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FAQ Chicken Questions Answered 

Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs? The answer is no, unless you want chicks.  If you/re just looking for eggs to eat and/or some nice yard pets, hens minus the rooster can provide you with plenty of farm fresh eggs without a single crow to wake you up. How long do chickens live? The life expectancy of most standard chicken breeds shielded from predators is 8 to 15 years. There are many reports of pet chickens living as long as 20 years! At what age do hens start laying and how many eggs will they lay? Typically hens will start to lay when they are around 5-6 months of age and will approximately 200-300 eggs annually, based on the breed type. How much feed do chickens eat? The amount of feed a chicken will consume varies dramatically based on breed type, feed quality, climate and other variables that make it difficult to provide one good answer.  However, a typical laying hen will consume around 4 to 6 ounces of feed each day with an increase during cold months and a decrease during warm months. When a hen lays an egg which end comes out first? The large end comes first. How long can newly hatched chicks live without food? Chicks, just before they hatch, draw into their abdomen the nutrients in the egg. Rich in food value and liquid, the yolk provides the newly-hatched chick with all it needs to eat and drink for over 3 days. My advice: Don't NOT feed them for 3 days just because this is true; make sure they have food and water around them all the time quickly after they hatch. This fact though does allow newly hatched chicks to be mailed in a quick fashion without food or water  Will Raccoons Hurt My chickens? Yes. Raccoons are one of the most common predators of chickens. They will attack mainly at night, and can tear a bird apart very quickly. They frequently will kill more than one. Good secure coops will help to protect your flock from racoons   When can my chicks go outside? You should wait until they are fully feathered to put them outside.   Depending on the temperature, they can go outside when they are from 5 to 12   weeks old.   What is the difference between a bantam egg and a regular egg? A bantam egg is smaller. Nutritionally there is no difference.   How long do chickens lay eggs? Chicken can lay eggs into their teens, although they sometimes stop earlier. How tall should the side fences be on the chicken yard? Is seven feet sufficient? Six feet is a common level for poultry fencing. Seven feet would be sufficient in most cases. There have been cases of chickens flying out even at that level, however. Chickens can be kept contained in their pens as well as protected from overhead predators by covering the pens with some form of netting.   Common, lightweight, and easy to use netting is deer netting available in most large home improvement stores as well as hardware stores.   What is the best material to spread on the coop floor? Pine shavings (or similar) work very well. Straw is also ok, but has spaces inside which can harbor mites and other pests. How much space do I need in my chicken house and run? Inside space should be a minimum of 2 square feet of floor space. Outside, a minimum of 10   square feet in the run per bird   How many nest boxes do I need? Generally, one nest box for every 4 hens.   How big should my nest boxes be? For larger breeds, a box 12" high, 12" deep and 14" high is fine.   How far off the ground should I place my nest boxes? 18" to 24" is a good height.   What is the difference between a bantam and a regular chicken? A bantam is a miniature chicken, usually about 1/4 to 1/2 the size of a   regular chicken What should I feed my chickens? Starter ration until they are 8 weeks old, grower ration until they are 18   weeks old, then layer ration; or combination starter-grower until they are   18 weeks, then layer ration. It is a good idea to supplement the layer   ration with ground oyster shell. Oyster shell helps keep eggshells thick.   Can I feed my chickens treats?   Yes. Scratch is a good treat for chickens. Chickens like many things: cooked   spaghetti, clean vegetable peels, fruit, cereal, meal worms, bugs, and   snails. Avoid strong tasting foods like onions and garlic; some sources say   this makes their eggs taste funny   What is scratch? Scratch is a cracked corn and wheat mix for chickens. It is available at   most feed stores   Do roosters need to be separated from each other when they are in with pullets? If so, at what age do they need to be separated? Roosters that grow up together generally get along and may not need to be separated. Even if one is bantam and one is a standard they could live in harmony especially if they have a large area. It is individual however and can change with age so always keep an eye out.   How many roosters do I need for my chickens? One rooster for every 8-12 hens will probably produce fertile eggs. When and how can I tell if a chicken is a rooster? It is VERY difficult to tell male from female at an early age.   Depending on the breed, cockerels (males) develop larger combs and wattles   earlier than pullets (females) and will start trying to crow at 6 to 10   weeks (we had one start to crow at 16 weeks - it's not a precise science,   sorry!) Cockerels tend to bigger and/or taller than the pullets. You may   also observe more aggressive "rooster behaviors", like play fighting,   hassling, mounting and such.   Why aren't my chickens laying? 1) they might be too young 2) they might be too old 3) if they look sick, an   illness may have caused them to stop laying 4) chickens frequently stop   laying while they are molting and 5) they might just need a break!    My chickens are eating their own eggs. What should I do? Usually, egg-eating is due to a need for more calcium. Supplement with   crushed oyster shells (available at feed stores). In a pinch, crush up   regular chickens eggs and supplement with that (although that may encourage   them to peck at eggs). For occasional stubborn hen who has just decided she   likes the taste of eggs, you may have to try a nest box that allows the eggs   to roll out of reach.   Can you wash a chicken? Yes. Show chickens are given baths often so their feathering is perfect for showing.  Most people recommend Dawn dishwashing soap as it is gentle and will remove grease.  Others prefer baby soap or shampoo. What is the best way to introduce new chickens to an already established flock? Separate newcomers and established birds with a barrier (i.e., wire), so they can see each other but not directly interact for a period of 1-4 weeks. This will help keep fighting to a minimum. Always introduce them while SUPERVISED, so you can control any fighting.   What is the molt? The molt is an annual process in which the chickens lose and regrow their   feathers. Usually chickens molt in the late summer or early fall. They may   stop laying eggs while they are molting.    Do chickens smell bad? No. The only time chickens will smell bad is if they are sick or their coop   is not cleaned often enough.  
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Silkie chickens make great additions

to every home 

While most often thought of as barnyard birds, chickens are found in urban, suburban, and rural environments across the country – and for good reasons! Chickens produce fresh eggs for their owners to enjoy themselves or sell, provide a natural form of pest control, and make fun, inexpensive, and easy to care for pets. There are many varieties of chickens, and one of the most unique, beautiful, and friendly is the silkie chicken. It is because of these qualities that silkie chickens are an excellent pet choice for novice and seasoned chicken owners alike.  The silkie (sometimes spelled Silky) chicken is an old breed of poultry that originated in Southeast Asia sometime before the 1200s; the breed is aptly named for its fluffy plumage that is said to feel like silk. Silkies are also unique because of their dark blue flesh and bones, blue earlobes, five (as opposed to four) toes on each foot, and their inability to fly. It is quite difficult to tell the difference between male and female silkie chicks because they take longer to mature than most other chicken breeds; however, once they are mature, males (roosters) and females (hens) do have some distinct differences including: roosters tend to be larger than hens, the comb will be larger on a male than on a female, and males will crow while females will lay eggs. Silkies were officially accepted into the North American Standard of Perfection in 1874. Today, silkie chickens come in bearded and non-beaded varieties and can be seen in poultry shows across the United States. The American Bantam Association accepts six standard colors of Silkies for showing: black, blue, buff, white, partridge, splash and gray. However, there are also some non-standard, yet, popular colors. These popular non-standard colors are red, lavender, porcelain and cuckoo. A common question associated with silkies, and chickens in general, is do they make good pets? The answer is absolutely yes for the following reasons: Silkie chickens are inexpensive to keep  Silkie chickens are extremely affordable pets to own, especially when considering the benefits of keeping them such as access to fresh eggs, pest control, and companionship. Silkies need a chicken coop, which should be a onetime expense, fresh food and water, and the occasional dust bath to keep mites at bay. A small fence should also be put up around the area silkies will be allowed to roam. Fortunately, all of these expenses – including the coop and fence – can be kept to a minimum by purchasing premade, simple products or constructing them at home. Chicken feed is quite cheap when purchased, and silkies can also eat scraps from your home and insects they find themselves (hence the natural form of pest control). Silkie chickens are easy to care for The coop, food, and water provided to silkies should be kept as clean as possible to ensure the birds stay content and healthy. Silkies should also be looked over weekly for mites, lice, and changes in health; should lice or mites be found, the entire flock should be treated, which is relatively easy and inexpensive. Silkies are hardy and resilient, and they are able to thrive in both cold and warm climates. These chickens are long-lived, often having life spans up to around nine years old, and continue to stay beautiful even when older. The fact that silkie chickens are unable to fly due to their fluffy plumage makes them the easiest of all chickens to keep as pets because they are that much easier to contain. Silkies are also known for their calm, friendly temperament, which makes them exceptionally great pets for homes that have children. In fact, silkies can be quite affectionate if owners take the time to handle them often. Silkie chickens provide many benefits to their owners Besides entertainment and companionship, silkies can provide their owners with tangible benefits, which makes keeping silkies as pets all the more rewarding. Silkies can be entered into poultry shows, which can become a fun pastime to get involved in, and they also provide a natural form of pest control as they gobble up any insects they find. And probably the largest benefit, silkies provide their owners with fresh eggs to eat themselves or sell.  Silkies are excellent layers of relatively large-sized bantam eggs, and unlike most other breeds, silkies will continue laying eggs throughout the winter because their fluffy feathers keep them warm and content. In addition to being great egg layers, silkies are known for being the broodiest of all chicken breeds and are often used to incubate and raise the offspring of other poultry. Only purchase silkie chickens from reputable breeders Even though silkie chickens are easy, fun, and inexpensive to keep as pets, it is possible to obtain sickly chickens, which makes it much more difficult and expensive to keep a flock healthy. This means that when purchasing silkie chickens, potential owners should only work with reputable breeders. One indication that you are working with a reputable breeder is if the breeder’s flock is NPIP certified. The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) provides certification that poultry and poultry products destined for interstate and international shipments are disease free.  In order to be a NPIP flock, requirements include Annual P-T Testing, AI Testing, Annual premises Inspection, and Annual Records Audit.  Amber Waves, an industry leader for over 26 years, provides its clients with high quality silkie chickens from its NPIP certified flock and support over the entire lifetime of the chickens. Contact Amber Waves (http://showsilkies.com/) to purchase silkie chickens and get all of your silkie chicken questions answered.