Acorn Hollow Bantams
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Getting Started

  1. Introduction to Heritage Breeds
  2. Why Wyandottes?
  3. One Judge's Perspective: the Snowy Call
  4. Calls: Are We Perfecting Them to a Dead End?
  5. Chick Raising 101
  6. Pet Peeves of a Veteran Exhibitor
  7. New- Random Thoughts on Breeding Philosophy and Many Other Topics
  8. Frequently Asked Questions About Poultry Shows
  9. It has Been a Great Ride
  10. It Has Been a Great Ride Pt2
  11. Ashbrook's Notes on Fitting Chickens for Shows
  12. It Has Been a Great Ride Pt 3
  13. Avoiding Pitfalls
  14. So, My Duck (or Goose) is Laying Eggs- Now What?
  15. A Return of the Urban Chicken
  16. A Range Shelter will Keep Showbirds Fresh
  17. The Leg Color Problem in Embden Geese
  18. Raising Ducklings and Goslings Step-By-Step
  19. Zimmerman Bantam Duck Brooder
  20. Winter Equipment Maintenance
  21. Wyandotte Type Illustrations
  22. Winter Flock Maintenance
  23. Using Artificial Lighting to Stimulate Egg Production

Winter Equipment Maintenance

For many of us, winter brings a time where taking care of our birds can be both physically demanding and, at times, unpleasant. Hauling water by the bucket and breaking ice out of water containers in cold weather is nobody’s idea of fun. Winter can, however, be a time when things can be accomplished that will make activities later in the year both more fun and more rewarding. Forever it seems, Midwestern and Northeastern farmers have used the inclement weather to make repairs, make improvements, and in general to do things that there was no time to accomplish at other times. So it should be with poultry raisers. What follows is a “To Do” list that will leave us with a sense of accomplishment and preparedness when the breeding season gets underway.


Incubator Maintenance
Have your incubators received that thorough cleaning and motor lubrication that will have them ready for that first setting of eggs? Have you stocked up on spare wafers, wicks, and even that spare fan motor “just in case”? What about that moisture pan that you know is about to spring a leak any time? If you have a solid state thermostat, have you taken the time to protect it with a quality surge protector? The surge protector can cost you $15 dollars or less; the replacement thermostat can cost you $100 or more and an incubator full of eggs.

Brooder Maintenance and Improvement
We all hope for a good or even a great hatching year but the question is, are we truly prepared for one? Overcrowded brooder facilities probably account for a sizable percentage of the chicks, ducklings, and goslings lost every year. Smaller, weaker young birds always suffer when brooders are overcrowded. Disease is more both likely and quicker to spread in such conditions. What good is there to hatching more if the increase also means more losses? A wise poultry raiser will have at least one or more extra brooders ready to put into use in the event that hatches are larger than expected.

Brooders also require periodic maintenance. Wire mesh floors deteriorate and must be replaced. Heating elements and other electric components deteriorate under the kind of harsh conditions to which they are subjected. Water and feed troughs can rust out and quickly become useless.

Pen and Fencing Maintenance
Fencing can deteriorate so slowly and so subtly that we can easily fail to realize that it is no longer capable of doing what we installed it to do: protect our birds. Wood supports rot, metal rusts and suddenly we find out to our disgust that a predator was easily able to defeat our fencing and birds are lost. Fix those pens not used or lightly used over the winter. It is also a good time to sheath even chain link or other tight fencing with plastic or wire mesh to prevent wild birds from entering the pens to consume feed and spread disease. Flocks of wild birds can consume as much as 1/3 of the feed we pay for.

So you see, there is plenty for us to do to make good use of the “downtime” during the winter months.

Originally published: 01-17-2005
Last updated: 03-05-2008