The Place Where Animal Lovers Come Together - Summer 2009
|Featured Story | A Thriving Flock that Started Small|
Steve Scherrer’s initial venture into chicken ownership was purely practical—he had heard that guinea hens help control ticks. So living next to a state park teeming with wildlife, it seemed like a reasonable solution to an inevitable problem. “But after I got the hens, it was kind of a natural evolution to have a few chickens. I thought it would be neat to have our own fresh eggs,” recalls Scherrer.
They say raising poultry is all about feed, water, heat and light. But in the summer, beating the heat is a top priority. Severe heat stress can affect egg quality, size and hatchability. It can also increase the rate of mortality. Here are some tips:
Keep Birds Cool
Water Is Essential
Keep Water Clean
Signs of Trouble
Keep in mind, birds experience a major moult (shedding feathers) in late summer, so don’t be surprised if they temporarily devote most of their calories to replacing their feathers and maintaining body temperature instead of producing eggs. Be sure to provide a good quality feed during this time. Have a great summer!
Ever heard the term “pecking order?” It literally comes from chickens because they establish social dominance through a “pecking order,” a natural behavior in which status determines which birds eat first and have right-of-way privileges. However, excessive pecking can get out of control. This is referred to as cannibalism.
But there’s a product that can help. Flock Block SunFresh® Recipe is a whole grain enrichment supplement that encourages natural pecking instincts to help reduce cannibalism.
Cannibalism can be difficult to stop once it begins so prevention is the best and most successful treatment. This can be achieved by not crowding the birds, keeping light levels reduced, providing adequate feeder space and ensuring proper nutrition through a well balanced ration, such as Purina Mills Family Flock products. And don’t forget Flock Block SunFresh® Recipe.
“The more I got exposed to chickens, the more I realized there were many varieties. There are some absolutely beautifully marked birds,” says the freelance graphic designer who lives on three acres in “ruripolitan” St. Louis, Missouri.
“It really got to be fun when I got a design project that featured chickens. I had no idea where to find show quality poultry, but I got in touch with a licensed poultry judge who raises champion White Rocks,” says Scherrer. “Then I attended a competition, bringing along a professional photographer.” That was nine years ago, and Steve has been growing his flock ever since.
“Today I own 14 chickens—everything from late spring chicks to full-grown layers that are laying regularly. I have Bantam Cochins, Bantam Leghorns, full-size Ameraucanas—and a couple of mutts,” laughs Scherrer.
More Feathered Friends
A previously unknown zoning restriction surfaced a couple of years, almost costing him his flock. But the code was ultimately revised, much to Scherrer’s relief. He has since added a peacock and a pair of turkeys to his menagerie, a male Bronze who is just getting big enough to strut and play, and a Royal Palm female who is supplying them with eggs.
Hurry! You could still win the Fanciest & Funniest photo contest. Send in your finest photo of your fanciest bird struttin’ his stuff and you could win 12 free bags of SunFresh® poultry feed, a $150 value. But hurry, contest ends August 31, 2009.
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