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Frequently Asked Poultry Questions

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1 Frequently Asked Poultry Questions
Tony Pescatore Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 Frequently Asked Poultry Questions Tony Pescatore and Jacquie Jacob Department of Animal and Food Sciences University of Kentucky Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION

2 Do all chickens get along?
A flock of chickens typically has a social hierarchy known as a ‘pecking order’. Once the pecking order has been established there is typically less pecking. There are cases where pecking can become a serious problem. Some breeds of chickens are more aggressive than others. Different breeds in same pen Male chickens tend to be more aggressive and will fight with other males in a flock

3 What causes Cannibalism and Feather Picking?
Nutrition Based : Protein deficiency, Salt deficiency Overcrowding Lack of feeder space New birds introduced to a flock External parasites

4 Are scratch grains and just corn good diets for poultry?
No. Scratch grains and corn are all energy , very little protein and no vitamins and minerals. (It is like eating French Fries) Poultry need an energy source, a protein source and source of minerals and vitamins

5 Do chickens need grit? Depends, Chickens fed whole grains, corn or are foraging need grit to help digestion. Chickens will pick up pebbles and stones or you can buy grit at a feed store. Large particle oyster shell can act as a grit. Chickens fed a mash, pellet or crumble diet does not need added grit.

6 Do chickens need oyster shells?
Oyster shells are a good source of calcium laying hens need calcium to make egg shells. Oyster shells fed free choice help maintain egg shells.

7 Do chickens need vaccines?
Not necessarily, for small flocks Marek’s disease is recommended (done at hatchery) Other vaccinations only if history on farm Coccivax is a vaccine for coccidiosis and is popular with organic farms or limited medications operations Biosecurity is the best bet

8 Can the spur of chickens be removed?
The spur is a bony, conical projection found on the inside aspect of the leg of sexually mature roosters, tom turkeys, guinea fowl, partridges and pheasants. On the male chick the spur appears as a projection called a papilla. As the chick matures the papilla grows larger, hardens and starts to curve. The spur papilla can be removed when the bird is still a chick. The tip of the spur is treated so that it will not grow. Since the bony core of the spur papilla is not fully developed the process is quick and non-invasive. For adult birds surgery is required since it involves amputation of bone.

9 SPURS Chicken foot Turkey foot

10 Can a rooster be made to not crow?
Not easily: The syrinx is the place where the crow comes from. You can devoice a rooster but it requires surgery.

11 Are hormones used to produce chicken or turkey meat?
No. Hormones are NOT given to commercial poultry. It is illegal to do so Neither chickens nor turkeys require hormone supplementation to grow fast The rapid growth rates and high feed efficiencies in commercial chicken and turkey production is the result of generations of genetic selection as well as improvements in nutrition and management.


13 If you want the best meat you need to caponize the male birds?
False: Birds grow so fast and are so tender there is no need to caponize the bird. Capons were produced in the old days when it took weeks to produce a broiler. The testes are located inside the bird’


15 Is there a difference in free range and conventional eggs or white eggs and brown eggs or pastel eggs? There is no difference in cholesterol, vitamins A or E between conventional eggs and free range eggs, however free range eggs have more total fat, and beta carotene. There is no nutritional difference between different colored eggs, the size of the egg, the housing system and diet can effect nutrient content. The breed of hen determines egg color.

16 How long can free-range eggs be stored in the refrigerator?
Eggs will retain their quality for 4-5 weeks after being purchased, IF STORED PROPERLY Consumers should purchase eggs before the ‘sell-by’ or ‘expiration’ date that is printed on the carton, and for best quality use the eggs within a week of that date. A ‘use-by’ date is 45 days after packaging, and is intended to indicate the last date recommended for the consumer to use the eggs. The two most important safety rules for eggs are that they should be kept in the refrigerator and be cooked thoroughly.


18 Do you need a rooster for hens to lay eggs?

19 How soon after an egg is laid does the rooster fertilize the egg?
The egg is fertilized (or not) before it is laid.

20 (Fertilization) (Thick albumen) (Shell membranes) (Shell ) (Bloom )

21 Can you tell if an egg is fertile or not by candling?



24 Can you tell the sex of a chick before it hatches?
No. It is not possible to determine the sex of a developing embryo. While ultrasound can be used by humans to determine the sex of a fetus, the reproductive organs of birds are internal and cannot be seen by candling.

25 Does incubation temperature influence the sex of chicken eggs?
No. The incubation temperature of chicken eggs has no effect on determining the sex of the chick. While this may happen with some reptiles (e.g., alligators) it does not happen with poultry.

26 If chicks are hatched rather than born, do they have a navel?
Yes. Chicks have a navel Instead of the navel resulting from the disconnection from the placenta (as in mammals) the navel of the chick is the result of it brining the remainder of the yolk material (in a yolk sac) into the body cavity before they hatch.

27 Tony Pescatore Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 While mammals typically carry their offspring internally until they are ready to be born, the offspring of birds develop outside the body of the parents - in eggs. When carried in the womb, mammalian embryos receive their daily requirement for nutrients directly from their mother. For birds, however, all the nutrients that will be needed for the embryo to fully develop must be provided in the egg before it is laid. The parts of the avian egg, with and without an embryo, are shown in Figure 2 above. Poultry eggs are part of a unique reproductive system. The serves to protect and provide nutrients to the developing embryo. Since the embryo receives no additional nutrients from the hen, the egg must contain all the nutrients essential for life. Nutrients are found in the yolk, the albumen, and the shell of the egg. The egg is a convenient, self-contained package for studying embryology. An egg consists of a yolk, albumen, shell membranes, shell and a single reproductive cell called the germinal disc or ovum. The ovum appears as a small white dot on the surface of the yolk. The ovum contains half the genes of a new chick. The other genes come from the rooster and are found in the sperm cell. The union of the ovum with a sperm cell is called fertilization and is the beginning of a new individual. Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION

28 What factors affect hatch success?
Fertile eggs Maintaining the correct temperature Maintaining the correct humidity levels Increasing ventilation when chicks start to hatch Turning eggs properly

29 What is an acceptable temperature range for incubating eggs?
Although some variation from the optimal temperature can be tolerated by the embryos, any prolonged time at these temperatures will lower hatchability. For a still-air incubator (i.e., no circulating fan) the acceptable range is °F For a forced-air incubator (i.e., has a circulating fan) the acceptable range is °F.

30 How can I increase the humidity in an incubator?
You can increase humidity by placing 2-3 sponges on the bottom of the incubator. This increases the surface area available for evaporation. This is typically done three days before the eggs are due to hatch.

31 How long should I leave eggs in the incubator if they do not hatch on the expected hatch day?
Leave the unhatched eggs an additional 2-3 days. If they remain unhatched, throw them out.

32 What will delay a hatch? Too low a temperature will delay the hatch.

33 Do you need to teach newly hatched chicks to drink and eat?
Yes. It is good to dip the chicks’ beaks into the water before placing them in the brooder box. When putting them in the box, place them next to the feed.


35 Do chicken houses need to be heated?
Houses for adult chickens do not normally need to be heated. Chickens can tolerate quite cold temperatures as long as they are dry and out the wind/draft. Chicks do need heat, 85-90oF, drop 5 degrees per week till 70oF

36 Can I raise chickens and turkeys in the same flock?
It is typically not recommended to raise chickens and turkeys together Chickens can carry diseases that don’t affect them but do affect turkeys (example: Blackhead) Some people have used chicks to teach turkeys to drink during early brooding

37 How can I stop my hens from eating their eggs?
Prevention is always the best way to deal with egg eating since it is hard to stop once the flock has developed a habit of doing so. Collect the eggs often, especially n the morning when most of the eggs are typically laid. You can use roll-away nests where the eggs are automatically removed after being laid If using manual collection make sure there is sufficient bedding material in the nest boxes The nest boxes should be darker than the rest of the building Ensure that the hens are receiving proper nutrition so that the egg shells will be strong. It is possible that only a few hens are eating eggs Identify them (yellow on beaks) and remove from the flock before the habit spreads

38 How do eggs become contaminated with Salmonella?
Salmonella often live in the digestive tract of animals, including birds Proper cleaning and inspecting of eggs has made egg contamination from fecal material on the outside of the shell less common SE is a particular type of salmonella that can infect the ovaries of healthy-appearing hens Such hens can lay eggs contaminated with SE before the eggs is laid

39 How do I know if my chickens have Salmonella enteritidis?
Most chickens show no signs of infection with SE You can take environmental swabs to see if your chickens are shedding SE A positive result would indicate that your flock is infected A negative result does not necessarily mean that the chickens are not infected, only that they are not shedding

40 Are large egg laying operations the only ones that get salmonella contaminated eggs?
Any flock can be infected with Salmonella regardless of the size of the farm.

41 Is the shell of an egg hard or soft when it is first laid?
Most poultry eggs have a hard shell when laid Periodically you will find soft-shelled eggs which can result from a number of different reasons

42 Why do my hens lay eggs with thin or soft shells?
The most common reason is nutrition If the diet is deficient in calcium, phosphorus and/or vitamin D Disease Some diseases result in problems with egg shell formation

43 Will chicken parasites transfer to me or my family?
Typically parasites that infect poultry are specific to birds and do not infect people But they may crawl over you if you are handling an infected bird

44 I live in the city. What do I do when a chicken dies?
The easiest thing to do is double bag it and place it in the garbage.

45 How can I tell which hens are laying and which are not?
If the breed of chicken being used has yellow skin you can use the intensity of the yellow to identify the level of production. The darker the yellow the less eggs that have been laid. To evaluate the current level of production, regardless of skin color, you can measure the distance between the pubic bones and between the pubic bones and the tip of the keel. Hens that have been in production also have very little fat in the abdomen Determined by the pliability of the skin in the abdominal area

46 Tony Pescatore Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 Handling qualities Poor: Thick pubic bones, thick skin, hard abdomen (means fat in the abdomen) Good: Thin and pliable pubic bones, lean skin and soft abdomen The abdomen of a good layer is wide, soft (that is lacks fat) and expanded. Her vent is moist, large, and oblong in shape. In contrast, the abdomen of a non-layer is narrow, hard (fatty), and contracted. Her vent has some moistness but is small and round in shape. Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION

47 Evaluating laying hens
Tony Pescatore Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 Evaluating laying hens Pigmentation Handling qualities Abdominal capacity Distance between the pubic bones and between the pubic bones and the tip of the keel Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION

48 Tony Pescatore Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 Abdominal capacity Distance between the pubic bones and between the pubic bones and the tip of the keel Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION


50 Abdominal Capacity 2 x 2 finger spread POOR Tony Pescatore
Winchester, KY- Thursday October 27, 2011 Abdominal Capacity 2 x 2 finger spread POOR Frequently Asked Poultry QuestionsPRESENTATION

51 Abdominal Capacity 2 x 3 finger spread FAIR

52 Abdominal Capacity 3 x 3 finger spread GOOD

53 Abdominal Capacity 3 x 4 finger spread EXCELLENT

54 Evaluating laying hens
Pigmentation Handling qualities Abdominal capacity Feather condition/molt

55 Feather condition/Molt

56 Molt Example of a one-feather molt.
Replacement feather not yet visible.

57 Molt Example of a Four-feather molt,
With the four new feathers visible.

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