Management of Growing Chickens. Next year’s profits or losses depend largely on the way pullets develop. Consequently every detail must have close attention. An abundance Of Clean, wholesome food and drink must be available at all times. Growing chickens should have unlimited grass, clover, or alfalfa range, and shade. Feeding and management of growing pullets. Some poultry – men think that by reducing the protein in the ration, or by feeding little mash and mostly grain, they can control the age at which pullets begin to lay.
This practice is not supported by experimental evidence, and may be detrimental to the birds if carried too far. Rate of growth and sexual maturity are two separate factors. Both are inherited. Early sexual maturity is associated with high egg production, and is controlled almost entirely by breeding. In other words the tendency is for high-producing hens to start to lay early in life and to transmit this early maturity to their offspring.
If later maturing pullets are desired, it will be necessary to select breeding hens that are slower in maturing. Rate Of growth, or physical development, although inherited, is more readily affected by the quality and kind of feed or management that the birds receive than is sexual maturity. The vitality and disease-resisting powers of pullets may be affected if they do not receive a ration that permits them to grow normally.
Pullets usually reach sexual maturity before their bodies have fully developed. They complete their development after laying starts. It is well to keep in mind that the degree of physical at this time is particularly influenced by the protein level, vitamins, and minerals supplied during the first three months of growth.
Low-protein rations fed early in the life of chickens tend to retard growth, while high-protein rations speed it up. Rations carrying less than I5 per cent of protein would be considered low, and those having more than 20 per cent are high.
The protein requirement of chickens decreases as they grow older. It is not advisable at any time during the growing period to feed a ration containing less than 14 per cent of protein. Because grain mixtures are low in proteins, minerals, and some vitamins, it is a mistake to feed pullets wholly on grain at any period of their growth to try to retard sexual development.
This will only delay body growth because of the lack of sufficient protein and other nutrients, and may make them less fit to the burden of body maintenance and egg production when they begin to lay. Some mash should always be so that an adequate amount of minerals, proteins, a is provided. Before the chickens are a month old, one or two poles placed across the back part of the brooder house or pen or a foot or two from the floor, to train the chickens to roost.
It may be a part of a wire-covered frame, one side of which rests on the floor while the other side is fastened to the side wall of the room. Such a frame makes it easier for the chickens to jump up on the poles and keeps them from crowding into the corner.
Early roosting prevents crowding and spreads the birds out so that they have more freedom of action and better air than they would have if grouped close together on the floor. As a result growth is better. As more birds learn to roost and as they grow larger, more and higher roosts should be supplied.
Clean sand, shavings, peat moss, or straw make the best covering for a brooder house during the summer. It is unnecessary to clean such a building more than two or three times during the season unless it gets excessively dirty or wet.
To prevent possible infestation from red mites, the and adjacent walls of colony houses should be painted with carbolineum, creosote, or a mixture of crude carbolic acid and kerosene in the fall after the houses are cleaned so that the fumes have a chance to disappear before the chicks are placed in them.
Usually one application of these products a year is enough to control the mites but, if they appear during the summer the buildings can be sprayed with kerosene or waste oil from automobiles.
These materials are not so effective as the first ones mentioned and may have to be. repeated several times during the season. When more than one colony house is in use, too many pullets must not be allowed to form the habit of roosting in one building. The buildings should be at least 100 feet apart. This helps to keep the birds evenly distributed. It is not advisable to try to house more than 125 growing pullets in a colony house or range shelter.
Good ventilation is essential on hot nights. In addition to the regular ventilators, the glass sash in the front of the colony house is removed. Range shelters with wire floors may remain in the same location all season or may be moved once or twice if there is
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