|Posted by ejvetdent on March 18, 2016 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Setting up an incubator
Depending on how many eggs they can hold and how automated they are, Incubators run from around $50 into the thousands of dollars for commercial scale incubators. With top-of-the-line incubators, you put in an egg, close the door and out pops the chick three weeks later. You can also go the DIY route, which saves money, but is almost as much work as sitting on the eggs yourself.
No matter how fancy, all incubators must accomplish a few basic things:
Temperature: The eggs need to be kept at 37.6 degrees at all times; just one degree higher or lower for a few hours can terminate the embryo.
Humidity: 50 percent humidity must be maintained for the first 18 days; 60 to 67 percent humidity is needed for the final days before hatching.
Ventilation: Egg shells are porous, allowing oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide to exit; incubators need to have holes or vents that allow fresh air to circulate so the fetuses can breathe.
Homemade versions usually involve some sort of insulated box—a cheap Styrofoam cooler will do. An adjustable heating pad or a light bulb on a dimmer switch will suffice for the heat source and a pan of water with a sponge in it will make the air humid. Low-end commercial incubators don’t amount to much more than this, but the more you pay, the more automated the temperature and humidity controls will be.
A high-quality thermometer and hygrometer (a device to measure humidity) are the most important tools of incubation; cheap models are usually not accurate enough. If you’re not working with an incubator that has these instruments built in, opt for a combo thermometer/hygrometer with an external display. These have a sensor that goes inside the incubator with an LED screen on the outside that shows the temperature and humidity readings without having to open the incubator and ruin your carefully calibrated environment.
One time-saving feature is a device to rotate the eggs automatically. Much of the fussing that a hen does over her eggs comes from an instinct to constantly move them about. The finely tuned ecosystem inside a chicken egg is kept in balance by constantly changing the position of the egg. High-end incubators have a built-in egg turning device, but there are also standalone egg turners that can be placed inside a homemade incubator to do the job. Or, you can rotate manually.
|Posted by ejvetdent on November 11, 2015 at 2:55 AM||comments (0)|
Keep your chooks ( and ducks ) cool
In Summer heat stress causes large numbers of deaths in poultry. Dehydrated chickens and chicks will go downhill very fast without access to cool water.
What does Heat Stress look like in chickens and ducks?
• Spreading wings
• Open mouth panting
• weakness or droopy behaviour
• Closing eyes
• Lying down
• body weight decrease
• Very pale wattle and comb
• Increased thirst
• Decreased or non-existent appetite
• Drop in egg production
Ways to Keep Chooks and ducks cool
• ICE BLOCKS IN WATER
Always ensure that the chickens have clean, fresh water daily.
Pop a refreezable ice block into their water container to keep the water refreshingly chilled. Replace daily. Freeze an icecream container of water as well
• EXTRA WATER LOCATIONS
Put out extra containers of water throughout the garden under shady bushes or in an area that will stay in the shade all day if possible.
Set up the sprinkler in shady spots to water the ground. As soon as the sprinkler is turned off they will flock and settle in that area. Move the sprinkler throughout the day to different shady spots as chickens love to keep their feet cool to help reduce their body temperature.
• OPEN VENTS
Open all the vents in the coop to allow for maximum air flow.
• COOP SHADE & EVAPORATIVE AIR CONDITIONING
Use Shade umbrellas or shade sails to help reduce the heat on the sunniest side of the coop. Do not enclose the entire coop as the air flow is essential for cooling.
To create evaporative air conditioning in the coop, cut open a hessian sack (eg. Coolgardie safe), wire the top of the bag to the coop side and wet thoroughly with the hose until dripping. Hose down throughout the day whenever the bag looks too dry.
This evaporative cooling technique is most effective on breezy/windy days.
• COOL TREATS
Offer cooling feed such as frozen or chilled rockmelon, watermelon and berries.
Remember this may create more liquid droppings after.
• COOP FAN
Installing a fan in your coop and run will help the air flow and cooling.
Misters are usually used by commercial farmers on a large scale, but kits from Bunnings are easily available for small chicken sheds.
Chickens may not like water from sprinklers but they LOVE misters.
• PADDLING POOL
Believe it or not, chickens don't mind a little water to paddling about in. Many backyard pool owners who have chickens have often reported that their hens like to float around like a duck.
FROZEN BOTTLES OF WATER
Place near nesting area for added cool comfort.
|Posted by ejvetdent on July 15, 2015 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
Caring for an ex-battery hen? Are they for you ?
Do you want the chicken for a pet or to produce eggs ?
Not only do we want the hen(s) to live a lovely carefree life ex-battery hens often have reproductive issues which means laying eggs is probably not going to happen.
Hens are highly social animals, and a happy hen is one who has a friend to cluck at!
As with all companion animals (and people for that matter!) unforeseen medical problems can arise, which may require costly medical treatment. Are you prepared for this ? If you have a dog or cat at home, you'll probably be familiar with regular flea prevention measures that help keep your beloved four-legged friends happy. Similarly, chooks can suffer from similar parasites and it's important to keep on top of this with regular preventative measures to ensure your hens are always as healthy — and happy — as possible.
Even in suburban areas, hens can be at risk of predators like foxes, cats and dogs. So they will require a fox-proof enclosure that will keep them safe between dusk and dawn.
Rescues hens suffer beaking and may have difficulty eating normally. These hens will require a little extra attention and it's good to keep a closer eye on them to ensure that they are getting the food they need. Providing deep food and water bowls will enable them to 'scoop' food and water (as they are unable to peck at food like they would normally).
Learning to live on the outside
Battery hens have lived in an artificial environment their whole lives, so this means no access to natural light. The normal routine of a hen to 'roost', ie to return to a safe place to rest at night, may take a little getting used to for hens who have never seen night or day. Hens will naturally prefer to sleep on the highest point possible — this is called 'perching' and in the wild, this behaviour keeps them protected from predators. Ensure you check their nesting box daily to keep your hens clean and dry.
First there will be a period of adjustment - allow them time to investigate their chicken coop. Provide them nesting boxes to rest in, and plenty of food, water, and shade. Once they are settled and more comfortable, you can gradually allow them to explore their new environment.
Ongoing medical care
Rescued battery hens should be treated for worms, parasites and coccidiosis. It's important to note also that the severe living conditions imposed upon battery hens, coupled with their unnatural egg production inflicts a heavy toll upon them — some more so than others — with few ever expected to live as long as their freerange or urban cousins.
At the first signs of ill health it is important to be prepared to act; either personally or if you do not have the experience, by consulting your veterinarian. The most common issues to plague ex-battery hens are those that involve their reproductive organs due to excessive egg laying. Other common conditions include respiratory problems and brittle bones.
|Posted by ejvetdent on July 1, 2015 at 4:35 AM||comments (0)|
In the exotics world, foraging — defined as wandering in search of food or provisions — describes how animals’ lives can be enriched if they have something to do each day.
Bear in mind many species we keep as pets — birds, rodents, even some reptiles — are very social when in the wild, living with many other similar-species animals in large groups with whom they spend all day.
They have daily tasks in the wild — that involve looking for food, nest sites and mates.
They are not designed to live as we have them — alone, restrained in cages and with nothing to do all day but sit and eat.
When they are unnaturally isolated and bored, captive animals often develop behavioural problems such as pacing, screaming, twitching or even or self-mutilation in which they chew on their fur, feathers and skin.
To help alleviate these problems or to try to prevent them from occurring in the first place, exotic pets as much as possible should be given tasks to do that are similar to those carried out by their wild counterparts.
For different species, this means providing different kinds of activities, but the principles are the same for all: Offer some form of enrichment, and your pets’ lives will be happier and more fulfilled. Here are some ideas of specific foraging activities you can use to help entertain your pet.
Chickens, as well as flock animals commonly kept as pets, can also be encouraged to forage. Hide mealworms — a favourite treat of many chickens and ducks — in small holes in a hollow log, plastic toy, or mixed in a shallow trough with several wooden sticks (too large to swallow), so that the birds have to dig around in the log or the trough to reach the insects. These mealworm feeders can provide hours of stimulation for captive birds that would naturally forage to find insects in the wild. You can also sprinkle feed or vegetable pieces around the pen for them to hunt.
Foraging: It’s Fun!
When you think about it, we all love to have choices of what we eat and explore our environment and be surprised. Just like us, our pets are curious and need stimulation, and they love the reward of a tasty edible treat.
We should stimulate your pet’s body, as well as their mind, and provide them with foraging toys? They will be entertained while interacting with those toys, and you’ll be entertained watching them on the ‘hunt’.
|Posted by ejvetdent on June 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by ejvetdent on June 15, 2015 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|