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Caring for Chooks

Avoiding Heat Losses
We are now into the hottest part of the year, a time that if not checked, heavy losses can occur to your flock due to "Heat Stress". This is most important in the northern states. Your birds will tell you when they are approaching danger by panting. This is their last defence. Temperatures above 29C will severely distress your birds. Pen design and position is paramount. Position the shed to take advantage of shade and cool breezes. Ensure plenty of ventilation. The bigger and higher the shed, the better. Insulate the ceiling and paint the roof with a highly reflective paint. In really hot conditions, spraying the roof can be effective. Ensure plenty of COOL fresh water. They won't drink the water if it is too hot. Be careful if installing fans. They are only effective if used with other cooling systems such as fine mist. A fan blowing already hot air will only increase the level of heat stress.

In an emergency, hosing the birds with a fine mist of water will save stock! Be careful not to wet their feed and don't saturate the birds. Avoid over crowding. We all know what it is like on a crowded bus or train in the middle of summer. Remember, if you are feeling a bit uncomfortable in the heat, chances are your birds are feeling worse. DON'T hide in your man made air conditioning and forget the comfort of your birds. Just to repeat, ensure plenty of FRESH COOL WATER.

Detection of Lice and Mites
One of the first places a judge looks when inspecting a bird is the vent. If he detects lice, then the bird is placed back into the pen and its judging is over. You may even be asked to remove your bird from the premises. You should be able to detect lice yourself the same way. Lice complete their life cycle on the bird and congregate at the base of the feathers around the vent, but bad infestations will cover the entire bird. They look like grains of sand. They will also live in nests and deep litter.
Red mite and feather mite spend the day hiding in cracks in the coop, in nest boxes, in deep litter and under perches. They feed heavily on the birds blood at night (red mite) and so are not as easily detected. Their effects are obvious once a pen is heavily infested causing ill health, broken feathers and they can also cause the bird to moult. If not detected early enough, the bird will suffer from anaemia, will become very sick and may die.

Control of Lice and Mite
Fortunately, both pests are relative easily to manage. There are many lice dusts available from your retailer. One of the most popular is a sulphur based powder called "Pestene" If used on a weekly basis, you will eliminate the pests. Dust around the vent and in neck and breast feathers and under wings. Dust nests and nesting areas. Red mite needs to be attacked in its home, that is your pens, perches and nest boxes. Powders are not as effective. An excellent product for this is "Malaban". Make up a solution of 15% and use either a spray bottle or a back pack spray unit. Remove all food, water and birds and spray liberally under perches, in nest boxes and in corners and cracks. Low irritant fly sprays can also be used. Repeat after 2 days.

Have You Wormed Your Chooks?
Internal parasites such as worms and single-celled parasites called coccidia are common problems with back yard chickens. Many species of worms in poultry are spread by the birds eating insects, slugs and earthworms which act as hosts for immature stages of the worms. Worms reduce egg production, cause diarrhoea, loss of weight and ultimately cause the death of poultry. Worms are usually treated by the addition of medication to the flock's drinking water but medicated seed can also be purchased. Poultry should be wormed every three months to prevent infections. Animal Tuckerbox carry a range of worming products including "Inca Piperazine" solution. Just follow directions.

Feeding Tips
Should you be feeding a Budget Food to your Layers?
Do you have small eggs and brittle shells or irregular laying?
These are just some of the symptoms that may indicate incorrect feeding. "Laying hens have a very specific nutrient requirement that needs to be met to enable them to produce both a high quantity and quality of eggs over a sustained period of time" (
Budget feeds are cheaper, that's why we buy them, but are we really saving? If a low grade feed does not provide the correct balance of digestible proteins, vitamins and minerals, they will eat more. But the extra they eat will not make up for what the feed lacks with the result being inconsistent laying of poor quality eggs and birds that are not as resistant to disease. And it costs the same in the long run to feed a higher quality feed if they need to consume less.
So, the next time you duck in to buy a bag of budget layer pellets, stop and think 'What are you really feeding them?'. Spend a few more dollars and try a high energy layer feed. You will see the difference and your birds will feel the difference!

Well Balanced Feeding is the Key to Good Health
Seedhouse Tasmania has engaged an expert nutritionist to develop a range of feeds to suit all types of poultry and then had them tested in the field by experienced keepers and breeders.
Why choose Seedhouse feed over pellets or straight grain? Pellets are highly processed and move too quickly through the chicken's digestive system to enable optimal nutrient conversion of the feed. Pellets also lack a range of particle size and texture, which is needed for the chicken's gizzard to function at its best. Poor gizzard function leads to reduced acid production in the chicken's digestive system, sub-optimal feed conversion and poor gut health, often seen in chickens having "loose" droppings. Although some whole grain content in feed is beneficial to gut health, straight whole grain feeds often lack essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. They can also lead to an incomplete diet for the entire flock as the dominant birds will tend to get the best grains first.
"Since using the new Seedhouse formula, my birds look brighter, their feather condition has improved and the shells of their eggs are much harder..." Waine Whitbread, Devonport Poultry Club Inc.

Classic Hen is a premium complete diet, 17% protein, 100% natural ingredients, and is an optimal nutritional balance of essential amino acids, energy, vitamins, minerals and protein for laying and breeding hens. This product is proudly endorsed and tested by Devonport Poultry Club.

Natural Hen Whole Grain Mix is formulated especially for free-range/back yard hens. It is vitamin and mineral dense to provide ideal nutritional support for a free-range diet.

Hard Working Hen is an economical crushed whole grain muesli mix and is a balanced diet of essential amino acids, energy, vitamins, minerals and protein. 15% protein and excellent nutritional conversion while promoting good gut health for chickens.

Essential Amino Acids - why are they so important? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and essential for cell growth and repair and egg production. Chickens, unlike ruminants (i.e. cows), do not have rumen bacteria in their gut to manufacture amino acids, so it must be provided in their diet.

Seedhouse Hardworking Hen and Classic Hen are complete feeds that have been specially formulated to supply the correct balance of amino acids, protein, energy and vitamins and minerals.

Fine Particles are Essential
All Seedhouse feeds are cleaned of dust to ensure a premium product. You will, however, notice that there are fine particles in many of our feeds. Please don't remove these finer particles from your feeder as they are an essential component of the feed. Chickens will seek different particle sizes at different times to suit their nutritional requirements and the finer particles are equally as important as larger particles to achieve optimal chicken health. If you notice a large amount of fine components in the bottom of your feeder, don't re-fill your feeder immediately, but give your chickens time to eat all the small feed components.

What does all this mean for the chicken owner?
Seedhouse feeds have been formulated by an experienced nutritionist and are locally produced in Tasmania to provide the freshest and best possible feed for healthy, happy and productive chickens. Seedhouse feeds contain no restricted animal material. Seedhouse have provided a range of feeds, so you can pick the best feed option for your chickens and budget. Well balanced feeds are more economical for owners as chickens do not over-eat to compensate for missing nutritional elements. Seedhouse feeds are interchangeable. Because chickens are habitual and visual feeders, they can find it disruptive to have their feed changed. Seedhouse feeds share core components, so they can be readily interchanged across the range with little disruption for chickens.
Owners wanting to give their chickens a bit of a boost before laying, can interchange the economical Hardworking Hen for the premium Classic Hen with little disruption.

Changing over to Seedhouse feed. If you notice any reluctance from your flock switching to a new feed, try introducing our feed into their ration gradually, mixing a bit of the old feed with the new. But don't worry if they take a bit of time, they will eventually thank you for the improved diet!
Seedhouse Tasmania 827 Hobart Road, Breadalbane, Tasmania