Robert Plamondon's Poultry Newsletter, January 15, 2005As always, if you're tired of this newsletter, please scroll down to the bottom of the message for easy instructions to make your subscription go away.
Q & A
I've gotten a lot of emailed questions, and I'm way behind on answering them individually. So let's knock them off here!
Q: I have some turkeys but them seem like they are making some weird almost like a sneeze. I also have some chickens that are making the same type of noise. Is this normal?
A: No. Sneezing is a sign of illness. I haven't seen much of it in my flocks, so I don't have much advice to offer, though.
Q: Do you have contact names/website for Phinney Hatchery ?
A: This link will give you contact information for all sorts of hatcheries and suppliers, including Phinney, Privett, and more.
Q: Can you point me in any direction as to where is the best place to buy some laying hens?
A: In general, I think it's best to brood day-old chicks. Day-old chicks are usually inexpensive and disease-free. I suppose the best place to buy laying hens is from hatcheries, which tend to sell off their breeding flocks in the fall. The hens are generally still quite young. Hens will molt when you move them, though, and won't be back in full production for many weeks. Point-of-lay pullets are also an option, if you can find them. There aren't any around here, as far as I know.
Q: In your latest one you mention fixing your nest houses doors. How do these work? Do you have poultry sized doors or is the human size door?
A: Generally both, though I might just use a single big door, these days. Still, a little door for the hens keeps the nest house darker, which discourages egg eating. If hens start sleeping in the nest houses, you need to pitch them out at the last egg collection of the day and close the door. Eventually they'll all start sleeping somewhere else and you can stop doing this for a while.
Q: How long should I expect my girls to lay eggs?
A: As they get older, they'll lay over a shorter and shorter season, until they only lay in the spring. From a commercial point of view, U.S. farmers generally keep hens for two laying years. This has been true for at least 100 years. Sometimes hens will live ten years or more, and still lay a handful of eggs.
Q: If you have a picture of your range feeder would you be so kind as to email me a picture of it or include it in your next news letter so all of us can see what you are doing. Then tell us why you use it and what kind of feed you use in it-such as pellets, mash, or crumbles. What is the amount wasted, does it get water in the feed etc, etc.
A: Check out this link. This is an old Big Dutchman turkey range feeder. Kuhl Corporation makes range feeders for chickens. These are smaller plastic feeders. I've never seen one in person.
A: I use 20% protein laying pellets in half the feeders and whole corn in the other half. Pellets and whole grains both have the advantage that any feed that gets dropped on the ground is likely to get picked back up again. If the rain shields leak, which they do, sometimes, some feed gets wet. Chickens like wet feed, but not if it gets sour and moldy. Usually, this is only a pound or two of feed out of 500 pounds in the feeder, and then only when the weather is really wet.
Q: Can you tell me where you get the 2' fencing?
A: We got ours from Premier Fencing. It's actually only 20 in. tall. It's called "garden fencing" because it's used to keep raccoons out of gardens. But it holds in broilers wonderfully and hens mostly.
Q: How warm does it have to be to brood in the Winter?
A: I saw a publicity photo of chicks being brooded with heat lamps inside a walk-in freezer that was at -20 F. Realistically, though, you'd like to keep your brooder house above freezing inside, if only to keep the waterers from freezing. I go into all this in exhaustive detail in my book, Success With Baby Chicks.
Q: Are there any problems with keeping goats around chickens?
A: The worst problem is that they eat the chicken feed. They may also break equipment and even houses by jumping on them. They eat the straw out of nests. They may decide to shelter inside the chicken houses. Chickens and goats get along, but it's best to exclude the goats from nesting areas and feeders.
Books Available on eBay
I'm still auctioning books on eBay every week, and some people are getting really good deals. Check it out:
January To-Do List
Inspired by a similar list in Jull's Successful Poultry Management, McGraw-Hill, 1943.
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