Posts Tagged ‘baby chicks’

6 Week Old Baby Chicks

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

chickdaysgraphicpurinaKeeping chickens, week 6:  Between 6 and 8 weeks of age, your chicks will be much larger and will need twice the amount of floor space they started with. It’s also time to start thinking about moving your chicks from the brooder to more permanent living quarters outside. If the temperature is mild and the chicks are fully feathered, they can be allowed outside during the day. If you purchased straight-run chicks (50/50 males and females) you may be able to distinguish the males from the females around 5 to 7 weeks of age. The combs and wattles of the males usually develop earlier and are usually (but not always) larger than in the females. Females are typically smaller in size than males. If you are still uncertain of their sex by appearance, you’ll be sure who the males in the flock are when you hear them attempting to crow.

Things to do with your chickens at this stage

Your chicks are able to regulate their body temperature by this time and should not need a heat source any longer unless the outside temperatures are still very cold. Keep temperature at 65°F if this is the case.

Prepare your chicken house or coop. Housing should provide approximately three to four square feet of space per mature bird and should contain sufficient feeders and waterers to accommodate your flock size so that all birds can eat and drink at the same time. Two to three inches of litter should be put down to minimize dampness and odor. A nest box for every four hens should be made available for laying pullets. Roosts can be considered for laying pullets but not recommended for meat birds because of the potential for developing breast blisters.

If possible, prepare an area outside the coop for your birds. Outside runs or fenced in areas will allow chickens to scratch and peck to their hearts desire, returning to the roost at dusk to sleep. The house needs to have a secure latch that is fastened each night if they are allowed outside during the day. An outside run attached to the coop with screening on the top and sides for protection will allow chickens unlimited access to the yard and save you time and worry.

Tips to grow on

Once you move your birds to their permanent residence, make sure they are protected from predators, especially at night. Even a latched door may not be secure enough to keep raccoons out.

  • Your birds are still growing so keep feeding Purina® Start & Grow® Recipe to help them reach their maximum potential. Chicks should remain on this feed until at least 18 weeks of age.
  • If your flock is a mix of chicks, ducks and geese, continue feeding Purina® Flock Raiser Recipe.
  • Turkeys can start on Flock Raiser Sunresh® Recipe at 8 to 10 weeks of age. Keep feeding this until market weight or laying age.
  •  If chicks were purchased for meat production, the normal weight for processing is 3 to 4 pounds for broilers and 6 to 8 pounds for roasters.
Looking ahead for layers

Laying pullets will need to receive a constant amount of light exposure once they reach 16 weeks of age to promote good egg production. For optimum egg production, a maximum of 17-18 hours of light (natural and/or artificial) per day is recommended. Gradually change your layer flock over to Purina® Layena® Sunfresh® Recipe at 18 to 20 weeks of age to support egg production.

Pullets will usually begin laying between 18 and 22 weeks of age. Increasing day length in the spring stimulates normal egg production, and egg production is naturally decreased in the fall when the days get shorter. Artificial light can be used in addition to natural daylight in the fall and winter months to maintain egg production all year long. If artificial light is not used, hens will stop laying when daylight hours decrease. It is very important that the supplemental light be consistent, as even one day without supplemental lighting can cause a decrease in egg production.

After 10-14 months of egg production, hens will molt and stop laying eggs. During molting, old feathers are lost and replaced by new feathers. It usually lasts between eight and twelve weeks (though it can be shorter or longer, depending on the individual hen and her environment) and it gives the hen’s reproductive system some much needed rest. Hens will return to production after the molt. Eggs laid in the next cycle are usually larger with improved shell quality but production typically drops about 10 percent.

Source: Purina Poultry

Backyard Flock: Steps on How to Start Raising Chickens

Monday, January 27th, 2020

With a coop, some chicks and a long-term plan of action, a backyard flock brings families fresh, wholesome eggs and the enjoyment of watching a baby chick grow into an egg-laying hen. The first step in establishing a backyard flock is creating a plan.

We can gain a lot from a backyard flock. Chickens can produce truly fresh eggs and flavorful, healthy meat. And we’re able to enjoy watching birds from our back porch and teaching our children responsibilities and how animals grow.

Before buying new chicks this spring, here are six tips on how to start raising chickens.

1. Select the breed that’s right for you.
Poultry breeds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Families looking to produce eggs or meat are encouraged to start with common breeds of chickens. 

Determine what you’d like to gain from your flock. If you want fresh eggs, consider White Leghorn hybrids (white eggs), Plymouth Barred Rocks (brown eggs),  Rhode Island Reds (brown eggs), Blue Andalusians (white eggs) or Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers (blue eggs). Cornish Cross chickens grow quickly and are best suited for meat production. If you’re hoping to produce both eggs and meat, consider dual-purposed breeds like Plymouth Barred Rock, Sussex or Buff Orpingtons. Exotic breeds are best for show or pets.

2. Determine the number of birds you’d like.
The number and gender of birds in your flock may be determined by local ordinances and your flock goals.

Remember that young chicks grow into full-grown birds. Create a budget for: the time you are able to spend with your flock; the housing the birds will require; a plan for how you’ll collect and use eggs; and what you’ll do with the birds after they retire from laying eggs. Then start small with a flock of 4 to 6 chicks.

3.  Research a reputable chick supplier.
Purchase chicks from a credible U.S. Pullorum-Typhoid Clean hatchery. To prevent potential disease problems, ensure the hatchery vaccinated chicks for Marek’s Disease and coccidiosis.

4. Prepare your brooder.
Keep baby chicks in a warm, draft-free shelter, called a brooder. The brooder should: be completely enclosed with a bottom surface that can be covered with bedding; and have a heating lamp. Avoid square corners in the brooding area to prevent chicks from being trapped in the corner should the birds’ huddle in one area.

Each chick needs at least 2 to 3 square feet of floor space for the first six weeks. Set the brooder temperature to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week and then gradually reduce heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until reaching a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to have a spacious, clean coop ready for the chicks once the supplemental heat source is no longer required. Through all stages, always provide plenty of fresh clean water that is changed daily.

5. Focus on sanitation.
Before new chicks arrive – and throughout the growing process – be sure to keep their environment clean. Young chicks are susceptible to early health risks, so disinfect all materials prior to use and then weekly.

The correct household disinfectants can work well. Make sure to read the directions to ensure your disinfectant is safe to use and doesn’t leave a residual film. A mixture of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water can work well if the cleaner is rinsed thoroughly following cleaning.

6. Create a long-term nutrition plan.
A healthy full-grown bird begins on day one. Provide a balanced starter diet to new chicks, based on their breed traits.

For chicks who will later lay eggs, select a feed that has 18 percent protein, like Purina® Start & Grow®Crumbles. For meat birds and mixed flocks, choose a complete feed with 20 percent protein, like Purina® Flock Raiser® Crumbles. Transition layer chicks onto a higher-calcium complete feed, like Purina® Layena® Crumbles or Pellets, when they begin laying eggs at age 18 to 20 weeks.

Families across the country are joining the backyard flock revolution.

Source: Purina Poultry

Your Chickens’ New Home

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Your Chickens' New HomeBefore you pick up your first birds, you need to prepare your chickens’ new home. The needs and requirements will vary depending on the type of birds, the number of birds and age you are starting them.  Chicks need one to two square feet of floor space per chick during their first 6 weeks of age. Ducklings, goslings and turkey poults will require more space due to their larger size.

The normal brooding period for chicks begins when they hatch until they reach about 6 weeks of age. At this stage, warm, dry and draft-free environments are critical as the young birds develop adequate body size and condition to self-sustain themselves in various environmental conditions.  The brooder, a house specifically made for starting chicks, will need to be warm and dry. For a very small number of chicks, a large sturdy cardboard box equipped with infrared heat lamps for warmth will suffice as a temporary home. A commercially made brooder may be available from your Purina dealer or you can find websites that sell brooders of various sizes and designs to start small to large numbers of chicks.

Brooders should be placed in an area that offers protection from the elements, is well-ventilated (but free from drafts), and is safe from predators. This could be a garage, a basement, shed or some other safe place. You will want to check on your chicks often so keep this in mind when deciding where to keep them. Commercial brooders should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected several days prior to the arrival of your chicks to provide ample drying time.

Place 3 to 5 inches of dry pine shavings (not cedar), straw or other absorbent litter (bedding) should be placed on the brooder floor. Paper towels can be used to cover the litter for the first several days to prevent chicks from mistaking the litter as food. Newspaper and flat cardboard can be slick and should not be used as it can cause leg problems (spraddle leg) in chicks.

The heat source in the brooder or heat lamps should be adjusted to provide a 90°F temperature (at chick level) one day prior to the arrival of the chicks. Turkeys require a higher brooder temperature of 100°F to start. A brooder guard ring (cardboard, plastic or wire barrier) should be placed around the brooding area for the first several days to keep the chicks close to the source of heat. If not used, the chicks may stray too far from the warmth and get chilled before they can find their way back to the heat source. The guard also prevents the chicks from crowding into corners and smothering and provides enough space for chicks to move away from the heat if they get too warm. After a few days, the chicks will have learned where to find warmth and the guard can be removed.

When using a cardboard box to start chicks, an infrared heat lamp placed about 20 inches above the surface of the litter will provide a good source of heat. It’s a good idea to use two lamps so that the chicks don’t get chilled if one lamp fails. Be very careful to position the lamp so it does not touch the box or any other object and create a fire hazard. The lamp height can be adjusted up or down to achieve the desired 90°F. Be sure to check this with a thermometer placed at the level of the chicks.

Equip brooder with waterers and feeders. These are available in several different sizes and shapes to fit your particular needs.

Young bird checklist
Having all the necessary equipment and supplies on hand before picking up your chicks will make the process much easier.

  • Heat lamps and/or brooder stove
  • Litter and/or shavings
  • Brooder guard
  • Feeders
  • Waterers
  • Sanitizing solution
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Rake
  • Pitchfork or shovel (for large areas)
  • Egg flats or shallow pans
  • 40-watt light bulbs
  • Purina Start & Grow® Recipe Feed

Your chick’s homecoming day
After making all the necessary preparations, it’s time to place your chicks in their new home. The first few days of a chick’s life in your new environment are critical; supplying a little extra TLC will go a long way in giving them the best possible chance for a healthy future.

Gently lift each chick out of their carrier and place them one at a time under the warm brooder. Dip the beaks of a few chicks into the water. This helps them find it sooner and the others will quickly catch on by watching. When starting turkeys, be extra watchful as they are not as quick to pick up on the mechanics of eating and drinking.

During the first few days, use shallow pans, egg flats or squares of paper as temporary feeders. Small piles of feed placed on them will allow the chicks to find the feed easier and start eating earlier. On the second day, regular feeders can be introduced. Keep feeders full the first week. The feeding area should be big enough to allow all chicks to eat at the same time. As chicks become familiar with the feeders, the temporary feeders can be removed.

Occasionally check your chick for signs of “pasting up”. Sometimes their droppings will stick to their rear ends and accumulate to where it blocks their vent and the poor chick can’t relieve itself. If you find your chick’s rear end is caked up, gently clean the vent area with a soft cloth and warm water. This problem usually dissipates after the first week.

Provide chicks with 18 hours of light per day for the first week and at least 10 hours per day thereafter (natural light counts). Never let feed or feeders get wet. Wet feed is a breeding ground for disease and a recipe for disaster. Clean and refill waterers daily or more often if contaminated with feed or litter. Feeders should get a good cleaning weekly and more often if necessary. Keep feeders and waterers set to the height of the chicks’ backs as they grow to prevent them from defecating and kicking bedding into their food and water. Remove wet or caked litter as necessary and replace it with clean, dry litter. Wet litter can result in chilled, sick chicks.

Keeping chicken tips to grow on
Prevent your chicks from chilling or getting too hot. The best measure to determine if the temperature in the brooder is correct is how your chicks behave. If it’s right on target, the chicks will be evenly dispersed. Chicks that huddle together under the heat source are cold. Overheated chicks will station themselves around the edges of the box or brooder guard and may pant. The temperature should be increased or decreased accordingly by raising or lowering the lamps or adjusting the heat source. Use a thermometer.

Disease can strike and spread rapidly between chicks if they consume contaminated feed or water. Keep it clean and dry. Make sure feed and water stay free of litter and droppings. Spilled water should be cleaned up to prevent wet litter. Dampness in the brooder house will cause chilling and can lead to disease.  Remember, feed and fresh, clean water need to be available 24/7.

Transitioning to layer feed
After about 18 weeks, it’s time to gradually introduce your laying pullets to Purina® Layena® Recipe feed or Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 Recipe feed to ensure that they receive the best nutrition to support egg production.

Gradually transition your laying pullets over to Purina® Layena® Recipe feed over a 7 to 10 day period. Continue to provide birds with a maximum of 17 to 18 hours of light per day to ensure optimum egg production. Optimum egg production is achieved when layers are maintained in temperatures between 65°F and 85°F. As temperatures increase above this, egg production decreases and eggshell quality may suffer. Keep your birds cool and comfortable so you will get the best return on your investment.

Source: Purina Poultry

2020 Baby Chick Schedule

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Baby Chicks at Argyle Feed

Check out the 2020 schedule for baby chicks at Argyle Feed. 

Baby chicks arrive at Argyle Feed Store February through early April 2020. The dates below are TENTATIVE! Chicks are ordered but their arrival can be delayed for a day or two. What we order and what arrives from the hatchery can be different. You can always call the store to check on chick arrivals. All are pullets unless specified. 

Want to learn how to raise healthy chicks? RSVP to our Flock Talk on March 3, 2020.

February 20: Barred Rock Pullets, Black Australorp Pullets, Buff Orpington Pullets, Welsummer Pullets, White Crested Blue Polish Straight Runs 

February 25: White Only Leghorn Pullets, Brown Leghorn Pullets

February 28: Easter Egg Pullets, Silver-Gray Dorking Pullets, Dark Brahma Pullets, Assorted Silkie Bantam Straight Runs

March 11: Silver Wyandotte Pullets, Easter Egg Pullets

March 13: Production Red Pullets, Naked Neck Pullets, Assorted Silkie Bantam STraight Run

March 18: Ancona Pullets

March 20: Rhode Island Red Pullets, Delaware Pullets, Blue Cochin Pullets, Cuckoo Marin Pullets, Gold Wyandotte Pullets, White Crested Blue Polish Straight Runs

April 3: Partridge Chantecler Pullets, Buff Brahma Pullets, Gold LCD Cochin Pullets, Silver Laced Cochin Pullets, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Bantams Straight Run

Pick up all your chicken supplies and feeds at Argyle Feed Store.  Heating lamps, waterers, and coops, chicken starters and feeds. Come see us.

Fall Flock Talk Workshop

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
Nov ’19
6:30 pm

Fall Flock Talk RSVP for Argyle Feed’s Fall Flock Talk 

Sign up for Argyle Feed’s Fall Flock Talk on Tuesday, November 5th at 6:30 pm. 

Come learn how to winterize your flock. Learn what molt and egg production during the winter. Come learn about the new Purina Free Range chicken feed and Purina Hen Treats. We’ll go through the new lineup of feeds and the new bag sizes too!

Call the store at (940) 241-2444 to reserve your spot or you can register below. Registered attendees will receive 1 free bag of Purina Hen Treats per family. Register below. Bring the kids, it’s a family event at Argyle Feed!

Address: 1842 FM407, Argyle, TX 76226

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone Number (required)

Number Attending

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When Will My Chickens Lay Eggs?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

IChicken in Nesting Boxf raising a backyard flock was a treasure hunt, the ultimate prize would be your hens first eggs. To extend this feeling of exhilaration and help hens produce wholesome, nutritious eggs long-term, care for the flock differently as they begin laying.

The transition from pullet to egg-laying hen often occurs at 4-5 months of age, subject to breed, environment and nutrition. Laying breed pullets will begin laying at about 18 to 20 weeks of age. A rooster is not necessary for egg production.

The first eggs a hen lays may be irregular – possibly small in size, with soft shells, no yolks or double yolks – but, after a week or so, egg production should become more consistent, with peak performance at about 30 weeks of age.

High-producing hens can lay up to 300 eggs per year; however, first year hens may lay fewer: about 200-250 eggs apiece. Because it takes approximately 25 hours for a hen to produce one egg, six eggs per week is an ideal goal.

To help hens reach this target – and stay happy and healthy, consider the following housing and nutrition tips.

Chicken Housing
After moving chicks from the brooder, introduce them directly to the coop that will become their forever home. This helps birds adjust to the coop well in advance of their first lay. Make sure the coop has comfortable nesting boxes that provide privacy to individual hens.

Once a hen begins laying, it’s her tendency to lay in the same spot moving forward. Create several comfortable, clean and cozy nesting areas to prevent hens from becoming competitive in the coop.

A general rule is to provide one 1-foot square nest box for every four or five hens because the flock will take turns using the boxes. Line each nest box with a thick layer of straw or other bedding to cushion the eggs and keep them clean and unbroken. Keep the nests up off the floor in the darkest corner of the coop.

Be sure all the nest areas have a uniform environment. If the hens decide one nest is preferable to the others, they may all try to use that nest, causing themselves stress, which can lead to egg breakage or egg eating. On our farm, we built the nests into the coops. Outdoor access to the nests allows us to collect eggs without disrupting the flock.

When pullets are nearing their first lay, their behavior changes. They may begin spending more time with the rooster, crouching for breeding or investigating the nesting area. At this time, keep hens in the coop for short periods of time. Place golf balls or decoy eggs in the nesting boxes to help the hens understand the use of the nesting boxes.

Chicken Nutrition
Once the first egg appears, the hen’s diet should also be adjusted.

Different nutrients are required to produce eggs as compared to what the pullet needs for growth. Young chicks and pullets need high protein levels as their body and feathers grow. At laying, switching to a complete feed with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids can help hens produce strong shells and nutritious eggs.

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential to form strong egg shells. If the bird does not secure enough calcium from her feed, she may pull the nutrient from her bones, which could eventually lead to a weak skeletal structure. Since egg shells are developed at night, when birds are not eating, a consistent source of slow-release calcium in the diet is important. Oyster shells are the most common and reliable source of slow-release calcium. For strong shells and healthy hens, feed a complete layer feed with 16 percent protein and 3.25-4.5 percent calcium, like Purina® Layena® Premium Poultry Feed or Purina® Organic Layer Pellets or Crumbles. If your layer feed does not include Oyster Strong™ System, supplement the diet with free-choice oyster shells to add slow-release calcium.
  • Omega-3: For even more nutritious eggs, offer laying hens a complete feed that includes flaxseed as a source of Omega-3. For example, when a diet of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 was fed for at least three weeks, those hens produced large eggs (56 g) that contained 250 mg of Omega-3 per egg. 1  For comparison, a typical store-bought egg contains 50 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per large egg (USDA: National Nutrient Base).  Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health.
1When fed a diet of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 exclusively for at least 3 weeks. Based on large egg (56 g). Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health. A typical store-bought egg contains 50 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per large egg (USDA: National Nutrient Base).
Contents courtesy of Purina Animal Nutrition

10% Off Chick Starter Kit

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Chick Starter KitIt’s Chick season at Argyle Feed Store and chicks are coming soon! It’s important to have the right tools and supplies like a Chick Starter Kit to get you off to a good start. Argyle Feed now has starter kits at 10% off. 

Now through the end of chick season, you can get this kit that includes all your start-up needs. Please note, while supplies last. 

Chick Starter Kit Includes: 

  1. Chick Brooder Kit
  2. Shavings
  3. Thermometer
  4. Bag of Chicken Starter Feed
  5. Heat Lamp & Heat Bulb
  6. Feeder 
  7. Waterer
  8. 4 Chicks

If you already have a few supplies and just want to fill in the gaps, check out our chicken supplies section to pick up what you need. If you don’t see the supplies you need to be included in the starter kit, please contact the store to place your order. Be sure to prepare ahead prior to getting baby chicks so that you are ready to raise your flock. Stop by Argyle Feed store and get your starter kit today.