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Hubbard Life Blog

Your resource for advice from Hubbard® Life experts.


Chicken Q&A: Common egg laying questions answered

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’ve always found that to be an interesting question and I’m not about to solve it in this blog. What I will do is answer five other commonly asked questions about chickens that lay eggs for our eating enjoyment.

Egg Layers Q&A:

Can you tell if a hen will lay white or brown eggs?

Yes, you can tell if a hen will lay white or brown eggs. Generally, a chicken with red ear lobes will lay brown eggs and a chicken with white ear lobes will lay white eggs. There are exceptions. Araucanas lay blue/green eggs and are called the “Easter egg chicken.”

Is there any way to tell if an egg is fresh?

You can determine how fresh an egg is in two simple ways:

  1. Put the egg in cold water. A fresh egg contains little air so it will sink. An older egg will float. 
  2. If you break open a fresh egg into a dish, the white is compact and firmly holds the yolk up. Do the same to an old egg and the white is runny and the yolk will flatten out.

How long does it take a hen to lay eggs?

Most hens will start laying eggs between 5-6 months of age. They will lay eggs best between 12-24 months of age. Younger hens will lay one egg every 3 to 4 days. A hen that is a little older will improve upon that and be laying one egg each day. Most hens (depending on breed) can be relied upon for two eggs every 3 days. This is especially true when the hens are on a sound nutrition program like Hubbard Life Layer. You can read more about all the chicken feeds made by Hubbard Feeds at www.HubbardLife.com.

At what age do chickens molt?

Chickens go through a natural process called “molt” at about 18 months of age. They will lose all or some of their feathers during the molt and they will stop laying. The molt may take 2-4 months to complete. Egg laying will resume when the molt is over, but may not be as good as before the molt.

Does a rooster need to be present in order for hens to lay eggs?

No, hens do not need roosters present in order to lay eggs. However, fertilized eggs needed for hatching baby chicks do require a rooster’s presence. If you only plan to have your hens lay eggs for eating and baking then you will be better off without a rooster around. Greater egg laying rates are achieved with hens not housed with a rooster. It’s also quieter in the yard and you can sleep in later without the rooster!

To learn more about getting chicks that you can raise for egg layers check with your local Hubbard Feed dealer. Many of them have a working relationship with reputable hatcheries and can help you get started each spring/summer with new birds. To find a Hubbard Life dealer near you, use the searchable dealer locator on the website: http://bit.ly/HLdealers

Posted on 5/31/2012 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Poultry
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Chickens and Worms: Answering De-Worming Questions

A customer called recently with questions about how to de-worm chickens. After some investigation, I found that there are no approved de-wormers that can be added into chicken or duck feed and only one such product for turkeys.   

I was not sure how much of a problem worms were in poultry so I researched the topic and want to share the information I learned.

One reason we do not hear too much about worms in poultry is that commercial confinement systems have removed the secondary host that many worms need. However, the same cannot be said about backyard and free-range flocks. Intestinal parasites are common in these animals. Low levels of parasites usually are not a concern but severe cases can create problems that result in severe egg number decreases, going off alone, loss of balance and pale comb, wattles and eyes.

Ascarids (large intestinal round worms) are one of the most common worms in poultry and usually the most damaging. They are about the thickness of a pencil lead and up to 4.5 inches long. Ascarids can interfere in nutrient absorption, cause intestinal blockage and have been known to go into the reproduction tract and become part of a newly formed egg.

Of particular concern with an ascarids’ life cycle is that the worm eggs can be directly consumed by another bird via water, feed or feces. The de-wormer Piperazine (if available, check with manufacturer) will control adult ascarids but not juvenile worms so a repeat treatment is necessary.

Another worm common to backyard flocks is the Cecal. These worms live in the cecum, which is the little blind sac where the small and large intestines meet. Normally, Cecals do not create a problem, unless the infestation is large, but they carry an organism that causes a nasty disease in turkeys called Blackhead.  Earthworms are the intermediate host that consumes the Cecal worm eggs. When the bird consumes an earthworm, the cycle repeats itself. There are no approved de-wormers for feed to eliminate Cecal worms therefore a veterinarian prescription is needed.

Other more common worms that affect poultry include the Capillary (or Thread) worm, tapeworms and Gape worms. These worms affect the birds by thickening the esophagus, directly consuming feed or clogging the trachea of the birds, respectively.   

It’s important to stress that visiting with a veterinarian is the best method to treat chickens for worms. Safeguard (fenbendazole) is the only approved product in turkey feeds to help prevent Cecal worms. All other medications require a vet prescription. Natural de-wormers like diatomaceous earth or garlic (watch for off-flavored eggs) have variable results.

Much of the information I found was through the Cooperative Extension Service of New Hampshire and Connecticut.

As always, Hubbard Life welcomes your questions about animal nutrition and general health. Visit our website at www.hubbardlife.com for information or to ask a question through our comments section.

Posted on 5/23/2012 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Poultry
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Equine Nutition: Meal Timing Matters for Performance Horses

As I watch performance horses competing at the top of their game at events such as the Rolex or Triple Crown races, I often wonder what the feeding schedule of those animals was in the days and hours leading up to the event. Is it better to run a hungry, leaner animal, or a full, heavier animal? 

In a recent article, researchers found that feeding hay either before or with grain significantly reduced the glycemic response of the grain meal, thereby reducing insulin production post feeding. Feeding hay also significantly elevated the total plasma protein within one hour. Water intake was greatly increased after the hay feeding, as we might expect. Researchers also found that feeding grain before exercise with or without hay reduced free fatty acid availability and increased glucose uptake into the working muscle. This would not be desirable for horses competing in the speed and endurance phase of a 3-day event.  

Feeding only forage before exercise has a much smaller effect on glycemic and insulin response than a grain meal, and it also did not affect the free fatty acid availability. Researchers did find these horses had a higher heart rate and higher total plasma protein, which they attribute to increased gut fill and a movement of water from the plasma into the gut. 

In summary, the results of their experiments indicated that feeding hay along with grain will result in a decrease of plasma volume and increase in body weight which may be detrimental to performance. Feeding grain with or without hay two hours before exercise will reduce free fatty acid availability and increase glucose uptake by the working muscle. This is not desirable during prolonged exercise. 

Take home note: It may be best to postpone your horse’s grain meal on the day of competition, but continue to feed them hay or pasture and water. Feeding hay at the trailer will also prevent boredom and keep your horses busy between classes.

Whether a horse is competing or being worked hard, Hubbard Life has a performance line of Equine products to meet the high nutrient demands of active horses. Hubbard Life Performance Feed is a 12% protein feed specifically designed for the performance horse. Highly digestible energy sources and high quality proteins are added at optimal levels for the active horse.

Feeding Tips

  • Hubbard Life Performance should be fed along with at least 1% of body weight per day of good quality forage. Maximizing the contribution of forage reduces digestive upset.
  • Do not feed more than 5 pounds in a single feeding.
  • Provide free choice access to salt and fresh water.
  • Level of intake will vary depending on level of activity, desired body condition, season and quantity and quality of available forage.
  • Hubbard Life 30% Horse Supplement can be top-dressed on Hubbard Life Performance at the rate of 0.5 to 2 pounds per head per day, depending upon weight, age and activity.

For more information about Hubbard Life’s Equine feed line, visit the website at www.hubbardlife.com.

Posted on 5/16/2012 by Sharon Kill  |  Category: Equine
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