Purina® Flock Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Chris & Lacy Allen: A Poultry Education

Growing up on a dairy farm in Illinois, Chris Allen was very active in 4-H, so naturally, when her daughter, Lacy, wanted to join Chris was ecstatic.

Starting out with rabbits, Lacy raised and showed them for two years until she became allergic. Not wanting to give up on having livestock, Lacy, with her Mom's help, talked her dad into letting her purchase two mallard ducks.

Crystal, a Grey Mallard, was one of Lacy's first ducks and her pride and joy.

"Her first year at the Ohio State Fair, Lacy would talk to anyone who would listen about her duck and let them pet it. She was full of knowledge and had just won the 10-year-old showmanship class, so she had lots to talk about," said Chris. "Someone she talked with that day, we still don't know who it was to this day, was so impressed with this little girl and her duck that they came back to Findlay and called the radio station and nominated her for the Cut Above Award, which she won. We were so surprised when the radio station called Lacy and started asking questions about her and her duck."

Now, 10 years later in 2011, Lacy has about 75 ducks (Grey, White and Snowy Mallards, Grey and White Runners, Saxony ducks, Australian Spotted ducks, White Crested ducks and Teal ducks), 45 bantam chickens (Barred Rock, Colombian Rock, White Rock, Partridge Wyondottes and laying hens), one Egyptian goose, two African geese and one Bronze turkey.

"Ducks are the easiest to raise because they require less work than chickens," said Chris, "but both are a lot of fun."

One of their favorite things about raising poultry is hearing the first peeps from the incubator and playing with the hatchlings.

"Now our grandkids think Grandma's house is the best place to hang out because of all of the animals," said Chris. "We have a lot of great pictures of ducks sleeping on Lacy, following her around at shows and just having heart to heart talks with them."

The birds all have their own quirks which makes them each special, especially a Snowy Mallard named Peter.

"Peter was hatched when we gave our friend Max chicken eggs for his incubator and accidently put in one duck egg," said Chris. "We got a call very early that fall morning when Peter hatched, and Max, not wanting to raise ducks, brought him over. It was too late in the year for Peter to go outside with the other ducks so he was raised in the house for the winter. He loved to watch TV and eat popcorn, ride on the dash of the car and bow of the canoe, which nearly caused a few accidents because of staring. He followed us everywhere like a puppy would."

Chris is a cake decorator, so she uses a lot of the chicken eggs in her cakes. The Allens also raise meat chickens and turkeys along with their layers. They don't raise ducks for meat, but do sell the eggs.

"I have a lady whose daughter is allergic to chicken eggs, but can eat and bake with duck eggs, which are very thick and sweet," said Chris. "I also sell duck eggs for incubator use."

Lacy has shown her ducks, chickens, turkey, and geese at the Hancock County fair, Ohio State Fair and American Poultry Association (APA) and American Bantam Association (ABA) National Shows since 2002, learning a lot about the poultry industry and leadership.

The Allens use Purina® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe, Purina® Duck Grower, Purina® Scratch Grains SunFresh® Recipe Grains, and Purina® Layena® that they purchase at Findlay Tractor Supply Company and Blanchard Valley Feed Company.

"Lacy has won too many awards to list with her birds, and I know that feeding the right feed from start to finish is what produced county, state and national champions," said Chris. "The old saying 'you get what you pay for' is true with buying feed. Buy a great feed and you will get great healthy birds."

Lacy started at the age of 10 and is now 21 and still learning and showing. She has become an Ohio Poultry Pollorum Tester for the state, earned the 4-H State Poultry Achievement Award, the Ohio State Poultry Scholarship, three Agriculture Scholarships, FFA State Degree and in the Fall will receive the FFA American Degree, National and State Showmanship awards, Poultry Princess and Queen and Champion Ducks and Chicken awards. She has also completed all four of the APA/ABA Youth Poultry Degrees and is now working to be a Poultry Judge.

"I encourage families to let their children raise poultry because it is easy, doesn't take a lot of space and the rewards are countless," said Chris. "Raising poultry teaches responsibility that can carry them through many aspects of your life."

Lacy is currently a junior at Bowling Green State University studying to be a high school English literature teacher, is captain of the BGSU equestrian team and is the resident hall adviser for her dorm.

Chris & Lacy took the Purina® See the Difference 60 Day Challenge, putting Purina® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe to the test and saving a little money by doing so. By signing up your flock, you'll get $3 off your purchase when you buy two bags of eligible Purina® poultry feeds. Visit www.purinadifference.com to learn more and get started!

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FLOCK TIPS | Coccidiosis

One of the challenges you face as a bird owner is the threat of a common, and potentially devastating, disease called coccidiosis. But once you understand what causes it and how it spreads, you can feel more confident about your ability to limit its impact on your flock.


Coccidiosis is caused by a microscopic parasite called coccidia that is transmitted via the droppings from infected birds. In other words, anywhere there's a microscopic trace of bird poop—in a waterer, a feeder, or in bedding—there's almost certainly coccidia present.

Symptoms of coccidiosis include weight loss, paleness, ruffled feathers, depression, huddling, unwillingness to eat, and watery or bloody diarrhea. All birds are at risk, but growing birds and young adults ages 3 to 5 weeks old seem most susceptible.

The good news is that birds in relatively good health with strong immune systems are equipped to ward off coccidiosis, as long as they do not become stressed or overexposed to unsanitary conditions. A mild case may even pass unnoticed. Once a flock survives an outbreak, it will be immune to that particular coccidia organism (there are nine different species that can infect chickens, however, so the disease can rear its ugly head in a new form).

The other good news is that each species of coccidia is "host-specific." That means the type of coccidia that could infect your turkeys is not the same type that could infect your chickens (or geese or quail, etc.). So coccidiosis cannot spread from a chicken to a goose—but it can spread like wildfire from chicken to chicken.

When coccidiosis is allowed to proliferate unchecked, it invades the lining of the intestines causing tissue damage and interfering with nutrient absorption. It can be devastating to a flock.

One of the best ways to prevent a coccidiosis outbreak is by practicing responsible sanitation and litter management. Coccidia thrive in damp, warm conditions, so wet litter around the waterer is a virtual parasite paradise.

Believe it or not, when the conditions are just right, coccidia can survive for up to four years outside a bird's body. And these hardy little organisms can be transmitted via boots, equipment, insects and rodents. So you're going to need a multi-tiered approach to minimize the threat.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep the premises as dry as possible. Coccidia love moisture.
  • Never introduce new adult birds into your flock. Birds that appear healthy can be carriers of a number of deadly diseases. Quarantine them first.
  • Raise chicks in isolation. Mature birds can pass along diseases and parasites to vulnerable young birds.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the brooder between broods. This includes any equipment the chicks will come in contact with. Once the premises are dry, place four to six inches of dry, fresh litter material (wood shavings or a commercial absorbent litter material) on the floor.
  • Provide clean water at all times. A typical problem is that brooder bedding or dust (containing feces) gets scratched into the water source. If possible, elevate the waterer slightly. Clean waterers relentlessly. If you wouldn't be willing to drink the water yourself, it's not clean enough. And never let the waterer run dry—it will force the birds to search for water in puddles, which are almost certainly contaminated.
  • Provide clean bedding. Coccidia are spread through the feces of infected birds. If feces are in the bedding, they're on the birds' feathers. And if feces are on the feathers, the birds will ingest them while preening (using their beaks to clean themselves). Replace wet bedding around waterers and add bedding to any problem spots.
  • Let sunlight do some of the work. Coccidia hate sunlight. It's a natural disinfectant. Incorporate as much natural sunlight into your brooder as possible.
  • Ask your veterinarian about vaccinating. A commercial coccidiosis vaccine is available, but it's not beneficial for every flock. Consult your veterinarian before using the vaccine.
Remember, exposure to coccidia isn't the threat—frankly, it's unavoidable. Even wild birds carry coccidia. Instead, the serious threat comes from prolonged over-exposure to coccidia in a stressful, unsanitary environment that can overwhelm a bird's immune system.

There's one more important weapon that you can employ as part of your multi-tiered defense against coccidiosis: medicated feeds containing a coccidiostat that controls the growth of coccidian in the digestive tract.

Purina® Start & Grow® Medicated is formulated for layer chicks and can be fed until eight weeks of age to prevent coccidiosis. For broiler chicks and turkey poults, there's Purina® Flock Raiser® Medicated. Both of these feeds provide a complete and balanced diet for the birds they were designed for. No other supplemental feeds are necessary. When you consider that a strong immune system is a bird's best natural defense against coccidia and other diseases, investing in good nutrition from the get-go is a smart way to ensure the health of your flock.

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This just in...Win a free coop, flock and chicken feed for a year!

You can enter to win the Purina® Rule the Roost Sweepstakes for your chance at a grand prize of a Heritage Poultry Flock of 10 hens and two roosters from P. Allen Smith, a Horizon Structures Chicken Coop for 12 chickens and a free one year's supply of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 Chicken Feed. We'll also be giving away three first prizes of a signed copy of P. Allen Smith's book, "Seasonal Recipes from the Garden," and one free 40-lb. bag of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 Chicken Feed.

To enter, visit facebook.com/purinapoultry or facebook.com/chickenchat, log into your Facebook account, "Like" the Purina Poultry and Chicken Chat pages, then click on the sweepstakes tab.

Just for entering, you'll receive a $3 off coupon for Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Promotion open to legal U.S. residents, 13 years of age and older as of 7/18/11. Sweepstakes starts 7/18/11 and ends 9/18/11. Internet access, valid email address and Facebook account required to enter. Visit facebook.com/purinapoultry and facebook.com/chickenchat for complete details and official rules. Void where prohibited.

GET TO KNOW | Purina® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe Poultry Feed

Purina® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe Poultry Feed takes "natural*" to an entirely new level by using only the freshest, highest quality sun-grown grains and plant proteins. It is a nutrient-rich feed, perfect for a mixed flock of chickens, ducks and geese from hatching until laying age (18 to 20 weeks) and turkeys from 8 to 10 weeks until laying age. Flock Raiser® feed provides your poultry with the quality nutrients it needs to grow and stay strong, healthy and beautiful.
  • SunFresh® Recipe—Fresh, natural* plant proteins, FREE of all animal proteins and fats
  • Small, Crumbled Pieces—Waste less feed and ensure proper food intake
  • Superior Nutrition Including Essential Amino Acids—Provide chicks with a strong start, optimal muscle development, uniform growth, and top vigor
  • Vitamins A & E—Support overall health, reproduction, vitality, and a healthy immune system throughout your bird's life
  • Exclusive Level of Marigold Extract—Give your birds brightly colored beaks, shanks, and overall appearance
  • Complete and Balanced—Provides wholesome nutrition for your entire mixed flock with no supplements needed

* with added vitamins, nutrients, and trace minerals

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