Silkies For Sale – 6/21/19

Here is what is available for the week of June 21, 2019. My next scheduled hatches are for June 21,  June 26,  July 1 and July 6th.  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 7 – Two week olds hatched 6/5 – 3 black – $13 each.

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Pen 6 – One week olds hatched 6/11 – 2 buff, 1 grey/partridge – $12 each.

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Pen 20 – Newborns hatched 6/15 – 4 buff, 5 black 1 partridge – $11 each.

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Pen 21 – Newborns hatched 6/15 – 7 white, 4 grey/partridge, 1 grey – $11 each.

Contact me through text at 612-756-1414 or PM me on VJP Poultry’s Facebook page.

Silkies For Sale – 5/27/19

Here is what is available for the week of May 27, 2019. My next scheduled hatches are for May 31, June 5, June 11 and June 16th.  We are NPIP and a state inspected hatchery.  No shipping/Pick up only.  Baby chicks are unsexed but ask about our rooster return policy.  Pen 20 – One week olds hatched 5/21 – 10 buff, 4 white, 5 grey/partridge, 2 partridge – $12 each.  Pen 21 – Newborns hatched 5/26 – 13 buff, 8 white,  7 black,  13 grey/partridge, 1 splash – $11 each.  If you would like to set up an appointment to pick up chicks or if you just have questions you can text me at 612-756-1414 or PM the VJP Poultry Facebook page.20190524_151008-1

Why do Hens Stop Laying?

20171020_121913-1Hens normally lay one egg a day, but we all know that this isn’t always the case. In fact, we may often wonder why they seem to take breaks or even stop laying for long periods of time. You can’t force a hen to lay an egg. There are many factors and variables that go in to whether or not your hen will grace  you with an egg on any given day.

Your bird might be either too old or too young. Pullets typically start laying eggs at 18-20 weeks. Not all breeds start at the same time. A late maturing breed such as silkies may not start laying until 7-9 months. The first season of laying will be their best season. After that, they will gradually lay less and less with a large drop off after 4 years. A pullet that “comes of age” during the winter may not start laying until spring. You can tell by looking at their vent as to whether they are still laying. If the vent is soft and pliable, they are laying eggs.  If the vent is stiff and not flexible, she may have stopped laying because she is too old.

Certain breeds do not lay as many eggs as other breeds. Good layers such as Rhode Island Reds or Buff Orpingtons can lay 200 eggs per year.  Ameraucanes or silkies lay less than 100 per year.  Chickens has a set number of eggs that they lay in their lifetime. Some go through that number very quickly and then become “spent hens.”  Other birds that take breaks in their laying can lay eggs for a number of years beyond others.

If your bird is experiencing any illness, this will cause her to stop laying. Respiratory issues are a common problem in a flock.  Becoming egg-bound would be another reason for egg production to stop. An egg could be stuck inside of the hen’s body.  Gently feel around her abdomen area and you may feel the stuck egg.  Add electrolytes and calcium to their diet.  Apply a lubricant to her rear and give her a quiet, private place to lay her egg.

Nesting boxes are an important part of your hen’s egg production. Not having enough nesting boxes can be an issue. Hens need a private place to lay their eggs. You should have one box for every 4 hens.  Boxes should be 18 inches off of the ground. Make sure that the boxes are not harboring parasites that can bite at hens while they are laying. Use poultry dust in the bottom of the boxes.

You may have a hen that doesn’t want to leave the nesting box. Broodiness is when a hen decides that she is going to hatch out some eggs and start a family.  Even if you remove the eggs, the hen can still continue to be broody.  While she sits and waits, she will not lay any eggs.  Broody hens sometimes will stay on a nest for three or more weeks patiently waiting for chicks.  When she is finally done sitting she will begin to act normal again and start laying as usual.

Seasonal changes can make hens slow down.  As daylight decreases the amount of eggs laid will decrease as well.  Temperature and sunlight will have a big influence on egg laying.  Hens know that winter is not a good time to be raising a family and egg production will drop off or stop.  Peak laying for hens is around June 21.  They need between 14-16 hours of sunlight a day for egg production.  You can use artificial light to fool hens into thinking that they should be laying.  All you need is a small light fixture and an LED bulb set on a timer.   Set it to go on early in the morning and add extra hours of daylight. Having a warmer temperature in the coop using heat lamps and bulbs will also increase egg production.

Molting occurs in the fall. This is when your hens start to lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Many hens take a break during molting because they are using all of their energy and protein into creating new feathers. They don’t have any protein left over to put into egg production.  Feather Fixer can help increase the amount of protein in your bird’s diet during the time of molt.  After her new feathers have grown in she will begin to lay again. This can take anywhere from 3 to 16 weeks depending on the bird.

If your chicken’s dietary requirements aren’t being met, they will not be laying eggs for you. Your hen needs around 20 grams of protein to lay an egg. They also need calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, fat and water. If your hen is of egg laying age, you could be feeding them Layer Feed which has the correct amount of nutrients needed for egg production.  If you are feeding them something besides layer feed then you will need to offer Oyster Shell so that they are getting enough calcium to create egg shells. A couple of good treats to help with protein would be Scratch and Peck feeds as well as mealworms.

Even a few hours without water can cause hens to stop laying for a few weeks. Chickens drink 3 times as much water by weight as they eat. Make sure that their water does not become frozen in the winter by using heated bases and galvanized waterers .

Stress can also be a factor as to why your hen isn’t laying. A scare from a predator or a family pet can stop laying for several days. Trauma or injury to the bird will stop them from laying.  Moving birds to a different pen or adding new flock members which disturbs their pecking order will also decrease laying as this causes stress.  Hens do not like change of any kind. Change in the type of food you are feeding will cause stress. Going without food or water is stressful to birds.  Overcrowding in your coop because of poor coop design will cause problems and delay laying.  Weather that is extremely hot or extremely cold can throw them off of their lay schedule.

Lastly, remember if you let your birds free range they may be hiding eggs in places where you can’t find them. Hens can be sneaky that way as they try to find a private spot.

 

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 Perform a DNA test on your Silkie Chick and Determine its Sex.

20180613_103403-1Silkie chicks are known to be very difficult to sex at a young age.  An Avian DNA sex test is a scientific way to determine the gender of your baby chick before you become too emotionally attached to it knowing that if it is a rooster you will not be able to keep it depending on where you live.

Many people live in cities and towns with ordinances that prohibit roosters.  Their crowing makes them unpopular with city officials. It would be wonderful to know the sex of your silkie chicks within the first week of life.  You could, of course, wait until it crows or lays an egg but with silkie chicks that can take many months.

Many people try and sex silkie chicks based on feather sexing, appearance or behavior.  None of these methods are always reliable.  Feather sexing is something genetically bred into a breed of chicken.  It has to do with the length of wing feathers. Not all chicken breeds can be feather sexed. However, some believe that early feathering of the wings and tail are an indication of a female.  Because silkie’s feathers are fluffy and not hooked together, it makes this kind of feather sexing especially difficult.

Luckily, determining the sex of your chick through DNA sexing is highly accurate.  They claim that the reliability of the laboratory protocol is 99.9%.  Many companies offer this type of DNA test and a quick online search can provide you with some reputable companies.

The first company I looked at was PollyGene through Amazon. They specialize in parrots and other home birds that can be very difficult to sex. Many of these birds are very expensive so it makes sense to spend the money in order to find out the gender. I did not see chickens listed so I wrote a question to them about whether or not they could sex baby chicks. The answer that came back  was no, which kind of surprised me. I went on to look at some other companies.  IQ Bird Testing specifically states that they do silkie chick sexing. They charge $11.99 per bird and you get the results back in about a week and a half.  I also had a customer who tested five newborn silkie chicks that she had purchased  from us and had very good things to say about the IQ Bird Testing company.

DNA bird gender determination can be performed with blood samples, feather samples and eggshell samples.  Laboratory analysis will test for the Z chromosome or W chromosome in birds to determine their sex.  Males will have only Z chromosomes and females will have ZW chromosome pairs.  It is the females, not the males who determine the sex of the embryo.

The collection of samples is very easy to do. After placing an order with a company online, they will send you a downloadable and printable Sample Form.  Print out the form as you will need it when you are collecting samples.  An incorrect collection of samples may cause delay in your bird’s results or even affect the outcome due to sample DNA cross- contamination. Always be very careful in following directions exactly.

Before beginning blood collection, wash your hands thoroughly.  Use a pair of clean nail clippers sanitized with alcohol.  Clip the tip of any toe nail approximately 2/3 of the distance from the root of the nail. Blood will flow from the nail.  Place the circle of the  submission form underneath it until it absorbs a few drops.  Do not touch the blood at any time as this can contaminate your sample.  Allow the blood to dry completely before folding the submission form.  Check that your bird is not bleeding anymore and apply an anticoagulant onto the area.  The blood sample has a higher chance of finding good quality DNA than feathers or eggshell.

For feather collecting, you want to move aside the surface feathers from the lower chest area and find the smaller ones that are underneath.  Pluck at least five of these smaller feathers making sure that they come with a visible quill. You could use tweezers to do the plucking.  If the quill comes with some blood, allow the feathers to air dry for one hour.   Never touch the quills of the feathers with your hands.    Never pluck the wings.  Any feathers that are molted or shed naturally can not be used for DNA testing.  Tape the feathers onto the submission form and make sure the tape does not reach the quills.

The last way is to use eggshells.  After the chick has hatched from the egg, place the shell sideways and allow the inner membrane to dry a minimum of 24 hours.  Do not touch the inside of the eggshell.  Make sure that you have the right eggshell.  Use the one the chick actually hatched from.  Once it dries, place the entire eggshell into a plastic bag.  Pierce the bag with a needle several times to allow air flow through the bag.

Lastly, mail your form with the sample collections to the company.  They will ask you the species name which in the case of chickens would be Gallus Gallus.  If you are doing several different birds you will need a way to identify each bird.  Colored rubber bands that are quite small work well with tiny chicks. Place a different color on the leg of each chick and then use that color for identification on your form.

In a week or so the company will send its results back to you.  There will be a separate certificate for each bird tested.  They will let you know if it is male or female.  Of the five birds that my customer tested, three came back male and two came back female.  Since the male/female ratio for chickens is 50/50 this is pretty typical.  The picture at the top shows the three chicks that came back as male.  Would you be able to tell that just by looking at them?  I recommend DNA testing for people that can’t stand the heart break of parting with one of their pets. If you do the testing early, it is worth the cost in the long run.

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 – 6/9/18