In a farm of any scale, chickens occupy a leading place, since they are able to provide the breeder not only with meat, but also with egg products. Among the many breeds of such birds, in terms of egg production, it is worth highlighting decalb chickens, which are undoubted leaders, in light of which they are actively grown all over the world.
The breed of this egg cross is deservedly popular due to its productivity, and, according to some sources, two companies located in different countries act as its creators. One of these is the American Dekalb Poltry Research, and Easy (Netherlands) also claims to be the creator. According to the name, it can be assumed that it was the first company that owned the right to be called the ancestors of the poultry breed. Initially, the American manufacturer specialized in the production of fertilizers and seeds, and only in the middle of the twentieth century presented the “Princess of Poultry” to private breeders and owners of large livestock farms. This is what the bird is called in narrow circles of breeders.
The main goal pursued by breeders when breeding hens of the Decalb breed was the high egg production of layers. As a result, the birds began to demonstrate good performance indicators, where, along with the number of eggs, their size and weight also became remarkable. Today, work on improving the breed is not finished, which will be considered an indisputable advantage for breeders, since such birds may demonstrate other high performance indicators in the future. Now it is "Dekalb Poltry Research" that is the official supplier of birds.
Today there are two main varieties of this breed of birds. Their division occurs according to the color of the plumage, therefore the birds are conventionally classified into decalb white and brown. Based on the productive characteristics, they have the same indicators, however, white chickens are still found on the farm much more often. The bird of this breed practically does not distinguish anything from other individuals found on farms and in private households, so it is quite easy to confuse it with other layers with white plumage.
White and brown are similar in their body structure, birds of this breed will be large, with a muscular build and a small head, set on a massive, but short neck. The chest of roosters and birds protrudes forward, the back is of medium size. The limbs of the decalbs are short, but rather stable, painted yellow, there are four fingers on each paw. The color of the pupils in chickens is predominantly dark, usually red-brown. A sexually mature female bird will weigh in the region of two kilograms, while roosters are usually 500-800 grams heavier. Such modest numbers indicate the direction of the breed, which is hatching.
The wings of birds are small, but long, tightly pressed to the body. The breed does not stand out for high indicators of decorative attractiveness, this is especially manifested in the active phase of laying hens. At these moments, individuals look rather painful, this affects primarily the plumage.
This phenomenon is due to the depletion of the body. As for the character, the Decalbe chickens are non-aggressive, therefore they thrive in close proximity to other birds. The only moment concerning the psyche of chickens is a very difficult adaptation to new habitat conditions , which may be fraught with loss of egg production for some time. The productivity of the breed is about three hundred eggs per year. This is considered one of the highest rates among representatives of other breeds of egg orientation. The average weight of one egg varies between 60-65 grams, the color of the shell may be different, depending on the color of the plumage of the bird. As a rule, chickens are able to lay as early as 4-5 months.
A breeder who plans to start breeding decalbs should be aware that birds experience decreases in activity, and even there are completely unproductive periods. Such phenomena are most often associated with the molting phase. In order for this process to complete without loss and as quickly as possible, the farmer can resort to the following manipulations.
- When keeping birds, it is worth reducing the daylight hours to two hours a day. Then leave the chickens without food for a couple of days, offering only water.
- Then gradually increase the access time of light to the chicken coop by half an hour a day, returning the daily intake of food to the usual framework.
As practice shows, this will significantly reduce the phase of unproductiveness. After the birds' plumage is restored and renewed, they will begin to rush again.
Pros and cons
Despite the great demand, Decalb chickens have their own strengths and weaknesses. Consider the merits of birds.
- First of all, the main characteristic feature of layers is noted - productivity in terms of obtaining eggs. In addition, even in a young hen, the eggs are distinguished by their size.
- In chickens, puberty begins quite early, which allows you to regularly increase the number of birds in the hen house.
- Birds of this breed do not need to be walked, therefore they are sometimes kept in small cages.
- Together with decalbs, you can keep other birds, since they are not prone to aggressive behavior, do not start fights and quarrels.
- In general, the growing conditions for American layers are not associated with any difficulties, therefore the breed is very often found in large and small farms.
Among the minuses, you should pay attention to the following features.
- Layers of the breed are not endowed with hatching instinct. This can present some problems in terms of increasing the number of birds. The breeder should find a brood hen from other breeds in advance.
- Chickens do not remain at a productive age for long.
- The livestock will have to be renewed every 24 months. This is due to the unprofitability of the further keeping of birds, the productivity of which will fall sharply.
How to choose?
This breed is recommended to be chosen by novice farmers who pursue the goal of obtaining a large number of good quality eggs with minimal maintenance costs. As a rule, they purchase chickens or eggs for further growing in an incubator. In order not to make a mistake with the purchase, it is necessary to thoroughly approach the selection of a supplier of poultry, to make sure that all sanitary standards regarding the keeping of chickens are observed. You should refuse to purchase decalbs on the spontaneous market, since there is a possibility that chickens of a completely different, less productive breed will be bought under the guise of productive birds with high egg production.
Since the instinct of incubation among decalbs is very poorly developed, for self-breeding of birds, the breeder will need to acquire an incubator. The second option to get new layers is to lay eggs with hens with a well-developed hatching instinct. However, in a small farm environment, this is not always possible. In general, the eggs of this breed, in addition to their large size, stand out among the decalbs for their high productivity indicators. That is, you can get a healthy chick from almost everyone. On average, this figure is 95%.
As practice shows, when using an incubator, this feature is reduced to 80-85%, so they prefer to lay eggs for other layers. Eggs are placed in the incubator, which are no more than 5 days old, without defects. To exclude various anomalies in development, it is not recommended for a breeder to take eggs from young birds; it is best to select parents from decalbs that lay for more than 90 days. This feature is explained by the fact that the eggs of young chickens will be unfertilized, since puberty in American hybrids is distinguished by its slower pace.
After three weeks, the chickens are born in the incubator, but the process itself and its duration largely depend on the temperature regime and the created air humidity. Before laying the eggs, they are examined, treated with disinfectants. The optimal humidity level will be 60%, the air temperature should not exceed natural conditions too much, since overheated chickens, although they hatch before everyone else, will have very weak immunity. And from subcooled eggs, birds can appear with serious problems related to the healing of the umbilical cord.
After the chicks appear, they should be provided with special conditions for a week and a half. For the first five days, it is recommended to place the entire brood in a wooden box, you can use ordinary paper as a bedding, cover the top with a lattice. Young animals will not need additional bedding, since there is a high probability that the birds will damage their fragile and rather sensitive limbs against it.
It is required to feed the chickens with millet or corn grits. Birds need additional heating at night. For these purposes, it would be more correct to use infrared lamps. During the day, it is allowed to take young animals to fresh air, subject to a comfortable temperature. In the first weeks, the optimal thermometer readings will be at +30 degrees. Every day, the air temperature in the room can be slightly reduced, and when the chickens reach the age of one month, the lower temperature threshold is considered to be in the region of + 18-20 degrees.
After the young animals are 10-12 days old, you can gradually introduce compound feeds into the diet, which should contain at least 20% protein. It is also encouraged to introduce chopped greens, fish oil and root vegetables into the bird menu. The birds are kept in a small separate pen in a ventilated area without drafts; as they grow up, they can be transferred to open-air enclosures.
There are certain requirements for raising eggs of the egg breed. For decalbs, a spacious chicken coop is needed, in which there will be no more than 5 birds per square meter. This eliminates the likelihood that the birds will suffer from a lack of heat in the winter. The floor in the chicken coop can be earthen, concrete or wooden. Peat, straw or sawdust can be used as an additional coating. On the south side, it is recommended to equip a birdhole; its height should not be more than half a meter.
There can be no drafts in the room. For ventilation, it will be enough to equip several windows; when keeping a large number of birds, farmers are advised to use mechanical ventilation with an exhaust hood and a pipe. In winter, the lack of sunlight is compensated by incandescent lamps, which are also able to additionally heat the room. The optimal daylight hours are considered to be 15 hours. This ensures that eggs are obtained from decalbs in the winter.
For every 10 chickens, at least 3 nests should be made in the hen house, they must be placed at a height of no more than one meter from the floor, in several tiers. The mass of birds does not differ in serious indicators, so this placement will be the most successful.
The coop will require regular cleaning, especially near roosts , neglect of hygiene on the part of the breeder can lead to the spread of various kinds of infectious diseases. Drinking bowls with clean water will be mandatory in the room. These can be ordinary containers with liquid or nipple drinkers for birds. For chickens, an ash pan should also be made in which they can clean their plumage from parasites. It is recommended to feed the bird at least 4 times a day, avoiding large intervals between meals. The diet of the egg breed should contain grain feed, fresh herbs, and foods fortified with calcium. Salt, fish meal and yeast are also added to the poultry feed.
Diseases, their prevention and treatment
The breed can suffer from infectious and non-infectious ailments. The weak point of chickens is the lack of vitamins in light of high productivity. Lack of trace elements and vitamins can provoke the development of rickets and delayed plumage. Also, birds are prone to pecking, the reason for this will be improper nutrition or errors in keeping: too bright lighting, lack of walking.
If you find that a chicken is sick, you should isolate it, and then look for the cause. Among the most dangerous diseases are tuberculosis, salmonellosis, listeriosis, pasteurellosis, leptospirosis. It is almost impossible to cure these ailments, so such chickens are sent for slaughter. Their meat is not recommended. To protect against such misfortunes, the breeder should do several things:
- observe the hygiene of the chicken coop;
- feed the chickens correctly;
- vaccinate birds regularly;
- work with veterinarians who can quickly determine the cause of a chicken's poor health.
Breeders of chickens of this breed note the productivity of chickens and the large size of the eggs. Among the disadvantages, farmers point out a decrease in the egg production of birds as they grow older. However, the amount of products received, subject to the content of a large number of decalbs, compensates for this disadvantage.
For information on how to properly care for the decalb chicken breed, see the next video.