Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Double yolks, pullets and green eggs.

We don't mind that the eggs in the carton aren't all the same. We prefer it that way because it means our flock is that much more diverse in the field. And of course we'll share an in use image of one of our favorite feeders and egg basket
Premier chicken keeper and occasional catalog copy-editor, Vivian, provided us with an update on the poultry flock on Premier's East Farm—

My flock of 24 pullets are beginning to lay, offering an incredible selection of size and color. The chickens hatched in early October and as fluffy chicks, were models in a number of Premier product photos for the Poultry catalog that was in production at that time.

Oh the potential! Quiche, souffle, omelets galore and so much more. 

The eggs are even more colorful than they appear in the photo. The greenish egg in the center is aqua, and the far right is an olive green.

The flock is at least five breeds, which I've figured out as the chickens matured. The dark red-brown eggs are from the 5 huge New Hampshire Reds; medium brown from 2 Red Star; greenish eggs from an assortment of Ameraucana pullets (which have "lambchop sideburn" feathers on their faces); white from 3 Leghorns; light brown from Black Australorps. Still haven't figured out all the breeds—a small one looks a bit like a pheasant hen. 

What is suspected to be the "pheasant hen." She appears to be a Golden Campine, anyone else have thoughts?
Also, I'm getting quite a few double-yolk eggs, which I never saw from my previous flocks of Wyandottes. Among the eggs shown,  I strongly suspect at least 3 double yolks, just in the past 2-1/2 days. 

Well it's off to a garden symposium for me, which is another sure sign of Spring!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lambs, tags and getting out of the office!

It's been a long time coming but I was able to get away from my desk and out to the lambing barn.
The smell of fresh bedding and the low rolling tones of ewes talking to their lambs was a pleasant change to the stale coffee and ringing phones of the office.

What's going on outdoors? Well, it's lambing season, all the lambs need to be tagged with their flock ID tag and/or Scrapie tag. The lambs needing tags provided an excellent opportunity to produce a Premier How-to video with the staff.

While in the barn, the farm-crew noticed a lamb that was not in the best of shape. It appeared dehydrated. The lamb was treated and is now on the mend. Its dam only had enough milk for the lamb's stronger sibling, so the ill-lamb was moved to the orphan pen. 

Dehydrated lambs can easily become dead lambs—which results in less lbs produced and less $$ in your pocket. It's easy to miss so be aware. 

Signs a lamb may be dehydrated:

  • Gaunt or not well filled out.  
  • If a twin, triplet, etc—its sibling(s) appears healthier and stronger. 

To determine if a lamb is dehydrated—

Pinch the skin along the back. After pinching:

If the skin stays momentarily tented or peaked, the lamb is dehydrated. Immediately treat the lamb (consult your veterinarian for proper procedure). 

Causes of dehydration:

  • Scours. 
  • Ewe lacks adequate milk to support the lamb(s).
  • Larger/stronger siblings outcompete their sibling for milk.
  • The lamb has sharp teeth and the ewe won't let it feed.  

If a lamb appears unhealthy but is not dehydrated, consult your veterinarian. 

With the lamb cared for we were able to continue on with the How-to video. The shepherd, Heather, demonstrated proper eartag procedure while longtime consultant, Gordon, provided voiceover narration. 

Topics covered were:

  • Lubricating tags—this provides easier insertion for those with weaker hands. 
  • Proper tag placement—in the center of the ear and away from any veins. 
  • Applying Catron IV fly spray during fly season. 
  • Making sure that there is room for ear growth if using loop tags.

A quick note: the tag applicators below may differ but the process is the same for each style of tag. 

Applying SuperLube.

Finding the veins to determine proper placement. 

Applying Catron IV to ward off flies. 

Providing room for the ear to grow (when using loop tags). 

It's lambing season therefore it's also ear-tagging season at Premier. Premier Shepherd Heather is applying antiseptic SuperLube to an eartag prior to insertion.