Thursday, October 11, 2012

Keeping Hens Healthy This Fall

Keeping Hens Healthy This Fall
Molting or feather loss is a natural occurrence in birds that is determined by genetics and the environment. Some breeds will lose and re-grow feathers faster than other breeds. The main trigger for the molting process is day length. When days have less than 12 hours of daylight, the birds will be stimulated to reduce, or even stop egg production, and grow new feathers. 

To prevent a sudden molt and maintain egg production, the important thing to do is to provide supplemental lighting. It does not take much supplemental light. Provide one light in the chicken house, set on a timer to provide 14-16 hours of light. A 60 to 100 watt bulb will be enough. Set the timer to turn the lights on before dawn. These extended "daylight" hours will provide enough light to maintain egg production. Any molt during this period will be a slow gradual feather loss. Chickens are very dependent on this supplemental light — if the light is inadequate for even one day, that may be enough to send the hens into a molt 

Additional steps you can take to maintain egg production and bird health during the fall months include:
  • Make sure to provide a high quality complete feed (such as Layena&® SunFresh® Recipe or Layena® Plus Omega-3) instead of "scratch" to ensure that hens have sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals to produce hearty, golden-yoked eggs. Adequate calcium is especially important for strong shell formation.
  • Always make sure that plenty of feed and water are available. Heated waterers may be needed to keep water from freezing.
  • Stagger the ages of your flock to diminish the likelihood that they will want to molt at the same time, thereby ensuring a continuous supply of eggs.
  • Protect your hens from the increasingly cold weather by weatherproofing your coop (but still allow for adequate ventilation). Should you experience an early cold snap, turn on a heat lamp.
  • Periodically inspect your birds to spot any signs of disease. If you observe droopy, sick looking birds or very loose droppings on the floor, illness may be the culprit, not molting. Take immediate action with your veterinarian.
The stress of molting can take a toll on birds. By providing for your hens’ nutrition, environment and comfort, you will be able to both maintain egg production and bird health. Even with these tips, keep in mind that even the most productive hens will go into a molt, and it’s not a bad thing! Molting allows the hen to rest and regenerates her. Molting is normal! 

Get to Know Purina® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe Feed

Purina® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe poultry feed takes "natural" to a whole new level by using only the freshest, highest quality sun-grown grains and plant proteins to give birds the wholesome, healthy goodness and fresh taste they deserve.* Made from natural plant-based ingredients formulated free of all animal proteins and fats, Purina® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe contains all the quality nutrients laying hens need to produce lots of strong-shelled, healthy, golden-yolked eggs.
  • Certified Natural*: our guarantee that this is the very best feed providing safe, natural nutrition for poultry
  • SunFresh® Recipe: formulated with sun-grown grains with a recipe free of animal proteins and fats
  • Superior Nutrition: gives great appearance and healthy eggs
  • Essential Amino Acids: enhanced with lysine and methionine to give birds the healthy nutrients they need to produce plenty of tasty eggs
  • Exclusive Level of Marigold Extract: for rich yellow yolks
  • Key Levels of Calcium and Manganese: strong shells with few cracks
  • Proprietary Level of Vitamin A: strong reproduction and overall health
  • Key Level of Vitamin E: supports a healthy immune system
Purina® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe is a 16 percent-protein high-calcium ration formulated for top-producing laying birds once they reach 18 weeks of age.
*with added vitamins, nutrients, and trace minerals

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