Friday, January 15, 2016

New Year, New Challenges

So, this year marks the 4th year I have been raising chickens. And I have been doing pretty well keeping them all happy and healthy. The Girls have been giving me a decent supply of eggs throughout the years, and even a couple batches of chicks.

I bought a bunch of little ones last year, to up the egg production, and to be able to meet the growing demands for farm fresh eggs. By a bunch, I mean fifty, ten of which ended up being roosters and were sold at auction, and I was able to recoup my cost of the flock with that. Since then, I have lost several (I finally lost count) to natural causes and at least 4 to predators.

I am facing some new challenges this year, and am on the hunt for some better alternatives. My two biggest problems right now, worms and wet ground. And I'm not talking about Red or Brown worms, the kind you fish with or use in your compost piles and gardens. I'm talking intestinal parasites. Yes, chickens do get worms, and when you find one in your eggs, you know that at least one hen has an abundance and something needs to be done. Let me say right now, that in about 4 dozen eggs I have used since finding the one, I have NOT found any more. 

This was the Nursery Coop last year, before we did a clean-up. We aren't as bad this year, but still pretty wet.

This was taken after we did our clean-up of the Nursery. Can't wait for those warmer, dryer days to return!

Two contributing factors to the parasite problem: wet ground and being "cooped up".

Oh sure, I could pour cement in the chicken run, but that does not supply the chickens with an opportunity to scratch around. Sand does work to absorb water, but the amount of rain we get during the winter months would just wash it all away. The girls do get to roam free when I am home (so I can be here to keep an out for any predators). But, since our ground is soooo wet this time of year, there is no way I can keep them out of it ALL THE TIME. So, the whole idea of keeping them in dryer areas is going to take some time to figure out.

In the meantime, the first step I take in making sure my girls are getting back on the right track is to make sure all the horses are treated for worms. Since the girls love to go out back and scratch through the horse manure to find corn and feed that did not get digested, this is a very good starting point. Since parasite larva tend to go into hibernation once they leave a host body until they find another. If the horses are clean, then there is one part of the battle down. Besides, the horses are the easiest place to start, since they love the attention they get when being treated.

At the same time, I will treat the girls with Wazine.  It's a liquid I can add to their water and make sure it is the only water source till it is gone.  With 30 hens or better, I NEED an easy and sure way to know they are getting their medicine.

Once I start treatment, all eggs will be destroyed for 45 days, we won't use them ourselves, nor will we sell any. I figured I might as well start the process now while production is down anyways.

Once I get the situation under control, I will begin a more natural way of keeping worms to a minimum. As I research these ways, and try them out, I will let you know the results I have with each. One thing I know I need to add to their, at least for a couple of weeks, is some Probiotics. This will ensure that their guts are getting the good bacteria they need to stay healthy in the future.


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