My Experience With VJP Poultry from Cage-Free Mom

20180206_141456-1When we decided to get chickens, we knew we wanted them as pets and not for meat production. That led us down a rabbit hole of research and getting opinions from people we trusted. We decided that we were going to get some Silkie chickens. They are known for being friendly , beautiful, small and easy as well as having fairly good egg production (3 per week). Everything we wanted in our first batch of chickens.

A friend of mine referred us to VJP Poultry in Forest Lake, Minnesota. One of her friends had some show chickens from VJP that had done very well in the 4-H program. We were relieved to find someone near us that had quality chickens. They are NPIP tested and hold a State of Minnesota Hatchery Permit. We felt confident that we could get some great chicks from here.

At that point I still wanted to do some more research on how to care for our new chickens and how to sex them so we wouldn’t end up with all roosters! The internet gave me a bunch of mixed information (turns out it is nearly impossible to sex Silkie chicks) so I decided to reach out to VJP Poultry and see if they could give me any nuggets of information! The response time was very fast and they were very patient with all of my questions. I was relieved that they have a rooster return program. I was really nervous about this because in our area, we are not allowed to have roosters. If we do end up with any roosters we can return them to VJP and they will re-home them. Every question was answered and we were welcomed to come out and see their options.They do post weekly on their Facebook Page VJP Poultry Facebook which is very helpful. You can see what colors and ages are available as well as the pricing of them.

Not only do they have great customer service but they also run blog posts on their website. They have links to items you can purchase for your chicks/chickens , articles on ventilation and how to keep your Silkies safe and happy during the winter.

We set a date and went out to see the chicks. Victoria (owner) met us and gave us some time in the chick room. It was nice to have some time to check all the chicks out and discuss our options without feeling the pressure of picking right away. When she came in, she was able to guide us in the right direction. We really wanted a few splash chicks so she went upstairs and brought down some 4 day old babies. We fell in love and decided to take them.

Along with the chicks, she provided us with some bedding and a little sheet giving us tips on how to care for young chicks as well as a copy of their certification.  We were very pleased with our experience and will be returning for all of our future Silkie purchases! I highly recommend them and if you are anywhere in MN or surrounding states, go check them out as they do not ship. Tell them Ashley with Cage-Free Mom sent you!

Stay tuned for pictures of our new chicks! (Shadow, Ducky, Butterscotch, Marshmallow & Fairy Potter)

You can find more blogs from Cage-Free Mom here.   Text and lower picture by Ashley Molin – The Cage-Free Mom

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson


Chicken Lover’s Gifts for the Home

41LSWgwSWSLThere is no end to the amount of chicken themed items you can find for your home.  The amount of people who keep backyard flocks is increasing every year and I have gathered a few things a true chicken lover might want to have in their home or as a gift to give to others.

61hajTx1i7L._SY450_How about a chicken bedroom set? Chicken Family bedspread and Blue Rooster and Hen . How about throwing a rooster runner down the floor?

Now we move on to the bathroom. A chicken themed shower curtain is just the thing to liven up that bathroom and show your chicken spirit. Here is a great toilet roll holder that looks like chicken wire.  There is also a matching towel rack made from the  a similar chicken wire look. We also have a vintage chicken  toilet roll holder.51xynFPQBRL._AC_US160_

The kitchen has many chicken gift ideas. There are many rugs with the chicken theme. These can also be used as bath mats. How about some kitchen dish towel sets? There are many to choose from. I found four different sets of chicken themed dishes.  If you are in the mood for making cookies, here is a rooster cookie cutter.  You will need an oven mitt to get those cookies out and not burn yourself. Decorative tiles to use as trivets abound in chicken designs.  Cute art glass chickens to put on your window sill can let the sun shine through. Get up in the morning with a Love Chickens coffee cup to start your day in the coop.81JfINWatCL._SL1500_

If your chicken math is like mine, you may want to add a life sized chicken statue in the backyard. A way to increase your flock in case you don’t have the space for more chickens.  If you are interested in gifts for kids that love chickens or in gifts for chickens themselves, or maybe Gifts for the Chicken Lady check out these blog posts. We also have Gifts for Guys Who Like Chickens.  and Gifts For Silkie Chicken Lovers.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson





Tips For Winterizing Your Chicken Run

20171107_103708Now that it is colder outside, you may find that your chickens are spending more of their time inside the coop. If you do not have a chicken run that is set up for colder temperatures, they may be choosing to snuggle up where it is warmer. The problem with that is that chickens need fresh air and exercise. They will be hardier and healthier if they spend part of their day outside in the run.

Here in Minnesota it can get quite cold in the winter. Always start with a hardy breed of chicken. It should be one that has small combs and wattles. Silkies are ideal for cold areas. Not only do they have small walnut combs and almost nonexistent wattles, they also have feathering on their feet to help keep their legs warmer.

Silkies are tolerant of the cold but they must be protected from wet and wind. Enclosing your run with plastic wrap or a tarp can help to block wind and prevent snow and rain from entering the run. Most chickens do not like walking in snow. The plastic will keep the snow from entering the run. Then you will not need to spend time shoveling out the run every time it snows.

We are trying a new kind of plastic this year Instead of using plastic that comes on a roll, we ordered clear tarps  that have built in grommet holes.  The tarp also has lines running through it to keep the tarp stronger and to keep it from ripping in the wind.

We placed eye hooks in the wood along the bottom of the run.  The grommet holes fit into the hooks and secure the tarp.  We then use ball bungee cords at the top to fasten the tarp down. Hopefully this clear tarp can be easily taken down and put up for many years to come. We also use zip ties where needed to keep the tarps secure.

You do not need to cover the entire run.  The North and West sides are the most important to cover as this will provide the best wind and snow block. You need some holes for ventilation. I leave the doors uncovered so that air can move in and out.

A spacious run gives chickens personal space and exercise opportunities.  Boredom can be a problem in the wintertime.  This can lead to behavior problems such as feather picking and egg eating.

You can use plywood, tarps or even bales of hay or straw to block the wind, but clear plastic is best.  This lets the sun shine through and keeps the run bright.  It will warm the inside of it just like a greenhouse would.  In the Spring, just take it down, fold it up and store it out of the way until next year.

You could provide an outside shelter in your run such as a small dog house. Use straw inside of it to keep your chickens warm. Straw hold more warmth because it traps warm air in its shaft.  Use some of that straw to create paths for chickens to walk on.  Laying down straw is often easier than trying to shovel the snow out of the run.  The straw will make it warmer on their feet.


I like to provide something for them to perch on inside the run. We have pea rock in our run which can become cold on their feet in the winter. Silkies do not need very high perches. We just lay a few 2 X 4 boards down for them. They love to perch on these boards when it is cold.  You could also use logs or stumps for them to stand on.

Set up a dust bathing area for them in the wintertime. Since most of their regular dusting areas are now under snow, you could make a new spot by purchasing some dust bathing materials and putting them in a kitty litter box.

Provide energy treats for your birds that they can only get if they venture outside in the run. These could be BOSS sunflower seeds or cracked corn.  The more time that they spend outside, the less messy the inside of your coop will be.

It is important to remember that birds are not mammals.  They can tolerate much colder temperatures than humans.  You just need to keep them dry and out of drafts or wind. Do not overheat your chickens based on how you feel.  I keep the windows and doors to the coops open all winter long. If your coop is one temperature and your run another, this can lead to sickness as birds go back and forth from hot to cold temperatures.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson


Silkies For Sale – 11/8/17

What To Expect at a Poultry Show

20171028_135827     A poultry show is usually a three day event. The first day is spent “cooping-in”. This is when you arrive and place your birds in their show cages. The second day is when the judging takes place and other events.  The third day is very short and it is known as “cooping-out” or cleaning up and taking your birds back home.

Leading up to this event you will have sent in your entry form to the organization that is hosting the show.  You will need to declare how many birds you are entering in each breed and whether they are pullets, hens, cockerels or cocks.  Pullets are females up to one year of age.  Cockerels are males that are up to one year of age.  Cocks are male roosters over one year old.  There is a small fee for each bird that you enter.  You will also need to have each bird pullorum tested and have that paperwork sent in along with your entry form.  There will be a cut off date for getting your entry forms completed and mailed in.

Leading up to the show,  you will need to keep your bird in condition with high protein food.  Practice handling and cage training your bird.  A week before the show you will need to clip toenails, beaks and bathe your bird. You may also want to do some reading on primping your bird for the show.

Friday evening is coop-in time.  You will need to to load your birds into your car or trailer. Use poultry carriers or cat carriers to transport your birds.  One bird per carrier space is preferred so that they do not poo on each other’s feathers.

When you arrive you will check in and locate where your show cages are. They will not all be together, especially if you are bringing more than one breed of poultry.  These show cages are very small.  There will be some pine shavings already in the cage, but you can bring your own from home to add to it.   Set up your feeders and waterers.  If you are showing silkies, you will want the pop bottle waterer.  I use mini bungee cords to secure the waterers instead of the springs that come with them.   I bring jugs of water from my own home that has electrolytes added to it.

In my cage cups I put a wild bird seed mixture. This will help to keep their poo firmer and not make such as mess in their cages.  Each cage has a card attached to it. Read the card carefully.  It will say the breed, color (variety) and sex of the bird that should go into that cage.  If the information is not correct then you need to find someone in charge and get it corrected.

You can then start to unload your birds from their carriers and into their show cages.  As I do this, I carefully wipe clean their feet with baby wipes or citrus hand cleaner.  Look around to see where the outlets are located in the building. You will need to be able plug in your hair dryer in the morning.  I also put a little Vet Rx on the comb to help their immune system since they are in a new environment.

You can zip tie or lock your cage before you leave, but understand that the zip ties and locks must be off before the judge can inspect your bird.  Then it’s off for a good night’s sleep and an early start the next day.

On Saturday morning you will want to arrive as soon as the doors are open.  Check your birds for water and then remove the food from their cage until judging is over.  You do not want your bird to have a full crop when it is being judges.  Then get out your showbox supplies and plug in your hair dryer.  Carefully check each bird for messy feet or feathers and try to clean it with a baby wipe.  If it is a larger mess, use Cowboy Magic or Citrus hand cleaner.

After they are cleaned up, I spray a cloth with Show Sheen and rub it all over the bird.  I use the hair dryer to dry the show sheen and fluff up the silkie feathers.  Use a slicker brush or a fine tooth comb to tease and back comb the fail feathers to make it look as fluffy as possible.  When satisfied with the look of the bird, put it back in the cage and await judging.

Keep your cage as clean as possible and remove any poo or eggs as they come.  You are not allowed in the judging aisle while the judge is there.  I do like to observe from several aisles over white the judge is going over my birds. It helps me to understand my scoring card later.


Learn to read a cage tag and interpret the judges markings prior to your arrival. The birds are first judged against others that are the same color, sex and age.  For example, all the white silkie pullets are judged against each other.  They will be given a ranking or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for the top five birds in this group.  This is written or circled on the card.  Then they will judge all the white hens, then all the white cockerels etc. until all of the white have been ranked.  Then the judge will award BV (Best Variety) and RV (Reserve Variety).  This is like first and second place.  All of the other colors (varieties) in the breed are judged this way.  When that is completed the judge will then decide BB (Best of Breed) and RB (Reserve best of Breed).  This is based on all the colors (varieties) that are represented by the breed.  The Best of Breed silkie is then judged against other winners that are in the Feather Legged category.  Again, that winner will go to Champion Row and then compete for Best Bantam and Reserve.  The winner of Best Bantam goes on to compete for Super Grand Champion of the show against the Grand Champion Large Fowl and Grand Champion waterfowl.

The judge will often write comments on the cards such as “nice” or “wing?”.  What you don’t want to see is a DQ (disqualification) or a blank card with nothing written on it.  You will need to find the judge later when they are finished to ask them questions about what was written or why they judged the way they did.

There are other things to do besides watching the judging.  Jr. Showmanship will be taking place. It is always fun to watch the kids answer questions about their birds.  There will be auctions and raffles to participate in.  Vendors are often there so you can look at all the new chicken supplies.

Outside you will find many people selling birds from their cars or from specially marked areas.  Food will be for sale as well as a special banquet at night where awards are often given out.

Sunday morning is coop-out time.  Awards will be given at that time as well.  Make sure that you do not remove your birds until the coop out announcement is made.  Then it is a mad dash to quickly take down your food and waterers and load your birds back up in their carriers for the trip home.  Before the bird goes in the carrier make sure that you give it a quick spray of Adams Flea and Tick in case they picked anything up at the show.

The best thing about any poultry show is the time that you get to spend with other chicken people.  You will see old friends and make some new ones.  You will get the chance to talk chicken to your hearts content with other like minded people.  Plans will be made to meet next year again at the show.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson