At about four and a half months, you’re probably anxiously awaiting the “fruits of your labors”, fresh eggs! Now is the time to introduce your laying pullets to Purina Layena or Purina Layena Plus Omega-3 to insure that they receive the best nutrition to support egg production. Purina Layena Plus Omega-3 has added flaxseed, which helps your chickens to produce with enhanced levels of Omega-3. Each egg will contain 300 percent more Omega-3, an essential fatty acid!
Gradually transition your laying pullets over to Purina Layena or Purina Layena Plus Omega-3 over a 7- to 10-day period.
Continue to provide birds with a maximum of 17 to 18 hours of light per day to ensure optimum egg production.
Purina Layena Plus Omega-3 can be purchased as a pellet, and Purina Layena can be purchased as a pellet or crumble. Both forms contain high quality grains with added vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet. In pelleted form, it is just that, a pellet. Crumbles are simply pellets that are broken apart into smaller bits, which make it easier to eat.
Optimum egg production is achieved when layers are maintained in temperatures between 65°F and 85°F. As temperatures increase above this, egg size and production may decrease. Keep your birds cool and comfortable so you will get the best return on your investment!
Summer is near and your spring chicks will be approaching puberty. Assuming they’ve enjoyed good food and care, the young hens, called pullets, begin laying sometime between their 16th and 24th week of age.
You can anticipate the arrival of eggs soon! Discovering a hen’s first egg from your own hand-raised chicks is a thrill. Pullet eggs are tiny and look like gems in the nest.
If your pullets are over 16 weeks of age, now is the time to switch them to a Nutrena® layer feed, as laying hens need special nutrition. Producing eggs places great nutritional strain on a hen’s body. Just think of the calcium she is giving up each time she lays an egg! Nutrena® brand layer feeds have the minerals, vitamins, protein and other nutrients needed to help keep your birds healthy and productive. Now would also be a good time to supplement calcium by putting oyster shell out or sprinkling it on the coop floor for hens to discover and eat.
Are your pullets ready to lay eggs? Here’s how to tell:
Chickens will be between 16-24 weeks old
Pullets look full grown with clean, new feathers
Combs and wattles have swollen and are a deep, red color
Bones in the hen’s pelvis will begin to separate.
To check if the hen’s pelvis bones have begun to separate, cradle the hen between your side and arm with the hen facing your back so you see its rear end. Carefully hold the bird’s feet so it can’t kick. Place your other hand gently on the hen’s rear end. If three prominent bones are close together, don’t expect eggs for a few more weeks, but if the bones have separated, expect eggs soon!
Pullets like to lay eggs in privacy, and it’s important to have nest boxes in place before the first egg arrives. These can be purchased or made of lumber and should be approximately 10-12 inches square and about 18-inches deep. Install one nest box for every two hens and place them from one to three feet above the floor. Line the nests with straw, dried grass, wood chips or even shredded paper to help keep the eggs clean.
As you reach the third month, your chicks are continuing to grow, maturing weekly and becoming quite independent. They become sexually mature between 4 and 6 months of age and with proper care and excellent nutrition the first egg is laid soon!
You should still be feeding Purina Start & Grow Sunfresh Recipe to your birds. A layer diet should not be fed until 18 weeks of age because of the high calcium levels which are inappropriate for younger birds. Be sure to gradually transition the birds from the starter feed to the layer feed over 7 to 10 days.
Remember to always provide fresh water. Water is essential for healthy chickens, not to mention future egg production. As the weather gets warmer, they will drink more water so make sure they have access to a never-ending supply!
Purina Scratch Grains Sunfresh Grains can be introduced to your flock after 12 weeks of age. This natural, all grain supplement should be fed along with a complete and balanced diet and should not make up more than 5-10 percent of the total daily intake.
If you feed Purina Scratch Grains Sunfresh Grains, your birds should also have access to “grit.” Grit is made up of small insoluble granite particles, which assist in digestion of feed by helping to grind it up in the gizzard. Feed 1 pound per 100 birds, twice per week either mixed with other feed or free choice.
Remember to provide your pullets with 17-18 hours of light per day starting at 16 weeks of age.
By weeks four and five, you begin noticing that your chicks look a bit “unkept” as their fluffy appearance slowly disappears and their fuzzy down is replaced with feathers of a mature bird. Chicks will usually be fully feathered by 5 to 6 weeks of age. You also observe their wattles and combs growing larger and taking on a deeper red color. Your babies are growing up!
As they mature, chicks naturally establish a “pecking order” which determines each chick’s social position in the flock. Their place in the order will determine who eats and drinks first and ultimately who “rules the roost.” This order is determined early in life and is completely normal.
Although establishment of a pecking order is normal behavior, you should be watchful for excessive pecking in chicks as it may indicate a more serious problem, cannibalism. This is when birds peck the feathers and other body parts of other birds and if allowed to get out of hand, can lead to bleeding, open sores and even death. Cannibalism can occur at any age and needs to be controlled as soon as it rears its ugly head! It is costly and can spread through a flock rapidly if left unchecked. Cannibalism is usually the result of stress, which can be caused by poor management. Some of these stressors may include crowding, excessive heat, bright lighting, noise, hunger, thirst, the presence of sick or injured chicks, and parasites as well as any other factor that causes stress. Providing the correct living environment in terms of these factors will help reduce the potential for cannibalism from occurring in your flock.
things to do this week
Your chicks require less heat as time goes by and they grow larger and more able to regulate their body temperature. Continue reducing the temperature each week to keep them comfortable to a minimum of 65°F.
Continue providing clean fresh water each day and providing unlimited Sunfresh® Recipe Start & Grow® in their feeders.
As your chicks grow, adjust the height of the feeders and waterers. A good rule of thumb is to keep them adjusted to the birds’ back height while standing. This will help to keep litter out of feeders and waterers, as well as curious chicks!
Around 4 weeks of age, ducklings and goslings will thoroughly enjoy the addition of a swimming area. Be sure if you provide this to keep any resulting wet litter cleaned up! Because of their water-loving, messy nature, it is best to separate ducklings and goslings from chicks.
tips to grow on
Maintain good sanitation practices to reduce the chance of disease. Bigger chicks make bigger messes!
As the chicks grow, make sure they have sufficient space to prevent crowding. Additional feeders and waterers may need to be added now to allow adequate space for all chicks to eat and drink at the same time.
Keep a close eye on your chicks for signs of possible health issues. Chicks that are sick may appear droopy, listless, have diarrhea or be unwilling to eat.
Your chicks will soon be mature enough to leave the brooder and move into more permanent living quarters, the chicken coop. If you don’t have one ready, now is a good time to start looking into getting one and preparing it for new occupants. You’ll be surprised at how fast your chicks will grow and how quickly moving day will arrive!
Many types of poultry housing are available for purchase or you can venture to build your own.