June 2018 - Sponsored by Purina Animal Nutrition
By: Queren King-Orozco
Our King Farm chicken adventure started out with a hatching at the Mother Earth News office. Fast-forward six months and we have 18 chickens and two ducks! As new homesteaders, we often think about cost and quality. When approached by Purina Animal Nutrition to try their organic layer feed with their Oyster Strong® System through the Feed Greatness® Challenge, I was eager to give it a try. As per usual, research ensued. A typical practice when you are brand new to the farm life.
Our chickens experience a free-range life, therefore great health and endurance are an important factor for us. We live on 160 acres and there is the risk of predators and disease. We believe a well-fed chicken can live a long and happy life. A great coop and some amazing guard dogs have taken care of the predator situation. Our 2-year-old daughter has definitely helped in the social department. Our chickens are used to her gathering eggs. While we have had a few lessons on how to keep the eggs from falling and cracking, things have gone smoothly from day one.
Going into our chicken adventure, I knew calcium would be a very important nutrient for our layers. The products we bring into our home are important and taken seriously. Strong shells can keep bacteria out of the egg, meaning our hens are staying healthy. This has been a concern when adding more chickens to our flock. While keeping them free-range is a main factor to keep bacteria away, the feed is a more important key to a hen health and shell strength. Therefore, the outcome of our eggs is as important as product purchased and brought in externally.
We recently learned that Purina added Oyster Strong® System to their organic layer feed. This means all the calcium hens need is included right in the bag, no need to supplement. We also learned that Purina Animal Nutrition is a part of Land O’Lakes, Inc. – an American farmer-owned cooperative with local impact nationwide.
We are excited to take on Purina’s Feed Greatness® Challenge to see the differences in feeding Purina® Organic layer feed.
We look forward to seeing a difference in our eggshells along with the behavior and appearance of our chickens. Eggs form from the inside out over a 24- to 26-hour period. Hens channel nutrients from their feed during this period to create a healthy egg. The 38 essential nutrients provided by this feed will produce a quality egg that we look forward to eating and distributing. During my challenge experience, I hope to share the importance of strong, healthy hens, from their bones to their eggs.
It has been about a month since we started using our Purina® Organic layer. We picked up two more bags this weekend. We are excited to say the second flock we added in late winter started laying eggs shortly after we started the new feed. The eggs are very strong and tasty. The summer heat has been tough, and the chickens are feeling it too. We often refill their water a few times a day due to it warming up. Their little beaks will be open, sort of like a thirsty dog when the temperature gets over 100 degrees. Despite the heat, they have been eating all of their food! Our first flock is now producing larger eggs, which could be due to age and the help of good nutrition. We are excited to continue this journey!
It’s almost fall and we have fed our chickens the Purina Organic Layer feed for a few months now and, since then all our hens started laying. We are currently getting a dozen a day or more. If our three dogs do not beat us to the chicken coop! The weather is starting to cool down, and we have had all the rain that we needed back in July. I have noticed some of the chickens’ dust bathing and exploring the garden. The eggs are getting larger and some have barely fit into the egg carton. We are thrilled to see a big improvement in a short amount of time. My husband is holding the egg in the image, and I think I would need two hands to hold this egg. It is time to start thinking of the long months ahead and I’m glad we are feeding the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and happy. We hope you have enjoyed the journey and we recommend giving the Purina Organic Layer feed a try!
Take he journey along with me - sign up for the Feed Greatness® Challenge and you’ll receive a digital feed coupon and downloadable material to help you through the 90 days. In addition, Team Purina will be available during your journey via email, telephone or social media to assist you with any inquiries. We’ll be sharing our journey through the Mother Earth News Facebook and Instagram. Chicken keeping will be more fun when you share your experience with Purina’s chicken community!
Queren grew up in the city and now lives on a 160-acre prairie farm with her daughter, husband, three dogs, 18 chickens and two ducks. She is a photographer and Digital Content Assistant for us here at Ogden Publications. You can follow her journey on Instagram at kingfarmhouse. There you will find all of her homesteading adventures.
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