La Bresse Breed of Chicken

Origin Developement varieties & characteristics of the legendary La Bresse hen

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Origin and development

Among the varieties of French poultry, the La Bresse fowl occupies the premier position in respect to its table qualities.

 At he district Bresse where these fowls are bred is part of the Department of Ain and Seine-et-Loire, that is, to the south of the old province of Burgundy, and in that district the poultry industry is a very important branch of agriculture. The label “Bresse” is only allowed in a well defined area and it is protected by legal rules. Out of this area the breed is named Gauloise (black, white, blue and grey)

For a long period of time Bresse poulardes and capons have had a great reputation for the quality and delicacy of their flesh.


 

Varieties

There are three varieties of this breed

Black, called La Bresse de Louhans; the black variety is very pretty, showing those metallic reflections which always add to the beauty of birds of this color.

  • Plumage: Black, with a bright green luster.
  • Beak: Dark blue or dark slate, the former preferred.
  • Eyes:  Black or as dark as possible.
  • Comb: Bright red.
  • Face: especially dark around the eyes.
  • Lobe:  White or white sanded with red the former preferred.
  • Legs and Feet: The same as the beak.

Grey called La Bresse de Bourg; in the grey variety the plumage is white penciled with grey, the neck hackle being almost entirely white, except that the points are grey. In this case the beak is blue and the legs clear grey. Not a common variety.

White, called La Bresse de Beny-Marboz. In the white variety the plumage is white colored and the legs dark grey. Whites and blacks are more numerous than the grays.

In the Bresse district the Blacks are usually regarded as the better layers, but the Whites are preferred for table purposes.


 

La Bresse general characteristics

In shape the La Bresse fowls are distinctly Mediterranean, and were it not for the color of the legs many would think they were Leghorns, though they are somewhat longer in body. Few would imagine that they were so fine for table qualities, and from the appearance it might be assumed that they would be distinctly better as layers.


 Rooster

 Head

Skull: Rather thin, and of medium length.

Beak: Strong and fairly long.

Eyes: Bold.

Comb: Single, medium size, straight, and erect.

Back part: following the curve of the neck, deeply and evenly serrated

Face: Smooth and free from feathers.

Ear lobes: Well developed  white and well defined

 Neck—Fairly short hackles.

Body: Fairly broad, square, and compact.

Breast: Well rounded.

Back: Moderately short, broad at shoulders, and tapered to the tail.

Wings: 0f moderate length and close to the body.

Tail:  of medium length, and carried well back.

 Legs and Feet

 Legs: Of medium length, free from feathering.

Toes: Four on each foot, straight, and well spread.

Weight:  6-7.5 lb (2.5-3 kg)


 Hen

Except that the Comb falls gracefully over to either side of the face, the general characteristics of the hen are similar to those of the cock.

Weight: 5-6 lb.( 2-2.5 kg)

Egg production capacity

Originally a light laying breed, the Bresse can produce 250 white eggs per year.

As egg-producers they hold a very important place in France. In the La Bresse country there is no breed which touches them in egg production. They are of the best layers. They are not exceptionally good in the winter, and this might be anticipated from their appearance.

The eggs are white and of good size, as a rule weigh over 55 grams

 

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P.S. Many thanks to my good friend Christos Zarkadas who breeds white Bresses  you can find him here .

P.P.S Many thanks also to my Facebook friend Joe Thomas who breeds white Bresses and has a genuine passion for the breed.


Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

Drop in Egg Production and how to correct it.

eggdrop

What is the cause of the sudden or progressive reduction in egg production?

Let’s examine the causes and the correction measures together step by step.

Decreased egg production is a major problem in laying hens that result in a smaller profit to egg producing farms and less money in farmer’s pocket.

It is very important to have the essential knowledge to distinguish and diagnose what is really happening in each case.   If you know what is the cause (or causes) you know how to prevent or correct the factors that affect egg production.

These are:


Nutrition and feed related problems

  • Not enough drinking water: Clean and cool drinking water must be at their disposal at all times especially during the summer months to avoid heat stress. Lack of water results in reduced egg production.
  • Feed shortage or decreased feed intake: Chickens tend to eat less when the feed is not tasty or when they are stressed because of environmental temperatures, especially when it gets too hot. Feed should be available at all times.
  • Low calcium in their ration: This results in few and smaller eggs, soft shelled eggs, shell less eggs & cracked eggs. Commercial rations have calcium already included. When mixing your own ration make sure that calcium percentage in it is 3,5 %  or provide oyster shell ad libidum in a separate feeder.
  • Low salt in the feed: This results in a sharp decrease in egg production. It is also possible to develop cannibalism. Take care when mixing your own chicken ration at home. The required percentage of salt is 0, 4 %.

Diseases

  • Newcastle disease (NCD): NCD is a viral infection that can result in a mortality rate of 100 % in acute form in chickens. But sometimes the subclinical form of the disease leads to a drop in egg production and egg quality. Prevention: only by regular vaccination of the flock.
  • Infectious bronchitis (IB): IB is a rapidly spreading viral infection of the chickens characterized by respiratory signs. It also causes drop in egg production (up to 50 %) and egg quality reduction. Egg shells are deformed. Prevention:  by vaccination.
  • Egg drop syndrome (EDS): This is a viral infection that affects the reproductive organs of the chickens. The symptoms are a drop in egg production, thin shells, soft shells and shell less eggs. Prevention: by vaccination of the layers on the sixteenth week of age. The vaccine is given intramuscularly
  • Other diseases: causing a drop in egg production are salmonelosis, mycoplasmosis, infectious laryngotracheitis as well as internal parasites.

Environmental factors

  • Lighting: Chickens should be exposed to light for a minimum of 14 hours and a maximum of 17 hours per day in order for the egg to be formed. Exposure to light for less than the minimum time required, results in a drop in egg production. Lights should be checked regularly and cleaned so that they do not get dimmer.Bulbs should be changed when necessary.
  • Freezing: layers stop laying when environmental temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius
  • Heat Stress On very hot and humid summer days, egg production can decrease this is mainly due to declined consumption of feed. That’s why the summer ration should have at least 18% protein.

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Chicken related factors

  • Molting:  layers are usually kept for 52 weeks. After this period, they undergo a stage called molting where they lose their feathers and stop producing eggs. Egg production will start again about 4-6 months later in the second laying period after molting, but the eggs will be bigger, shells thinner and production lower. Older birds usually produce eggs with thin shells.
  • Broodiness: Once a hen goes broody, her focus is on hatching her eggs and raising her chicks and stops laying eggs.

Always contact your Veterinarian when there is a drop in egg production in your flock.


Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

 

Free Poultry Book Announcement

50coop

Dear friends,

My beloved father Ioannis M. Mavridis a graduate of Veterinary Faculty of Bologna University in Italy and practicing veterinarian from 1958 till 1996 passed this May at the age of 91 years.

He was my first real teacher in life.

In my new e-book I deal with the D.I.Y.construction of a coop for 50 layers and the poultry equipment you need to operate it.

Practically every part of it including necessary poultry appliances can be made by yourself if you decide to practice your practical building, woodworking and mechanical skills.

The particular coop design I present in this e-book is a part of my family history. This was actually “our” family hen coop. It is connected to wonderful childhood memories for me and allowed me to have the first close connection with poultry.

Our new e-book ( in pdf form) will be provided absolutely free of charge from www.eggincubator.eu to anyone interested regardless of race, color, ethnicity and religion.

Starting Date for free downloads will be around 15th of September 2016 from our website www.eggincubator.eu

I consider this e-book a memorial and a tribute at the same time to my father the Veterinarian and the family man who combined his scientific knowledge and hard work for this project in order to achieve self-sufficiency and premium quality in the poultry products he needed for his family.

It is also a tribute to all family men and women who are deeply concerned about the quality and biosecurity of the poultry products that they and their children consume and they are determined to “do it “by themselves.

I consider it to be a model chicken house for the Backyard Poultry owner & family man or woman that wants to raise & keep chicken in a good environment and add a little extra income to the family budget.

So stay tuned…

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

 

Plymouth Rock Chicken

 

Origin & short history

The Plymouth Rock or “Barred Rock” is a breed of domestic chicken from the United States. It originated in New England  in the middle of the 19th century ( first exhibited as a breed in 1869) from cross-breeding of Dominiques and Black Javas Cochin and Brahma.


plymouth rock lay hensPlymouth Rock breed Characteristics

Productivity Focus: Meat and egg

Egg production: 190-220 eggs per year

Egg shell color: yellow-brown

Egg weight: 60 g

Live weight of hens: minimum 2.95 kg

Live weight of Roosters: 4 kg (min.3.4 kg)

Color of the feathering: The birds of this breed have striped feathering with different shades. There are also, birds with white, black, and pale yellow plumage color. In males at the neck and waist black and white stripes are narrower than in hens and figure seems a little brighter. In hens color striped feathers are more vivid on the neck and lower back feathers are not different from the basic color. Day-old chicks are covered with black feathers, and have bright spots on stomach area.

Skin color: yellow

Head: medium sized.

Beak: short & yellow.

Eyes: orange-red colored.

Earrings are oval, the ear lobes bright red.

Neck: Medium length and densely feathered.

Chest: broad and convex.

Wings: tight to the body & slightly raised.

Back is broad and horizontal; it has a small lift to the tail.

Tail: small, with thick plumage, laid back, with moderately long braids.

Thighs: short with thick plumage and yellow metatarsus.

Hens begin production at the age of six months.

Livability:   about 96%.


Advantages of the breed:

  1. Calm temper
  2. Excellent meat quality
  3. A good egg production
  4. Adaptability to various housing and environmental conditions

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

Leghorn chicken


Origin & short history

The origins of the Leghorn are not clear; it appears to derive from light breeds originating in rural Tuscany. The name comes from Leghorn, the traditional anglicisation of Livorno, the Tuscan port from which the first birds were exported to North America. The date of the first exports is variously reported about 1830 and 1852. They were initially known as “Italians”; they were first referred to as “Leghorns” in 1865, in Worcester, Massachusetts.


leghorn lay years

leghorncock

Leghorn breed Characteristics

 

Productivity Focus: egg

Egg production: up to 300 eggs per year, and even more

Shell color: white

Egg weight: 55-60 g

Live weight of chickens: 1.5-2 kg

Live weight of Roosters: 2.6 kg

Color of the plumage: white, yellow, black and brown

Leghorn chickens are small with a vertical wedge-shaped body, which is typical for them to sign.

Skin color is mostly yellow or flesh-colored. Head – a small, leaf-shaped with a comb and a long, thin neck.

Beak – short, yellowish slightly curved at the end. Leghorn is characterized by a large protruding breast and wide belly. The adult bird legs medium length, white, thin, young animals

The color of the legs is yellow.

Tail: wide, with a slope of 40 ° with respect to the body.

Leghorn starts laying usually at 4.5 – 5 months of age. The instinct of brooding is missing, so to replace them young hens must be purchased. A year later, the bird is usually exhausted, which is not surprising with such a unique performance. Therefore to keep Leghorn layers  in production for more than a year is not suggested.

Puberty in the birds of this breed comes relatively early, in 17-18 weeks.

Hatchability is low and it reaches a maximum of 92%. Fertilized eggs are typically 95%.


 

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

What is the type of egg incubator that really suits your needs?

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What is the ideal type of egg incubator for the hobbyist and the small farmer? Why prefer D.I.Y.?

Most small incubator users and wannabe D.I.Y. incubator constructors are either:

  • Hobbyists and students. They incubate eggs for fun or study and don’t necessarily want to make a business out of incubating eggs. Capacity needed from 20 to 100 eggs.
  • Family farms that raise poultry for their own consumption and backyard farmers. Capacity needed from 50 to 150 eggs.
  • Future professional farmers that want just to “test the waters” and their needs are limited. Capacity needed from 100 to 300 eggs.

A capacity from 50 to 150 eggs has been proved to be the most economical in the long term. Incubators of this capacity are the most common in the market of commercial incubators.

 But why does this happen?

Let’s assume that we place a number of fertile eggs into an incubator. Even if they are all fertile, the success rate is not usually higher than 60% to 95%.

Note that the overall cost of the chicks you produce includes the buying price of the eggs for hatching, the costs of labor, feed and the energy (electrical or other type) you will need to keep them warm for the first weeks of their life.

The energy cost is the same whether you have to raise 15 chicks (which are the outcome of a 20 eggs incubator) or 35 to 50 chicks (which are the outcome of a 50 eggs incubator). This happens because you must always use the same 150-250 Watts infrared lamp. So the energy cost is the same. Energy is not always cheap.


Do we need a flexible and sophisticated incubator? YES!

Usually the users need to incubate eggs from different species of birds (of course this can only be done in different batches since mixing the eggs from different species is absolutely wrong).

Different species of birds need different settings of incubator temperature humidity and ventilation in order to hatch successfully.

Moreover the incubation time is very different among species and some bird eggs require even more special handling and have their own tricks and do’s and don’ts (like goose eggs).


Which problems can occur at the cheap commercial incubators(40-100 egg capacity)?

These devices are in fact small capacity, forced air circulation, combined setters-hatchers. They are designed for an all in-all out operation, they are single or double tiered, with an egg capacity from 40 to 100.

Their degree of sophistication and automatization varies.

For example let’s take into consideration the simple editions. They have a fixed temperature, come equipped with thermometers and sometimes with hygrometers. Their box is made of cheap p.v.c., abs plastic or Styrofoam (some of the Styrofoam ones are really dangerous), they usually have bad quality electronical boards and their fans are unsuitable for humid environments. They usually break down fast, within 6 to 18 months from the purchase date, sometimes even earlier. Their actual life expectancy is one to one and a half year.

Their buying price lies between 50 and 100 € for the 50 egg incubators with manual or semi-auto egg turning and up to 150-250 € for the incubators equipped with automatic turners. Their temperature is not adjustable but most models have a rather fixed or tricky temperature control. The thermometers and hygrometers used in these cheap models are completely inaccurate.

Their manufacturers claim that you can hatch all types of bird eggs.

From our personal and professional experience (we have been marketing such an Eastern European made incubator with this capacity and price for nearly 2 years) we recommend you to avoid it by all means!! It is a good toy to play but not a real tool for the serious users of incubators. They are a total nightmare for the dealer and for the end user.

For example most of these 50 egg capacity incubators we used to market broke down after 3 to 6 months of use. But we had already signed a 1 year guarantee for each of our customers. Since we keep our promises you can imagine what happened!! 


What about the expensive ones?

Another choice that the incubator user has, is to spend from 650 to 1000 €   for sophisticated auto turning devices from respectable manufacturers (of the same capacity as the ones mentioned above), with good box construction and accurate temperature and humidity control. Their incubator box is not made of plastic but of polyurethane panel with painted aluminum or stainless steel surfaces (these incubators cost over 1000 €) or of laminated plywood. Usually the humidity control of these machines is optional and costs extra 150-200 Euros. The air exchange is done by regulating rosettes and holes in the box.

Why dont you make one yourself?

The cheaper solution is to make your own high performance incubator by D.I.Y.

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Mail: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com

Incubator VS Broody Hen. Which one is the best?

browordIs the  all natural way ( the broody hen) the best way to obtain chicks?

Is the broody hen solution better than the incubator?

What  are the pros and cons for each solution?

In this article we will try to answer this question and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each solution separately.

Without doubt, the best incubator is the female bird.

The hen knows her job perfectly  by instinct.

She knows how to turn the eggs in the nest, she knows when an egg is very hot or very cold, when it is barren or dead, and when the eggs hatch, she is the best natural brooding pen.

Here are some of the aspects you should take into consideration before making the final decision which way to use.


Broody Hen Advantages

  • There is no need  for the farmer to collect and store the eggs. The broody hen does this.
  • There is no need  for the farmer to monitor temperature, humidity, and ventilation during the incubation and hatching process.There is also no need to take care for the proper turning of the eggs. Broody hen does this many times a day.
  • The farmer does not  have to worry about power cuts. Broody hen does not use electricity.

 

Broody Hen Disadvantages

  • Some breeds of poultry won’t  go broody at all. Moreover, especially regarding the “industrial type” hybrids Poultry Genetists have targeted to the genetic selection of individuals on the basis of their reduced tendency for brooding (for at least 100 years now). Many of the backyard poultry from around the globe are descendants of these hybrids.
  • The female bird is usually  broody when you do not need chicks and almost never when you need it.
  • You can’t force a female bird to go broody.
  • Broody hens can only be used seasonally whenever they go broody (usually in the warmer months of the year)
  • The number of eggs a hen can hatch is rather limited and species specific.
  • Broody hens require an isolated and undisturbed area away from the other chickens in order to give a successful hatch.
  • Sometimes the hen abandons the  nest  and the embyos inside the eggs die.
  • Unfertile eggs have a tendency to go unnoticed by the farmer allthough the hen notices them but she can’t take them out of the nest.These eggs may break inside the nest and  scince they are roten spread microbial infection all over the other eggs and can destroy a whole hatch.

 


 

Incubator Advantages

  • Incubators are easy to find and cheap to buy these days at least the more basic models that they are widespread.
  • You can go D.I.Y. and make your own incubator if you have basic D.I.Y.skills
  • Can be used any time of the year.
  • We are able to hatch any number of eggs we want and when we want. Capacities of modern incubators range between 12 eggs up to thousands of eggs.
  • It is a wonderful appliance that help us save precious eggs from some rare species of birds.

Incubator Disadvantages

  • The user has to collect and store eggs himself.
  • The user has to monitor temperature and humidity.(or buy automatic)
  • The user has to turn eggs and ensure proper ventilation.(or buy automatic)
  • Some cheap plastic or styrofoam incubators ( of East European and Asiatic origin) have relatively short lifespan and they are equipped with poor quality electronics. Some of  them were proved to be even dangerous to the users. They burn down easily.So  be cautius. Buy from respectable manufacturers. But well constructed incubators  from respectable manufacturers are not cheap.
  • In order to get the best results from the incubator, the user must choose the appropriate place to install it. If the room temperature is high, above 30 ° C  or low, below 15° C you will probably need to operate it inside an air conditioned room. There is a golden rule for the hatching room temperature.If you feel comfortable inside the room temperature, the room has the proper temperature to operate an incubator inside it.
  • Power cuts can sometimes destroy a whole batch of hatching eggs.

 

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.
Web: www.eggincubator.eu
Email: eggincubator.eu@gmail.com