Thursday, May 27, 2010

Curled Toes and Riboflavin Deficiency in Chicks

I hate when you have to learn something the hard way. This week's lesson: riboflavin deficiency in poultry which causes curled toes and eventual paralysis.

One of our sexlink hens brooded a clutch of nine eggs and hatched out six of those on May 9. Now 16 days later, we discovered one of the chicks outside, alone, unable to move with a case of curled toes. Now perhaps I haven't done my research properly, but from what I can tell, this is a common reaction to vitamin B2, or riboflavin, deficiency.

Here's how I believe it happened. Momma hen has her six chicks with her foraging along side the other hens. Although I have tried to pull them aside and feed the chicks the normal chick starter/grower feed that we use for our replacement hens, it has been difficult to keep our egg layers from consuming it. As it is medicated, I don't want that feed entering our egg supply. The chick in question has always been the one to lag behind and more than likely is not receiving his fair share. My guess is that in the larger picture of our poultry set up, this little chick has simply not received adequate nutrition.

These links were helpful in doing my own diagnosis:

Merk Vet Manual
World Poultry
Backyard Chickens
Backyard Chickens

From what I could tell, if nutrition is corrected as soon as the deficiency is noticed by giving Poly Vi Sol infant vitamin drops, then it is possible to reverse the situation. We're not quite to 24 hours yet after starting this chick's recovery process, but it seems to have worsened instead. We can only hope that it will in time pull out, but frankly I'm not hopeful.

With our recent heavy bout of rain, it has been hard to keep tabs on the chicks as momma has had to keep them brooded to stay warm, and we have simply not been outside as much. Lesson learned I guess.

So what are we going to do to keep the other chicks healthy? I'm contemplating a design to allow the chicks to "creep feed" as is done with other livestock. The smaller, younger animals are able to access feedstuffs available for their consumption only and not by the older, larger animals.

Although we have not experienced this situation before raising chicks in a similar manner, it is a concern that we will need to address to keep it from happening again.

If you've had experience with a similar deficiency, leave me a comment. I'd like to hear what advice you have to offer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Techie Garden -

I debated last gardening seasoning whether to spring for an online subscription to What is Well, imagine it as an online tool allowing you to track the seeds you start, when you transplant, your harvest details, plus a visual layout of the garden. There are probably other online gardening tools out there, but I'm perfectly happy with after stumbling upon it. I started using their 45-day free trial early this spring, and by the time that subscription ran out, I was convinced it was worth paying $20 for a full year's access.

One cool feature is the ability to take a snapshot of the screen which can then be printed out or uploaded to your blog as I have done here.

A series of snapshots could be filed in your garden notebook by month showing your progress. Yes, the one I mean to start. But I'm really anxious to use the harvest feature. What better way to determine if a particular variety grew well or even met your taste expectations at the end of the year. I am prone to forgetting exactly which variety of lettuce I really enjoyed or which tomato succumbed to blight early. Their online tracking and ability to enter daily notes will take care of all that for me. There are also handy planting calendars and harvest calculators as well as tutorials to help you get started.

Or if you want to link your PlanGarden site to your blog, you can also do that as I have done here.

Abernathy Creek Farm Garden Design

If you want to check out what their site has to offer, click on the link below.

They also feature gardeners and their PlanGarden sites which can be inspiring or intimidating depending on how you look at it. I'm just excited to finally have a tool to use that won't get left out in the rain to run the ink or disappear from one gardening season to the next. A perfect mix of technology and good old fashioned hard work I say.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

She's Outgrown Her Miniature Horse

This is a hard post to write, but we have finally made the decision to move our miniature horse, Nick, along to a home where he can be used by another family. We purchased him as a three-year-old stud and stopped to have him gelded on the trailer ride home. We had known him since a colt and knew that as he was harness broke, so quick to learn, and flashy to boot with his pinto markings and blue eye that he would make a great equestrian and 4H prospect for our oldest daughter. She used him her first year in OHSET and then moved on to target gaming and cow events with her quarter horse.

What to do with Nick now that we had him and were in love with him? Our youngest at the time was five, so he became her "pony". She quickly learned to ride him lead line, be the one to catch him up in the field and bring him, do his grooming and bathing, and love all over him. As she became more confident, we turned the reins over to her, and he was hers to ride all over the property. We turned our backs to only find her jumping him over obstacles, leading him through all sorts of mazes and trail obstacles she set up, or sneaking him into the house. They've made plenty of memories together.

But as you grow up, you also do so in size. She is now simply too large for him...feet can almost touch the ground...and it's time for him to be loved on and put to work by another family. It's a sad day for me and a sad day for her as well.

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