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Lou's Tips

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I have found out through personal experience that spiral plastic bands are dangerous to use due to their tendency to cut off circulation in the bird's leg as time goes on. that can happen with both chickens and waterfowl.


I have found out through personal experience that spiral plastic bands are dangerous to use due to their tendency to cut off circulation in the bird's leg as time goes on. that can happen with both chickens and waterfowl.


One should allow 3-4 weeks between when matings are set up and when the first hatching eggs are expected.


Cull chicks as soon as possible to avoid wasting space on those that have no value. Look for comb and leg/ foot deformities within the first week after hatching. Also check older chicks/ducklings/goslings for deformed backs.


It is always preferable not to wash off the protective coating on waterfowl hatching eggs. That can be accomplished by either using a dip of 10% bleach with water warmer than the eggs or by going over soiled spots with fine grain sand paper. Really filthy eggs should probably not be even set.


I cannot emphasize enough how important regular sanitization is for incubators and brooders if one is to maximize hatchability and minimize losses. Those places are ideal breeding grounds for harmfulbacteria. A simple 10% bleach/water solution will work well.


Longer daylight hours will stimulate poultry to lay even during the winter months. The ideal length of daylight seems to be about 14 hours. Light should be increased gradually so that the 14 hours is arrived at over several weeks. Timers can be used effectively to control the light. Add daylight at the start of the day rather than the end.


Keep in mind that for best results, a breeding formula should be used to produce eggs for hatching rather than a "lay mash" which is designed to maximize eggs to be eaten, not hatched. The breeder feed should be introduced 4-5 weeks prior to the start of egg production.


Contrary to popular belief, hatching eggs do not need to be turned as often or for as long. Three turns per day will be more than enough and only for the first two weeks of the incubation cycle. The embryos need to get themselves in position to hatch so eggs should never be turned for the last week of incubation.


Baby chicks, ducklings, and goslings are most vulnerable to infection in the first few days after they hatch while they finish absorbing their yolk sacks. I put a anitbiotic like Neomycin in their drinking water for the first week to protect them.


Winter feed consumption in all forms of poultry is closely tied to the availability of unfrozen water. Birds can go downhill rapidly in terms of condition and overall health if they do not have access to water for good portions of the day.


With cold gripping much of the U.S., keep in mind that freshly layed eggs pull in the surrounding air as they cool. In zero temps, eggs can be cold damaged in as little as 20 minutes. Check for eggs in cold weather as often as practical.


With the hatching season still weeks or months off, now is the time to service your incubator(s).

Replace wafers, oil the motor, and sanitize the interior of the machine.

A solid state thermostat is far superior to the wafer system: consider changing to one.


With the cold weather coming on in many parts of the country, it is time to adjust the feed for poultry accordingly. The trick is to provide enough fat content to allow the birds to maintain their weight during extemely cold times without allowing them to put on too much weight

Using extra corn in the diet will provide the needed fat content but it should be used carefully.


It is a very well spent few moments to periodically check the security of fences and pens. Check for rotting wood, rusty wire, etc. Underestimating the local predators can be very costly.


There is no more foolhardy way to save a few bucks than to skimp on the quality of feed one supplies to either waterfowl or chickens. Cheap feed will invariably produce inferior results.


In my experience, selecting "target faults" to correct  in young fowl is only effective when one zeroes in on 1 or 2. If you select several, chances are you will not be truly successful in correcting any of them. Prioritize your target faults and attempt to select against them over a series of years.


Most of us have limited time to spend with our birds. It makes sense, then, to do at least double duty whenever we handle our birds. For example, I always treat birds for lice/mites whenever I handle them wheather I am evaluating show birds, banding them, putting together breeding pens, etc.


This is the time of the year when young chickens in particular may show symptoms of Larygotracheitis. It is a respiratory disease which may spread quickly and cause the loss of many birds in a short span of time. Laryngo can be treated effectively in it's early stages by use of a vaccine. Even if one does not want to vaccinate for Larygo every year, a supply of vaccine is best to have on hand just in case.



Given that young chickens can have coccidiosis triggered by abrupt changes in temperature, especially drops in temperature, consider running a brooder light over them when temps are likely to drop over night.


One of the leading causes of loss among growing chickens is coccidiosis which is often triggered by abrupt changes in temperature. Young chickens should be kept on medicated feed and it maybe good practice to give them supplementary Amprolium in their water. Be sure to follow label directions.


Remember when your birds moult that their diet should be rich in protein. About eighty seven percent of a feather is made up of protein.


Botulism is a deadly bacterial disease that can paralyize either upland fowl or waterfowl and can prove fatal. Most people think it can only come from rotting flesh and maggots but rotting vegetation can also cause Botulism. Do not allow either dead birds or decaying vegetation to remain within reach or the birds.


Keeping young waterfowl on high protein starter/grower too long may well contribute to wing problems such as slipped or "angel" wing.


Remember that young waterfowl should go from start/grow feed to a duck grower of 16/18% by 7-8 weeks. If they can be provided time on grass in good weather, so much the better.