Silkies For Sale – 6/9/19

20190609_115920Here is what is available for the week of June 9, 2019.  My next scheduled hatches are for June 11, June 16, June 21 and June 26th.  We are NPIP and a state inspected hatchery.  No shipping/Pick up only.  Chicks are unsexed but ask us about our rooster return policy.

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Pen 21- Newborns hatched 6/5 – 2 white, 2 splash, 3 buff, 6 black, 2 blue, 1 partridge – $11 each.   Pen 20 – Newborns hatched 6/5 – 3 white, 2 buff, 6 black, 4 partridge, 1 gray – $11 each.

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Pen 8 – One week olds hatched 5/31 – 6 black – $12 each.

Pen 5 – One week olds hatched 5/31 – 3 grey partridge, 3 black – $12 each.

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Pen 6 – Two week olds hatched 5/26 – 1 grey/partridge, 2 partridge – $13 each.

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Pen 7 – Three week olds hatched 5/21 – 3 buff – $14 each.

Contact me by texting 612-756-1414 or PM me at the VJPPoultry Facebook site!

Correct Brooder Temperature and Introduction to Outdoors for Chicks

20190227_151759-1It is both fun and exciting to have baby chicks in the house.  Many first time chick owners fret about what the ideal brooder temperature should be. As the chicks grow and their space needs expand many people wonder when would be the best time for integrating the chicks outdoors with the rest of the flock in the coop.  We will be exploring both of these questions in this article.

When deciding on a source for brooder heat you need to think about the air temperature surrounding your brooder. A brooder should be inside to regulate temperature and moisture and to prevent predators from getting at the chicks. Inside means that it can be in a garage, laundry room, shed or barn.  It can even be inside of your coop.  You will want to have some kind of cover on it to keep out predators.  A cookie rack or screen works well.

A newborn chick’s body is covered with down. The newborn will have a hard time controlling it’s own temperature since it does not have real feathers yet.  They will warm themselves by huddling close together.  Chicks need an additional heat source until their down gives way to hard feathers.  Chicks raised by a mother hen will be seen darting in and out from under her wing as they use her body as a heat source.  A hen’s internal temperature ranges from 105-107 degrees F.

The rule of thumb is to start your brooder temperature at 95 degrees F (35 C) and reduce it 5 degrees F (3 C) each week until the brooder temperature is the same as the room’s temperature.

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This chart from Roberts Farm is a good resource to judge what temperature the brooder should be for how old the chicks are. It also can give you an idea of what age they can transition to the outside according to the outside temperature.  For example, if your chick is 6 weeks old, it needs to be at least 65 degrees F for it to be outdoors.

Make sure that your brooder heat source is up and running for at least 24 hours before you introduce chicks to it.  Chick brooder temperature is measured with a thermometer placed 2 inches (5 cm) above the brooder floor. You may want to measure it with several different thermometers as sometimes they will each read differently.

Many people use a brooder heat lamp with a 250 watt bulb.  The red heat bulb helps to prevent picking among chicks and can help with night time light. Start by hanging the lamp with an adjustable chain at about 18 inches above the chicks. Don’t rely on the clamp to hold the heat lamp safely. You need to add a chain and hang it from a hook above the brooder.  You must take safety precautions when using this type of brooder heater as if they fall they will cause fires.  As the chicks grow, you can shorten the chain to decrease the temperature in the brooder.

A heated panel uses radiant heat.  It only heats directly below the panel.  This makes it easier for chicks to move away from the heat. Ecoglow can have its heat adjusted by lengthening its legs.  Sweeter Heaters are hung from above and can  be raised and lowered to change temperature.  Heated panels are not a fire hazard and will not burn out like a heat lamp bulb could do, which would chill your chicks.

A chick’s body language will tell you whether or not they are too hot or too cold.  Chicks that aren’t warm enough will crowd towards the heat source.  They will peep shrilly and constantly. Their poo will begin to paste up on their bottoms.  Pasty Butt can clog their vents which could lead to death.  In an attempt to get warm while they sleep, the chicks could pile up and smother each other. Piling often happens at night when the room temperature drops.

Chicks that are too warm move away from the heat source. They spend less time eating and grow more slowly. They pant and crowd to the edges of the brooder. They keep their heads down and are very quiet.  If the brooder is hot enough to raise their internal temperature above 117 degrees F, they will die.

Chicks at the correct temperature are happy chicks.  They wander around their brooder making musical sounding noises of contentment.  They breathe through their nostrils and do not pant.

Chicks need one half square foot of space each for the first two weeks.  They grow fast. You will need to increase the amount of space as they head into three and four weeks of age. You will need a bigger brooder or split the group and get a second brooder.  They can be off of the heat lamp when the temperature of the room they are in matches their age on the chart above. Chicks hatched in winter or early spring will need a heat source longer than chicks hatched in late spring or early summer.  Larger breeds will be sooner than bantams.

When they are ready to transition outside (They must be feathered out) start by letting them outside during the day.  Chicks can be vulnerable to predators such as hawks and the neighbor’s cat so be sure to keep an eye on them.  A dog kennel or fencing keeps them protected and doesn’t let them escape.  Bring them back inside at night.

If they are too cold outside they will let you know by puffing up their feathers and peeping in a frightened way.  Don’t leave them alone as they could become chilled quickly.

Don’t be in a hurry to put them with other adult chickens. Ideally, they should be the same size as the rest of your flock. Pecking order is a real thing and they will be pecked at by the larger birds.  Start by having them close together but separated by a barrier.  They will be able to see each other but not touch each other.  Gradually give them more opportunities to be together.  The integration process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center 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 J. Peterson

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Strengthen Your Chicken’s Egg Shells With the Shell of an Oyster

20180515_123422-1Hens work hard to provide us with their daily eggs.  Making egg shells takes a lot of calcium.  The more eggs they lay, the more calcium they need.  If a hen doesn’t get enough in her diet, her body will steal calcium from her bones to make the egg shell.  This leaves her bones very brittle. You may think of Osteoporosis which women sometimes get as they age.  Hens often have that same problem.

The egg shell that a hen lays is 95% calcium by weight.  In one year the amount of calcium put into her shells can equal 20 times the amount of calcium that is contained in her bones. In order to stay healthy  and create strong egg shells, she needs to consume a large amount of calcium in steady intervals.

The most recognizable sign of calcium deficiency is thin shelled eggs or even eggs laid without a shell .  Lack of calcium in the diet can also lead to soft  shell eggs which look rubbery.  This can also lead to egg binding which can be fatal in hens.  Rough spots and wrinkles on the shells are another sign of low calcium.  The egg shells should look hard and smooth.

Ground oyster shell is the most common supplement to increase the amount of calcium in a hen’s diet. Oyster shell is inexpensive and lasts a long time. It does not spoil or go bad. Oyster shell is eaten by hens and the shell dissolves in the gut.  It is not the same thing as grit.  Grit aids digestion by grinding up food in the crop.  Oyster shell has nothing to do with digestion.  It also does not stimulate egg laying. It simply provides the mineral calcium to the hen.

To lay well, a hen needs 16% crude protein .  Most grains range 7-12% protein and are low in certain essential amino acids.  High amounts of protein can contribute to more frequent ovulation in a hen. Make sure that you are giving your hens a balanced feed with the correct nutrients and protein. Most of their food should come from a nutritionally balanced food. If you give them treats or let them free range you can be upsetting this balance.

Most hens start to lay at about 20 weeks.  Wait until the hen has actually laid an egg to begin giving them oyster shell supplement.  Giving it too early can damage the young pullet’s kidneys. Oyster shell should be given free choice in a separate bowl so they can eat as much as their body needs.  Laying hens who aren’t getting enough calcium can produce weak or irregularly shaped eggs.  This issue can also cause slow laying or even problems like egg eating because they are so desperate for the calcium they need.

How much calcium a hen needs is an individual issue and all hens are different. Some breeds lay eggs every single day. Other breeds take more time off, such as silkies.  The hen’s bodies will prompt them to eat the oyster shell as they need it. If you don’t see them eating it, they may not need it

Do not mix the oyster shell into the food.  This can force them to eat too much calcium which can damage their kidneys.  Feed it to them in a separate bowl or even scatter it on the ground.  Some commercial feeds contain calcium, but it is often not enough for typical layers, especially if they have access to table scrapes and treats.

In order for the hen to be able to absorb the calcium, two  nutrients seem to affect it the most. These nutrients are Phosphorus and vitamin D3.  Phosphorus is easily found in grains. D3 come from sunshine so you want to make sure that your hens have exposure to sunlight.  Powdered vitamins added to the water will help with this.

I have found oyster shell to come in many different sizes.  Some pieces are so large they can barely swallow it,  down to basically nothing but powder. The ideal particles size of supplemental calcium ranges between 2 mm and 5 mm.  Larger pieces of calcium carbonate take longer to digest than smaller particles and are more desirable.  Hens seek out large particles of oyster shell late in the day before the period of shell formation occurs.  Shell formation usually occurs during the night.  Too much calcium will give the eggs an extra coating of powdery calcium around the entire egg or you will see calcium deposits around the shell.

Hens do best when fed a balanced crumble or pelleted diet, especially an all-flock diet with oyster shell in a separate bowl on the side.  Meat birds should be given a separate feed.  Birds that eat other things besides their layer food such as free range foragers or birds that get extra treats need the extra calcium from oyster shell.

Oyster shell is not for pullets that haven’t started laying eggs yet. Wait until they actually start laying eggs to give them the extra calcium.  Chickens who are not laying will get enough calcium in their daily feed for normal calcium use.  When they are laying they need four times as much calcium as a non laying hen.  Giving additional calcium to chickens who are not layers is detrimental to their health. This would include roosters, cockerels,  and older hens no longer laying.

Oyster shell should never be mixed with the food.  Just leave it out in a separate bowl.  They will instinctively know to take it when they need it.  Do make it available all year round.  If they aren’t laying as much in the winter, they will just lower their intake of it.

There are other forms of calcium you can use. Limestone is a rock that contains calcium. If you live in an area with limestone gravel they may naturally pick some up.  Some people save egg shells and offer these back to the hens.  Remember that a hen’s own shells will not provide enough calcium if she doesn’t have other supplements.  Bake the shells first in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria that may be present.  Crush them finely so that they do not look like egg shell, otherwise you are teaching the hens to eat their own eggs.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center 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 J. Peterson

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Silkies For Sale – 3/21/18

Silkies For Sale – 2/15/2018