Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dealing With Summer Heat....Helping Your Flock Through Those Hot Days of Summer

Here in the central valley, we are gearing up for a whopping summer which includes many days of temps over 100 degrees! If you missed my chicken class about keeping chickens cool, here are some things you can do today that will help your chickens survive as the temps get hotter this summer:


  • DON'T WAIT....get the water bottles in the freezer so you'll be able to alternate (have one extra that is freezing while the other one is being used). Use the frozen bottles of water to give the chickens something cool to stay near when needed. Make sure your chickens have shade, and have a box fan ready to turn on to keep the air flowing (a timer works great).
  • DON'T FEED....hold back on the feed until either the late evening or early morning hours when its cooler. Avoid all scratch or corn when it's in the 90's or higher. Carbs create more body heat when digested, so help your feathered friends during the heat wave by staying away from the snacks.
  • COOL DRINKING WATER...is a necessity. Change the water in your waterers frequently and use cool, fresh water with electrolytes or baking soda (1/4th cup per gallon) to help increase the blood pH "buffer" of your flock when they are at risk for heat stress.
  • WATCH....for signs of heat stress in your flock. They will naturally start moving less, drinking more, holding their wings from their body, and panting. A normal chicken's body temp runs around 106 degrees, and they do not have sweat glands - so when the air temps increase they have a tough time regulating their own body temp. Do what you can to help them keep cool using what I've suggested above - before their temps reach dangerous levels (if their core body temp reaches 115 degrees, they will likely die). 


Here is the original article on my Face Book page:


Friday, April 12, 2019

Mark your calendar! Find me on the radio with Farmer Fred Sunday, May 5th!


I will be an in-studio guest on the KFBK "Garden Show" and KSTE's "Get Growing" from 9:30am to 11:30am on May 5th.
I'm super excited to be chatting again with Fred Hoffman, Lifetime Master Gardener, on his two radio programs!

The "KFBK Garden Show" on 1530-AM/93.1-FM KFBK in Sacramento, California (each Sunday morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Pacific Time) is followed by "Get Growing" on Talk 650 KSTE  (from 10 a.m. to Noon). At noon, it's the KSTE Farm Hour. You can listen to all the shows, live, via the KFBK.com and KSTE.com websites.

If you can't listen while it airs live or via internet streaming, be sure to check back here for the links to the podcasts! You can find links to everything on Fred's web site, http://farmerfred.com/ or on his Face Book page.

We'll be talking about everything from the pro's and con's of raising backyard chickens, summer chicken care, chick care, flock maintenance, and bio-security. This will be a great taste of what we will discuss at our chicken classes each spring (go to the Classes tab for more information). 



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Virulent Newcastle Disease - What You Need To Know

Many of you might know about the southern California outbreak of Virulent New Castle Disease. As someone who was active in the avian community back during the first big outbreak in 2002-03, it was a scary time. Poultry shows were cancelled, people began strict biosecurity measures, and we all took extra precautions to keep our birds safe.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service explains that "Virulent Newcastle disease is one of the most serious poultry diseases worldwide.  A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks; Virulent Newcastle disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.

Virulent Newcastle disease spreads when healthy birds come in direct contact with bodily fluids from sick birds. The disease affects almost all birds and poultry, even vaccinated poultry. The virus can travel on manure, egg flats, crates, other farming materials or equipment, and people who have picked up the virus on their clothing, shoes, or hands".

With this disease now back in California again, how do we keep it from spreading?

The most important step is to take biosecurity seriously and learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of disease in your flock. According to the USDA, you should be especially alert if you flocks demonstrates any of the following:

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in flock;
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea;
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete stiffness; and
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck.
 Get help right away, and contact the sick bird hotline at 1-866-922-2473. Do NOT transport your birds, and do not allow visitors into your poultry area. Quarantine your flock and take important steps to help prevent it from spreading to neighbor's flocks. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine provides some very helpful resources to poultry owners:

 https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/pdfs/UCD_VND_is_spreading.pdf



 While everyone works to contain this virus, follow these biosecurity steps by the USDA:

"The best way to keep your birds healthy is to practice biosecurity. Birds can become sick or die from exposure to just a few unseen bacteria, viruses or parasites. In a single day, these germs can multiply and infect every bird on your premises. So protect your birds by taking a few simple steps".

These include:
  • Restricting traffic onto and off of your property.
  • Disinfecting shoes, clothes, hands, egg trays or flats, crates, vehicles, and tires.  
  • Avoiding visits to other poultry farms or bird owners. If you do, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before entering your own bird area.
  • Washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering a poultry area; and Isolating any birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock.
When Buying Birds
"Buy from a reputable hatchery or dealer, and request certification from suppliers that the birds were legally imported or come from U.S. stock and were healthy before shipment. Also, maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks. Keep new birds separated from your other birds for at least 30 days. Keep young and old birds and birds of different species and from different sources apart". 

The steps you take to protect your own flock, will in turn protect your neighbor's chickens. Be safe!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Got Smoke? Helping Your Chickens During The Wildfires

Just a little over a week ago, a wildfire of devastating proportions engulfed the Town of Paradise in a matter of minutes. Families, seniors, adults, children, and the entire community had to evacuate quickly. Lives were lost, homes were lost, and the tragedy of it all is still sinking in for many.

Thousands of people are lending a hand, donating food and household goods - it's absolutely amazing how the community is coming together to provide aid to those in need. Even the pets and livestock are getting assistance... did you see the recent story about the Oroville CHP Officer who happened upon a flock of backyard chickens in Paradise? He was patrolling for looters and heard something that sounded like...chickens! They were unharmed by the fire but had no food or water. He went right into action and got them both to them, and they even left some eggs for him the next day. 

Photo Credit: CHP Oroville

 
With so much ash, debris, and smoke - this leaves us to wonder how safe our chickens are in the environment, along with the food they produce. Earlier this year, UC Davis research team Dr. Birgit Puschner and Dr. Maurice Pitesky began a study on this exact topic, collecting and testing eggs from chickens where fires had taken place. Although the findings are not yet available, their research will become especially important after the recent #Campfire. Sacramento CBS Local aired a story about the research back in April. 

According to an article published by UCCE (after the Tubs fire in Sonoma), "In addition to all the destruction and inhalation of smoke associated with the recent fires in Northern California, one of the unfortunate legacies remaining are chemical contamination of land, soil and water.  The wildfire debris can include household hazardous waste (e.g. batteries and other electronic waste, paints, flammable liquids), building material (e.g. stucco, sheetrock, joint compound, asbestos siding and pipe insulation), pesticides, and fire suppression chemicals that may have been used.  For example, ash debris from the California wildfires from 2007 was found to contain heavy metals that could cause long term health effects with exposure at high levels" (1).

Because chickens forage by scratching, pecking, and exploring their environments, it may be wise to limit their exposure to any areas decimated by wildfire. Backyard chicken keepers may also want to exercise "an abundance of caution" when considering whether or not to consume the eggs of chickens that might have ingested any form of contaminants. At this time, scientists are uncertain of the risks associated with fire-related contaminants and withdrawal periods.

So how about the smoke?
While the recent levels of smoke (both in the ravaged fire areas and in the valley) have been highly unhealthy for all of us, they don't make little N95 masks for chickens (at least not yet). Chickens can experience respiratory distress and succumb to smoke inhalation, but unfortunately, there is not much that can be done other than removing them from the environment:
  • Consider using temporary coopscage/ to house your chickens indoors.
  • Locations such as a garage or empty laundry room may suffice.
  • Look for signs of labored breathing, or inactive, lethargic behavior.
  • If you are very concerned, always seek the advice of a Avian Veterinarian.

All victims of the fire are in our thoughts and prayers! No matter where you live - have an evacuation plan and be prepared in case an emergency happens.

Donation centers are still in desperate need of livestock feed and supplies! Contact the University of California Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor or the Butte County Ag Department.


(1) Puschner, B., Pitesky, M. (2017, October 27). UCCE Recommendation for Backyard Poultry Owners in Areas Affected by the Fires. Retrieved from URL.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Practice Good Biosecurity & Protect Your Flock

 Virulent Newcastle Disease has entered our southern California region yet again! As backyard poultry owners, we have an obligation and responsibility to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this disease and be diligent about protecting our flocks.
I was recently interviewed as a PHI (CDFA Certified Poultry Health Inspector) on the KSTE Farm Hour with Farmer Fred, and explained some of the things backyard chicken keepers need to know. Please take a moment to listen! The link is below.


Click Here to Listen - go to 22.49 minutes, June 1st 2018

Want to learn more about VND? Visit  these other helpful links:

 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hear Me on KSTE - Get Growing with Farmer Fred, February 18th

Mark your calendar! Find me on the radio February 18th, with Farmer Fred!

I will be an in-studio guest on the KFBK "Garden Show" and KSTE's "Get Growing" from 9:30am to 11:30am February 18th. I'm super excited to be chatting again with Fred Hoffman, Lifetime Master Gardener, on his two radio programs!

The "KFBK Garden Show" on 1530-AM/93.1-FM KFBK in Sacramento, California (each Sunday morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Pacific Time) is followed by "Get Growing" on Talk 650 KSTE  (from 10 a.m. to Noon). At noon, it's the KSTE Farm Hour. You can listen to all the shows, live, via the KFBK.com and KSTE.com websites.

If you can't listen while it airs live or via internet streaming, be sure to check back here for the links to the podcasts! You can find links to everything on Fred's web site, http://farmerfred.com/ or on his Face Book page.

We'll be talking about everything from the pro's and con's of raising backyard chickens, winter chicken care, chick care, flock maintenance, and bio-security. This will be a great taste of what we will discuss at our chicken classes this spring (go to the Classes tab for more information).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Chicken Classes This Spring!

February 10, 2018 - 11am - sponsored by Farmer's Feed, Stockton 

"Raising Backyard Chickens - Baby Chicks 101"
This free class, hosted by Farmer's Feed in Stockton, is perfectly designed for those considering raising their own chickens or for those who would like to brush up on their poultry knowledge.

We'll talk about:
  • How to set-up a brooder and care for your baby chickens in a way that keeps them healthy and safe!
  • How to tell if your chick is sick - learn the signs of illness and what is normal and what isn't. Being able to identify a sick chicken quickly is an important skill of every backyard chicken keeper!
  •  Getting ready for your pullets to move into the big chicken coop
  • Other common chick concerns such as brooder temperatures, bio security, Coccidiosis, and feeding