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Chicken Supplies: The Ones You Want and the Ones You Need

Looking after chickens is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. But if you're going to do the job right, you're going to need the correct chicken supplies for the job. Some of these poultry supplies are essential and some of them are just for fun. Whether you just want what you need, or like the idea of splashing out on some fun extras either for yourself or as a present for a chicken-loving friend, let us run through some of the chicken supplies you might consider;

Egg Skelters

Egg skelters are a handy, fun and stylish way to keep your eggs in date order. Each egg skelter has a spiral shape akin to a helter skelter (hence the name). As you remove the bottom egg the rest roll forwards so there is always a fresh egg easy to hand. Their fun design and handy nature makes them the ideal gift. Like many poultry supplies, they're a small but effective way of introducing some character to a room. They've already been seen as set dressing on televisions shows including River Cottage and Kirstie's Homemade Homes, as well as earning appearances in magazines such as Country Living, Practical Poultry, Home Farmer and Fancy Fowl. Each skelter holds up to 24 hens' eggs. A smaller version is also available for the owner of bantam hens.

Egg Boxes

If you're looking for a cheaper and/or more practical way to store and transport your eggs, you can't go wrong with good old egg boxes. They're probably the first thing people think of when you mention chicken supplies and, like so many commonplace items, that recognition is the result of a brilliant design. The fibre structure of the box holds each egg separate and secure whilst protecting it from the stresses and dangers of transport. When planning your poultry supplies, egg boxes are a must - particularly if you are planning on selling your eggs or distributing them amongst friends.


Bedding is another essential chicken supply. To begin with, poultry need bedding for exactly the same reasons we do; for comfort whilst sleeping, to reduce pressure on the skin and to keep them warm. However, bedding also plays an important part in keeping your birds clean and healthy. Bedding is typically made from straw or wood cuttings, which will absorb much of the waste passed by your birds. Dried bedding is particularly effective, as the lack of moisture reduces instances of moulds, mites and spores. Make sure to clear out and replace the bedding regularly: not only does this help keep your chickens healthy, used bedding makes for brilliant fertiliser.

These are just a few of the chicken supplies to consider if you are planning on keeping your own brood, but there are plenty more to look at. Find a reputable supplier of poultry suppliers to find out what you will need - and what you might just want.


A Metal Barn Versus A Wooden Structure

Traditionally, barns were wooden structures used to house the various animals and supplies needed to run a farm. Now, however, more and more people are choosing to use metal barns instead of those made of wood. There are several advantages to using a metal barn as opposed to a wooden one, some of which are outlined below.

First, metal buildings have proven to be quite cost-effective. There are several reason for this, the main one being the lack of maintenance needed to keep the structure in good working order. They are also cheaper to build, as steel is the least expensive method for erecting such a structure. They are also not susceptible to pests such as termites so this also cuts down on the potential cost of the upkeep as well.

Another benefit of using a metal structure for a barn as opposed to one made of wood is that they are able to better withstand fire, rain, snow, and natural disasters such as earthquakes. This can be especially important if you live in an area where these are or could be common occurrences.

Another advantage is the lower cost when adding space. Over time, you may decide you want to expand your barn, either to house more animals, or hold more equipment. If you choose a metal structure, you will be able to do so easily at a great rate. The construction is also much simpler, and takes considerably less time than adding onto a wooden barn.

Metal barns are also easy to accessorize as needed. For example, you may choose to add more windows to your structure, or to add heating and air conditioning. You will be able to do so quickly and easily, and will enjoy many of the same benefits by doing so that you would with a traditional wooden barn. Your options are endless.

When you begin looking for a company from which to purchase your barn, be sure you have researched your needs and have based them on your available budget. That way, you will be able to ask the right questions, and find a company that will provide you with a structure that will really work for you. Remember, the more you know, the better off you'll be in the long run. Find out what has worked for other people so that you can get an idea of what might fit your needs. Be sure you are constructing a barn that will last, while also leaving room for any expansion or updates you may need in the future.


A Healthier Start To A Pig's Life

Weaning is a problematic time for pigs, especially in intensive production. Piglets commonly become susceptible to bacterial infections including weaning diarrhea, which restrict their growth rate; and often lead to piglet losses of 10% or more.

This sort of infection can significantly increase production costs because the animals need food over a longer production period, and also for veterinary treatment.

Similar problems are seen in weaning calves. The antibiotics used routinely for many years to control these rapidly-spreading infections have now fallen out of use, mainly due to the increase in resistant strains of bacteria, and because they also have negative effects on digestive tract and immune system development.

A radical solution has been found by using a lectin obtained from the red kidney bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris). Lectins are proteins that bind cells together; typically red blood cells, and are therefore known as phytohaemagglutinins.

In the early weeks of life, the greatest changes in the digestive tract of young mammals occur in the pancreas, stomach and upper intestine. But, the changes needed for the animal to cope with a non-milk diet are not completed by the time weaning is carried out in production animals.

Suddenly introducing a weaned diet frequently causes gastrointestinal disorders, which cause reduced weight gain and poor food utilisation. Calves show particularly rapid changes at the time the stomach adapts to the needs of a vegetable diet.

The EUREKA HEALTHY WEANING project coordinator, Professor Stefan Pierzynowski of Lund University, Sweden, explains: "Giving this new factor, which we call Suilektin, for a short, specific period before weaning stimulates the digestive tract to reach maturity faster. This helps it to change from the digestive and absorptive needs of milk, to those of an adult diet." The EUREKA study showed that giving the lectin to piglets at 11-12 days old greatly enhanced successful weaning at 28 days. This result was achieved by accelerating the production of mature intestinal cells, able to cope effectively with the weaning diet.

During the project, field trials determined the optimal timing and dose, together with the best consistency and method of administration; and the results analysed the animals performance and the economic impact of the technique.

Studies determined the exact effects of lectin at the cellular level of the intestinal lining and on intestinal enzymes production; others focused on developing immune cells and gut bacteria. All above mentioned studies contributed to developing an economic process for large-scale production.

Current pig production methods could benefit significantly from this new Suilektin product, and hopefully the studies will prove useful for pigs and calves as well. Other expensive, sophisticated weaning foods are already available on the market, but are not always an economic proposition for the farmer, as the profit margin on pig production is not high.

"We are very interested in finding a producer for Suilektin, and it could reach the market very soon. It will be both cheap and very effective," says Prof. Pierzynowski. Since the project was completed in October 2005, the project partners have filed two patents on their process and have received considerable interest from potential producers.

A current consortium is actively working on behalf of the former EUREKA project partners to set up arrangements for production.

"Although giving any lectin in large amounts would not be recommended," he continues, "we will be explaining to farmers the advantages of its use in small, carefully calculated amounts for this very short period.

This very specific use as an additive and not as a food - will stimulate maturing of the digestive tract without causing any digestive problems." How soon Suilektin reaches the market will be linked with the full implementation of the EU legislation.


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