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Friday, November 16, 2012

Egyptian Fayoumis

Egyptian Fayoumis originated in Egypt, along the Nile River, and have existed for thousands of years. Although they have existed in America for over 70 years, the American Poultry Association has yet to officially recognize the breed, so it does not have a standard of perfection. 

Egyptian Fayoumi hen foraging for pumpkins at the beginning of winter.

Traits: Fayoumis are a small bird that comes in only one color variation. The heads and long necks are purely silver, while the rest of their compact body is barred in silver and black all the way through the tail. They have a single comb, large black eyes, dark beaks, and slate blue skin. This breed has lots of energy, so it loves to forage and it is very good at it. Some have offered that Egyptian Fayoumis could exist without human care and in the wild. Because of their small body, and light feathering, this breed is very adaptable to hot weather.

Egyptian Fayoumi Chicks

Personality: Flighty. Fayoumis are high energy, and self-sufficient contributing to their independent nature. Although you wouldn't consider them to be a "friendly" breed, they are not aggressive towards humans or other chickens, and the roosters are generally very calm. They tend to be very loud and vocal much more frequently than other breeds. 
Eggs: Egyptian Fayoumis are quick to mature. Hens will begin to lay much earlier than standard breeds, sometimes around four and a half months. They are good layers of small, off-white eggs. They are not prone to broodiness, so you'll see consistent production from your Fayoumi girls.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Northern Fowl Mites

Northern Fowl Mites are common external parasites that live on the body of chickens and feed on their blood. They are the most aggressive of all the mite species, feeding both day and night, never leaving the host, and therefore are the most detrimental to the chicken’s health. These mites can cause anemia and, if untreated, sometimes death. Northern Fowl Mites are most common in caged layer facilities; however all chickens are at risk in winter months when mites are most prevalent. 

Sanitation and cleanliness are the best ways to keep mite infestations under control. Mites can be dropped in by wild birds such as sparrows, or brought in by rodents who enter the coop in search of food. Humans can also act as carriers picking up mites on clothing from poultry shows, or transferring them from coop to coop.
Diatomaceous Earth is good to use as preventative maintenance. It can be used in a dust baths with sand, or as 12% weight in water as a spray. Other insecticides can also be added to dusting areas, nesting boxes, and bedding including Permethrin. 
Quarantining new birds is a good idea if they're acquired from poultry shows or from non-reputable dealers. Always be sure to purchase from dealers who guarantee the health of their birds.
Most importantly, it is good to regularly inspect your birds for internal and external parasites. 
Life Cycle and Reproductive Cycle
The life cycle and reproductive cycle of the Northern Fowl Mite is very quick! Eggs hatch within 24 hours from the time they are laid, and full maturity is reached within four days of hatching; meaning that infestations can begin quickly and grow rapidly. They live on their host for 2-3 weeks. After 3 weeks with no host, Northern Fowl Mites cannot survive. 
Symptoms and Signs
Northern Fowl Mites are tiny red/brown insects that can be found on the body near the vent, tail, and throat during the day but are so small and microscopic that you may need a magnifying glass or microscope to see them. Other signs are scabby skin and discoloration on the feathers where they lay their eggs and leave their waste. Because they gather near the vent, roosters tend to experience a drop in fertility.
The blood sucking Northern Fowl Mite can exist in large enough numbers on chickens to cause anemia. Signs of anemia in your chickens can include the following:
·                     Slowed growth
·                     Suppressed appetite
·                     Drop in egg production
·                     Reduced immunity to other diseases
·                     Weight loss
·                     Pale combs
·                     Death

If mites are detected, an insecticide must be used to eliminate the population. Mites are more resistant to insecticides than lice are, so the insecticide used may need to be changed or rotated depending on the results. Not only the birds need to be treated to eliminate the population of mites, but also the coop including the roosts, nesting boxes, and all the walls. Repetitive treatments are necessary approximately once a week for three weeks to kill all the life stages of mites. The following are appropriate insecticides:

·         Prozap Insectrin Dust
·         PoultryGuard
·         Ivermectin
·         Permethrin

Diatomaceous earth does significantly reduce the population of mites as a treatment, but cannot eliminate them. Other organic treatments can include products such as PyTGanic Pro which uses the active ingredient Pyrethrum: a botanical insecticide made from chrysanthemums.  Orange Guard can be used to clean the coop and roosts, but not directly on the birds. 

Clearing out the coop for three weeks of all poultry will also eradicate all Northern Fowl Mites existing in the coop. 


Damerow, Gail. Store'ys Guide to Raising Chickens. Third. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2010. Print.

Jacob, Jacquie, Tony Pescatore, and Austin Cantor. "Common continuous parasites of poultry."University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. University of Kentucky, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <>.

John, Laura E.. "Controlling Mites in Your Poultry Flock." Backyard Poultry. Backyard Poultry Magazine, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <>.

Pickworth, Carrie L., and Teresa Y. Morishita. "Common External Parasites in Poultry: Lice and Mites." The Ohio State University FactSheet Extension. Ohio State University, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <>.

"Poultry Production in Mississippi." MSUcares. Mississippi State University, 14 OCT 2010. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <>.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Double Yolk Eggs

Although double yolk eggs are not rare (about 1/500 eggs), they are still really exciting to find and they have been throughout history. Some used to believe it was good luck in general while others believed it was a sign of an upcoming marriage or death. Whatever you choose to believe, it is still fun to crack open a large egg to see a double yolk plop in your pan! Consumers of store bought factory eggs hardly see these since they are usually separated from the eggs to make egg products instead. It makes finding them in your own coop even more special!

Double Yolk Egg in a Skillet = JOY

Reproductive Mistake

Double yolk eggs are a reproductive mistake that happen for a couple different reasons. The reproductive error can be hereditary, or it can be attributed to the age of the chicken. Chickens with a hereditary reproductive error will lay double yolk eggs occasionally or often through their entire life. Others may only lay them when they first start to lay eggs or at the end of their laying cycle. A young pullet that is just beginning to lay may have more trouble than others with synchronizing her reproductive cycle. Some may release eggs too quickly causing more than one to be enveloped in albumen (egg white), membrane, and shell. Some reproductive systems will actually lose track of egg yolks causing another to drop and connect to the first. Most girls will find a rhythm and begin to lay single yolk eggs regularly. At the end of a hen’s laying cycle, she may begin to sputter again and lay odd eggs including double yolk eggs.

A normal egg & a double yolk egg

Eating Double Yolk Eggs

There is nothing wrong with eating a double yolk egg! Its twice the nutrition in one shell! Great if you have hungry boys running around the house…

Hatching Double Yolk Eggs

Unfortunately, double yolk eggs will not hatch. There have been success stories with help from science and lady luck, but the chances are slim. First, there is not enough room in the egg for both chicks to develop. They will push against each other, and likely smother each other inside the shell. It would be more likely for one to pass, and one to live. Secondly, there is not enough air in the shell’s pocket for both. Lastly, even if there was enough air, it would be highly unlikely that both were positioned inside the shell to face the air sack due to a lack of space.

Egg Records

By account, the record for the most yolks in one egg is nine! The record for the world’s largest egg, however, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with 5 yolks and 9 inches in diameter! The record for the world’s heaviest egg is a double yolk egg with two shells and weighing in at 1 pound.  

Variations in size from 'Extra Large' to 'Off the Charts'


Damerow, Gail. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Third. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2010. 223-24. Print.
"Egg Food Safety Frequently Asked Questions." Egg Safety Center. N.p., 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <

"Egg Problems." Avian Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <>.

Theer, Pete. "Odd Eggs, Double Yolks, No Yolks, etc."PoultryHelp. N.p., 11 Feb 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <>.

"What Causes Double Yolks?" Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 13 Apr 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wrinkled Eggs

Fresh eggs are a great way to eat healthy. As an egg connoisseur or as a backyard chicken owner, it’s important to understand what your eggs are telling you by their shape, color, texture, and size. These varied and unique qualities can be an indication of the chicken’s age, chicken’s health, chicken’s breed, and the quality of the egg itself. This is the beginning of a series on dozens of egg qualities, so you’ll know what’s going on with your chickens and your eggs; although we still can’t tell you which came first.

Wrinkled Eggs

Wrinkled eggs can make your jaw drop. Some can be shaped normally but look corrugated or wavy all over or sometimes just at the tip. Others might resemble a potato or a fluffed pillow with one flat side and a few wrinkles. 

Watery Albumen

Watery albumen, or egg white, makes it harder for the hen’s reproductive organs to form an eggshell around it. Watery albumen occurs more often during hot weather, in flocks with poor water quality, and in older hens. If you have a young and healthy flock, and just an occasional misshapen egg, you might need to pay more attention to the flock’s water quality and/or its access to shade. This does not indicate that the egg is unsafe for consumption.

Reproductive Mistake

Occasionally a hen’s ovaries will drop two yolks at the same time. If eggshell forms around both yolks together, the hen will lay a single egg with two yolks. Other times, the eggshell forms over each yolk separately, creating two separate eggs in her reproductive system at the same time. This puts pressure on the side of the eggs. Sometimes one egg will look impacted, and sometimes both will. These mistakes are all a matter of timing, and tend to happen when a chicken in just beginning to lay or if she incurs some matter of stress. They are perfectly safe to eat. 


Infectious Bronchitis is a viral infection that is caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or rattling. Eyes may become watery, breathing may become difficult, and the eyes or head may swell. Egg production will slow or stop, and wrinkled eggs may be formed for different reasons.

First, the virus makes the albumen water. Second, Infectious Bronchitis damages the reproductive organs in addition to the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal organs. Although production may resume after the hen has recovered from the illness, it may never return to normal: misshapen eggs or low production will indicate the signs of lesions remaining from the infection.

Copper Deficiency

Copper deficiency has also been studied as a cause of misshapen eggs including abnormalities in size, shape, and egg shell texture. In shape, some eggs from copper deficient hens can appear to have two blunt sides of the egg. In texture, the eggs appeared wrinkled and/or calcified. Other eggs just become shell-less. Egg productivity drops in general. Although the exact purpose of copper is unknown, it has been found to be instrumental in forming the egg shell membrane. Without it, the membrane changes in physical consistency, as well as color and appearance, and changes the way the egg shell is formed over the membrane.

This effect is likely due to poor diet. Poor diet can result from feeding too much hen scratch or other fatty treats instead of formulated feed, or from feed that was not formulated properly. It should take 14-35 days for wrinkled eggs to appear that will indicate the copper deficient diet. 


Baumgartner, Sherill, D. Jeanette Brown, Edward Salevsky, Jr., and R.M. Leach, Jr. . "Copper Deficiency in the Laying Hen." The Journal of Nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition, n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <>.

"Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens." Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 01 May 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <>.

Grashorn, Michael A., and Saskia Simonovic. "Wholesome drinking water to prevent watery eggs." Gateway to the global poultry industry. World Poultry, 01 Feb 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <>.

The Merck Veterinary Manual. Tenth Ed. Whitehouse Station: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., 2011. Web. <>.

Thear, Katie. "Problems with Eggs." Broad Leys Publishing Poultry and Smallholding Books. Broad Leys Publishing Ltd., 2005. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <>.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Rickets is loosely translated to “poverty of the bones.” It is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D3, or by an imbalance of Calcium and Phosphorus in the diet. The result is weak or soft bones that are prone to bowing and inhibit mobility. Mycotoxins – toxins from mold or fungus – as well as some medication may also affect the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, and can lead to an onset of Rickets.

For healthy bone calcification, Calcium and Phosphorus need to be in adequate supply, and also in a 2:1 ratio of each other. Vitamin D3 is critical to regulating the absorption and metabolism of calcium. A sufficient amount of Vitamin D3 can be produced with just 11-45 minutes of sunshine (not filtered by glass) each day.

Symptoms and Signs
Chickens appear to be crippled. The symptoms will start small – sitting down during the day rather than wandering around and scratching. They will stay in one place for a while, sometimes refusing to roost. If not treated quickly, they will begin to lie on their side and lose the ability to stand on their feet and maintain balance. Things to look for:

  • Droopy wings
  • Inhibited mobility
  • Inability to walk, or even stand
  • Problems with balance
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Slow growth

If caught early enough, Rickets is treatable by correcting, or overcorrecting, for dietary deficiencies or imbalances.

Because the cause can be attributed to an imbalance in the diet, it is important to switch to a different feed. A small bag of non-medicated chick starter is best as it is easy to digest (grit is not needed), and full of protein for weight gain. If more than one of your chickens is affected, or if other backyard chicken
owners using the same feed are sharing the problem, contact the feed company with the lot number and production date to find out if the food was improperly mixed.

Secondly, supplement with Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 supplements can be found in water soluble Vitamin packs by Durvet at local feed stores or online. Follow the instructions on the package for dosing, and mix a fresh solution daily. It is also advisable to make sure they have access to unfiltered sunlight to help them produce some of their own Vitamin D3.

Tips: We also recommend feeding a small amount of plain yogurt which has probiotics to help aid digestion. It may be necessary to help the affected chicken with eating. A small medicine dropper is helpful, or a straw. To get all of the food and water down at the same time, mix the vitamin water, chick starter, and yogurt to a solution that’s easy to drop down the chicken’s throat. The chicken will be most comfortable in a place that’s warm since she is most likely skinny, and not roosting with other chickens to help stay warm at night.

Dunkley, Claudia. "Important Nutritional Diseases that Affect Laying Hens." ThePoultrySite.
     5M Enterprises, Dec 2009. Web. 28 Nov 2011. <
"Rickets and cage layer fatigue." - A poultry CRC initiative., 11 May 2009. Web. 27 Nov 2011. <
Ritchie, Branson W, Greg J Harrison, and Linda R Harrison. Avian Medicine:
     Principle and Applications. Lakeworth: Wingers Publishing, Inc., 1994. eBook.