Posts Tagged ‘chicks

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!”

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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!

01
Apr
09

March Fuzzy Butt Contest Results!

The results are in for the special fuzzy butt photo contest at the Ultimate Fowl Forum

3rd place goes to rodriguezpoultry for her black Langshan chick

2nd place goes to bobbled67 for his game hen sitting on her chicks

1st place goes to decoyman for his assortment of bantam chicks

Congratulations to all our winners! If you like to take pictures of your chickens, whether they are games, or barnyard breeds, come on over to our forum to enter them in our monthly contest for a chance at winning a ribbon!

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.

03
Sep
08

Nutrtion, Egg Production, and Chicks

By DocMoll

As I sat here thinking about a few things I could post to help some of the younger people that are just starting with fowl. My mind rolled back to late night when a young member asked in the shout box what to feed his fowl to help, or better there nutrition. Well there are several different answers to this, some of which you can get online from several different sites. None of which is wrong for the reasons it worked for them. But I will write on what I did for grandpa when his fowl stopped producing eggs, and the ones that were laid wasn’t fertile.

When I moved back to West Virginia grandpa hadn’t got more then 10 chicks hatched off each year for the last 4 or 5 years in a row. He had asked me if I would try to get them to lay, and get them to hatch at a better rate for him. So the first thing I did, was look at the feed they was getting on a daily basis. Well, it was far from what they needed in my mind, and I adjusted it to fit what I wanted them to get. I went and bought a good mixture of a grain feed that was around 16% protein. In this feed was a little of everything such as corn, sunflower seed, pigeon feed, Milo, dog food, wheat, oats, and so on.

I went the next day and bought several small bags of vitamins with electrolytes, a bag of all-purpose powdered milk, a bag of oyster shells, several bails of straw, a couple bails of hay, and one bag of grit from the local feed store. On the way home I stopped and bought several types of fruits and veggies from the super market. this is what they would receive for there daily feed from now on.

When I got to the house I went to the brood pens and wormed, and deloused all the brood fowl. While I had them in my hands I trimmed the feathers around the vent area on each cock and hen, down to the skin. Then I cleaned out each pen, and put fresh straw about 6″ deep. This is to keep them active digging, and scratching for food. I found enough milk jugs to place to in each pen for the grit, and oyster shells. (Just cut the front of the jug open to where there is about a 3″ to 4″ lip on the bottom.) I mounted them to the walls, so they would stay there and in a fashion to where they could be easily removed to clean when needed. I filled them up with the oyster shells and grit and left them.

Each day I would take some of the hay and place in each pen. Now you got to figure out what each bird needs when it comes to hay, as you don’t want it laying there getting wet. Hay will mold and isn’t good for them at that point. The way I had it running was about a 1/4 of a bat per trio. If it was raining, they didn’t get the hay on them days.

Now back to the feed, and how to feed it. First you need to figure out how much feed you need to feed each day. When you have the answer to that question, you will know what type of bucket you will need to feed this way. Grandpa had several brood pens so a five gallon worked well for me. Each day I would place the amount of feed I needed for the next days feeding in it. I put one cup of the all-purpose powered milk in it, and one big tablespoon of the vitamins with electrolytes. Now soak the feed mixture over night in water. You want it to be moist, not water logged. The best way I can describe the moister in the feed mix is you want it to be as moist as pizza doe. The next day before I fed I would cut up what types of fruits, or veggies I wanted in it, and place them in the mix and stirred it up. I fed this to them one time a day in cups, so they got it all. Now feed them just enough to where they eat it all. You don’t want it setting there all day. If they don’t clean it up in a half hour or so, dump it out on the yard.

Each day take a small amount of grit, and toss it in to each pen to get them to scratching looking for feed in the hay. The object is to keep the active, so they don’t get fat just setting on the roost poles. Fat fowl don’t produce as good as healthy fowl does.

I also built nests to where the hens could get into, so they could hide from the cock in the pen. Several times a cock will aggravate a hen while she is on the nest, and this will cause broken eggs, as well as causing the hen stress that causes a drop in egg production.

With the method above in place I hatched 339 chicks that year out of 350 eggs that were set in the incubator.

If you want to read more from DocMoll, you can at the Ultimate Fowl Forum!

03
Jul
08

New poultry forum for all breeds of fowl!

Finally, there is a forum where people can discuss all breeds of fowl! From heritage breeds, gamefowl, rare breeds, and everything in between is welcome at the Ultimate Fowl Forum. We welcome people just beginning with chickens, or experienced breeders here, and everyone is treated equally. You will find access to some of the top breeders around the world here, and it is also an excellent source of information if you are having trouble with your flock. We have a wiki, with detailed breed histories, and tons of medical information for treating sick birds.  If you have a minute, pop on over and join our family!




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