I tend to get a lot of questions asking if one should breed this bird, or that bird. Is this silkie show quality or should I pet it out. I can never answer those kinds of questions without first knowing what a person's goal is when breeding. Some breeders strive to make the perfect bird according to the SOP (Standard of Perfection). Perhaps they have this goal to win at shows, or simply satisfy a goal they have made for themselves as a breeder. Others may simply breed to share the love of poultry. In this case, a few points off, or an extra toe here or there is not going to constitute re-homing the bird. No matter what someone's goal is for their breeding program... Quality Care must come before all else. If you goal is to make money breeding chickens, you have chosen the wrong career path! When a person's love of poultry turns into something other than love... bad things happen. Overcrowding + Unclean housing = chickens that do not thrive. While in the beginning one may be making some money, the lack of care the birds are receiving will catch up to a breeder in the end.
I will go ahead and disclose here that I do work for Nutrena Feed. However, nothing I state here has anything to do with my career. I once decided that I was going to start making my own feed from scratch. I researched and researched. The more I learned, the less I wanted to take on this endeavor. Reason? Because the feed companies that mill the feed you see on the shelves for your flock have had years of studies and hundreds of scientists and veterinarians behind each bag of feed they mill. Does this mean they will never make a mistake and have to recall? No. It does however, mean that you can be sure that the bag of feed you just bought is 100% balanced with the correct nutritional content as stated for the type of poultry you are feeding. Thinking of adding some extras to that feed? Why? My recommendation has always been to supply treats as treats. Any type of grain or treat you add to that balanced diet you just bought will do the exact opposite and create an unbalanced diet.
Predators happen. Period. There is never a time when any backyard flock owner should feel absolutely certain that their chicken housing is 100% predator proof. Unfortunately we must stay on guard and alert throughout our Flock keeping years. These critters that we cringe at are only trying to do what they can to survive. While trapping invaders may be a temporary answer to preventing a disaster, I find there will always be more intruders to take the place of the one you caught. My goal when creating safe housing for my chickens is to simply make them too much work for an predator to try to obtain. In other words, make that predator want to move on to find an easier meal. Here at Sweetheart Silkies we use the usual predator proofing methods, with added electric wire or poly tape to surround our cottages and runs. Several strands. The electric fencing has saved my flock numerous times!
Chickens and Vaccinations... where do I begin? Not unlike our children and vaccinations, this seems to always be a controversial topic. Even among the most experienced & knowledgeable of poultry experts have differing thoughts on the subject. I started to skip this section all together because of that. However, I feel it is important that I share what my vaccination protocols are and why. I am friends with a lot of breeders who are trending towards NOT vaccinating at all and instead, trying to rear a more healthy resistant flock. I can't say I completely disagree with this, but when it comes to my love for each and every one of my chickens, I feel strongly that I owe it to them to protect them with everything available to me - just as I would my children. (Yep, I just compared my chickens to my children!) I routinely vaccinate my flock for Mareks and Fowl Pox. These are the only two I do on a regular basis. I try to keep it simple. At hatch I vaccinate for Mareks. This is a one time vaccine that does not require a booster. I also vaccinate for Fowl Pox. I wait until the chicks are 6 weeks of age to do this particular vaccine. While you can vaccinate at a younger age, a booster is not required at or after the 6 week age mark. I usually open a new bottle of A.E. Poxine once every 6 months. Check out our tutorial video on how to vaccinate for fowl pox below.