Purina® Flock Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | A Chicken Owning Rookie

When Roxanne and Dave Oesch of Kirkwood, Missouri, started their flock, it was not a decision they took lightly. Roxanne had wanted chickens since she was a child, but had just never had the opportunity. But ever since she and Dave got married about three years ago, it had been on their minds. In the spring of 2010, after doing their homework on proper management and care techniques, they took the plunge.

"I spent a really long time researching before we got our chickens," said Roxanne. "You've got to be prepared. I looked at how other people did it and what they would have done differently."

Roxanne and Dave split an order of 25 chicks with another, more experienced chicken-owning neighbor.

"After we finished the outdoor run area we picked up our 12 chicks, and it was almost like having a baby," Roxanne said. "There was so much planning to get everything ready."

Their chickens are now a natural fit into their everyday lifestyle—from spending time just watching their crazy antics to helping out around the garden.

"We love to watch them. My husband even built me a bench. I don't know why they're so fascinating, but they are," Roxanne said. "Also, I'm really into the local, more organic food, and we have a huge garden. The chickens provide the eggs, and they help with the composting. I think compost is just the greatest thing. Last fall we scouted the neighborhood for leaves. We put the leaves in the chicken run, and they helped make this really great mix."

But the benefits of being a chicken owner extend even further. Roxanne has even started taking her chickens in for show and tell. She visited a first grade class at Hudson Elementary in Rock Hill with one of her chickens.

"I met the teacher at a local event where we had chickens out, and she asked if I could bring in one of my own chickens to show the class," Roxanne said. "All kinds of people in the neighborhood want to come out and see the chickens. You're automatically part of this little magical club when you have them."

Most of Roxanne's chickens don't have names, but there's one whose personality just demanded it.

"We have one that likes to jump on my head or on my shoulders, Roberta," Roxanne said. "She's the only one that has a name, but it's simply because she's so bossy. She's brazen!"

Every chicken in Roxanne's original flock is still alive and well, crediting their extensive coop and management research.

"Our coop is like Fort Knox, so we haven't had any predator issues. They all line up and sit perfectly on their roost," Roxanne said. "And we haven't had any disease issues. I've been very concerned about it, but no problems so far. Raising chickens has totally lived up to what I thought it would be."

On top of taking care of the coop, Roxanne is working on her Bachelors' degree in biology to complement her current associate degree in horticulture.

"I'm considering going into education," Roxanne said. "There's a huge push for putting farming into curriculums that I think is really great. I love the idea of working hands on!"

Roxanne, as a new poultry owner, took on the Purina® 60 Day See The Difference Challenge and began feeding all her chickens Layena® SunFresh® Recipe. If you'd like to experience the Purina difference for your own flock, visit www.purinamills.com/rewards to register for coupons and special offers.

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FLOCK TIPS | Preparing for Winter

Shorter days and colder nights are just around the corner. No matter what type of poultry you're raising, the steps you take now can help you maintain egg production and save you when the thermometer dips.

  • Supplemental Lighting. Shorter days trigger molting. Molting results in more energy devoted to growing feathers and less energy devoted to egg production. So one of the best ways to maintain egg production is to prevent a sudden molt. You can do this by providing supplemental lighting, extending the "daylight" hours to 14 to 16 hours per day. A single 60 to 100 watt bulb set on a timer will suffice. It's best to extend the hours at the beginning of the day, so set the timer to turn the lights on before dawn. By employing this technique, any molt will be gradual and will not hinder egg production.
  • Egg Gathering. The more your birds are confined during cold weather, the more frequently you should gather eggs. This will prevent other birds from pecking and breaking the eggs.
  • Ventilation. While it's important to weatherproof your coop to protect birds from the increasingly cold temperatures, you must still allow for adequate ventilation to help keep the litter dry. Otherwise, in such a confined area, ammonia can build up quickly. The hazards of ammonia can range from infection, to birth defects, to blindness. A simple way to test ammonia levels is to position your head at the same height as those of your birds'. Breathe normally. If, after a few seconds, your throat or eyes begin to burn, you have ammonia build up. Ventilation will reduce the moisture in your litter, which will help eliminate the ammonia.
  • Water. If birds do not have water, they will not eat. If birds do not eat, they will not produce eggs. Make sure feeders and waterers are set up to function during freezing temperatures. Your birds need access to fresh, clean water at all times, day or night, and it's always easier to install a heated waterer on a crisp, autumn day than in the middle of a cold, dark, winter night. If you do not have a heated waterer, be aware that even hot tap water freezes within a short time in cold temperatures.
  • High-Quality Feed. Last but not least, especially during the cold weather months, it's important to offer a high-quality complete feed instead of "scratch" alone. Purina® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe is all natural and contains sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals—and even marigold extract—to produce hearty, golden-yoked eggs. For even more nutrition, try Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3. It's made from the same grains as the original Layena® but has added flaxseed to triple the amount of Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that many Americans' diets are lacking, in each egg.**

*With added vitamins, nutrients and trace minerals.

**When fed a diet of Layena® Plus Omega exclusively for at least 3 weeks. Based on large egg (50g). Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health. A typical egg contains 65 mg Omega 3.

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GET TO KNOW | SunFresh® Recipe Purina® Flock Block®

Purina® SunFresh® Recipe Flock Block® is a whole grain enrichment supplement perfect for free-ranging poultry and game birds.

  • Encourages natural pecking instincts to help reduce cannibalism
  • Contains oyster shell and grit for added calcium and digestion aid
  • Available in a 25 pound block

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