Posts Tagged ‘chickens

01
Nov
09

October Contest Results

3rd place goes to GomerParry for his Malay bantam.

2nd place goes to Decoyman for his blue light brown Dutch bantam rooster.

1st place goes to SOLTADOR for his orange red Oxford Game.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for all the great pics that were submitted this month. If you want to enter your birds in our free monthly photo contest, just go to the Ultimate Fowl Forum, and sign up!

25
May
09

Charlotte – A chicken tale…

The old, rickety rocking chair on my back porch groaned with protest as I eased down into it for the evening. For early summer, it was already uncommonly hot. Sweat tricked down my temple as I reached into the old metal cooler behind me, which had more rust than green paint on it anymore, for a nice cold beer. I plunged my arthritic, swollen fingers into the icy cold depths, which at this point, felt almost as good as that first swallow of beer was going to taste… almost. As I cracked open the beer, cold water from the side of the can started running down my arm, sending shivers that went all the way up to the back of my neck. I leaned back in the chair, looked out into my back yard, and started what was probably going to be a fine drunk!

There was almost no breeze this evening, and the red squirrels were buzzing away, like they were having a contest to see who could be the loudest. The sun was nearing the treetops off to the west, casting an amber hue to the sky. What few clouds that were up there, were violet, with bright pink highlights on the bottom of them. I sat my beer down on the railing of the porch, and grabbed the half empty pack of cigarettes from my shirt pocket. I was supposed to be quitting, according to my old lady, but at my age, what’s the point, huh? I slid the book of matches from under the cellophane, struck one up, and breathed the cigarette to life. As I settled back, sweet smoke hanging in the air around me, I picked up my beer, and started to unwind from a long week at work.

I don’t know how long I had been sitting there, but there was now a couple of empty cans laying on the floor of the porch next to me, and the butt of a cigarette ground into a crack in the railing. At some point during this time, my best hen, Charlotte, came wandering into the backyard trailing a pack of fuzzy little black chicks that she just hatched a couple of weeks ago. They were just getting to the point they would wander away a little bit, but they still didn’t go too far from mom. Charlotte was still a little thin from brooding her chicks, so those tempting little black crickets she was scaring up, had her clucking like a pullet again! Some of the chicks couldn’t decide whether they wanted to hide up under mom’s protective shadow, or chase up some crickets themselves! Others were like little lawn mowers as they bit the tops off blades of grass, while scratching up whatever else the thick lawn had to offer. I looked down to get another beer when a shadow caught my attention from the corner of my eye. I looked up to see that Charlotte had all of the chicks up underneath her, with her neck stretched way out, and was clucking excitedly. I started to stand up, when streaking from the sky came a large Red Tail hawk. Its talons were stretched out in front of it, as it swooped down at Charlotte. I could see almost immediately, that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything to help her. All I could do was stand by and watch as Charlotte stood her ground, protecting her biddies, with the hawk nearly on top of her. I knew in my heart, my favorite hen was about to become a hungry Red Tail’s dinner, but just as the hawk was upon her, she lunged. Chicks went scattering everywhere, as Charlotte came straight at the diving raptor, her feet churning in front of her. The hawk was clearly taken by surprise by this, and started to veer off at the last second, but it was too late, Charlotte had him dead in her sights. (I know what you’re thinking, what does it matter if she is fighting back, she doesn’t stand a chance, right? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret, Charlotte is a sweet little three year old ,Rampuri Asil hen, with a couple of half inch surprises growing out the back of her legs!) Charlotte hit the hawk like a sledgehammer, knocking them both to the ground in a rolling mass of fury and feathers. The hawk, wanting no part of a crazy chicken that fought back, was doing everything it could to get back in the air, but my little hen wasn’t having any of that. She had the hawk by the back of the head in her bill, and was tearing his backside to shreds! Somehow, with all the thrashing around, the hawk broke loose, and lept to the sky. Little red and white feathers floated down around Charlotte as the hawk went screeching into the distance. She started strutting around, with her feathers all fluffed out, calling to the hawk to come back, if he decided he wanted a little bit more!

By now, every rooster in my yard was throwing a ruckus! It sounded like the crack of dawn with all the crowing going on around me. I was so shocked by what I had just witnessed, I lept down the steps of my porch in one bound, without even thinking twice. The yard was in chaos around me, but all I could think about was Charlotte, and making sure she was OK. As I ran up to her, she started talking to me, telling me that I had better wait a minute while she gathered her chicks and calmed down some, or I might get something more than I bargained for! I may be a lot of things, but I ain’t no fool, so I backed off a little. She didn’t look any worse for wear, so I told her a couple of sweet nothings, and turned back towards the porch. As I did, by wife of 36 years stepped up to the screen door, “What the heck is all the commotion out here?” she said. “It sounds like world war three!”

“Oh nothing mother,” I replied, “Charlotte’s just teaching her chicks what to do when an uninvited guest comes a calling for dinner is all!”

15
Apr
09

Advertise your poultry related business on Ultimate Fowl

As our forum at Ultimate Fowl is expanding, we are constantly adding things to our site. We are in the in the process of adding a high quality chat to our site as you read this. If you have considered to promote your business before, or just your personal website that relates to chickens and their care, right now is the time to do it! You can add your banner in a rotation on our forum for the low price of 20.00 per year, and we can even provide a banner for you if you need one. We also have other opportunities for fixed banners for an additional fee, but space is limited, so please contact me for more details at cuda@ultimatefowl.com. We operate our site on a non profit basis, that is why our prices are so low, we do it because we want to help, and bring chicken enthusiasts together. We are just trying to raise enough money to help support our site, and to add a top quality chat, which is something we need to do with all the traffic we get now days. If this sounds like a good fit to your business, just contact me for more information!

11
Mar
09

Hatching and Brooding Chicks

Hatching and Brooding Chicks

Since springtime is just around the corner, I thought that an article on hatching, and care of chicks would be appropriate. I’ll discuss the hatching of eggs, to brooding and caring for your newly hatched chicks. Hatching chicks can be a lot of fun for anyone of any age. If you decide to incubate your own, here are some tips for doing so.

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Setting Eggs

Always set the cleanest, nice sized eggs in the incubator. It is best to avoid small, or misshaped eggs. If they are dirty, do not wash them. I take a fine steel wool and gently rub them until the dirt comes off and then place them in the incubator. Remember to place them with the large end up, as the air cell needs to be pointed up for proper incubation. Chicken eggs will need to be incubated for 21 days and should be turned at least 3 times a day. Temperatures vary with different styles of incubators as well as humidity. Most generally you want your temperature to set at about 99.7 to 100 degrees F. It will really depend on what kind of incubator you have, so check with the manufacturer guidelines. Over the years, with the many hatches I’ve done, I’ve learned of the dry incubation method, and prefer to do that. I run my incubator at 100 degrees F and my humidity about 50-55% until day 18. On day 18 I bump the humidity up to 60%, and stop turning them. If you are using trays to hold your eggs, you need to take them out of the trays, and lay them on their sides at this point. When the chicks begin to pip, they will automatically raise the humidity themselves. You just have to remember not to open the incubator door, or lid, and allow for the natural ventilation to take place. Opening the incubator will drastically drop the humidity level, and can lead to the eggs drying out too much, and won’t allow the chicks to hatch properly. It is best to let the chicks dry off fully in the incubator before placing in the brooder.

Care of Chicks

Hatch Day is upon you! You have everything ready. Brooder is in place with waterer, feeder, and heat lamp. I want to add, that chicks actually don’t need any food for the first 48 hours, as they can live off their yolk sacs for that time so in the event that you don’t have any feed, don’t be too concerned, they will do just fine. Sometimes I just run vitamin water through them the first day, and add feed the second day. You can also prepare boiled egg and feed that to them, as it is a good source of protein for baby chicks. I sometimes make up a mash of chick feed, boiled egg, and yogurt to get their natural gut flora started. Yogurt has acidophilis and is high in Vitamin A & D. Good nutrition is essential to starting off a great flock. Not only will it help in prime growth, but will aid in a better immune system to fight off the bad bacterias, while settling in the good bacterias. Chicks require constant feed and water, so never let them run out. It is also very important to keep the bedding clean. This may require you changing it several times a day depending on how many chicks you have, or only several times a week for just a few. Never put your chicks on newspaper, as it gets wet and slippery, and can cause splayed legs. To keep the waterer free of bedding, place it on a block of wood, or a brick in the brooder. When there are a lot of chicks, they sometimes tend to get crowded at the tray and get too wet, and can fall in and drown. Placing a few marbles will help avoid that when using a normal chick watering dish. Another thing you can do is use a quail size waterer for the first few days, then switch to the chick size waterer as they grow. Just make sure they have access to water at all times.

Brooding

Brooders can be purchased, or easily made from something so simple as a Rubbermaid tote, or a cardboard box and a heat lamp. The key is to keeping the heat source even in the brooder. For the most part, I use Rubbermaid totes and peat moss. I have found that the peat moss holds heat better, and is more efficient. With wood shavings, the heat doesn’t spread as evenly, and the chicks tend to want to eat the small chips, where when you use peat moss, they don’t. Peat moss also has a little dirt, and the chicks are exposed to natural bacterias as they scratch about, but again this is only my preference, and I have found it seems to work better from years of experience brooding chicks. I also don’t have to use that high of a wattage heat lamp with peat moss. A 100 watt bulb will do in most cases. It is also best to use an infrared light, as it helps keep them from picking at each other. If you see the chicks gathering under the light too much, that will tell you that you need a stronger lamp. If they are gathering in the corners of the brooder away from the light, that will tell you that the lamp is too hot. The ideal temperature under the light should be around 95 degrees for newly hatched chicks, and work your way down as they grow. It is best if you ween them off the heat gradually. Just place the light higher and higher from the chicks to lower the temperature. What you want to see is the chicks scratching, and walking about comfortably. That’s when you have it just right. Once they are weened of the heat, and are feathered out, they are ready to go outside, as long as you have a warm, dry place for them to get to when they need it, as it will take a while before they are ready to deal with cold, windy, or damp weather on their own.

If you want to learn more about this, or want to ask me a question, I can be reached at the Ultimate Fowl Forum.

22
Jan
09

Dubbing

By Randy Stevens
As published in Backyard Poultry Magazine

Dubbing is the practice of removing the comb, and the wattles of your fowl, to help prevent frostbite, and the complications that come with it. If you live in a area of the country that experiences below freezing temperatures, you might want to consider dubbing an option to prevent this, because it can lead to serious infections, fertility problems, permanent tissue damage, and even death. It does not hurt the bird to do this, and will make your whole flock healthier in the long run. Like many things that concern chickens, everyone has their own methods of dubbing, and along with that, different reasons for doing it. Birds, like the Old English Bantams, require dubbing to meet the standard for showing them, and some people like to dub their birds at a specific age, to help control the size of the adult bird. I dub all my fowl, including the hens, to promote better health, and prevent them from getting frostbite, which can be a real problem where I live.

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To get the best results, dubbing is primarily done when chickens reach breeding age, and their combs and wattles are pretty much full grown. The first thing I make sure of when I am going to dub birds, is to do it at the right time of the month, so the bleeding is kept to a minimum. It is best to dub a bird the last two, or three days of the moon cycle, just before the new moon. This puts the blood of the bird more in the feet, and less in the head of the bird. I also prefer to do it in the evening, when the birds are calm, and will not be doing a bunch of running around after they are dubbed. It is best to avoid doing it during the hot summer months too, because the heat thins the blood. It is also a good idea to take the water away from the bird you plan on dubbing the day before, so their blood will be thicker, and will clot better. Some people also supplement Vitamin K to their birds prior to dubbing, by feeding alfalfa meal in with their normal feed, or using red cell in the drinking water. Others swear by dunking the birds’ head in a cold bucket of water before, and after dubbing too. All of the things I mentioned are meant to help keep bleeding to a minimum, and any of them will help, but they aren’t required. I have seen many a bird get dubbed without following the above steps, and do just fine, but I am trying to provide you with tips to make the process easier on you, and your fowl.

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After deciding on a day, the next thing to do is to prepare to do it. You will need a very sharp, high quality pair of scissors that are capable of cutting through the flesh. I use a pair of leather trimming shears, but some people buy scissors specifically made for this. You can purchase them from most high quality poultry supply companies. I can say, don’t skimp on this, as it makes it much easier to dub a bird if you have a good pair of scissors. You will also need some rubbing alcohol, a towel, and some blood stop powder (You can use flour for this too, if you don’t want to spend the big bucks for the blood stop powder.) Next, you will need to decide what you are going to dub. I dub my combs tight to the head most of the time, which is as close as I can, because I like the look it gives my birds, and I remove the wattles and earlobes too, if they are excessively long. Most people dub the comb approximately a quarter inch off the head, and the wattles, and earlobes tight. The birds that have the worst problems with frostbite, are the tall, straight combed birds. Pea combed fowl need to be dubbed too, but most rose, and walnut combed birds are tight enough to the head, that you shouldn’t have a problem with them.

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Once you decide how you are going to dub your bird, you need to take your bird to an area for doing this, preferably outside, as you will get some blood. Take your towel, and spread it out on your work area, grab your bird by the feet with one hand, and cradle the breast with your other hand. Lay the bird at one end of the towel, with his head and feet hanging over the edges. Make sure the bird’s wings are tucked in tight, and still holding the feet, roll the bird up in the towel. If done properly, you will have a bird with only it’s head, and feet hanging out of the rolled up towel, and it is unable to move. If you have a helper, it makes this easier, because you can now have them put their hands around the bird, to keep it calm and unable to wiggle loose. If not, I sit down, and put the bird between my legs, and hold it with my knees. You now need to disinfect the area of dubbing, and your scissors, with the rubbing alcohol. You don’t need much, just a damp cloth to clean the comb, and wattles if you desire. Take care not to get alcohol in the birds’ eyes. Ok, at this point, you are ready to start cutting. Remember, you can not replace flesh that you cut off, so if you are not sure what you are doing, it is better to take less off, and trim down to where you want to go, than to take too much off by accident. I like to start at the back of the head. I take the comb between my fingers in one hand, pull it up away from the bird’s head, then place the scissors behind the comb, tight to the top of the birds’ head, and angling up towards the middle of the comb, for the first cut. Once you make the first cut, you will see blood, don’t worry about it, just finish your cutting. Some birds will bleed a lot, some won’t bleed at all, either way, I will talk about what to do about that, after the dubbing process is finished. Next, you want to hold on to the tallest part of the comb left, and pull it tight. Place your scissors parallel to the head, at the distance you have decided on, and make your next cut. You should be done with the comb at this point, unless you need to do some trimming, for cosmetic reasons. If you decide to cut the wattles and earlobes off, now is the time to do it. If your birds have wattles that are over a quarter inch long, I recommend cutting them. These are much easier to cut, as they are thin, but it is very important to not pull on these when you cut them. If you pull them tight, and cut them off where it looks flush, you will end up having a large hole in the side of their necks from cutting too much off. If you do this, don’t worry, it will heal fine, it just looks scary at first, and leaves a larger wound, and will take longer to heal. With cutting the wattles, it is best to cut off less, and trim your way flush to the neck. If properly done, there will just be a slit in the skin where the wattle was. Some people like to trim the earlobes too, but it isn’t necessary to dub them, as it is not an area that will get frostbite typically, unless they are unusually large. If you decide to dub the earlobes, do them the same way you did the wattles.

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After you have finished the cutting, you will want to stop any severe bleeding. Most of the time, the bleeding is very minor, and you can just put the bird back in its pen, and it will be fine. If you get a bird that is bleeding excessively, just apply pressure to the area with a clean cloth until it slows down. If you get bleeding that doesn’t want to stop after a couple minutes of pressure, just sprinkle some blood stop, or flour in the wound, and it will help stop the bleeding. The next day, you will want to check the bird and make sure that its nose isn’t plugged with dried blood. If it is, take a moist cloth, and clean it out so the bird can breath properly. It is also a good idea to treat the bird with a broad spectrum antibiotic for a couple of days to help prevent infections. Most dubbings will heal completely within 2 to 3 weeks.  If you have a bird that has frostbite, I dub the bird immediately. Doing this, will keep your bird from getting infections from dead tissue, and they will heal from the dubbing much faster than waiting for the dead tissue to fall off. If the wattles, or earlobes, are swelled to the point that you can’t dub them, I like to cut a slit for the excess blood, and liquids to drain. Usually, after 24 hours of draining, the swelling will have went down enough that you can dub them.

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Along with worrying about the head of your fowl, you need to think of your bird’s feet too. Make sure that your roosts are wide enough, that when they are on them, their breast feathers cover their toes. I use 2×4 lumber for my roosts, thin side up for bantam sized birds, and the wider side up for larger breeds. Doing this, will virtually eliminate loosing toes. Chickens can handle the cold surprisingly well, even better than they can handle extreme heat. If you have a spot for them to get out of the elements, keep them dubbed, and have nice wide roosts for them, they should be able to handle just about anything!

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02
Jan
09

December Contest Winners!

Third place goes to Alpha_K for his beautiful Red Jungle Fowl.

Second Place goes to Pablo Virtuoso for his great looking Hatch.

First place goes to Ogichida for yet another great Thai.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone for their great pictures. It was a very hard decision to narrow it down to the top three pictures! I hope to see everyone in next months contest, and make sure you check out the new contest as it has been split into two categories now. We now have one for gamefowl, and one for standard breed chickens, instead of lumping them all together. You can read more about it HERE. Thanks!

29
Dec
08

Buckeyes

By Chris McCary

The Buckeye is a dual purpose breed and as its name implies, it heralds from the State of Ohio originating sometime before 1896. It is the only American breed with a pea-comb. The Buckeye also has the distinction of being the only breed of chicken created entirely by a woman, Mrs. Nettie Metcalf in Warren, Ohio. It was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s (APA) Standard of Perfection in 1904. Mrs. Metcalf’s Red Fowl creation pre-dates the introduction of the Rhode Island Red to her Mid-Western area.

Mrs. Metcalf set out to create a large red fowl. She began by first crossing a Buff Cochin male to Barred Plymouth Rock females. She then crossed the half Cochin pullets with a Black Breasted Red Game male she acquired the next year, probably of Oriental ancestry and genetically Wheaten or dark Wheaten in color. She took the red offspring of this mating to create the breed.

The Buckeye is a even shade of rich mahogany bay in color. Its feathering is tight much like the other breeds in the APA’s American Class of birds. The Buckeye has a distinctive slate colored bar in the under-color of its back. This bar of slate under-color was meant to enhance and deepen the outer mahogany bay. The mahogany bay covers the entire body of the Buckeye with the exception of the unexposed primaries and secondary wing feathers and the tail feathers which may contain black.

Reddish medium size eyes set on a face that has a “bold expression” on a well arched neck, its head “well-up.” The Buckeye’s yellow beak is short and shaded with a reddish horn.

The Buckeye’s muscular thighs and wings are situated on a body with a long broad back throughout its length. This is coupled with equally broad and deep rounded breasts which are carried above the horizontal giving the bird an almost square-like appearance. The Buckeye has yellow legs. The Buckeye also appears heavy and full. This appearance is not deceiving as the Buckeye Rooster weighs in at a hefty 9 pounds and the Buckeye Hen at 6.5 pounds. Because of this appearance, many mistakenly believe the Buckeye has Cornish in its background, but the Buckeye was not created using any Cornish blood. Mrs. Metcalf only desired to attain the appearance of the Cornish as it appeared around 1905, which is radically different from the Cornish of today.

The Buckeye is an extremely active fowl. Indeed, it has been called the most active of the American breeds. This high level of activity is not without purpose as the Buckeye is highly admired and regarded for their excellent foraging habits. The Buckeye will actually stalk, hunt and pounce on mice with some describing them as almost catlike in this ability. However, the Buckeye does not tolerate confinement as well as some other breeds. The Buckeye overall is also one of the hardiest breeds. Due to their medium size pea comb that is “set closely on the head,” they are especially touted for their cold hardiness.

The Buckeye is an unusually friendly breed and is the first to come running and greet you first thing in the morning. They have a profound and remarkable curiosity. Most of the Roosters are usually friendly toward their human owners but some can become quite aggressive at times. The Buckeye Rooster makes a variety of calls and sounds even emitting an occasional and unusual sound described by some as a “dinosaur roar.”

The Buckeye is moderate to slow to mature but is known as producing a very good meat carcass of mostly dark, rich meat with a whiter than usual white meat. The Buckeye Hen is also a good layer and is known to even surpass the non-production Rhode Island Red Hen. The Buckeye Hen is also capable of going broody. She lays a large, brown egg.

Although is has been referred to as a “Sporty Rhode Island Red,” the Rhode Island Red was not used in the Buckeye’s creation. Upon hearing about the Rhode Island Red’s on the East Coast of the United States in 1896, Mrs. Metcalf decided to call her creation, at first, the “Pea-Comb Rhode Island Red.” She even traded some stock with early Rhode Island Red Breeders.

The Buckeye has never been a widely popular breed. Ms. Metcalf discovered early on that her renaming and designation of her Buckeyes as “Pea Comb Rhode Island Reds” after hearing of the Rhode Island Red’s creation in the East actually served to diminish the Buckeyes appeal. In a change of heart, Ms. Metcalf decided to return her breed the name of their home, Ohio, the “Buckeye State.”

Many poultry enthusiasts widely believe the Buckeye to be some version of the Rhode Island Red. This is not true. As has been mentioned previously, the Rhode Island Red was not used in the creation of the Buckeye. Although some true pea comb Rhode Island Reds no doubt instantly became Buckeyes upon Mrs. Metcalf’s re-designation and the Rhode Island Red has recently been introduced into some lines to increase genetic diversity, the Buckeye remains a distinctly different breed.

In contrast, the Rhode Island Red of today is a much darker in color than the Buckeye and its feathers will be red to the skin. The Rhode Island Red is oblong in shape and appears almost rectangular. It is a lighter bird, less stocky than the Buckeye. The Rhode Island Red has a single or rose comb.

The Buckeye is considered a very rare heritage breed chicken. Without the collaborative efforts of a few long-time breeders and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), the Buckeye might well have gone extinct. With the ALBC recent program to help recover the Buckeye and new found enthusiasm among Buckeye breeders, the breed is endearing itself to a new generation and making a comeback.

There are no other varieties except the deep mahogany bay color. The Buckeye does also come in a Bantam size.

For anyone interested in Buckeyes and wishing to become more involved, join our Buckeye Discussion Group to learn more.




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