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Lou's Tips


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1/15/2012

Keep in mind that eggs your birds produce in super cold weather can freeze to the point where the embryo is killed in as little as 20 minutes. Plan egg collection accordingly.

1/08/2012

Urgent message to waterfowl breeders: Multiple feed companies have begun incorporating ethanol byproducts (leftovers from ethanol production) into poultry feeds. This can lead to kidney failure in waterfowl according to the Penn. St. Pathology lab. Evidently, such use of "distillery grains" is not harmful to chickens at the present concentration. Waterfowl breeders should contact their feed suppliers to verify that ethanol by-products are not in processed feeds fed to waterfowl.

1/01/2012

With the big feed companies consolidating the types of feed they make, be sure that what you are feeding really fills your bird's nutritional needs. Vitamin packages are especially important. A relatively cheap "insurance policy" is to add supplementary vitamins to your feed/water.

12/25/2011

Last week's tips mentioned keeping one's flock free of parasites. There are both internal (worms) and external parasites (mites/lice). The only med of which I am aware that will control both types is Ivomectin. Personally, I prefer to treat them separately but it is important to deal with both types.

12/18/2011

This is the time of year that the groundwork is laid for good breeding seasons. The birds should be kept in good flesh, clean, and free of parasites.

12/11/2011

It is tempting to set every egg that good birds lay but setting excessively soiled eggs in an incubator can lead to contamination of other eggs with bacteria. Washing filthy eggs often removes the natural protection that keeps bacteria from entering the shell. It may be best to discard those eggs and concentrate on providing clean places for the birds to lay their eggs in the future.

12/04/2011

When chickens are prepared for an upcoming show and have been washed, it is advisable to switch them to a hard grain such as wheat for the few days leading up to the show to reduce the amount of soft droppings. White chickens should not be fed corn before being shown as it tends to add a yellow cast to white plumage.

11/20/2011

If you intend to order eggs, chicks/ducklings/goslings or adults from any breeder next spring/ summer don't wait until then to contact the breeder and place the order. High quality stock is often short in quantity. Early orders almost always are a good idea and often are an absolute necessity to avoid disappointment.

11/13/2011

Resist the temptation to make corn your primary grain for the birds until the really cold weather sets in. Corn is high in fat and low in energy and other nutrients A better choice would be oats, wheat, or a mix of the two. Birds have to be taught to eat oats but it is a highly nutritious grain. I only feed corn when there is zero weather with which to contend.

11/06/2011

Remember that fall is by far the best time of year to purchase new stock. It is the one time of year when supply is the greatest. Spring is the worst time to purchase birds.

10/30/2011

Not all mite/louse treatments are created equal. Adams Flea Off, for example, only is effective for 2-3 weeks and I am told that it does not kill all species of mites.

The best product I have found is the spray bottle form of Frontline. It kills all species of mites and is effective for three months. Warning: it is much more expensive than other brands but only one squirt is required for each bird.

10/23/2011

An excellent way to winterize pens which are in use during winter months is to cover the sides in heavy mill clear plastic. The light still comes through but the birds are shielded from the wind and snow. The use of roofing nails (1 1/4 inch) which come with round plastic gaskets works well in fastening the plastic to pen sides.

10/16/2011

With the days getting shorter, it is more important than ever to lock up range birds before dark. A whole range of predators including Great Horned Owls begin to hunt as darkness falls.

10/02/2011

Be careful with the use of artificial lights as the days shorten. Waterfowl in particular can be induced to lay out of season quite easily even by a single light burning in their area. Birds which lay out of season almost never produce as well during the normal breeding season.

9/27/2011

Sprouting oats during the winter and feeding to both waterfowl and chickens is a wonderful way to supplement their nutritional needs. It can be as simple as soaking the whole grain in a bucket of water overnight and then keeping the bucket in a cool, dark place for a few days. Feed to the birds when the sproats have emerged from the seeds.

9/25/2011

Once your birds have finished moulting, it is OK to worm them. worming is something that should be done on a yearly basis at least especially if the birds are on range. Do not worm the birds when they are under stress such as when there is extreme heat.

9/18/2011

Those raising white varieties of chickens may want to avoid feeding whole corn or scratch grains during the show season because the corn can cause a yellow cast to the white plumage even in "stay white" lines. Once present, the yellow tint is slow to fade even after there is no corn in the bird's diet.

9/11/2011

With the fall show season here now, do not neglect to provide for quality transportation of the birds to the shows. Carry coops which are clean and easily cleaned, smooth sided to prevent plumage damage, and fairly light to carry are a big plus. Cages with wire sides are a bad idea. Plumage is easily damaged in such cages. Does it make sense to spend months growing out and conditioning a bird only to have it ruined on the way to a show?

9/04/2011

Both waterfowl and chickens benefit from coop training this time of year. Waterfowl in particular tend to be timid so they can be helped to show well by being placed in show cages occasionally prior to the first shows of the year. At least in the Midwest, show cages can be purchased at major shows if one does not already possess some.

8/28/2011

The two best whole grains to feed to waterfowl or chickens this time of year are wheat and oats. Both tend to help birds complete their moult without adding a lot of fat to their diet like corn does. Oats are not favored by the birds so it must be given to them when no other feed is available.

8/21/2011

We are now entering the prime time of year to be concerned with waterfowl contracting West Nile Virus. Sudden losses of young birds in particular are common. See my article on West Nile Virus for full details.

8/14/2011

It can be very useful to color code birds according to year of hatch, mating, etc. Small zip ties that now come in many colors are perfect for this purpose. Numbered bands can also be used to identify the individual bird.

8/07/2011

Do not overlook the good work small ducks and chickens can do in the garden. My Indies in particular are great at hunting down mosquitoes, slugs, and Japanese beetles, among other pests. Let them hunt the bugs in the early AM for the best results.

7/31/2011

Don't forget to worm birds out on range in particular once the weather cools and the birds have completed their moult.

7/24/2011

Remember that the time to go over show birds to remove frayed or broken feathers is 6-8 weeks prior to when they will be shown. It takes that length of time to replace a flight feather.