Sunday, April 7, 2013

Backyard Chicken Seminar


About a week ago I went to my first ever chicken seminar. (I've been meaning to post about this sooner, but with all strike drama going on, it had to wait!) It was hosted at Carney's Feed Mill on Rt. 50 close to Owensville. Plus it was free, so why not go and learn even more about chickens?

I was hoping I would walk away with new and valuable information...and I did. I came away with new knowledge, comfort in my decisions so far as a chicken owner and the confidence that I seem to know a little about what I'm doing. (Not to brag...hahaha)

The speaker that night was Trent Ardrey from Purina Mills. The place was PACKED! though part of that was probably due to the free food... I had to sit clear in the back since it was so crowded and yes, I took notes. I'm just going to basically type what I wrote down and share with all of you! (A lot of this pertained to raising chicks.)

I like what he said about how there is no one way to do things

The number one reason people own chickens is to watch them...not necessarily for food, but for the pure pleasure of having them around.

As a pet, a chicken can live to be 15 or older, but after 3 years of age their egg production decreases significantly, if not stopping all together.

Predators include opossums, raccoons, fox, dogs, hawks, skunks, owls...the best fencing to keep out predators is 1/2 inch by 1 inch welded wire.

Chickens need about 2 to 3 sq. feet per bird inside an enclosure...especially meat birds.

Basic necessities are food, water and dry bedding (moisture breeds bacteria). They will drink twice as much as they eat.

Temperature inside the brooder for new chicks should be between 90 to 95 degrees F.

Avoid putting chicks with older birds, not only for physical protection but also for protection for disease.

He talked about pasty butt! Due to stress and temperature, stool will stick and harden under the heat lamps. Once this happens a chick can't expel it's waste and could potentially die if left untreated. (You all giggle...wait until it happens to you.)

Chickens can be cannibals...they have a pecking order...the can be curious and peck one other...pecking because of boredom and/or overcrowding. Also, bright lights stress them out. It's good to have a red light in a chick brooder since it's less stressful....we have red lights in ours this year.

Also, hens will peck because they are hormonal right before they begin to hens obviously PMS too!

Cocciidiosis is when the parasite cocci enters the small and/or large intestine....reminds of me the stomach flu. It's orally ingested from the ground, feathers, waterer, etc. The cocci reproduce and the eggs disrupt the G.I. tract, making it hard for the hen to absorb what she eats. Symptoms include loose stool, blood in stool and droopy appearance. It's mostly in younger birds since older birds build up immunities and will fight it off. Best treated with Amprolium, which is NOT an antibiotic, therefore there are no traces found in meat or eggs. There is no "holding" period. Amprolium is absorbed and stays in the G.I. tracts...not absorbed further into the chicken's body.

Like I said, it made me feel confident in what I've learned over the past couple of years and that we seem to be doing something right! If I ever hear of another seminar about chickens, I'd love to go. As with any animal, you never stop learning!

Or in the case of chickens, laughing or pulling your hair out!

                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck... chirp... chirp... chirp...

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