Episode-1397- More on Raising Chickens — 44 Comments

  1. Good episode. It is always good to hear of some other ways to use eggs. The best way I’ve found to use up eggs in bulk is stuff like deviled eggs. The wife will go through a dozen no problem, and I find myself walking by the fridge and grabbing a few all the time.

    One of the better omelets we’ve made was a steak and mushroom one, using I think shiitaki mushrooms. I can’t remember what else was on it, obviously some sort of cheese, and we probably put sage, rosemary and thyme on it.

    • One thing we learned with our eggs when we started producing them about boiling eggs is that most store eggs are FRICKEN OLD.

      Once we started to get lots of eggs I decided to make some deviled eggs. I tossed a dozen fresh eggs in water, boiled them and all was well until I tried to peal them. Half the white came off with the damn shell! I was mad as hell. WTF, etc.

      By then Josiah was here and called his wife to ask if she knew why we had this problem. She told us eggs should be in the fridge for at least 2-3 weeks if you want them to peal well.

      Given I have never seen this with a store bought egg ever, it put a lot of things about FRESH into perspective.

      Now on Deviled Eggs if you don’t want to spend all that time making em pretty here is a short cut. Cut in half, make the yolks into the filling as normal. Just keep it in a bowl and plop a bit on the halves when you eat one. Think of it like egg nachos. Not good for a party or what have you but for expedience it is fine.

      • Do you guys notice that the yolks don’t turn that funky green color when they are fresher (hardboiled).

        • I haven’t had a hardboiled egg in a long time, and even though i’ll gulp down deviled eggs by the dozen, the thought of eating a hardboiled egg makes me…… yuck.

          But perhaps my tastes have changed. Maybe it just needs to be mixed with some stuff…. turning it into a deviled egg…

        • What you need to try is the awesome “purple nurple” it is the only way I can eat a hard boiled egg other than as a deviled egg or chopped up say on a salad. Oh well there is also egg salad or boiled chopped eggs in tuna salad. That is about it I think, um seriously though I am with you just a hard boiled egg alone, no I don’t not like that at all. Again though PURPLE NURPLES are the bomb.

        • Yeah, im not a fan either but I can choke them down when they aren’t greenish/grey.

        • Have any of you tried soft boiled eggs I never liked boiled eggs until my grandfather made me a 3 minute egg when I was 16. Bring the water to a very hard boil then lower the egg into the water for 3 minutes take it out and eat it. It will be runny. 3 min.= over easy 4 min. = over medium 6 min. = as hard as I would ever want one.

        • The grey/green color comes from overcooking the egg. Start the eggs in cold water, bring it to a boil, cover and turn off the heat, let it go for 10-12min. Throw in some salt to help it peel a little easier if you like.

        • Green color is correct but starting with cold water is exactly how you end up with stuck shells unless you have fairly old eggs.

        • Actually forgot the last bit, which others have mentioned… after the 10-12, we run cold water over them immediately and then leave them in cold water with a bit of vinegar added. We rarely have peeling problems… maybe that’s the key step.

        • Likely it is because you are not using fresh eggs. Trust me if your eggs were laid within a week, strait into boiling water is the only hope you have.

        • We’ve got a laying flock, so freshness isn’t the issue. I read another poster’s comments about Ameracauna eggs peeling easier… and guess what we have? Aneira’s link to the ‘scientific study’ is incredibly interesting (to us chicken-folk) and I’m eager to try a new approach to what grandma taught me decades ago.

      • We raise our own birds here too and I’ve had very good results using the following (even with fresh eggs).

        Bring your pot of water to a boil then turn it down so water is nearly still.
        Add eggs carefully.
        Raise heat, you are aiming for just under a boil (low turbulence is the goal here).
        At that point add a pinch of salt and 1Tbs vinegar(I use white vinegar).

        Keep the pot at this level of boil for 15 minutes.

        When the 15 minutes has elapsed move pot to sink and start running cold water. When eggs are cool to the touch they will peel with incredible ease. I have had no trouble handling 18+ eggs at time this way.

        • Like Mike from NH posted; that’s about what I do and the eggs don’t need to be old to be easy to peel. I researched this (to death!) and found the secret is as Mike wrote–{{putting the eggs into boiling water}}. The shock of the boiling water causes the membrane to separate from the shell. I only simmer mine for 11-12 minutes and then put them into a bowl of very icy water to stop the cooking and to chill completely (about 15 minutes). When shelling, start from the larger end where the air pocket has been and that will make them just a bit easier. I also sometimes dunk them under water as I’m peeling as this seems to help. Cooked like this, the eggs will be perfect! To me, perfect is: the shell comes off easily with minimal damage to the white, not too rubbery of white, no greenish coating on the yolk, and a tender creamy bright yellow yolk. I hope you try it; seriously, I’ve tried every way on the internet and this really is the secret.

        • I asked the wife about this last night, her response? Let the eggs sit in the fridge for at least a week.

          She said she was going to send me some sort of stuff she read about on the subject, or she could reply on here. I know she’s trolling the blog posts.

        • Yep we found a week works okay, sort of.

          Two weeks most will peal.

          Three weeks, they peal like normal all of them.

          The upside is we label our stuff and when we have too many we just set some aside for an extra week, boil em up and use em for various things.

        • Just thinking that store eggs are 3+ weeks old, and sterilized (in other words, unable to defend themselves against bacteria) is disgusting.

          The guy we buy our chicken eggs from doesn’t even wash them (for intentional reasons). I’m not even 100% sure he refrigerates them. Best eggs I’ve ever eaten. The amount of clover and fresh feed those guys get is incredible.

        • Ok so here is that post New Mike said I would find for you all. A post from serious eats on how to really boil a egg and maximize the peel-ability and tastiness (no green yolks!): . They did a series of tests and tried all sorts of techniques to come up with it, kinda like Alton Brown. Definitely the most comprehensive list of something that you think would be so simple. Anyways if you are a nerd and enjoy cooking like me, you will find it a fun read regardless.

        • And yes you don’t have to refrigerate eggs if you don’t wash them since the cuticle on the outside of the egg will still be intact. That is what they do in Europe, I believe. And I know it has been quite a number of times now I forget to put the eggs away from coming back from the market and find them in the car or in the kitchen hours after and they are just fine (the unwashed farmers market eggs).

        • YES!! That’s the article that I read (fellow nerd that likes to cook) and that’s how I make them. The secret is putting them in boiling water rather than putting them in cold water and bringing the water to a boil. This works perfectly and there is NO NEED to AGE the eggs. Doubters need to try it. 🙂

      • We definitely had this issue, but my wife has more or less figured out a workable solution. Don’t ask me. I just easy em.

        Maybe if my wife reads this she’ll comment on this.

        For probably the last 4 or so months I’ve been mostly eating duck eggs. They make the absolute BEST fried eggs. Not to mention you have to REALLY mess up to break the yolks. They’re one tough ass eggs, perfect for frying.

        I eat 2 eggs 2 bacon, pretty much every single day. Although this week it has been 2 eggs and a slice of fried spam. I cut the spam up into maybe half inch cubes, put them in the pan with a bit of butter, put a good amount of powdered garlic, and plenty of cajun seasoning. (We use this one local type called Frier Jean, that has no salt, and amazing taste). Cook it till it is crispy on the outside…. THE BEST. Dip the spam in the yolk and you’re in heaven.

        We first tried out spam as a meat prep, and now I wouldn’t say its something we eat “often”, but I don’t bat an eye at pulling it out and using it. Battered and fried with an asian stirfry (use panko), eggcelent. Spam in mac and cheese. Amazing.

      • In my years of raising chickens I have found that the breed of chicken makes a difference in boiling eggs. Eggs from Ameraucana or Easter Eggers will usually peal easy freash from the hen house. I have no idea why this works but eggs from the brown egg layers in the same coop don’t peal easy. It makes it easy to know which eggs to grab when we do boil because of the blue shells. Maybe someone can repeat my finding.

    • the best way we have discovered for hard boiled is using a rice steamer. We use the kind with the elevated basket. One cup of water in the steamer part, one cup in the basket. We are going to make some deviled eggs tonight so I’ll post how long it steamed. Some of the yolks are really close to the edge of the white… tonights experiment is to place all the eggs thick end down and see if we get a more desirable placement of the yolk for deviled eggs.

  2. Hi Jack,
    What brand of sprouted bread are you using? Or do you make your own?

    With regards to broody hens and raising them, I have found that if I remove the baby chicks from the mother within 24 hours or so and put more eggs under the hen she will sit there for another 21 days. I haven’t tried past that because I wanted the hen to get back to normal weight etc, but I think it would work if you wanted to continuously have hen hatched eggs. The only disadvantage is that you have to raise them instead of her, but Im already doing that. Hope that is helpful.

    • What ever looks best we shop a few times a month at either “Sprouts” or Whole Foods and I buy what ever seems like I would like it for sprouted bread. Sprouts is the HEB version of Whole Foods though not as good and not as much organic non GMO stuff. But the store is a LOT closer to us than the nearest Whole Foods. I eat may be half a loaf of the stuff a month by then even if frozen I give the rest to the birds so I don’t really focus on what brand sorry man.

      I am planning to teach my wife to make real sourdough and eat that as an alternative.

  3. Thanks Jack
    As someone who does not have chickens YET the past 2 episodes were basically poultry porn.
    I scrambled some crappy factory eggs with some lambsquaters, garlic chives, dandelion, oregano, parsley, onion and comfrey…all from the suburban lot. Add in some ham, cheese and tomato and it was quite good. Now I have to take the next step and use real permaculture eggs.
    This week I also made wild black cherry jelly. Made a decoction of cherry and white pine bark and successfully treated a nasty cough with congestion. Worked on extending my woody beds which have already yielded great production but only kept the deer very happy so I added some electric fence with strips of aluminum foil and peanut butter to discourge them. The jalepenos, tomato and basil over them would also add to the egg dish Thanks

  4. Hello. We are going to cull a couple roosters from our flock. I am having trouble visualizing the 5 GL bucket idea you described. I get that the bucket is on the ground with the bird dangling from the two ropes. How is it dark? Do you slaughter at night? Maybe a picture would help out. Thanks for taking the time to clarify for some of your slower listeners.

    • Why do you think it is “dark” other than for the bird it is quite dark in the bucket I guess. Really I don’t get your question at all, I think you added in something not intended. Bird hangs with head a few inches above the buckets bottom and is mostly inside it, you gut neck, put bird in bucket and wait for it to bleed out, there is no more than that.

    • You said in the podcast that the bucket was dark. Thanks for answering my question though.

  5. Just wanted to offer up a few recommendations on getting the most out of your bird (or bird parts) via stock:
    1. you can scald and skin the feet (the scales and even ‘talons’ come off easily after scalding), add them, and all that extra collagen does a magical thing for the broth. Same for the waddles and combs.
    2. my wife makes her stock in a slow cooker, cooking it on low for over 24 hours (yes, that long) with the addition of a few tablespoons of vinegar. The vinegar solubilizes some of the Ca, K, and P from the bones (making a more nutritious stock) and that in addition to the long cooking time renders the bones powdery-soft – you’ll be able to crush them in your fingers.
    After straining the broth, I just take a potato masher to the remaining carcass, maybe add a little extra water. The result is excellent dog or cat or pig or [insert carnivore/omnivore here] food (meat & bone meal)… or in the worst of times, a meal in itself.

  6. What is a “purple nurple? If it is in the episode then just ignore this and forgive me ahead of time for asking. My computer is in the shop and won’t be back for a week or so, otherwise I’d most likely know already. Can’t wait to get caught up on missed episodes.

    In regards to hard boiled eggs. I have what I think are Partridge Rocks, and they lay a brown egg to sometimes almost an almond color egg for what it is worth. I bring my water to a rolling boil and gently lower an egg or two at a time into the water with a large spoon, and will let them cook for about 10 minutes. I then take the pot and pour whatever water I can off into the sink and then fill it with cold water and pour that off and repeat for another time or two. I then proceed to peel the eggs and I’ve never had a problem doing them the 2 or 3 times I’ve boiled the eggs. FWIW I have 15 partridge rocks, 4 white leghorn, and another 10 that are girls but I am unsure of the breed. I sell most of my eggs at work for $2.50 a dozen and just about break even.

    • A purple nurple is a hard boiled egg that you pickle in pickled beet juice. You just take a jar, fill it with boiled eggs, cover them with left over pickled beet juice, stick in the fridge for about a week and you are done.

      Warning combined with beer they produce um, large amounts of gas.

  7. Sounds like something to eat and then go to work. As long as it doesn’t produce sharts.

  8. Jack:

    I had a thought about ensuring that my future chickens receive plentiful protein. How about a system of catching bugs (live), without insecticide, of course, to provide for our birds? Can we catch grasshoppers, crickets, etc. in a practical way and in a significant amount to supplement feeding? You mentioned raising some kind of worm, meal-worms I think. How about getting several systems of worm and insect cultivation going for the sole purpose of feeding birds? Do you think this is practical and worthwhile?


    • During the summer, my grandfather used to roll up newspapers and place them in shady rocky areas and in the morning would collect the earwigs that hide in them to escape the heat of the day. He would simply get a 5 gal bucket of hot tap water and shake the earwigs into the bucket. The earwigs would instantly die because they can’t take heat at all. When he was done, he would often have a good 3-4 inches of earwigs to dump into the coop. The chickens went wild for them.

      • That’s really cool. This is the kind of thing I was thinking about. I did some youtube searches and found several videos on catching crickets with homemade traps and other techniques. I thought about having numerous traps set on various locations on my property to catch various live insects. Then, every couple of days or so, I could collect, kill/stun them and feed to the birds. It seems like a good plan.


  9. Just tried the Coq au Vin recipie tonight. Big hit all around!!
    I think we will be doing this recipie more often, 😉
    Thanks Jack!!

  10. Jack and everyone else,

    I have enjoyed your shows on chickens. I wanted to share some things that I do with chickens that I think will be very helpful to all of you.

    When we brood chicks, gunieas or turkies we use the brinsea ecoglow. That is when we are not using our chickens to brood a hatch.

    Instead of using dangerous heat lamps that use lots of energy we heard about and then tried the ecoglow. I have done six different broods using it and it works great wether it is in my garage in the middle of winter or the summer.

    Some benefits of the ecoglow are that it acts like an electric hen. It provides cover for the chicks which is what they naturally do with their mothers. This lessens their stress.

    It uses far less electricity.

    It does not catch fire.

    It is easy to clean.

    You can raise and lower it.

    My birds under this have feathered out much quicker.

    I learned about the deep litter method reading Harvey Usery. His book is a great book on chickens.

    I used to use dimatacious earth on the litter but I no longer do this as I create a deep litter full of beneficial insects. These insects create competition for the bad bugs such as mites.

    Most of the time mites will find crevices in the coop to hide usually on or near the roost or nest boxes. This is why I no longer use straw with my birds as it provides a great hiding place.

    In my experience chickens prefer hay as bedding for their nest boxes. I have compared it between straw and pine shavings. They might also enjoy leaves but. I have not tried that yet.

    Cold pressed 100% neem oil is your friend. This along with a lime basd white wash is the greatest way to fight mites and lice that find hiding places on or near the roosts. I also use the neem oil in the nest boxes after I clean the hay out every so often.

    I cannot say I agree about free ranging as my birds free range and they go well over five acres worth of land.

    Though sometimes, but not often one or two will lay outside the nest boxes. Usually when a group does it is inside my barn. I have not had the birds come on my large deck but the geese and ducks have and it is a pain.

    I have only lost a few birds to predation and two ducks. Recently the coyotes have been hammering us at night and getting ducks and baby guineas. Soon we will be mounting coyote heads.

    If anyone has any questions about how I raise my birds I would be more than happy to help. I do not know everything but I have learned a number of things over the years.

    One other thing I reccomend is to ferment your feed. This allows great nutrient uptake, actually increase the protein level and reduces waste. Chickens will peck out or scratch out the oarts of the feed that are less appealing to them. They will eat it but first they pick out the parts they love the most the way a child picks the marshmellows out of lucky charms.

  11. In regards to omelets and everything that goes in them….I love omlettes and I love changing up the ingredients. I’m a fairly adventurous foodie, but when I saw this recipe I was a little hesitant. Apples in an omelet? I tried it anyways and it was pretty awesome – especially when using Ancient Organics amazing ghee.

    Thanks for the chicken shows! They sound like a lot of fun! If anyone has time, check out the “Chicken is a Gateway Livestock” youtube video. It’s hilarious!

  12. I brooded 27 chicks last March/April in Michigan without supplying any heat. I built something they could huddle under out of radiant foil insulation. These chicks were from Tractor Supply so they were a bit older than day old’s you would get in the mail, but it worked well for me. I checked every night and they were all clustered together in a ball sleeping and they would come in and out as they wanted to be warmer or colder during the day. I also think a key point is the number, not just a couple chicks, but more than 2 dozen.

    Details are at this blog post.