Feeding Chicks and Layers Together

Bringing baby chicks home to add to your existing flock? Check out this video from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart for tips on feeding the entire flock properly through this transition.

 

Helpful tips:

  • Feed baby chicks, or juveniles, chick starter crumble until they are 16 weeks of age
  • Have oyster shell available for adult females as crumble feed have very little calcium

 

Mixing Poultry Breeds in Your Flock

If you’ve been at the chicken thing for a while, you might be interested in adding some birds of a different feather to your flock. Check out Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart’s advice on mixing breeds in your backyard flock.

Helpful tips:

  • Some breeds that make good producers, layers and are friendly include Naked Necks, Wyandottes and Sex Links
  • Bantams are miniature chickens and exist in every breed, but they do not mix well with the big ones
  • Cornish cross meat chickens do not mix well with other chickens

 

Getting Birds for the First Time

Interested in starting a backyard chicken flock? Wondering what you need to know before you bring home those cute, fluffy, little chicks? Listen in as Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart gives a quick overview of what you need to consider!

Helpful tips:

  • Make sure you can legally have chickens on your property.
  • Start with laying hens.
  • It is best to start small, with four to six chickens at most.

Feeding Chickens in Winter

The days are getting shorter, the girls are finishing up their molts, and you are getting less eggs as winter approaches. You might be wondering, “is this normal?” The answer is, yes, it’s perfectly normal.

Chickens need about 16 hours of light per day to produce eggs, with the exception of some over-eager first year hens who may lay throughout winter. But with the shortened daylight hours, and the cold weather requiring more of their energy resources be directed to keeping their body temperatures where the need to be, egg production will go down.

Chicken in the snow

Just because your ladies have slowed down on their egg production, or even stopped, however, doesn’t mean they need less nutrition. Continuing to feed a quality, nutritious, energy-providing diet, just like you would through the warmer months, will help your girls continue some egg production and provide them the energy reserves they require to stay warm and fit. It will also help them show up next spring in prime condition to start laying regularly again.

You may hear some chicken owners say they feed a cheap layer feed, or even nothing but scratch in winter, because it is cheaper and “they aren’t laying anyway”. If you pay attention, these are often the same folks that lose birds in the winter, or their birds look pretty rough come spring time. Scratch grains should never make up more than 10% of any birds diet – or what they can clean up in about 5 minutes.

Don’t forget to provide grit throughout the winter as well, as they may not be able to find it on their own due to snow and mud.

Duck Tales – the Adventure Continues. Owning ducks.

The following series will take you on a journey with Nutrena Poultry Expert, Twain Lockhart and his wife as they navigate the ins and outs of owning ducks.

The duck adventure is progressing along, with these guys really growing fast.

At 6 weeks of age, we moved them to their own separate coop, complete with a pond (plastic kiddie pool)!

I cannot stress how much they love the access to water.

It needs to be changed daily, and they make a muddy mess, but it is so entertaining to watch, so we forgive them pretty quickly.

Speaking of entertainment, these guys are vocal! As I say, they talk to my wife and yell at me.

As the temperatures dropped this winter, a few challenges have arose. Obviously the pond had to be removed.

Additionally, we’ve had to provide water access to them throughout the day, as their location doesn’t have running water.

We’ve provided some straw for bedding, to keep them warm and that seems to keep them content.

As much as us humans are anticipating Spring, I’d venture to guess these ducks are counting down the days until they see the return of their pond and sunshine!

Also read: Getting my ducks in a row!

Nutrition For Ducks: Duck Tales – Nutrition Know-How

The following series will take you on a journey with Nutrena Poultry Expert, Twain Lockhart and his wife as they navigate the ins and outs of duck ownership and providing the right nutrition for ducks.  

There’s a wealth of knowledge to gather when thinking about nutrition for your ducks.

One surprise for us right out of the gate, was we noticed these little guys REALLY put the groceries away.

A feed that has worked great for us is Nutrena Nature Wise 18% Non-Medicated Chick Feed, free choice, meaning as much as they want.

We also supplement with vitamins, electrolytes, and brewers yeast for birds. Baby chicken feed does not have quite enough Niacin for ducks as they can have leg issues if not given enough.

This was the reason for the additional supplements. It’s important to note, you do NOT want to use medicated chick feed, as the medication Amprolium is not approved for waterfowl.

Our ducklings will stay on this starter for about 6 weeks, then we will switch them over to a 16-18% Layer Feed.

Most waterfowl breeders recommend not exceeding 18% protein to avoid a condition called angel wing.

Many also like to dilute the feed with some scratch or oats.

Additionally, it’s recommended to continue to supplement with brewers yeast.

As with any birds, water access is important. I was reminded how much ducks love/need to keep the mucous membranes in their nostrils wet at all times, hence the continual mess in and around the water bowl.

This serves as a great reminder to not try to brood baby chicks with ducklings.

Changing out water often and allowing an absorbent surface for the waterers are very helpful tip for new duck owners.

Check back next month for more duck tales adventures as we dive deeper into the winter care for ducks.

Duck Tales – Newbie Confessions

The following series will take you on a journey with Nutrena Poultry Expert, Twain Lockhart and his wife as they navigate the ins and outs of duck ownership.  

Recently, my wife and I were at our local farm store and we heard chirping. Wait, scratch that, quacking.

As we followed the sound, we discovered 2 lonely ducklings left in the brooder. First, let me give you a little background.

I have been presenting poultry seminars for roughly 6 years, about 50-60 per year. When asked how I feel about ducks, I would usually give a colorful answer.

I am NOT a duck guy. Messy does not begin to describe them.

They are tougher than nails but carry all sorts of diseases that will kill my precious chickens, or so I thought. So, when my wife says, “Oh honey, we need to take them home!” My answer was an immediate “NO! Never!” So as it goes in marriage, we compromised, and I found myself driving home these little ducklings.

To my wife’s credit, she researched brooding ducks extensively. The first step was to put a doggie pad down under a thin layer of shavings. This helped a lot.

In her research, we also discovered ducks need for their mucous membranes to be wet for them to eat. Although it still just looks like they are playing in the water.

My wife bestowed them the names Steve and Bob, as I knew we had 2 drakes (males). They go through feed like crazy, so be prepared. Also, as a side note, do not use medicated chick feed on waterfowl.

Additionally, we discovered that they need more Niacin then baby chickens, so we gave them vitamins and electrolytes that contained Niacin.

Eventually, my wife bought some specialized Brewers Yeast online to mix in their feed for little expense. She cleaned the brooder every day, and while it was being cleaned, Bob and Steve went for a swim in the sink.

Initially we had the water shallow enough they could stand up. After the swim, we bleached the sink out for biosecurity purposes.

I have to say, they are tons of fun and they are starting to grow on me, though I wouldn’t admit it. They have grown like crazy, and at 4 weeks we moved them outside.

Check back next month for more duck tales adventures as we dive deeper into the nutritional needs of ducks.