Select breeds, monitor hatching and keep your coop organized with one of these apps, suited for beginning to experienced chicken keepers. First came computer programs that kept track of your calorie intake. Next, designers dazzled us with software that analyzed our sleep patterns, encouraged our exercise routines and monitored our marital fertility times. Is no stone left untouched?
Well, no: Farming, one of the most traditional trades around, has blossomed into the digital age thanks to a multitude of computer apps that help farmers keep track of planting and harvesting times, irrigation, manure management, animal auction prices, and even livestock insemination calculators. Programmers seem particularly fond of poultry farming, with a growing number of apps being designed specifically with chickens in mind.
Most importantly, these are all downloadable onto a smartphone, making that pocket phone/computer one of the handiest farming resources around.
Here’s a look at five of the most popular poultry apps:
Designer: ChickenWaterer.com Availability: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Phone Store Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Windows
If you’re starting a backyard flock, the Cluck-ulator is the perfect pocket poultry consultant. Its Breed Selector helps you select the breed(s) of chicken you wish to raise based on criteria such as temperament, eggshell color, climate tolerance, rate of lay, size at maturity and more.
An alphabetical photo gallery aids in visualizing the different breeds as you consider them. The Coop Planner assists you in estimating your future flock’s housing requirements, including coop and run size, perch space, and nest boxes, while the Food & Water Estimator gives you an idea of how much feed and daily water your flock will require, based on criteria you select, like number and type of chickens, growth state and outside temperature.
Finally—and possibly most importantly for farmers counting on future egg sales—the Egg Estimator provides an annual estimate of the number of eggs a chicken will lay once you identify the breed and age of bird. Additional features include access to ChickenWaterer.com’s Facebook page, Twitter feed and blog, though WiFi or cellular service is required to access these.
The Cluck-ulator will definitely guide potential chicken keepers dreaming of starting a flock in the right direction
2. FlockPlenty—Chicken Egg Tracker
The poultry keeper’s best electronic friend, FlockPlenty helps keep track of your hens’ egg output and feed consumption via easy-to-read daily, weekly and monthly bar graphs.
A digital journal allows you to take notes on your observations and flock care, and a camera function allows you to photograph your girls, their nests and anything else that would assist in the management of your flock.
All data is stored right on your device; no backups to an unknown mystery cloud. Having all this great information literally at your fingertips will help you identify when molting may occur, when production is increasing or decreasing, and how members of your flock change over time.
For those looking for bells and whistles, this app isn’t it, but for chicken keepers who are looking for an easy-to-use way to manage their poultry flocks, FlockPlenty is more than plenty.
Designer: iHatch-Apps Availability: Apple App Store, Google Play Store Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android
If you plan on hatching your own chicks next spring, iHatch-Chickens is the download for you! Packed with tools to keep track of your growing chicks, iHatch-Chickens allows you to manage multiple hatches simultaneously—handy if you’re using both an incubator and a broody hen or two—take notes on temperature, humidity and appearance, and receive daily updates on your chicks’ progress towards hatching day.
In addition, its reference section features in-depth illustrations depicting chick development, details on the hatching process, and an advice center with information on egg anatomy; basic incubation; how to collect, handle and store eggs; and much more.
This unique smartphone app is a wonderful resource for elementary-school teachers and chicken-keeping parents who plan on teaching their children about the mysteries of life via poultry rearing.
4. Pickin’ Chicken
Designer: Mother Earth News/Funny Farm Industries Availability: Apple App Store Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
One of the first poultry apps to hit the market, Pickin’ Chicken is a handy breed-selection tool, ideal for novice poultry keepers and expert chicken-istas alike. More than 140 color photos illustrate a wide range of common, rare and heritage poultry breeds.
Whittle down your wish list by searching through Pickin’ Chicken’s breed list by:
- breed origin
- foraging ability
- confinement versus free-range housing suitability
- growth rate
- egg size
- purpose (egg, meat or dual-purpose)
- climate hardiness
- many more characteristics
Each breed is also noted with its Livestock Conservancy status, so you can select to raise heritage breeds that are critically endangered. Pickin’ Chicken also identifies breeds on the Slow Food Ark of Taste list, crucial criteria for anyone planning on raising meat birds.
While this app is somewhat limited—it’s more of a reference than a digital flock planner—it’s very user-friendly and the perfect pick for someone looking to get started.
5. Poultry Pal
Designer: Southern States Cooperative Inc. Availability: Apple App Store, Google Play Store Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android
Poultry Pal is exactly that: a way to keep track of your chicken friends. Perfect for the poultry fancier who loves spending time among the flock, Poultry Pal lets you create individual files for your flock, allowing you to store photos, birthdays, health notes and more for each bird.
You can also become pals with other registered Poultry Pal users, uploading and sharing photos of your flock with each other. And, of course, the app helps you create and manage your poultry shopping list, perfect for when it’s time to visit your local Southern States store (not sure where it is? The app will tell you!) to pick up some layer feed, grit, or chicken treats.
This is not the app for the small-scale farmer planning on making a living raising poultry, but it’s perfect for urban/suburban dwellers with backyard microflocks.
Credit to: Ana Hotaling