3-17-2015 H5N2 Bird flu in Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, and now Arkansas too

I get contacted about sick chickens all the time. I almost always recommend you cull the bird, because it almost always dies while you are pussyfooting around on the internet trying to figure out what is wrong with it. And if what that bird has is contagious you’ve not only put it through needless hours/days of suffering, but you might have contaminated your flock while you were at it. If you do that this year you might just lose your whole flock. You might lose your whole flock anyway; this strain of bird flu is just getting started with the United States and it doesn’t procrastinate.

“The H5N2 flu discovered in Arkansas last week is the state’s first case of a strain that causes massive internal hemorrhaging in poultry, can kill nearly every bird in an infected flock within 48 hours, and is prone to mutate. Such strains are sometimes called “chicken Ebola.”

Link to the full article.

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Where to Get Chicks in 2014

Bourn Feed is located just east of Patricia’s Food on the access road.  Alternately you can take 70 and get off at the Lake of the Woods exit and then head west on the access road.  Bourn orders from Cackle Hatchery, so anything you see on Cackle’s website you can order through Bourn (min 5 per breed).  This benefits you because the minimum for shipping in the spring is 25 chicks (min 5 per breed) and you won’t have to pay large S&H costs.

The list of breeds that Bourn has scheduled to arrive:

(P) is for pullet or all female chicks

(S) is for straight run or both male and female chicks (this is a lottery)

March 11th

  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Rhode Island Red (P)
  • Barred Rock (P)
  • Austra Whites (P)

March 18th

  • Black Sex Link (P)
  • Red Sex Link (P)
  • Golden Comet (P)
  • Black Australorp (P)

March 20th

  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Golden Laced Wyandotte* (P)
  • Silver Laced Wyandotte* (P)
  • Light Brahma* (P)
  • Black Jersey Giant *(P)

March 27th

  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Dominique (P)
  • Welsummer (P)
  • Cuckoo Marans (P)
  • Buff Orpington (P)

April 3rd

  • Cinnamon Queen (P)
  • Buckeye *(S)
  • Silkie *(S)
  • Cochin *(S)
  • Polish Crested Assortment *(S)

April 10th

  • Old English Game Fowl Assortment  *(S)
  • Bantam Assortment *(S) (Easter Egger, White Faced Black Spanish, Buff Orpington, Japanese)

April 17th

  • Surprise Day
  • Mille Fleur D’Uccle *(S)

April 22nd: Ducklings:

  • Rouens (S)
  • Khaki Campbell (S)
  • Ancona (S)
  • Pekins (S)
  • Sweedish (S)
  • Runners (S)

May 6th

  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Black Australorp (P)
  • Cherry Egger* (P)
  • Production Reds (P)
  • White Rocks (S)

May 13th Turkeys:

  • Broad Breasted Bronze
  • White
  • Bourbon Red
  • Black Spanish
  • Blue Slate
  • Royal Palm

May 13th Chickens:

  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Production Reds (P)
  • Barred Rock (P)
  • Rhode Island Red (P)

May 29th Guineas:

  • Pearl
  • White
  • Lavender
  • Royal purple

Remember this is only a list of what they will have (they are not able to reserve them, its a first come fist serve basis for this list).  If you want something else, please feel free to call (573) 474-4113 and put in an order for one of their arrival dates.

Prices per chick for 2013 were:

(P) are $2.75

(S) are $2.00

*(P) are $2.89

*(S) are $2.50

Meyer Hatchery in Ohio still has a minimum order of 3 chicks.

I found an add in Backyard Poultry for Anders Farm in Harrisonville, MO (about 2hrs west of CoMO, just south of Kansas City). Their bantam stock includes Phoenix, Ohiki, black Wyandotte, and white Old English. Large stock includes Buckeyes, Yokohama and white crested black Polish.  Contact: anderspoultryfarm@directv.net. I haven’t contacted them to find out anything more, but they are NPIP.

Why can chicks go 48 hours without eating? Because right before they hatch they absorb the last of their yolk sack into their abdomens. This allows them to remain safe under their mother while she waits for any late eggs to hatch.

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Hatching egg packaging

I brought in some hatching eggs to incubate. I know, I know, I’m all about broody hens, but I’m in a pickle here. My old hens aren’t laying and all my attempts to bring in new chicks this spring for future layers failed.

I thought I’d do a little post about how the eggs were packaged. This is the 2nd time I’ve bought eggs from this supplier and the packaging was the same both times. Except this time I asked him to put my phone number on the outside of the box, because my particular route is really long and the mail carrier doesn’t arrive until late, sometimes even after 6 pm. Since it has been unseasonably cold I figured it would be better if the eggs didn’t sit in the truck all day.

What the box looked like before I opened it

What the box looked like before I opened it, minus the contact information.

With the the flaps pulled back. That is the heat pack on top of the paper.

With the the flaps pulled back. That is the heat pack on top of the paper.

With the heat pack and invoice removed, there is a layer of newspaper type material to fill the box and act as a cushion between the heat and the eggs.

With the heat pack and invoice removed, there is a layer of newspaper type material to fill the box and act as a cushion between the heat and the eggs.

With the newsprint removed you can see the bubble wrap around the 3 sets of eggs.

With the newsprint removed you can see the bubble wrap around the 3 sets of eggs.

That is one egg carton cut in half, each contains six eggs. A thirteenth egg is rolled up separately between the two halves. It is really well cushioned and also creates a cushion between the two halves.

Here the bubble wrap is pulled back to reveal the egg carton halves.

Here the bubble wrap is pulled back to reveal the egg carton halves.

Everything is removed from the box to show the lower layer of bubble wrap.

Everything is removed from the box to show the lower layer of bubble wrap.

The bubble wrap is taped under the lid of the egg carton and wrapped over the split end and under.

The bubble wrap is taped under the lid of the egg carton and wrapped over the split end and under.

Bottom of the same carton.

Bottom of the same carton.

With the tape and lid removed.

With the tape and lid removed.

Unrolled

Unrolled.

2013-12-27 packaging (14)

All of them!

One of the eggs on the carton end, not the cut end that had bubble wrap, was cracked. Since I ordered 12 and received 12 intact eggs this seller will get a positive review. Delivery companies always seem to crack at least one, but all good sellers pack extra eggs.

Cracked from shipping.

Cracked from shipping.

I’ve heard, but have no experience with it, that sometimes a cracked egg can be sealed with wax. So that is what I did to this one, #5, and to #1 as well because I dropped it while loading it into the bator.

All waxed up, but I doubt it will hatch. It might develop.

All waxed up, but I doubt it will hatch. It might develop.

As I said, I bought eggs from this farm before and they were fine, but five (#1, 2, 3, 4, & 8) of these eggs were dirty. I used a pencil to number each egg as well as to mark the dirty areas. Then I scraped off what I could. I have my doubts that this set of eggs will result in many live chicks.

Feces smeared across the surface could result in bacteria entering the egg and killing the embryo at some point during incub

Feces smeared across the surface could result in bacteria entering the egg and killing the embryo at some point during incubation.

The anecdotal guideline, for clean eggs, is that shipped eggs have a 50% hatch rate due to all the shaking up and temp changes. 50% of those will be male. I’m hoping for 2-3 female chicks out of this batch. They are Rhode Island Red roosters over Barred Rock hens.

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The broody problem

I always recommend urban chicken owners to get a bantam or two with their first set of chicks. My main reason for doing this is that having a hen that will go broody makes adding subsequent generations to your flock a whole lot easier. Also, the youngsters get picked on a lot less as adults than when you add teenagers to the flock.

That said, I always forget the downside to broody hens. Egg production in the entire flock plummets if the broody decides to sit in the flock’s favorite laying spot. I’m not sure how they do it, but my flock is holding their eggs in. I went from getting 5-6 eggs/day twelve days ago to getting 1-2/day four days ago.

It’s been raining fairly often and heavily here in mid-MO so even after I decided on a plan of action it took me a few days to gather my supplies and find free time when it wasn’t raining to get out to the coop. I cleaned the coop two days ago, but forgot to pick up supplies for my Returning the Flock to Production plan.

Yesterday I rummaged through a recycling bin until I found some smallish boxes. I cut the bottoms and tops off the boxes making a tunnel. I then slid each of my broodies through a tunnel. In effect, cutting them off from rolling eggs under them and seeing the flock’s favorite laying spot. I had to move Calliope, my splash bantam Cochin back into her tunnel a few times, but she seems to have figured it out now. Georgia, My mille fluer bantam Old English never even blinked at me.

If yesterday and today are any indication my plan is working beautifully. 4 eggs each day.

Normally this 3 foot wide nesting box is not divided. All 6 of my hens lay in the far right corner most of the time. Occasionally I’ll find an egg in the middle or on the left.

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May 4th 2013 a day in the life

Today I completed spring cleaning for the hens.

Emptied out 90% of the deep litter and replaced it with pine shavings and dry leaves. My large hens decided to take over the bantam roost last fall so I scraped the manure off the wall and move the roost farther away from that wall. I also took out some extraneous beams and the mason blocks for the winter waterer.

It’s the end of chick season here in Mid Missouri so I’m also preparing for the arrival of next week’s chicks. I partitioned off half the coop for the chicks, installed a wall of cardboard inside the pallet walls as it is and has been uncommonly cold for May. Moved the mason blocks into the brooder to hold both the water and the feed while the chicks are small.

This half of the coop will house the meat chicks for 2-3 weeks.

This half of the coop will house the meat chicks for 2-3 weeks. It looks kind of small in this picture, but it is 40 inches wide and 88 inches deep (one pallet by two pallets).

Every spring our public school second graders hatch out chicks. The only thing that makes this practice remotely palatable to me is that they hatch out meat birds. Something like 150 dozen chicks hatch each year. Imagine if half of them were males of a layer breed. At least this way the addition of this many birds is temporary. After the hatch the school district gives the chicks away. So on May 10th I have 5 meat birds to add to my flock for a few months. This will be my second encounter with the cornish cross. My thought is that I’ll process them as soon as they become a hassle, no matter if that is 3 weeks into it or 6.

May 9th is the last day that the local feed store, Bourn, is shipping in chicks. Both of my bantams went broody last weekend, which puts them a week behind being able to adopt the May 9th chicks straight from the store. My hope is that if I keep the chicks inside for a week, or more like a week and a half, I’ll be able to get my bantams to adopt the May 9th chicks. I’ve had both wild luck and disaster with adoption and so far the determining factor seems to be whether the hen has been broody 3 weeks or more. More is better, less is a disaster.

Let me say I was not utilizing all my resources (like checking the calendar) when I tried to get a ❤ week broody to adopt chicks. I would never have tried it had I known she hadn’t been setting long enough. It wasn’t until after the disasters that i bothered to check the chicken events calendar.

I have no idea what I’m going to bring home. I’d like a couple more bantams, but they come straight run and I’m not sure I want to deal with that. The layer chicks I got a year ago are not working out, they are overly mean to one of my favorite hens. I’m okay with a pecking order, but these pullets are over the top nasty and as a result I don’t like them. So I could add 2 sex link chicks. Possibly I could do both, 3 bantams gives me a good chance for a hen and two layers would allow me to remove the nasty girls in the fall.

The advice to not let a broody sit on infertile eggs because the eggs will explode = true.

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Where to Get Chicks in 2013

Our only local feed store is now taking special orders for chicks, call 573-474-4113!

Bourn Feed is located just east of Patricia’s Food on the access road.  Alternatively you can take 70 and get off at the Lake of the Woods exit and then head west on the access road.  Bourn orders from Cackle Hatchery, so anything you see on Cackle’s website you can order through Bourn (min 5 per breed).  This benefits you because the minimum for shipping in the spring is 25 chicks (min 5 per breed) and you won’t have to pay large S&H costs.

The list of breeds that Bourn has scheduled to arrive:

(P) is for pullet or all female chicks

(S) is for straight run or both male and female chicks (this is a lottery)

March 7th

  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Black Australorp (P)
  • Rhode Island Red (P)
  • Barred Rock (P)

March 12th

  • Black Sex Link (P)
  • Red Sex Link (P)
  • Golden Comet (P)
  • Assorted heavy breeds (S)

March 19th

  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Golden Laced Wyandotte* (P)
  • Silver Laced Wyandotte* (P)
  • Light Brahma* (P)
  • Brown Leghorn (P)
  • White Leghorn (P)
  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Black Australorp (P)

March 28th

  • Black Jersey Giant *(P)
  • Dominique (P)
  • Cinnamon Queen (P)
  • Speckled Sussex (P)
  • Welsummer (P)
  • Cuchoo Marans (P)
  • Dark Cornish *(S)

April 9th: Ducklings:

  • Rouens (S)
  • Khaki Campbell (S)
  • Ancona (S)
  • Pekins (S)
  • Sweedish (S)
  • Runners (S)

April 18th

  • Buff Orpington (P)
  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Black Australorp (P)
  • Delaware (P)
  • Cinnamon Queen (P)

April 23rd

  • Polish Crested* Assortment *(S)
  • Black, Splash, Partridge, and Silver Laced Cochins *(S)
  • Silkie Assortment *(S)

April 30th

  • Feather Footed Bantams *(S)
  • Clean Legged Bantams *(S)
  • Japanese Bantams *(S)

May 9th

  • Red Shouldered Yokohamas *(S)
  • Mottled Houdan *(S)
  • Buttercup *(S)
  • German Spitzhauben *(S)
  • Bantam Assortment *(S)
  • Easter Egger* (P)
  • Productions Red (P)
  • Black Breasted Red Phoenix (S)

May 23rd Guineas:

  • Pearl
  • White
  • Lavender
  • Royal purple

Remember this is only a list of what they will have (they are not able to reserve them, its a first come fist serve basis for this list).  If you want something else, please feel free to call (573) 474-4113 and put in an order for one of their arrival dates.

Prices per chick at Bourn are:

(P) are $2.75

(S) are $2.00

*(P) are $2.89

*(S) are $2.50

Meyer Hatchery in Ohio still has a minimum order of 3 chicks.

Back to the Farm in Mexico, MO (about 45 min from CoMO) is open this season. They no longer have Barred Plymouth Rocks, but still have Partridge Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpington, New Hampshire Red and Delaware.

I found an add in Backyard Poultry for Anders Farm in Harrisonville, MO (about 2hrs west of CoMO, just south of Kansas City). Their bantam stock includes Phoenix, Ohiki, black Wyandotte, and white Old English. Large stock includes Buckeyes, Yokohama and white crested black Polish.  Contact: anderspoultryfarm@directv.net. I haven’t contacted them to find out anything more, but they are NPIP.

Why can chicks go 48 hours without eating? Because right before they hatch they absorb the last of their yolk sack into their abdomens. This allows them to remain safe under their mother while she waits for any late eggs to hatch.

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Spring 2013 Classes

In partnership with the Columbia Career Center I’ll be teaching three classes this spring. This is a great opportunity for you to ask all those pesky questions you haven’t been able to find answers to. I really love teaching these classes. So many good questions from people eager to learn, who are as interested as I am in having happy, healthy hens.

Class size is small so sign up as soon as you can.

Urban Hens 101

February 21, 2013 from 6 to 8:30 pm

If you’re new to chickens, then this is the class for you! We’ll discuss everything from day old chick care, raising hens in the city, breed selection, coop and brooder ideas, to feed requirements and egg laying expectations. I have so much fun with this class. It is always super engaging. Little Georgia always has a good time clucking at us.

Chicken Coop Construction

March 7, 2013 from 6-8 pm

In this workshop you will learn the essential components of building a well functioning chicken coop, common physical characteristics, and the requirement for a safe coop. I’ll also share information on where and what kinds of free materials you’ll be able to find around Columbia.  You will finish the class by viewing pictures of local coops and (if we have time) sketching out some design ideas for your own back yard. We won’t actually be constructing a coop, just discussing and viewing ideas.

I’ve been thinking about doing a mini coop tour with this class or having it at a location with a coop. I’ll see how interest pans out before decided in anything.

Chicken Health and Preventative Care

March 14, 2013 from 6-8:30 pm

Chickens make wonderful pets for the backyard gardener, but they have unique needs. This class will teach you how to raise healthy chickens in a backyard environment, discuss the factors to look for when acquiring birds, how to treat many of the common ailments you’ll encounter, and offer ideas for preventative care. I run through a bunch of diseases/parasites at first that can be kinda boring, then I try to make up for it.

Can’t wait to see you!

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