Archive for May, 2022

How Do Chickens Lay Eggs? Understanding Your Egg-Laying Chickens

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

How Do Chickens Lay EggsHow Do Chickens Lay Eggs? Understanding Your Egg-Laying Chickens: Egg-laying chickens lay up to one egg per day at their peak. But how do chickens lay eggs? And how often do chickens lay eggs? The process takes 24 – 26 hours per egg. Eggs form from the inside out. They start with the egg yolk, egg white and egg shape.

Most flock raisers will tell you there’s something special about walking to the backyard and grabbing a few eggs for breakfast. Farm fresh eggs are protein-packed gifts. Families diving into self-sufficiency know this and love this.

But how often do chickens lay eggs? And how do chickens lay eggs? The magic behind each farm fresh egg is a 24-to-26-hour process, with much of the work happening overnight. At their peak, laying hens can lay up to one egg per day.

How do chickens lay eggs?

The biggest involvement for your hen is creating the eggshell. The shell defends the yolk from harmful bacteria and keeps the chick or yolk safe. Hens spend much of the egg formation process making sure the calcium-rich shell is strong and protective. When the lights are off and the hens are sleeping, that’s when most of this internal work happens.

The fact that shells are created at night is clear when looking at the egg formation timeline. For example, if a hen started the process at 7 a.m., she would create the eggshell starting around 12 p.m. She’d continue for 20 hours during the evening and through the night.

To ensure your laying hens achieve a consistent supply of calcium through a blend of oyster shell, vitamin D and manganese, all Purina® premium layer feeds are infused with the Oyster Strong® System. This exclusive system utilizes larger particles of oyster shell to provide a slow and steady release of calcium during the night when hens are forming eggshells. Vitamin D is like the taxi that gets the calcium into your hen’s bloodstream where it’s needed, while manganese helps strengthen and create the structure of the egg.

Here is an approximate timeline for how an egg is formed:

Yolk release (1/2 hour):

Each female chick is born with thousands of immature yolks, known as chicken ova. For most chickens, the ova begin to develop into yolks when the hen is 18 weeks old. Once a yolk has been selected to develop, it spends the next 10 days growing. When it is time for the yolk to be released, it breaks out of its protective membrane and drops into the infundibulum or the beginning of the oviduct. This release takes about half an hour.

Initial egg white is created (3 hours):

First, as the egg enters the hen’s reproductive tract, the egg white begins formation, starting with a clear, protective yolk casing called the vitelline membrane. Second, when entering the magnum, layers of thick and thin proteins, known as the albumen, create the egg white. Third, as the contents travel down the oviduct, they spin. This spinning motion causes the formation of the chalazae or the white, stringy pieces you see in an egg. The chalazae’s role is to keep the egg yolk in the center of the egg instead of sticking to the shell.

Egg shape is formed (1 hour):

Just before the egg enters the shell gland, it spends an hour in the isthmus. While there, the inner and outer shell membranes are added around the albumen and the contents begin to take on the oval shape you expect.

Eggshells are formed (20 hours):

The most significant piece of the egg formation process happens in the uterus or “shell gland” of the hen. The developing egg spends about 20 hours in the shell gland. The shell forms there. Eggshell color is added during the last 5 hours.

The shell formation takes the most amount of time to complete. It is important that the hen is fed a diet that contains the proper nutrition, so she has the nutrients needed to make the eggshell as strong as possible. A solid shell is the best defense against bacteria that will try to get inside the egg.

Eggshell formation requires about 4 grams of calcium per shell; 2 grams of which must come from the hen’s diet. Hens that lack proper calcium levels typically produce soft or brittle eggshells. Sometimes an improper calcium balance can cause hens to pull calcium from their bones to produce eggshells, weakening their overall skeletal structure.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you learn more about How Chickens Lay Eggs and how to insure proper nutrients.Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Article Source: Purina Mills

Considerations for This Growing Season

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Considerations for This Growing Season cows in pasture with KVF logoConsiderations for this growing season: Applying fertilizer to pastures and fields is important to maximize yield and forage quality. But with fertilizer prices higher than normal around the country, you can take steps to manage costs and still make a big impact. To help justify applying fertilizer this year, have your soil analyzed. You can save yourself a lot of money if you already have the correct nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and potassium levels in your soil. If the soil lacks just one of those nutrients, focus on the single nutrient instead of all nutrients when fertilizing. Also, don’t overlook manure as a fertilizer. Look to your drylots as a source of extra soil nutrients to spread across pastures, or purchase poultry litter if it is available locally.

How can I manage my mineral feeders to optimize intake?
Mineral in a feeder isn’t doing anyone any good if cattle aren’t eating it. Feeder placement and management are key to optimizing intake and your return on investment.
Here are my top three tips for managing mineral feeders:

1) Move mineral sites to enhance grazing.

When first putting mineral out, especially during hot temperatures, place mineral tubs or feeders near loafing areas, water sources and shade. Once cattle start consuming mineral consistently, you can spread mineral locations out further into the pasture. If you have undergrazed pasture areas, you can move the mineral sites to those areas to help guide cattle to graze there.

You’ll also get better pasture utilization by putting distance between mineral feeders and other self-fed products or hay sources, since cattle will graze along the path between them. However, you should keep at least 100 yards (about the size of a football field) between products to avoid creating a “buffet line” situation where cattle just hop from one product to the next and possibly increasing consumption.

Also consider environmental conditions for mineral placement. If you are in an area with frequent rain, consider moving mineral sites to avoid mud build-up and to ensure consistent access.

2) Know how many feeders and how much mineral you need.

Having enough mineral feeding sites is critical to meeting all your herd’s needs. One 250 lb. Purina® Wind and Rain®mineral tub generally serves 25-30 head. Loose mineral tends to average 30-50 head per mineral feeder, but always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

I also recommend checking mineral feeders 2-3 times a week, depending on how many cattle you have in each grazing paddock, to ensure feeders aren’t tipped over and make sure cattle don’t run out of mineral.

On average, a mineral tub will last about ten days per 50 cows. A rule of thumb for loose mineral is two bags per cow per year, or 4 ounces per head per day. And don’t forget about calves when calculating mineral needs. Young calves near weaning will, and should, consume mineral. Calves will add about 2 ounces per head per day to what the cow eats, bringing the total for the cow/calf pair to 6 ounces per pair per day.

3) Choose a mineral feeder that works for your environment.

As long as you have enough mineral sites, any mineral feeder will work – wooden, metal, plastic tubs, non-traditional feeders, etc. It all comes down to what will work best for you based on environmental conditions.

Wooden feeders will break down quicker under rain or inclement weather, and metal feeders are prone to rust. A cover or placing feeders under shelter can help extend the life of your feeders.

Reused Purina® plastic tubs or plastic barrels cut in half hold up better but do have some considerations for water drainage. I recommend putting holes in the bottom of tubs with a 9/64″ drill bit to allow water drainage. Placing rocks under the feeder will also help prevent it from sticking tightly to the ground, allowing water to drain better. If you’re worried about cattle knocking over the tubs, placing them in a truck tire works nicely.

Another consideration for choosing a mineral feeder is height. Cattle should be able to reach the bottom and the middle of the feeder. If it’s too tall, intake will be limited, especially for yearling animals or calves on pasture.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you with other considerations for this growing season. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Elizabeth Belew, Ph.D. cattle nutritionist

Best Practices for Managing 4 Types of Forage

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Managing 4 Types of Forage : cows in pastureBest practices for managing 4 types of forage: Capitalize on your forage management to optimize cattle nutrition.

 Each forage type comes with its own challenges and management considerations. And, honing in forage management can help support cattle nutrition needs – and your bottom line.

Take advantage of these best practices for each of the four different forage types

 Cool Season Forages: 

Fescue is the dominant forage in the U.S. because it’s a hardy forage that can stand up to grazing pressure. However, it doesn’t come without challenges. The predominant fescue variety comes with the risk of endophyte toxicity. Endophyte toxicity occurs when livestock consume fungal endophytes present in the seed head of grass. Fungal endophytes contain ergot alkaloids that can be detrimental to livestock, causing lower feed intake, reduced weight gain and decreased fertility.

 An easy method to manage endophytes in fescue is to clip the grass using a tractor-pulled mower before the grass heads out. You can also manage endophytes by inter-seeding legumes like grazing alfalfas, white clover and red clover. These legumes provide additional forage sources and offset the risk of endophytes. Legumes also benefit overall pasture health by providing nitrogen fixation for the soil and extending the grazing season.

 With any cool season forage, whether it be fescue, brome or another grass, watch out for grass tetany during the early spring flush. Feeding a mineral high in magnesium, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Hi-Mag, can help supplement your herd.

Warm Season Forages: 

There are many options to graze cattle effectively with warm season forages, from improved forages in the southern U.S. like Bahiagrass and Bermudagrass to the native tall grass and short grass ranges to the west. Warm season grasses tend to take off when cool season grasses lose productivity. If you have access to both warm and cool season forages, you’ve got a complementary program.

The biggest challenge with warm season forage is stocking density. Warm season forages typically can’t support the same grazing pressure as cool season forages. Maintain moderate stocking densities for your area and use a rotational grazing system that moves cattle from grazed to rested pasture. If your pastures are too large to fence for rotational grazing, consider using mineral or supplement sites to maximize forage use. Cattle will seek the pasture for minerals and supplements, which you can use to your advantage.

Another challenge with warm season forages is that stem growth tends to outrun leaf growth as the growing season continues. When the stem-to-leaf ratio gets too far out of line, forage quality drops because there are more carbohydrates and less protein and energy. Keep supplemental nutrient sources available to cattle on warm season pasture to ensure their nutrient needs are met throughout the grazing season. Purina® Accuration® block or Purina® RangeLand® protein tubs, along with minerals, can help extend the grazing season and make best use of forages.

Cover Crops: 

It’s been trendy the last few years to use mixes of cover crops like turnips, forage sorghums, rye and clover to get more grazing from crop fields. But, grazing systems with mono-crops have existed for a lot longer. Wheat pasture, for instance, has been used to grow calves and maintain cow herds before the grain crop goes to head. Sudangrass has made efficient summertime grazing, too.

An important factor in grazing any forage, particularly cover crops, is to have mineral available year-round. Cover crops might be the lushest forage your herd has all year, but cattle may not fully utilize it. Offering mineral helps maintain an animal’s rumen microbes, which in turn impacts forage utilization and feed efficiency.

Much like traditional perennial cool season grasses, you should feed a high-magnesium mineral in the spring and fall due to grass tetany risk. Bloat can also be a concern in lush cover crops. Feeding a mineral with an ionophore, like Purina®Wind and Rain® minerals, or keeping bloat guard blocks at the mineral site can help.

Monitor nitrate and prussic acid poisoning when using cover crops containing forage sorghums, Sudangrass, millet and green grazed corn, or even if field edges have Johnson grass. Have fields tested, especially if forages get too far ahead of cattle before or during grazing. Drought years also increase concern for nitrates since the stalks of those stemmy plants naturally hold more nitrates when dry.

Hay & Silage: 

Stored forages help extend forage use throughout the year, and both hay and silage have their unique places in beef cattle rations.

Silage quality is particularly important, whether the forage is fed to weaned calves or mature cows. Harvest silage when it’s at its peak for protein and energy to maximize quality rather than yield. Once harvested, storage should be your next emphasis. Focus on packing silage piles tight, using an inoculant to reduce mycotoxins, and covering piles to prevent spoilage.

Also focus on hay quality. The term “cow-quality hay” is often used to describe poorer quality forages used to feed beef cows. Yes, you can feed fibrous, low-quality hay to cows, but you’re likely going to need more supplementation to keep them in an adequate body condition score 6. Putting up good-quality hay to start helps reduce the need to feed as much supplement.

 Before you start feeding hay or silage, pull samples for testing. A forage test helps determine protein and energy levels. With those levels as your baseline, you can determine the amount of supplement needed to support your herd. If everything goes perfectly, you may only need to feed mineral to balance the ration. Connect with your Purina® dealer to work on a forage management plan.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you to develop the Best practices for managing 4 types of forage. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Ted Perry, Purina Cattle Nutritionist

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