Best Hatcheries to Buy Blue Laced Red Wyandottes

Best Hatcheries to Buy Blue Laced Red Wyandottes

The best treasures are often the hardest to find. Imagine the state of the world if everyone had a goblet that provided them with eternal life. In a way, it might cheapen the experience. Or, if you’re one of those individuals with a notorious history with your in-laws, it might mean that they would constantly be ringing your spouse to complain about you. 

Luckily, when we think about the Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, it’s not annoying in-laws that we have to worry about, but rather, just how beautiful and special these birds are. They were developed in New York State and Wisconsin in the late 1800s, and the color range is enormous! But the best variety of Wyandotte, the Blue Laced Red variety, is the hardest to come by. They are that special version of the elixir of life that add incredible depth of color to the flock with their blue splashes at the tips of their feathers. These dual-purpose chickens truly are a sight to behold. What makes them so valuable, though, is the fact that they do not breed true. In order to get their special coloring, breeders must breed quite carefully, and even then, there is a chance that the offspring won’t have the remarkable coloring that these exquisite birds are known for! 

As a result of the challenge of breeding them, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes tend to be a bit more expensive than most breeds. There are a number of hatcheries around the USA that offer them, however, so while the task of getting these special birds is nothing to laugh at, finding them is not as laborious as ages of research, dark web adventures, or run-ins with Nazis (hyperlink “run-ins with Nazis” to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sagmdpkWUqc). Below are ten of the best places to find Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chickens!

1.  Meyer Hatchery (hyperlink name of hatchery tohttps://www.meyerhatchery.com/productinfo.a5w?prodID=BLRS)

Average Straight-Run Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chicken Price: $11.13

Meyer Hatchery is based in Polk, Ohio, and boasts itself as the “premier Poultry Source.” Priding itself on customer service and availability, Meyer Hatchery provides a variety of chicken breeds to meet customer demands for color and diversity. They welcome mixing and matching of breeds of the same poultry type to meet minimum order requirement for safe shipping. To help with orders, they have a calendar of hatchings. 

Meyer has a variety of means of communication, including multiple phone numbers, fax, and email. They also run a blog that covers everything from breeds to plant pairing with chickens, feed, cooking recipes, fowl entertainment, and survival tips.

Advantages

  • Website is up-to-date in real time. 
  • Accepts checks and credit cards.
  • Guarantees gender of chicks either through refund or store credit.
  • Optional vaccination.
  • Member of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), and provide NPIP VS Form 9-3 free of charge. 
  • Offer orders of over 100 chicks. 

Disadvantages

  • Limited store hours that change with the season.

2. Cackle Hatchery (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://www.cacklehatchery.com/blue-laced-red-wyandottes.html)

Average Not Sexed Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chick: $3.90

Cackle Hatchery proudly boasts that they have been hatching and shipping since 1936. A third-generation hatchery based in Missouri, their mission is to provide customers with quality poultry for showing, meat, enjoyment, and eggs. They ship throughout the USA, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. They offer nearly 200 different types of chickens at all stages. 

Cackle also offers many other kinds of poultry including ducks, water fowl, game birds, turkeys, and other fowl. They are also a good source for supplies and book. 

Advantages 

  • Discounts if you buy male chicks.
  • Vaccinations available.
  • Only need 3 birds to ship (or just one for male birds).

Disadvantages 

  • Limited availability (February through August).
  • Sold as baby chicks only.

3. Murray McMurray Hatchery: (hyperlink name to https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/blue_laced_red_wyandotte.html)

Average Unsexed Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chicken Price: $3.90

Murray McMurray started his chicken business in 1917. As a banker, he sold his chicks to locals through the bank and by 1919, he had developed his own stock of chickens. During the Great Depression, he devoted himself to chickens full time. Since then, Murray McMurray Hatchery has developed into one of the largest chick hatcheries in the country. They sell more than just chickens, with ducks, geese, guineas, turkeys, other fowl and game birds all in the catalogue.

Sexed male chicks tend to be the cheapest, meaning you can get some serious savings if you’re planning on raising these birds primarily for meat. You can also buy pullets or mix and match your order with chicks of other breeds, too. 

Advantages:

  • Bulk discounts available.
  • Excellent breed availability through August .

Disadvantages:

  • Minimum order of six birds at a time.
  • Available only as chicks.

4.My Pet Chicken: (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Baby-Chicks/Blue-Laced-Red-Wyandotte-p738.aspx)

Average Straight-Run Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chicken Price: $11.15

 My Pet Chicken got started in 2005 by Traci Torres and her husband, Derek Sasaki, two novices to the chicken world who had a dream to help other novices in their farmers’ goals. To do this, the put free how-to information on the web and offered some unique products and services. 

The website launched in 2005 and in 2006, their flock had grown to the point to where they started offering chicks for sale from their headquarters in Monroe, CT. The site has been mentioned in another of publications, and serves tens of millions of page views per year.

Advantages 

  • Offers Marek’s vaccinations on all standard chicks at the click of a button.
  • Consistent hours of operation. 
  • A good source for questions about ordering chickens, chicken care, and about raising chickens.
  • Full refund for any bird that has been incorrectly sexed. 

Disadvantages 

  • Limited availability.
  • Does not have a storefront.
  • There is a 10-chick maximum on this breed.

5. Welp Hatchery (hyperlink name of hatchery tohttps://www.welphatchery.com/layer-type-chicks/wyandotte-blue-laced-red-straight-run/ )

Average Straight-Run Red Laced Blue Wyandotte Chicken Price: $3.78

Located in Bancroft, IA, Welp Hatchery was founded way back in 1929 by Joseph H. Welp. While their specialty is Cornish Rock Broilers, they have diversified to include a wide range of chicken breeds. To simplify their orders, they have a catalogue available for viewing or downloading (hyperlink “catalog” to https://www.welphatchery.com/uploads/WELPCATALOG2020_2020-01-27_13-51-43.html). From their shipping points in Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, this hatchery truly has a wide reach. 

Advantages 

  • Can choose the breeding date on the product page. 
  • Marek’s immunization is a one-click process.

Disadvantages 

  • Maximum orders of 25.

6. Hoover’s Hatchery: (hyperlink name to https://hoovershatchery.com/bluelaceredwyandotte.html)

Average Straight-Run Red Laced Blue Wyandotte Chicken Price: $7.32

Another established brand if you’re looking for chicks is Hoover’s Hatchery. Hoover’s supplies many farm and garden supply stores in the United States with their chicks, making them a smart choice if you want to skip the middleman and order from the hatchery directly.

Plus, Hoover’s offers free shipping on practically everything you order. You’ll have to buy at least 15 chicks; so Hoover’s might not be the best option if you live in a city with chicken restrictions. However, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk, it’s a smart choice. You can even mix and match your order by adding other birds of other chicken breeds along with poultry species like pheasants, turkeys, guineas, ducks, and more. 

Another benefit of ordering from Hoover’s Hatchery? Despite the fact that this hatchery is located in Iowa, not necessarily a warm-weather state, it hatches chicks all throughout the year – a must-know feature if you plan on buying chicks around Christmastime. 

Advantages:

  • Excellent guarantee and refund policy in case of shipping problems.
  • Hatches chicks during the winter, one of the few hatcheries to do so.
  • Sells other kinds of poultry too.

Disadvantages:

  • Large minimum order.
  • Offers chicks only.

7. Elk Valley Farm (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://www.elkvalleyfarm.com/product-page/blue-laced-red-wyandotte)

Average Straight-Run Red Laced Blue Wyandotte Chicken Price: $15.00

Elk Valley Farm specializes in raw milk products and rare heritage poultry. They are located in Eagle Point, OR and focus on quality over quantity. With their focus on environmental stewardship, they provide only the highest quality meat, eggs, and milk. The eggs they produce are vetted for beauty and breed standards, which means that all of their birds have tested negative for diseases and are readily available for shipping all around the USA.

Advantages 

  • Has a convenient breeding chart for predictions of hatched coloring.
  • Bred with a focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  • Offer both local pick-up and shipping. 
  • No minimums for chicks picked up on the farm.

Disadvantages 

  • Color ratios of naturally hatched chicks come as what is available from sale.
  • Do not accept returns.
  • Does not ship to Alaska or Hawaii.

8. Purely Poultry: (hyperlink name to https://www.purelypoultry.com/blue-laced-red-wyandotte-chickens-p-872.html)

Average Not-Sexed Day-Old Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chicken Price: $15.35

As a family-owned business, Purely Poultry has some of the best customer service around. They pride themselves on their knowledge of their products, selection, and how-to details related to everything they offer, including ducks, chickens, geese, and lots of other birds! 

Located in Durand, WI, they guarantee live birds with every order, which is a good promise, indeed!

Advantages:

  • Each order backed by live arrival guarantee.
  • Small order minimum on chicks.
  • Other kinds of poultry offered, too.

Disadvantages:

  • Not a huge advantage to buying multiple chicks – discounts are minimal.

9. Chickens for Backyards: (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://www.chickensforbackyards.com/product/blue-laced-red-wyandotte/) 

Average Straight-Run Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Chicken Price: $6.00

Chickens for Backyards is an online poultry store that ships orders from Phillipsburg, MO. It sells over 100 breeds of day-old chicks, ducks, geese, turkeys, and guineas with orders as low as three fowl. They have a mix and match option for all breeds, which can be shipped all in the same order. 

Shipping schedules run from February through October. On their website, they offer a comprehensive FAQ page and Chick Care information. 

Advantages 

  • Orders can be cancelled up to 24 hours before shipping. 
  • Free shipping on supplies.
  • Comprehensive FAQ that covers a range of questions from care, feed, shipping, sexing, local laws relating to chicken farming, and terms.

Disadvantages 

  • Offer a 90% sexing guarantee, and will refund 90% of the purchase price once the 90% guarantee is surpassed. 
  • Limited Availability.

10. Hatch Poultry Farms (hyperlink name of hatchery to https://www.hatchpoultry.com/products/blue-laced-red-wyandotte-chickens)

Average Straight-Run Red Laced Blue Wyandotte Chicken Price: $4.00

Hatch Poultry is unique among many vendors in that their primary focus is quails rather than chickens. That is not to say that they lack an extensive selection of chickens, with no fewer than 17 different breeds available, incliding Leghorns, Sai Pan, Jungle Fowl, Rhode Island Whites, Wyandottes, Ayam Cemani, and Silkies. They got their start in Maine, and have spread all over the state as well as branching out to Florida, California, Ohio, and Texas.

Advantages 

  • Offer discounts to commercial customers. 
  • Offer no less than a 50% hatch rate. 
  • Free domestic shipping on orders over $75.

Disadvantages 

  • Orders have a 7-day wait before placement in the shipping calendar. 
Why is My Hen Crowing?

Why is My Hen Crowing?

Most experienced chicken owners have had this experience – or at least one similar. You’re sitting in your living room, enjoying a cup of coffee while you listen to your hens cackle and chirp in the backyard coop. Then all of a sudden, a crow breaks through the morning area. 

A crow? Why is my hen crowing?

Relax. You probably didn’t mistakenly receive a rooster in your chick order (although you may want to double check, since this does occasionally happen!). Chances are, your hen is crowing for another reason. 

Here are some of the most common reasons why hens crow – it’s really nothing to worry about.

Common Reasons Why Your Hen Might Crow 

The Pecking Order

You are likely already familiar with the pecking order in chickens, but if not, now is a good time to brush up on it! The pecking order is an established order of dominance that makes itself clear very early on in a group of chickens’ lives. Whenever new chickens are introduced to the flock, the pecking order must be reestablished. 

Often, hens will crow to establish their places in the pecking order. They do this to assert their dominance and establish a territory – just like roosters will. If your hens are crowing, chances are, they’re on some sort of power trip.

Keep in mind, the crow won’t sound exactly like a rooster’s, but if you’re new to raising chickens you might have a hard time differentiating between the two. The crowing might sound a bit strangled and terse, in fact. 

You’ll know that the crowing behavior is related to a pecking order issue if there are some other behaviors that are going on in the flock. For example, there might be some aggression among your chickens or even some bullying behaviors (like feather picking) going on.

In most cases, this will sort itself out in a matter of a few days. If it doesn’t, though, you may need to remove the more dominant hen and isolate her until she calms down a bit. A new pecking order will be established in her absence, and things will likely be more mellow upon her return.

Lack of a Rooster

If you once had a rooster but no longer do, occasionally, a hen will decide to take his place and start crowing. This is usually also related to the pecking order or flock hierarchy, and more often than not occurs as your hen imitates the behavior of roosters.

Presence of Male Sex Hormones 

Wait, a hen can turn into a rooster? Well, sort of. 

It is entirely possible for a hen to develop a few male sex hormones, either from birth or sporadically. As a result, you might notice your hen adopting more masculine features, such as the production of spurs, a slowing in egg production, the development of pronounced wattles and plumage, and – you guessed it –  a crow. 

A hen is born with two ovaries, just like a human. The left ovary grows and develops, producing all the estrogen a hen needs to regulate the production of ova (or oocytes in chickens). They release into the oviduct tract. 

The right ovary, on the other hand, does not develop as the hen grows, instead remaining dormant, tiny, and mostly undeveloped.

Spontaneous sex reversal can occur if the left ovary is damaged or stops producing the required amounts of estrogen for some reason. Since the left ovary is the only one producing any estrogen, without it, her levels of estrogen will drop and her testosterone will rise. She will start to transform to take on male characteristics and behaviors. 

But is she now a rooster? Well…kind of. Technically, she is still a hen. Interestingly, though, once the left ovary totally fails and the right one turns on, it will develop into a male sex organ, known as an ovotestis, which can actually produce sperm and cause your hen to try to mate with other hens in the flock! 

Usually, these kinds of changes aren’t at all noticeable unless there is some kind of hormonal issue in your hens. This cause of crowing isn’t as common as others, but it can still happen – and is something to be aware of.

What Are Normal Noises for Hens to Make?

If you think your hen might be crowing, listen carefully – it might not be a crow but instead some other kind of noise that your hen is making. Here are some of the most common. 

Cluck of Contentment

When you spend a lot of time listening to your hens as they free range around the pen, this is a call that you will likely hear your chickens making quite frequently. It sounds like a calm, peaceful, and low murmuring. They make this sound to indicate to each other that they are all in earshot and are doing well. 

Alarm Call

This is perhaps the second most common chicken noise you will hear – but it’s not necessarily one you want to hear. If your chickens start the alarm call, which sounds like a fast, loud, and persistent repetitive clucking, you need to check to see what’s going on. Left unaddressed, that call will turn into a sharper, more piercing shriek or scream – it means something is coming after them.

Egg Song

The egg song is most often heard by coops with multiple hens, where they’re all vying to get into the nest boxes at the same time. It sounds loud and persistent and will continue until the noise-making hen gets her way and is finally able to wiggle into a nesting box.

Broody Growls

If you’ve ever had to deal with a broody hen, you are probably familiar with the broody growl. When a hen does not want to leave her nest, she will puff her chest up, growl, and even hiss when challenged. 

Later, the broody growls should shift – if a broody hen is allowed to hatch her own eggs, she will start to murmur and coo to her unhatched chicks. This often starts before the eggs hatch, when the mother hen is starting to talk to her chicks inside the eggs. 

You can sometimes hear the chicks talking back! 

Food Call 

Last but not least is the food call. Although this is usually the rooster’s job, if you don’t have any roosters in your backyard flock, you might find that one of your hens takes this job upon herself instead, as the dominant leader. 

When she finds good food, she will announce it with a sort of “tuk tuk” call to draw in the rest of the flock. It’s similar to the call used by a mother hen when she talks to her young. 

Hens Can Crow – And It’s Usually Nothing to Worry About 

Believe it or not, it is possible for a hen to crow! Fortunately, it is usually nothing you need to worry about. It’s usually a sign that one hen, in particular, has established dominance over the other hens in the flock. The crowing behavior may go away on its own over time, but if it doesn’t, there’s no reason to panic. It is totally harmless. 

In rare conditions, it is possible for a hen to develop male characteristics, but this is not common. As long as your hen is acting normally besides the crowing, carry on! It’s just a bit of backyard noise.

What is the Difference Between Chicken Mites & Lice?

What is the Difference Between Chicken Mites & Lice?

Are your chickens looking a little bit…itchy? If so, it might be time to inspect them for parasites.

Of all the ailments that can affect your favorite feathered friends, parasites are some of the most common. Unfortunately, chickens can be affected by internal parasites as well as by external parasites – also known as chicken mites and lice.

But what is the difference between chicken mites and lice? The two are quite similar, and the symptoms can be hard to differentiate. However, chicken mites are pests that survive by feeding on your chickens’ blood, while lice feed instead on the scales, skin, and debris in the feathers of your chickens. 

There are several other important differences to be aware of when it comes to chicken mites and lice, but the bottom line is that both can be incredibly annoying problems to deal with. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Difference Between Chicken Mites and Lice?

Though equally annoying, there are several key differences between chicken mites and lice. Discussing the similarities first, though, can be helpful as you work toward developing appropriate treatments.

Both kinds of pests are parasites that rely upon your chickens for their survival. Lice feed on the skin scales of your chickens while mites feed on their blood. Mites can live anywhere in the coop – sometimes, they’ll lie dormant in your chicken coop and only feed at certain times. They don’t live out their full life cycle on the bodies of your chickens.

Lice, on the other hand, live their entire lives on the bodies of your chickens. 

Mites are tiny moving specks that, at first glance, look like spots of dirt. However, they are actually wingless arachnids. They are more active in the winter than in the summer. Lice are straw-colored ectoparasites that can be found at any time of the year. 

Despite these differences in habitat, both can be incredibly harmful to the health of your birds. Though they usually don’t present life-threatening symptoms, they are still parasites to be aware of. 

How Are Chicken Mites and Lice Transmitted? 

Both mites and lice are usually transmitted by other birds. This could include other chickens (particularly those that are new to the flock) as well as wild birds. From turkeys to songbirds,  all kinds of wild birds have the ability to spread external parasites to your chickens. They don’t have to get super close, either, so it’s important to do your best to keep your farm clean and secured to prevent the spread of diseases like these.

It’s not clear whether mites and lice can be transmitted from your chickens to other animals, like your other pets or livestock. However, if you have a parasite problem with your chickens, it might be worth your time to treat or at least inspect your other animals, too – that way, you’ll be able to head off an infestation before it becomes a major issue. 

What Are the Different Types of Chicken Mites? 

There are several types of chicken mites that can affect your flock. Red mites are some of the most common. These pests are usually spread by wild birds and they hang out in the ark of your coop during the day. At night, they’ll feed voraciously on your chickens, going back into hiding as soon as day breaks. 

If termites are the culprits behind your chickens’ itchy skin, you’ll notice tiny black and red spots on the skin and feathers. These pests, despite their small size, will feed constantly on your birds and can cause your chickens to become dangerously anemic. 

Another common type of chicken mite is the Northern Fowl Mite. Though less common than the red mite, it is equally destructive and spends its entire life cycle on the bodies of your chickens. It can also cause anemia which, if left untreated, can be quite dangerous. 

Scaly leg mites are also common, though generally less so than the other two species. These pests are not difficult to identify, since they infest only the legs of your birds. They will make your chickens’ legs look cabby and crusted. Left untreated, these pests can quickly migrate to the other members of your flock. 

What Are the Different Types of Chicken Lice?

As with chicken mites, there are several types of chicken lice that can affect your birds, too. Shaft lice tend to inhabit the feather shaft of your chickens, as you might expect by the name alone. These pests are only a few millimeters in size and move quickly. 

These pests cause all kinds of problems for your chickens. They’ll be itchy, but they’ll also be more likely to engage in behaviors such as feather pecking. You may notice a listless demeanor, a decline in egg production, or even a pale comb or weight loss.

Tips for Preventing and Eliminating Chicken Mites and Lice 

Clean Everything Thoroughly

Good, thorough cleaning is both a preventative measure as well as a treatment method to help you get rid of mites and lice. If you suspect parasites – or even to prevent them – clean on a regular basis. You will want to dispose of all bedding (don’t compost it, as the mites and lice won’t necessarily be killed) and hose down every crack and crevice.

If you choose to follow up your cleaning with one of the treatment methods prescribed below, make sure you give it plenty of time to dry out before you introduce your chickens. Don’t forget to clean the “accessories” of the coop, too, like the nesting boxes and roost bars.

Quarantine New Arrivals

If you’re adding new birds to the flock, make sure you keep them separate for a few days (at minimum) to make sure they possess no health problems that can affect the rest of your flock. This includes any diseases they might be carrying and, of course, mites and lice. 

Prevent Wild Bird Activity 

One of the most common ways that chicken mites and lice spread to a new flock is through wild birds. If you can, take appropriate measures to prevent them from interacting with your chickens.

An easy way to keep wild birds (along with other mite- and lice-spreading pests, like rodents) away from your chickens is to keep feed locked up and out of reach. Don’t keep your chicken feed in open containers that can be accessed by any other animal that passes through. Do your best to avoid attracting unwanted visitors!

Bath Time

Before you treat your chickens with any kind of dust or natural method, it’s important that you get them squeaky clean first. Let your chickens soak in a tub of lukewarm water, then gently clean them. Once they’re dry, you can apply your treatment. 

Treat Chickens With Dust

Not just any old dust, of course, but with Pestene. This is a mixture of sulfur and rotenone powder, and while it’s harmless to the chickens, it will dehydrate any mites and kill them off. You’ll likely need to dust both the birds as well as the coop. 

When you’re treating with Pestene or another parasiticide, you will likely need to treat it a couple of times, spread several days apart. This is because not all treatments are equally effective on both the adult and egg stage of these pests. 

If you find that your treatment of choice fails to work effectively, you may need to get in touch with your vet, who will likely prescribe you another poultry dust entirely.

Try DE

DE, or diatomaceous earth, is an effective treatment that works well as a natural insecticide against chicken mites and lice. When you apply it, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t get wet, as it will be rendered ineffective. Diatomaceous earth is not toxic to humans or animals, as it consists simply of the ground up exoskeletons of fossilized organisms. 

It is, however, quite damaging to most insects and parasites. When you sprinkle this in the coop or in your chickens’ dust baths, you will find that it quickly dries up the bodies of the parasites, causing them to dehydrate and die. 

Give Chickens Dust Bathing Areas

One of the easiest ways to prevent a mice or lice infestation is to provide your chickens with ample dust bathing areas. Dust bathing is a natural behavior of chickens and it helps them prevent parasites on their own.

You can put a pan filled with dirt inside the chicken coop, or simply allow your chickens access to an area of the urn that can be used as a dust bath. They’ll make their own bath there!

No More Scratching! Understand the Difference Between Chicken Mites & Lice 

Regardless of whether it’s chicken mites or lice that are causing your hens some distress, it’s essential that you understand the difference between them to stop them in their tracks. The ability to identify the signs and symptoms of an infestation is integral, since these pests can quickly drain your chickens of their health and energy  – plus, they can cause a serious decline in laying.

If parasites are giving your chickens a run for their money, consider these tips to stop them in their tracks.

Coccidiosis in Chickens

Coccidiosis in Chickens

If your chickens are affected with bloody droppings and are showing a failure to thrive, they might be affected by coccidiosis. This intestinal parasite is common in chickens but can be devastating to a flock, especially in younger chickens that haven’t developed effective immunity against the parasite. The good news is there’s treatment available. 

What Is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by an intestinal protozoa, which is a type of intestinal parasite. When it enters the gut, the stomach acids break down the hard coating around the parasite, basically activating it. Coccidia oocysts then invade the lining of the small intestine and can cause bleeding and prevent the chicken from absorbing nutrients properly. Coccidia can then be spread in your chicken’s feces, going on to affect other chickens in your flock. 

Symptoms of Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis can affect a single chicken or a flock of chickens quite quickly, as the incubation period is only a few days. Depending on the chicken and the level of infection (a few organisms or many), symptoms can appear over many days or occur suddenly. There are even cases of a chicken looking perfect normal on one day and then being dead the next. 

The most common sign of coccidiosis is blood in your chicken’s droppings, but you don’t want to get this confused with cecal droppings, which can be a reddish color. If there’s any question, your veterinarian can examine the stool, performing a diagnostic test called a fecal floatation, which can identify coccidia oocysts. 

Other symptoms of coccidia include: 

  • Ruffled feathers
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Listless chickens
  • Pale comb and/or skin

These symptoms can occur at the same time as or instead of blood in the stool. 

Treating Coccidiosis

The good news about coccidiosis treatment is that it is available over the counter. You should isolate sick chickens from the rest of the flock to help minimize its spread but to also prevent the healthy birds from picking on the sick ones and preventing them from getting nutrition. As far as treatment goes, all of your birds need to be treated to ensure that you clear up the problem.

Amprolium is a commonly used coccidia treatment, also referred to as a coccidiostatic medication. It doesn’t kill the coccidia but blocks the parasites ability to multiply and cause further health issues. The medication is often added to your chickens’ water supply, but you may need to give it orally to sick chickens that aren’t drinking or eating much to ensure they get an effective dose of the medication. Treatment goes on for several days, usually seven. You may also need to give a vitamin B supplement to your birds after treatment, as the medication can affect their ability to metabolize vitamin B. 

When you are treating coccidia, you also want to make sure that your chickens’ living space is cleaned up. Clean out the coop thoroughly and wash all feeders and waterers to help minimize the possibility of transmission. You will want to ensure that these areas are clean and dry, as the protozoa thrives in warm, moist environments. If the area you keep your chickens in is damp or particularly humid, consider a second course of treatment to make sure that treatment is fully effective. 

Most chickens that are actively infected with coccidia will have decreased egg production or stop laying eggs altogether. While the medication has zero egg withdrawal time in most countries, you should consult with your veterinarian about whether the eggs should be eaten or not. Unfortunately, some young chickens develop intestinal scarring and fibrosis when they have chronic coccidiosis, which can result in them not absorbing nutrients from their food very effectively. These chickens are often poor egg layers as they develop. 

Preventing Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is easily spread in chickens, as it is transmitted through the stool. It can be passed from chicken to chicken via contaminated water or food. You might even inadvertently pass it to your chickens from contaminated tools like shovels or even on the bottom of your shoes, which is one reason proper cleaning procedures and quarantine should be maintained especially when new chickens are brought onto a property. 

While most healthy chickens develop an immunity to coccidiosis over time, they will only build up the immunity to the strain that they are exposed to. If they get exposed to another strain, such as if you bring in chickens affected with a different strain of coccidiosis, it is possible for your chickens to get sick, even if they have overcome an infection previously. 

If you have chickens that keep getting coccidiosis, you should work with your veterinarian to try and identify a cause. Poor housing conditions or an underlying health condition may be to blame. 

Medications such as amprolium can be given to treat or prevent widespread coccidiosis infections within your flock, but using the medications too often or chronically can lead to resistant coccidia that are not treatable with medication. When you get chicks, check to see if they have been vaccinated for coccidiosis, although this is not always done as the chickens will only be protected against the strain they are vaccinated against. You might also consider a medicated started feed. Don’t use this if you have chicks that have been vaccinated, as it can cancel out the vaccine they received. 

Housing management is the best course of action for helping to prevent coccidiosis. Keep the environment clean and disinfected regularly. Make sure your chickens’ dishes are kept clean. Also make sure you don’t just toss food on the ground, where it will be easier for your chickens to become infected with coccidia. 

You should also ensure that your chickens have plenty of space. Each chicken needs a minimum of four square feet in its coop to do well. Overcrowding your chickens is a recipe for disaster and can ensure the parasite spreads quickly through the coop. 

If your area gets affected with deep freezes, that’s a great way to kill off coccidia. Unfortunately, however, many areas around the world feature periods of humidity and wet weather, where the coccidia thrives. 

In Summary

Coccidosis is a commonly chicken parasite that can be devastating to a flock. One of the most common signs is bloody stool. While treatment is available over the counter, you should check with your veterinarian to help get a diagnosis. 

How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens?

How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens?

No matter how experienced you are in raising chickens, as the mercury begins to drop you might start second-guessing yourself and wondering, “how cold is too cold for chickens?”

This is a concern raised by chicken keepers everywhere, but especially those who live in cold, unforgiving climates. Luckily, chickens are pretty hardy creatures and can withstand the bitter cold much better than you might think. 

There are some conditions you’ll want to keep in mind, of course. For example, some chicken breeds aren’t as adept at withstanding the cold as others. There are certain precautions you can take, too, to help your birds shed the cold and continue to stay healthy.

Here’s what you need to know. 

How Cold is Too Cold For Your Chickens?

Your chickens are tougher than you might think. In fact, even though they aren’t wearing big, puffy coats like us in the wintertime, they have natural defenses against the cold that can keep them warm. 

Chickens have several types of feathers. There are wispy feathers and plumage feathers. The plumage feathers are the colored ones that are easiest to see when you quickly glance at your birds. The wispy feathers are similar to down in that they stick tightly to the skin and keep chickens warm, essentially creating an airtight barrier. 

Not only that, but chickens also have high metabolisms. They have higher resting temperatures than we do. While a human stays around 98 degrees, chickens are closer to 105 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, their hearts beat a lot faster than hours – up to 400 beats per minute. This helps your birds stay warm even when you’re running toward the woodstove.

Depending on the breed, most chickens can survive inside an unheated, uninsulated coop at temperatures that are well below freezing. There’s no hard and fast number on how cold is too cold for chickens, since there are so many variables that affect a chicken’s cold hardiness. Here are a few.

Breed

Some chicken breeds are naturally better at shaking the cold than others. Usually, chickens that are heavy and large will be better at staying warm. Some of the best breeds for winter weather include:

  • Barred Rocks
  • Salmon Faverolles
  • New Hampshire Reds
  • Rhode Island Reds
  • Wyandottes
  • Jersey Giants
  • Australorps 
  • Welsummers 
  • Sussex
  • Orpingtons
  • Barred Rocks 
  • Delawares
  • Brahmas

Cold-hardy chicken breeds are those that have high body fat and don’t have any areas of exposed skin. Similarly, frizzles (or curly feathers) along with feathered feet can make chickens more sensitive to the cold. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid breeds like Silkies, which don’t dry out easily in cold, wet weather. 

Weather Conditions 

It can be tough to determine how cold your chickens can get because it’s not just the temperature you’ll need to keep an eye on. In fact, chickens tend to be more sensitive to humidity and moisture than actual cold. 

In almost all cases, chickens will handle cold, dry weather better than cold, wet weather. This is especially true if your coop has a tendency to hold moisture. A driving wind can also lower the ambient temperature and make it more difficult for your chickens to stay warm, too.

Age and Life Stage

Finally, consider how old your chickens are (and whether they are in any particular stage of life that would make them more sensitive to the cold). For example, young birds and those who are molting may not have as many feathers to withstand the cold. You’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep them warmer during unusually cold weather.

How to Help Your Chickens Stay Warm 

Avoid a Heater

The number one tip to remember when helping your chickens stay warm is that nine times out of ten, they do not need a heater.

Heaters are problematic for several reasons. First, with all that bedding, you’re inviting a fire. Chickens do not need a heater because they will huddle up together at night to stay warm. A well-ventilated coop with plenty of fresh bedding (and a proper ratio of roost bars to chickens) is all your birds need. 

Another issue with a heater is that, if the power goes out (or when your chickens venture outside) they will suffer from the fluctuation in temperature. Your chickens don’t have a hard time acclimating to the cold when it’s always cold out -but when they can’t adjust to sudden swings, that’s when health problems arise.

As long as your coop is well-ventilated, it doesn’t need to be insulated, either. In fact, too much insulation can be detrimental because it makes it difficult for moisture to escape. Believe it or not, chickens release a lot of moisture when they breathe, so a too-tight coop can lead to moisture build-up in the coop. This will chill your chickens much faster than the cold weather will. 

Try Deep Litter

Deep litter is a method of bedding that allows bedding material and chicken manure to build up over the year. By winter, you’ll have a foot or more of composting material on the floor of the coop. As you probably already know if you have a compost bin, the composting bedding will give off heat and will warm the coop naturally. You can clean it out come spring.

Feed at Night

Feed your chickens at night during particularly cold spells. If you give them high-energy foods, like cracked corn, they’ll stay warmer overnight as their stomachs work to digest the food. 

Keep Them Occupied

Make sure your chickens are kept entertained during the day – the activity will boost their metabolisms even further, helping them stay warm. Ideally, you should let your chickens out of the coop to roam around during the day, but you might find that, when it’s super snowy, your chickens don’t want to venture outside (although the cold does not bother them, they aren’t fond of walking in heavy snowpack). 

If your chickens can’t be encouraged to go outside, consider hanging a head of cabbage by some twine in the coop. This will entertain your chickens on the darkest days of winter.

Harness the Power of the Sun 

Consider adding a sunroom to your coop. You can do this in several ways. 

A coop with plenty of natural lighting is best, as this will help warm the coop during the day (and the coop will hang on to some heat at night, too). You can also build a cold frame-style addition to your coop or run by covering a section with clear plastic. This will give your chickens somewhere to relax in the sun during the day – and as a side bonus, it will usually stay free of snow, too. 

Don’t Forget the Roosts

Chickens don’t need a heater! Again, they just need a place to roost. The key to warm chickens is a good roost set-up. The roosts will not only keep chickens off the cold ground (ideally, two to three feet off the ground) but they will also allow the birds to huddle together. When chickens are able to roost properly, they’ll be able to use their feathers and bodies to cover up their cold-sensitive feet, too. 

Guard Against Frostbite

As long as your coop is well-ventilated, you shouldn’t have to worry about frostbite. However, in the coldest winter climates, some chicken breeds who have large wattles and combs may develop frostbite. Luckily, it’s nothing serious – it will just cause some discoloration on these parts of your birds. 

However, you can protect against it by dabbing some petroleum jelly on the wattles and combs. It forms a moisture-resistant barrier. 

Plan for Laying Declines

Your hens’ laying patterns will naturally decline during the winter – that is only to be expected. It is caused not only by a reduction in natural daylight hours but also the fact that your chickens are spending more calories on staying warm than they are on producing eggs. 

If you’re really concerned about a drop in egg production, you can add a light to the coop. This is really only for your benefit, though – the chickens don’t necessarily need it. 

Water is Essential

Your chickens will naturally eat a bit more during the winter months, since they don’t have access to fresh forage and they need to eat just to stay warm, too. Make sure they have consistent access to feed and remember – without water, the feed is pointless.

One of the biggest challenges of raising chickens during the winter is having to deal with frozen waterers. Consider using waterers with heated bases to help prevent the waterers from freezing. Don’t forget to refill often – eight chickens need at least a gallon of water per day. 

Chickens: They’re More Cold-Hardy Than You Think!

When it comes to raising chickens during the winter, you’ve got to give them some credit – they’re tougher than you might think! While there will be some extra work involved when you are raising chickens during the winter, ultimately, the stress will be on you and not on them. Collect eggs a few more times during the day and make sure the waterers stay thawed out. Otherwise, your chickens will hardly even know that it’s winter outside!