Question I have six young red production hens. My husband is building a hen house and it should be operating by the end of this month. Where can I find egg lights to check for blood spots? When (at what age) can I start feeding the chicks apple cores and other vegetable clippings from my food preparations? I appreciate any information you may have to help me succeed at this new adventure.
Answer I would recommend that you start feeding your chickens kitchen scraps when they are about 8 weeks old. Continue feeding them their normal commercial chicken food and start giving them small amounts of green vegetable scraps. Try to avoid bread at this stage as this might clog them up when they are small.
Gradually increase the amount and variety of scraps as they grow older and larger. As for Candlers, (egg lights) you can go to my website under the Incubator Category and you will find a Candler for sale there.
Here is the link http://www.raisingchickensforeggs.com/incubators/incubators Scroll down till you see the heading Candling and you will see an example of a Candler. Click on the link and you can find more information on the product.
Question I bought some chicks when they were 2 days old at my country store. I was told they are all female. Do you think they know that for sure? I will not be too popular in my neighborhood with a rooster. The hens will only deliver unfertilized eggs right? Do I need the light if I already know they are infertile? Maybe blood spots in the egg could be found before I open one up would be helpful to find with the light. We have built a brood box for the little chix and my hubby is finishing up a portable run that should be ready in the next day or so. Is that ok to let them be under that protection now as they are nearing a month old. Will it be ok to let them be under that protection on the lawn? Thank you so much for helping us be successful egg producers.
Answer If your local store says they are all female I would believe them as the chicks can be sexed as it is called, when they are just born. When your hens get all their feathers you will be able to tell if you have a rooster in your flock and you can then give him away as unless you are going to breed chickens, having a rooster can get very noisy and your neighbors’ will not like it. If you don’t have a rooster then you will not get fertilized eggs and you will not get bloodspots in them. You therefore will not need to buy a light.
If you are going to put your chicks out on the lawn you must make sure that no predators can get to them . At their age they are vulnerable to hawks and other large birds taking them so make sure that your portable run has a wire roof so that nothing can get in there. They will love being on your lawn and will love to eat the tips of grasses. They make very good lawn mowers if you move their run around. As long as they have somewhere warm and protected to go to at night they should be fine.
Question I am have trouble with my hen having impacted eggs. Lost two and now seem to have another sick one. Looked close and do not see shell but she is sick. HELP
Answer If your hen is egg bound-try the following A hen is said to be egg bound when she doesn’t lay her egg. This is a common condition, and may result from inflammation of the oviduct,malformed or double yolk er egg, or a too large an egg in a young pullet She will tend to stand all hunched up. She will be restless. Her vent will look quite red and protrude. She will drink & eat very little. Her oviduct may end up protruding due to excessive pushing by her to eject the egg; internal haemorrhage or exhaustion may occur and she may die. She may smell badly. She may have faecal matter that has built up behind the egg, if you see white liquid that will be her urates trying to pass (urine in chickens)
Sit her in a tub of warm soapy water Make sure the vent is submerged for about 30 minutes. This may seem like a long time, but you have to relax the vent area and make is easier for the egg to pass through, it really does help the hen, 85% of the time this will be all that you will need to do for her and the egg will pass out with a little push. You can rub some lubricant around the vent area if you think that may help too. KY jelly, petroleum jelly, Vaseline or Olive Oil all work fine .
Make sure you isolate her from the other hens, or they will peck at her vent causing more damage Put her into an isolation cage, put plenty of news paper down first and then put heated towels down. They will act like a heat pad for her, no drafts when she is wet or she will catch a chill. You can heat up towels in your microwave, it works well or a wheat heat pack is good too. Just put towels over it. Leave her for a little while to see if she passes the egg, if not, repeat the warm water and soap again Some people just use the heating pads, this sometimes seems to relax the muscles and allow the egg to slip out
If this doesn’t work, you may have to resort to removing the egg manually, which is not a pleasant task. You will need two people to do this. Using KY jelly, Petroleum jelly or Vaseline, insert your finger in the vent. With your other hand you can press gently on her abdomen moving the egg down the oviduct towards the cloaca. Once you can see the egg, if it won’t pass, then rupture the egg and gently remove all the shell Some people suggest using a sharp instrument. I would not recommend this at all as it could result in causing the hen internal injuries. The shell of the egg will be very sharp when broken and could also damage the chicken internally.
Once you have broken the shell, you must make sure you remove every particle carefully. The cloaca should then be washed with a weak warm water/salt solution. This is to make sure all the egg contents and shell has been removed from inside the hen. If it isn’t it could cause bacteria to start growing inside her and then you’ve got an even bigger problem to solve Once the egg has ejected you will want to keep an eye on her for a while There may be another egg backed up in her oviduct system, especially if she lays an egg every day or every other day. If it has ruptured inside her, you should look for small pieces of shell, or evidence of any cuts around the vent area Be careful you don’t cut yourself or her.
If you do find any cuts around her cloaca, rinse with hydrogen peroxide and watch her for listlessness, dull eyes, and signs of fever. Infection can come on pretty quickly. Keep a close eye on her, this could happen again to her and she will need immediate action to fix the problem
Question My chickens have begun eating the eggs before I can collect them each day. Is there a reason they have started this? Can I do something to stop them?
Answer Chickens that eat their own eggs are a problem as it can be a hard habit to break. Try the following. Collect eggs promptly. Hens usually lay in the early morning, so make sure you have the eggs gathered by noon. Darken your nesting boxes. Hang old towels or pieces of sheet in front of the nesting boxes to block the light. The hens will still get in the boxes to lay. You can leave some golf balls in the nests which they will try to peck and will find too hard.
Trim hens beaks. Hens with fully sharp beaks are more likely to cannibalize their eggs. Provide a low stress environment. Hens that are overcrowded or bored are more likely to eat eggs. Allow the hens free-range time in a safely enclosed chicken yard, and maintain a small flock. Make sure your hens are getting adequate calcium and Vitamin D in their diet. Deficiencies of these nutrients make egg-eating attractive and make it easier by producing weak-shelled eggs that are easily cracked open.
Feeding Oyster shells to your chickens will harden up the eggshells.Identify the hen or hens that are eating the eggs. Eliminate egg-eaters from the flock before they spread the habit or start on the others’ eggs. If nothing else works you can take out all the bedding in their nests and put your nests on an angle with a collection tray that the birds can’t get to. When they lay an egg it will roll into the collection tray and they won’t be able to eat their eggs.
I hope you have some success with these tips. Egg eating is a problem. You might also want to make sure that other pets such as cats are not getting into the coop and eating the eggs.
Question Hi, wondering if we need to give chicks any meds to keep them healthy? Our water has some chlorine in it does that cause a problem? Some animals are given antibiotics, is that necessary in a backyard environment?
Answer You can buy feed that has medicine in it to prevemt diseases such as coccidiosis. This disease can wipe out your flock. However you don’t have to give your chicks feed with medicine in it and some people choose not to. It depends on how large your flock is and if your chicks have been exposed to the disease. I would ask the store you are buying your chick feed from. It may be in the food you are already giving them. As I said many people prefer not use any medicines until it is necessary (they get sick).
If you keep them in a clean environment with plenty of food and water and room to scratch around in you will generally be ok. If your water is fit for human consumption then it will be fine for your chickens. Chlorine in levels found in normal drinking water should not be a problem.
Question How long can we keep the fresh eggs before they need to be refrigerated and eaten before they go bad?
Answer I would put your fresh eggs straight in the refrigerator. They will last a lot longer. Some chefs say that it is better to use eggs that are at room temperature but you can take out the eggs that you are going to use for cooking and let them warm to room temperature before you use them.
The USDA recommends a maximum of 5 weeks in your refrigerator before you discard your eggs. Eggs can remain edible for even longer than a month but the freshness of the egg with an egg yolk that sits firm and high, and a thick viscous egg white will be noticeably less after two weeks.
Here is a how to test for freshness: Get a bowl of cold water. Put the whole egg in the water. If it sinks to the bottom and lays on its side its fresh; if it floats to the top, it is old. You can see the age of it by how much it floats.