immensely. In an emergency situation it may be already too late to solve the problem, so here are the top tips and tried methods for getting your chickens to lay more eggs for a bountiful future.

Remember They Are Birds

The first thing to remember is that they are living creatures with their own hierarchy and social order, literally a “pecking order.” Although they have been domesticated ever since someone discovered how tasty they were, along with their ability to be good little producers of versatile daily nuggets high in protein, the most important thing to keep in mind is that chickens still retain their wild bird instincts.

These instincts include foraging, pretending to fly, the desire to roam and scratch for their food, and the mental need to hunt their food. If you do not have the luxury of a large area for roaming, you can still build a nice comfortable coop that suits their everyday needs while providing a good diet. Meeting these needs will be rewarded with the nice steady production of quality eggs.

Put the Egg First

Before we start adding things that go into the chicken, let’s talk about output, the egg. The egg is an amazing little structure. A porous shell offers external protection, this shell mainly consists of calcium carbonate with an invisible barrier made of protein. This protective protein barrier is called the cuticle and it acts as a shield to prevent contamination from bacteria. The nutrient dense yolk is suspended in a liquid composed of protein and water called the albumen that acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

A chicken egg provides 6-7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To achieve the highest nutritional output in an egg, it’s important a laying hen is provided a well-balanced diet that is nutrient rich with a diverse diet and fresh, clean water daily.

Top Reasons Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

If you have already had your chickens stop producing, don’t worry it’s fixable with just a few simple modifications!

To understand how to get your chickens to lay more eggs, we need a quick overview of the main reasons chickens stop laying eggs.

Temperature

Having chickens on the ground where it’s drafty or damp, or if they are housed in a poorly sealed coop will affect your egg production as chickens do not fare well in anything but a warm, dry environment.

Light

Chickens lay eggs as a means to reproduce. In winter when a chick has the odds against him for survival, the chicken’s body goes into shut down mode by way of its endocrine system. The endocrine system is signaled to slow production when the daylight hours get shorter.

Molt

About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.

Protein needs

When the temperature turns cooler the chickens need more protein to burn as calories. If this higher calorie need goes unmet, the chicken’s body produces fewer eggs to save on expenditure.

Stress

Being prey to most animals makes a chicken nervous about anything it can’t control. Loud noises, excessive noise in its surroundings, or the scent of strange animals can almost guarantee the chicken will stop production.

The Best Ways to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

We have covered the basics in chicken husbandry and what things can affect egg production. So now for the good news! A productive flock is as important to hobbyists as well as the off the grid lifestylists. Some people keep chickens as pets of course, but for those that are primarily raising a flock for the nutrition packed eggs production can be increased with some simple finessing and system tweaks.

Here are some of the best ways to get your chicken to lay more eggs, or how to get more bang for your “cluck”!

Basic Nutrition

No matter how happy or stress free your hen is, you must provide the basic requirements in her feed in order to have your hens lay. Good quality feed supplemented with oyster shells (or leftover egg shells) need to be available for her to peck at. Clean water is a must and should be readily available 24 hours a day.

How to Feed a Balanced Diet to a Laying Hen

Supplements

Oyster shell is the most common supplement for chickens, especially laying hens as the calcium provided by the shell is needed to make a healthy and strong egg. Many, as we do, use a portion of their leftover egg shells to add to the oyster shells. Without calcium supplements, the laying hen will pull it from her bones and it is similar to osteoporosis.

Kiss my grits

Good food and quality supplements are only half the battle, you need grit and oyster shell to supply the best possible foods for your chickens so you can get the best quality eggs. When chickens roamed free they consumed small pieces of stone and gravel as they foraged naturally, this also can happen when they free-range. Chickens in an enclosure need that grit to be supplied to them as it acts as their “teeth” by grinding food in their gizzard. Without this grit, food cannot be broken down or absorbed properly.

No junk food

Much like with humans, low nutritional value foods that are high in carbs are a no-no for your chicken. Breads, white pasta, potatoes, dairy and white rice are not good for your laying hen. Of course, the comfort foods we love are dangerous for your feathered friends. No salty, sweet, or fried foods and especially no alcohol!

This is a list of foods that can be toxic for your flock:

  • No spinach
  • No asparagus
  • No citrus
  • No onions
  • No raw beans that have been dried
  • No apple seeds
  • No eggplant
  • No avocado

Health conscious chicken treats

There are many things you CAN feed your chicken to promote more eggs and give them a healthy boost.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons
  • Sweet corn
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Cucumbers
  • All grain pancakes
  • Mealworms

Hot tip: spicy. I had many people tell me that adding some red or green peppers boosted vitamin C and the chickens loved them.

Shed Light on the Subject

A hen needs 12-15 hours of light a day to provide the best production numbers in eggs. Installing a light can help keep the production even during winter, or on cool nights. Lights infused with red can prevent cannibalism and keep the coop soothed and calm.Most chickens lay their eggs by 10 am, so after egg collection it’s time for your hens to go out and get some fresh air and light.

Build a Proper Coop with These Tips

There is no one specific design that is best for a chicken coop. But there are a few basics to consider when making a coop.

Personal space

Allow 2-3 square feet of space per laying hen and it is easier to build out later on if your flock increases in size.

Flooring

Dirt is not a deterrent to predators as they can easily dig under the edges. Wood can rot and house parasites. Concrete is expensive and can crack over time. The most current materials used for chicken coop flooring are vinyl over plywood. Plywood also can be easily replaced as needed.

Roosts

Each hen should have at least 8 inches of roost space.  The most common way is to use a 2×4’ with the wider side facing upwards for the roosting bar. This protects those delicate feet in winter from biting cold and frostbite.

Make nest boxes a priority

A good way to make egg collecting easy is to use nesting boxes. A nesting box also protects the egg and helps keep it clean. One rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every 3-4 birds, and install them about 2 feet off the floor. A layer of soft litter like wood shavings or hay can provide cushion for the egg while absorbing droppings.

Coop ventilation

Year round air ventilation is a must for a healthy coop. A good measure of thumb is 1/5th of your wall space should be vented. We used hardware cloth to cover the vents to keep off the little varmints and creepy crawlies. Be sure to use washers and screws to secure it down and check it regularly for any rips or holes.

Keep a Clean Coop

No matter what system you employ, the main thing is to provide a nice place to live, avoid overcrowding your chickens, and keep them in a clean and dry environment. A regular schedule of laying fresh litter in their houses and removing droppings will help the hens from tracking feces and dirt into nesting boxes and the eggs within. Hens flourish in hygienic conditions and it is advisable to have a quarantine period for any new stock before they are introduced into the flock.

Disinfection

There is a lot of controversy on this. Many swear by bleach, but I do not like it around my animals or eating stock. After some trial and error, I use vinegar to disinfect my chicken coop and lots of elbow grease. I like to disinfect at least every few months by cleaning out everything and then giving it a good hosing. A liberal spray down with vinegar is next and then time drying in the sunlight, which also helps kill bacteria. I soak any bowls or feeding dishes in it, then leave them to dry in the sun also.

If you have your chickens on a dirt floor, you may want to use hay over barn lime to keep things dry and hay is dust free, unlike straw. It does need to be changed every week, but it can be added to the compost.

For smaller flocks, use a tarp. You can lay it out and then cover it in hay. It is easy clean up, as when cleaning time rolls around just fold that sucker up and drag it to the compost pile. Disinfect with vinegar before adding more hay and rebedding.

Rodent Control 101

Rodents can be devastating to a coop and any community they move too. Unfortunately chicken coops are a magnet for mice and rats. The main timeframe is the harvest in fall. Its then that rats will try to invade as their main food supply source is depleted. Colonies of mice will spring up by buildings and they tend to stay inside.

The biggest indicator that you have a problem is droppings. A rat has 40 droppings daily versus a mouse’s 80! This contaminates feed and exposes you, your livestock and your flock to diseases which can include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and brucellosis.

Rodents are also responsible for more than 25% of all farm fires classified as “unknown origin.” These nocturnal dwellers can easily be underestimated, and can wreak havoc on your flock. They are predators and will seek out chicks. Rat infestations can consume hundreds of chicks a day.

The best steps to take to eliminate a rodent infestation around your chickens can be summed up in these 5 methods.

Tidy the coop

Deter the vermin by taking away all places they could set up shelter. Brush, woodpiles, or scrap piles should be well away from your coop.

Lock the feed up tight

Metal trash cans or drums are the best at deterring the little disease carriers, make sure the lid locks tight.

Build a wall or barrier

A mouse can squeeze into openings the size of your little finger, so sheet metal is the best bet to line your coop. Make sure your doors are in good repair with no entry points.

Trapping the pests

Physically removing the rats and mice is the best remedy. Place traps around the perimeter. Colony traps that hold many mice at once may be a good option.

Rodenticides

A last resort of course, and rodents can become immune, so switching it up is needed. Keep it away from other livestock and only in extreme circumstances do I use this. But if it’s between my flock and the mice, I do what I have to.

Thoughts on Confinement Vs. Free Range

Confinement and free-range options for keeping your flock have their advantages and disadvantages. Birds that can free-range will have more room and more opportunity to fulfill their need to be “free” to forage and hunt. But risks are abundant with threats by disease and predators. Being able to identify and find eggs quickly, as well eliminate problems in a timely manner is a plus to being in an enclosed environment.

Access to the Outdoors can help provide variety in their diet as well as plenty of time to take sunbathing and dust bathing seriously. But to me it’s not worth the risk to have them outside and unprotected 24 hours a day so we use a chicken tractor in summer and poultry netting in spring.

What Is a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is an attachable mobile coop with a trailer hitch that can be moved around so the chickens can have fresh grass and foraging area. It helps spread their fertilizer around the fields as well as keep bugs down as they have fun “exploring” their new surroundings. A happy, healthy hen is your most productive hen.

Exercise

Hens with more belly fat are impeded when it comes to producing eggs, so basic exercise is a must for physiological and mental health. Letting them scratch for their food gives them an activity that boosts base metabolic rates and keeps them warm and limber in winter. Throwing the girls leftover veggie table scraps or fresh cut grass and weeds straight from the garden will keep them happy little ladies.

Cabbage heads (the ends) and older lettuce pieces are fun to peck and I use the compost provided as they turn their food into the dirt and manure for my melon and survival gardens. Other ways to boost compost value would be to add corn cobs, carrot greens, melon rinds, kale, corn silks, or any other veggie leavin’s you may have. My girls love the after dinner treats and are lined up at the chicken yard’s gate waiting for them every evening!

Give Them Things to Do

Nothing is as fun to watch or as sweet as observing hens taking a dirt bath. Chickens like being clean and dirt baths are a way to do this and they promote healthy feathers by whisking away oils, sweat and parasites. If you do not offer a dirt bath, most flock owners come to find their chickens in the flower garden or in the crops.

A few sources claim wood ash is good for a bath or diatomaceous earth, but I believe if I need a mask to be around it then it will get into my flock’s lungs also. I much prefer building my own dirt bath with a simple container that’s 24 x24” and at least a foot deep, or dig a hole and fill it. I use sand and dirt. This type of bath promotes sweet smelling ladies that are lice free, and it’s chemical free so you can’t beat that.

Stress Reduction

Stress is one of the top reasons why chickens stop egg production. A big stressor is also the cold on the body, as well as parasites irritating your chickens. Irritants such as pets, children, and loud music can affect production also. Chickens need a quiet, safe area to relax and claim as their own.

When bringing in new chickens, keep in mind that is a big stressor and production may stop for a few days to weeks as they adjust to their new surroundings. This is normal and soon they will pick back up where they left off when the transition is over.

Do you need a rooster to get your chicken to lay more eggs?

A rooster adds commotion and not much value to your flock unless you plan on raising hatchlings. For egg production, a rooster can make things worse. Plus half of your hatchlings will be roosters so be prepared to find new homes or cull the male chicks.

Culling for Optimum Production

Many people do not like the thought of culling their flock. For optimum production taking out the older laying hens and replacing them with young pullets not only keeps a chicken rotation going, but will release the need for the care of the older hens into retirement.

It is much more humane to find a loving home if you are attached. In situations where every resource has to not only produce, but be a functional part of a homesteaders life, it is better to butcher the older hens than let feed than can go to younger ones in their prime laying years be wasted on them. Soup stocks and frozen meat can last quite a while.

Final Thoughts

Life with chickens is a rewarding experience in any homesteader or food self-sufficient lifestylists program as there are so many ways chickens can help in a garden and around the homestead.

Integrating a chicken flock can benefit a homestead with a constant supply of nutritional eggs, quality compost, and meat when needed. Starting a flock is inexpensive and with just a few tips and tricks you can have those chickens laying more eggs and start to stockpile your bounty. In the old days, every yard had a few chickens pecking around as the eggs were a means of survival. Now it is becoming more and more popular to raise your chickens as the nutritional value and taste of fresh eggs are so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

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7 Awesome Uses for Baking Soda

I have it on good authority that some people actually bake with baking soda. That’s not why it’s stocked like a mighty brick in my house. Baking soda is one of those items that has about a hundred and one uses, only some of them limited to the kitchen. It’s nice and cheap, and while I don’t think it’s one of the things that runs off the shelves in any crisis – snow storm, hurricane, or larger – it’s hugely beneficial to have plenty of it on hand. To me, the price and the usefulness put it way up on any must-have list for preppers (or pretty much any adult).

First we want to be sure of what we’re talking about. On store shelves, baking soda is most usually going to be a box, although it can be found in big bags for those of us who use it a lot. It’s the one with sodium bicarbonate listed as the active ingredient, not cornstarch and 4-6 other things in a little round carton. That other one is what you use for bannock bread and microwaved mug brownies – baking powder.

Shoe satchels

Those of us who have ever had a fridge or dishwasher that’s been turned off for a while have probably heard of sticking an opened box of baking soda in there. Arm & Hammer even creates packages with a mesh-lined side flap for just that purpose. That same deodorizing capability combines with a low-level desiccant, and can be used to dry out and kill the sweat or swamp funk in our boots and shoes. This is the stuff that gets added to kitty litter boxes, after all. Stomping out smells is one of its great claims to fame.

The satchels can be made out of cloth, old socks whose mates have gone missing, coffee filters, or used dryer sheets. The imagination is really the only limiting factor here. As long as it allows easy airflow between the footwear and the baking soda inside, it’ll work. Add at least a tablespoon and a half of baking soda, tie up, and drop inside.

If you want to jazz up the shoe satchels further you can add all kinds of things from dried flowers and herbs (lavender, rose, rosemary, mints, eucalyptus) to bath crystals or salts.

This one works not only on shoes, but also on things like old gym bags, the lunch bag from two years ago, a small cooler, a tool bucket or box that has a case of the funk, or a softball bag that’s being repurposed.

Foot Soak

If the smell from shoes is originating because of the feet in them, you can combine baking soda with any number of things to create a foot soak.

Mouthwash, herbal teas, various oils like lavender or eucalyptus or rosemary, lemon slices or juice, Epsom salts (excellent addition), apple cider vinegar, and dried herbs like rosemary, mints, or plantain all get added. A simple soak of 1-2 cups in a gallon or two of warm water for 15-30 minutes can soften and rejuvenate feet, and help control various fungus that want to live in warm, sweaty environments.

Surface Cleaner

We know that baking soda is one of the things we can stock to use as a toothpaste alternate, or to concoct our own toothpaste. It cleans more than mouths, though.

Just sprinkling it on carpets and wooden decks or porches, letting it sit, and then sweeping or vacuuming it up works wonders for some odors and fungi. We can also clean our cutting boards by rubbing with baking soda and-or salt and a lemon, or just scrubbing with a brush and the dry ingredients and then letting it sit for a bit. The powders create a habitat that discourages many microbes, like the kind that live in tiny scratched crevices and outlive even dish soap and the dishwasher.

We can use that trick on dog bowls, sinks and counters, as well, using fresh lemons or limes or bottled lemon juice, or just scrubbing and allowing it to sit, then sweeping it and wiping it up.

Pipe & Drain Cleaner

Getting rid of shower and tub mildew and *that* smell in any pipe uses basically the same ingredients as above: baking soda, salt in some cases, and lemon. Vinegar of pretty much any kind can be substituted for lemon juice if somebody likes that price enough for a different smell, or wants to go with apple cider vinegar.

I like the method where you boil 2-8 cups of water to pour down the drain, then throw a cup of baking soda in and let that sit for 5-60 minutes, and follow it up with 1 cup of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with a cup of water.

There are a few variations, so poke around a bit. Some say to cover it to direct the reaction downward (not so sure about that), and some to limit the fumes in the air (just don’t use white vinegar). Some say to give it 6-8 hours, and some say to just wait until the bubbles stop. Some suggest just rinsing with tap water, and some suggest boiling more water to flush the remnants away. Up to you.

It doesn’t always work, especially in the bathroom where *somebody* sheds 2’ hair with every shower. Sometimes a repeat or upgrade to/of vinegar to the stronger cousins works. Every once in a while, you have to go to a snake or “real” drain cleaner, but a lot of the time, whether it’s a slow drain, a for-real clog, or a smell, the baking soda does the trick.

There are apparently schools of thought where this is bad and degrades things, so research that too.

Fungicide (Outdoor)

One of the things that helps baking soda kill smells is that the sodium bicarbonate is an antacid, a highly reactive one. A lot of growing things prefer an acidic environment. Fungi – from mold to mildew – is one of those things. The beauty is that baking soda is a stabilizing antacid. It’ll react with anything in an extreme, and go through a severe reaction initially (which can also kill bad stuff) but then it’ll self-regulate and return its surroundings to a near-neutral state.

No wonder this stuff is called miracle powder, right?

That miracle powder can help us in a big way with some common crop and garden pests – mildews.

We can add one tablespoon of baking soda to one quart of water (4 tablespoons/1 quarter-cup per gallon) and use it to treat black spots in the yard, roses, and berry brambles suffering from the various black fungus illnesses.

Powdery mildew on any plants can be prevented and treated with the same, however, the addition of a teaspoon of dish detergent and a teaspoon of vegetable oil per half gallon will help it stick better. Once powdery mildew gets started, it’s a constant battle, so having the spray last longer on the plants can save us a lot of time and heartache.

Creepy-Crawly Pests

Fungus gnats aren’t usually harmful, but they are annoying, and there are times there are so many that the soil-dwelling larvae stage start stunting plant growth because they’re consuming the tiny root hairs of plants. A teaspoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of dish detergent in a full gallon of water can also help remove or reduce the populations, without changing soil pH so much that acid-loving veggie plants and perennials can’t handle it and die, too. As with mildews, all soils in the area need treated and the treatment will have to be repeated to break the infestation completely since there are multiple stages and locations in the gnats’ life cycles.

Mixing baking soda 1:1 with powdered sugar and surrounding an ant hill with a 1”x1” wall of the stuff can help reduce those garden pests, too. I’ve had it decrease the visible numbers, but they seem to pop back up. Still, it’s nicer working in beds and playing fetch or weed-eating with a few less ants getting aggravated with you. A ring of baking soda will also help deter slugs. (Grits and cornmeal help with ants and slugs, too.)

Pest Sting & Itch Relief

puppy's too

Baking soda recently got crowned the Most Prized Possession in my house. I was attacked by some sort of not-bee striped flyer, and ended up with welts roughly the sizes of eggs, from dainty little quail all the way up to jumbos, with 3-6” red raised areas around the big welts. Yay! A poultice of just baking soda and water reduced the swelling and pain.

That poultice is best applied with large Band-Aids already open and waiting, especially if you’re trying to doctor your own elbow and thigh.

If the poultice is allowed to dry, it will come off in big flakes or shingles, and can actually help extract a broken-off stinger, fang or tick head.

Like the satchels, the poultice can be improved on. Chamomile tea is awesome, but any kind of tea contains fabulous stuff that helps reduce swelling and pain more and faster. Let it cool and add it to the poultice, open a bag to mix in before the water, or open a used bag to add to the paste. Aloe can be stripped and chopped and added, as can commercially available gel. So can witch hazel, chamomile flowers, lavender oil or flowers, fresh or dried plantain, Echinacea (purple cone flower), chickweed or jewelweed, and lemon balm.

Some people also apparently make their poultice with milk. Not my thing. Likewise, I’m not adding to the mess or pains by using honey or honey crystals in there, but there are proponents of honey as well.

Go as crazy as you like with that one.

Maybe the sting or bite isn’t making you crazy enough to coat your wounds with paste and Band-Aids. Sometimes we’re just hot and itchy and can’t really identify a single place to treat, and a shower or bath isn’t really cutting it.

Baking soda in a tub with or without soothing additives like oatmeal can help.

You can also make a satchel similar to the first use listed, although you’ll want it to be bigger. Again, alone or with things like chipped aloe, oatmeal, chamomile flowers or oil, or tea leaves from a regular grocery-store brewing bag (Camellia sinensis species) can be added. You use the satchel to dab yourself while you’re in the shower.

Baking Soda

There are just so many uses for baking soda, with these the very tip of the iceberg. Run any google search for uses, and you’ll find dozens more, from killing weeds to repelling rabbits and silverfish. It goes in laundry and it gets used for facial masks. Use it to deodorize dogs, make Play Dough, or get gum/caulk out of your hair. The stuff is so cheap, so easy to find, and does so much, it’s worth filling a box or drawer and keeping handy, especially if we live well outside shopping areas.

It’s not one that I expect there to ever be massive runs on, not like generators, snow shovels, tarps and plywood, peanut butter, and toilet paper. However, in a long-term disaster, we could potentially run out. For me, it doesn’t replace a fire alarm and fire extinguisher, some extra batteries that fit that alarm, or having spare oil and coolant in the truck, but it’s right up there with the food and water supplies as a must-have item.

Homemade Dehydrated Chicken Strips – Shelf Life Report

how-to-dehydrate-chicken

Two years ago I happened to make a particular batch of dehydrated chicken strips. The other day while defrosting one of the chest freezers we discovered a jar from this particular batch. Being two years old, I thought it would be helpful to be the ‘guinea pig’ and sample it, and report whether or not I survived…

Here’s my ‘shelf life’ report,
and the original article how I made these dehydrated chicken strips:

 

Here’s a picture of the newly discovered ‘canning jar’ of chicken strips:

dehydrated-chicken-shelf-life

We often store our various home dehydrated foods in canning jars and then vacuum seal them with this jar sealer tool. I’m sure that being vacuum sealed greatly enhances the shelf life…

In addition, since it is meat, and since we had room in the freezer – we kept it there.

Note: Obviously the freezer was key here. With that said, I was still curious after 2 years in the freezer which is generally not recommended for meat (lots of variability with that statement though).
The reason that we dehydrate chicken strips is actually for the dog – who loves to eat these as treats. He’s not spoiled or anything… ?

dachshund-chicken-treats

 

Dehydrated Chicken Strips Shelf Life Report

I am happy to report that not only did I not keel over and that Mrs.J did not have to dial 911, the chicken strips were still damn good! The dog was eying me as I tried one, and he let me know that I better stop at ‘just one’… the rest are for him ?
The Original Article:

How I Made Dehydrated Chicken Strips

It’s better to use chicken breast rather than dark meat because the dark meat has more fat in it and will spoil more quickly than the breast meat.

I used chicken breast that was still ‘on the bone’ (because it was on sale) and then simply sliced the meat off the bone with a sharp knife. Having a very sharp knife is important!
The next step is to trim away all skin and fat from the meat because the fat will go rancid if you leave it on. As you can see in the picture, I simply used a cutting board, a sharp knife, and kept a bowl nearby to throw in the fatty pieces of meat.

I discarded the skin but saved the fatty pieces of trimmed chicken to cook them separately for immediate consumption ? – less waste that way…

how-to-make-dehydrated-chicken-strips
I sliced the meat into strips about 1/4-inch thick. If you cut with the grain, the result will be a slightly more chewy meat. If you cut across the grain, the dehydrated result will snap easier into small pieces. It depends what you want…

Tip: If you partially freeze the chicken, it is easier to cut consistent width strips.
I then placed the chicken strips on my dehydrator trays and then set the dehydrator temperature to it’s max setting of 155-degrees F.

My Dehydrator: Excalibur.

chicken-strips-on-dehydrator-tray
Dehydrate the chicken strips until they at least reach a leathery consistency. Personally I like to dry them longer until they’re very crisp. This way they’re drier and they will last longer.

The dehydrate time will vary anywhere from 6 to 16 hours depending on your environmental conditions, how thick the chicken strips are, and how dry that you want them. Plan on starting this process in the morning so that you won’t run out of time during the process before having to call it a night and go to bed…

dehydrate-chicken

After the chicken strips have finished dehydrating, I broke them up into smaller pieces to keep them in canning jars sealed with a vacuum sealer ‘jar sealer’ attachment.

I also keep the jars in the fridge for an even longer shelf life. Home dehydrated chicken strips should last at least 1 to 2 months stored at room temperature (depending on storage conditions and environment), and much longer if refrigerated or frozen. The thing is, I can never test the actual shelf life because these things disappear sooner rather than later…

Linked from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/survival-kitchen/dehydrate-chicken-strips/

SHTF Shopping At The Pet Store

shtfpet-store2

Backups to backups and redundancy planning go hand in hand with emergency preparedness right?  So, why shouldn’t you have backups to backups for your SHTF shopping location(s) if the primary is a no go?

After TSHTF, there could be various reasons why trying to get last minute supplies at a grocery/retail store could be very dangerous.  With that thought, today’s post is on SHTF shopping at the pet store.

The good things are that pet stores might not be on the top of people’s list for supplies when TSHTF.  If you really delve deep and scan all of the isles, you can actually find many potentially useful items for emergency preparedness.  With all of that said, let’s take a look at what I found in a local big name pet store.

Here is a list of pet store items I thought could be useful:

Activated carbon – This stuff was found in the aquarium section and could be used for making layered improvised water filters.

Fish antibiotic – (tetracycline hydrochloride 500 milligram powder capsules) – For keeping your fish healthy after the SHTF.

Hand sanitizer – For the obvious reason of sanitizing hands and as a fire-starting aid.

Pet food – For your dogs and cats after the SHTF.  Pet food could also be used as bait for game and fish.  I’ve heard that cat and dog food can be eaten by humans in the short term in an emergency situation.

Stainless steel pet food/water bowls – This would be on the top of my SHTF pet store shopping list if I had no other method of boiling water.

Leashes/straps/chains – Could be used to secure gear or for cordage/lashing.

Pet stroller – I didn’t know such things existed, but they do.   This could be used as an improvised SHTF hand cart for gear.

Hemostat – There could be a variety of potential uses for this in emergency preparedness.

Syringes – Like the hemostat, there could be a number of things this could be used for.

Droppers – After the SHTF, you might have to resort to using your stock of unscented bleach to treat water.  It would be nice to have a dropper to do that with.  Here is a post I did on different methods of treating water: Water: Options For Treating

Scissors – There could be multiple uses for scissors.

Self-stick wrap – If you’ve ever had blood drawn, you’ve probably had it wrapped with self-stick wrap afterwards.

Water proof food containers with a gamma style lid – This could be used as a dry box.

Hypoallergenic pet wipes – These are basically the pet version of baby wipes.

Dog beds – These could be used for insulation and warmth.

Linked from: http://allpreparedness.com/shtf-shopping-pet-store/

Survival Food for Pets

Why is survival food for pets important?

Our pets are members of our family. And since they usually aren’t able to fend for themselves, we have a responsibility to take care of them — even when SHTF.

In a disaster scenario, pet food can be hard to come by. But don’t worry; there are alternatives. Read more below.

Survival Food for Pets

Regardless of how prepared we are for any sort of “disaster” scenario, we will always find ourselves needing additional knowledge and supplies. One such scenario many survivalists have a hard time accepting is how to properly store and prepare food for pets in a SHTF situation. Even if pet food is already stored, is 6+ months of food stored away? And what will you do when the stored food runs up?

Thankfully household pets require the basic food groups that humans do and providing food for pets from scratch is actually a lot easier than you might think. Even providing long term food for household pets is possible as long as a garden with a basic food supply is properly tended to.

Self Prepared Cat Food

Cats require less food than dogs and just a few basic ingredients are required in order to make a week’s supply of food for a household cat. All you need is:

  • 4-5 cans of tuna and ¾ cup already cooked rice.
  • 3/8 lb chopped chicken liver; or other meat substitute.
  • 4 sprigs of chopped parsley (optional) with stems removed.

Access to tuna should be easy to come by since tuna is a food item which is commonly already stored. Rice should also already be stored in with other storable foods. Simply drain the tuna and mix with the already cooked ¾ cup of rice. Thoroughly cook the chopped liver or other meat substitute and mix with the tuna and rice. As an option, especially if already available, mix in the chopped parsley and serve. The above ingredients and their amount should provide enough food for a household cat for up to one week. If properly stored this same amount may last up to three months.

Self Prepared Dog Food

Household dogs come in a variety of sizes and each differently sized dog eats a different size serving. Be sure to provide enough ingredients for your dog breeds’ daily serving.  In order to provide a survival meal for your dog you will first need the following ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 lb ground turkey, chicken, or meat substitute.
  • 2 cups brown rice, 1 tsp of Rosemary, and 16 oz of broccoli, cauliflower, and/or carrots combined.

Bring 6 cups water to a boil and place in 1 lb ground turkey, chicken, or meat substitute, 2 cups brown rice, and 1 tsp of Rosemary. Once thoroughly cooked let simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes pour in 16 oz of broccoli, cauliflower, and/or carrots combined and stir for an additional five minutes then serve. The ingredients above are capable of providing up to one week’s worth of food depending on the size and breed of the dog.  If properly stored this same amount may last for up to three months.

Training Your Dog For Survival

There are millions of people out there who would never leave their dogs behind in any emergency situation if they can help it.  That is wonderful and that sort of love and loyalty is to be commended.  So I ask, why not take it one step further and train your dog to benefit you in a survival situation?

Dogs have natural survival instincts already in them so there are some things you do not have to worry about.  It has been my experience that the majority of dogs can assess a dangerous situation and let the owners know by barking at the threat.  Teaching your dog to speak, or to be quiet, is not as hard as you think and can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation.  If you do not want someone to know your location then being able to keep your dog quiet on command is of the utmost importance.  If you are in a situation where you need to be found then having a dog that can alert others on command is very important.

No matter what you are training your animal to do you must always remain patient when training.  Dogs can sense aggravation and may become scared or timid.  This is not what you want.  You want training time to be fun.  Most dogs live to make their owners happy and are more responsive and willing to do what is asked with positive reinforcement training.

In order to teach your dog to be quiet, you must also teach your dog to speak.  The two commands go hand in hand.  For this reason we begin by teaching the dog to speak.  Practice these steps 1-2 times a day for about 5-10 minutes.  Anything longer than that usually results in boredom and then is no longer fun for your dog.

Speak Command;

  • Invoke a situation that will get your dog to bark, such as knocking on the door.  When someone knocks and the dog barks say in a firm commanding voice, “Speak,” and when he/she barks immediately give him/her one treat and lots of praise such as, “Good girl” in an excited voice.
  • Repeat this process until you can gradually stop using the door knocking to get your dog to bark.  Once the dog has mastered the speak command then he/she is ready to learn the “Quiet” command.

Quiet Command:

  • Place your dog on a leash and give him/her the command to bark.  When he/she does, then give the dog one treat.
  • Do this several times in a row.
  • After 4-5 times of barking, quickly tug on the leash and give the command “Quiet” or “Hush.”  When the dog stops barking quickly give him/her threetreats in a row.  By giving the dog three treats the dog learns that being “quiet” has a higher treat value than bark does.
  • Repeat these steps 4-5 times in a row and then take a break making sure to praise and reward the dog for good behavior.  Toss around a ball or his/her favorite toy.
  • Do this until the dog no longer needs the leash corrections to follow the Quiet command.
  • As the dog progresses, stop giving treats for the speak command and give one treat for the quiet command.

OBEDIENCE REVIEW

Whenever possible, your dog will try to get away with as much as possible.  If you start to slack off with obedience practice, your dog will soon forget all the commands you’ve taught him.  It is better to practice five minutes a day than to randomly do it every few weeks.  When your dog behaves perfectly on a consistent basis, then you can start to get a little lazy.  But if you notice a bit of attitude or stubbornness, get right back into a routine of practicing obedience before things go too far and are harder to fix later.  Here are a few tips on how to practice obedience with your dog.

  • Don’t repeat commands more than twice.
  • Use his name first, then the command.
  • Take your time.  Most dogs, especially young ones, are already in an excited state.  Teach them to relax and slow down.
  • Do obedience with the dog on your left side, not in front or behind you.  By having him in a consistent position, you can be more aware if he’s creeping ahead or lagging behind.  It’s also easier to correct a dog that is at your side, rather than being slightly ahead or behind you.
  • Praise your dog when he is in the correct position, even if you had to physically help him into the position.
  • Use a low, firm tone of voice.
  • Pick a release command, such as “Okay!” to let him know when he is done with a command.

There should be a clear separation between giving a command and giving a correction.  Give the command. Wait three seconds.  Then correct him, if necessary.  If your dog waits until you start to give a correction before doing the command, follow through with the correction anyway.  Otherwise you will continually have to start to correct before the dog performs the command, rather than the dog automatically performing the behavior when he hears the command.

These commands were learned through Animal Communications Institute.

There are training tools you can use to help you in your journey to having a well trained dog.  I have listed some examples below.

  1. Prong collar:  This collar looks mean but I assure you it is safe and will not hurt the dog.  It is designed to simulate how a mother dog would correct her pup if she didn’t want the dog doing something by grabbing the fur around the neck and pulling back by the loose skin.  A safe and effective alternative to choker collars, it puts even pressure around the neck, about every half inch, pinching the skin in a band.  This collar does not apply direct pressure to the trachea so you can train your dog with little or no tugging, jerking, or pulling.  (Note: We have and train pit bulls to the best of our ability and this collar has been very effective in teaching them how to not pull us when on the lead and due to their massive size, it is needed.)
  2. Vibration collars:  These collars give momentary burst of pre-measured stimulation to get your dogs attention if he is distracted; it gives electrical stimulation for as long as you hold the button down, up to eight seconds; and page causes the collar to vibrate for non-electrical stimulation.  There is often a shock feature on these types of collars as well.
  3. No- Pull Dog Harness:  Self explanatory.
  4. Basket Style Muzzle:   There are some dogs out there that can be unpredictable around strange people so for their safety and your dog’s safety you may consider owning one of these.  This high ventilation quality muzzle can be very useful in many situations and everyday use – visits to a vet, traveling, off-leash walks, preventing eating off the ground, yet allow for panting and drinking, providing the ultimate in comfort and safety for both the dog and owner or trainer.  Well-fitting, light weight, soft and comfortable yet strong and durable.  Safe and non-toxic.  The straps are adjustable and won’t stretch.  Please measure snout circumference and length for fit.

When there is a natural disaster hitting such as a tornado or hurricane the last thing you want to be doing is calling/searching for your dog.  Obedience training can eliminate this so that your dog stays with you unless told otherwise.  I encourage all pet owners to think about what all your dog is capable of learning that can benefit your safety and theirs.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Camping with My Dog

If you are like us, your dog is a big part of your life (she is our furbaby). If we could, we would take her on vacation with us everywhere we go. Okay, I would… not sure about my husband. When our beagle, Honey, was around 2 years old, we took her camping with us. I had no clue about camping with a dog, and learned a lot from the experience! Here are a few things I wish I had known before taking her camping with us.

Tips for camping with your dog

Leash, leash, leash!

At the time we took her camping, Honey was doing really well with staying close by us at all times. I didn’t have any reason to think she wouldn’t when we went camping. Wrong! Picture Dug the Talking Dog in the movie Up. You know how he will be talking and then suddenly say “squirrel” and look in another direction? This was Honey – times 100. Most of the time, she was fine and just hung by us. Then, she would see or smell something and run off.

Lesson learned: Keep your dog on a leash. Most pet-friendly campsites will have this as a rule anyway. Bring two leashes – a shorter one for hiking and a longer one for around the camp so your dog can wander a bit.

Stay on schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit. Although you may dine later in the morning and evening while on vacation, your dog will not. Yep, Honey had us up at the same time we would get up for work. Not fun!

Lesson learned: keep on the same feeding schedule. Or, you could slowly change your dog’s feeding schedule before you leave to go camping. That way your dog will let you sleep in while camping.

Stinky dog

While camping and hiking, your dog will get dirty and smelly just like you. When we took Honey camping, she would come into the tent to sleep and puffs of dirt would come off of her as we pet her.

Lesson learned: bring grooming supplies. Pack a brush, towel and even some dog shampoo – never know what your dog will get into! A brush or comb will also be helpful when looking for any ticks that may latch on to your dog while hiking.

Keep things familiar

Just like you should stay on schedule, you also want to bring things from home that will help your dog feel comfortable. All new surroundings can overwhelm them.

Lesson learned: bring your dog’s bed and/or a couple of favorite toys from home. This will help with the adjustment to the new surroundings.

Bug Out Bags for Your Beloved Pets

When we consider bug out bags (72 hour emergency kits) for each of our family members we often don’t consider that each of our pets need one too. Anything can happen at any given time and when that time comes my pets are coming with me…and they’re coming prepared like the rest of the family. Below are lists of things to consider for your pet’s bug out bag.

What items to consider for your dog

  • Vaccine/Medical records with owner contact information
  • Dog food with bowl (for can food make sure to include a can opener and a spoon)
  • Dog treats
  • Water with bowl (Your dog should have 2.5 oz of water for every 1 oz of food)
  • Protective clothing (raincoat and/or regular coat)
  • Dog bed (with a blanket for extra warmth)
  • Carrier with handle (collapsible if possible)
  • Collar with I.D. tag
  • Leash/Harness
  • A tie out (you never know when you may have to secure your pet)
  • Muzzle
  • First Aid Kit
  • Daily Medications
  • Clean up supplies (baggies, trash bags, etc)
  • Grooming supplies (optional)

What items to consider for your cat

  • Vaccine/Medical records with owner contact information
  • Cat food with bowl (for can food make sure to include a can opener and a spoon)
  • Cat treats
  • Water (Your cat should have 2.5 oz of water for every 1 oz of food)
  • Protective clothing (for example, a cat sweater)
  • Cat bed (with a blanket for extra warmth)
  • Carrier with handle
  • Collar with I.D. tag
  • First Aid Kit
  • Daily Medications
  • Litter Box/Pan with litter
  • Clean up supplies (baggies, trash bags, etc)
  • Grooming supplies (optional)

A medium sized bug out bag for each pet will typically fit everything your dog or cat will need with the exception of the pet carriers. You can even buy a doggie backpack for a bigger dog to carry.You may also consider a single, much bigger bag to include all of the items for every pet in the home. It may seem like alot of items but it’s well worth it for the safety and well being of your beloved pets.

For longer term survival situations consider “adding extra” on some items such as food, treats, water, clothing, blankets, first aid, kitty litter, and clean up supplies. Sometimes you don’t know that a survival situation is longer term until you’re actually IN a survival situation. So planning beyond the 72 hours for each family member’s emergency kit  is something to seriously consider.

Always remember this one important rule when it comes to survival, a motto I live by… It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.