To stay healthy, your chickens need plenty of ventilation–probably more than they’re getting today. This was discovered over 100 years ago, but has been largely forgotten. Today’s small-flock chicken coops tends to be dank, dark, and smelly. Chickens, like miners’ canaries, are easily harmed by poor air quality. Wet litter breeds disease. Darkness forces chickens, like parrots, to be artificially inactive. “Dank, dark, and smelly” is a deadly combination!
Closed chicken houses are so harmful that knocking out a wall can cause an immediate improvement, even in winter (there’s an interesting case study of this in Chapter 2). Chickens, after all, have a thick coat of feathers to keep them warm, but are vulnerable to poor air quality and pathogens in the litter; and their unwillingness to eat in the dark means they can starve in the midst of plenty.
An open-front coop during a Canadian winter. Note the snow on the ground.
And in summer! Poor air circulation and a thick coat of feathers is hard on the chickens. It can easily kill them. Chickens are far more vulnerable to heat than cold.
Fresh-Air Poultry Houses was written by Dr. Prince T. Woods, a noted poultry health expert. Dr. Woods describes not only his own poultry houses, but those of many of his clients, giving the book a breadth of experience that makes it a unique resource. This 1924 book is old-fashioned and a little eccentric, but in a good way.The Fresh-Air Revolution
The principles Woods describes in his book achieved total victory at the time. Open-front poultry houses were not only the dominant type, they were the only type for many years (until the industry moved to the use of gigantic fans at the ends of poultry houses to provide even more ventilation than open-front housing!).
The principles of open-front housing were taken to extremes in some parts of the country, with surprisingly good results. In California, chicken houses were so open that they didn’t have walls at all! Just a roof. This method was used as far north as Oregon in the Fifties, and worked at least as well as conventional houses. The improved air quality made up for the increased wind chill.
While the large producers have consistently embraced the benefits of fresh air, small-flock owners gradually reverted to the kind of under-ventilated chicken coops that was common in the Nineteenth century. The need to keep baby chicks warm trains all of us to be obsess over providing warmth and exclude drafts, and it’s hard to do the opposite when the chicks are older. Even during the heyday of open-front housing, there was a saying that “the best chicks come out of the sorriest houses,” meaning that even experienced farmers couldn’t resist shutting up their houses too tightly, and that only a drafty, dilapidated house could prevent this from doing harm.
Things are even worse now, since most people have never even heard of the benefits of fresh air for poultry. We’re proud to be able to bring the Fresh-Air Revolution into the Twenty-First Century.
What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex's case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous—two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex's brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.
The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, "I love you."
Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thin—despite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one university to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.
This plain-English guide helps readers find the right parakeet and offers expert advice on feathering his nest, from setting up the cage and selecting foods to keeping messes at bay. Readers will discover how to groom a parakeet, recognize the symptoms of illness, and keep a parakeet safe from other pets. They will also see how to teach a parakeet to talk, understand parakeet behavior, and find an avian veterinarian.