Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Summer Flock Care: How to Keep Chickens Cool

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Summer Flock Care: How to Keep Chickens Cool! Summer is a time for fun, adventure and excitement – for both backyard chicken raisers and their flocks. To keep birds cool in the summertime, provide fresh, cool water for hydration, maintain chicken coop ventilation and choose a layer feed with the Purina® Oyster Strong® System to help your hens lay strong and stay strong.

As humans, our habits change in the summer. We adapt to stay comfortable. By providing our backyard chickens the tools they need, they can also adapt and enjoy the sunshine. The summertime essentials are similar for both humans and backyard flocks: stay hydrated, protect yourself from the heat and maintain a complete and balanced diet.

Many people don’t realize that birds are unable to sweat. To cool down, they open their beaks and pant or spread their wings away from their bodies. If these cooling strategies are not enough, birds are more likely to become lethargic and may stop eating feed, which can lead to subsequent health challenges and reduced egg production.

We want to avoid these signs of heat stress by preventing problems before they begin. With the right care, birds will maintain their routines of foraging, pecking and chattering throughout the day.

Hydration is key: Provide the right chicken waterer

Staying hydrated in the summer is a clear choice for humans. As temperatures rise, a good rule for people toHow to Keep Chickens Cool follow is to calculate half your body weight in pounds and drink the equivalent number of ounces of water.

For our backyard chickens, the practice should be similar: Clean, cool water is essential. Follow the general rule of providing 500 milliliters of fresh water per bird per day. This equates to one gallon for every seven adult birds.

Drinking water helps cool a chicken’s body temperature. In high temperatures, chickens will drink up to twice as much water as during temperate conditions. If birds do not have quality water, they are less likely to eat or lay eggs.

Here’s how to keep chickens cool through hydration:

  • Provide extra waterers so each bird always has access.
  • Place waterers in a shaded area to help keep the water cool and the coop dry.
  • Offer fresh, cool water in the morning and evening.
  • Freeze water in a storage container. Place the resulting ice in the chicken waterer in the morning to keep the water cool.
  • Place marbles in waterers to prevent splashing.
  • Wash waterers weekly with a mixture of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water. Rinse thoroughly.

Watch this video for tips on how to choose the best chicken waterer for your flock:

Chicken body temperature: Keep it in check

Think of your most recent day in the sun. You likely incorporated a few cooling practices to maintain an adequate body temperature and avoid heat stress.

A consistent body temperature is equally important for backyard flocks. Normal chicken body temperature is between 105 – 107 degrees Fahrenheit. If a bird’s body temperature climbs, it can cause a lasting strain. Create a cool and comfortable environment for your flock to enjoy.

Use these tips for keeping chickens cool and comfortable in warm weather:

  • Provide shade by placing roofs on the run or shade cloths over the door. Add misters outside of the chicken coop that spray onto the roof or shade cover for evaporative cooling.
  • Create adequate air flow to maintain chicken coop ventilation. Open all windows and roof vents to allow hot air and ammonia to escape. Add a small fan for air circulation.
  • Swap solid chicken coop doors with screen doors and keep lights off during the day. Reduce bedding to two inches or less to avoid heat being trapped.
  • Provide a peat moss dust bath for your backyard chickens to play in. If mites are a concern, switch to a mix of 90 percent peat moss, 10 percent diatomaceous earth.
  • Avoid overcrowding by providing at least 4 square feet of indoor space and 5 – 10 square feet of outdoor space per bird.

 

What to feed chickens in the summer

It can be argued that fresh-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables, summertime snacks and potluck picnics are true summer highlights. But, no matter the treat, it’s important to maintain a balance.

Summer is perfect for spending time in the backyard with your flock and giving them a few indulgent snacks, but don’t forget the 90/10 rule: 90 percent complete feed and 10 percent healthy treats or snacks!

Choose a layer feed with the Purina® Oyster Strong® System to help your hens lay strong and stay strong. Which layer feed Oyster Strong® System is right for your flock?

To help keep your flock’s diet in balance:

  • Give fresh complete chicken feed in the morning and evening in a shaded area, offering treats only after the flock has finished its complete feed.
  • Offer cold or frozen fruits and vegetables as a summertime treat.
  • Provide special treats such as Purina® Flock Block® or hen treats as a complement to a complete feed. Treats formulated specifically for birds can provide beneficial nutrients while keeping birds active.
  • Offer oyster shell to help maintain calcium intake and eggshell quality when birds may be eating less due to heat.
  • Provide at least six inches of feeder space per bird.

Summer heat tends to reduce feed intake, so the complete chicken feed should be the first dietary priority. When birds have a balanced diet, plenty of water and a cool, comfortable environment, they are better able to remain healthy and productive and enjoy a fun and peaceful backyard summer.

In conclusion, visit Kissimmee Valley Feed for poultry care!

Resources:

Patrick Biggs, Ph.D. for Purina Mills

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

Got Ticks? Chickens Might be the Best Way to Get Rid of Ticks

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

Got Ticks? Chickens Might be the Best Way to Get Rid of TicksGot Ticks? Chickens Might be the Best Way to Get Rid of Ticks! Ticks are dangerous little arachnids. They can carry over a dozen different diseases such as Powassan virus, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

In Florida, ticks are most active throughout Spring and Summer.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released that in the United States illnesses caused by mosquitos, ticks, and fleas have tripled since 2004. If someone has symptoms such as fever, a sore neck, tiredness, headaches, bull’s eye looking rashes, nausea, or any kind of aches all over their body, it could possibly be tick-related. Lyme Disease can cause other serious issues like heart problems, joint pain, and nervous system degeneration over time.

Tick Prevention:

There are many ways to fight these nuisances. Common ways to keep ticks at a distance is by keeping your grass short, spraying for bugs, and reducing leaf litter. Tactics such as these, however, can get expensive, tiresome, and often times they don’t work. One of the best ways to get rid of an arachnid problem is to produce a predator: chickens.

Chickens don’t only eat vegetation, in fact, they are omnivores.  A scientific study in 1991 tested the effect they had on tick reduction in a controlled environment. The results showed that not only were they a natural predator of ticks, but also that they removed an average of 81 ticks each among infested cattle. Chickens protected farm animals from arachnid sourced diseases in this case, which means they can also help households by protecting pets and family members from ticks.

Although chickens won’t eliminate the tick problem entirely, they can keep it controlled. Another predator besides chickens are guinea hens. They are omnivores and can help with insect, arachnid, and small pest problems. Unlike chickens, however, guinea do have a tendency to be loud. If the noise can be tolerated, these little hens can help keep disease away from your home.

Kissimmee Valley Feed has all your chicken and guinea needs covered. Check out our poultry feed selection here.

Resource: Texas Hill Country

Everything you Need to Know about Raising Baby Chicks

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Bringing home your baby chicks is an exciting milestone in raising backyard chickens. The three key essentials for raising baby chicks: Warm, water and feed. Start chicks strong by providing a complete chick starter feed from day 1 through week 18. raising baby chicks

For those of us welcoming new chicks how can we give them a solid start?

To best transition chicks into a flock, provide comfort, care and complete nutrition from day one. A chick never gets over a bad start. The actions we take before chicks arrive and the care we provide in the first few days can help set-up our chicks to be happy and healthy long-term.

First things first, check out our Backyard Flock Products!

Before baby chicks arrive: Set up the brooder

Set up your brooder about 48 hours before your chicks arrive. This allows time for bedding and equipment to dry and the temperature to set.

Equipment for day one includes:

  • Brooder: The brooder is the first home of new chicks. Be sure it is comfortable, warm and draft-free with at least 3 to 4 square feet per chick. The area should be circular and expandable.
  • Heat lamp: Assemble a heat lamp in the center of the brooder for bird warmth. Hang the heat lamp about 20 inches above the litter, with 2.5 to 3 feet between the lamp and the guard walls. The temperature under the heat lamp, or comfort zone, should be 95 degrees Fahrenheit and adequate room in the brooder should be available for the chicks to get out from under the heater if they get too hot. After week one, gradually reduce heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until reaching a minimum of 55 degrees.
  • Bedding: Add an absorbant wood shavings bedding to the floor of the brooder. Place bedding 3 to 4 inches deep to keep the area dry and odor free. Remove wet bedding daily, especially around waterers. Do not use cedar shavings or other types of shavings that have a strong odor because the odor could affect the long term health of the bird.
  • Lights: Provide 18 – 22 hours of light for the first week. Then reduce light to 16 hours through the growing period or to the amount of light they will receive when they are 20 weeks of age.  The amount of light intensity required would be provided by a 40 watt bulb for each 100 square feet (10’ x 10’) of floor space.
  • Feeders: Offer 4 linear inches of feeder space for each bird. Clean egg cartons filled with feed make excellent and easily accessible feeders for young chicks. Provide low-lying feeders, or trough feeders, for after the transition.
  • Waterers: For every 25 chicks, fill two 1-quart waterers with room temperature water and place them in the brooder. To help water stay at room temperature, place the waterers in the brooder, outside the comfort zone (do not position underneath the heat lamp), 24 hours prior to the chicks’ arrival.

Introduce baby chicks to water

Once chicks arrive, introduce them to the brooding area. Water, at room temperature, should be available, but wait a couple hours to introduce feed.

This gives chicks a couple hours to drink and rehydrate before they start eating, fresh, quality water is essential for healthy chicks. Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. These chicks will then teach the rest of the group to drink. Monitor the group to ensure all chicks are drinking within the first couple hours.

Teach baby chicks to eat

After chicks have had a chance to rehydrate, provide the nutrients they need through a complete chick starter feed. Provide a chick starter feed with at least 18 percent protein to help support the extra energy needed for early growth. The feed should also include amino acids for chick development; prebiotics, probiotics and yeast for immune health; and vitamins and minerals to support bone health.

First, teach the chicks to eat by placing feed on clean egg flats, shallow pans or simple squares of paper. On day 2, add proper feeders to the pens. Once chicks have learned to eat from the feeders, remove the papers, pans or egg flats.

Adjust feed as baby chicks develop

To keep feed fresh: Empty, clean and refill waterers and feeders daily. Also, raise the height of feeders and waterers so they are level with the birds’ backs as chicks grow. As chicks mature, their nutritional needs change. At age 18 weeks, adjust the feed provided to meet the birds’ evolving nutrition needs.

Transition layer chicks onto a higher-calcium complete feed, like Purina Layena Crumbles or Pellets, when they begin laying eggs at age 18 to 20 weeks. For meat birds and mixed flocks, choose a complete feed with 20 percent protein, like Purina Flock Raiser Crumbles and feed this diet from day one through adulthood.

This post on raising baby chicks has been adapted from purinamills.com.

Chicken Predators – What You Need to Know

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Chicken Predators Chicken Predators – What You Need to Know: Humans aren’t the only animals that enjoy a delicious chicken dinner.

Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dogs, mink, owls, and some hawks also find chickens a meaty, easy-to-catch meal.

It is frustrating to discover chickens killed by a mink or carried off by a fox. Fortunately, predators can be foiled.

Predators are everywhere. No flock is completely safe from some carnivorous species that would like to eat them.

Raccoons and domestic dogs probably kill more chickens than any other animals and live in both rural and urban areas. Raccoons are surprisingly abundant even in New York City!

Seeking revenge is often the first reaction a flock owner has when birds are killed.

Shotguns and traps are sometimes used but killing a chicken-eating fox or raccoon can be both illegal and dangerous. Preventing predation is far more effective than shooting or trapping an animal or two.

Most chicken losses occur at night when raccoons, skunks, opossums, owls, mink, and weasels are most likely to prowl.

The best defense against night shift chicken snatchers is a sturdy tight coop. Chickens come inside at dusk and are almost comatose when sleeping. Once they get inside predators can easily pluck a plump hen off the roost.

The solution is making entry nearly impossible. That’s easier said than done. A mink can ooze through a one-inch diameter hole while weasels can fit through even smaller cracks.

Some ways to keep predators out of the coop include:

  • At dusk and when you plan to be away until after dark, close and securely latch all doors, especially the pop hole door.
  • Cover all windows with sturdy wire mesh. Raccoons can tear through hexagonal chicken wire, so the stronger wire is essential. One half-inch square hardware cloth thwarts raccoons and even keeps mink out.
  • Fill in any holes or cracks in walls or around doors with concrete, caulking, wire, or expanding foam.
  • Watch for signs of animals digging tunnels under the coop walls. A concrete coop floor prevents this type of entry, but wire mesh placed on a dirt floor beneath litter and tacked to the coop’s sidewalls also works.
  • Eliminate predator hiding places near the coop. Piles of firewood, debris, old vacant sheds, and brush piles offer predators a safe haven as they approach. The fewer places they have to hide the less likely they are to invade.
  • Install a sensor-activated light that turns on as a hungry raccoon approaches.

Preventing daytime predators from snatching chickens is more challenging as the birds are often outside.

Dogs are probably the major daytime chicken killers, but several species of hawks may also prey on hens.

Mink, foxes, and weasels are occasionally active during daylight hours but raccoons, opossums, and skunks rarely are. Preparing the run in two ways will reduce predation.

First, confine the flock with a sturdy fence that keeps chickens in and dogs out. Usually, a stout four-foot-tall fence will prevent heavy chicken breeds from flying over it while excluding dogs and foxes. Light breed chickens are adept flyers and a six or eight-foot-tall fence may be needed to confine them.

Second, provide overhead protection. A sure-fire way to keep raptors from snatching an occasional chicken is to cover the run with wire mesh. Small outdoor runs can feature a roof that also keeps rain and snow off the ground.

Chickens, like rabbits and other prey species, recognize that danger can come from the sky. They are safer when the run provides some overhead cover.

A few shrubs planted in the run give chickens places to safely loiter beneath their intertwined branches. A picnic table placed in the run also gives birds a safe haven from the bright sun and overhead predators.

Predators are crafty and often catch chickens and their owners by surprise. Months can go by with no loss. Then in just a sort time, many birds can be killed. Preventing predators from accessing chickens is the best way to keep them safe.

In conclusion, Kissimmee Valley Feed cares about the safety and health of your chickens! See our poultry selection here.

Read more articles similar to this one and the original article at Nutrena, Scoop from the Coop.

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