Silkies For Sale – 7/23/19

Here is what is available for the week of July 23, 2019.  My next scheduled hatches are for July 26, July 31, August 4 and August 11th.  We are NPIP and a state inspected hatchery.  No shipping/Pick up only.   Chicks are unsexed.

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Pen 21 – Newborns hatched 7/21 – 2 blue, 2 buff, 4 partridge – $11 each.

 

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Pen 20 – Newborns hatched 7/21 – 5 white, 1 black – $11 each.

 

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Pen 5 – One week olds hatched 7/12 – 1 white, 1 black 2 grey/partridge – $12 each.

 

20190722_161832Pen 6 – One week olds hatched 7/12 – 3 grey/partridge, 2 black – $12 each.

 

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Pen 7 – Two week olds hatched 7/6 – 4 white – $13 each.

If you have any questions or would like to set up a time to pick some out, you can text me at 612-756-1414 or PM me at the VJP Poultry Facebook page.

 

 

Silkies For Sale – 6/15/19

Here is what is available for the week of June 15, 2019.  My next scheduled hatches are for June 16, June 21, June 26 and July 1st.  We are NPIP and a state inspected hatchery.  No shipping/Pick up only.  Chicks are unsexed.  Ask us about our rooster return policy.

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Pen 21 – Newborns hatched 6/11 – 9 white, 6 black, 6 partridge – $11 each.

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Pen 20 – Newborns hatched 6/11 – 2 gray, 5 splash, 6 buff – $11 each.

20190614_141453Pen 6 – One week olds hatched 6/5 – 2 buff, 5 black – $12 each.

20190614_135026Pen 7 – Two week olds hatched 5/31 – 5 black – $13 each.

20190524_143125-1Two year old buff silkie laying hens – $65 each.

20190610_120259Three year old splash rooster – $30

 

Text me at 612-756-1414 or pm me on Facebook for more information or to set up an appointment to come out and pick up chicks.

 

 

 

 

How to Help Chickens Through Molting Season

20180922_165444-1Molting occurs in the late summer and early fall.  Your run and coop will look as though a feather pillow has exploded and you may worry about what is happening to your chickens.  Molting is perfectly normal.  During this time of year your chickens will shed old, worn out feathers and replace them with new ones. It is also a time when hens take a break from laying and rest and rejuvenate.  By winter they will have a new set of feathers to keep them warm and protect them from the outside elements.

We call the losing of  feathers and the regrowing of new ones, molting.  It occurs every year as the days get shorter and there is less daylight.  During the molt, chickens typically stop laying eggs and use their down time to build up their nutrient reserves.  It isn’t just lack of daylight that can trigger a molt. Molting can occur during times of stress, lack of access to food or water, or even after a bird has been broody.

Young chicks go through four cycles of molt. The first occurs between 1-6 weeks. They lose their down and begin to grow hard feathers.  The second molt comes between 7-9 weeks.  The third is between 12-13 weeks and the last is 20-22 weeks. That is why there are always loose feathers flying around the brooder and why there is so much dander dust settling on everything.  After that, adult birds that are over 18 months will molt once a year usually during the fall. Both hens and roosters will molt.

Chickens will lose feathers in a sequence starting with the head and neck. It then moves down the back and across the chest and legs. The last set will be the tail feathers.  The new feathers that emerge are called pin feathers. They are encased in a sheath that feels like plastic and has a porcupine look to it. The sheath either falls off or is removed by the preening of the bird.  The new pin feathers will grow in following the same sequence as they were lost.

Molting will cause your bird to look different. Molting can cause some chickens to look unhealthy and lose weight. The chicken is putting all of its energy into feather production and its immune system is often at a low point. Chickens need to be well cared for during this time. Vitamins in the water can be helpful. You may see bald spots and a dull comb. Your bird will be moody and short tempered. There will be reduced, or a pause in egg production. Your bird will have an increased appetite for protein.

Different chickens molt at different rates. some will lose only a few feathers and grow them back in 3-4 weeks. Other chickens lose a lot of feathers and it may take 12-16 weeks to grow feathers back. Your chicken should never actually be completely bald when molting.  The new feathers emerging are pushing out the old feathers.  If your bird has bald spots near the vent it could be from mites.  Another cause of bald spots is from feather picking.  Use Blue Kote on any wound that can develop.

Your flock will not molt in unison. Different birds will be in different stages and molt at different rates.  A “hard molt” is when the chicken loses most of its feathers in a short period of time. A “soft molt” is a slow process where they lose their feathers gradually. It could take as long as 4-5 months to complete a soft molt.

Changes to your bird’s diet during the molting process can help them through it easier. Feathers are made of 80-85% protein. Producing those feathers uses almost all the protein consumed by the chicken. This causes the hens to stop, reduce size or reduce quantity of eggs laid.  Increasing the right forms of protein can help.  Mealworms, cooked eggs, pumpkin seeds, Japanese Millet, fish, Grubblies,  tuna and sardines,  are all good forms of protein for chickens. Feather fixer is a higher protein feed to be used during molting season. Any high protein feed such as Gamebird Conditioner will be helpful.

Chickens should act normal during a molt even if they don’t look normal. If they are acting sick, then something else is wrong.  Avoid handling your chickens during a molt. The newly growing feathers are very sensitive. They emerge through a shaft and can bleed heavily if damaged. It can be painful to your bird if you handle them too much.  If the shaft breaks and bleeding occurs, use vetericyn wound and infection spray.

Remember that your chicken needs to be resting during this time. If you use a lamp in your coop to extend daylight hours, you may want to leave it off for six weeks in the fall to help your birds completely finish a molt. That way they can start laying again in top condition.  Be careful with your light timing so that you won’t leave your birds without protection and have them end up going through a hard molt in the winter. Avoid introducing stress during a molt such as introducing new flock members or keeping them in too crowded of an area.  Give them plenty of space and time and they will come through it with beautiful new glamorous feathers.

 

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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How to Practice Biosecurity in Your Own Backyard Silkie Flock

7a31a8c5e329aa4f6b0d5ac6083b2c62Everyone wants their chickens to be healthy, but are you truly giving them the best protection possible?  There are some very lethal poultry diseases out there and you may, without even knowing it, be bringing those pathogens into your backyard. It is important to think about setting up some kind of defense between disease and your birds.

When we use the term “Biosecurity” we are talking about a system of methods that, used correctly, will help to protect your birds from the unseen viruses and bacteria that are looking for a new home. We don’t want that new home to be your chicken coop.

There are many contagious diseases out there that can effect your flock.  There has been an outbreak of Virulent Newcastle Disease is southern California this summer.  This particular outbreak is effecting small backyard flocks and not the large commercial poultry houses like we saw with the Avian Flu a few years back. The Newcastle outbreak highlights the need for year round poultry biosecurity.  If biosecurity is not practiced it would be very easy for Newcastle disease to make its way across the United States infecting birds as it hitches a ride on the tires of a truck or on the bottom of someone’s shoe.

The first thing that you can do is to keep things clean in your own backyard.  Something as simple as washing your hands or using hand sanitizer  before entering or exiting your bird area can be effective. Change food and water daily in your pen.  Clean and disinfect cages, tools or other equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings. There are several good disinfecting products.  I use Oxivir on everything. Other good products include Oxine and Virkon S.  Cleaning and disinfecting are important steps to keep your bird’s environment healthy.  Disinfectants only work effectively when you first clean all dirt,  manure, and bird droppings from your tools, cages, boots and equipment. Clean these things outside of your house to keep germs outside.

Have a separate set of clothes and shoes that you wear only in your poultry area. I have a pair of slogger boots that I only wear when I am doing chicken chores. They slip on and off easily and can be cleaned daily with a garden hose.  I do not go down to the chicken coop unless I am wearing those boots. I have a set of snowmobile boots that I use in the winter for chicken chores. When I go into the house I change into my house shoes.  Those shoes I will wear in the brooder room and the incubation area.  I wear an apron in the brooder room that is washable.  Outside in the adult chicken area I have a coat that I only wear when doing chicken chores. It is washable as well. I also wear gloves that are easily washed as well.   It is important to me to keep the adult chicken germs away from the baby chick area and the rest of the house.  Wash and disinfect shoes and clothes often.

It is important to keep other people and other birds away from your flock as much as possible. That includes birds you just bought and wild birds. Both could carry disease to your chickens.  Restrict access to your property and your birds.  Avoid visiting farms or other households with poultry.  At your own place, do not let visitors near your birds at all if they have their own birds. It is sad to have to say this, but you need to protect your flock.  If you can’t avoid contact with others then make sure that you disinfect your shoes and clothes before being with your birds again.  This is why you need separate boots and coats that you only use with your chickens.  Don’t use other people poultry equipment without disinfecting it first.

If you like to exhibit birds at poultry shows, make sure that you quarantine birds for at least two weeks after the event. Wear different shoes and clothing when at the show or fair and disinfect when you return home. Disinfect cages that were used for transport.

Be sure to buy birds from a reputable source. Check and see what kind of biosecurity they practice.   Someone who is an NPIP breeder has their flock pullorum tested every year and can only buy from others who are NPIP.  A state inspected hatchery has a state vet come out and inspect the premises every year and discusses biosecurity standards with them.  Whoever you do buy from make sure that you keep new birds quarantined for at least 30 days.

Don’t let wild birds have contact with your flock.  If your birds are outside, consider keeping them in a screened area. Do not let wild birds eat food in your chicken run. This will also help keep insects and rodents away.  Hang fly strips or fly traps in the coop. Flies can transmit disease on the bottom of their feet. Put out mouse traps and clean up spilled feed to keep your area rodent free.

Change is always hard especially if you are used to doing things in a certain way. Just pick one suggestion and start with that. Once it becomes a habit, choose another biosecurity measure to implement.  You will feel better knowing that you are keeping your flock safe and healthy.

 

 

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

cute Chicken cartoon character with stop sign

 

Keeping Silkie Chickens Safe From Raccoons

Raccoon_(Procyon_lotor)_2Raccoons are one of silkie chicken’s biggest predators.  Raccoons can climb walls and over fencing. They can reach their hands through wire mesh that their bodies can’t get through to grab their prey.  In the United States, raccoons are the most common predators of chickens.  They are intelligent foes. They will remember your chicken coop and come again and again to prey upon your chickens.  But, if you have a raccoon proof coop they will go elsewhere to find easier food.

Raccoons are mainly nocturnal.  Make sure to always lock up your birds at night. If you see a raccoon during the daytime it may be sick or even have rabies. Stay clear of any raccoon you see in the daylight.

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The first sign of a raccoon in your area is if you see foot prints in the mud around your coop.  Raccoon tracks are very distinctive with five toes on both the front and back paws.  You might also notice its scat or poo nearby.

 

A single raccoon can devastate your flock of chickens in a short period of time. He will both kill your birds and eat their eggs.  A raccoon typically attacks birds by biting the head or upper neck area. The heads of adult birds are bitten off and then left some distance from the body. The crop and breast may be torn and chewed and entrails eaten.

Raccoons have been known to mutilate poultry in cages by pulling their heads off.  Raccoons like to put their fingers through holes and pull the chicken through or pull out parts of the bird that they can reach. Several kills will  be made in one night. Dead birds may be found at the site or dragged off.  Young chickens that still sleep on the ground at night are a prime target for raccoons.  Silkies are at a disadvantage because they can’t fly up into the rafters to escape.  They sleep on the ground and are easy prey.

It is important to make sure that your coop and run are predator proof. Raccoons can both climb and dig. Placing paving slabs or burying wire mesh around the perimeter of the run will help to deter them. Use hardware cloth that is 1/4 or 1/2 inch. Hardware cloth should be fitted over coop windows. Use large washers and screws to fit hardware cloth to window frames as raccoons can rip staples out.  They will bend or pry any screen mesh in order to make a hole to get through. Keep your chickens inside the coop at night. Do not allow them to run loose after dark.

Raccoons have great manual dexterity and can open complex latches. Make sure that your closures have at least two steps or use padlocks. Make sure that your coop and run have a roof on them and check for any little holes that would allow for entry.  They will pry or dig in order to make the hole larger.

Don’t attract raccoons to your yard or coop.  Don’t leave pet food out or bird seed under your feeders. Both are favorites of raccoons. In periods of dry weather, raccoons will also be attracted by any sources of water in your yard.  That includes waterers in your run.  Keep all food out of your run and coops at night. The smell will attract the raccoons.  Keep animal proof lids on your trash cans.  Pick up any fruit that has fallen from fruit trees.  Raccoons love fruit and will make your yard a nightly stop when they start to fall.  Raccoons remember where they found food before and will keep coming back until it is gone.

There are many products out there that can help to deter raccoons.  Nite guard solar lights can help to protect a chicken coop.  Mount at eye level, about 10-15 inches from the ground.  Mount four lights, one on each side of the coop. The flashing lights will spook the raccoons into thinking that they are eyes of other animals.

Motion activated sprinklers such as Scarecrow or SprayAway can repel predators by surprising them with a water spray.   Use at night in an area where it will protect your coop.

Raccoons hate strong odors.  Set out shallow dishes containing sponges soaked in ammonia. Sprinkle the lawn with cayenne pepper or use dog or cat repellents around the perimeter of your yard.  Taste or odor repellents such as Ropel can turn away raccoons.

Raccoons do not like loud noises. Anmago animal repellent uses ultrasonic sound with a motion sensor. Vigilant chicken owners often install baby monitors or even security cameras in their chicken coops.  If you hear a clamor, run to the chicken coop as fast as you can making loud noises to scare the raccoons away.

You may want to use a live trap to remove your raccoon.  Bait the trap with canned cat food, sweet corn or raccoon bait.  Place the bait as far back into the trap as possible as raccoons seem to know how to take the bait without springing the trap.  If you plan on relocating the raccoon make sure that you travel at least 10 miles away or they will find their way back to your coop.  Check your states laws. Some states do not allow relocation of trapped raccoons.  Use heavy gloves when letting the raccoon out of the trap.  Be extremely careful as you are opening the door. They have a nasty bite.

Raccoons will live in any enclosed area such as a tree hole, a garage or attic or even culverts.  They have become urban dwellers as they have access to both food and shelter where man resides.  Chicken is one of their favorite prey which is why backyard flock owners must be ever vigilant.

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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