Archive for August 18th, 2016

Body Condition Score for Deer

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Body Condition Score for DeerDo you know how to calculate the body condition score for deer?  Body condition scoring can be a useful tool to monitor the health and condition of your deer. Maintaining optimal body condition in bucks can help to support great antler growth, does may be more fertile with increased potential to produce more high-quality milk which can result in healthy, fast growing fawns.

The Purina Animal Nutrition Body Condition Scoring System allows you to visually score deer based on fat coverage on several key body areas. An ideal Body Condition Scores lies between 3 and 4 and can be as high as 4.5 just prior to the rut, especially in bucks.

Scoring should be done on an annual basis. For does, it’s recommended to score mid-to-late summer. If body condition score is poor, this will give time to adjust nutrition to improve body condition scoring prior to breeding season. For bucks, it’s recommended to body condition score in late winter or early spring. If body condition scores are poor, this will give time to make adjustments to nutrition to improve body condition before antler production begins.

Deer is emaciated. Majority of ribs are prominent during summer and visible but less distinct in winter. Spine appears sharp with a steep muscle angle and prominent saw tooth appearance form the side. Hip bone is clearly visible with sharp edges, surrounded by sunken muscles at the rump. Tail head is devoid of fat and framed by deep sunken depressions on each side, resulting in sharp looking pin bones. Belly is tucked high with hollow flanks and a sharp shelf. Brisket is thin and narrow.

Deer is thin. Many ribs visible but not prominent during summer. In winter, ribs are slightly prominent. Spine is evident but not sharp, with a somewhat steep muscle angle and mild saw tooth side appearance. Hip bone is clearly seen, with sharp edges and slightly sunken rump muscles. Tail head displays sunken depressions on each side, with sharp pin bones and a small amount of observable fat.

Deer is strong, muscular and healthy. Ribs should be slightly visible but not sharp during warmer months. Ribs are nicely covered in flesh and not visible in winter. Spine is visible, but not prominent and surrounded by moderately sloping muscles. No “saw toothing” of the spine is visible. Rump clearly visible but not sharp, featuring flat, angular muscles. Tail head reflects slight hollows on either side, rounded pin bones, and a small bit of fat. Belly has a slight depression with slight shelf and lean appearance with no fat rolls. Slightly rounded brisket.

Deer is healthy, but carrying a few extra pounds, considered normal and healthy prior to rut. Ribs are not visible. Spine is not readily seen, with adjoining muscles rising at a gentle slope. Hips are full with hip bone barely visible. Slight depression can be seen beside tail head. Pin bones appear rounded and smooth. Flank is full with no shelf. Slight fat rolls developing. Brisket appears full and rounded.

Ribs are layered in fat. Spine lies buried in fat, surrounded by rounding muscles with little to no slope. Hip bone is hidden by fat. Rump appears full and overly round. Tail head is covered with rounding at each side, pin bones are buried in fat. Belly is distended, with full flank and no shelf. Fat rolls are clearly evident at the midline and brisket. Does may have reproductive problems.

Monitoring deer utilizing the Purina Animal Nutrition Body Condition Scoring System will help track the health of your animals and allow time to adjust before heading into critical periods of nutritional stress. An ideal body condition score can lead to healthier animals with more production potential that can lead to a healthier bottom line.

Larry Varner – Wildlife Management Consultant for Purina 

When Will My Chickens Lay Eggs?

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

I Chickens Lay Eggsf raising a backyard flock was a treasure hunt, the ultimate prize would be a hen’s first egg. To extend this feeling of exhilaration and help hens produce wholesome, nutritious eggs long-term, care for the flock differently as they begin laying.

The transition from pullet to egg-laying hen often occurs at 4-5 months of age, subject to breed, environment and nutrition. Laying breed pullets will begin laying at about 18 to 20 weeks of age. A rooster is not necessary for egg production.

The first 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.

High-producing hens can lay up to 300 eggs per year; however, first year hens may lay fewer: about 200-250 eggs apiece. Because it takes approximately 25 hours for a hen to produce one egg, six eggs per week is an ideal goal.

To help hens reach this target – and stay happy and healthy, consider the following housing and nutrition tips.

Chicken Housing
After moving chicks from the brooder, introduce them directly to the coop that will become their forever home. This helps birds adjust to the coop well in advance of their first lay. Make sure the coop has comfortable nesting boxes that provide privacy to individual hens.

Once a hen begins laying, it’s her tendency to lay in the same spot moving forward. Create several comfortable, clean and cozy nesting areas to prevent hens from becoming competitive in the coop.

A general rule is to provide one 1-foot square nest box for every four or five hens because the flock will take turns using the boxes. Line each nest box with a thick layer of straw or other bedding to cushion the eggs and keep them clean and unbroken. Keep the nests up off the floor in the darkest corner of the coop.

Be sure all the nest areas have a uniform environment. If the hens decide one nest is preferable to the others, they may all try to use that nest, causing themselves stress, which can lead to egg breakage or egg eating. On our farm, we built the nests into the coops. Outdoor access to the nests allows us to collect eggs without disrupting the flock.

When pullets are nearing their first lay, their behavior changes. They may begin spending more time with the rooster, crouching for breeding or investigating 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 the hens understand the use of the nesting boxes.

Chicken Nutrition
Once the first egg appears, the hen’s diet should also be adjusted.

Different nutrients are required to produce eggs as compared to what the pullet needs for growth. Young chicks and pullets need high protein levels as their body and feathers grow. At laying, switching to a complete feed with calcium and omega-3 fatty acids can help hens produce strong shells and nutritious eggs.

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential to form strong egg shells. If the bird does not secure enough calcium from her feed, she may pull the nutrient from her bones, which could eventually lead to a weak skeletal structure. Since egg shells are developed at night, when birds are not eating, a consistent source of slow-release calcium in the diet is important. Oyster shells are the most common and reliable source of slow-release calcium. For strong shells and healthy hens, feed a complete layer feed with 16 percent protein and 3.25-4.5 percent calcium, like Purina® Layena® Premium Poultry Feed or Purina® Organic Layer Pellets or Crumbles. If your layer feed does not include Oyster Strong™ System, supplement the diet with free-choice oyster shells to add slow-release calcium.
  • Omega-3: For even more nutritious eggs, offer laying hens a complete feed that includes flaxseed as a source of Omega-3. For example, when a diet of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 was fed for at least three weeks, those hens produced large eggs (56 g) that contained 250 mg of Omega-3 per egg. 1  For comparison, a typical store-bought egg contains 50 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per large egg (USDA: National Nutrient Base).  Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health.
1When fed a diet of Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 exclusively for at least 3 weeks. Based on large egg (56 g). Results may vary with factors such as total diet and hen health. A typical store-bought egg contains 50 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per large egg (USDA: National Nutrient Base).
Contents courtesy of Purina Animal Nutrition


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August 2016
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