Janssen Animal Health

June 25, 2009 03:00 ET

Feathered Friends

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - June 25, 2009) - With a great choice of breeds to select from and fresh eggs to boot, chicken keeping is an enjoyable and productive hobby. The current trend for 'grow your own', means increasing numbers of us are raising poultry in the back garden but do we know enough to keep our feathered friends healthy?

A Good Egg

Chickens start laying eggs from around 4-5 months of age and egg production tends to be best in the first couple of years. The size and number of eggs varies with breed, species, age of bird and the season but an average sized family should look to keep 4-6 chickens and bantams (smaller breed chickens) to have a plentiful supply of eggs for most of the year. A good quality layers ration - either pellets or mash should be fed to laying birds to ensure they get enough vitamin D and minerals. Layers pellets can be introduced from around 16 weeks of age. Kitchen scraps should not be given to chickens under DEFRA legislation.

Healthy Chickens

Parasitic worms are one of the main health concerns affecting free range birds kept on a small scale. Infective worm eggs can survive for years on grass but wild birds, earthworms or beetles, already infected with the parasites can also spread the infection. On a routine basis birds should be treated at least four times a year with an effective wormer available from vets or agricultural merchants. There are wormers that can be given in the feed, so treating the chickens is easy. Without treatment, worm infestation can result in poor egg yield as well as smaller, misshapen eggs and ill or dead birds.

The Hen House

There are steps that can help prevent, but not completely exclude parasitic worms such as keeping grass short around the hen house to increase exposure to the sun which destroys worm eggs and putting down pea shingle at pop holes to clean feet. Moving birds to fresh pasture by using a mobile ark also helps and those with fixed housing should remember that year on year the risk of infection will increase. Feeding birds from a feeder off ground level is also important in preventing worm eggs being consumed along with food on the soil.

For a free leaflet on worms in all kinds of poultry including chickens, turkeys and geese contact Janssen Animal Health Tel 01494 567555 E Mail ahealth@jacgb.jnj.com.

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