UCP Episode 059: The Livestock Conservancy – Saving Heritage Our Breeds (Discussion with Jeannette Beranger)

The Livestock Conservancy

How many grizzly bears are in the United States? 1,800. How many grey wolves in America?  5,443 in the lower 48 states (there is an estimated additional 7,700 -11,000 in Alaska.)  How many Redcap breed chickens in the States? Fewer than 500 (and fewer than 2,000 in the world.)

There are currently twelve different chicken breeds listed as “critically endangered” and an additional twelve breeds on the “threatened” list (fewer than 1,000 in the U.S. and 5,000 worldwide) according to the Livestock Conservancy. While the WWF is fighting to protect pandas and rhinos, the Livestock Conservancy is tirelessly working to protect threatened heritage horse, cattle, donkey, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and rabbit populations.

Jeannette Beranger  - photo courtesy of The Livestock Conservancy

Jeannette Beranger – photo courtesy of The Livestock Conservancy

Jeannette Beranger, the Research and Technical Programs Manager for the Livestock Conservancy joins me on the Urban Chicken Podcast to discuss the mission of this organization, some of the projects the Conservancy is currently involved in and how backyard hobbyist chicken keepers (like you and me) can help save some rare and special breeds from becoming extinct from our own backyards.

Jeannette has over 25 years of experience working with animals first as a veterinary technician and then later for several years with the Roger Williams zoo, where she eventually became the head zookeeper.  For the past few years, Jeannette has worked with the Livestock Conservancy researching, educating, networking and implementing various programs and efforts to save endangered heritage livestock breeds with the Conservancy.  She has a depth of knowledge on animals and particularly heritage breed livestock to share on today’s show.

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UCP Episode 058: Listener Q & A Session #5

Wright's Book of Poultry - Plate on Page 488

Wright’s Book of Poultry – Plate on Page 488

It is time again for another session of Urban Chicken Podcast Listeners’ questions and answers.  This Q and A session we consider and discuss ISA Brown chickens, a rooster who is acting like a hen, issues with spilt feed in the coop, identify a mystery breed hen, and hear about another crowing hen!   Continue reading

UCP Blog 026: Pasty Butt & Baby Chicks

New Chick - photo by Nikol Lohr

New Chick – photo by Nikol Lohr

Continuing on our springtime chicks’ ailment series, this week we discuss the common issue of “Pasty Butt.”  The condition “Pasty Butt” occurs when feces get stuck and harden around the chick’s down surrounding the bird’s vent.  The hardened feces can literally “paste” over the chick’s vent and block the excretion of feces.  If not removed, this condition will kill the affected chick and rather quickly. Continue reading

UCP Blog 025: Splay Leg in Baby Chicks & How to Treat It

Springtime brings spring chicks to many of our homes.  Spring chicks occasionally can become injured and ill and require extra attention and care on the part of the owner. One common baby chick ailment is called “Splay Leg.”

Splay Leg (also commonly called “Spraddle Leg”) is a condition that causes young chicks to have one or both of their legs slip to the side of their bodies twisted out from the hip, making it impossible for the bird to walk or even stand.  Splay Leg is often caused by the use of slick surfaced materials (e.g. newspaper) for brooder bedding. The condition may also be caused by vitamin deficiency or incubator temperatures being too high or fluctuating. Continue reading

UCP Blog 024: What Killed My Chicken?


Crime Scene - photo by Alan Cleaver

Crime Scene – photo by Alan Cleaver

I recently was contacted by a Chris W., an Urban Chicken Podcast listener who sadly had just had one of her chickens killed and left some ways away from the scene of the crime. Chris wanted help detecting who had destroyed her lovely hen and I did my best to try to deduce the culprit from the evidence provided.

I have shared my conversation with Chris and my attempt to get to the bottom of this backyard chicken murder case.  See if you agree with my detective skills and whether I am the next Sherlock Holmes of chicken mysteries.   Continue reading

UCP Guest Post 002: My New Zealand Urban Chickens – Mindy has Babies! – by Fiona Campbell

Mindy and her Chicks (circa 1980) - photo courtesy of Fiona Campbell

Mindy and her Chicks (circa 1980) – photo courtesy of Fiona Campbell

Today’s Post is provided by UCP guest blogger, Fiona Campbell, an avid backyard chicken keeper living in rural Kapiti, New Zealand on fiveFiona Campbellacres. Fiona is the author and illustrator of the book, “Ruby’s Diary,” which is a chicken memoir penned from the point of view of her top hen, Ruby.  The book cleverly considers what is important in life (which is remarkably the similar whether that be a human or chicken life).  You can join Fiona at her blog Ruby’s Diary, where Fiona’s pet hen Ruby waxes lyrically about life and happenings in her flock.  Fiona’s book, “Ruby’s Diary” is also available on her blog website, Ruby’s Diary Hen (LINK).  


My pet chicken Mindy was a complete unit. In and of herself she was perfect. Her urban backyard and our family house were her domain. She lived solely focused on the here and now and wanted for nothing. I on the other hand, being eight years old, wanted baby chicks!

I grew up watching David Attenborough’s BBC Nature documentaries and consequently knew what was required when it came to getting chicks. As Mindy was mateless, I knew she needed help to achieve ‘her’ dream of becoming a mother. Taking on a rooster seemed much too challenging, so Mum and Dad suggested fertilized eggs instead. Continue reading

UCP Blog 023: “The Art of Happy Hens” Chicken Infograph

Chicken Infograph - by Janel Crisp Goodwin & Terry Golson

Chicken Infograph – by Janel Crisp Goodwin & Terry Golson

The Urban Chicken Podcast was recently contacted by graphic designer Janel Crisp Goodwin, who teamed up with chicken expert, Terry Golson (of Hencam.com and Golson was the guest in the UCP in Episode 052 LISTEN HERE) to create a very cool chicken infograph called “The Art of Happy Hens.” For those of you new to the ‘infograph’ world, it is the use of graphic art to convey information in very palatable and aesthetically pleasing manner. “The Art of Happy Hens” infograph is a delightful melding of art and chicken information. Goodwin invited me to share this chicken infograph with the Urban Chicken Podcast audience, which I have done at the end of this post.   Continue reading

UCP Episode 057: Understanding Chicken Molting with Meredith Chilson

Frida cooperating for Molting Picture - photo by Jen Pitino

Frida cooperating for Molting Picture – photo by Jen Pitino

Backyard chickens molt every year to replace broken, frayed and old feathers.  Though conventionally, chickens molt in late summer/early fall, a bird can molt anytime of year that suits.  Molting is both a physically and emotionally stressful time for the bird.

Meredith Chilson, a veteran chicken keeper with over forty years of experience and knowledge joins me on the Urban Chicken Podcast this week to discuss feather molting in chickens.  Meredith also shares some practical tips on how to make the molting process a little easier for you flock.  Continue reading

UCP Blog 022: Wintertime Chicken Spa Idea

Heated Chicken Spa - photo courtesy of Deb Bino

Heated Chicken Spa – photo courtesy of Deb Bino

Wintertime this year has been especially brutal for some areas of the U.S.  In particular, the New England states are reporting 20 year record-breaking snowfalls and cold temperatures.

Deb Bino, an Urban Chicken Podcast listener living in Pennsylvania, has come up with a clever way for her backyard chickens to get some relief from the winter weather — a chicken spa!  Deb’s winter chicken spa is easily constructed and greatly appreciated by the birds who are as tired as their human owner of the endless snow this year.

Here is how Deb constructed her chicken spa to fight the winter blues.  First she buried an electric, heated foot-mat in the bottom of a sand box under a mixture of sand, diatomaceous earth, wood ashes and peat moss.  The sand mixtures is about five inches deep, which gives the birds plenty of material to dig and lay in.  Being mindful of fire safety, Deb wrote that she carefully wrapped the cord to the heating pad in duct tape to keep the spa more secure.

Deb then constructed a simple box frame (roughly 4’x6′ in size) covered with clear plastic sheeting.  This sheathed box frame is leaned against a building and over the chicken spa so that the birds can enjoy the warm sand mixture out of the elements.  According to Deb, her wintertime chicken spa can comfortably accommodate four hens at a time.  The flock has been greatly enjoying their heated oasis from the winter weather!

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