Do not panic. If you’ve eaten eggs from your own chickens before, chances are you’ve seen a blood spot. If you’ve only eaten eggs purchased at the grocery store, and you’re making the switch to “homemade” eggs, then you’re in for a few surprises! That’s because commercial eggs are screened for perfection, and any unusual eggs don’t make it to shelves. In reality, eggs are individually made in an intricate and complex process, and sometimes come out looking a bit strange. One of the many fun features of being a chicken keeper!
Blood spots in eggs are exactly that; tiny spots of red blood that you’ll see when you crack open a fresh egg. All eggs, fertilized or not, contain tiny blood vessels that anchor the yolk inside the egg. In a fertilized and incubated egg, those blood vessels will deliver nutrients to a growing chick embryo. There is common misconception that seeing a blood spot in the egg means it is fertilized. This is not true. Both fertilized and unfertilized eggs can have blood spots.
Blood spots occur when one of those tiny blood vessels is broken during the laying process. This is most commonly due to a hen being startled while laying her daily egg.
Blood spots are fairly common, and not cause for concern. They are perfectly safe to eat, although you may want to scoop the discolored bit out with a spoon for aesthetic purposes.
If you notice quite a bit of blood, or blood spots accompanied with other unusual egg characteristics, you may want to evaluate your hen’s health. Infrequent odd eggs are normal, but ongoing odd eggs can be an indicator of disease or nutritional deficiency.
If you are actively monitoring your chickens’ health, and feeding them a balanced feed like Ace Hi or Kelley’s lay feeds, designed specifically to meet the needs of egg laying hens, then you should have a happy flock!
What we eat changes with the seasons, and our chicken’s diet will change with the seasons as well. Consistently offering a feed made specifically for your chickens, like Ace Hi or Kelley’s Lay feeds, is important to their overall health, but what we feed as supplements and treats will change based on seasonal needs.
Feeding your flock properly during the summer months will help them stay healthy during the heat, but also set them up for a successful fall and winter.
You may notice that your chickens consume less of their feed during summer. This is normal, as the heat causes a loss of appetite, just like in us humans. If your chickens are free ranging, they may eat less of their feed because there are plenty of other options like grass and bugs available to them.
Make sure you consistently offer them a high quality ration. A balanced feed will deliver the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your chickens need. In addition, you can supplement with summer time treats. Offering a little yogurt can deliver a probiotic boost. Careful not to over do the dairy. Watermelon is a terrific treat for providing cooling hydration on a hot day. Home made chicken popsicles allow you to get creative! Freeze herbs, fruits, and vegetables in some ice, and your chickens will get hours of refreshing entertainment.
During summer, you’ll want to limit the amount of scratch grains you feed. The high amounts of corn found in scratch can increase their body heat production, and make them feel even hotter in summer. Instead, encourage your chickens to scratch and forage by giving them leafy greens, grass, weeds, or dandelions.
Chickens are not well equipped to handle high temperatures. During hot weather, they are vulnerable to heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and are even at risk of death. They cannot sweat to cool themselves. They expel heat by panting and holding their wings out to increase air flow, which are not very effective during hot summers and heat waves. One strategy you can use to help your chickens stay healthy during heat waves is giving them electrolytes.
Electrolytes can be used to support your entire flock, or to treat a chicken in the sick ward. Electrolytes replenish the nutrients and minerals lost under extreme heat and stress. They boost immunity and support kidney and respiratory functions.
Electrolytes are also useful during times of stress, flock illness, or traveling. They give your chickens a little pick me up whenever one is needed.
Electrolytes are easy to mix at home with items you already have in the kitchen. The strength of the mixture will depend on its intended use. Dilute the mixture when giving electrolytes for general support, and give a stronger mixture to a sick bird needing more health care.
Make sure to only give your chickens electrolytes as needed, and only for a few days at a time. Make sure to have fresh, regular water also available at all times. Too much salt can be detrimental to your chicken’s health.