What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

Which Came First The Egg or The Chicken

While the jury might still be out on this one, what we do know is that eggs would be the cherry on top when it comes to poultry keeping. But how much can you really know about these gems that are wholesome?

We are here to set the facts straight and also inform you exactly what you might ever want or need to learn about eggs!

What is an Egg?

A chicken egg could be either fertilized or unfertilized, and is the perfect little package (an average-sized egg weighs about 50 grams, however this will vary based upon the chicken breed), comprised of seven basic parts; the casing, membranes, the albumen (white), the yolk, the chalazae, the germinal disc and the air sac. Each one of these parts have a specific work to do and serve a particular function.

anatomy of a chicken egg
Anatomy of a Chicken Egg

Shell:

The eggshell is a really intriguing piece of engineering, housing the entirety of these eggs components inside. It’s composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, and covered in tiny pores, which give the egg its grainy texture. The casing is a semipermeable membrane, which is just fancy talk for significance that moisture and air can pass through it’s pores. Additionally it is protected by a thin outermost coating called the’bloom’ or’cuticle’, that acts as a natural barrier against external pathogens such as bacteria and dust.

Membranes:

The egg has 2 membranes-outer shell membrane and inner shell membrane, which both sit just inside the shell surrounding the albumen (white). These super strong transparent protein membranes, which can be made partially of keratin, have the function of protecting against bacterial invasion. The outer membrane is secured to the egg shell, whereas the inner membrane sticks into the albumen.

Albumen (White):

The albumen, more commonly called the’white’, is composed of vitamins, minerals, protein and water and is made up of three primary parts-an inner, middle and outer layer, each of varying depth which surround and protect the yolk. These powerful layers contain plenty of proteins which in a fertile egg can assist with the chicks development, or if sterile, will be passed on to us!

The Yolk:

The yolk is the fundamental portion of an egg, and while generally yellowish, its color may change based upon the chicken breed, which range from a light yellow to a deep orange. This tiny powerhouse is where the majority of the proteins, minerals, vitamins and fats of the egg are housed, such as Vitamin A, D, phosphorous, calcium, thiamine and riboflavin.

Chalazae:

Chalazae are a part of the egg and are sequences of twisted tissue positioned at opposite ends of the yolk. They play the important role of stabilising the yolk and germinal disk to stop twisting and misalignment from the egg.

Germinal Disc:

Also referred to as the egg cell, or blastodisc, the germinal disc sits on the surface of the cover of the egg yolk and is the ‘powerhouse’ of the egg, as it is where the sperm enters the egg. It is here that the embryo will form by a process of cell division and expansion after fertilisation has occurred.

Air Sac:

Sometimes called the ‘air space’ or ‘air mobile’, the air sac forms once the contents of a newly laid egg cools, causing them to contract. This air sac rests between the inner and outer membranes in the eggs bigger end. As the egg matures and not get fertile, the air sac will expand because of moisture and carbon dioxide leaving the egg, and air going into the egg to replace them.

So now you understand just what constitutes these all natural wonders, you are likely asking just how a hen can make this kind of protein packaged product?!  Keep reading to find out…

A productive egg layer does first and foremost be based on the chicken strain, so ample research ought to be undertaken in this respect if you are wanting chickens for the sole purpose of the egg producing capabilities. In addition to this they have to be given a balanced and nutritious diet (high in calcium and protein ), fresh water, lots of sunlight, in addition to nesting boxes which are conducive to egg laying (fresh straw, broad, and from the way of direct sunlight or drafts).

A female chicken is born with a complete complement of eggs inside her body, and depending on the strain, will create many or hardly any eggs through the years. Chickens have thousands of miniature ova, which are undeveloped yolks in their gut, and if they’ve matured, an ovum is going to be released into the oviduct where it begins it’s great journey of growth. A hen can have many eggs at various stages of development inside her reproductive system at the same time. Those at the start of their journey are only small yolks, whereas the eggs which are farther down the oviduct are markedly larger and more developed. It takes about 25 hours for an egg to reach the vent prepared for planting in the time it leaves the ovary. Within this period the yolk will expand and become encased from the albumen, wrapped in a membrane and then enclosed in a pigmented shell-voila! Fresh eggs for everybody!

The first stage of embryo growth happens in the blastodisc (germinal disk ), which will become known as the blastoderm once fertilised, and it includes genetic material from both the chicken and the rooster. If housed in the perfect states, either via incubation or by a hen, these cells will then develop into a chick embryo, where it will grow and further develop, getting nourishment from the yolk and albumen.

We think it’s safe to say that there’s definitely far more than meets the eye when it comes to the humble egg. Next time your hen lays one of these beauties take some time to applaud and appreciate these natural wonders!

WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO AND WE HOPE YOU’LL FIND THE ANSWER AFTER…Please leave some comments if you find this interesting. Thanks!

 

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Why You Should Feed Your Chickens Mealworms

mealworms

They may not look very appealing to me or you, but from a chickens point of view mealworms seem as yummy as a home cooked meal prepared by someone you love. Even though they have the feel of crumbly corn chips, these tasty little morsels will drive your flock wild with temptation. Only a small part of these previously wiggly wonders is enough to enhance your chickens’ health and well-being so that they can live life in their flip-flappity best! Stick your beak into this easy to digest article with the top 7 reasons to feed mealworms to your hungry feathered friends.

chickens eating mealworms
Chickens eating Mealworms

1. Just a couple mealworms goes a long way.

Be sure to don’t create an entire meal from your mealworms alone. Generally speaking, adult laying hens should have a diet of approximately 16% protein. Younger chicks and pullets of course have additional protein in their chicken feed, or extra mealworms in their diet for that matter, to help them as they grow big and strong. Your laying hens will obviously eat the entire bag if you allow them, but make sure you limit their intake to the recommended serving size. Moreover, do not go overboard when you feed your hens with mealworms.

2. Power your hens with protein.

Protein is a vital part of any living creature’s diet, especially chickens. Not to mention chickens will need to have plenty of protein so that they can develop lustrous plumage to keep them warm in winter. Therefore, it only makes sense that any poultry owner needs to make certain that her hens have loads of protein in their diet. Mealworms are usually the natural choice, as every meal worm is nearly 50% protein — HOLY HEN!

3. Mealworms will help your hens through moulting season.

During moulting season, which generally occurs throughout autumn and spring, it’s essential that each and every chicken owner boosts their flock’s protein intake in 1 way or another. Mealworms are an especially good option, as they are a dense source of protein, which will aid your chickens grow their feathers back in no time. It’s also important to be aware that your flock’s immune system will be reduced throughout moulting season, so it is critical that you fortify their diet with a few tasty mealworms, to help them through this challenging season.

4. Bulk up your eggs with mealworms.

Naturally, when your chicken has enough protein in their diet, they’ll have the ability to produce eggs at their best. There have been many accounts of chicken owners noticing an improvement in size and flavour of their eggs after they began to feed their flock the recommended serving size of mealworms. Remember, eggs are almost entirely protein, so mealworm are the perfect extra treat in any laying hens diet.

5. Will help to flip the bedding in a deep litter system.

This may seem slightly left of focus but anyone who uses a deep litter system is always looking out for a simpler way to turn the bedding. Let me clarify, chickens absolutely love mealworms — actually it sends them a little loopy with enthusiasm. By scattering an appropriate serving size of mealworms blended in with feed within the deep litter system, your chickens will start to scratch and peck in the bedding, consequentially mixing it through. Long story short, you won’t have to get out the scoop and blend that hot and heavy bedding through.

6. You will love watching your chickens munching on the mealworms.

You think your hens are excited when they lay an egg just wait until you see how they act when they find out they’re having mealworms for dinner. Like many chicken enthusiast has stated before,”if my hens are happy, I am happy”.

7. Your chickens will love you for it.

As many poultry owners already know, chickens are very responsive to food. There are countless anecdotes of chickens charging across the backyard when their doting owner comes out of the house holding a feeder full of poultry feed, with maybe a few mealworms blended through. Food is just one of the great joys in any chickens’ life, so it’s only right that any chicken lover should provide a few snacks and variety in their diet. Mealworms are simply something that all chickens will love. Do not be a scrooge. Be sure you treat your hens to mealworms every now and then.

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Best Ways To Prevent Lice and Mites In Chickens

chicken dust bathing

Are your flock looking a little itchy? Possibly their feathers are ruffled for no cause. Mites and lice are annoying, bothersome problems to have with your backyard flock, and should be dealt with quickly as it can spread out to all the other feathered good friends. For the fastest way to eliminate these pests examine out our guide. For more comprehensive information, we chatted to Claire Bickle, gardening and poultry specialist to get the tough realities about how to get rid of these mites, should they become a problem with your chickens.

Let’s begin off with some common FAQ’s about these parasites:

What’s the difference between lice and mites?

Well, both are extremely annoying and rather small. The distinction in between the 2 is that mites endure by eating the blood of your chickens. Some survive on the chickens, some live in their housing and come out to feed at particular times.

Lice however do not feed on the blood– rather they survive by consuming the skin scales and particles in their feathers. They also live their entire life on the chicken.

Both lice and mites, if left neglected are harmful to your chickens’ health, so you must definitely do something about it as quickly as possible.

How are they transmitted?

Lice and mites are usually transmitted by wild birds who bring the parasites entering into contact with the coop, or your chickens. Keeping an eye on animals like turkeys and other native birds is important for your flock’s health.

Can they be sent to other animals such as my animal dog or cat?

There’s no definite response as to whether lice or mites will transfer from chickens to other animals. Evidence recommends that the animals like to hang out on other mammals, so it’s worth examining your animals to see whether they’ve got a mite or lice problem. If they do, check out their bedding and their fur– if you presume any activity, give them a good clean and a warm bath.

Ok, now lets get into the various types of lice and mice that can impact your flock.

MITES

1. Red Mites (also called ‘Chicken Mites’)

red mites
Red Mites

Red mites are a few of the most common mites that affect chickens, and among the most annoying.

Red mites are typically spread out by wild birds coming into contact with your chicken coop. From here, they hide in the dark areas of the chicken cage throughout the day, and after that come out in the evening to feed upon your feathered buddies, as soon as again pulling back when the sun turns up.

To determine whether this mite is the culprit of ruffling feathers in your flock, have a close look at your chickens plumes and skin– if you can see red and black little spots, then these are more than likely red mites.

How they affect your chickens:

The mites can cause your chickens to become anaemic if left untreated. If further without treatment, death may happen, so act quickly!

How to avoid Red mites:

As mentioned previously, wild birds coming in contact with the cage is one of the most common ways red termites can be transferred. Taking measures to prevent birds from sitting on your cage is recommended. In addition, if you are presenting new birds to the flock, quarantine them initially to ensure they don’t move any mites to your existing feathered good friends.

How to deal with Red mites:

Contrary to some drastic techniques, the chicken coop does not need to be burned– it will take a few treatments to get rid of all of the termites, however it will be well worth it!

The chickens:

Ensure you are treating your chickens during the night, as this is the time when the mites will come out from the coop and are active. You can provide a dust of Pestene (a sulphur and rotenone powder), which must dehydrate the mites and effectively kill them (this is likewise safe to the chickens). You need to take on the coop– this is what will get rid of the mites.

The coop:

Keep the chicken cage very clean– roosts, nesting boxes and the yard! Ensure you thoroughly deal with the bedding also, do not conserve it for the garden compost. When the cage has been scrubbed tidy, spray it with a high pressure hose, guaranteeing you pipe out every crack and corner. Let the cage dry in the sun for a couple of minutes, and after that give it an excellent spray again.

Then, provide the cage’s dark nooks and crannies a generous spray with some Absorbacide (a natural insecticide) or diatomaceous earth. Ensure that when you apply these, that they do not get damp– they will not be as effective. Using a set of gloves and also dust masks is advisable– these powders aren’t poisonous, however it is a stong powder, so may offer you a sneezing fit!

Other coop treatment options consist of Coopex, Pestene and Hydrated Lime.

2. Northern Fowl Mites

Northern Fowl Mites
Northern Fowl Mites

Northern Fowl mites are comparable to the Red mite, in that they eat your chickens’ skin. Unlike the Red mite, the Northern Fowl invests its whole life on the chickens. This indicates that the negative impacts of the mites will be much faster, so it’s really crucial to treat them as quickly as they’re discovered.

How they impact your chickens:

The Northern Fowl mite will also cause anaemia in your chickens by feeding upon them, and if unattended will cause death.

How to avoid Northern Fowl mites:

Keep the cage clean, and avoid wild birds and rodents from penetrating the cage and spreading the mites. Clean up spilled feed and anything that might bring in undesirable weird crawlies!

How to deal with Northern Fowl mites:

Right away treat your chickens with a safe insecticide– attempt diatomaceous earth, absorbacide or Pestene. A couple of days later on, deal with the chickens once again– this will get any staying eggs and mites. If none of these insecticides work, contact your vet who might have the ability to recommend you another poultry insecticide.

3. Scaly Leg Mites

These critters are so small that they can not be seen with the human eye– however, they can easily be spotted by the results they leave on your hens.

How they affect your chickens:

Scaly Leg mites weasel their way into your chickens scales on their feet, where they feed and likewise leave droppings. This will make your chickens legs appear crusty and scabby– and if left unattended will infect the remainder of the flock and trigger them terrific discomfort. If left without treatment for a very long time, they may cause death.

How to avoid Scaly Leg mites:

Keep the coop spotless. Likewise quarantine any new birds you may be contributing to your flock, and ensure they aren’t currently affected with the mites– otherwise they might infect your chickens.

How to treat Scaly Leg mites:

Offer your chickens a good bath in a tub of lukewarm water, and carefully tidy them. After they’ve dried off, dust their whole body with some Pestene or diatomaceous earth.

You will also require to give the coop an extensive cleansing.  Remember to dust the coop with Pestene or diatomaceous earth.

Different types of lice:

1. ‘Shaft louse’

Shaft Louse Lice
Shaft Louse Lice

There is one primary type of lice that affects our poultry, typically referred to as ‘shaft louse’ as they rest on the chickens plume shaft. They have to do with 1-6mm in size, and typically a mustard colour– they likewise move fast. You should not have any difficulty identifying lice on your chickens.

How they impact your chickens:

As mentioned earlier, shaft louse feed upon the scales and feather particles of your chickens. If left neglected, they will cause a variety of issues in your poor birds, such as feather pecking (you’d be pecking your plumes too if you were being bitten!), weight reduction, skin irritation, a pale comb, along with behavioural modifications i.e. listless nature and a drop in egg laying production.

How to avoid Shaft Louse:

Ensure your chickens have access to a dust bathing area– this is the most reliable approach they have of keeping parasites off themselves. Also watch out for any wild birds that have contact with your chickens or the cage– this is how the lice (and mites) are normally sent.

How to deal with Shaft Louse:.

Dust them with a pestene powder or diatomaceous earth if you’ve found lice on your chickens. Likewise, dust the coop thoroughly (make sure when doing this, so your chickens respiratory systems aren’t inflamed). This should cure the issue. Again, ensure they have an area to dust bathe in!

Preventing lice and mites:

Capturing a mite or lice problem early is the crucial to an easy prevention– however, with a little patience and effort you can deal with lice and termites yourself.

Crucial suggestions and pointers to keep in mind:

  • Keep the cage tidy, and make sure you get all the dark corners and hidden areas.
  • Quarantine new birds and check them for any termites prior to presenting them to the flock.
  • Pestene/diatomaceous earth/other safe insecticides are your finest buddies!

Chickens require an area for dust bathing, even if they’re in a cage always. This is the very best prevention for lice and mites.

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