I love meeting like minded chicken folks during my journey as a backyard chicken keeper. In fact, a few months ago I was able to connect with Dave and Tina, who have recently launched a brand new line of chicken products for backyard chicken keepers through their company, Luv Nest. I was excited to sit down with them and hear about their stories and backgrounds. I love to learn of everyone’s chicken keeping story.
How did you get into chicken keeping?
My grandparents had chickens when I was growing up, and both Dave and I couldn’t wait to have a flock. We knew some folks several years ago who had more chickens than they wanted, and we started with six Golden Comets. That year we went a little crazy and added ducks and geese! Since then we’ve re-focused just on chickens, and now we have a happy dozen.
How many chickens do you have and what breeds?
Our flock is made up of 2 each of six different breeds; Buff Orpingtons, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Australorps, Ameraucanas, Barred Rocks, and Columbian Rock Cross. We hope to add several Swedish Flower Chickens in the spring. We were in Sweden earlier this year for my work, and saw them in a public farm. They are just beautiful, and can handle the cold New England winters well.
Tell us a little about yourselves and your background.
We have a home in New Hampshire, and share it with our flock, two dogs and two cats. My “day job” is as a User Experience Designer; my roots are in Visual Design. My off hours are spent Illustrating and drawing; I have several published book covers and am working on children’s books. You’re welcome to visit my website www.kjhickman.com. Dave has an extensive farm and retail background, has worked in theatre (he has an amazing singing voice!), and even lived the long-time dream of being a working lobsterman. Now Dave uses his varied background to help grow Luv Nest while managing day-to-day operations.
How did you come up with the idea of Luv Nest and what was your first product?
Like you, we love our animals, and want only the best for them. Each time we looked to grow our little backyard family, we agreed on 3 Rules: We would do our absolute best to keep them happy, healthy, and clean. I was working on my Certificate in Herbalism, learning the properties and benefits to over 100 native herbs and plants. That summer, I grew many of the herbs and was sure that the right organic herbs in the right combination could help our flock lead those happy, healthy, clean lives (AND make their living areas smell better!).
I began researching their potential effects for our chickens. We used fresh herbs in their coop, and the chickens loved them. As the winter got closer, and I continued researching and testing, we started using the same dried herbs I was using for myself, and thought – maybe there were other folks who could use this. I had only imagined a small “Etsy” store, but the response my husband received as he visited vendors proved to us that there wasn’t only an interest, but a demand for beautiful, organic, herbal products for backyard chickens.
Can you share with us some of the benefits of herbs with chickens?
There are so many! Just a few would be (my favorite) Red Clover, which is the “star” of our Layer Blend; beautiful laying stimulant, and respiratory system helper, plus it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Meadowsweet is internally soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial herb. We use Meadowsweet in our Chick Mix Blend to help little ones get a healthy start. Another great one that folks might have in their garden is Lemon Balm; Antibacterial, calming and soothing member of the mint family, Lemon Balm is also a powerful anti-viral. We rely on Lemon Balm in several of our Blends. All of our herbs are 100% Organic, and Dave searches for the absolutely best quality available from around the world.
What have you noticed in your flock after using them?
Certainly the coop smells better after using any of the blends! Our flock loves to peck at the herbals, and not every chicken likes the same herbs. For example some love the Comfrey, while others go for Raspberry Leaves first. We have had great success in laying, both in quantity and quality, and our hens are very docile – not skittish or fretful. The aromatherapy qualities help them feel safe, calm, and relaxed, as well as repel rodents, flies and other parasites. The warm, dark space underneath a broody hen can be a breeding ground for parasites. Broodies also tend to get mites and other bugs as they just don’t get out to enjoy a dust bath often enough. We found that using herbs can help safely and naturally avoid that.
Other folks who have used the blends have told us the same things. And the flocks LOVE Luv Nest Nibbles! They eat the Mealworms first, then the Sunflower Seeds, then all the other ingredients… like little kids eating the cherry off an ice cream sundae, first! But unlike a sundae, Nibbles is very, very good for them.
Where can people find Luv Nest?
We’re now available in 14 states, at 65 locations – plus online. Check out our locations page to see updates as we continue to grow.