Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hello to all our new readers

So far, poultryOne has received nearly a hundred thousand unique visitors. We are grateful for your support and are glad that we are able to help so many of you discover the joys of raising chickens.

Don't forget that our poultry forum has just undergone a gigantic makeover. Check it out and get into some fun conversations with other poultry hobbyists. poultryOne forums and message board

Five Things a Chicken Needs

A chicken, whether it is a meat chicken or an egg laying hen, needs: Grit, fresh/clean water, a good layer feed (or grower feed if he's a meatbird), oyster shell (or similar calcium supplements), healthy snacks, and lots of fresh air. That makes for happy, healthy chickens!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Poultry Trivia:

Do you realize that a chicken is designed to live thirty years? Did you know that a healthy hen can lay for up to 18 years?

Most chickens do not live that long because they succumb to a multitude of stresses, disease, and predation. But with a little common sense care and good nutrition, your birds can live a long, happy life.

Find out how to make your chickens live a long time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chickens and Hot Weather

Most living animals, us included, are better adapted for keeping warm than for keeping cool. That's obvious at a glance when one sees the abundance of fur cats and dogs have (or in this case, feathers on your chickens). Although the domestic chicken is a descendant of the Red Asian Jungle Fowl (note the word "jungle", as in "hot, steamy, humid conditions"), even it is better able to keep warm than cool.

Have you ever stuck your fingers into a chicken's feathers and felt its skin? You might be surprised. The body temperature of the bird is about 106.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It keeps this temperature steady by converting energy found in its feed into heat. The less heat the chicken needs, the less feed it must eat. To get rid of excess body heat, the chicken doesn't perspire (since it has no sweat glands), but instead it pants like a dog.

The effect of reduced feed consumption, combined with the direct influence of strong heat on the metabolism of the chicken, produces several things.

First, a quick drop in production and efficiency as the heat rises. In meat birds, they'll stop gaining weight. In layer hens, the feed-to-egg ratio is reduced and they often completely stop laying altogether.

Second, heat stress. This is a quite obvious deduction.

Third, the chicken's system grinds to a halt. An observer will notice that the birds are just lying around like a bunch of limp socks...no clucking or preening at all.

And finally, death. This is when the owner begins frantically leaving messages on our poultry message boards in the hopes of finding some way to resurrect the poor creatures.

Please note that the chicken, thanks to God's wonderful creativity, will become acclimatized after a while. Experiments done by a panel of expert scientists have shown that, in layers, the body temperature returns to normal or stabilizes at a slightly higher temperature 3 to 5 days after the initial exposure to constant, extreme temperatures. Thus, if a chickens goes through varying high temperatures repeatedly, it will adapt and be able to survive at an ambient temperature 5 (F) degrees higher than before acclimatization.

The higher the relative humidity of the air, the less heat the mature birds can tolerate and the more stress it causes. However, high humidity has not been proven to affect the growth rate of young chickens.

Dairyman's Square to formulate chicken feed

The following is how to determine the amount of energy and protein ingredients needed in the feed. The "equation" is called the "Dairyman's Square" (For more information on this, check out some of the poultry books in our new online store):

1. Draw a square
2. In the center of the square, write the protein content desired in the final mixture (such as 20%)
3. At the upper LEFT hand corner write "corn" and its protein content (9%)
4. At the lower LEFT hand corner, write "supplement" and its protein content (40%)
5. Subtract diagonally across the square (the smaller from the larger) and enter (in the corners) the results on the RIGHT hand side (20-9=11; 40-20=20)
6. The number at the upper RIGHT hand corner gives the parts of corn, and in the lower RIGHT hand corner you have the parts of supplement needed to make a mixture with 20 percent protein. Thus, 20 parts of corn mixed with 11 parts of supplement gives 31 parts of feed with 20 percent protein.
7. To convert this to a percentage basis, divide 20 by 31 and multiply the result by 100. The ending result, 64.5 percent, indicated the amount of corn that will be used. The supplement is represented by the remaining percent (35.5). And so...in a 100 pound 20 percent mix, there would be 64.5 pounds of corn and 35.5 pounds of supplement.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Why do you raise chickens?

Raising chickens is a fun hobby. Some people treat it as more as a hobby and raise poultry as a money-making business. Why do you raise chickens? In an informal poll done by poultryOne on our forums, most people raise chickens for eggs. A few hobbyists also raise their birds for sheer ornamental or showing purposes. Tell us why YOU raise chickens!