Silkies For Sale – 8/7/17

Minnesota Fall Poultry Shows are all about Silkies

20170804_115235Attending a Poultry Show is an educational experience.  Whether you are showing yourself or are there just to see what everyone else brought, you will come away with a better understanding of what silkies and other breeds  are all about.

I’d like to get people thinking about the two Minnesota Poultry shows that happen in the fall. These are the shows where most people showing silkies will be at in this area.  The first is the Minnesota State Poultry Association Show, otherwise known as the Hutchinson Show.  The show is located on the McLeod County Fairgrounds. Here is a link to their site  http://www.mnstatepoultry.com/

The second fall show is the Brown County Pigeon and Poultry Association’s New Ulm Fall Classic.   Information can be found here.

Entry forms can be found on both sites.  Silkies are classified as Bantams.  If you bought them from VJP Poultry, they are bearded.  The breed is silkie but the variety is the standard color – white, black, blue, buff, splash, grey , partridge and self blue (lavendar).  These are all things you will need to know when filling out your entry form.

All birds entered must originate from a hatchery or breeding flock that is classified U.S. Pollorum – Typhoid clean under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) or be negative to a Pollorum – Typhoid test within 90 days prior to the opening date of exhibition. You will need a form showing your test results when you send in your entry form for the show.

If you bought chicks from VJP Poultry you can get a Statement Of Origin form. This form shows that we are NPIP and we are Pollorum – Typhoid clean.  You will not need to have your chicks tested unless they are older than 12 months of age as long as you have this Statement Of Origin form.  After they have turned one year old, they will need to have the testing done again in order to be shown.

The first step you would take if you are considering showing is to separate out your best birds into a conditioning area.  Males and Females should be separated as well. During the months leading up to the show you will want to be be conditioning your birds to have them be at their best.  The silkies in the pictures on this page are birds I am considering for this fall’s shows.

It is important to know what the Standard of Perfection for a silkie is.  Here is alink to the silkie standard.     Understanding what the silkie standard says will help you in choosing which birds you want to put in this conditioning pen.

Silkies you are considering should be kept indoors.  The sun can discolor feathers and grass will leave green marks on them.   The birds should also be on a bedding that will protect the foot feathers, such as pine shavings.  Rocks or hard bedding will break those feathers.  Feed them a good diet, high in protein such as a game bird conditioner feed.  Calf Manna pellets can be fed as a supplement as well as additional vitamins.

Don’t forget that you will need show cage waterers and cage cups for food. You want them to be as small as possible because the show cages are small to begin with. You do not want your silkie getting wet before judging starts.

You don’t need to jump into showing immediately. Attend some shows this fall to get an idea of what you need to work with next year.  Some much can be learned by talking with others who are showing your same breed of bird.  Observing winners and taking pictures helps you to remember what makes a Show Quality Silkie.

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 – 8/1/17

How To Check For Mites On A Silkie Chicken

20170725_105651  We know that silkies are extra fluffy,  but that extra fluffiness can be the perfect spot to harbor mites.  Poultry mites are very tiny insects that will from time to time try and set up camp on your silkie.  It is a very common and natural occurrence that can happen no matter how clean you keep your coop.  If your bird is outside at all, it is being exposed to mites.  Many people believe that mites are carried by wild birds.  Bird feeders should not be placed near your coop.

When a chicken appears bedraggled and hunched over or when it looks like they have a chronic poopy behind, you should first check to see if it has mites before anything else.  It is best to check your silkie on a regular basis in order to head off an infestation before it occurs.   Prevention can go a long way in making sure that those mites leave your bird alone.

20170725_110548     The first thing we do at VJP Poultry in a check up is to set up our work area. We use an ironing board. Mite checking is easier if two people do it together. One is holding the bird and the other is spreading the feathers.  Tools you might need are: scissors that cut feathers, magnifying glass, Adams flea and tick spray, poultry dust and Frontline for dogs or cats.

20170725_105644     Capt’N Billy was our model for our pictures.  He is a young partridge rooster.  The first area we check over is the crest.  Use your fingers to spread open the feathers so that you can see the base of the feathers against the chicken’s skin.  With silkies it is easiest to look at the feathers.  Since the skin is black the dark mites do not show up easily.  You are looking for clumps of mites that are moving.  Movement is key.  The bugs are so tiny that it is easy to confuse it with dirt.  If it is moving, its mites.  Check in several different places in the crest as they could be anywhere in there.

Next work your way down its neck, checking the beard as well. Look at the base of the feathers.  If you find something suspicious, pull the feather out and look at it under the magnifying glass.

20170725_105558     We also look at the base of the tail and under the wings.  Turn the bird around and check out the vent.  You may see little bite marks around the vent.  Those bite marks are letting you know that mites have been there.  Dust or spray carefully around the vent area.  You don’t want any chemicals to enter through the vent.

The powder is a good preventative.  Dust the bird lightly with it and work the powder down to the skin.   I will also dust the bedding in the coop especially the area where they typically sleep at night.

The spray is used more often if you see some mites.  Just spray directly on the area that you find them in.  If it is a bad infestation, you may want to give them a bath first  using a flea and tick shampoo for dogs or cats..  Always blow dry your silkie afterwards so that they don’t become chilled.

We use Frontline Plus on our silkies.  We use one drop on the neck directly onto the skin.  It is very effective and will kill both the mites and their eggs that will hatch later.  Frontline protection can last for over a year.  Frontline is not made for poultry and the company does not encourage its use on other animals besides dogs.   You are taking a risk of overdosing your bird if you use too much. Less is better.

Keeping vigilant and do periodic checks.  Most birds will experience it at one time or another.  Silkies seem more prone to it with their large crests.  Having a plan is your best defense against these little critters.

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

Tips and Tricks for Broody Silkies

20170618_171718    Silkies are a breed of chicken that goes broody regularly.  This is important to know because the first time you experience it you may fear that your hen has developed some strange malady . I have people call me and are sure that something terrible is wrong with their silkie hen because she is acting so strangely.

A hen goes broody when she wants to set continuously on a clutch of eggs for 21 days and to have chicks hatch out. She may be sitting on real eggs, fake eggs, or imaginary eggs.  Her hormones are telling her it is time to become a mother and nothing is going to deter her from her goal.

Some hens will never go broody, some will go occasionally and some will go very frequently. Conversely, it is very difficult to make a hen go broody if she is not interested.  They have their own timetables.

The best way to tell if a hen has gone broody is when she wants to stay in her nest spot at all times.  Even at night she will still be sitting in her corner.   She’ll pull her feathers out, flatten her body over her eggs, growl or shriek if disturbed and peck or bite any hand that comes close.

A broody hen is wonderful if you are trying to hatch chicks.  Silkies make excellent incubators.  Many people purchase silkies for the sole purpose of having them hatch out other eggs. They can hatch other breeds of chicken’s eggs, duck eggs or even pea cock eggs.  They will then raise these offspring as well.

A hen has a hormone surge prior to egg laying that causes her to create a nest and prepare .  She will lay an egg every day.  This is her clutch. Then she will settle down to business and won’t be moved.  The broody period typically lasts for three weeks.

Broody hens will stop laying eggs and pluck out their breast feathers. This is known as “feathering the nest”.  They only leave the nest for short periods of time to eat, drink and poo.  Broody poo is easy to recognize as it is a very large, smelly amount.

Broody hens will lose weight. They can actually starve themselves if  they take it too far.  They will sit in their nesting box for 24 hrs a day and almost look as if they have gone into a trance.

Broodiness can be contagious and can lead to other hens going broody too.  Sometimes I will have four or five in a heap together.  One hen will come over and lay an egg and the broodies will all fight over who gets to sit on the egg.  When one hen isn’t looking they will steal it and keep passing the egg around between them.

The key to breaking a broody hen is to cool her abdomen and vent area.  It is the elevated temperature that signals her hormones so that she will continue to sit.

The best way to break a broody hen is to contain her in a wire bottomed cage. Put it up on a saw horse so that air can flow underneath. This air flow will help to cool down her vent area.  A bird or parrot cage is often used. The best would be a rabbit hutch that is already up on legs. People call these cages “Broody Breakers.”  Make sure that she has food and water but no bedding.

Other tricks to break them would include things such as collecting the eggs quickly and not allowing her any to sit on.  Remove the hen from the nest and put her out in the run with lots of interesting treats to eat. Put frozen water bottles or ice cubes in the nest.   Remove all nesting material and close down that area of the coop.

I have tried the water method.  You dip the bottom of the hen in water in order to cool her down.  This needs to be done on a warm, summer day so that she does not become too chilled.

If you are determined to break her, break her sooner rather than later.  The longer she is allowed to sit, the longer she will need to stay in the cage and the longer it will take her to get back to laying eggs.

I do not break my broodies. I just leave them alone and let them cycle through it.  Eventually, they all give up and go back to their former social existence.  Keep a close eye on your broodies and make sure there is food and water close by especially if it is a hot day.

The most inconvenient thing about a hen being broody is that it is no longer laying eggs.  Remember that she probably still has eggs under her because she is stealing other hen’s eggs. It is important to collect them every day or you may end up with a hatch of baby chicks.

Whether you decide to break your broody or not, silkie hens will give you plenty of experience with how to handle broodiness.  Good luck with your silkie hens!

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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