How chicken eggs are made

Preparing and Requirements for Brooding Chickens

In this paragraph we will take a look at Preparing and Requirements for Brooding Chickens.

The best test of a successful poultryman is his ability to rear a thrifty flock of chickens. Because artificial devices have largely supplanted the task that nature has assigned to the mother hen, the person in charge takes on great responsibilities when hundreds of tiny individuals are so dependent upon his judgment and watchfulness.

The caretaker must have a natural liking for detail as well as an inclination to stick close to the job. Furthermore, the ability to grow good chickens regularly is not acquired in one season; the skill is developed by years of experience, careful thought, a love for the work, and what some poultrymen call “chicken sense.” As a result of recent scientific discoveries in nutrition and of the improvement in brooding equipment, it is much easier to grow chickens today than ever before. In fact, it is expected that a good poultryman will rear approximately 90 per cent of the chicks brooded.

Many failures in growing young chickens result from the proprietor not being able to realize what is required of him as general manager. If he recognizes this, he does not always feel that he can spend the time that is required to do the work efficiently. Such a person might better buy pullets than at- tempt to raise them. The safest plan for the inexperienced person is to start in a small way and to follow some approved method. Many serious mistakes will be prevented, and at the same time a back- ground of practical experiences will be acquired. Given strong healthy chicks and good equipment, the limiting factor then, is the man in charge.

Preparing and Requirements for Brooding Chickens

Planning for chickens

Good breeding stock. It is impossible to overemphasize the necessity of starting with chickens from vigorous parents, free from disease, and bred-to-lay. When the breeding stock is vigorous, the chicks from such parents are more likely to be strong and healthy.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a strong chicken out of one that is constitutionally weak. Spring-hatched pullets. Usually the best time to hatch chicks anywhere is when the grass first shows green. April is the heart of the season. Leghorn pullets hatched early in March will usually begin laying in late August and are more likely to molt early the following winter. Late Moy and June chicks do not come into laying until the season of high prices in the fall is partly over. Very early hatched chicks are more expensive to brood than are later hatched ones be- cause they require a longer period of artificial heat.

On the other hand, more chickens are likely to be lost by disease when they are hatched in hot weather, because some of the organisms that cause chicken diseases are more active in warm than in cool weather. The principal consideration is the time when. the pullets will mature and begin to lay. On a well-managed poultry farm an even distribution Of eggs is desirable throughout the year. Consequently, the pullets should be hatched early enough to have a chance to properly mature and begin laying before the bulk of the old hens stop laying in the fall.

High-producing early hatched pullets will not only lay a large number of eggs as pullets during the fall and winter months but as hens they will end their laying year by producing more eggs during the season of high prices. At this time their eggs will have the added value of being full sized.

Chickens hatched in the spring have the advantage of being able to run on pasture until mature, which not only reduces feed costs but provides them with an extra supply Of vitamins. Fall and winter raring. Until recent years practically all pullets for replacements were raised in the spring. Under modern conditions pullets for these replacements may be hatched at other seasons of the year. September and October, or January and February, are good months.

The advantages of rearing pullets at different seasons of the year are the following:

(1) It increases the eminency of the business by making it possible to replace during the year birds that die or are culled.

(2) Less brooding equipment is needed and more efficient use is made of it.

(3) Egg production is more uniform through the year.

(4) There is better yearly distribution of labor.

(5) More chicks are produced from the same breeders.

The disadvantages are the following:

(1) The cost of growing pullets is greater.

(2) Pasture cannot be utilized fully.

(3) Usually hatchability Of eggs is lower in the fall and the winter.

(4) There may be difficulty in maintaining production through the summer and fall.

The early hatching period has its advantages and disadvantages which vary greatly with localities and with breeds of poultry. Since all available information indicates that spring- hatched pullets are slightly superior in many respects to those hatched at other seasons of the year, probably it is not ad- visable.to raise more than -20 to 25 per cent of the annual number of replacements during the fall or winter periods. Planning replacements for laying flocks. A purchased lot of unsexed chicks usually average 50 per cent cockerels and 50 per cent pullets.

• Statistics show that an average of from 5 to 25 per cent of the chicks die during the first three or four months of brooding and frequently a few runts need to be culled.

Some of this loss may be reduced in most cases by using the best brooding practices and by purchasing better quality chicks. In addition to the chicks that die there may be a few cull pullets.

To have the desired number of pullets in the fall, it is advisable to buy about 250 unsexed chicks for each 100 good pullets to be housed; about 125 sexed pullet chicks are re- numbered of pullets to replace Old hens.

The number of pullets required to keep a laying flock replaced depends on

(1) the amount of culling and

(2) the number of layers that die.

The number culled will depend upon the quality of the birds and the care which they have received. This varies from 25 to 60 per cent. The mortality in the laying flock varies from 10 to 50 per cent. This, like culling, will vary greatly with the quality of the birds and the management of the flock. Proportion Of pullets to hens in laying flock. Studies of PO try farm businesses the stock was mostly White Leghorns, show that pullets of good quality are usually more profitable as layers than are yearlings and two-year-old hens.

This is in line with similar results elsewhere; consequently, about 60 per cent Of a White Leghorn flock should be pullets. In New England, where New Hampshire’s and Rhode Island Reds are the principal breeds kept, it is common practice to dispose of all the old birds except a few for breeding each year.

This procedure is justified because of the difference in value of the Carcass at the end of the laying year, and the fact that the heavier breeds lay less eggs the second year relatively than do White Leghorns. The cost Of each replacement pullet is about the same except that the White Leghorns consume a few less pounds of feed before they begin to lay. Raring range.

The kind of soil best adapted for growing chickens is a sandy or gravelly loam that can be cultivated easily. The land should always be in sod when the chickens use it.

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