Double-Yolked Eggs

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Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

double yolked eggs

Only about one in every thousand eggs is double-yolked, meaning that there are two yolks encased in the same shell. Since commercially-sold eggs in the United States are candled prior to packaging and cartoned by weight, any double-yolkers are discarded and never end up on a grocery store shelf, so you could go an entire lifetime eating store bought eggs and never encounter one. But once you start raising your own backyard flock, chances are you’ll collect your share. But what causes them?

 

A double-yolked egg occurs when a hen’s ovary is over stimulated and she releases a second yolk too early. Usually about an hour after an egg is laid, the next yolk is released, but if another yolk is sent down the oviduct too soon, a shell will form around both yolks and result in a single egg. As a result, a double yolk egg is usually much larger than a regular egg.

double yolked eggs 1

 

It’s far more common to find double-yolked eggs from new layers or older hens near the end of their laying life. It can be genetic, and therefore hereditary, and is more common in the hybrids and heavier breeds. Hens who lay large or double-yolked eggs are more prone to becoming egg bound or suffering vent prolapse, both potentially fatal afflictions.

 

Double-yolked eggs generally won’t hatch if incubated, and if they do, it’s rare for both chicks to survive.

Make sure to check out Omega Ultra Egg – stabilized ground flaxseed supplement for hens for up to 8x more Omega-3 in your eggs, brighter yolks, brilliant plumage. Learn more >>https://www.omegafields.com/poultry-products/omega-ultra-egg.html

The Inside of an Egg

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Written By Lisa Steele , Fresh Eggs Daily

 

Eggs are nutritious and an inexpensive protein source. You probably eat them several times a week without a second thought. But did you ever wonder what exactly is inside that eggshell?

An egg is comprised of several components including the bloom, the shell, the membrane, the white, and the yolk, but that’s just the basics – blood spots, chalazae and bulls’ eyes may also be present.

THE BLOOM (OR CUTICLE)
As the last step in the laying process, a thin nearly invisible layer is applied to the eggshell called the ‘bloom’ (sometimes also called the ‘cuticle’). This covering seals the shell to help protect the egg from air and bacteria entering through the tiny pores in the eggshell and also reduces the moisture loss from the egg. Eggs should not be washed until just before using to help preserve the bloom and to help keep the egg fresh.

THE MEMBRANE
Just under the eggshell is a pair of thin whitish membranes that help to keep air out of the egg.  Once an egg is laid, an air pocket begins to form between the two membranes at the blunt end of the egg. This air sac will continue to grow as the egg ages. Older hard-boiled eggs peel more easily because the air between the membranes has begun to separate the egg contents from the shell.

THE SHELL
The shell is the hard outer covering of the egg and is the egg’s best line of defense against contamination from bacteria and germs. The shell is mostly made of calcium carbonate, with small amounts of magnesium carbonate, calcium phosphate and protein.

All egg shells start out white and then blue and/or brown pigment is applied during the laying process. The blue is applied earlier (in breeds who carry the blue gene) and does seep through to the inside of the shell, but if you notice, the inside of a brown eggshell is always white. All eggs taste the same and contain  virtually the same nutrients regardless of shell color.

THE WHITE (ALBUMEN)
The egg white, or albumen contains 60% of the protein in an egg, which is about 10% of the USRDA. Eggs are considered a complete protein because they contain all eight essential amino acids. The white of a fresh egg will be cloudy and very thick. As the egg ages, the white will become nearly transparent and thin as air flows through the pores in the eggshell.

THE YOLK
Each egg yolk is covered with a thin transparent membrane which keeps the yolk from breaking. This membrane becomes thinner and weaker as an egg ages, so fresh egg yolks will stand up taller and be less likely to break.

The egg yolk contains about 80% of the total calories and virtually all of the fat and cholesterol in the egg, along with the majority of the vitamins and minerals. The color of the yolk is determined by the level of xyanthophyll in the foods a hen eats. Xyanthophyll is a carotenoid found in marigold petals, corn, alfalfa, basil and other foods.

THE CHALAZAE
The chalazae are ropy, twisted strands in the egg white that anchor the yolk in place in the center of the white. They are more prominent in fresh eggs and perfectly edible.
BLOOD (OR MEAT) SPOTS
Red blood (or meat) spots on an egg yolk is not an indication of fertility, but are ruptured blood vessels that have been damaged or broken during the laying process, during the travel down the oviduct, or by rough handling of the egg. As an egg ages, the yolk absorbs water from the egg white. This dilutes the blood spot, so a spot indicates that the egg is fresh.

The blood spots are edible, but you may want to remove them before cooking the egg.  It is estimated that less than 1% of all eggs produced contain blood spots.

A BULL’S EYE
If an egg has been fertilized, you will see a multi-ringed bull’s eye on the yolk that indicates that the egg would likely hatch into a chick if incubated for 21 days under a hen or in an incubator. Fertilized eggs are perfectly edible and taste the same as non-fertilized eggs. The only difference is that they contain miniscule amounts of the male rooster’s DNA in addition to the hen’s DNA that all eggs contain.

Egg Bound Hens

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Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

Considering that a chicken lays an egg every 26 hours or so, it’s no wonder that things sometimes go wrong. Occasionally, an egg will get stuck in a hen’s oviduct and she will become egg bound. Signs of an egg bound hen include sitting on the ground or dragging wings, fluffing up, lethargy and closed eyes. Frequently, an egg bound hen’s tail will be down and most likely she will be straining or pumping her backside. Upon closer examination you may notice liquid dripping from her vent. You may even be able to feel an egg-shaped lump.

Causes of Egg Binding – More common in young pullets, egg binding could be due to a large or double yolked egg that is too large to pass through, genetics, stress, dehydration, internal worms, low-quality feed, poor health or a calcium deficiency. Calcium is needed for proper muscle contraction. Too much protein in a hen’s diet can also cause egg binding.

You want to handle your egg bound hen carefully to avoid breaking the egg inside her. A broken egg can become infected and lead to peritonitis, which is caused by egg material stuck inside the hen and must be treated immediately with an antibiotic and probiotic powder to build up her good bacteria. Even if the egg is not broken, the condition must be treated quickly. An egg bound hen will die if she is not able to pass the egg within 48 hours, so once you have made your diagnosis, treatment should start immediately.

Treatment for Egg Binding – Bring the hen into the house and soak her in a plastic tub in your bathtub.

Submerge her lower body and vent in warm water with some Epsom salts for about 20 minutes, gently rubbing her abdomen. Remove her gently from the bath and towel dry her, blotting her feathers carefully, then blow dry her with a hair dryer set on low heat.

Rub some vegetable oil around her vent and very gently massage her abdomen once more then put her in quiet, dark location – such as a large dog crate or cage. You want to create moist heat, so set the cage over a pan of hot water, put a heating pad and towel on the bottom of the crate or set up a heat lamp, then drape a towel over the cage.

Give your egg bound hen an eyedropper of Nutri-Drench and 1cc of liquid calcium. Then give her some time to herself. Repeat the soak in the tub every hour or so until she lays her egg.

As a last resort, a visit to a vet is recommended or, if you can see the egg, you can try to carefully extract the contents of the egg using a syringe. Then you will need to gently crush the shell, keeping the fragments attached to the membrane and remove it using vegetable oil squirted in and around the vent. This is risky and carries with it the danger of your hen contracting peritonitis, so should ONLY be used after all other remedies have been tried.

Fortunately, being egg bound is not all that common, and there’s a good chance you may never have a hen suffer from it, but it’s still good to know the signs and how to treat it.

Scratch Sunflower Nut Edible Treat Wreath for Chickens

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Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

As many of you know, I enjoy adapting ideas I see online and elsewhere for the enjoyment of our chickens. I have seen several versions of birdseed wreaths for wild birds on Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE and decided to make my own chicken version.

My first two attempts didn’t work very well – don’t trust everything you read online! – and fell apart, but this, my third attempt turned out perfectly. Easy, quick, held together well and the chickens loved it!

Here’s how to make one for your girls.

You’ll need:

Cooking spray
Bundt Pan
1/2 Cup cool water
3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 Cups Boiling water
1 Cup bacon, suet or hamburg grease, heated to liquify
8 Cups of a mixture of scratch, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, raisins, nuts or seeds
20 fresh or frozen cranberries
Ribbon

How to:

Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a measuring cup, dissolve the gelatin in the cool water and let sit for a minute. Pour the boiling water into a medium bowl and whisk in the gelatin to combine.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the seeds and nuts, stir in the grease and then pour in the liquid gelatin. Mix well with a wooden spoon to be sure all the nuts and seeds are well-coated and all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Place the cranberries in rows in the indentations in the pan (I used three in half the indentations and two in every other indentation) and then carefully spoon the seed mixture into the pan. Press down with the spoon to pack it well.

Put the Bundt pan in the refrigerator overnight to set. The next day, take the wreath out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Invert and tap gently on the countertop to unmold.

 

Tie a pretty ribbon in a bow at the top and then attach the wreath to your run fencing for your chickens or to a tree or fence to treat the wild birds.
I did switch out the fancy ribbon for a plain one when I hung the wreath in the run.

Omega Fields Highlights Relationship with Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily

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Newton, Wisconsin – The backyard poultry market has been a steadily growing focus for Omega Fields and we are very pleased to support key players communicating with people with a passion for chickens such as Lisa Steele author of the blog “Fresh Eggs Daily”, says Moriarty – President-Omega Fields.

Lisa writes a regular blog called “Fresh Eggs Daily” found on her website; www.fresh-eggs-daily.com. Lisa says about her mission and focus, Fresh Eggs Daily® is dedicated to inspiring readers to live a simple, natural farm life and raise their chickens as naturally as possible. Most of our readers raise backyard flocks, although some haven’t taken the plunge yet and are still in the ‘research’ stage. Others follow because our photos and stories recall memories of raising chickens when they were young or of visiting their grandparent’s farm as children. We attract novices as well as more experienced chicken keepers, challenging them all to raise their flocks to be the happiest and healthiest they can be. In addition to giving tips and advice on raising backyard flocks, we also share DIY projects using repurposed materials, vegetable and herb gardening tips, making all natural products for the home and coop, and recipes using fresh eggs and homegrown produce.

In addition to her blog that is read by an estimated 25,000 people, Lisa reaches over 30,000 Facebook friends (https://www.facebook.com/FreshEggsDaily?ref=ts&fref=ts); over 7,500 Pinterest followers(http://pinterest.com/fresheggsdaily/) ; and almost 1,000 followers on Twitter.  People are talking about chickens!

Omega Fields sponsors an ad on her blog site, offers special coupons and contests for her Facebook and blog readers as well as provides helpful research content that Lisa shares with her eager audience.

Omega Fields Highlights it’s Marketing and Education Relationship with Kathy Mormino, The Chicken Chick

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Newton, Wisconsin – The backyard poultry market has been a steadily growing focus for Omega Fields and we are very pleased to support key players communicating with people with a passion for chickens such as Kathy Marmino aka “The Chicken Chick”, says Moriarty – President-Omega Fields.

Kathy writes a regular blog called “The Chicken Chick” found on her website; www.the-chicken-chick.com. Kathy says about her mission and focus, “I routinely refer my Facebook audience to my blog for the information and articles that may be of assistance to them in caring for their chickens.  The focus of my blog is informing and educating readers on topics relevant to their pet chickens such as: how hens make eggs, how to make a poultry nipple waterer, chicken first aid kit essentials, cooking with eggs, etc.  My background as an attorney has uniquely prepared me to ensure that thorough research is done and proper citations are provided to substantiate information I share, which I believe lends credibility to my work and loyalty from my readers.”

In addition to her blog that is read by an estimated 21,000 people, Kathy reaches almost 30,000 Facebook friends (http://www.facebook.com/Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz?fref=ts), publishes helpful videos on her YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg9P80BP7u2UYtsBG4vc-aQ) and has an obvious passion for caring for her own chickens!

Omega Fields sponsors an ad on her blog site, offers special coupons and contests for her Facebook and blog readers as well as provides helpful research content that Kathy shares with her eager audience.

The Fall Molt

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Written By Don Schrider

Early fall is the time our chickens change their feathers. As winter approaches, this provides birds with a brand new set to give them the best possible protection from cold, wind, and precipitation (snow, rain, and ice). It is a great advantage for our birds to change their natural “clothing” each year just when they need the most protection.
This annual change of feathers is called a “molt”, and the fact that it coincides with the reduced daylight of fall and winter is no accident. In poultry, light stimulates the pituitary gland, causing hormone production. This in turn causes tissues to elongate and soften, including the ovaries, and results in egg production. As day length shortens, hormone production slows and egg production ceases.
We also have feather moisture at play. When feathers are first growing, the body is able to supply the feather follicles with nutrients – the follicles are soft , moist, and sensitive. As the feathers complete their growth, nutrients are directed toward other bodily activities – such as egg production. During egg production, much of the nutrition consumed is directed into the eggs. After months at peak production, little to no nutrition is available to the feathers, so they begin to dry out. This drying out is enhanced as the body seeks to find enough calcium to form eggs. The result is not only dry feathers, but brittle feathers that begin to wear and even break. As day length lessens, molt begins and the birds have new feathers just in time for cold weather.
In order to grow a good set of feathers, and for those feathers to last as long as possible, our poultry need good nutrition. This starts with a balanced diet having a good level of protein and vitamins. A good supplement can help ensure that adequate levels of oils and nutrients are available when poultry need them the most. Omega Ultra Egg™ offers a host of benefits as a supplement for molting poultry. The natural oils help produce wider, stronger, more weather resistant feathers. It also helps extend the useful life of feathers, these same oils making the feathers less brittle. The calcium and vitamins Omega Ultra Egg™ contains help provide increased levels of those needed nutrients.
So why are oils important? Natural oils help repel water – keeping the body of a chicken warm and dry on damp days. Oils also help maintain flexibility and prevent the feathers from losing moisture as their structures endure use over prolonged periods. Essentially, the internal moisture content of feathers ensures that the feather barbules, the small, hook-like structures that web together to form feathers, are flexible from the inside so that they do not break open. When feather moisture is lost, either from the surface becoming brittle or from the internal feather structure becoming brittle and breaking, the feathers begin to wear more quickly and lose their insulating and protective properties. Brilliant feather sheen is the result of good oils in the diet and of good feather moisture levels.
Calcium and protein also both play a role in feather makeup and quality. Protein is the main building block the body uses to grow and to produce feathers. Some producers find higher quality feathers produced from low protein feeds – causing slower feather growth and thus longer periods for the hens being out of production. My own experience, and that of those I have mentored, has been that better feather quality, and less time out of production, come when feeding higher protein feed (usually 18-22% protein feeds). Feathers contain calcium carbonate, and thus calcium is needed to grow and maintain good feathers. When hens are laying and there is too little or just enough calcium in their diets, feathers become brittle and hens may even peck at each other’s feathers a bit to gain this much needed nutrient. After all, there are no eggs if there is no shell; and we all know egg shells are made of calcium.
Extra nutrition is needed anytime birds undergo stress. Molt and peak production are just two examples of stress. Bad weather or harassment by dogs or small children are two others. The best plan is to have this supplemental nutrition incorporated as a regular part of the poultry diet. In this way, there is no deficiency to overcome or to aggravate a weakened condition.
I use Omega Ultra Egg™ as a supplement all year round. Not only do my birds have healthy feathers, it ensures that my birds have supplemental nutrition from which to pull during times of stress. The fact that the oils in Omega Ultra Egg naturally have the correct balance between Omega 3 and Omega 9 fatty acids, and that the eggs the hens are healthier for me is just icing on the cake.
So as you care for your birds during their time of molt, be sure that they receive everything they need to produce strong, healthy feathers that will last them through the winter until molting season next year. You will have happier hens and more eggs for your efforts.
Text copyright © Don Schrider, 2012. All rights reserved.
Don Schrider is a nationally recognized poultry breeder and expert. He has written for publications such as Backyard Poultry, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, Mother Earth News, Poultry Press, and the newsletter and poultry resources of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. He is the author of the revised edition of Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, which is due for publication this fall and will be available at bookstores by January, 2013.

Of Power Outages and Baby Chicks

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Written By Don Schrider

This summer of 2012 has turned hot and we on the east coast have been hit hard with storms that have taken the power out for many days at a time. The chickens are surviving this handsomely, needing no electricity as long as they have food, shelter, and water.
As I try to sleep, windows open, a faint breeze stirring the hot, humid air, I reflect on just how well my chickens are taking the heat. My pens are airy, letting the air move and whisking away body heat. The roosts have plenty of airspace all around them. My chickens live in a wooded part of the yard; they love the shade the trees provide. My hanging feeders are under roof, protecting them from the rains, and holding enough food for a few days. I use plenty of water containers, providing a three or more day supply – which proved very advantageous once the power went out and the well pump had no electricity with which to operate.
Each morning I am awakened by a chorus of crowing – each rooster being sure he is the first to sing in the new day. The chickens begin their day scratching around in search of some breakfast. The majority of the day is spent satisfying both their hunger and their curiosity – exploring, scratching, running to see what another chicken has found. The hens quietly withdraw to the privacy of their nest, and then publicly announce, with a loud BAH-KA, that they have laid an egg. During the middle of the day, even in this heat, some of the chickens take the time to sunbathe. They lay on their sides, with one leg and one wing stretched out, basking in the warm golden sunlight. As I arrive to collect eggs and feed treats, they follow me around and hungrily peck up the corn and leftovers I provide for them. As dusk arrives they begin to take their individual places upon the roosts, settling in for the night.
Even without electricity my chickens are safe. I use a solar charger to power their electronet fence. I have a solar light in their yard to discourage predators. And my partner, Roxy, my chicken guard dog, patrols the property day and night driving away such dangerous creatures as deer, neighbors, hawks, and sneaky nighttime visitors like raccoons and possums.
For the chickens, nothing has changed. The loss of power goes unnoticed. Life is as enjoyable today as it was yesterday. This is due to the fact that electricity is not a large part of their experience and care, and to the fact that both pens and food and water systems are designed to be safe, comfortable, and to provide days of nutrition without the need for power.
Now is a good time for you to take a look at your pens and the care you are giving your chickens this summer. Do they have shade? And is the shaded area large enough for all the birds? Is it open enough to allow breezes to blow through. Do you have multiple waterers set out so that every chicken get a drink without being driven away by a bossy hen or rooster? Are the waterers large enough to provide several days of water if needed? Are the roosts roomy? Do you have plenty of feed stored in airtight containers? Is your fence strong and in good repair?
Are you feeding a diet with extra vitamins and a good level of nutrition? Remember, chickens eat less in the heat, so be sure you are using a good quality feed and supplement with Omega Ultra Egg – its vitamins and nutrition helping to ensure both good eggs and healthy chickens during the summer heat.
This summer is also a time for miracles. Each year I like to let a hen or two sit and hatch out a clutch of eggs. This year I had a Light Brown Leghorn sit on a small clutch of her own eggs – four to be exact. Twenty-one days later, she brought off a clutch of three healthy chicks. One of the interesting things about this, is that momma retained most of the redness of her comb during her broody stage. This can be credited to the extra nutrition she received from supplementing her laying mash with Omega Ultra Egg.
Momma hen is fiercely protective of her clutch and an all around attentive mother. She clucks to her chicks, drawing them to tasty food morsels. She warms them, letting them nuzzle under her breast feathers. Sometimes a bold chick decides to leap up on momma’s back to get a better view of the world. And woe betide the foolish human that picks one of her chicks up – momma is there in an instant, attacking with wings, beak, and feet, then retreating, spinning, and returning to attack again. A broody hen seems to have the courage of an army; even roosters avoid a hen when she is protecting her young.
If you decide to brood your own chicks, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Once a hen begins to go broody, she will spend most of the day on the nest. She will cluck and raise her feathers as she walks or if you disturb her nesting. You will notice she is missing many feathers on her breast, allowing the warmth of her body to warm the eggs, and later the chicks. She will begin to spend nights on the nesting box once she is fully committed.
Other hens will want to join her on the nest to lay their eggs. This will cause many eggs to be broken. It will also mean that the eggs she is sitting on will be at unequal stages of growth. For best results, move the hen to a secluded nesting site at night. Take care to disturb her as little as possible. Make sure the new site is secure, can contain day-old chicks, and preferably a little dark and private. Provide momma with good food and water, even though she will consume little of each. And after twenty-one days she will turn a batch of fertile eggs into a brood of healthy chicks.
Hens differ in their mothering ability. Some young hens will not sit the full three weeks it takes to hatch a clutch. Some hens make poor mothers – caring little for their chicks, even killing some or all of them. A fair number of hens can tell their chicks from those of other hens and may do harm to strange chicks. I have even had a hen that knew the chicks she hatched were the wrong color (were another breed) and refused them. Most hens are good to excellent mothers. A few are great mothers and will raise any chick offered to them. For the few that are bad mothers, often you can remove the chicks and raise them in a brooder.
I like to keep the hen alone with her chicks for the first few days. Often I will decide to integrate them with the flock after a week or so. I do this by placing them in a wire pen, within the yard of the flock – so that the other hens and rooster can get used to seeing them. After about two weeks, I will let momma and brood run out in the yard with the other hens while I am around to watch – a few little squabbles may happen as momma decides another hen has gotten too close to the babies. But if everything goes well, on the second day I will let the brood join the flock.
As the chicks grow and feather out, they will first join mom on the roost. Later, momma will decide that they no longer need her protection and they are abandoned to care for themselves as members of the flock.
With some good planning and proper nutrition, like that found in Omega Ultra Egg, your chickens can survive summer and power outages and can even raise a brood on chicks.
Happy chicken keeping.
Don Schrider
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Moving with Chickens — Traveling Tips and Tricks

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Written By Don Schrider

Hello from the great state of West Virginia. At the beginning of April we moved our household from Virginia to West Virginia to a new home. This was a very positive and exciting move, but laborious too as we had to move not only all our household belongings, but our animals and pens as well.
Moving with poultry takes a good bit of planning to avoid potentially lethal mistakes. Since we have both a guard dog for the chickens as well as the chickens themselves, we had to figure how we could transport both safely. We also had to dismantle the pens and set them up again in order to have a place for our hens. Planning had to include the transportation of dog, hens, and pens as well as the order of packing them. We had to know what we were going to do with the animals while we reassembled their pens and we had to know how long it all would take and how to feed and water everyone during this transition.
Since many of you may find it necessary to transport your poultry at some point, whether to a county fair, vet, swap meet, or moving to a new home, let me break down the basics that will keep the birds alive and healthy. Chickens can actually survive a few days without food and water if necessary. I don’t recommend stressing the birds this way, but they can survive. What will kill the birds are high temperatures, a lack of airflow, and too much sun in conjunction with one of the two preceding. So how do we address these three primary concerns?
I have a truck with a cap on the back. Seems like I have always had a truck with a cap and have transported poultry in such at all times of the year. The cap has the advantage of shading the birds and the disadvantage of restricting airflow. I open all the windows of the cap to provide as much airflow as possible. I also follow a rule a friend of mine suggested – once your birds are loaded, get moving and keep moving. Good airflow will help to overcome high temperatures.
I have several types of crates for different purposes. I have commercial, plastic crates that are extremely ventilated. I have Pullman crates that are four feet long and designed with four compartments – the fronts of which are extremely well ventilated. Lastly, I have enclosed boxes that are designed to carry individual male birds safely without damaging their tail feathers. These male crates are perfect for fall, winter, and early spring but they do not have a large amount of ventilation so are the worst possible crates to use during warm weather. For this move I used only the Pullman and the commercial crates.
Before loading the crates I counted my hens and the number of spaces I had available. I also feed the birds a good meal that included Omega Ultra Egg™ so that they would have full crops before loading. I also had to consider how many would fit on my truck without packing too tightly or airflow would be restricted. While the commercial crates could handle eight birds in summer when transporting a short distance, I opted to reduce the number in those crates to six. In the Pullmans I placed one bird per hole (four per crate).
I started loading all the birds, being sure to put them into the crates head first – which makes their natural tendency to go forward into the crate. I found myself in a position of have two extra birds, and so I placed two birds per hole in two of the Pullman holes. For these two doubled up pens I made sure they were in the last, most open positioned pen so that they received the most airflow. I also made sure the paired birds were pairs that got along well and which were smaller in size to reduce the amount of body heat possibly trapped in the pen.
I placed my crates into the truck after they were all loaded, and just before we were ready to leave. Until that time, the birds were crated in a shady and cool location. I put the Pullman crates into the truck facing the rear, in this way as I drove they would get the most airflow. Between each crate I placed 2×4 boards, to ensure there was air space between crates. (My mentor told me of a breeder who once placed his prize bird first into his truck. He packed the truck so tightly that the bird ran out of air and died before they arrived home. Air space is very important.) I place my commercial crates on top of the Pullman crates, placing 2×4 boards between them and being careful not to seal in the birds in the centermost holes of the Pullman crates. Once we started moving we drove straight through and all the birds made it to our new home safely.
Upon arrival, it was going to take several hours to set up the chicken pens and it was late at night. I opted for leaving the birds on the truck overnight. In the morning I got up early to make sure the sun was not going to overheat the birds, making sure I was parked in a shady location, and opened the tailgate of the truck so that more air could move. I fed the birds a breakfast of slices of apple. Apples make excellent food for crated birds. They are not too messy and provide a source of energy, food, and moisture. It took a couple of hours to set up the pens, but everything went well.
Once the pens were set up, I first filled water containers in each pen. My birds had gone twelve hours without fresh water, so I knew the first thing they needed was a good drink of water as they were uncrated. I removed each bird from its crate head first, being sure to maintain good control of its legs. I carried them cradled in the crook of my arms, their heads a little lower than their tails to keep them calm – never hold them upside down, as it can cause them to suffer strokes and is very stressful. Instead of tossing the birds into the pens, I lowered each one so its feet touched the ground and let it walk away. Doing this builds trust in the birds for being handled. Each bird walked over and had a satisfying drink. Next I feed each group a fresh bit of feed with Omega Egg Ultra to ensure that they got plenty of vitamins and nutrition and to help keep their stress level down and egg production up.
When I was done unloading, not only did all the birds survive in good shape, but the hens had laid eggs in the Pullman crates. One of the reasons I like the Pullman crates is that they feel like being on a nest for the birds.
I have had friends transport their birds to and from county fairs in the heat of summer with no bad effects. What are some of the points they follow for success?
  • Plenty of airflow around the pens
  • Never pack the crates too tightly – use boards and board scraps to maintain space around each crate
  • Never more than two birds to a pen if using a Pullman type, and never fill to capacity a commercial type crate
  • Load late in the day, near evening, or at night
  • Keep in mind how long the first birds loaded have sat in the truck without a breeze – once you start crating birds move quickly
  • Unload in the morning so that you are not stressing the birds by handling during the heat of the day
  • Remember, direct sun in the summer can kill crated poultry – use as much shade as possible without restricting airflow
  • Once you get moving, keep moving
  • If the birds will be crated for more than twenty four hours, stop and water all the birds (bring water cups for this purpose). Also feed the birds – corn makes a good feed for this purpose
  • Apples make an excellent food and moisture source and will help relieve boredom for transported hens
  • Cardboard boxes can be used, but large or many ventilation holes must be cut – even when the birds will only be in these boxes for a short time, as cardboard retains heat
  • Pine shavings or straw work well as good bedding sources. Bedding will keep the hens comfortable while traveling over bumps in the road
The most important things to remember are airflow and temperature during transportation. By keeping these tips in mind, you can transport poultry safely any time of the year.

 

 

From the Workshops: Common Poultry Questions and Answers

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Written By Don Schrider

Q. Do I need any special housing for my chickens?
A. Chickens do need a shelter to get out of the rain and sun, and to block prevailing winds, but they do not need expensive or elaborate housing. Very simple or existing structures can be made to work. They should have good ventilation, without drafts, and should be secure from nighttime predators.
Q. How do I heat my chicken house in the winter?
A. There is no need to heat the chicken house. It is better to have the building open on the south side, so that fresh air will wick away moisture, dust, and ammonia from droppings. Sealing a chicken house tight in the winter actually results in more cases of frostbite and respiratory ailments.
Q. What do I need to feed to get healthy eggs?
A. Chicken eggs have been found to be an excellent source of protein, and the cholesterol in eggs has been found to be the good kind – the kind that decreases the bad cholesterol. But eggs from hens that range and that receive nutritional supplements have been found to be much more nutritious. One of the best supplements currently available is Omega Ultra Egg™. Omega Ultra Egg contains stabilized, whole-ground flaxseed and vitamins that boost the nutritional values of eggs and, in particular, increases Omega-3 essential fatty acids. This is very beneficial for us humans as many of our foods are high in Omega-6 and deficient in Omega-3.
Q. How do I get more eggs?
 A. There are a number of things you can do to get more eggs, but the most important points to address are the basics: clean air, free of dust; fresh water; fresh, not stale, feed; freedom from internal and external parasites; and an environment which allows the birds to express their natural tendencies (such as dust bathing and nesting in a secluded spot). The birds should also be in good body condition, not too fat or too thin. Adding more corn to diet is good idea when hens are thin. Adding oats to the diet is a good way to bring over-conditioned hens into production.
Q. I sometimes get soft-shelled eggs. Is there anything I can do about this?
A. Hens that range on pasture, forage in grass yards, or forage in gardens often need a calcium supplement – eating less layer feed. It is good idea to provide the hens ground oyster shell that they may eat free choice. Other ways of including more calcium in the birds’ diets include crushing and feeding egg shells back to them (crush so they do not look like an egg) and feed Omega Ultra Egg™ supplement which contains calcium. It is also a good idea to have grit available to help grind up the foods they forage. Free choice charcoal, as found in wood ashes from your fireplace or woodstove, is another supplement offered free choice. Charcoal tends to draw in toxins and so is useful for free ranging poultry.
Q. What is the best breeding plan to use for my chickens?
A. While many people believe breeding and mating is about producing superior individuals, the role of breeding is actually to manage genetic relationships such that a flock may produce healthy offspring for many years. When space allows, Spiral Breeding is the best overall method to manage genetic relationships. In Spiral Breeding birds are divided into three or more breeding groups. Each group is given a name, like A, B, and C. Daughters of a group join their mothers in that group – so Group A pullets join Group A hens in the next breeding season. Sons are mated to females of the next group – so Group A sons are used only with females from Group B. Culling and selection are the tools that produce superior individuals, or, rather, cause these to be produced from a flock.
Q. How do I add new birds to my flock?
A. Chickens have a pecking order that allows each bird to know who has first “dibs” on treats and roosting spots. When new chickens are added, the birds often will fight or even bully the new birds while trying to assert their ranks. Chickens also have social skills – ways of expressing a lack of threat as well as dominance. So if new birds can be penned such that the flock can see them and get close to them, separated by a wire fence for instance, then, when allowed together after a few days, fights will be minimal when they are integrated. It is also best to plan to be around for some time when the birds are first put together. Fighting may still occur, but in this way you can intercede if a bird is pecked to the point of drawing blood. I like to introduce birds during the day when they can roam the yards. This way there will be places for those low on the totem pole to hide from any bullies.