Silkies For Sale

Can Chickens Eat Pumpkin?

new bPumpkin is a healthy treat for your flock as well as a great source of amusement and exercise.  Many people seem wary of feeding whole pumpkins to their birds but you will find that chickens love pumpkin pulp and pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin contains many different vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Vitamin C as well as Zinc. It also contains the antioxidants Lutein and beta carotene . The seeds contain vitamin E.  When hens eat pumpkin their yolks turn a dark orange because of the carotenoids  in the pumpkin.  Pumpkin seed snacks can also be given to the birds. When pumpkin season is over you can still get pumpkin seed chicken treats.

Pumpkins are plentiful in the fall and are reasonably priced.  After Halloween they are cheap or free if it was a good pumpkin year. Try growing pumpkins in your garden as a treat for your flock.  Pumpkins can be stored for up to three months in a cool spot.

Chickens can eat the entire pumpkin. You may want to make a starter hole for them in the side as the skin can be thick. You could use a chicken cookie cutter to form a picture of a chicken in the side of the pumpkin. Chickens can eat left over Jack-O-Lanterns as long as they are not moldy or rotted. Cut out any bad parts before letting them have it

Chickens have a natural desire to peck at things and pumpkins are a great way for them to release this urge.  They will peck at it until nothing is left but the skin. This is why it is best to break up the pumpkin before giving it to them.  When carving pumpkins, save the guts, seeds and pieces.  They will eat all of it.  Make sure that they have access to grit when giving them the pumpkin seeds so that you don’t end up developing any crop issues.

Pumpkin pecking is great entertainment for them and is a boredom buster on days when they can’t free range. It is a source of exercise to run and chase each other to get the best pieces of pumpkin.  Remember to pick up the pumpkin pieces that were not eaten at night. Leaving food out overnight will attract rodents or scavengers.  Make sure that you check the pumpkin for signs of spoilage, such as mold or soggyness. Dispose of bad pumpkins.

Some people believe that pumpkin (especially the seeds) is a natural dewormer.  The seeds should be cracked or ground if you are thinking of using it for this.  Seeds in pumpkin and other squashes are rich in the amino acid – cucubitacin.  This amino acid is a paralytic agent to various worms such as tape worms and round worms.  The worms are paralyzed and then passed in the droppings.  Cucubitacin is found in cucumbers and cantalope as well.

The study that was done on Cucubitacin and worms was done in a test tube. There have been no studies using chickens  No one knows how many seeds a chicken would need to ingest to paralyze a worm.  Do not rely on pumpkin seeds as a way to deworm your bird.  It may be used as a preventative for worms, but if you see a worm infestation you will need to use another product to treat it.

If you suspect that your bird has worms you can perform a fecal float test to determine if there is an infestation.  Wazine is a dewormer made for poultry. You add it to their water. There is an egg withdrawal period of around 2 weeks where you are not to eat the eggs.  Safe Guard and Ivermectin Pour on Dewormer are both effective on a wide range of worms. If you are looking for something more natural there are dewormer pellets that contain pumpkin seeds and Diatomaceous Earth that you feed your chickens.  Diatomaceous Earth supplements also claim to be a natural wormer.

Remember that pumpkins are a treat. They should not substitute for a well balanced nutritional feed. Any chicken that free ranges and forages for food will have a small load of worms.  If your chickens eat a lot of mice or dead animals they may have a higher worm load.  Even earthworms can pass parasites to your flock.

For more tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our weekly silkie blog at VJPPoultry.com.  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria Peterson

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Silkies For Sale – 10/6/18

The Expert Way to Cook and Peel a Hard Boiled Egg

perfect bird 4Fresh, free range  boiled eggs are notoriously difficult to peel. We are left with chunks of egg white sticking to shell pieces. There are divots left all over the  surface of your egg. This is not something that you want to use to make fancy deviled eggs with.

We know that fresh, hen- laid in your backyard eggs are the best tasting eggs there can be. They also tend to have harder, thicker shells than grocery store eggs which makes peeling more difficult.  Your own chicken eggs may not be washed either. This means that the “bloom” is still on the egg which also makes peeling harder.

The fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel cleanly. Just laid eggs contain an amount of dissolved Carbon Dioxide.  The Carbon Dioxide is what makes very fresh, raw egg whites appear cloudy when you first crack them open.  The Albumen or egg white tends to stick to the inner shell membrane due to the Carbon Dioxide making a less acidic environment. The less Carbon Dioxide, the less the egg white will stick.

The hen applies a protective coating to the shell of each egg laid. This coating is called “the bloom.”  The bloom slows the rate of Carbon Dioxide loss and also prevents contamination from micro organisms that are trying to reach the egg.

If you don’t wash your eggs, that means that the bloom is still there and it will slow down the Carbon Dioxide loss. You need to wait an average of 10 days for the PH to be ideal for peeling.  Grocery store eggs have usually been washed and the bloom has been removed.  This is one reason why store eggs peel easier.  Store eggs have usually been in storage longer and are not as fresh as we may think. This all allows for more Carbon Dioxide to be released from these eggs.

You may have hear of the float test.  If an egg is placed in water and it floats, it means that it is an old egg and you should not eat it.  It floats because with the loss of Carbon Dioxide, air enters through the shell and is trapped between the shell and the membrane. The air is lighter than the water causing the egg to float.

Now that we know that older eggs are easier to peel we can discuss cooking methods. You can boil eggs on the stove top. Boil the water first, then carefully add the eggs. I would recommend using a spoon to slowly lower the eggs into the water.  Some people like to add a little baking soda into the water. Boil for 13 minutes and then place the eggs in ice water for 5 minutes.  The ice causes the egg inside to contract, pulling it away from the membrane.

Steaming is a very popular way to hard boil your eggs. It is very simple. Using a steamer, you place water under the eggs.  The eggs do not sit in the water. There is a timer that lets you know when they are finished. I use a Hamilton Beach egg cooker.  It also poaches eggs as well. Steaming cooks evenly and there is less risk of cracking the shell than dropping the egg into a pan. When you are done steaming, place the eggs in an ice water bath.  Chilling eggs immediately after boiling ensures that they come out perfectly shaped with no air space indentations on their fat end.

Other good steamers are DASH egg cooker that has an auto shut off to prevent over cooking and Elite Cuisine Maxi Matic.   If you like to use an Instapot you can pressure cook an egg in 5 minutes using a cup of water.

One fun gadget is a Hard Boiled Egg Peeler. You place the egg and water inside of the devise  and then shake it up and down. The shaking causes the egg to crack and lets water get between the egg and the shell. This makes peeling very easy.

One last tip is about peeling the shell off of the egg. Peel it under running water from the sink. This works on the same principle as the gadget above. The water is finding its way under the egg shell making peeling much easier.

For more tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our weekly silkie blog at VJPPoultry.com.  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria Peterson

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