web analytics


  • Category Archives Raising Chicks
  • Artificial Light For Better Egg Production!

    Chickens stopped laying? It maybe time to turn on the lights for the Chickens. It is a well known fact that as the daylight hours get shorter in the fall and winter months adding artificial lighting can keep your chickens laying. As the days get shorter you will notice a considerable drop in your egg production from your flock of chickens. As an example you will notice that your hens that are only kept under natural daylight hours will lay the majority of their eggs during the spring and summer months. Most pure breeds will stop laying during the winter months.

    If you raise the hybrid or sex link strains of chicken you may notice that your chickens will continue to lay fairly well but at a lower rate.

    Adding artificial light in the hen house for your chickens is nothing more than tricking their bodies into laying on a ore continuous basis as they have been doing throughout the spring and summer months. Your hens have a gland inside their eye called a pituitary gland. By stimulating the pituitary gland with light there will be a hormone produced that will be carried via the bloodstream to the ovary of the chicken, which sets egg production in motion.

    It is therefore possible to give some artificial light to laying birds to ‘trick’ their bodies into continuing to lay into the darker months.

    Adding Artificial Light for your Laying hens

    A good sufficient amount of daylight for your hens to continue laying at a fair rate is right around 15 hours.

    I like to use a timer myself when adding light in the hen house for my laying hens. I will make sure the light comes on at an early morning time that is giving the laying hens 15 hours of daylight before dark of night sets back in. I have the timer turn the light on just before daylight instead of leaving it on all night or right before they go to bed. I want the day to be as normal as possible for the chickens so adding the light in the mornings instead of at night before they are ready to roost, ensures that my chickens aren’t suddenly caught out in the dark when the timer switches the light off. this leaves the chickens out in the dark not having gone through the natural roosting process. I really feel the natural roosting process allowing the hens to get a good natural rest is key and very important to this whole process.

    Something you really need to remember is; If you add the light after the daylight hours were already shortened and you get your hens are laying well once again, the light hours. Make sure you keep the lighting added to their mornings to keep their daylight hours constant to prevent your chickens from going into moult, or a decrease in production once again.

    Amount Of Light To Use In The Hen House!

    You do not need to use a bright bulb inside the chicken coop for illumination. If you open the door at night when the light is on and can just clearly see the hens feed when standing over the feeder, you should be good to go. I usually just use a soft white or soft yellow 25 to 60 watt bulb. I find this is sufficient for good continuous laying of eggs.


  • Day Old Speckled Sussex Chicks-Tilly’s Baby

    Day Old Speckled Sussex Chicks just hatched out of the incubator.  

    If you remember in one of the last post we talked about Tilly the old Speckled Sussex chicken that died right after laying her last egg. She had not laid an egg all year and on her last day she blessed us with one more egg. I added this egg tot he incubator in hopes that it would be fertile and supply us with one more generation. Sept 19 we were blessed with a little baby chick coming forth from her egg as you will see in the video below.

    Baby Speckled Sussex chicks vary greatly in color from a creamy buff to dark chestnut and some also have alternate dark and light stripes lengthwise on the back.

    The speckled Sussex is a good layer of light brown medium to large brown eggs.  It is a very friendly and sociable chicken. Their curious nature will often end up with them following you around the yard if they think they can beg a treat from you.  Its plumage color is a delight to the eye being of rich mahogany base color with individual feathers ending in a white tip separated from the rest of the feathers by a black bar.  The feather pattern allows them to be camouflaged from many predators from the air such as the hawk.  This variety combines beauty with utility, and is very nice to raise for showing.


  • Breeds of Chickens, Which one is Best?

    Which breed of chicken is the best?  Ask any proud Chicken owner and you will get a multitude of different responses.  Most will ask you a question in return to help them answer your question.  They will ask you what you want the chicken to do for you.

    When it comes to chickens there are many breeds to choose from.  Here at Dark Eggs Daily we love the French Marans such as the Black Copper Marans, Wheaten Marans, the various cuckoo Marans, etc.  We love the dark brown chocolate gourmet eggs they lay. They are also very winter hardy for our cold Michigan winters, very disease resist, and and docile chickens.

    We also like the Large Fowl Cochins.  Cochins are known to be good pets for the backyard flock owner, as they are very easily tamed and regarded as one of the most ‘friendly’ chicken breeds that their is. Cochins are a very quiet chicken.

    Like I said, “there are many breeds of chickens to choose from.”

    You have chickens that lay dark brown eggs like our French Marans breeds, chickens that lay lighter brown eggs like the Sussex breeds and the old standard Rhode Island Reds, and Barred Rocks, chickens that lay white eggs like the Ancona and the more commercial leghorn breeds.  You also have chickens that lay blue and green eggs like the Ameraucana, and Araucana.

    You have chickens that come in all different colors; some have feathers on their legs and feet and some don’t, some have a crown of feathers on their head such as the polish chickens and others have a crown of fine hair like fuzz like the silkies.  You also will find chickens with many different styles of combs on their head from the standard single comb to the bowl like comb of the buttercups.

    Chickens come in different classifications such as commercial layers like the leghorns, and heritage breeds such as the old timers, Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, etc.

    You also have the LF or large fowl birds and then their is the Bantam varieties that offer you a small chicken if space is an issue.  Bantams breeds of chickens have become increasingly popular as pets for many backyard chicken fanciers, as well as for show purposes because they are smaller and have more varied and exotic colors and feather patterns than the large fowl or standard breeds of chickens.

    Some chickens make excellent pets and do well around children and other breeds of chickens and others should only be kept in with their own breeds.  Some rooster of different breeds will do well with other roosters and some will fight to the death if another rooster is introduced to the flock.

    So as you can see there are many things that should be taken into consideration before getting your first chickens to start up your backyard flock.  One thing I know about chicken fanciers or Chicken Junkies as a couple of my friends from West Virginia call them, is that we like to share our thoughts and opinions about the different breeds of chickens we like to raise and why.

    If you are keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard or on a small acreage, tell us which breeds you have come to admire and why, in the comments section below.  So it is a two part question…

    What is your very favorite breed of chicken?

    What are the special or unique characteristics of that breed that make it your favorite?

    An example would be like I started this post with, “Here at Dark Eggs Daily we love the French Marans such as the Black Copper Marans, Wheaten Marans, the various cuckoo Marans, etc.  We love the dark brown chocolate gourmet eggs they lay. They are also very winter hardy for our cold Michigan winters, very disease resist, and and docile chickens.”


  • Raising Chickens As a Hobby, Raising Chickens As A Business!

    Raising Backyard Poultry For Fun or A Business

    Raising chickens in your backyard is a great experience. One of our customers Jeff Wellman of The Backyard Chicken Coop put together a short video of some of the chickens he raises for fun and as a Hobby business.

    Jeff started buying his baby chicks from Dark Eggs Daily this year after we introduced him to the Dark Brown Egg Laying breeds of chickens, the French Marans. He expresses how we take extra precautions to ensure our flock is free of diseases so that he will have healthy baby chicks when they arrive to his home.

    Jeff has been ordering the French Marans breeds that lay the dark brown chocolate eggs such as the Wheaten Marans and the Black and black copper Marans. Jeff also has purchased the Speckled Sussex breed of chickens form Dark Eggs Daily. The speckled Sussex like the Marans are a very nice cold hardy breed of chickens that are pleasant to raise and they get along well with each other and other breeds.

    Enjoy the video Jeff has put together and then check out our French Marans breeds of chickens for your Dark Eggs Daily


  • How to Raise Chickens, Choosing The Best chickens To Raise

    How to Raise Chickens – The 4 Essentials For Success

    So you think your ready to start raising chickens.  In my opinion that is a very good choice.  But are you really prepared?

    Many reasons can be applied for the yearning to start raising your own chickens.  It really doesn’t matter what your reasons are for learning how to raise chickens, as long as they are well thought out and your final decision is based on in depth research.

    One reason you are making the choice to raise chickens is because you might feel the necessity to stretch your food budget by having your own chicken meat and eggs readily at hand.  Becoming self sufficient is a wise choice but can cost more than what you are spending now.  But knowing where the meat and eggs are coming from and what the chickens were fed really outweighs the cost of raising your won chickens at home.

    The idea of raising enough chickens and eggs to not only feed your own family, but to sell the surplus in hopes of increasing your family income may have come to mind.   Or, it may be a life long dream to quit your “real” job (or maybe you’ve lost your job) and start your own egg or poultry business.  Make sure that you really do your research and look into feed costs compared to your return on investment that you will get for your eggs or meat you are selling.

    Regardless of the nature of your chicken raising venture, there are four essentials for success: (1) good breeding, (2) sound management, (3) careful sanitation, and (4) wise feeding.

    Good Breeding: Often many young chicks will die even with the best of care. Poor chicks, usually, are responsible for such losses. Chicks must be free from disease; they must be bred to live. And the ability to lay eggs is an inherited characteristic.

    These are reasons why breeding is the first essential for success. It pays to buy only the best chicks available, even if they cost a few more pennies than mediocre stock.  At dark Eggs Daily we really care about our chickens health and do our very best to provide our customers with top quality healthy baby chicks.

    We know how devastating it can be to get your baby chicks only to find out that they were sick from the start.

    Many diseases are passed on through the embryo during the incubation process.  This leaves you with a baby chick that is prone to diseases right from the start.

    We apply top notch practices to ensure our flock is healthy in order to supply us with the best eggs for hatching.

    Sound Management: Management involves proper care of the chickens and the equipment. There is an old saying in Scotland to the effect that the eye of the master fattens his cattle. This expression—emphasizing personal care and attention—applies aptly to poultry keeping.

    Equipment need not be expensive, but it must provide comfort, or the enterprise will fail.

    Planning, too, is a part of management. While not so important to the home-flock owner as to the commercial poultry business, it will affect costs and returns in every flock.

    For example, it costs no more to maintain a laying flock in the fall and winter than at other seasons, but during these months eggs normally reach peak prices. Therefore, if pullets and hens in the home flock are laying while eggs are relatively high, money is saved in food purchases, or money may be made by selling surplus eggs.

    Providing meat and eggs at peak prices is the result of planning. And the very fact that abnormally high prices prevail during certain seasons of the year is evidence that the majority of flock owners do not plan.

    Careful Sanitation: Lack of sanitation is the rock upon which many poultry enterprises are wrecked. Every time a chick or hen dies, costs are increased.

    This is an important cost item, shown by the fact that a 15-per cent mortality rate is representative of the losses sustained by the poultry industry as a whole. Chickens are attacked by parasites; they are susceptible to disease. Yet these menaces to profitable and satisfactory production can be controlled.

    Personally we feel that a 15% mortality rate is to high and you should not be experiencing more than a 5-10% loss if you follow careful practices.

    Prevention, not cure, is the keynote of success. The flock must be kept in a healthy condition.

    The beginner—and especially the back-yard flock—has a distinct advantage over the commercial producer. If the home-flock owner starts with disease-free chicks like provided by Dark Eggs Daily Hatchery, and clean ground and equipment, there is no reason to fear parasites and diseases.

    Wise Feeding: Poultry feeds must contain all the nutrients for growth and development and all the raw materials from which eggs are manufactured.

    Since most home flocks are grown and maintained in confinement, you will have the responsibility of providing everything your chickens need for  development and production through the feed.

    Make sure you are starting your chicks out on the right feeds with the right amounts of nutrients and protein values is very important to your success.

    The feed quality is important all the way through, from birth to growing your chickens to adulthood if you are going to have success in raising chickens.

    Also, chickens must be feed all they can eat. The more they eat, the bigger the chickens and the better the eggs. Chickens cannot eat too much.

    To increase feed consumption, hoppers must be kept full and within easy access for  the birds 24 hours a day. Commercial poultry companies place electric lights in laying houses to increase the length of the eating day. After all, high-laying strains of hens perform a colossal task; they lay many times their own weight in eggs each year.

    Learning how to raise chickens is easy, if you do the research and follow basic guidelines that experienced poultry experts are willing to share.  Planning and commitment to a flock is your first step to the joys of growing your own food supply, or even just raising a few chickens for pets.

     


  • Raising Chickens As Pets

    How to raise chickens properly to become great pets.

    I am writing this post as a guess blogger for Dark Eggs Daily.  I am also writing it in honor of Tilly one of  my favorite Speckled Sussex Hen (pictured below) who probably laid her last egg today and is ready to say her final good-by.  I am making one last attempt to prolong her stay here with us but it is not looking good.  She has been a very faithful friend and companion for almost 7 years now.  She has been a faithful layer of good quality brown eggs and has wandered the yard busily chattering to those who would listen.

    When I got her as a young day old Chick there was something special about her.  She would always come running up to see if I had a treat for her that visit to the chicken house.

    Speckled Sussex Chicken (Tilly)

    Speckled Sussex Chicken (Tilly)

    She would let me pick her up and then she would start her quiet chatter expecting me to know exactly what she was saying.  She will be missed by the entire family.  I have placed her final egg in the incubator in hopes that it will be fertile, and develop into a nice little chick to takes it Mamas place in the family.

    All of my years growing up I have raised chickens.  Except for my 4 year tour in the Marine Corps.  They probably would have frowned on the idea of chickens.

    My Dad would take me every year to the local feed mill to get my 25 free baby chicks (usually Rhode Island Reds) with the purchase of 50 lbs of chick start.

    I would raise them up and sadly watch about 50% of them end up in the freezer as they were roosters.  You can usually count on at least 50% of your straight run chicks being roosters.  If you are raising chickens as pets and have young children you need to buy with the knowledge that you will have to either sell or butcher some of your pets.  This may be a hard thing to go through for some kids.  But there is not a lot of need for to many roosters running around.

    Out of the Roosters I would usually get to keep one of the best looking roosters just to hear him crow night and day around the farm. Out of the hens I usually would pick my favorite out and give her a name and begin the taming process.

    If looking to make pets out of your chickens it is wise to start with a nice quiet breed.  Many of the breeds at Dark Eggs Daily such as the Dark Egg Laying Marans, The gentle giant Cochin breed, and our brown egg layers the Speckled Sussex and Coronation Sussex are very well suited as pets as they have quiet dispositions unlike the Rhode Island red hens I used to raise.  Of course much of your chickens’ suitability as pets will depend on how they are raised and handled by their owner. Frequency of handling is also a very big part of making chickens great pets.

    Basically, the more regular gentle handling they get the better!

    It is generally best to start Them Young.  There is absolutely nothing that can take the place of raising them from day old chickens.

    Hand feeding your chicks and handle them daily is the best way to make them awesome family pets. One thing to remember is that you need to take caution when you are allowing the little people play with them unsupervised. You will find that most Chicks are surprisingly tough, but are no match for a rough and tough toddler!

    Make sure that if you decide to raise chicks that you go through the proper steps of educating yourself in order to teach your children, and the children that may visit how to properly and gently hold and feed your chicks

    It is an awesome idea to involve your children in the daily care of the chicks.  This will allow your children to bond with the chickens and also to teach them the responsibility of taking care of a pet. Kids and chickens can be a great combination when done right.

    Chickens do not need to be pets only when they are small chicks.  They have a wonderful personality and are very fun and also educating to watch. If you want a pet that will give you several years of not only great fresh eggs, but many years of enjoyment chickens are a great choice if you have the room.  Keep up the hand feeding and handling all through your birds’ lives.

    Dark Eggs Daily is a great place to start at when looking for a special chicken to raise as a pet.  Take a look around the site and see which breed may be best suited for you.

    Raising Chickens as Pets can be a very fun and rewarding experience when done right.


  • How To Cull Chickens in Your Flock

    Culling Or Getting Rid Of Chickens From Your Flock

    So what is Culling chickens?  Well in a nutshell, culling is nothing more than “weeding out”, “getting rid of the inferior, unwanted, or over-populated” chickens out of your flock to promote better health, and production or profit.

    You will find that as you raise your chickens, there will be many differences among them. This will even occur in a flock of the same breed of chickens.  You will notice that some hens don’t seem to lay as much as others, or at times you will notice some that don’t lay at all! Some members of your flock may for one reason or another not grow nearly as fast as their coop companions. When you feed hens that aren’t producing a single egg, or meat chickens that aren’t growing, you will of course find that your profitability is not what it could be because you are basically paying a lot for nothing. Here’s a few other reasons why you should “cull!”

    1. Removing or culling sick or diseased members of your flock will help remove the risk of your healthy chickens catching the disease from the sick member of the flock.
    2. Culling members that are not productive also will increase coop space, and increases food and water space, increasing the comfort level for the productive chickens.
    3. Culling chickens will also increase the flock’s overall egg production per-hen ratio and growth rate if it is meat birds.

    Those are just a few of the advantages of culling your flock.

    We recently culled some roosters and even some very productive hens on Saturday at our local small animal auction. We did this strictly based on the looks of the chickens.  We breed many breeds of French Marans and Sussex breeds and want to only provide the best chicks and eggs for our customers.  If we continue to cull for color and egg color we will improve the flock for the next breeding season.  We will get rid of hens and roosters that are not quite making the color standards, both in color of feathers and for the color of eggs.  We breed our chickens to supply the Darkest chocolate brown eggs we possibly can get. We may yet cull more before fall sets in.

    Just a reminder that “cull” does not necessarily mean kill the chicken. It just means “remove from the flock”.  Some people will have no problem using the culled birds for a good meal.  Others will decide it is going to have to be on somebody else’s table.  This will be the case if you have small children that have grown attached to the chickens as pets.

    My feeling is I know what went into the bird for feed and my family needs fed.  Raising chickens is one step towards being self-sufficient.

    While making the decision to raise chickens keep in the back of your mind that you may have to make some culling decisions from time to time.  It will happen eventually!  Culling chickens is going to be different for each individual flock owner.  It will depend greatly on what you’re keeping chickens for. If they’re strictly for eggs, cull the ones who don’t seem to lay that well. If it’s for show, cull the ones who don’t fit the breed standard. If you live in the city you may have to cull out any roosters to keep the neighbors happy or your city council. If they’re for pets, well just cull the mean ones.

    I hope this article has been helpful to you as you raise a healthy productive flock of chickens.


  • Tips To Raising Baby Chicks Fom The Chick Hatchery

    Raising Baby Chicks

    Raising Baby Chicks

    Raising Tips: What to do When the Chicks Arrive.
    When your baby chicks arrive from the hatchery or your local feed store that may sell spring chicks there are some steps that need to take place in order for you to have a successful experience in raising your chicks into adult birds that will lay tons of fresh eggs, or provide plenty of good meat for your table.

    Many people will start out thinking there is nothing to raising chicks until they get some and find themselves with a very depressing experience in just a few days.

    So make sure your experience is a positive one and you have the knowledge it takes to raise healthy chicks.

    Important:   Make sure you are ordering your chicks from a very good hatchery with a good reputation.  Make sure they are breeding for the kinds of traits you are looking for.  Do not be afraid to call and ask questions.  This not only will help answer your questions it will also give you a good clue as to what the breeders experience and knowledge actually is.

    The brooding place is ready. All things are set. All you need are the chicks. Upon anticipating the day of their arrival, you must get yourself ready otherwise things will go out of hand. Here’s what to do when the chicks arrive. This will be very helpful to get your way through raising your own chickens.

    Tip 1

    If the chicks arrived from elsewhere, you have to examine them very well. They must arrive in a condition that is nowhere near “diseased”. If you noticed that the babies arrived in poor condition, you could let the postal employee inspect the shipment again. It is required that the employee certify the shipment arrive in good condition. Advise the proper authorities on what the problems are regarding the shipment for immediate action.

    Tip 2

    Before putting the babies inside, the brooder must have its proper temperature which is at least 90 degrees. Make sure the area is warm and maintain this for a week. You can reduce the temperature for 5 degrees every week that goes on for the first five weeks. After the first five weeks, the poultry will no longer require the heat supplemented. You have to keep in mind that there should be enough space where the chicks can move so that they can move freely either to or from the source of heat. This will be advisable especially during extreme temperatures.

    Tip 3

    Fill the fountains with fresh clean water with an additional half cup of sugar for every gallon filled. This will help boost the babies’ energy. It is not recommended to add any chemicals regardless of what advertisements tell you.

    Tip 4

    Mix fine grit with a ratio of 1:10. Fill the lids with feeds that will not be more than a quarter-inch. Then add the fine grit mixture then sprinkle a very generous amount of mixture or feed on top of the material that covers the litter.

    Tip 5

    Proper handling and sanitation must be practiced. This can prevent the spread of different kinds of oral or fecal transmission from fowl to person to person. Adults should provide proper guidance to their young ones about how to properly handle their poultry. Avoid bringing any poultry within the vicinity of your family space. Wash your hands and any part of your body that came in contact with the babies with water and a trustworthy soap.

    Tip 6

    A couple good feeds to start off with for your baby chicks is high protein DuMOR® Chick Starter 24%.  This feed is a complete crumble formula for starting out your chicks which have very high nutritional requirements early in life. Premium nutrition during this early stage of life will support strong skeletal growth, proper muscle development, beautiful feathering and will get birds off to a healthy start.  Purina Start & Grow which comes in either medicated or un-medicated form is another chick starter I have used that I am happy with. All baby chicks have the same protein requirements and only need differentiated feed once they become adults. Chicks need between 18 and 24% protein content in their food and commercially-prepared chick foods contain the right percentage. It is possible to make your own chick food but it is time consuming and has to be carefully balanced. Commercial feeds are the best choice for growing chicks. Do not feed any chicken pellets or crumbles that contain calcium. Calcium is needed only for laying hens when they start to lay and too much calcium can damage a young chick’s kidneys.

    Tip 7

    For starters, upon removal from the box, dip the animal’s beak into the water mixture to familiarize them where their feedings come from. Do the transferring one chick at a time. Be sure that the brooder is already warm enough for the baby to be placed.



  • FREE! Newsletter!

    Raising Chickens The Right Way!
  •  Enter Your Name & Email
    For Your Free

    News From The Coop Newsletter

  • New To Raising Chickens?

    Discover The Secrets, Tips and Tricks To Raising Chickens At Home - In Your Back Yard - In The City or Suburbs! Everything You Need To Know, All In One Place! Just Minutes From Now - 100% GUARANTEED What It Is: The most incredible step-by-step guide to Raising Chickens for beginners available anywhere. Loaded with 'word of mouth' secrets, tips and tricks. A guide that anyone could follow and reference at any time. It takes you by the hand, step by step and shows you exactly what to do. Click Here!

©2014 French Marans Chickens...Breeding for the Darkest Chocolate Brown Eggs Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)  Raindrops Theme