Saturday, March 21, 2020

Heritage Rhode Island Red - New Breed On The Farm


Hello chicken loving friends, it's been awhile since I've sat down and wrote up a blog but with all that is going on in the world with the Covid-19 virus I just wanted to sit and reach out to whoever might be searching for poultry in this uncertain time we're all experiencing .  I can't begin to tell you how many calls I've received from frantic people searching for information and advice.  Almost every phone call begins with I'm look for hens that are laying eggs now.  Most of the people calling at this time know nothing about chickens but they're feeling the need to be more self sufficient.   Anyone can raise chickens, they aren't difficult but you need to know that it's a commitment just like any other animal.   If your looking for a heavy egg producer we have, new to the farm this year, the Heritage Rhode Island Red.
 
This breed has been a nice addition and fitting into the farm very well.  If you don't know much about the Heritage Reds Here's a little background.  The first Rhode Island Reds were created back in the second half of the 19th century, not by poultry fanciers but by farmers needing a dual purpose chicken.  They used selective breeding from breeds such as Cochin, Java, Malay, Shanghai and Brown Leghorn from Italy. 
The first breed standard was drawn up in 1898 and was approved by the American Rhode Island Red Club in Boston in 1901.  The Single-comb variety was admitted to the Standard Of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1904.
The color of the Rhode Island Red is a lustrous deep mahogany red and the tail is mostly black.  The comb may be single or rose comb (we are breeding single comb) it is vivid red and earlobes and wattles are also red.  They have red-orange eyes and yellow feet and legs.

The body shape of the Heritage Rhode Island Red is much like a brick :)  They have a long, flat, wide back and broad rounded chest.  Hens can weigh 6 pounds and rooster 8 to 9 pounds. 
I have found the hens to be very calm, not afraid to be touched, easily handled very friendly not flighty even though I've not really hand raised them.  The roosters have not been aggressive and are well mannered while I'm gathering eggs (so far so good).
Did you happen to know that the Heritage Rhode Island Red is on the Livestock Conservancy watch list?  The large hatcheries have basically bred them out of existence.   The  hatcheries today are producing a Rhode Island Red that is aggressive, smaller, wrong color and no longer resemble the true breed.     

The Heritage Red hens are very good layers of large brown eggs, they still have their chicken instincts, that means they can go broody and hatch chicks, production Rhode Island Reds can not do this.  The Heritage Reds are very hearty, robust gals and produce large, lively chicks.  I've read that they can turn meager amounts of feed into lots of eggs.  Everyone gets fed really well here and they're producing tons of eggs :)  My hens began laying at 5 months of age and each hen will lay one egg per day.





We're just beginning with the Heritage Rhode Island Red, I'm going to be working with two different bloodlines and see what each has to offer.  Let's all work together to help this breed it would be a shame to let Americans chicken become lost forever.  Breeders of the Heritage Rhode Island Red are difficult to find but there are a few out there.
If your considering having a couple of hens in your backyard and your looking for one that's a good egg producer I recommend giving this breed a try.  We sell them as day old chicks and started young pullets.

Have a great day and stay safe.
Angie

Monday, December 2, 2019

Cyber Monday Sale!! - Free Shipping


Happy Cyber Monday!!    Orders placed today will receive free shipping.  Just order 16 or more day old chicks, place your order today and your chicks will ship to you in the spring with free shipping. Come on over to Chicken Scratch Poultry and make your spring chick wish list.  We have several new breeds to offer this year.  Chickens are the perfect gift that keep on giving :)


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Poultry Nutrition - Nutritional Needs For Juvenile Poultry


Today I'm going to cover the nutritional needs of young juvenile birds.   Let's say your chicks are 7 to 8 weeks old and have graduated from the brooder. They no longer have a need for a heat lamp or any source of heat and they're old enough to venture outdoors into the warm sunshine to scratch around in the dirt.
At this age we're still feeding a chick grower feed that is medicated.  This is very important if your juveniles were not vaccinated for Coccidiosis as day old chicks.  If your chicks were vaccinated then there is no need for medicated chick feed.  Coccidiosis is found everywhere just like bacteria is found everywhere.  Your chickens can be fine when you put them in the coop for the night and dead by the next morning. Coccidiosis can happen just that quick.  Signs to watch for are chicks that are lethargic, puffed up with ruffled feathers, acting cold, loss of appetite and blood or mucus in feces.  Keep in mind medicated feed is NOT medicated with an antibiotics. The feed has a medication called amprolium and it prevents and treats a harmful microscopic protozoan parasite.  Springtime has the perfect conditions for causing Coccidiosis, lot's of rainy, warm, muddy puddles to slurp from.   


It's a good idea to keep medication on hand to treat Coccidiosis, because when you need it you need it now not two days from now.  Corid is something we keep on hand at all times. After treating with Corid it's a good idea to give a good source of Probiotics and we have used Gro2Max for many years now.  It's best to sprinkle it in their food. Gro2Max can also help your poultry feather out faster and grow quicker.


While feeding a chick grower feed do not add grit or calcium to their diet. There is no need, just check your feed bag and it will  have all the ingredients listed on the bag and contains everything they need nutritionally.  If you go and add more calcium to their diet it can be detrimental to their health, too much calcium can cause kidney failure.

Around 7 to 9 weeks of age is a great time to introduce chick treats and one thing we really recommend are Chubby Mealworms, they will almost do back flips for a meal worm. They also enjoy table scraps and those leftovers in the fridge you hate to throw away. The only thing I found that they don't like would be onions, lemons and potato skins.
During these first 8 weeks or so of your chickens life they have already set up the pecking order and they know who the boss of the flock is.  Make sure your flock has plenty of room to roam and keep the boredom at bay to prevent pecking problems.  A couple of good boredom breakers are Forage Cake and Veggie Treat Balls, I really like the Veggie treat ball and have also had several customers say how much their flock enjoys it.



If you have questions about Coccidiosis or questions about using Corid your welcome to email me at larry_angie@chickenscratcpoultry.com

Have A Wonderful Day!
Angie


When you purchase from the Amazon items listed on our blog a very small portion of the proceeds goes to our farm.  We appreciate your support!!








Thursday, March 21, 2019

Colorful Egg Basket - Farmers Choice Of Chicks




Looking for chicks that will produce you a colorful egg basket, let the farmher (that's me Angie) choose your chicks.  For a short time we will be offering this special deal, $160 gets you 16 chicks, shorter wait time, price includes shipping.  If you need them vaccinated it will be an extra $2 per chick.  Each week we have a variety of chicks remaining after filling orders, these chicks a lot of times are some of our most rare and expensive breeds.  We're giving you the opportunity to allow the farmher (that's me Angie)  to fill your box with the breeds she would pick for her own colorful flock :) and you know how I love a beautiful egg and pretty bird!
Several years ago we did a farm mix of chicks and the customers loved getting the mystery box and guessing what breeds they had acquired as the chicks matured.  I've had several people ask when we might offer a mixed box again.





Just think of all the color combinations and beautiful birds you could have shipped to your door!! 

They will all be our pure bred heritage stock and yes we can give you a list of the breeds we put in your box once the chicks ship out.














Pretty pastels...

















Rich mahogany reds...








Not sure how long we'll offer the Colorful Egg Basket so don't miss out on this great deal.  Head over to the Website and place your order now.  We look forward to sharing some beautiful chicks with you and just imagine how colorful your egg basket will look in 6 months time.
Have a great day!
Angie



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Raising Baby Chicks - Give Your Chicks A Healthy Start




My favorite part of my job is calling customers and letting them know their baby chicks are shipping out. It makes my day listening to adults squeal with delight when they hear their baby's are on the way!  Our goal is to produce healthy top of the line chicks that grow into productive poultry.  Our customers often tell me, "those are the most active, vibrant chicks I've ever received through the mail."  That's exactly what I like to hear and I want to give my customers the opportunity to keep them healthy and thriving.

There is nothing more exciting than receiving a box of baby chicks in the mail, but I often forget that sometimes this is likely a persons first time raising chicks and they don't have years of experience under their belt.  So I'm going to pretend that your a  chicken newbie, you just received your first box of chicks in the mail, or you just hatched your first chicks in an incubator.

To be prepared for your chicks arrival, the five most important things you will need are Brooder, food, heat, chick feeder and chick waterer.  Let's begin with the brooder, it doesn't need to be fancy but chicks grow fast so they do need ample space. I recommend 6 inches per bird.  Your brooder needs a heat source. For years we used tubs with a heat lamp. I personally don't recommend those high powered heat bulbs, they get too hot.  It's much better to just use a 100 watt ceramic infrared heat emitter.  Hang your light on one end of the brooder so that there is a heat zone and a cool zone. If the chicks are too warm they can move to the cool zone.  The temp should be 100 degrees under the light.  Another option for a heat source is a heat plate that the chicks can get under.  Heat lamps can be a fire hazard so the heat plates are a better option.
If you plan to raise chicks every year I totally recommend the GQF brooder, it's equipped with heat, water and wire floors.  You can purchase one level or several stacking levels. With this brooder, the food and water hang on the outside so there is no contamination.  The number one cause of chick mortality is Coccidiosis and that happens when food, water, shavings and poo all become a toxic stew.   If you plan on raising chicks every year it's totally worth the cost to invest in a good brooder.  We found that we have a much, much lower mortality rate when we switched to a brooder with a wire floor and stopped using pine shavings.  If a wire bottom brooder isn't possible for you then only use pine shavings, no newspapers ever and the shaving really needs to be changed out daily.  Waterers must be on platforms to prevent shavings from being kicked into the water but chicks still need to be able to reach the water, this is tricky.

Now let's talk about food.  MEDICATED chick grower starter food is a must, you want it to have at least 19% protein.  Why did I put medicated in big bold letters, because this is very important!  If your chicks are not vaccinated for Coccidiosis then you must get medicated food.  Our farm at this time is not set up to vaccinate for Coccidiosis, but we're working on it.  I can't tell you how many times over the years people have called and said my chicks are three weeks old, they've been great until now and suddenly they're dropping like flies.  I ask what kind of food are you feeding, guess what they all say?  They all say "it's an Organic top of the line brand."  Once they get switched to medicated food the problem is solved.  The medication in chick feed is not an antibiotic, it is medicated with Amprolium.

We begin our shipping season each year in April and in every box during the month of April we put in a heat pack and two cups of Boost A Chick hydrating gel.  If a chick gets cold and dehydrated in the mail the first thing that will happen is pasty butt.  That is a condition where the chicks vent is glued shut with poo, it can become a lot of work cleaning those little butts several times a day for the next week or two.  If you've hatched your own chicks and you notice that suddenly some have developed pasty butt it's a sign they have gotten cold in the brooder.  As soon as your chicks arrive in the mail or hatch from your incubator start them on electrolytes in the water. Also cook them a hard boiled egg, chop it up real fine and feed it to the chicks as a preventative.  If your chicks do develop a case of pasty butt, clean the vent area with warm water. I also trim as much fluff away from the vent as possible (so the poo has nothing to stick to) and apply a bit of mineral oil to the vent.

Raising chicks is not difficult and they don't need much other than heat, shelter and food.  Never feed your chicks grit or oyster shell (calcium).  There is no need for grit until they are eating something other than chicken food.
As your chicks graduate from chick food to a layer feed they will have everything they need in the layer feed.  Grit and oyster shell (calcium) is already mixed into your layer feed. There is no need to purchase bags of grit or oyster shell.  Just read the label on your feed bag, you will see that it has everything they need all in one bag.

Spring is just around the corner, so let the hatching and peeping begin!!  Come and join us on our new Chicken Chick Chat group where all of our friends are sharing photos and chicken information.  Feel free to ask questions or share your experience raising chicks.
Have a great day and hope to see you over at the Chicken Chick Chat group!

Angie

We've linked several of our favorite products throughout this post for your convenience. These are products we use ourselves and highly recommend. Purchasing from those links helps with funds to run our farm. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment!



Thursday, January 17, 2019

Game Camera - What's Lurking Around Your Farm




 What's lurking around the farm? 


Doe getting up close and personal with the camera :)

We like to keep a game camera and move it every few weeks to a new spot on the farm.  We find this beneficial in knowing what kind of varmints are hanging around.  The camera is checked daily and if we see a large amount of raccoons, foxes, skunks, opossum or coyotes hanging around then we know it's time to take measures to insure the safety of our live stock.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Chickens - How To Integrate New Hens Into Your Flock


It's that time of year when folks are thinking about spring and adding some new chickens to their existing flock.  Maybe you have an old flock of girls and they're getting to the age where they just do not produce as many eggs or maybe your just dreaming of adding some new egg color to your basket.  Well, integrating young pullets into a flock of older hens can be tricky, but not totally impossible.