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.

20190614_161259

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

20190614_161119

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.

 

 

 

 

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

20161018_132530

 

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

20180922_170505-1

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