Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Transitioning Chickens to Layer Feed

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Wondering when it’s time to begin transitioning chickens to layer feed? For backyard chickens, most egg-laying breeds reach adulthood at 18 weeks and lay their first egg— perfect timing when you can start your chickens on layer feed.

This feed switch is an essential step in the road to farm fresh eggs because hens require different nutrients to produce eggs as compared to when they are growing.

To produce an egg each day, hens need high levels of calcium, vitamins and minerals. Hens transfer many of these nutrients directly into their eggs, so the chicken feed ingredients in the layer feed play an essential role in the eggs that hens produce.

Consider the following steps when transitioning to a complete chicken layer feed:

1. Choose a chicken feed formula that matches your goals.

Select a complete layer feed before the transition begins. Ideally, by week 16 the layer feed decision should be made. That way, the transition can be planned.

First, look for a complete layer feed. This means the feed should be formulated to provide everything hens require without a need to supplement.

There are many complete layer feed options available, Kissimmee Valley Feed offers Purina® Organic layer feed, Purina® Layena®Plus Omega-3 and Purina® Layena® pellets and crumbles.

Each of these chicken feed formulas is designed to meet specific flock goals. No matter the goals you have. be sure the layer feed is made with simple, wholesome ingredients. The feed should include 16 percent protein and at least 3.25 percent calcium as well as key vitamins and minerals.

These are just the essentials, though. Look for additional ingredients in the layer feed to bring hen health and egg quality to the next level.

A few next level ingredients to look for include:

Rich, yellow yolks: Marigold extract
Strong shells: Oyster Strong™ System
Immune and digestive health: Prebiotics and probiotics
Vibrant feathering: Essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine
Omega-rich eggs: Added omega-3 fatty acids

2. Transition over one week.

When birds reach 18 weeks old or when the first egg arrives, slowly switch your chickens to a layer feed. It is important to make the transition over time to prevent digestive upset.

For our backyard birds on our farm in Missouri, we have found it’s best to make the transition over time rather than all at once. We mix the starter and layer feed evenly for four or five days. Birds used to crumbles? Start with a crumble layer feed. The same goes with pellets. The more similar the two feeds are, the more smoothly the transition will go.

Many hens will eat the mixed feed without noticing a difference. When hens are eating both feeds, flock owners can stop feeding the starter feed and make the complete switch to all layer feed. It is important to give your birds enough time to adjust to the new diet. Most birds will adjust within a couple of weeks but some can take a month or longer to fully transition to their new diet.

3. Keep it consistent.

Once the transition to layer feed is complete, it’s best to maintain a routine.

We recommend providing free choice layer feed to hens and switching out the feed each morning and evening. If birds are free-ranging, offer the complete feed to hens before they go out in the morning. This will help them consume the nutrients they require before filling up on less nutritious insects and plants.

It’s important for the complete feed to make up at least 90 percent of the hen’s diet. We feed complete layer feeds on our farm. They are formulated to provide all the nutrients hens require at the correct levels. It’s reassuring to know that each bite of feed is balanced to keep our hens healthy and producing quality eggs.

Source: Purina Mills

Summer Feed Storage – What You Need to Know for Your Flock

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

We think about summer feed storage and keeping feed the right way and serving it to your flock in the most efficient way. This can save you time and money. We all know summer brings heat! As well as important considerations when storing poultry and any other pet or livestock feed.

I have likely made all the mistakes that can be made in my poultry keeping days. Hopefully my experience can help some of you be the best livestock keepers you can be.

When I buy a bag of feed and bring it home, I pour it slowly into a metal storage container in my feed room. I use this same storage method all year long, to ensure consistency and quality in what I am feeding. Kissimmee Valley Feed has a hanging metal storage container in stock.

My feed room maintains a nice, cool temperature. A large magnolia tree shades it. It protects my barn from the sun and elements. I only buy one bag at a time, maybe two if it’s on sale, because my bin perfectly fits two 50 lb. bags. Once my feed is in the bin, I use a basic 4 quart feed scoop to fill my feeders.

I keep two 5 lb. feeders for 15 birds. I keep them full most of the time since my schedule doesn’t allow me to monitor them at all times. If you choose to fill up your feeders to free feed, I would recommend putting them up in the evenings (in a metal storage container) and putting them back out in the morning.

This will keep pests away. I also always check the age of the feed I buy to make sure it’s not out of date and free of pests. I let my birds empty their feeders before I refill them, no room for pickiness here!

Keep in mind my birds also get treats and free range during the day so they get plenty to eat. Shop local with us and check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s poultry selection here!

There are three main points to address when considering feed storage and containers.

1. Environment

Feed kept in the hot sun and dry conditions will get overly dry and lose palatability. Feed stored in hot, humid conditions can mold and be prone to insects. Keep feed in a container that stays out of the elements and is in a dry, cool location.

If the feed that’s already in the feeder gets wet or starts to age, dump it out and start fresh (maybe with a little less this time). Allow the birds to completely empty the feeder before you refill it so it’s always free of build-up and mold.

Mold can make your birds sick in large amounts. Once in a while its best to check and wash out your feeders. Yes, even if they haven’t been exposed to extreme elements.

2. Pests

Pests can be attracted any time feed is old, has gotten hot, moist or been left exposed. These can include various types of bugs that will get into and feed on the product.

It also includes rodents and other small animals that would enjoy a free snack. Storing feed in a rodent safe container is my personal recommendation. Preferably a metal bin that has a tight fitting lid. The metal will keep small rodents like mice and rats from chewing through and getting into your feed bin.

A tight fitting lid will also keep larger pests like raccoons and opossum from pulling the lid open and helping themselves to an easy meal. If you keep feed in a feeder all the time it’s always best practice to put your feed containers up in a bin at night and pull them back out in the morning.

If moving the feeder is not an option, then you may look into getting a feeder that opens when the chickens step on a pedal and closes back when they step away. Typically mice are going to be too light to open up these types of feeders.

3. Age of feed/rotation

When buying from a feed store or even when you keep multiple bags of feed on hand, it’s always best to check and make sure you are buying/using the oldest feed first.

Somewhere on the feed tag there should be dates (typically a manufacture date) letting you know when it was made.

Using the oldest feed first ensures that you always have the freshest feed on hand.

With these considerations, you are sure to keep you and your feathered friends happy and healthy!

Source: https://www.scoopfromthecoop.com/

Feeding Chicks: Making the Transition to the Chicken Coop

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Congratulations! Your chicks have made it to the transition stage, and it’s time to prepare them for a move to the chicken coop.

A few weeks have passed since you brought those little balls of fluff home, and it’s time to formulate a plan on housing, because your flourishing chicks will soon outgrow that brooder.

Here are a few tips on transitioning to the chicken coop some tips on feeding chicks and chick feeding recommendations as your babies grow into healthy adult birds.  chicken coop

Housing Upgrade

The change in environment can be a big one for your chicks, so consider these tips as you move them from brooder to adult chicken coop:

  • Chicks should be mostly feathered – At 5 to 6 weeks your fluffy chicks will start to resemble adult birds by growing out pinfeathers.
  • These adult feathers will help them regulate their body temperature better than fluffy chick down.
  • Chicks should be acclimated – Although they start off at 90 – 95 degrees in the brooder the first week of life, you need to decrease this temperature each week until the temperature inside the brooder is close to what daytime temps will be. For the first few weeks (and especially if outdoor temperatures are fluctuating), you may want to bring the birds back into the brooder at night or in bad weather.
  • Chicks should be integrated – Nobody wants hen-house drama, and taking a few simple steps to introduce new birds to old will save a great deal of time and potential injuries.
    • These steps include having a “get acquainted” phase when the new and old birds are in separate, but attached areas so they can interact without aggressiveness.
    • You also want to do the coop consolidation at night so that the old and new flock wake up together, which can help minimize bullying.

On the Menu

At this point it is also important to remember, if you have youngsters joining your existing flock, to only feed chick starter to all birds until the youngest bird is 16 weeks.

The extra calcium in regular layer feed can harm young chicks. Once you’ve reached the 16 week mark, it is safe to switch to layer feed.

Your girls will most likely not be laying until they are around 24-26 weeks old, but it is important to build up the calcium level in their system. Using a layer crumble makes the transition a little easier.

Chicks should also be eating treats and grit by now. It’s a great idea to get your birds used to eating treats (if you plan to offer them) a few days prior to putting them outside. That way, you can use the treats to lure the birds into a secure space at night, if needed.

Until they are used to thinking of the coop as “home base” they may need just a bit of encouragement to go back in at night.

Just remember, if you start feeding treats, you should offer no more than 10-15% of the total diet as treats, so that you don’t create nutritional imbalances in their overall intake.  Also, you should offer a grit free choice to aid in digestion.

This article was originally published on the Nutrena blog. 

Chick Life Stages – What to Expect

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

chick life stagesYou’ve just arrived home with a brimming box of peeping chicks, how exciting! The journey you are about to embark on is an exciting one, so get ready to learn about chick life stages and love those new fluffy creatures.

What to Expect – Week 1:

Before you go to pick up your new chicks, make sure the brooder is ready to go at home. This will prevent any unnecessary stress, for both you and the chicks.

Expect some peeping as the chicks get acquainted in their new environment, learning to drink and eat. They will likely do this for 4 or 5 days.

If the peeping seems to be excessive, make sure you evaluate the brooder for anything that may be causing distress.

A good indicator on temperature is to evaluate where the chicks are located. If they are spread out, they are likely comfortable.

If they are huddled under the heat source, they may be too cold and temperature adjustments should be made.

If they are on the edges of the brooder (not under the heat source) then they are likely too hot.

Don’t forget, the journey to their new home was a long one, so consider providing some bottled water with vitamins and electrolytes for the first 3 days.

Chick Life Stages: What to Expect – Weeks 2-3:

After the first week, their down will start to turn into feathers, and by week 4 you can expect to see more feathers than down.

With adequate food, water and proper temperature, your chicks should be acclimating quite well to their new home.

Don’t forget the importance of brooder maintenance during this time.

To keep odors at bay and cleanliness paramount, make sure you are cleaning out the brooder once a week and adding fresh shavings.

Place the waterer in the corner to prevent dampness throughout the entire brooder.

What to Expect – Weeks 4 – 6:

At this time, you may notice your chicks starting to test their wings.

At week 6, the brooder is likely getting a little crowded, and you should consider the transition outside to the coop.

It’s wise to choose a nice day to do this, as it will be less of a shock to the birds.

It’s important to note that during this transition, you should make sure your chicks are fully feathered so they are prepared for the elements.

A gradual integration of new chicks with mature hens may be necessary to prevent older birds from picking on the young birds.

A good option is to separate the two groups with a gate or some fencing, so they can be exposed to one another before being fully integrated.

This post was originally published on the Nutrena website. Get everything you need for your new chicks at Kissimmee Valley Feed

Spring Chick Deliveries

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
Feb ’20
12

Spring CSpring Chick Deliveries hick deliveries arrive at Kissimmee Valley Feed’s second location (215 13th Street, Saint Cloud 34769) around February 12th. Here are some of the chick types we are expecting:

Rhode Island Reds
Easter Egger
Black Silver Laced Wyandotte
Black Australorp

We strongly advise that you call the store prior to making a visit to confirm delivery, type of chicks and the number available.

Watch our Facebook page! We’ll keep you updated.

Are you set up for a successful chicken coop? We carry all the chicken supplies you need to raise a healthy flock like chick feeders, chick waterers, heat lamps and more!

Kissimmee Valley Feed carries a variety of chicken coops for your baby chicks. Stop by to visit us and find the perfect chicken supplies!

For questions about spring chick deliveries, chick types or anything else, please feel free to visit us, give us a call at 407-892-4040.

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