Category: Chicken Health

Egg Education

Do you ever wonder about what an egg is made up of? How it all creates a chick, or even what each part is actually for? Recently I did some in depth research to find the answers to these questions. I was astonished by the complexity of the egg that is so easily overlooked.

When talking about the shell of an egg you might say its hard, protective, solid, but actually an average chicken egg has about 7,000 pores on its surface. These are so the chick can breathe on the inside on the egg. This is also how moisture and other essential vapors/gases (including oxygen) come in and out of the egg. This shell is made up of calcium. The Cuticula is inside the egg shell and keeps out bacteria and dust that would otherwise contaminate the inner egg.

 

Underneath this shell are two membranes, the outer and inner shell membranes (this is what makes it slightly difficult to peel eggs at times). These membranes protect the eggs from bacteria & prevent necessary moisture from expelling from the egg.

 

When the egg is first laid it is very warm. About 106 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Once it leaves the hen and cool to room temperature the egg shrinks inside the shell creating a vacuum effect that pulls air into the egg. This is similar to a bottle of water left in your car on a hot day then taking it into the cold house and the bottle shrinks like someone squeezed it. Due to this the air cell is formed in the egg on the large side of the egg.

 

As the embryo grows the shells inner membrane surrounds & contains the Thick and Thin Albumen of the egg. This membrane helps protect against bacteria. The Albumen provides the liquid in which the embryo develops, and it also contains a large amount of protein for the necessary development of the chick.

 

The Vitelline membrane is very thin until after fertilization. Then the membrane thickens to protect the Yolk and Germinal disc.

 

In a fresh egg you can see the Chalaza (2 cords), which are made from twisted strands of fibers & protein. This is also what holds the yolk in the center of the egg. The more noticeable the Chalaza is, the fresher the egg is.

 

Many people mistaken the yolk for the baby chick but actually the yolk is a form of protein for the chick as it develops. The yolk also contains all the fat in the egg. The Germinal disc is where the hen’s genetic material is found and where the chick develops.

 

Jeremy Smith

AutomaticChickenCoopDoor.com

It’s time for an Eggucation.

It’s all about the eggs.

I was recently asked if hens would lay eggs whether a rooster is around or not. Many people even ask me if they need a rooster to have eggs. I respond, “Your chickens will still lay eggs without a rooster, they just wont be fertile without one”.

When all chickens begin laying their first eggs do not get upset about the size. The majority of chickens will lay smaller eggs at first before they lay their full sized eggs. I guess you can say this is God’s was of breaking them in.

Did you know how many different breeds of chickens there are out there? All of them lay eggs more or less frequently than others. Leghorns are the primary commercial egg layer breed laying around 280 eggs per year. Buff Orpingtons are the primary breed of chicken that we have because they are a fluent egg layer, large eggs, and lay around 280 eggs per year. You might say, “well that’s not even one a day”. Fact is, no chickens lay an egg every single day of the year. Gloomy weather will cause a chicken to miss a day or two of laying, sickness will affect their laying, and each year they have a molt where they shed and grow new feathers and during this period they will lay few or no eggs at all lasting up to three months.

This means the winter weather can cause chickens to lay very little eggs due to the cold and gloomy weather. I personally keep anywhere between 25-40 chickens at one time and on one of those is a rooster. During the winter months ill be lucky to have 15 eggs a day. Sometimes I can trick my chickens into laying more by turning on a lamp inside the coop with them to trick them into thinking its bright and sunny out. I did read a book one time where a Black Australorp had laid record 364 eggs in a year. But most breeds will take a day or two off each week. Some chickens will even be broody for up to a three-week period each year.

Mother Earth News worked with Skaggs Nutrition Laboratory at Utah State University and Food Products Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, to test free-range chicken eggs versus store bought eggs. The free-range eggs contained four to six times as much Vitamin A; Twice as much omega-3 fatty acid; half as much Cholesterol, a quarter as much Saturated Fat of commercial eggs.

There are many people that think all brown eggs are free-range eggs, but actually the color of the eggs has nothing to do with the diet of the chickens and almost everything to do with the breed of the chicken. I found this interesting but often the egg colors are linked with the color of the chicken’s earlobes. Red earlobes generally mean they have white eggs. White earlobes have brown eggs. This does not hold true to all breeds but it does apply to the majority. Some chickens are even thought to have Easter colored eggs. The Araucanas & Ameraucanas lay blue eggs.

I hope this article has helped Eggucate you. No matter what kind of chickens you choose to raise, you really cannot make a wrong choice. Raising them to be free-range chickens will give you the benefits of healthier & more nutritional eggs than commercial ones.

By Jeremy Smith

AutomaticChickenCoopDoor.com

Chicken Safety

Protecting Your Chickens

Building a coop offers chickens a sheltered place to hide out from the harsh elements like rain, snow, heat and cold. A well built coop will also protect them from predators and ensure them healthy, comfortable life. In addition they will produce quality eggs in return.

There are a number of things that lurk in the shadows waiting for the chance to get your chickens…

Dogs, cats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, mink, fox, coyotes, hawks, owls, neighborhood children etc. You name it they will kill your chickens!

A safe coop is a necessity for anyone raising chickens, and fortunately there are many different chicken coop designs available. Materials such as PVC pipes, tarps, converted old campers, have all actually been used material for chicken coops, however well constructed wood sheeted coop is the safest and most common way for building chicken coops.

However before purchasing a chicken coop kit, keep in mind the size of the coop run and number of chickens the coop will host. Each chicken needs at least 2 sq feet of space and larger breeds of poultry may need at least 4 to 5 sq feet of space. New lumber can be expensive to purchase, depending on the size of the coop: some second hand stores actually sell used lumber that works just as good!

Although it is relatively simple to build a coop to keep chickens in from scratch, many people simply don’t have the carpentry skills and prefer to purchase chicken coop kits instead. Most chicken coop kits come with all the necessary materials required for constructing the perfect home in which their hens will be safe.

  • A safe coop should be entirely enclosed leaving no opportunities for crafty critters to find a way in.
  • It also should include well ventilation in the summer and be well insulated in the winter. (These areas should be reinforced with chicken wire fencing to keep anyone from scratching through them)

If you desire to have a fenced in area for your chicken the most cost effective way to do this is to construct a chain link fence around the designated area for your chickens (chicken wire or netting may be equally as economical).

1. After constructing the fence wrap it in chicken wire to keep smaller critter like mink, weasels, and cats from getting through it. Mink only need a small hole of

2 inches in order to get through.

3. Also to protect from things climbing over and birds of prey, wrap the chicken wire fencing over the top so nothing can climb/fly over.

4. Finally, dig a one foot trench around the base of the chain link fence and tie you chicken wire to it allowing it to drop down into the trench. Now simply reapply the dirt and burry the fencing.

 

Finally an Automatic Chicken Coop Door can greatly improve your chance of avoiding a predator getting into your chicken coop. The majority of chicken attacks happen in the evening as most predators to chicken are nocturnal hunters. If you are new to chicken keeping you soon will realize the struggle of rushing home from work or from dinner with friends to be sure the chicken coop door gets closed before a local predator pops in for a snack. You number one defense against these attacks and fatalities are to automated the opening and closing of your chicken coop door. As an added bonus to a door closing automatically when your not home it will also open back up the following morning to let the chickens back outside. This gives both you and the chickens the freedom you want. This makes chicken keeping less of an obligation while also keeping the “girls” safe.
Taking these proper precautions will help your chickens to have a safe place to enjoy the outside but still remaining safely out of reach of predators so you can rest easily.
By Jeremy Smith