Monday, May 21, 2007

Chicken Q&A: Debeaking Chicks

Question: What age should I de-beak my chicks?

Answer: Chicks should be debeaked at about 2-2.5 weeks. However, many folks are debating whether debeaking is really beneficial. I'll discuss this later on.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chicken Q&A: Chicken Skin Color Genetics

Question: What decides the skin color of a chicken?

Answer: The germinative layer of the epidermis is the home of the melanocytes. These are specialized cells which produce a pigment called melanin. Melanin is what's responsible for skin color. All chickens have the same number of melanocytes; however, the amount of melanin produced in these melanocytes varies among individuals. Production of melanin is a hereditary trait involving a number of genes (the units of heredity within the cell). Because of the many genes involved, skin color is a variable trait. There is also one gene that allows melanin to be produced regardless of the amount.Without this gene a chicken would produce no melanin and thus be completely devoid of skin color, an albino.

Chicken Q&A: Roosters Crowing

Question: Are roosters only supposed to crow at sunrise? I live in a rural area and hear them at night all the time!

Answer: In days long past, the only light source was the sun. Originally, the roosters did crow at sunrise (and then throughout the day) since the sun's rays stimulated them to "let loose their vocal chords"... or what we call "crow". However, now that we have lights streaming through our windows into the chicken coops, street lamps glaring down into our yards, and an array of other light rays bothering the poor, confused roosters, they end up crowing day in, day out and all night long!
Also, did you know that when a rooster crows it's like a challenge to all the other roosters within hearing distance? That is why if there are several roosters in your neighborhood, once one rooster crows it sets off a chain reaction.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chicken Q&A: Poultry Egg Development

Question: How long does it take for an egg to develop into a chick and hatch?

Answer: About three weeks, twenty-one days to be exact. Goose, duck, pheasant, and quail eggs vary widely, so you should go to a site specifically about those breeds, since Farmlinks is mainly about raising chickens.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Chicken Q&A: Chicken Breeds for meat

Question: What breed would you suggest I should raise for meat?

Answer: If you want meat as soon as possible then you should buy a meat hybrid, such as the Cornish Cross. If you don't mind waiting a while, then a dual purpose breed such as the Barred Plymouth Rock should fit you just fine. Some people claim that home-grown chickens taste better than commercial meatbirds, but that's for you to decide. More people are raising meat birds for themselves, especially to avoid the harmful hormones and chemicals injected into commercial meat birds to boost body weight.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chicken Q&A: How long do hens lay eggs?

Question: About how long do hens normally lay eggs?

Answer: It depends on what breed you have, what your feed them, and what their living situation is like. For example, if you only feed your chickens every now and then, don't empty out their muddy waterers, and don't collect eggs regularly then you shouldn't expect your flock to even start laying (unless they are a strange, extremely hardy breed unknown to the world). On the other hand, if you take very good care of your hens, feed them exactly what they need (visit our archives to read a past article on chicken feed requirements), and cull regularly then your flock should be living 'till Kingdom come!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Chicken Q & A: Eating cracked eggs

Question: Are cracked eggs edible?

Answer: Yes, they are edible, as long as the membrane is not broken and intact, the egg is refrigerated immediately, and it is used within a week. If you see yolk leaking out of a cracked egg then throw it away!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Chicken Q & A: Blood Spots in Eggs

Question: My hen has blood spots in her eggs? Is it okay to eat them?

Answer: Blood spots are actually bits of tissue or blood that become molded with the egg as it passes through the oviduct. As an egg ages, the blood spots become paler or even disappear (that is one way to tell how fresh an egg is). Eggs with blood spots are edible, although if you are selling them your customers might think these blemishes are unappetizing. Blood spots occur in less than one percent of all eggs that are laid, and may be hereditary. If you are planning on breeding chickens, don't use hens who lay eggs with blood spots. Also, making sure that the hen has enough vitamin A in her diet might minimize the laying of eggs with blood spots.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Chicken Q & A: Scaly Leg Mites

Question: My hen has scaly legs. The scales on her legs are pushed up and sticking out. She's also walking stiffly. What's wrong with her and how can I cure this problem?

Answer: It sounds like your hen has an infestation of scaly leg mites. The pests burrow under the leg scales of the chicken, which is why the scales stick out. Since leg mites travel very slowly from chicken to chicken, stopping the problem is relatively simple. Control the mites by brushing the perches, roosts, and bird's legs once or twice a month with a mixture of kerosene to two parts linseed oil (be sure not to use motor oil). Older birds are more likely to get this problem than younger ones, so if you cull heavily you will probably not run into these mites. Another way to treat scaly leg mites is by smothering the parasites with petroleum jelly or a kerosene/oil mix. According to A Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow, the most effective treatment is ivermectin, whose accompanying box says its a "Parasite Zapper".

Breeding Gamebirds

KJ Theodore, of, says:

"Let's begin with water. Providing good, clean water is probably one of the most important things you can do for your birds. This is especially true with waterfowl. All hens need an abundance of water when laying, while roosters require less. Waterfowl drink about four times the water that chickens and turkeys do, and they require clean water for bathing as well."

Continue reading this chicken article...