Saturday, 29 October 2011
By Kelson Spear
Chicken disease can hit your flock at any time. Illnesses like upper respiratory infections (URI), chickenpox, Avian Diphtheria, bird flu, plus a host of others are all possibilities. And, unless you are already prepared to deal with the problems as they arise, you're going to need to decide how you should care for them. And that decision depends totally on your intentions for your flock.
If you want to save any and all chickens, then you should treat them just as you would a dog or a cat, whenever they get sick you would take them in to your veterinarian. If you are thinking more about a herd, or large flock - then you would do something whenever you notice high mortality, or if you have high morbidity.
It is quite common for most backyard chicken growers to simply allow the chicken disease to take its course and see what happens with the chicken. And that might be okay for you? It may mean the hen will not survive, and you need to be okay with that outcome.
Your other main option is to visit a local veterinarian, treating your hens just like any other family pet. You would take them in to see what's wrong with them, and to get the treatments as recommended by the doctor. Surprisingly, not a lot of owners raising chickens do this. However it is slowly becoming more and more common throughout the U.S. for owners to take one of their hens in to see the veterinarian for care.
For example, there was a recent report, from a backyard poultry raiser, describing how her chicken's beak had grown irregularly, and so she took the hen in to the doctor for treatment. That was one of only a handful of reported visits to the doctor, for a chicken, that have been reported in the news.
The health and safety of your chickens, when hit by any sickness, depends largely on how you want to treat them. Whether you want to treat each one as a single pet, or as a large flock, may determine what actions you take when they are infected by a chicken disease. Make sure you have already thought about each scenario before it becomes a reality.
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By Mark Klassen
Chickens are active creatures and always pecking around, exploring. Watch chickens for a short time and you'll observe that unless they're resting, they're usually actively scrounging and scratching for feed.
If your bird is lethargic and not active this is usually a sign something is not right. It will look like it's cold and not move around much and may stay off to itself. A sick bird will tend to hunch its shoulders and stand with its head pulled in towards the shoulders.
If you can hear wheezing this is not normal and a sign something is not right. You may see the bird walking around with it's beak open looking like it's struggling to breathe (except in hot weather as this is normal). They may look like they have a cold with a runny nose and swollen sinuses.
Chickens should not appear to be stumbling, limping or otherwise look unstable on their feet. Look at their joints to see if there is possibly swelling.
The eyes of a chicken should be bright, clear and alert. If they look cloudy or runny then something is amiss.
Healthy chicken droppings should have some substance to them, usually brown or greyish with white caps. If it is shooting out like water, greeny-yellow diarrhea, white or bloody diarrhea or is pasting to the rear end then consult a veterinarian.
Most of all look at the overall appearance. Its skin should be clean and soft - no sores, scabs or lumps. The legs should be clean and waxy-looking - legs should not look scaly. Chickens should look curious, alert and active. If it seems droopy, disinterested, lethargic or goes off by itself - This should a red flag that something is wrong.
Although this is not all the symptoms you might see, it does outline the most common that you may see and will give you a good idea of what to keep an eye out for when it comes to your flock's health.
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Thursday, 13 October 2011
If you have decided to raise chickens to provide organic eggs for the family, there are some essential issues you must first take into consideration. To raise poultry you must build some type of housing for your birds. But what variety of chicken house will best suit your needs? Prior to buying lumber, chicken wire, and nails to erect your chicken arks or hen houses, you should understand the major differences between them. Both have unique advantages, but it is likely that only one type will best work in your specific situation. You certainly do not want to erect a huge chicken coop and then realize afterward that a chicken ark would have been lots better with regard to your circumstances.
The terms chicken ark, chicken coop, and hen house are used interchangeably by many individuals, but this is technically not correct. Hen houses and chicken coops are the same, but a chicken ark, also known as a chicken tractor, is a structure unique from the others. Chicken coops are manufactured and put in a stationary (permanent) location. Once built, they will for all time remain in the same place. A chicken ark or tractor, on the other hand, is a portable hen house. It can be moved to a new location in the yard whenever necessary.
The Advantages of a Chicken Ark
Being small, chicken arks are very economical and simple to construct. You can build an entire chicken ark in a solitary day at a very small price. However, the key benefit is that it is portable. With transportability come a good number of advantages.
In view of the fact that tractors make use of the ground as their floor your chickens can hunt and scratch for some of their own diet. This will provide them with real live meals that they just cannot get in a pre-bought feed, helping them to stay healthier. It can furthermore lessen your feed costs. Once one area has had all of its insects and vegetation picked clean, it is an easy task to transfer the tractor to a brand new location possessing new succulent plants and bugs. Cleanup is also simple since there is none. Once you move the house to a new area nature will clean the previous spot for you.
The Advantages of a Hen House
If you are planning to successfully keep a dozen pullets or more you will almost certainly want to make hen houses. These are larger houses than arks and are able to hold a great deal more hens. If you are planning to turn out a lot of eggs a hen house will allow you to accomplish that goal.
If built properly you will be able to eliminate some extra work. Positioning it close to a water source will allow you to use an automated watering system, eliminating daily water replacement. With a tractor, the water fountain ought to be changed on a daily basis. The feeders can be a good deal larger, so it is possible to go weeks without adding feed to the feeder.
Nesting boxes can be situated to allow trouble-free gathering of eggs. It is even feasible to erect poultry housing that will allow you to gather eggs from the exterior. In addition, you will not need to move it to different places as you will with a tractor. With a chicken tractor, because the earth is the floor, you must move the feeders and water fountains separately from the poultry housing itself. It is quite easy to do, but it is one job that will not need to be performed with permanently positioned housing.
You might think that cleanup would be a significant chore with a larger poultry house, but if you erect a chicken coop a couple of feet off the soil, using wire for the floor, you will eliminate the need for cleaning. All of the droppings will drop beneath the coop, so the interior will remain clean.
Both chicken coops and chicken arks have their advantages and disadvantages. A tractor will be less costly and simpler to erect, supply living food to the hens, and do away with clean up chores. A larger hen house will permit the hens more space, demand less effort with feeding and watering, and if built appropriately, do away with the job of cleaning.
Joshua has successfully grown chickens for about 25 years and has accumulated a huge amount of familiarity on the subject matter. He is an expert in growing chickens for both meat and eggs. He maintains an enlightening web site where you will be able to get free information in relation to manufacturing a low-priced chicken ark, successfully raising chickens, how to pick out the ideal location for building your chicken coops, and more.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Josh_G._Harding
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Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Raising chicken is a very interesting hobby. Some people raise chickens just for fun and to make use of their eggs and meat from time to time while others will do this on a wider scale and turn it into a very profitable business.
One of the very important remarks on this type of hens and their egg is that their tastes change from one coop to another or from one breeder to another. The main difference between these hens is the feed that they eat. The type of the feed affects the taste of both the meat and the eggs of the hens and this is the primary cause of the difference in taste from one breeder to another.
The hen feed is one of two ingredients, dry feed and green feed. Green feed is very important because it is the thing that will improve the taste of the meat and eggs of the chickens. One of the major mistakes in breeding chickens is that breeders think that all types of green feed are the same but; the truth is the whole contrary of this.
There are several types of green fodder that you can feed your chicken with. The different types of green feed can affect the health of the chicken and can also add a distinctive odor or taste to the egg.
For example, the green fodder contains high amount of water but, only some of them has high amount of nutrients. Wheat grass is one of the very interesting green feed that hens would like to eat. The plant is full of huge amounts of nutrients as well as water and chickens love them much so they will eat it all the time and that will result into better production rate and better taste for both the meat and the eggs.
In addition to the wheat grass, chickens can eat any weed clipping that you can get from your garden. It is very important to make sure that they are eating safe plants and safe food. Some people think that because they are animals they could eat anything without getting sick. Some plants have highly adverse effect on the chickens so; make sure that you are offering them the right food.
There are two methods to feed your chickens with green food, you either get them out of the coop and let them free - range in your garden or you can cut the grass and the green weeds and put it in their coop.
If you will go for the first method then you need to make sure that the perimeter is safe and there are no predators can harm them while eating around. Also you need to monitor the weather and if it is going to be windy or rainy then you need to get them inside as soon as possible. If you are leaving for work then do not leave your chicken outside unless you are sure that they are safe or predators will make a feast with these easy to get targets.
If you will go for the second method then you need to make sure that you supply your chickens with enough amounts of green food while they are inside the coop or the free run around it. In the mean time you can easily keep them protected from predators with the fence of the coop. Also you need to make sure that the available space in the free run is capable of containing the amount of chicken you have.
Feeding your chicken with green food can save you a lot of money than feeding them dry ration. Green food can be a free source of food for your chickens if you decided to grow some useful greens in your garden or your backyard. If you are able to plant different sections of your backyard with green stuff on different times then you won't run out of food again.
All the recent researches had proven that green feed will enhance the amounts of Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and omega three in the eggs and will also eliminate a big chunk of cholesterol of the egg content.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jerry_Halsey
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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Ironically, a chicken dust bath is an essential tool in caring for your chickens. They keep clean by having a dust bath. That is, they scratch up some dry sand or dirt and then lie in it and ruffle up their feathers until they are saturated in sand and dirt. Then they stand-up, have a good shake, and presto, they are "clean".
Dust baths serve several purposes for chickens. They can remove excess oil from their feathers. Dusting is also a method allowing chickens to cool off when it's hot out. Normally, there would be a slight depression in the bath - so they could lay down in it, and cover themselves with dust and cool off slightly. However, the most important function is to remove parasites, like lice and mites, so that the chicken's body and skin are protected.
A dust bath should be provided in every chicken pen, especially if you don't have a dry patch inside your poultry run.
If you do have to provide a chicken dust bath, it should be a small shallow box that is easy for them to climb into. The dust box should be large enough to allow your chickens to lie in, spread their wings, and flick the dust into the air so that it can cover its whole body.
You would put in sand, ashes, dirt, and a little insecticide (if you want). You can cover this with a shade during summer. You want to keep it dry, and have a cover that you can take on and off while it's in the winter months. You might keep part of it moist during the summer months.
These are the essential basics you need to understand about having a chicken dust bath to keep your flock healthy and happy.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kelson_Spear
Whether you've a flock of ten or a flock or two, protecting your essentially defensless chickens from predators such as hawks, raccoons, and coyotes, as well as a number of other animals, is an important part of caring for your poultry.
1. Make Your Coop Secure
At night, and during laying, your chickens will retire to their coop. Sleeping chickens are quite difficult to awaken and a stealthy predator (or a non-stealthy predator) and sneak into the coop and kill them before they even really wake up. Keeping your coop as secure as possible is the number one way of protecting your poultry at night. Make sure there are no holes or gaps in the floor and walls, and nothing that even a mouse can sneak into as mice love to creep into the grain. Set wire fencing at least half a meter underground around your chicken run, with footplates to prevent predators from digging underneath and popping up in the chicken safe zone.
2. Keep It Clean
Do not deposit compost near the coop, and keep the area around the coop and inside the chicken run mowed. This will keep predators from sneaking in while you're not looking and then pouncing out of tall grass and taking off with a bird. Keeping your compost away from the coop removes a temptation for animals to come up to the coop to begin with.
3. Dangers Above and Below
If your hens have a run, put hawk netting over head so that they are safe from hawks and eagles. Smaller birds are often enjoyed by these larger birds of prey, so keeping them covered will keep them safe. Be sure that you raise their nesting boxes and coop up off the ground, if possible. This will help protect them from animals that may find another way in and dig up into the coop taking your chickens with them.
4. Motion Sensors and Electric Fences
Most animals are frightened away when a bright light suddenly shines into their face. However, they may grow immune to this over time, which is why you should consider an electric fence on the OUTSIDE of your chicken coop. You can dig one line into the ground to catch digging predators, and one on the top of the fence to catch anyone who tries to climb over.
5. Invest in a Guard Dog
But be careful that you train your dog not to chase your chickens. Dogs love to chase chickens and chickens don't love to be chased. It is very easy for a harmless and simply excitable dog to chase chickens to death; at the very least this can severely mess up their laying cycle. A guard dog will certainly keep predators away, but you will need to spend time training them and watching them in the beginning to make sure that they don't get over zealous and try to herd your chickens back into their coop.
Lastly, consider investing in a gun; especially if you live in a rural area. Where we live we have the threats of everything from bears to cougars and coyotes. When faced with a predator of this size, often your only defense is an excellent offense. Don't eliminate the prospect of a firearm.
The idea of chickens playing may seem odd to some, but there are definite ways to make life a little more exciting for your birds. Read below for ideas!
Important Things To Know:
Chickens are incredibly curious but they will be most interested in food and shiny things. Toys that involve eating will be most popular and so anything they eat, even just chicken scratch, can be turned into an interactive game for your birds. They are not necessarily stupid either, though they are simple. If you give a chicken a treat for pecking at a piano, they will continue to do it as long as they are fed. It is, however, very important to remember that moderation is key. Some play time is good but too much is dangerous. Also, keep an eye on them for overly aggressive behavior. Most flocks naturally compete, but when this turns to aggression then play time needs to be changed or removed.
Fruit and Veggie Toys
Any safe fruits and veggies can be used for toys and your chickens will love making a small leap to take a grape from your fingers or to nab some cabbage hanging from a a string.
- Hang cabbage from a rope a few inches over head height so they have to jump to get some.
- Throw some fruit across the yard so they have to run to get it.
- Put berries or peas into their bedding or a mulch pile so they have to turn up the flooring to get to the treats.
- Send them chasing peas off the floor.
- Put a banana in a rotting log for them to pull apart.
- Hang lettuce leaves from a clothes line a few inches over head, one for each chicken.
- Break open a pumpkin or squash and let them dig through it, especially as these treats are a natural-dewormer and will keep your birds healthier.
Be careful as things that are too soft can be choked on.
- Roll some hard, crusty rolls for them to chase.
- Hang some french bread overhead.
- Put rolls on their fencing.
- Bake some sugar-less cookies with peanut butter, seeds and grains and then hang these healthy treats around the yard.
Other Types of Food Toys
- Peanut butter provides extra protein and can be left around the yard in little piles for them to hunt up and enjoy.
- Rice can be tossed for them to chase.
- A pinecone rolled in peanut butter and filled with seeds also makes a fun treat that your kids can make for the birds around Christmas time.
By cautiously choosing toys that light up and make sounds, you can give your chickens some unique things to play with. Just be careful that there are not small parts they can break off.
- Kid safe mirrors that will not break.
- The ever popular key ring.
- Child gym's with interactive parts.
- The stacked donut rings are great, especially if you've hidden a treat for them to get to.
- A small ball can be fun, they will even play a somewhat game of soccer.
As long as you use common sense and remember that chickens have none, your birds should be safe with a number of toys. Just remember they will eat anything and everything so small parts or breakable items should be avoided.
Parrot toys, especially large ones.
- Live bugs such as crickets released into the coop gives them great fun chasing the little bugs.
- Jewel cases that make reflections on the ground for the birds to chase.
Chicken care, like all pet care, is important both to the health of the chicken and the owner. Many people think that because chickens are farm animals or outside animals, that they can pretty much take care of themselves as long as they are fed and given water regularly.
This is an unfortunate misconception because although it is true that chickens spend much of their time outside, they need to be kept warm and dry. Both the chickens and their coops need to be kept clean as well, to ensure that the chickens stay in good health.
This may seem like a lot of work, but like any pet, chickens need to be treated with care and love. If a chicken gets sick, it can easily make all of the other chickens (assuming you have more than one) sick as well. The chicken's handler or owner can also get sick from the chickens, especially if the chickens are being raised for meat (hopefully not!).
There is also a moral element. Taking on a pet comes with the responsibility that the pet will be cared for properly, and to not do so is pretty much abuse. If you are thinking about a chicken as a pet, then you should seriously consider the commitment it will take to properly raise and care for the chickens.
Ultimately, chicken care is most important for the happiness of both the owner and the chicken. Happiness contributes to good health, and good health contributes to longer life, as well as a more fulfilled life. It is proven that pets contribute to the happiness of the owner, helping to combat depression and loneliness.
Although chicken care may seem like a daunting task, it really isn't, especially when you have a complete guide to chicken care. The more information you have on chicken care, the better off you will be in having happy, healthy chickens.
If you're looking for more information on how to take care of chickens, you can visit http://www.squidoo.com/chicken-care
There's lots of great information as well as links to other lenses with even more about how to care for chickens, how to build chicken coops, and more. Whether you are just thinking about raising chickens or have raised many, the information at http://www.squidoo.com/chicken-care will sure to be beneficial for everyone!
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If you are thinking about rearing chickens, then you have a job at hand and that job is, you have some chicken coops to build in the near future. It is important now to begin to research and consider what type of chicken hutch plans you will need for your own specific requirements.
Several blueprints and floor plans are available in today's market for the beginner do-it-yourself builder as well as the experienced woodworker. In this article I will discuss several of the different types of chicken coops to build and their construction process.
Before you start building a chicken coop, there are several crucial points to consider, such as; the area of backyard you have available, the amount of chickens you're going to own and do you plan on raising chickens for yourself and family or a money-making commercial venture.
If you're interested in rearing chicken to meet the white meat and egg demand of your home, you only need to raise a relative small number of hens and you can choose from a few easy types of chicken coops to build to get the job done. If you are going to do a small business and want to rear chickens for commercial purpose you will definitely need a large chicken coop and a different set of chicken hutch plans.
Always build chicken coops by following chicken hutch plans that are available in the marketplace or one that's designed by you, according to your own requirements. If you have large chicken coops to build you should make long-term planning decisions and be ready to allocate a somewhat larger budget for this purpose. It is important to follow the building plans exactly or you will find that you have gone way over budget and have a chicken hutch that isn't suitable for raising chickens.
It is not a daunting task if you simply divide the construction process into several small steps and specify time for each and every step in a logical sequence. There are different tasks that should be done prior to others, arrange them in a logical order so that you can build a chicken coop with ease. For small chicken coops, a smaller budget and less planning is required, they require less effort as compare to the large coops and can be easily built by an individual in a weekend.
There are several other advantages of a small chicken hutch plan. One cheap advantage is that you can find different raw material from within your home to build chicken coops. Although these are suitable for fewer than ten hens, they can also be built for large number of hens. If you want to keep hens as pets or domesticate them, then you only need to consider small chicken coops to build.
These can be constructed under an old, abandoned sheds, discarded children playhouses or simply a small corner of the backyard. Consider fencing the roof of these chicken coops, it will not only protect your chickens from numerous predators but also prevent the chickens from entering into your neighbor's backyard.
If you have decided to build a medium size chicken coop, then you are simply constructing a small chicken house, with a slightly larger footprint with a somewhat higher cost and additional construction time. These medium size coops can be built into a portable design which works great if you need to move the chicken hutch for any reason.
The only difference between the large coop lies in the fact that they are capable of holding a larger number of hens as compared to smaller coops. There are a wide variety of different chicken hutch plans available, which once purchased, can be scaled up or back in their design depending on your specific requirements.
These medium and smaller coops cannot be utilized for an industrial scale business because they cannot hold more than twenty hens. There are blueprints available for chicken coop building projects on a larger scale.
There is no limit to the size of these coops and there is no end to the number of hens that can be kept in these coops if your prepared to do the additional work.
To learn more about how you can simply and quickly build you own chicken coop in your backyard, simply visit http://www.buildingachickencoop.com/?hop=filmer007 to receive a set of professional chicken hutch building plans and get started building today.
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