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Lou's Tips

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Before starting up that incubator, be sure to disinfect the interior thoroughly using Oxine or diluted bleach water. Then, change out the wafer on wafer based thermostats. The cost of a new wafer is insignificant compared to the cost of a machine full of cooked eggs. Test run the incubator for 48 hours prior to setting eggs.


Do not expect to purchase good breeding/show stock in any type of poultry as the breeding season is about to start. It does not make sense for a breeder to stand the cost and risk of over wintering good birds only to sell them at that time unless he gets a price that offsets the loss of potential youngsters.


Begin feeding oyster shell a few weeks prior to when you expect the first eggs. Doing so should help avoid shelless eggs early in production.


Both artificial heat and light can trigger a partial or even complete moult in both chickens and ducks. Both should be used carefully and sparingly. The daylight should be extended by no more than one hour per every two week period.


The introduction of clean, fresh water pans or shallow pools often stimulate both ducks and geese to breed.


With heavy feathered breeds of chickens, pluck or trim the area just below the vents on both males and females for better fertility.


Change over to breeder feed about one month before you want egg production to begin. Begin making oyster shell available about the same time.


To get good fertility when using lights to stimulate winter egg production, put the males under the lights for at least two weeks before the females are introduced.


Remember that the vitamin package in your feed is the most fragile component of the feed and has the shortest shelf life. If one is using feed more than a few months old, it may be good to supplement the vitamins.


Be sure to treat poultry for mites and lice during the winter prior to the start of the breeding season. An infestation of mites in particular can reduce productivity and fertility. Best to treat every six to eight weeks.


Do not resort to heat lamps to provide heat at night  during the winter unless you are prepared to have your birds begin to lay out of season.


Be sure to provide bedding which is at least one inch deep during periods of severe cold. Nestling in the bedding will help the birds maintain their body temps. Pine shavings or clean straw make good bedding materials.


Bantams in particular can find it difficult to maintain proper weight in extremely cold weather because of their small body mass and high metabolism. It is important to provide them with grain such as corn which is high in fat at such times. one third of their ration in whole corn during at least January and February would be wise in cold climates.


Be sure that your waterfowl as well as land fowl are treated for external parasites after the show season. Shows are likely places for birds to become infested. Ivomec is a good treatment for external and internal parasites.


The smaller a domestic bird is, the more vulnerable it is during periods of severe cold. They simply do not possess the body mass and fat reserves to survive long periods of severe low temperatures unless their housing is equipped to protect them.


The most important thing you can do for your waterfowl (or chickens) this winter is to see to it that they have an uninterrupted supply of unfrozen and clean water. Their feed consumption and therefore their health will depend upon it.


It is important to sanitize water cups and even pools regularly, especially during warm weather. Chlorine bleach (20%) and water is effective and cheap. Oxine also works well.


Consider using thermostatically controlled heated water dishes for both ducks and chickens during the winter. Dishes designed for dogs work well for both chickens and bantam ducks in my experience.


After the fall shows and well before the breeding season is a great time to worm waterfowl.


 Colored zip ties used as bands are becoming popular because they are inexpensive. Be sure, however, to cut the excess off at the lock. Otherwise, the zip can continue to tighten and will cut off circulation.


A great way to fortify poultry which are weak from sickness is to feed Meal Worms which are the larva of a beetle and easily obtainable at most pet stores. They are high quality protein and will sustaina weak bird while it heals.


Some spray treatments for mites/lice will stain white birds. One I know that does not is Adams Flea Off brand.


When returning from a show, treat both chickens and waterfowl for mites and lice they may have picked up at the show.


One of the possible causes of lameness in waterfowl is an infestation of worms.


Whole or cracked corn should not constitute a large part of the diet for waterfowl unless they are being prepared for market. It is relatively high in fat and low in essential nutrients.