Archive for February, 2020

2-3 Week Old Chicks

Friday, February 28th, 2020
baby chicksKeeping chickens, weeks 2-3

With a clean brooder, fresh feed and clean water, your chicks are settled in and off to a good start by weeks two and three. It’s time to enjoy them. Chicks are very social and will provide hours of entertainment. You will see their unique personalities emerge as each day goes by and they will grow into mature chickens before you know it.

Now, listen to them.  Chicks will emit a soft cheeping sound when everything is right in their world. This sound can be used as a means of determining their comfort status. A chick that is stressed due to conditions being too hot or cold, wet litter, or one that is hungry or thirsty will have a shrill or higher pitched cheep or may cheep very rapidly. Translate this as a call for help and look for the problem.

Things to do for your chicks this week
  • The brooder temperature should be reduced to 85°F (lower 5° each week to a minimum of 65°F).
  • Chicks should be exposed to at least 10 hours of light per day after the first week.
  • Brooder guard can be removed now if it hasn’t been already. Chicks should be able to find the heat source by this time.
  • After the brooder guard is taken out, the feeders and waterers can be moved further away from the source of heat. As the chicks become more active and continue to grow, this will give them more space for exercise and will help keep the feeders and waterers cleaner and keep them from being heated by the heat lamp.
  • Any paper or pans used to feed should be taken out if you are sure chicks are eating from the feeders. The level of feed in the feeders can be decreased a little each week until they are half full at all times. This will help reduce the amount of feed waste.
Tips to grow on
  • Keep checking on chicks to make sure they are comfortable. Again, chick behavior is the best measure of the ideal brooder temperature.
  • Continue to provide unlimited feed and water at all times.
  • Clean and refill waterers daily.
  • Remember, good sanitation is critical to avoid health problems when caring for young chicks. Keep litter dry by removing wet and soiled litter and replacing it with clean, dry litter.
  • Always store feed in a well-ventilated, dry area that is insect and rodent free.
Looking ahead

A complete and balanced feed will provide all the nutrition your chicks need to grow into healthy, productive birds. Feeding extra grains or scraps to your chicks can reduce the amount of complete feed they eat and may prevent them from getting all the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

One of the most common and deadly diseases in chicks is coccidiosis. Caused by a parasite, it is spread through the droppings of infected birds. Coccidia love damp, warm environments so wet litter and unsanitary brooder conditions are a prime breeding ground for this parasite. Most birds will come into contact with coccidia at some time but appear to be most susceptible to the disease between 3 to 5 weeks of age. If chicks are healthy and live in a dry, clean, well-managed environment, they are often able to fight it off or may only get a mild case, which can even go undetected. Symptoms of coccidiosis can include diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, weight loss, no desire to eat, ruffled feathers and an overall sickly appearance. If you suspect coccidiosis, seek treatment immediately. Commercial vaccines and medicated feeds are available to prevent coccidiosis. However, the ideal prevention for this disease is maintaining a dry, sanitary, stress free environment through good management.

If you suspect disease or some other serious health problem in your flock, contact your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options.

Source: Purina Poultry


Mapping Your Chicken Feed Program

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Just as humans’ nutritional needs change from infancy to adulthood, backyard birds require different nutrients as they grow from baby chicks into hens or roosters. To help your flock thrive, map your chicken feed program from the start. Select a complete poultry feed that is formulated specifically for your bird’s age, species or stage of production.

We’ve made it easy to feed your backyard flock through the Purina® Flock Strong® Feeding Program. This program helps your birds start strong as chicks, lay strong starting with the first egg around week 18 and stay strong through molt. Each feed in this program includes all 38 unique nutrients birds need, in the right balance.
Simply choose one complete Purina® starter-grower feed from day 1 to week 18. Then transition to a complete Purina® layer feed when the first egg arrives around week 18. That’s all your chickens need – no need to supplement.
How old is your flock? Scroll down to find the feed that will keep your birds Flock Strong®.

What to feed baby chicks from day 1 to week 18 Infographic showing Purina<s />®</sup> poultry Flock Strong<sup>®</sup> Feeding Program and feed recommendations by chicken age”></h2>
<p>Strong chicks grow into healthy hens. Early nutrition is important because baby chicks double their hatch weight in the first week and grow up to seven times their hatch weight in the first month. Start chicks strong by choosing one complete chick starter feed. Keep feeding that same feed until the first egg arrives around week 18.</p>
<li><strong>For chicks vaccinated for coccidiosis: </strong><a href=Purina® Start & Grow® Non-medicated
  • For chicks not vaccinated for coccidiosis (or unsure of vaccination status): Purina® Start & Grow® Medicated
  • For organic chicks: Purina® Organic starter-grower
    Each of these complete chick starter feeds provides all 38 unique chicks need to start strong, including: energy for proper growth; 18 percent protein for skeletal, muscle and feather development; plus vitamins and minerals for chick health. Start & Grow® products also include probiotics and prebiotics for healthy digestive and immune systems.

    Continue feeding the same chick starter feed from day 1 to week 18. We recommend waiting to introduce treats or scratch to the diet until week 18. If you are feeding a complete chick starter feed, your chicks do not need grit.
    If you start chicks on a medicated starter-grower feed, keep feeding that same medicated feed until their first egg. Do not transition layer chicks to a layer feed before 18 weeks of age, as the extra calcium in the feed can cause permanent kidney damage and even death.

    What to feed laying hens starting at week 18

    Most hens will lay their first egg around 18 weeks of age. To help them lay strong, transition to a Purina® complete layer feed at this time.
    The biggest difference between a starter-grower feed and a layer feed is calcium. Hens need roughly 4 grams of calcium per day to form an eggshell; 2 grams of which must come from their layer feed. If the feed does not provide high enough calcium levels, hens may pull the nutrient from their bones, eventually causing a weak skeletal structure.
    Purina® complete layer feeds are the only feeds available that include our exclusive Oyster Strong® System. This mix of vitamins, minerals, small-particle calcium and large-particle calcium in the form of oyster shell provides all the calcium hens need over the 24- to 26-hour egg formation process, so there’s no need to supplement. 

    Each of these complete feeds include all 38 unique nutrients hens need to lay strong, including: calcium for strong shells; amino acids, vitamins and minerals for enhanced egg quality and hen health. Layena® products also include probiotics and prebiotics to promote optimal digestive function.
    Both pellets and crumbles provide the same nutrition, so feed choice comes down to personal preference. Many have noticed less waste by feeding pellets.
    Once hens are laying, you can introduce treats and scratch grains. Be sure to limit treats to no more than 2 tablespoons per bird, per day. Any more than this can dilute the essential nutrients provided in their layer feed. If you are feeding a complete layer feed, laying hens do not need grit.

    What to feed molting chickens

    At around 18 months of age and then annually thereafter, most chickens go through a molt. This means chickens are losing their feathers and growing new ones.
    This period typically occurs when days become shorter and temperatures drop. Molting is a healthy process that usually results in a reduction in egg production and a shiny, new set of feathers for the winter
    To help hens stay strong through molt, follow these steps:

    1. Switch to Purina® Flock Raiser® for more protein and less calcium. The higher protein levels in this feed can help with feather regrowth.
    2. Place a dish of Purina® Oyster Shell as a free-choice supplement near the feeder. The laying hens will eat the calcium they need. Molting chickens will begin eating the supplement as they get closer to laying eggs again.  
    3. Once hens start laying eggs again, gradually transition back to a complete layer feed.

    What do roosters eat? Feeding mixed flocks

    Have roosters, ducks or other poultry in your flock? Your flock is then referred to as a “mixed flock.”

    If you have hens and roosters in the same flock, you can feed them separately by using two different feeders. Roosters require higher protein and less calcium than laying hens. We recommend feeding roosters a separate feeder of Purina® Flock Raiser®. To do this, you can either feed roosters in a separate pen or raise one of the feeders so only the roosters can reach it.

    If you’d like to feed one feed to all adult birds, you can also feed Flock Raiser® to both hens and roosters and then supplement with oyster shells to give hens the added calcium they need. Purina® Flock Raiser® with supplemental oyster shell is also a great feed choice for mixed flocks with multiple poultry species. 

    Feeding other poultry

    Many backyard chicken enthusiasts add new species to their flocks as they get more experienced. If you are considering other poultry, check out these Team Purina articles for tips on how to feed them Flock Strong®:

    Source: Purina Animal Nutrition