Small Flock Poultry Management

February 28, 2023

More Info

This session has held as part of the Animal Agriculture track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at

Video Transcript

Good evening everyone and welcome to Michigan Ag Ideas to Grow With. This is a virtual conference put on by Michigan State University Extension. We're excited to have all of you with us today. My name is Beth Ferry. I'll be monitoring this session and helping our present, our presenter out today as she goes over some different management techniques for poultry flocks. So I would like to welcome Katie. Katie is a educator with our CFEI Institute. She has lots of experience with small flocks, backyard flocks, as well as health management for small farms. So she's got some information that she's going to share. Go ahead and take it away. Thank you. Awesome. Well, thanks so much for the introduction Beth, like Beth said I'm an Extension Educator with Michigan State University in the Community , Food and Environment Institute. And I work with small and medium-sized farmers. My background is in Ag communications with an emphasis in animal science and my master's degree is in Homeland Security where I focused on disease transmission and biosecurity and things like that. So poultry is really one of those species that I've been able to focus on over the course of my career through extension since I've been with extension since 2005, so quite a long time. So I'm so happy to be here and thank you all so much for taking the time tonight. I know it's a beautiful night, so having you here with us is great. We're going to cover a lot of different topics tonight in a really short time. So we're going to talk about incorporating new birds, some housing, nutrition, nutrient management, and some biosecurity and disease. So one of the things that I'd like to first learn is I'm going to deploy a survey quick. I'm just curious on a couple of questions, so it will help me kind of tailor how in-depth we're gonna go on some of these. How long you raised birds, how many birds do you have and what kind of birds you raised? So we'll, we'll work with that as we go. Alright, so it looks like we've got a pretty good mix of folks that are planning to get birds, folks that have had birds for a little while. And then some pretty experienced folks. So we're gonna be kinda all over the board. So it's like a lot have, mostly we're egg producers, that's awesome. Some have both. Zero broilers, so awesome. Well, thank you all for helping me get to know you a little bit. Go back. So you're just curious on where everybody is at. 25% don't have bridged yet. So welcome. I hope that this helps you prepare to get birds, up to 42%, five years more experience. So that's great. Lots of small flocks less than ten, which is great. A couple of big flocks and mostly eggs. All right, so with that, let's get right into it. So when you're getting chicks for the first time or you're adding new stock into your existing flocks, there are a few good tips that can help you make sure that those birds get off to a really good start. The first and most important thing that I always stress is where you source your birds is really important. There are several ways that we can get birds. You can get them from the farmer feeds store. You can get them from a friend or acquaintance that you know has breeding stock or you can purchase from a hatchery. No matter what you  decide to do there are some things, some good practices that you should follow. If you do, if you do purchase from an individual, make sure that you're getting a complete health history of that flock. Have they been pullorum tested. Are chicks vaccinated when they when they leave the farm. Has the flock had any issues of illness or disease that you need to know about. You need to make sure that you're bringing home healthy chicks. Because if they're not healthy, when you bring them home, the chances of their survival and thriving is significantly reduced. MSU Extension does recommend sourcing birds from farms that are National Poultry Improvement Plan certified. You'll often hear that term. Does NPIP certified flocks. So what that is is a voluntary certification program. That our state Department of Agriculture and the USDA partner in to establish some standards for evaluation of breeding stock and poultry and poultry products. And we have standards on testing breeding stock for disease, chicks, pullets, and hatching eggs. There are certain diseases that are tested for and those flocks are considered clean. The two big ones that I want to focus on, our avian influenza and pullorum. The other diseases are different salmonellas and different typhoids. But those two, avian influenza and pullorum free flocks are the two most important diseases that you want to make sure our birds are clear from. We don't necessarily recommend getting chicks from farm stores just because a lot of times you don't know who's handled those chicks. Because if, if people are allowed to handle those chicks, disease transmission can take place. They can look perfectly healthy when you take them home. But, you know, there's, there's just an increased potential for those birds to be ill when they are going home. So if I had to rank, I would say hatcheries first, acquaintances and friends second, and then farm stores third. Before you bring chicks home, you need to make sure that that brooder is ready to go. You have it set up in a space where the temperature can be really carefully monitored. Drafts are kept to a minimum. They can be easily observed throughout the day for the first few, few days and weeks that they're in that brooder and that you don't have any opps, opportunity for predators to disturb and get into your chicks. By setting up that brooder early, we recommend at least 48 hours before you put chicks into it, you can make sure that any bedding that's in there that maybe has some moisture can dry, then it won't create humidity inside that brooder. And also that your temperature can regulate and stay at a static 95 degrees when you introduce those chicks. Because we want the temperature so high because new, new chicks can't control their body temperatures until they're about 12 to 14, 14 days old. And that brooder really has to be at that temperature so that they maintain that, that higher body heat. You can tell if chicks are cold or if they're hot by their behavior. So you'll really want to watch that. As you set up that brooder, you'll need to know how many chicks you're planning on getting. As a general rule, you want to have five or six to seven square inches of space per chick. There's a lot of different brooder designs. So in the, I notice Beth stuck in the chat, a bunch of resources that I put together. So there's some brooder tips in there. Figure out what works for you. Everybody has different different resources. We have different barns setups, we have different environments. Some of us might live on farms, some of us might live in a subdivision where we're allowed to have birds. Really, our environments really will dictate how we're able to set up those brooders. So do what's easiest for you and that is best for your birds. Remember that as you look at that, temperature is the most important thing. As you're getting those birds off to a good start because if the chicks body temperature lowers a degree or gets a degree higher than it should be, that really sets up that chick up for stress. And we don't want stressed birds because stress leads to bad things. So you'll want to bed that brooder three to 4 inches deep using either pine shavings or shredded newspaper or something like that. You want to avoid using any shavings that have a strong odor, smell like cedar, because those could cause some long-term health issues for your birds. And you want to make sure in that brooder you have enough space for feed and water. All the chicks are going to need to be shown how to eat. In the first couple of days how to eat and drink. And you can kinda help them do that, find the feed. But you'll want to be able to make sure that they have ready 24 hour access to fresh feed, fresh clean feed and fresh clean water. You can use egg cartons for feed, low-lying feeders, trough feeders, anything that's really easily accessible for chicks. Water should be kept outside of the direct beam of light of your heat source. You don't want that water to be room temperature and if its in the line of heat from that heat lamp or the heat source you're using, it'll get too warm and the chicks won't drink the same that they would if it was just room temperature. A good rule of thumb is to provide one-quart of water for every 12 birds. So think about the math on that. If you're getting ten, give them a quart. If you're getting 24, you'll want to make sure that you've got at least two quarts of water in there. And you'll want to have at least 4 inches of feeder space per bird. So those are some things that you're going to have to take into consideration as you set up your brooder, providing that heat. And the brooder is like we talked about, a little bit ago is  so, so, so important. Those chicks cannot regulate their body temperatures. So we want them during that first week at 95 degrees. And then after the first week, you can decrease the temperature by five degrees each week until you get to either 55 degrees or whatever temperature it is outside. So if your, if your brooding chicks in May, by the time that you decrease down five degrees, you can easily get to 70 degrees when you can. It's the same temperature outside. It's really important to observe chick behavior while they're in that brooder, you're gonna be able to tell if their temperature is where they're comfortable. If they've got enough feed and water, if they're fighting over food, maybe you need to provide more feeder space. If they're drinking all their water within a short period of time. And just adjust as, as you need to accommodate what that group of birds is doing. I'd like to take a minute to talk about supplemental heat. So a lot of people are really scared about heat, heat lamps, and rightfully so they are a risk. But there are some new brands of heat lamps out on the market that don't get hot enough to cause fires. And this is absolutely not an endorsement. But on my farm we use a heat lamp from Premiere one supplies called the Prima heat lamp. And it does not get hot to the touch, it's plastic. The light bulb provides a lot of heat and will heat up that space. But it could fall in straw or shadings and be there and not cause a fire. So those kinds of products are starting to be more readily available. They are a little bit more expensive than your traditional metal heat, heat lamps, but I think that there definitely were worth the investment. I think the Primas are around $45 per lamp. Um, they usually use the same kind of wattage for the bulb as the metal ones, which is a 250 watt bulb. So those are some different options. The other option is using a heat plate. I have never used a heat plate, but I've talked to people who have and they really like them. They're another safe option, it gives people peace of mind that they also don't, are very unlikely to cause a fire too. So I know that that's one of the biggest challenges for people when they think about supplemental heat is at risk for fire. But if you're going to use a heat lamp, there are some really good safety tips to keep in mind. Number one, don't hang your heat lamp by its chord. You want to, you want to hang it by a chain that will provide strong and safe suspension for that heat lamp. You want to make sure that the heat lamp doesn't get close enough to any bedding or other objects within the brooder that could potentially cause a fire where those things could get hot and then start to smolder. You want to make sure that the bulb of the heat lamp is away from the water. Because if water just inadvertently gets splashed on that bulb, it will explode and shatter. So we want to avoid that. There's no real difference between the white bulbs or the infrared bulbs. That's a personal preference. But just always use that 250 watt bulb. When the group of chicks are about the same size as, if you, if you have an established flock that you are hoping to add into when these chicks are about the same size as your established flock, you can start to incorporate them together and there's a couple of best practices to making that transition a little easier and a little less stressful for the birds because we know that birds operates in a hierarchy and there's a definite pecking order. So even the least stressful transition will still cause some amount of stress on those birds. So we want to try to minimize that as much as possible. Remember that stress is dependent on the individual. So what might be really stressful for one bird? Might be a cake walk for another bird. So you just really have to watch and monitor those birds to see where they're at on that continuum of behavior and And stress. So the first strategy is to utilize is side-by-side introductions. So again, this all depends on your setup, your resources. Basically side-by-side, is you put them in side-by-side pens where they can have beak to beak contact, but there is a barrier between the two flocks. Those birds can begin to familiarize themselves with one another. And the nice thing about this system is that you'll be able to identify any issues before they're super big issues. So if you have two birds that are kind of going at it through the fence, they're not going to hurt each other. But you'll know that when you put them together, there may be an issue so you can adjust accordingly whether that's, you cull one bird from the flock or you pen  differently. There are a lot of different things that you can do, but that side-by-side, if you leave them that way for about a week, they will start to get acquainted with one another. And then once they're in each other's space without that barrier, they'll adjust a little easier and really establish that hierarchy. The next strategy, and this works if you're using more of a free-range type system, you're going to have that area where your flock is. And you may have begun to let them kinda out in free-range a little bit. So if you take your existing flock and you move that into the new chicks environment, that decreases the newness of the birds and allows those established birds to focus more on the environment around them rather than the birds around them. Regardless of what strategy you decide to use, always make sure that there's enough feeder and water space. Because a lot of times that behavior, the more dominant chicks will run the other birds off from feed and water. So if you're providing spaced out and adequate feeding sources and watering sources, you'll have less likelihood of that, that dominant bird chasing birds off from the feed and water. So you'll avoid some issues. If you have two dominant birds, as you're introducing everybody in there, establishing that pecking order, you will likely need to find a new home if you have two dominant birds that just cannot figure out who's going to be the dominant bird. You will want to make sure that you separate them so that they can't hurt one another or kill one another. And then see if you can find one a home, decide which one has the attributes that you'd like to keep and which one can just find that new home? I've got a question in the, in the chat. Is it best to move mature birds at night? I have not read anything scientifically that supports that. I think that's personal preference. If you think about behaviors, it could be beneficial because they'll be brooding, there'll be a little sleepy. What they've done their eating and foraging for the day. But they're still going to be competing for space. So it may or may not matter day or night. It may be a little bit easier to observe them during the day if you move them. So there's pros and cons to both. So you just have to decide what works best for you. Alright, so we're gonna move on to housing. So I'm just going to throw a few pictures up here. Just like these pictures, housing is as individual and unique as you. People have used their imaginations and have been creative with the housing that they've put on their property. There are so many different kinds of coop designs. You can buy pre-made coops, You can make your own. You just have to decide what it is that you want. The one thing that I do like to recommend is if you are in an area that has zoning ordinances or anything like that before you build anything or buy anything, check to make sure that what you're envisioning fits into that ordinance because you don't want to spend a lot of time and resources building a coop that you cannot utilize in your space. Your coop should, your coop design should focus on accessibility, safety, how it looks outside, and how sound the actual construction is and appropriateness. for birds. Birds will need protection from predators. That's a really big thing. Making sure that if you're keeping them enclosed  and with a run that predators can't come from above or below. If you, if you have lame birds, you've got nesting spots, you've got roosting spaces, you've got adequate ventilation. Then also some of those environmental factors. So what are the seasons that you're dealing with? Also, what are your goals? Do you want to use a setup where you can use like the gentlemen that has the chicken tractor that he can, that's a mobile coop that can move that and those birds can kinda forage in specific places. Do you want them in a static barn? Do you want them to be able to go out and free range during the day and then come in to roost at night. It's all dependent on what your preference is and what you envision for your flock. But please remember that the type of housing that you have will directly relate to the overall health and productivity of your birds. The housing that you utilize will vary depending on your needs. The size and type of bird you have, the number of birds you have. So looking at those space requirements and really what you already, if you have an existing space, how can you utilize that space effectively? So those are all very personal decisions that are going to vary from producer to producer. So there is a resource, a couple of resources on that list of different coop designs for small and medium-sized flocks with considerations to use. The most important I think, is being able to protect your birds from rain, snow, hot temperatures, cold temperatures and other weather considerations. And also making sure that it's tight against predators. Depending on where you live, you may struggle with coyotes, foxes, weasels, skunks, snakes from the ground, and then any kind of any predatory birds that might be around Eagles. I know we have a very big population of eagles where I live. I live down the road from a slaughterhouse and those eagles get some of the byproducts from that slaughterhouse. So that has attracted them to come and set up shop here. So we've got to be really careful, for example when we pasture lambs, we can't put lambs of certain sizes that can be carried off outside. Just, we've gotta be cognizant of that. And the same rings true of birds. But whatever you decide for your fencing, makes sure that it's free from any loose wire that they could get caught up in. Any nails that they could cut themselves on, any other sharp objects that they could injure themselves on. Make sure that those things are all removed or tightened up before you're putting birds in there so that you prevent injury. Checking those fences and that area, if you're enclosing them frequently is really important. That'll help you notice any weak areas that could allow for predators to come in. You might notice that there is some digging, some keys that hey, I've got a problem. Walking around that coop every, every so often, every day or so is a really important piece. Another consideration for that, especially if you're locking birds in, is ventilation. There needs to be a way that moisture and ammonia and carbon dioxide can escape that coop and then fresh oxygen can come in, generally in small, small size coops, windows, or vents generally can do the trick pretty well. A common question that is asked is, what size should my coop be? The amount of space that you need depends on the type and size of the birds you raise. Generally a spacing of three-quarters of a foot to 1 sq ft per bird for small breeds is acceptable. Then 3 to 3.5 sq ft per large bird is adequate. You can, that's kind of  the minimum. You want to kind of go from there. If you want your birds to have a larger space, you're more than welcome to do that, but I definitely wouldn't go any less than three-quarters of a square foot to a square foot for small birds and then three to three-and-a-half per large birds. Then making sure that you have those spots for your egg layers. You're nesting boxes, you're roosting posts, things like that. They're all really the considerations that you want to make for that, that housing that you have. So let's move into nutrition. I said we've had a lot to cover, so we're going to roll right through nutrition. One of those things that I see a lot of questions on, there's a lot of different opinions out there about nutrition, but let's just break down basic nutrition for a second so that we can look at some feed tags and some requirements for birds so that you can be financially sound, not giving your birds things that they don't need, that their bodies don't utilize. And focusing on good diets. So basically everything that we feed our birds causes them to have energy. Energy is the calories that they need to fuel the chemical reactions and their bodies. Calories generally come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. So carbohydrates are that main energy source for birds and they make up the largest portion of a poultry diets. They're typically eaten in the form of starches, sugars, cellulose, and non starch compounds. Poultry animals typically cannot digest cellulose and the non starch compounds, and those are often referred to as the crude fiber on a feed tag. So you'll want to make sure that you're looking at that because they can't digest that crude fiber very well. They can digest it, but just not very well. Important sources of carbohydrates in poultry diets are corn, wheat, barley, and any other cereal  type grain. So vitamins and minerals are the next group of feed components. They are, vitamins are the group of organic compounds that are required in small amounts. But they have a really big job in that animal's body. They're essential for normal growth and development. Vitamins are generally classified into two categories, water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins include C and B vitamins. B vitamins are responsible for many of the body's metabolic functions, birds can make their own vitamin C, So there isn't a dietary requirement for C. However, when birds are stressed, they may need to have a supplementation of vitamin C and that in research has been shown to be useful. The fat-soluble vitamins are a, D, E, and K. Vitamin A is required for normal growth and development. Of the epithelial tissue and reproduction tract. Epithelial tissue includes skin, digestive system lining, reproductive and respiratory tracts. So those are the things that vitamin A is required for. Vitamin D3 is required for normal growth and bone development and also eggshell formation. If you've got laying hens. Vitamin K is essential for blood clot formation. Many of the essential vitamins are supplied by a general feed ingredients. But a vitamin premix is typically used to compensate for the fluctuating levels of vitamins in those natural feedstuffs. So not all feed stuffs are created equal. So making sure that there's that pre-mixed added into feed is always a good idea to make sure that those vitamin needs are met. Minerals are also an important compound for ingredient in feed because they are needed for bone formation and other important body functions like formation of blood cells, enzyme activation, energy, metabolism, and for proper muscle function. So there are micro minerals and macro minerals. Micro minerals, are required in low amounts, and macro minerals are required in higher amounts. Micro minerals include iodine, zinc, and iron. Macro minerals are calcium, phosphorus, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Grains tend to be lower in minerals. So it's really important to make sure those minerals are added into diets. So moving on to proteins. Proteins are complex compounds that are made up of amino acids. The digestive process will break down proteins into those immediate amino acids, which then are absorbed by the blood and transported throughout the animal's body so that the cells can use them. Amino acids, like everything else, is divided into non-essential, non-essential amino acids. So, essential amino acids are those that cannot be made in adequate amounts to meet the needs of the animal and they must be supplied in feeds. The non-essential amino acids are those that the animal's body can generate in sufficient quantities itself. So protein quality is based on the presence of the essential amino acids. So it will vary depending on the quality of the feed ingredients. And those are that group is generally referred to as crude protein and a feed tag. The two most critical amino acids in the poultry diet, our methianine and lysine deficiencies in  either of those will lead to a drop in productivity and then also overall flock health. So when you're looking at that feed tag, you want to really look at melatonin and lysine. Common protein sources are soybean meal, canola meal, corn gluten meal, fish meal and bone meal. Moving on to fats. So fats are really important in everybody's diets. Fats provide calories and they also improve the palatability of feed. If feed isn't palatable, animals won't eat it. So fat must be present in a diet and the body, for the body to absorb those fat soluble vitamins. So it's kinda fat depends on the amount of fat, depends on how your animal's body utilizes those vitamins. So that's really important to make sure there's a good fat source in your feed ration. Then the last part that is not as part of those feed rations is water. Animals can go much longer without feed, then they can without water. And even just an hour or so of not having water will, will affect a bird's lysine productivity. That productivity will go down if they do not have all the water that they need and want. Water does a lot of things in the body. Blood is made up of 90% water. Water softens the feed and it carries it through the digestive tract. Water carries nutrients from the digestive tract to the cells, and it also carries away waste products. Water also helps the birds cool themselves through evaporation. And since birds don't have sweat glands, that water helps them cool their body temperature when they're too hot. So it's especially important when it's hot outside that there's abundant sources of water. Heat loss occurs in those air sacs, in the lungs and through rapid respiration. That's how that temperature is released. There isn't a precise water requirements for birds because there are so many factors that affect the amount of water a burden needs, its age, its body condition, the diet that it's on, the temperature of the environment, it's in, the humidity, and also the quality of the water that it's drinking will impact how much water that particular bird needs, as a rule of thumb, provide twice as much water as you do feed. If you do anything, make sure that you have adequate and abundant water sources available. So if you're, if you're looking at different diets, different ages and stages have different requirements. So whether you're, when you're purchasing your feed, it's important to know what kind of bird you're feeding, what are the ages of your birds and why you're raising them? Because broilers have a much different  dietary requirement then pullets do so. Looking at what the purpose is will help you determine what is the appropriate feed. So as you can see by the description, broilers one to three weeks at 22%, pullets one to six weeks, 20%. Birds in production, 19 weeks or more, that protein drops. So that percentage refers to the amount of crude protein in the ration. So you'll notice that that protein number drops. Because as the bird grows and matures, the protein percentage can decrease. That bird is maturing and its body is moving away from having to build body tissue and mass. And it's moving into maintenance so that protein requirement is going to drop. So starter, grower and finisher is generally what's used for those broiler birds. Pullets, a starter, and then a grower, and then that laying hen ration once they get to be laying. The texture of those different diets will vary. Pellets and crumbles are the most common source or the texture of feeds that you'll use. And you should always remember that scratch feeds are not considered a complete feed for any type of bird because there just simply a collection of cracked grains. It does not have a complete balance of any of the nutrients that the chicken needs. Scratch grain should also only be thrown out as an occasional treat for the birds. And it should never be mixed with a complete diets. So whatever that ration is that you're feeding, those scratch grains shouldn't be incorporated into that. They need to be fed separately. And that, that scratch grain just as a treat, not consistently, not every day, just as needed for a treat If you do that, it will cause an imbalance in the nutrient and the nutrients and the diets of the birds. So it's really doing more harm than good. Generally, we get a lot of questions about supplementation. Generally, chickens won't need supplementation outside of possibly calcium and grit. If you're feeding a complete feed which will provide all the necessary nutrient requirements for your birds. We always recommend for smaller flocks, it really does make more sense to go to a farm store and purchase a premixed bag of feed. And those feeds come in all different price points and all different qualities. So you can choose what you want. But all of those feeds have been  researched. They know what the ingredients are, they're quality tested, things like that. And they are sure to meet the needs of birds at, at the stage that you're buying for. It's just a matter of you, you decide what price point you want. There's usually a lower quality, a mid quality and then a really high-quality. And the price will reflect that. Laying hen diets. When you look at calcium should contain 2.5 to 3.5% calcium, which will be listed on that feed tag. If you're questioning eggshell quality, that's when you start to supplement with additional calcium. And you can do that through oyster shells or lime choice, limestone and you'll want to feed those free choice. That way. Animals will only eat what their body needs. So if they need that extra calcium, they'll go eat it from a free, free choice feeder if they need it. The other thing that you can feed free choice is hard grit. And you can do that two to three days per month. And that will just help the gizzard to function properly. Chickens eat feathers and some things that might get balled up in their crop. And just that extra grit will help grind that stuff down and get it passed through. That gizzard can function properly. But really only two to three days a week or a month is all you need. Grit generally comes in two different sizes so you can get chick  size and hen size. So make sure you're choosing the grit appropriately. Just as a caution for chicks and starter feed. Layer mash should never be fed to chicks or growing poultry because the calcium level is too high and it will cause growth problems and kidney damage and potentially death. So that's something you really want to stay at the diet appropriate for that state, bird stage of life. Because other, other things can go wrong if you're moving those birds up too early. Also, if your chicks have been vaccinated, do not feed a medicated  starter feed. The medicated starter feed will interfere with that vaccine's efficacy and potentially allow the bird to be a little bit more susceptible than just letting that vaccine do its job. So there's a question quick that i'll I'll answer. So should crack corn also be fed as a treat? Yes. Crack corn is the scratch grains. Yeah, you can. Is it okay for a cold weather stuff? Am I reading that right? Is it okay for a cold weather supplement? Generally with weather, when it's cold out, you want to increase their normal feed. You'll want to increase about one-and-a-half times what they would normally eat because that bird is going to, its metabolic functions are going to utilize morphine to keep its body warm. So just providing more feed will generally help them to regulate their temperature better during those cold periods. So that's a great question, but those scratch feeds, crack corn, things like that, just in treats separate from their normal ration. So when we look at feed tags. There's a couple of different things. And feed tags are all, unfortunately, they're set up differently depending on the company. So some things to really look at. The left side, you can kinda see roasted soybeans is the very first ingredients on the broiler feed. That's your protein and your carbohydrate source. The fishmeal is the fat source, and then all of the vitamins and minerals are those mid, mid feed tag ingredients. And they, just like human food ingredients that goes from what the product is mostly made of down to what is the least in it. So that's, those are the things that you'll want to look for is what is that protein and carbohydrate source, what is the fat source, and what vitamins and minerals are in that feed. That's a broiler feed. Then this is I would guess this is more of a layer feed. So 16, 16 weeks of age through production. So you'll notice that it does have that content for lysine and methionine, which are those amino acids from proteins. So it actually has a percentage. So looking at what are the requirements of producing birds and then making sure that, that, that feed analysis fits into what's required for birds. You can also see that micro and macro minerals are listed. Calcium, phosphorus salts, sodium manganese, and then all the vitamins. Those those are broken down into minimum and maximum. So it's kinda the range in that feed that there will be a minimum of one to a maximum of three points or three, something like that. So just making sure that that feed is in the range, the normal range of what that animal needs at the production stage. This feed tag has a couple of other things in it. Probiotics and prebiotics. I'm never opposed to making sure that animals guts are balanced. Pre and probiotics have proven to be effective for humans. Animals are, are likely the same way, making sure that the, the flora inside the gut is balanced is an important thing too. So it would never hurt to have those in appropriate amounts in your feed. If it's a researched feed than, even better than the scientists that developed it, have tested it, and they know that it's effective and it's safe. So the next thing, nutrient management. So it's nutrient management, basically manure management is something that maybe is an afterthought, getting birds is really exciting. But what do you do with all that manure? Think about how much manure could 15 chickens really produced? So let's look at some numbers for mature production hands for 15 mature production, hens, they're going to produce about 5.4 pounds of manure per day on average. So if we times that by 365 days, that's 1,971 pounds of manure per year. So having a plan for all that manure is really important. And again, depending on where you live, will depend on what you can do with that manure. So there are a couple of appropriate, options to choose from that are environmentally sound and will be better suited for small flocks. And I know that we're getting long, so I'm going to hustle. You can send it to the landfill. If you have smaller quantities of birds and you're able to clean those pens, often. Composting, maybe a great option, but just remember piling your manure up in just one pile is not composting. There's a little bit more to it than that. You can also spread it. You may know somebody that has some land that you can apply to. You can look at that as an option as well. Remember that chicken manure is very much full of salmonella and E coli. So washing your hands and clothes and keeping your foot wear clean is really important. Is I guess, is everybody still good? We've got two more slides to go through and we'll go through really quickly. Biosecurity is super important these days with high path avian influenza outbreaks across the country for the last year. Basically, some really good biosecurity tips is always wash your hands before and after you're handling your birds. Before and after you're doing chores, before and after you're doing anything with your birds, make sure that your feed is secure. kept in bins something like that. That wildlife cannot access. Makes sure that any common points of grass area, water between your domestic birds and wildlife is kept to an absolute minimum. That's where a majority of the disease transmission is occurring between wildlife and domesticated flocks. Always wear clean clothes, clean shoes. Please don't wear your shoes and clothes out to the farm store because chickens do carry a lot of diseases and they are very transmissible. So even walking into a farm supply store or the grocery store with shoes that you've worn in your coop can potentially spread disease. And that's what we don't want to have happen. Humans are really good vectors for spreading disease. So we want to keep your health, your flocks healthy, making sure that visitors may don't have chickens so that those diseases aren't passed back and forth. Cleaning and disinfecting your equipment regularly, waterers, feeders, making good practices of making sure that those things are cleaned and sanitized is always a good thing. USDA has some really good Defend the Flock Biosecurity Tips. The link is in the chat for those. So I would really highly encourage you to check those out. Recognizing disease symptoms is also super important as you familiarize yourself with your birds and you practice every day, you will get a handle on what the baseline of your birds is, like, what they're doing, what they look like when they're normal, some things. So really look out for, are the birds eating and drinking normally? Are they acting normally? Is their body posture normal? Have you noticed any signs of diarrhea, swelling in the head, eyes, combs or wattles, hocks, any nasal discharge, any eye discharge or the wattles and combs and legs showing any discoloration, is your egg production normal for the season? And I say for the season because we know that egg production will peak and lull throughout the year. These are all signs that your birds might be having some issues. So please, if you, if you can identify a veterinarian or somebody who's really knowledgeable in poultry management, please get your bird some help when you notice those things. Because of HPAI, MDARD advises that you should always follow those good biosecurity practices. And if you have two or more birds die in a 24 hour period of time while your other birds are showing signs of illness like lethargy,  lack of appetites, things like that. You may want to give MDARD a call and have those birds tested. So HPAI is not evidenced by one dead bird or one bird coughing or sneezing while the remainder of the flock is acting normally. So just some things to keep in mind.