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Lou's Tips


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2/12/2017

A piece of breeding advice based on my 50+ years of raising  poultry: over the long run, you will benefit more from putting together small matings of high quality birds than you will from hatching from larger  (or more) matings made up of mediocre birds.

The birds hatched will be much more likely to be worth rearing.

2/05/2017

In the long run, it does not pay to set eggs with weird shapes or poor shell quality since those things tend to be inherited traits. Likewise, do not set really soiled eggs unless or until they have been cleaned and sanitized.

1/29/2017

Incubator temps need to monitored pretty much every day because as eggs are added each week the increasing heat generated by the developing eggs can increase the temperature as much as a full degree or more.

1/22/2017

A recent conversation with a feed store owner has brought good news. The government has decided not to include Amprolium in the list of antibiotics which now require a Vet's prescription. Amprolium is not an antibiotic so it should never have been included in the first place. The bottom line is that "medicated" starter feed will still be available at least unless the government changes policy again. Amprolium prevents losses from Coccidiosis which probably kills more young chicks than all other causes combined. Cocci are protozoa which are neither bacteria nor virus and are found everywhere. The Cocci attack chicks when they are stressed. They also can attack ducklings but not as frequently.

1/15/2017

Because humidity requirements and incubation periods are different, the best option is to incubate chicken and waterfowl eggs in separate incubators. Even better; do not hatch eggs in the same machine in which they are incubated. Why? Two reasons; hatching debris is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and humidity should be much higher in the hatcher than is good for eggs in incubation.

1/08/2017

Having had experience with failures of heat lamps that came close to burning down one of my barns, I cannot recommend too strongly the use of high-quality heat lamps and bulbs. Cheap heat lamps are poorly made and can contribute to the loss of chicks, ducklings, or even the building in which they are housed. Cheap heat lamp bulbs are not really designed for the hard use we put them to. The glass is not thick or hardened and will shatter or even break off at the base. Buy lamps and bulbs expressly made for brooding poultry and save yourself from potential disaster.

1/01/2017

Since geese often take much longer than either ducks or chickens to form pair bonds, matings should be set up now if they have not already been set up if good fertility is to be expected in the spring.

12/25/2016

During the winter, most birds are housed in inside pens this time of year. It would be easy to forget that all poultry needs grit when it cannot be obtained outside. Grit allows the birds to grind up the hard grains in particular. Lack of it can cause digestive problems and inhibit the bird's ability to remain in good flesh.

12/18/2016

With severe cold descending on large parts of the nation, it is important to keep in mind that the amount of feed that poultry can consume is closely tied to the amount of unfrozen water which is available to them.  Full feed pans do not in themselves, lead to birds which are well enough fleshed out to withstand cold if they only have a 1/2 hour window to consume unfrozen water each day. Either provide heaters for water bowls or change out the water at least 2-3 times per day.

12/11/2016

Keep in mind that when a female chick is hatched, she already possesses all of the eggs she will ever lay during her lifetime in her body. 

Eggs layed when you do not want them for hatching unless you are raising the birds for egg production is a waste of resources.

Breeding birds should be managed to maximize production when the eggs are most needed. That means that extension of daylight by the use of artificial light and the feeding of breeder rations when hatching eggs are desired, not when it is too cold or too early to begin saving hatching eggs. 

12/04/2016

With all antibiotics becoming unavailable without a Vet's prescription on January 1st, it should be at the top of every poultry fancier's "to do list" to have some on hand. Tylan is a good choice for an antibiotic. Also, it is wise to have a coccidiostat on hand since it will no longer be available in Chick Starter. Any brand containing Amprolium for use in the water will work to prevent Coccidiosis in young chicks and ducklings.

11/20/2016

There will be new and much more restrictive regulations governing the availability of antibiotics and other medications used to treat poultry going into effect on January 1st. Medicated chick starter, for example, will no longer be available. Neither will antibiotics which used to be sold by poultry supply sources. My advice? Stock up on both prior to January 1st. It is a stop gap solution but better than nothing. 

As has happened in the past, the sins of the commercial poultry industry are resulting in punishing regulations for all.

11/13/2016

Mor on biosecurity:

Probably the worst place to buy birds from a biosecurity standpoint is the "swap meet" or auction. While there are sometimes legitimate breeders who dispose of surplus birds at such events, there are also "bird jockeys" who buy and sell birds without much thought given to the bird's health. These are the same folks who crowd 8-10 birds in carry coops or swap cages meant for 1-2. Best to steer clear of such events.

11/06/2016

Every poultry raiser from the back yarder to the commercial outfit should do more than pay "lip service" to biosecurity. Visitors to your pens should be minimized or prohibited altogether. Birds from other flocks should be quarantined for at least two weeks before being allowed to mix with your other poultry  More on this topic next time.

10/30/2016

When evaluating Wyandottes, balance is an often overlooked quality. The bird should stand with head just a bit higher than it's tail. If not, it is not balanced.

10/23/2016

Showing trios is a whole new aspect to showing poultry. A trio is two females and a male. One can show old trios or young trios (meaning hatched during the current calendar year). They are shown as a unit but the judge may pick an individual bird out of the trio for a higher award. The females should be as near to identical as possible and the male counts as 1/2 of the trio's score. The APA requires that if trios are permitted at a given show that they be part of any display.

10/16/2016

It is almost as important to transport show birds to shows in clean and uncrowded carriers as it is to wash and condition them prior to the show.

10/09/2016

This is a reminder that this is the ideal time of year to purchase breeding stock because the amount of supply is balanced in the buyer's favor for the few months of fall. Surplus young  breeding stock is now available.

10/02/2016

In order to be both effective and cost-effective, it is important to realize that mite/lice treatments operate in different ways. Products like Adams Flea Off and Sevin Powder are contact insecticides and therefore must be applied directly to the birds or put on surfaces which harbor mites such as roosts. Frontline (much more expensive but much longer lasting) should be sprayed on to the bird and is designed to penetrate the skin and work internally. It is best used in small amounts.

9/25/2016

I find that both ducks and chickens benefit from some animal protein in their diets. Most processed feeds today to not provide that. Unless they are on free range, some supplemental feeding of a source of animal protein is good. I use freeze dried meal worms which I buy online at a cost of approximately six dollars per pound. Both ducks and chickens are omnivorous if they have the chance to be. 

9/18/2016

It is good policy to spray show birds for mites both before and after shows. Waterfowl should also be sprayed since they can pick up mites if they are kept with chickens or  are cooped near them at the show.

9/11/2016

One of the harder  things to master for the exhibitor is to avoid "coop blindness" when evaluating one's birds against those of competitors. If one does not see faults that exist in one's birds, it is impossible to improve them.

9/04/2016

Exhibitors: Never lose sight of Standard requirements for your breed and variety. re-read the Standard description regularly and ask yourself if you are drifting away from that Standard.

8/28/2016

In spite of statements to the contrary by some researchers, my personal experience with West Nile Virus in my birds is that almost all of the losses from the virus are in young birds. That means either that survivors confer some degree of immunity to their young or that older birds with more mature immune systems are better able to resist infection.

8/21/2016

We are in West Nile Virus season here in Northern Illinois. Since waterfowl are especially vulnerable, every effort should be made to protect them from being bitten by mosquitoes.   Standing water should be eliminated whenever possible. only the Culex specie of mosquito is known to carry the virus.