Introduction to Chickens

                                                                        

                                                                                       Raising Chickens

Having grown up on a farm I have found that raising chickens is one of the easiest animals to raise.  While most folks prefer to build some type of barn or chicken coop for them, chickens will live in some pretty shabby accommodations and during the summer months, can feed on insects in the garden which will help in controlling pests naturally.  Many varieties of chickens are known to be quite docile, making them good pets, which can entertain children for long periods of time.

Chickens can live in excess of  20 years and produce eggs for 15 years or more, providing they don't die of disease or other problems associated with them.  Proper care and nutrition will give your chickens a long and healthy life.  Providing proper water, food (including vitamins, minerals, and a probiotic supplement) as well as protection from the elements are necessary requirements for long-term survivability and good health.  In terms of health, providing clean water is one of the most important things you can do.  When I lived on the farm, we provided fresh water to our 250 chickens every day. Laying chickens require more water than roosters.  For optimal benefit, change the water twice a day, especially during the hot summer months.   Chickens may develop diseases and other problems when chicken manure and bacteria are allowed to accumulate in their water source.  It's also best to provide some water for bathing when possible.

Chickens live in small groups that are called flocks.  When hens cackle, they are only identifying their location with other members of the flock.  Roosters are best known for cackling, although both hens and roosters cackle.

Why Raise Chickens?  Unless you are a vegetarian, folks want meat and eggs in their diet.  Chickens are probably the best conventional protein source available to the self-sufficient gardener.  Besides their dinner-plate value, you might consider that poultry waste makes outstanding fertilizer or you may want to think about the first paragraph where we stated that chickens are great at controlling insects around the house.  And as we stated above, children get a great deal of entertainment value from chickens.  We feel however that most folks purchase chicks with the intention of gathering eggs and for great tasting and nutritious meals at some later time.  Most important when choosing what type of chickens to purchase is knowing the reasons why you chose to raise them.  For example, if you want chickens to help control insects in the garden, determine when they have access to the garden.  You certainly don't want them to eat your freshly planted seeds.  If you want chickens for their egg production, not only will you need to provide nesting cages for them, but certain types of chickens are better known for their egg production than others.  If your intention is to produce chickens strictly for food, try raising Cornish game hens or for a family, consider Rhode Island Reds.  In short, some chickens are bred as layers, others for meat production, still others for show and other breeds as just all-purpose (called dual-purpose) chickens.

As we will mention throughout in this article, there are two types of chickens most folks purchase.  They are the dual-purpose chicken and the egg producing breeds.  There are a few people who purchase chickens for "Show", but most people prefer the latter breeds.  Right now we’ll discuss the dual-purpose chicken and those of you who are interested in egg producing chickens should read the section titled "Nesting Chickens".  Dual purpose chickens are raised for both their meat and egg production.  They generally weigh about 5 to 6 pounds for a hen and 6 to 9 pounds for a rooster.  Dual-purpose chickens typically lay about 200 to 250 eggs per year versus an egg-producing chicken which can produce up to 300 eggs per year.  Rhode Island Red crossed with Barred Rock, Columbian Rock and Light Sussex are breeds that are often found in dual-purpose chicken farms.  Hens usually produce white or brown eggs, although hens such as Ameracuana’s produce bluish-colored eggs.

Before you purchase your first chick however, check and verify that local ordinances (city and county) allows you to have them on your property.  If you meet the qualifications of both city/county as well as any subdivision ordinances (HOA) if applicable, chicks can be purchased from a reputable source such as a feed supply store.  Young chicks are readily available during the spring months.

                                                                       Chick Sexing

The idea of chick sexing originated with the Japanese in the early 1930's when two professors perfected their traits.  Until that time, there was no way of determining the sex of a chicken.  Commercial egg breeders are the most concerned about sexing chickens since they only produce revenue from female (hen) chickens.  Chicks that are males (roosters) are either killed immediately to reduce overhead or sold and used as a food source.  An example might be that they could be used in dog food as well as human consumption.  Often however, commercial growers acquire different breeds of chickens for either meat production or egg production.

 

There are several ways of determining the sex of a chicken and we will discuss a couple of them in this article.  One way to determine the sex of a chicken is called vent sexing and should be left to professionals who are correct about 60 to 70% of the time.  For folks who have just a few chickens, there are two ways basic ways of purchasing chickens.  One is to purchase chicks that are sold as hens from a local farm store and the other is to purchase chicks that are called "Straight Run" chicks, meaning that you don't know the sex of the chicks until they are approximately 4 to 6 weeks old.  At that time, the characteristics of both sexes begin to appear.  Farm stores often purchase chicks that are cross-bred to produce hens.  One example of sex-linked breeding produces hens with one set of markings and roosters with a different set of markings on their plumage.  Feather sexing, vent sexing, sex-linked sexing, and instrument sexing are all ways in determining the sex of chickens, but if you are truly concerned about the sex of your chickens, then buy them as such from a farm store.  There is an ongoing effort by geneticists to develop new breeds of chickens in an effort to create specific breeds of chickens for either egg or meat production.  As a backyard grower of chickens, we aren't under the pressure that commercial growers are to determine the sex of a chicken so as to obtain maximum productivity. 

                                                                       Care of Chickens

Now that you have purchased young chicks, it's important to provide some sort of brooder for them.  This can be as simple as providing a cardboard box or purchasing a small animal cage such as one you might use to house rabbits.  There are books available through Barnes and Noble, Ebay, or Amazon that gives you step by step instructions on how to build a brooder hutch. 

Once a hutch is obtained and prior to placing chicks in your new hutch, there are several items that most folks find necessary for good health and proper care of these small birds.  Nearly everyone needs a heat lamp with a temperature projected at approximately 90 to 100 degrees in the first week and decreasing the temperature about 5 degrees/week thereafter until you reach a time when that is no longer needed.  When I lived on the farm, my dad would place a heat bulb just high enough to give young chicks warmth without producing too much heat.  Dad would raise approximately 250 chicks at a time (we had a rather large family), so our hutch was about 20 feet by 30 feet in size.  Place a heating unit in one corner to the hutch so the chicks can adjust their position according to their needs.

Proper lighting is important for growth and egg production.  When chicks are new-born to 7 days, they need light for 24 hours/day.  From 1 to 6 weeks, the recommended lighting conditions is 8 to 10 hours/day.  From 6 weeks to 20 weeks, the recommended lighting should be approximately 12 hours/day for egg production and at 20 weeks or greater, gradually increase lighting to about 16 hours/day.  Hens can certainly survive on less lighting conditions, but tend to produce fewer eggs.  How much light should you provide?  Most commercial growers recommend about 5-foot candles.  At this intensity, it is still possible to read a book, but with some difficulty.

Once the backyard grower obtains a hutch, it should be cleaned out every few days to keep the area clean and dry.  Bedding for young chicks should be carefully considered.  Slippery surfaces should be avoided.  Consider covering the flooring with "Pet Bedding Litter".  Some folks use "Pine Shavings", however this should be avoided, especially when chicks are under 2 weeks of age.  When pine shavings are used, young chicks may eat the fine material which can result in death.

Chickens require is a water and food source.  By this, we are referring to equipment that every backyard grower should have.  They are at least one watering dispenser and one or more feeder troughs.  They can be made of either heavy-gauge plastic or galvanized metal.  These items can typically be purchased at the same time you purchase chicks if you don't already have them.  Items made of galvanized metal should last for years if properly taken care of.  As we stressed before, change the water daily and feed new chick’s starter/chick crumbles food specifically made for them.  The first time you water young chicks, we recommend adding about one-tablespoon of sugar to the water.

                                                                            Protection

Once young chickens have feathered out, you will need to move them to something larger, such as a chicken coop.  Typically, a chicken requires approximately 2 to 3 square feet per bird inside the chicken coop and at least 4 to 5 feet of space in a chicken pen.  It's always advisable to "Predator Proof" both the coop and the pen against varmints.  This is most commonly used to keep out stray dogs including your own, but predators such as badgers, foxes, coyotes, and weasels can cause considerable damage.

 

Millions of people around the world eat chicken and so do millions of predators.  Having said this, it is obvious that dogs, coyotes, etc. will try to get to your chickens and that's why it's important to provide a good, strong fence around the edges. If you cannot break into the cage without using tools, then it's probably safe.  On our farm, we encountered many predictor’s, probably the worst being a badger.  I remember one chasing my dad out of the hen house, not afraid to tackle dad as well as the chickens.

Of some concern are birds such as magpies, hawks and eagles.  Some predator birds such as the magpie rob the nest of eggs and hawks and eagles love a good chicken dinner.  The best method is to run chicken wire overhead if these predators are a concern in your area.  Another solution, particularly if you live on a small farm is to incorporate goats with the chickens.  When properly constructed, foxes, coyotes and raccoons can't get into the pen if it keeps goats in.

                                                                                 Feeding

Different types of chicken feed should be available as chickens develop.  Chicks can be fed a "Chick starter/crumbles Mix." until they are feathered out.  At that time, most folks change their feed to layer pellets, crumbles, or hen scratch.  These feeds are considered maintenance feeds and most folks use this type of food until they start laying eggs.  Laying chickens can be fed egg booster and hen scratch.  It should be noted that chicken feed is available in three forms.  They are mash, crumbles and pellets.  Mash is powdery, pellets are made of compressed mash and crumbles are broken-up pellets. Most folks never use mash.  Instead they offer young chicks "Crumbles and older birds "Pellets".  When possible, feed chickens twice daily and give them no more than what they can eat in about 10 to 15 minutes.  During spring, summer, and fall, feed them a nutrition of oats along with the chicken food recommended and in the cold winter months, adding corn to their diet is beneficial.  If you're feeding chickens a well-balanced food source, they won't need additional supplements.  However food sources such as fresh vegetables, insects and farm crops may be included in their diet.  It's best to avoid feeding chickens left-over table scraps since some spices, chocolate, salt and other ingredients may be toxic to them.  If you feel it's important to give them table scrapes, consider instead giving them bread.

Depending on your chicken's diet, it may be necessary to provide them with grit.  What is grit?  It's small stones that your chicken stores in the gizzard.  There they act as teeth and are used to grind up food.  Normally small chicks don't require grits unless they are being fed grain, table vegetables and other soft foods.  Young chicks on crumbles really don't have a need for grit.  If it's necessary to give your chickens grit, you will find it available at many feed stores or you can use a fine grade of aquarium gravel.  A word of caution; Never give young chicks oyster-shells as this may cause bone development problems.

Some folks divide a chicken pen into two parts for feeding.  They keep the chickens on one side of the pen where a lush, green cover crop is growing.  The two areas are divided with a gate and as the birds eat away at the green cover crop, the other side of the chicken pen is activity growing.  After they have nibbled away at the greens on one side, they are then moved to the other side where lush green grass has established.  Once the chickens are moved, a new cover crop can be started on the other side of the chicken pen.

Keeping feed dry and away from rodents is very important.  A good way of keeping rodents away from chicken feed and to keep feed dry is to use a galvanized trash can with a lid for storage. 

 

                                                                         Nesting Chickens

A commonly used chicken for egg laying purposes is the White Leghorn. They produce white eggs and are often found in local grocery stores.  When raising chickens for egg production, there are a few necessaries as mentioned in the following paragraphs.

Nesting boxes are necessary for folks who purchase chickens for egg production.  These boxes should be constructed in such a way that they aren't used as a perch for the birds, yet appeal to the natural instincts of a chicken.  Hens lay eggs in a series, but never more than one or two eggs a day.  If you are raising chickens for egg production, be certain to remove the eggs each day since hens will stop laying once a sufficient amount of eggs remains in the nest.

A hen will start to incubate the eggs when the whole clutch is laid.  The whole idea of a hen is to keep the eggs warm for approximately 21 days.  Once eggs hatch, the hen will remain on the nest with them for about 1 to 2 days.  Folks who want to raise or increase the number of birds they have should keep the ambient temperature between 45º and 65º.  In about three weeks, all the eggs will hatch about the same time.  Hen chickens will establish a brood wherever good to excellent conditions exist. 

Once eggs are collected each day, they should be allowed to cool down gradually prior to refrigeration to avoid sweating which may lead to contamination.  Eggs are normally stored for 3 to 4 days at temperatures of 50º to 55ºF.  Albumen (egg white) quality will decrease as the length of storage increases.  If eggs need cleaning, they should be washed off at a temperature of about 55º Fahrenheit. Water with a high iron content should not be used as this may discolor the egg.  Eggs should be rinsed and then completely dried prior to storage. 

There are times when we don't necessarily want our hens to lay eggs.  There are several ways to stop a broody hen from laying eggs.  We can just put the hen in a pen away from the nesting boxes for 4 to 6 days.  This procedure just doesn't always work.  In such a case, we must then place the hen in a wire-bottom cage.  This procedure keeps the underside cool and after a few days, a hen should give up on egg production.

Calcium intake is very important for laying birds.  Giving laying hens oyster shell or limestone will increase the calcium needed for egg shell production and is often used by folks who raise chickens for egg production.  It is also important in the pre-lay period (two weeks prior to egg production) since this is the time period in which the pullets build up their medullary bone to enable them to manufacture egg shells.  A deficiency in calcium can lead to skeletal problems, reduced egg production and thin egg shells.

There may be several possible causes for poor egg production beside that just mentioned.  It may be contributed to a number of possible factors.  Feed of poor quality, nutrient deficiencies and imbalances may be contributing factors.  Toxins contained in feed may also cause a drop in egg production.  Lighting conditions, sudden changes in temperatures s and poor ventilation may also be factors in egg production.  Another consideration is the age of a chicken.  Pullets begin laying eggs at about 20 weeks of and reach peak production around 26 weeks.  By about 72 weeks of age, laying production will be down by 70%.  Chickens will eventually cease to produce eggs and go into a moult (lose and replace feathers).  Following moulting however, hens will lay eggs for at least one more year.  These and other factors may contribute to production, egg size and shell quality.

Some folks have a preference as to yolk color.  Yolk color is influenced by pigment content in the feed.  If a hen has access to green feed such as alfalfa or corn, then the yolks are much darker than those lacking green feed.

                                                                           Diseases

Diseases in poultry are not all that common, especially when clean, well ventilated conditions exist and good poultry diets are provided.  The information provided lists a few diseases found in chickens.

Coccidiosis.  There are a few diseases that concern poultry growers.  One of them is coccidiosis, a disease that can kill young chicks that have not built up a resistance to it.  This parasitic disease is found in the intestinal tract of young chickens and is caused by coccidian protozoa. The disease spreads from one chicken to another by contact with infected feces or ingestion of infected tissue.  Diarrhea, which may become bloody in severe cases, is the primary symptom.  Most chickens infected with coccidia are asymptomatic; however, young or immuno-compromised chickens may suffer severe symptoms, including death.

Chickens contact coccidiosis by eating oocysts.  Infected chickens shed oocysts for several days or weeks. Oocysts sporulate within two days under the proper conditions and become infective. Chickens pick them up by pecking on the ground or in litter used for bedding in the house. Oocysts can also be spread by insects, dust, wild birds, and humans (from shoes and equipment).  Oocysts can survive for nearly 2 years in the soil.  The optimum temperature for sporulation is around 72°F. The rate of sporulation is slower if temperatures are much cooler or hotter. Oocysts are killed either by freezing or very high temperatures.

The best way to avoid coccidiosis is by using a medicated feed.  There are several drugs which control coccidiosis and can be found in medicated chicken feed.  Important drugs or groups of drugs for controlling coccidiosis are clopidol, quinolones, monensin, lasalocid, salinomycin, robenidine, amprolium, dinitolmide, nicarbazin, sulfonamides and halofuginone.  Probably the most recognized medication found in many medicated feeds is amprolium.

Mareks Disease.  Another disease to guard against in chickens is Mareks disease.  Vaccinate for Mareks disease when the chicks are about one-day old.  This disease is caused by a herpesvirus and is often characterized by abnormal cell growth in the peripheral nerves and central nervous system. A common name for Mareks disease is  “fowl paralysis”. In addition to the nerves, however, the disease also may cause lesions on visceral organs and other tissues, including feather follicles of the skin. The most prominent lesions may be tumors on the liver, kidneys, testes, ova, spleen and lungs.   Chicken "dander" from feather follicles is another form in which the disease spreads. The virus also is excreted in the saliva, and the virus enters the body through the respiratory system. Transmission via the egg is not significant to cause this disease.  Some chickens die without any clinical signs of Marek's disease. Most of the affected birds will have some degree of paralysis, although chickens with the acute form may not show this condition. Those with paralysis may die because they are unable to reach feed and water. The first indication of infection is a variation in the growth rate and degree of feathering.  Swelling of the peripheral nerves, particularly of the nerves of the leg and wing, is often noticeable. The visceral organs may contain tumors ranging from microscopic size to fairly large. Such tumor lesions may be confused with those of lymphoid leucosis without a qualified laboratory diagnosis.

Lice, ticks and mites.  The proliferation of lice, ticks and red mites in chickens are often the result of unhealthy conditions.  Death may follow if we don't recognize the symptoms and act accordingly.  Lice is often transmitted through direct contact with other chickens that are affected.  Although lice do not bite chickens, it is known to eat away at dead skin and likely cause the chicken or other chickens to peck away at the skin, thus causing irritation and depression.  Lice are fast moving, light brown in color and their white colored eggs are found near the base of a feather shaft.  Lice are relatively easy to get rid of in chickens by dipping them in a solution of Malathion and the use of a sulphur-based insecticide dust.  Poultry lice are small, wingless insects with broad, round heads.  One female lice can lay up to 300 eggs at a time which attaches to the feather shaft.  There are several species of poultry lice, affecting chickens in different ways.  Poultry lice are host specific and cannot be transferred to humans.

Mites are far more serious.  These small creatures suck the blood of chickens and are nocturnal.  They are slow moving and are dark, reddish black in color.   Mites lay eggs along the shaft of long feathers and their eggs are white to cream colored. They can not only infect chickens, but pets and children as well.  Once infected, they can be found in bedding, carpet, and other areas of the premises.  They live by night on their host and during the day, they make way to crevices.  Mites multiply rapidly and control is essential.  There are typically two types of mites found in poultry in our area.  They are the Red Mite and the Northern Foul Mite with the latter being the most prevalent.  The life cycle of a mite is approximately 10 days to 3 weeks.  We recommend inspecting chickens at night since mites are nocturnal.  Noticeable signs of mites may be a darkening of the feathers on white-featured chickens.  Other signs is scabbing of the skin, mite eggs on the fluff feathers and congregation of mites around the abdomen, tail or throat. 

In general, chickens infested with lice or mites display the same symptoms, usually decreased egg production, loss of weight, decreased quality of the chicken, increased susceptibility to disease and decreased food consumption.

To reduce the possibly of lice or mites, it's essential to provide a clean environment.  This would include cleaning and disinfecting chicken coops, pens and equipment.  The use of ""Sevin" dust is an effective method for controlling these small pests.  When disinfecting a chicken, place the bird in a garbage bag containing Sevin dust.  Keep the head of the chicken on the outside of the bag and shake or rotate the bag so as to thoroughly coat the chicken.  As a word of caution with any chemical, do not breathe the medicated powder.  We recommend retreating chickens after two weeks, then as necessary thereafter.  A two-week treatment is recommended because of the life cycle of mites and lice.

Osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis or better known as cage-layer fatigue and is typically found only in hens housed in cages.  Signs of this disease are paralysis, fragile or deformed bone structure, fractures and weak egg shells.  Other things that may lead to this disease are a lack of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Treatment of this disease can take place by removing the hens from their cages and placing them on the floor with plenty of feed, water, ventilation, and light.

Avian Influenza:   Symptoms of this disease are flu like and affect all species of chickens.  Avian influenza is categorized as mild or highly pathogenic. The mild form produces listlessness, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhea, a drop in egg production, and low mortality. The highly pathogenic form produces facial swelling, blue comb and wattles, and dehydration with respiratory distress. Dark red/white spots develop in the legs and combs of chickens. There can be blood-tinged discharge from the nostrils. Mortality can range from low to near 100 percent. Sudden exertion adds to the total mortality. Egg production and hatchability decreases sufficiently. There can be an increase in production of soft-shelled and shell-less egg production.

The avian influenza virus can remain viable for long periods of time at moderate temperatures and can live indefinitely in frozen material. As a result, the disease can be spread through improper disposal of infected carcasses and manure. Avian influenza can be spread by contaminated shoes, clothing, crates, and other equipment. Insects and rodents may mechanically carry the virus from infected chickens to poultry that is susceptible to this disease.

There is no effective treatment for avian influenza. With the mild form of the disease, good husbandry, proper nutrition, and broad spectrum antibiotics may reduce losses from secondary infections. Recovered flocks continue to shed the virus. Vaccines may be available through veterinarians.  

A vaccination program used in conjunction with a strict quarantine has been used to control mild forms of the disease. With the more lethal forms, strict quarantine and rapid destruction of all infected flocks remains the only effective method of stopping an avian influenza outbreak..  Proper diagnosis of avian influenza is essential. Aggressive action is recommended even for milder infections as this virus has the ability to readily mutate to a more pathogenic form.

Fowl Cholera.  Fowl Cholera affects chickens of all breeds.  Fowl cholera usually strikes birds older than 6 weeks of age. In acute outbreaks, dead birds may be the first sign.  Fever, reduced feed consumption, mucoid (a harmful mucus-like material) discharge from the mouth, ruffled feathers, diarrhea, and labored breathing may be noticeable. As the disease progresses birds lose weight, become lame from joint infections, and develop rattling noises from exudate (any fluid that filters from the circulatory system into lesions or areas of inflammation) in air passages. As fowl cholera becomes chronic, chickens develop abscessed wattles and swollen joints and foot pads.

There are multiple ways in which the transmission has been demonstrated. Flock additions, free-flying birds, infected premises, predators, and rodents are all possibilities.

A flock can be medicated or vaccinated, or both, to stop mortality associated with an outbreak. Antibiotics can be used, but require higher levels and long-term medication to stop the outbreak.  It's not recommended to vaccinate for fowl cholera unless you have a problem. Rodent control is essential to prevent future outbreaks.

 

                                                                    Recommended Breeds

Rhode Island Reds:  Chosen by the backyard grower for their egg laying ability, meat production and their hardiness.  Unfortunately, the Rhode Island White is not nearly as popular, but features the same outstanding qualities.

White Leghorns:  White Leghorns are far better than the rest of their breed since they are dependable for laying large, white eggs nearly every day, as a matter of fact they are often used commercially since they produce around 275 to 300 eggs/year.  Leghorns typically avoid contact with humans and are known to be nervous and flighty.  Leghorns are not large and weight approximately 3 to 4 pounds, making them a poor meat producer.  They are however known as an outstanding forager for food.

Buff Orrington's:  These large birds are known the be quite friendly and are considered to be a dual-purpose chicken.  Orpington's are also cold-hardy chickens, making them ideal for the Boise climate.  The Orpington's produce large, brown eggs which is popular among many commercial egg producers.  Their egg-laying characteristics are about 3 eggs/week.   These birds are broody and make great mothers.  varieties of Orpington's include the black and blue varieties and are somewhat rare.  These chickens are often used for show purposes.

WelsummerThis large, beautiful breed was developed in Holland for its distinctive rustic-red and orange colors.  They weigh about 6 to 7 pounds and are a dual-purpose bird.  The eggs of this chicken are large, dark-brown and somewhat speckled.  There are several variations of the Welsummer.  If you use Kellogg's Cornflakes, then you should be familiar with the White Welsummer rooster, since it's on the box. This chicken, like the Leghorn is a good forager for insects and other food stuff. 

Barred RockThe Plymouth Rock, also known as Barred Rocks are often referred to as the chickens that grandma raised.  These large birds can weigh up to 9 1/2 pounds and are quite docile, but because of their size, a Barred Rock could become a problem if one becomes aggressive.  Rocks are just one variety of the Plymouth Rock and there are seven varieties in all.  These birds are considered a dual-purpose bird.  Some varieties are great layers and others are considered for their meat quality.  Barred Rocks are cold hardy.

Ameracuanas: The Ameraucana or Araucana chicken may be best known for its blue eggs.  These chickens are quite docile.  Their size ranges from about 6 to 7 pounds and the blue eggs are medium in size.  They aren't purchased for their meat production and their egg production is about 3 eggs/week. which is considered good.  There are 8 recognized varieties of Ameracuanas, they are Black, Blue, Blue Wheaten, Brown Red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White.

Gold Sex-Link: Gold Sex Link chickens are easily identified as to their gender.  The males are white and the female chicks are white with streaks of red or gold on them.  These chickens are cross bred using the Rhode Island Red male and the Rhode Island White female.  They are considered a dual-purpose chicken with good laying capabilities as well as meat production.  Sex Link chickens are often used in commercial operations.

 

                                                              Conclusion

Good nutrition during all stages of the rearing and pre-lay periods is critical for the health of any chicken.  This includes proper food for each stage of development, a clean water source, ventilation, administrating medication properly and at the right time, adequate lighting conditions and housing that allows chickens to move about.

For folks who might wonder what the meaning of a word used in this article means, we have included a few definitions:

            Chick               A newly hatched chicken

            Capon             A castrated male chicken used for meat production

            Cockerel         A male chicken less than a year old.  These often make it to the barbecue.

            Hen                 A female chicken more than a year old.  These are for egg production.

            Pullet              A female chicken less than a year old.

            Rooster           A male chicken more than a year old.

            Egg                  If you don't know this, find another hobby.

 

 

 

                                                                       Great Chicken Recipes

                                                                            Chicken Salad Recipe

 

Ingredients

  • Stiff purple grapes

  • Celery

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • Walnut pieces

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp pepper

  • 3-4 tbsp sugar

  • 3-4 chicken breasts

 

Directions:

Boil chicken breasts until fully cooked, then cut up in chunks. Chunk up grapes, celery and walnuts. Mix together after chicken has cooled. Add salt and pepper. Add sour cream, mayonnaise and sugar. Mix until well blended, taste and add more of any ingredient as needed.

Notes:  Number of Servings: 4-6

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

House Seasoning:

  • 1 cup salt

  • 1/4 cup black pepper

  • 1/4 cup garlic powder

 

                                                                            Southern Fried Chicken:

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1 cup hot red pepper sauce

  • 2 cups self-rising flour

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • House Seasoning

  • 2 1/2-pound chicken, cut into pieces

  • Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil

Directions:

To make the House Seasoning, mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Season the chicken with the House Seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour mixture.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.

Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer than white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.

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