Laying Chickens 🐔

Many hens lay their first egg around 18 weeks of age and then lay up to an egg each day, subject to breed, environment and individual bird. At 18 weeks, switch to a complete chicken layer feed to provide the added calcium laying hens need to produce an egg each day.

If raising a backyard flock was a treasure hunt, the ultimate prize would be a hen’s first egg. You started your chicks strong, moved them to the chicken coop and enjoyed their antics as they explored the backyard. Now you might be feeling a bit of egg-ticipation and wondering when do chickens lay eggs? The first egg often arrives when hens are 18 weeks old, subject to breed, environment and nutrition.

A rooster is not necessary for egg production unless you want to have fertilized eggs for hatching. When pullets are nearing their first lay, their behavior changes. They may spend more time with the rooster, crouch for breeding or investigate the nesting area. At this time, keep hens in the coop for short periods of time. Place golf balls or decoy eggs in the nesting boxes to help hens understand the use of the nesting boxes.

The first few eggs a hen lays may be irregular – possibly small in size, with soft shells, no yolks or double yolks – but, after a week or so, egg production should become more consistent, with peak performance at about 30 weeks of age and egg goals changing each year. To help hens lay strong and stay strong, keep the following #FlockStrong tips in mind.

Prepare chicken nesting boxes in the chicken coop. Create several comfortable, clean and cozy chicken nesting boxes. We built the nesting boxes into the coops we are working on modifying the nesting boxes with outdoor access for egg collection. We keep the boxes closed until the hens are 16 weeks old and then open-access after that. A general rule for nesting box size is one 1-foot square nesting box for every four laying hens. The flock will take turns using the boxes.

Line each nest box with a thick layer of straw, pine shavings or other bedding to cushion the eggs. Keep the nesting boxes up off the floor in the darkest corner of the coop with privacy to the hen. Each nest area should have a uniform environment. After a hen lays her first egg, it’s her tendency to lay in the same spot moving forward. If the hens decide one nest is preferable to the others, they may all try to use that nesting box, causing themselves stress, which can lead to egg breakage or egg eating.

Sometimes hens all use the same nesting box even though they are all uniform. As long as the birds aren’t fighting or harming each other, this is probably not a big issue. If you are concerned about it, consider blocking access to the preferred nest box and guiding the hens to use one of the other available boxes. Once the hens have decided the other nest boxes work just as well, allow them access to the original nest box.

Consider chicken coop light.

Age is the first indicator of first lay, but daylight hours are also critical. An increase in day length is key driver to encouraging hens to lay eggs. To do their best work, laying hens prefer at least 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark.

If your hen reaches 18 weeks of age during the fall or winter when daylight hours are getting shorter, then consider adding supplemental light to the coop. It only takes about 25-watts of incandescent light per 100 square feet to encourage hens to lay eggs. You can also use an equivalent wattage fluorescent or LED light for your flock. Without supplemental light, young hens may wait until days get longer in the spring to lay their first egg.

Complete layer feed. If hens are not laying at week 18, you can still transition from a chick starter feed to a layer feed. This change may even jumpstart egg production. The earliest you should transition to a layer feed would be around 16 weeks of age. Do this if you are combining a flock of new hens with an older flock in the same coop.

Congratulations on your first egg! Shell-ebrate with a first egg happy dance. Ready to see the difference a complete feed can make in your flock? Sign-up for the Feed Greatness® Ch

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BOURBON RED TURKEYS ON METRO EAST FARMS SOON

Metro East Farms on May 9th we made an order with Cackle Hatchery®. We wanted something different than most others and we also wanted turkeys that could mate naturally which some breeds have to be bred artificially, so we decided that heritage turkeys were the way to go and we chose the Bourbon Red Turkey.

The Bourbon Red Turkey is a rare breed of the heritage turkey and was admitted into the American Standard of Perfection in 1909. Developed in Pennsylvania and taken to Kentucky with the long rifle, this breed later was given the name Bourbon Red from its popularity from Bourbon County, Kentucky. The Bourbon Red turkey is another of the turkeys with a beautiful color pattern and makes a good farm and backyard turkey.

Since Metro East Farms began incubating eggs we have been successful in chickens and ducks, we will attempt to incubate turkey eggs. We are going to try and get eggs year-round by providing lighting and heat on timers to provoke egg laying such as we were able to do with our ducks. We had duck eggs all winter including the coldest month January and February 2020

Our objective is to grow the Bourbon Turkey Flock and then start breeding Bronze Heritage Standard turkeys. Right now our ducks are able to cross breed but that will be changing in 2021, where we will be segregating the different breeds so that we can sell them as the breed than not getting as much for a mix breed duck.

Our turkeys hatch and ship date is June 20th and have to pick them up at the post office early in the morning they tell me they will arrive.

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FIXING FENCE LINES – GOATS

They say if it doesn’t hold water, it wont hold a goat, and that is pretty much true. When I put up my fence around 1/8 of a acre the land goes up and down with the terrain. We had problems at first with our buck walking up the fence and managing to get over so we put 2 strands of barbed wire across the top and that solved that problem. In quite a few spots there were gaps under the fence and the earth, so it took about a month for a couple of goats including our buck who escaped every time we turned our back. And after watching we seen how they were getting out.

We purchased 50, 12 inch stakes with a hook at the top. We would find a spot, then angled the steak (45 degrees) outside the fence with the hook facing down so it catches the bottom wire. Start hammering the stake in and before the hook of the stake gets to the ground, position the wire so that when you finish hammering the hook pulls the bottom wire into the ground. In the last few days since installing them around the entire containment we have had no escapes.

Get on Amazon.com and search 50 bulk stakes, we gave $38.00 for 50 stakes, thats a really good deal since we priced rebar we planed to cut and bend a hook, that was almost twice than what we purchased these for.

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Stuck Ducks in Shells?

Many beginners want to assist a hatching duckling far too early. Hatching takes a long time. A normal hatch takes at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours after pipping.

Here’s what the hatching process looks like and the schedule it normally follows:

  • Mallard-derived ducks often start hatching after 28 days. Muscovies take 35 days. However, a few days more or less is common. Don’t freak out if you’re on day 29 and nothing has hatched.
  • The internal pip is the first step in hatching. This is when the duckling breaks into the air cell inside the egg. You will not see any outward signs of an internal pip, but you can often hear the duckling peeping at this stage. If you hold the egg up to your ear, you might hear tapping as the ducklings starts trying to pip. If you candle, you might see the dark shape of the bill protruding into the air cell.
  • Approximately 12-24 hours after the internal pip, the duckling pips externally. This is a small, kind of star-shaped crack or hole on the outside of the shell. It should be on the big end of the egg. It should not take any more than 24 hours between internal and external pip.
  • After the external pip, nothing happens…for hours…and hours…and hours. Very little, anyway. This is when people often get worried. However, this is a crucial period where the duckling learns to breath and absorbs the yolk sac. The membrane and blood vessels begin to dry. If you try to assist during this stage, you could cause bleeding and kill the duckling.
  • I repeat you will NOT see progress for many hours after the external pip. THIS IS NORMAL.
  • At least 12 hours and up to 48 hours after the external pip, the duckling “zips,” or turns around in the shell and makes a crack all around. In other words, it’s 12-48 hours from pip to zip.
  • Zipping only takes a few hours, or even less than an hour. After zipping, the duckling pops the top off and is usually out and fully hatched within minutes.
  • If 48 HOURS have passed since the external pip and the duckling is not making progress, YOU PROBABLY NEED TO ASSIST.

I know it’s incredibly hard to watch nothing happen for so many hours. I know it’s so easy to be impatient. I know how tempting it is to just chip a bit of shell off! But please don’t help a duckling unless there is a good reason to. The duckling will hatch when it’s ready. If it’s been more than 48 hours, or if you have reason to believe something else has gone wrong, like if the duckling is shrink-wrapped, then there might be reason to help. However, most ducklings don’t need help, and helping is more likely to cause harm than good. Remember, it can take more than 24 hours for a duckling to hatch, and that’s normal.

If the duckling is trapped in its membrane, you need to assist.

This is often called “shrink-wrapping” or “sticky chick,” depending on whether it was caused by low incubation humidity, low hatching humidity, or high incubation humidity. (It’s very difficult to have too high hatching humidity.)

  • Shrink-wrapping is caused by too low humidity during incubation and will result in the membrane drying and tightening around the duckling, thus trapping it. If this has happened, you will usually see that the outer membrane has turned dry and brownish or yellowish.
  • “Sticky chick” is caused by a sudden drop in humidity during hatching. This causes the membrane to become sticky, which causes it to act like glue. THEREFORE, you should not open the incubator during hatching: it will cause the humidity to plummet. Therefore, lockdown is so important!
  • To high humidity can also cause a very wet membrane, which can drown the duckling or impede hatching. With these issues, the ducklings do need help as soon as possible, but remember that a duckling is still far more likely to die from you rupturing a blood vessel than from being trapped in the membrane. As long as the duckling can breath, don’t rush too much. Wait until the blood vessels have receded before assisting (as always).
  • Zipping shouldn’t take long. If your duckling started zipping but hasn’t made progress for a few hours, you should probably intervene. The duckling will only start zipping after the blood vessels have receded, so assisting should be safe, but be careful anyway, and stop if you do see bleeding.
  • Whatever caused the delay, at this point, you will almost certainly need to assist the duckling. If the membrane looks good (white and papery), the duckling doesn’t seem to be mispositioned, and the duckling is moving and active, there is probably no reason to assist. If you read the comments below this article, you will see there is a comment by someone whose egg took 49 hours but hatched successfully all by itself!
  • If you have to help a duckling, be very careful and gentle. Peel the shell bit by bit. Tweezers help. Stop immediately if you see blood and try to gently remove the blood with a dry paper towel. Do a small bit at a time and wait plenty of time in between. And go slow!
  • If you must help a duckling, be very careful and gentle. Peel the shell bit by bit. Tweezers help. Stop immediately if you see blood and try to gently remove the blood with a dry paper towel. Do a small bit at a time and wait plenty of time in between. And go slow!

References

HANNAH. (2005, July 05). Raising Ducks. Retrieved from Ducks Rule: https://www.raising-ducks.com/when-assist-hatching/

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Ducks Hatching on Metro East Farms

Our eggs are staring to hatch. American Peking and Black Swedish ducks, so far we have 5 out of the shell with more scheduled in the next 2 days.

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REAL SAVINGS IN FEED AND BEDDING (Cost Control)

We often learn cost cutting when it comes to animal care BUT there are good ways and bad ways and the bad ways can cost you money and break your back my hopes here is to save you money and your back. #1 when it comes to Hay this is a no brainier BUT it took 1 season to learn the lesson on Hay. I was buying square bales of hay that were $6.00 each and each bale was about 40 – 80 pounds each.

When you get to the large round bales you can get them for about $40.00 – $50.00, they are anywhere from 800 – 1300 pounds. Myself I can get them delivered it depends on how many I buy. I had 7 goats last winter and I used 3 1/2 round bales. Mine are usually in the 1,200 pound range. Make some kind of manger to keep what you feed off the ground. We stand ours up on end because its easier to flake it off with a pitch fork. Make Sure to cover each bale with a tarp to prevent mold.

Goats will trample the hay as well as urinate and defecate on it then its wasted. I filled the manger and gave them all the hay they could eat. I don’t feed grain to them until I know they are pregnant then I mix in a big steel trash can 1 scoop of sweet feed 2 scoops of cracked corn when the can is full and mixed I give them 1 scoop of feed for each goat. (32oz Scoop)

32 Oz hand scoop

In the Summer they get only Hay and pasture grass. STRAW it is a little different, We have more than one type of animal. We have Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys, Rabbits, Goats and the Metro East Farms garden. This is where it gets different, you can buy square bales of straw $4.00 – $5.00 per bale from farmers NOT farm supply or feed mills they will gouge you $6.00 – $6.99 a bale. DON’T buy round bales of straw. You can NOT move the straw with a pitchfork as well, it falls off the fork where you can move huge amount of hay in one fork. Square bales are the way to go, Carry one to the goat house, one to the chicken house, one to the duck house and to the garden it is just so much easier.

Grain is another thing that can save you money or cost you, but it depends if you want easy or savings. I can go to the local farm supply stores and buy bagged grain, Sweet Feed and egg laying pellets, but the secret is cracked corn. these will cost you more because of the convenience of being bagged. HOWEVER buy some 55 gallon barrels with removable lids. buy your Egg Laying pellets and Sweet feed you get a MUCH better price on your cracked corn sometimes up to a 40% savings. Take your vehicle loaded with your barrels and they will use an auger to put the grain in your barrels and then head to the farm.

Justin Hofer Loading Egg Pellets and Sweet feed

I do a 3 to 1 mixture on the Goats and a 5 to 1 mixture on Egg Pellets I use for the ducks, chickens and turkeys. The corn is a good filler and I think personally it fattens up the goats up a bit. Unscientific but it seems when I give the goats grain starting in the fall I get more twins in kidding season and I get quite a bit of milk.

ALWAYS put tarps over your hay and straw and its best if you can to store all your feed in 55 gallon drums to prevent moisture and rodents. Nothing worse that holes or poop in bags of grain. Forget to close the shed doors and bags on the floors Opossum and Raccoon wont hesitate to find it. I hope this information helps you decide or educates you on cost control.

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Metro East Farms UPDATED!

I started “Team Fat Boyz” around 2009 just as a fishing team back when I was 325 lbs. We did that for awhile when I thought about all the seniors who were in nursing homes or their own homes that couldn’t just pick up and go, they needed help. We started doing that and in March of 2012 I decided to incorporate as a Illinois Non-For-Profit.

We were interviewed by Gretchen Steele “Through The Lens” Heartland Outdoors Magazine in January 16 2012 (Photo Of Heartland Outdoors by Gretchen Steele) I then started a sister company to handle another project “Metro East Farms” around 2017 this was to keep donations separate when someone wanted to donate to one over the other.

Metro East Farms breed & trains therapy animals such as baby chickens, ducklings, turkeys, rabbits and baby goats. these are socialized with other animals and people so that they are so tame they want to be held and the goats (kids) mostly bottle fed are like puppies. We take these animals with other volunteers to nursing homes, assisted living homes, mentally handicapped children at NO CHARGE to the client. We survive on donations from the public, bushiness sponsors, supporters and members.

We have a program where if someone becomes a supporter of $150.00 or so much a month to reach $150.00 gets to give a baby animal a name once they get a name they live here till the end of their life. Just go to the supporters page to see who has donated.

The BIG white turkey is the same turkey as the one the senior is kissing.

our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/MetroEastFarms/
Our Twitter Page https://twitter.com/FarmsMetro
Our Pinterest https://twitter.com/FarmsMetro

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CONSTIPATION IN NEWBORN AND YOUNG KIDS

Constipation in newborn and very young kids is a common condition that most producers seldom consider. Premature newborns are good candidates for this problem but full-term kids can also suffer constipation. I see the problem more often in hot weather but it can occur any time, especially if the dam has rich thick colostrum.

Let’s say that you have a newborn that is premature, either its dam or you are feeding it, its tummy is getting bigger and firmer, and it isn’t wanting milk like a normal baby. You realize that it isn’t pooping like most kids. The kid might be standing hunched up and sometimes with tail down. It is likely constipated. Constipation is a life-threatening condition in newborn kids. If the kid cannot poop out the waste products which contain toxins, it can die.

Give the kid a soapy warm water enema. Mix about 2 ounces of warm water with two drops of dishwashing liquid. Put a towel on a counter, place the kid on its side with its rear towards the sink, and using a 3 cc Luer slip syringe, draw warm soapy water into the 3 cc syringe. Gently put the slip tip of the syringe into the the kid’s rectal opening; this is very delicate and easy-to-damage tissue on a young kid. Slowly push the plunger to insert the warm soapy water into the kid. You may have to repeat this multiple times to break loose the hardened feces.

You should soon be seeing small chunks of hard feces spewing out of the baby’s rear, followed by soft baby-yellow poop. You may need to gently massage the kid’s abdomen to get the water/feces mixture completely out. You won’t believe how much dried hardened feces will come out of a constipated newborn or young kid.

If the kid has hardened/crystallized feces on its rear, pull it off. Some dam’s colostrum in particular is so rich that the feces produced actually hardens after it exits the baby. This can be viewed as an external form of “constipation” because if the kid cannot pass more feces because it is stopped up externally, the same internal constipation problems occur.

If you are bottle feeding, mix one to two cc’s of mineral oil in the milk to help prevent constipation.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 8/17/2012

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WARNING! Poisonous Snake Birthing Season

With temperatures starting to rise we have already begun to see signs of snakes such as the wife seeing a garter snake.

Copper Heads, Rattlesnakes (Diamond, Black Diamond, Western Diamond, Eastern Diamond, Prairie, Mojave, Tiger and Timber Rattlesnakes), Cottonmouth (water moccasin)

Know your snakes and learn them well, it could mean your life. They can also be found under sheets of metal, Large rocks, Large decaying logs, brush piles.

1. Call an ambulance immediately. …
2. Don’t panic and don’t move. …
3. Leave the snake alone. …
4. Apply a pressure immobilization bandage and splint. …
5. Don’t wash, suck, cut or tourniquet the bite.

Water snake, copperheads and such will often lay on branches a few feet above the water, this can get nasty. We have been out fishing and slide under some tree branches to tie onto the bank for a trot-line and it fell into the boat on us. Using a stick, we were able to flip it out of the boat. This ended up being a common water snake and was non-poisonous but regardless a surprise is a surprise. (no matter what someone says a snake CAN bite under water)
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Farm Detail Begins

We will be working out here hard this week a few things we are catching up on since we can not visit nursing homes with the COVID-19 Virus going on. There are allot of things to catch up on. We have just finished shoveling the Chicken house today and done the Duck and Turkey house last night. we will be posting all this week while we straighten up the Micro-Farm.

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