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Poultry equipment helps those who raise birds that are kept for human needs. Chickens are the most widely recognized type of poultry, but the category also extends to turkeys, ducks, guinea fowl, geese, and sometimes to larger birds such as ostriches, emus and rheas. Some of these birds are killed for their meat and feathers, while others are primarily used for laying eggs.
A chicken feeder is a basic device for storing chicken feed. This is poultry food that comes in small pellets, usually the size of grain, and can feed many types of birds. Some chicken feeders are built to only disperse a select quantity of food at a time, in order to control the birds’ diet. Others are made to withstand the strong winds and rain of the outdoors, while bowl-style chicken feeders are sometimes used for feeding young chicks.
Poultry coops are another type of poultry equipment. These are typically confined spaces where birds are kept, and can differ in shape and design depending on the type of poultry they house. Nest boxes are usually installed in coops for egg-laying birds, such as chickens, and the floor is often covered with wooden chips or straw to make for easy cleaning. Coops can also encompass entire backyards, sometimes surrounded by a fence, where the birds are given more freedom to roam.
Poultry heaters, also called brooders, are heating devices generally used for keeping birds warm during cold weather. Heaters can be installed at various places where birds are kept, but are most often placed in poultry coops. They are sometimes shaped like large light-bulbs and radiate heat that keeps water and eggs from freezing. The right type of heater can both increase the longevity of birds and yield more eggs during the winter.
Proper egg handling is important to preserve quality and quantity. The poultry equipment used in this process can include chicken nest pads, which are soft laying areas that invite birds to nest their eggs. The eggs are often stored inside incubators, which are closed trays that maintain ideal temperatures and keep the eggs clean and safe. Salter balance machines are usually small devices used for accurately measuring the weight of an egg.
Special human clothing worn when working with birds is also sometimes considered poultry equipment. Boots, disposable sleeves, hair caps and coveralls that cover the entire body are often used in dirty or dangerous environments. These items protect people from possible bird diseases, maintain hygiene, and can prevent bird injuries.
I just want to point out that the type of equipment used for keeping chickens can make a huge difference to their quality of life.
We studied caged hens in my biology class and I couldn't believe that humans would treat a living being like that. Shut in a tiny confined space, standing on wire, without anything to do except pull out its own feathers. The caged hen is basically being tortured so that people can have cheap eggs.
And all it takes is for the hen to be kept in a barn. I don't even insist on people having free range eggs. In a humane barn setting, you get almost as many eggs, but the chickens can move around, roost, scratch in the sand and basically keep themselves sane.
Yes, it's a bit more expensive. But if people are going to insist on a free market they need to learn to speak with their money and buying humane eggs says "I don't believe in torturing animals."
@pastanaga - It's a shame that you never tried guinea fowl as they are quite a tasty bird.
I know how easy it is to start thinking of laying birds as pets rather than a meal though.
When I was traveling I saw all kinds of different ways to keep poultry.
Chickens in particular are so hardy, but it also brings home the fact that you get what you pay for. If you aren't going to invest in a proper coop and feed then you are probably not going to be getting many eggs.
If you do invest in proper equipment though, you'll be able to keep your chickens up to scratch with their nutrition and find all the eggs they lay without difficulty.
You'll also have no trouble catching them when you need to, which is important for a lot of reasons.
If you keep chickens and think you might add guinea fowl to the mix, be aware they have entirely different needs.
We had chickens when I was growing up and my father was fascinated when he noticed that someone was selling young guinea fowl in the local papers.
We knew you could keep them for eggs as well, and maybe for meat (although we never did end up slaughtering any of our birds).
But, what we didn't realize is that guinea fowl are not as domesticated as chickens. They are very noisy and excitable and they won't roost in a hut at night.
They will also never lay in a chicken house. They only lay during certain seasons and they hide their eggs.
Ours never did well in confinement, but when we let them loose in the back paddocks they kept relatively close and did just fine. I think you have to treat them more like geese than chickens, even though they are the same size as the chooks.