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Poultry Knowledgebase

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H5N1 Strain of Avian Influenza
HB Heavy Breed
HF Hard Feather Breed
HPAI High Pathogenic Avian Influenza
Hamburgh Hamburgh
Hard Feather Breed Includes: Old English Game, Modern Game, Indian Game.
Hard-feather breeds display close, tight feathering that follows the shape of the body.
Hatchability The percentage of fertilized eggs that actually hatch when artificially incubated.
Hatching Eggs Most eggs sold are not fertile and cannot be hatched. Fertile eggs can be ordered from hatcheries or from poultry farmers having roosters in their flocks.
Hatching eggs should be incubated within 1 week to 10 days after they are laid.
Until they are incubated, hatching eggs should be stored at 40 to 70 F. with a relative humidity of about 75 percent.
Health Signs These are a bright eye, red comb, dry nostrils, shiny feathers (with most of them there), a good weight, clean feathers under the tail, and an alert and active manner.
Lack of feathers could be due to the annual moult (late summer/autumn) on any part of the body. Missing feathers at the tail could be due to other hens pulling them out due to mineral deficiency or stress.
Lack of feathers on the neck sides may be due to the other hens or the de-pluming mite.
Broken and/or missing feathers on the back of the neck and back of the females may be due to over/vigorous attention from the male bird.
Heavy Breeds Dark Brown eggs are the favourite of many, and the two breeds which lay these are the Marans (two-tone grey banding across the feathers) and the Welsummer (typical orange and black farmyard storybook cockerel colour).
Of the British breeds, one of the most popular is the Buff Orpington. The Croad Langshan lays a plum-coloured egg.
The Sussex is a good egg layer, the most popular colour being Light (white with black points). Rhode Island Red, Australorp, Plymouth Rock, and Wyandotte, are also good layers of tinted eggs.
The heavier breeds include the Dorking (with five toes) and the Indian Game which is very broad and heavy indeed. the remaining type of heavy breeds are those with feathered legs such as the Cochin, Brahma, and Faverolle
Hen A male chicken is a cock or a cockerel, depending on its age. Similarly, a female chicken is called a pullet or a hen.
The age at which a pullet becomes a hen and a cockerel becomes a cock depends on what type of chicken is being raised. Purebred poultry producers have very age-specific definitions.
A chicken is a cockerel or pullet if it is less than one year of age. After one year of age, the chicken is referred to as a hen or cock.
In the commercial chicken industry a female chicken is called a hen after it begins egg production (around five months of age).
A sexually mature male chicken (again, around five months of age) is referred to as a rooster.
Herpes Virus This viral infection of poultry typically affects chickens only, although occasional reports suggest pheasants also may be susceptible.
The virus usually is spread through bird-to-bird contact, or contact with contaminated droppings or respiratory tract secretions. Recovered birds may be carriers and shedders of the virus, and may spread to other poultry
Sudden death of an individual bird is often the first sign. Blood-stained feathers around the head and neck may be observed. The disease spreads slowly through a flock, and mortality is high.
Once the disease is diagnosed, there is no treatment for affected birds. Fortunately, an effective vaccine can be administered.
Vaccination can prevent infection in uninfected birds during an outbreak, and can be given to prevent the disease in new stock.
Diagnosis usually is made by microscopic examination of the trachea by a veterinary pathologist.
Housing - Cleaning Weekly cleaning is best, replacing litter in all areas. The best discinfectant which is not toxic to the birds is 'Virkon'. This destroys all the bacteria and viruses harmful to poultry.
Housing - Nestboxes Located in the lowest, darkest part of the house as hens like to lay their eggs in secret places. Nesting boxes for a standard sized hen are usually 18inch square.
Communal nest boxes with no partitions are useful as sometimes all the hens choose just one nestbox and queue up or all pile in together which is when eggs get broken.
Make sure there is outside access for you to collect the eggs.
Litter in the nestboxes can be shavings or straw (not hay due to moulds) and if the nestboxes have a mesh base the fleas find it less welcoming.
Keep the nest boxes clean adding louse powder each time they are cleaned out, adding the same to any dry dusting bathing areas.
A slope on the roof of the nestboxes helps to prevent roosting on the top of the nestbox.
About 1 nestbox for every 5 birds is enough
Housing - Pens Movable pens are good as the birds get fresh ground regularly. Some have wheels which makes moving them easy for anyone.
A disadvantage of movable pens or fold units is the limit on the size and therefore the number of birds kept in each one.
Whatever pen the birds are kept in, you should be able to divide it into two so that each side is rested on a regular basis.
During the resting period, the grass or soil should be liberally sprinkled with ordinary garden lime to prevent earth borne parasites from gaining dominance.
Birds hate wind more than any other type of weather, so it is essential that while they are out in the winter they be protected from cross winds.
Housing - Perches Perches can be used providing they are of suitable size. Ideally two inches square, slightly rounded and removable to prevent young birds roosting too early so causing crooked breastbones.
They should be positioned at an appropriate height to allow birds to get onto them easily, but high enough to prevent roosting on their nest box.
A dropping board under the perches which can be removed easily for cleaning will help keep the floor of the pens cleaner.
Hens do two thirds of their droppings at night. You can also check the droppings for colour and consistency (as a guide to health) more easily.
Check birds regulary after they have perched for lice and mite, at the same time keeping a close eye out for scaly leg and any signs of respiratory noises.
Housing - Space Floor area should be a minumum of 0.2 sq m (2 square foot) per bird (large fowl) or 40cm square (16inch square) for bantams.
If you can give them more space then so much the better bearing in mind they will be spending time in the henhouse sheltering from the rain and wind.
Housing - Ventilation Correct ventilation is vital to prevent the build-up of bacteria and condensation. It should be located near the roof to ensure there are no draughts. It is more difficult keeping the house cool than warm.
Square mesh is best used on the window and ventilation reas as it is fox proof.
During extreme winter conditions hang Hessian over the inlets/outlet to baffle any piercing winds.
Housing - Window A window is often located near the roof with a sliding cover to allow for adjusting the ventilation and covered in mesh.
The amount of light increases egg laying, 14 hours being the optimum if you are adding artificial lighting which can come on with a timer in the early morning, allowing the birds natural twilight to choose their roost.
Corrugated clear plastic can be used for roofing as it lets the light through and deters red mite which likes dark places.
When artificial lighting is used it must be turned-on on the first of September and turned off at the end of April (in the UK).
This applies to poultry house with sufficient window area to provide daylight before the birds are let out. If no windows then increase the duration of artificial lighting.
Glass window panes may be removable so that they be put away for the summer and only used in winter. Use chicken wire together with the removable window panes.
It is very unfortunate that we see far too many poultry houses on sale with very little if any window area at all.
Humidity The amount of moisture in the air in the incubator; 50 to 55 percent relative humidity is ideal the first 18 days of incubation and about 65 percent the last three days.

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