It’s All About the Chickens by Hunter Kemper

The past couple months have been a fun adventure with our chicks.  They’re beginning to look a lot more like chickens than the fluffy little chicks that arrived on our doorstep just 9 weeks ago.  The weather has gotten warmer and they’re now enjoying living in their brand new coop. IMG_3151

My wife Val and I have decided that chickens are the ultimate pets for three little boys.  During the first few weeks, the boys enjoyed holding them and petting their soft little fuzz.  As they’ve grown, they enjoy watching the silly little girls peck and scratch around.

One afternoon, our oldest son Davis came running into the house to tell us that our two year old Case was in the Peck and Play with the chicks, and that he kissed one of them!  I guess they’re getting very comfortable with our new pets.

Did you know how many books there are written about chickens?  Every week, Davis IMG_0561brings home a new chicken book from school.  It’s been a fun way for all of us to learn all the fun facts there are to know about chickens.  We’ve also realized that we have a lot of children’s books around the house that have chickens in them.  The kid’s most recent favorite is, “The Chicken Problem.”  Our little Case begs to read it every night before bed.

With our boys, it’s been all about the chickens.  They love to read chicken books, watch chicken cartoons and chicken movies, tell why did the chicken cross the road jokes, and draw and color chicken pictures.  Davis has even brought the chicks in to first grade for show and tell.  They were definitely a hit with all the kids!  IMG_0832

When we first made the decision to raise chickens in our backyard, we primarily thought about the benefits of fresh eggs.  We’ve been pleasantly surprised to experience what great pets they make for the entire family.  Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio have definitely found a special place in our family.

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Taking Care of Your Flock in the Winter by Kim

You have invested a lot of time raising your chickens and by now they could be producing fresh eggs for you every day.

With the winter season, you need to make a few special arrangements to ensure your hens continue to lay.  A few minutes of attention to housing, temperature, water supply and lighting will keep them laying all winter.

HOUSING:

Winter housing need not be fancy.  Any dry, draft free structure will work.  Remember that drafts can be more deadly than cold temperatures.  A 10X10 foot building is more than adequate for a flock of 20 hens.  Chickens produce a fair amount of body heat.  Except in the extreme northern states, an insulated building will keep your flock warm…in fact, you may need to provide ventilation to keep your flock from getting too hot.  Be sure to inspect the building for openings and weasels to enter.  You’ll also need to provide nesting boxes and roosts for your laying hens.

TEMPERATURE:

Hens lay best when the temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees F.  Any temperature colder or warmer will affect egg production.  A small heater or heat lamp may be needed to maintain a minimum temperature in extreme northern climates.

WATER:

Your flock needs a constant supply of water (not ice) throughout the winter.  Keeping the water from freezing is very important.  Be sure to keep FRESH water available at all times.  Water is extremely important to egg quality.  65% of the egg is water.

LIGHTING:

Light is very important in egg production.  Light causes the hen’s pituitary gland to secrete hormones in her ovary.  These hormones stimulate her to lay more eggs.  Hens need fourteen hours of light each day for maximum egg production.  A 60 watt bulb can supply enough light for up to 200 square feet of floor space.  A timer should be used to turn the light on and off.  Hens subjected to irregular lighting will lay fewer eggs or begin to molt and stop laying altogether.  Some poultry experts suggest having two timers.  One to control the 60 watt light and one to run a 7 ½ watt bulb a little longer to allow hens to find their roost after the 60 watt bulb goes out.

THE INCREDIBLE, EDIBLE EGG

A hen lays approximately 20 dozen eggs during a 12 month period.  Once an egg is laid, it cannot get any better, brown or white, fertile or non fertile, the egg is a near perfect food.  Proper handling keeps eggs that way.

HANDLING EGGS

Gather eggs at least twice a day.  Cool them to 50-60 degrees F, as quickly as possible.  75% humidity will help keep them fresh.  A fresh egg has a yolk that stands high in the frying pan and a white that is thick, cloudy and doesn’t run all over the pan.

 During winter, keep eggs from freezing.  Taking extra eggs to work for friends and fellow workers?  Don’t leave eggs in the car or truck where they can freeze.  Bring them into the office and place them in a cool place…not near a heater.  This will preserve the quality of the eggs for your customers.

 

 

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The Cold Hard Truth – Chickens in the Winter

Winter can be tough on everyone.  The bitter cold bites at your lungs while the howling wind cracks your hands.  Frozen tears cry for warmer weather while layers and layers of bundling limit your mobility to a stay puft marshmallow man.  I am not a fan of winter. 

The elements of the winter season are embraced by many I’m sure.  While I certainly enjoy a good Winter Olympics, sled riding with the kids and of course that white Christmas that Crosby sings about every year, I would much rather have a limited exposure to it.  When it comes to our animals outside, limiting their exposure is exactly what we need to do.  We certainly learned a few lessons this past winter in caring for our chickens.  Some things, quite frankly, I took for granted during the warmer days and others we were lucky enough to learn or be told about that we will incorporate into next season’s preparation.  

Water:  Oh how I longed to be able to turn on the hose outside at 5:00 am  to fill the waterers in the coops.  With six or more inches of snow on the ground and negative temperatures for days, the spigot unfortunately was not going to spew.  A three foot long icicle hanging from the spigot quickly told me I should have done something differently.  Watering the chickens now consisted of filling several pitchers of water to fill the three gallon waters in the coops.  I had to do this in the dark on most days as I dare not wake up the little ones who needed several more hours of sleep.  I learned quickly to pay attention to not spill any water on my hands as I turned the filled waterers upright in the coop.  The first time I reached for the door knob to the garage with wet hands I found myself breathing as much hot air as I could on my hand that was now frozen to the door knob.  Several times my index finger would freeze to the metal latch of the coop door and I kept thinking about how this just happened the day before – how can I keep making the same mistakes?  I chalked it up to early morning delirium.

Coops:  Kim at the hatchery here was wowing me with her stories of her glorious coops she had in the past.  She told me about the shutters on the windows and the curtains she sewed for them.  She also talked about how she built the coop with insulation.  I thought she was getting a little extreme with the insulation until I moved to Iowa and felt the cold hard truth of the winters.  As winter came in, I thought my chickens would be okay.  I have hardy breeds such as Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks and the like.  Chickens have been around long before insulation I reasoned, surely they will be fine.  Hold that thought. 

During a visit to Joel Salatin’s place he showed us his deep bedding philosophy in action and I quickly got an appreciation for this as I watched the chickens scratch and bed down in the thick bedding.  Joel mentioned that while he loved the egg production of the Red Star’s, he preferred the hardiness of the large breeds like the Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds.  He had found that the Red Star’s just didn’t take the winter as well as these other breeds.  A week after our trip to Joel’s, there in my coop was my Red Star, Ester, lifeless.  I was devastated.  My kids were devastated.  And it was my fault.  My mind flashed back to Kim talking about insulating her coops, it flashed to Joel talking about deep bedding.  For my small coops in the backyard, I needed to do something different.  I quickly added a lot more bedding, put heat lamps in each coop and put thick plastic around all exposed windows of the coop and the runs.  I should have done this already – I’m not sure what I was (or wasn’t) thinking but I know now – unfortunately this was a costly lesson to learn.

Feed – I was in the habit of feeding the chickens in the morning but with the cold weather, the chickens will need to eat more to maintain their body weight.  I switched to feeding them twice a day (or at least ensuring they had food in the feeders in the evening.).  I learned again that walking to the coops in the yard was something I took for granted.  With a few warm days periodically throughout the season, it was just enough to melt some snow and then refreeze it into this uneven treacherous frozen tundra.  One day in particular I was walking a loaded feeder back to the coop when I found myself gliding down the yard like a downhill skier!  Panic set it quickly as I tried to maintain the fully filled feeder while riding the roller coaster of this ice path.  The trip came to an abrupt end with the feeder in the air, my tush landing hard on the ice, my eyes glaring up at the starry night sky and the chickens squacking at me as I lay there doing a quick limb check.  Feeding in the winter can be dangerous.  Next year, I’m keep a nice, clear patch shoveled to the coop.

I always tell new chickens owners that chickens need three basic things:  Food, Water and Shelter.  Unfortunately for me, even with having owned chickens and working at a hatchery, I let winter come in like a lion and chase my common sense away this time.  Winter can be tough on everyone, and it was especially for me this winter.  As I proved, exposing our chickens to the elements can be deadly if we are not prepared.  While I know we are getting to the end of winter now, later this week I’m going to share a quick list of some winter tips that Kim put together for us.  One of the best ways to prepare for exposing our chickens to winter, is getting ourselves exposed to the hard lessons learned by others.

With Spring upon us now, I look forward to the warm weather and look for ice only to be my tea.

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Quick Transitions by Hunter Kemper

Hunter and his Chicks

Hunter and his Chicks

Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio are 6 weeks old now and they are no longer looking like baby chicks, but much more like little chickens.  It has been amazing to see how fast our girls have grown.

 

Hunter & Rio

Hunter & Rio

The chick’s first home was a brooder in our basement.  We enjoyed having them inside the house and our boys loved watching them and holding them.  Around week three, my wife Val noticed a thin layer of white dust in our storage room.  Her first thought was that maybe the furnace backed up, or possibly a bag of flour had exploded.  After a little research, we realized that the white dust was chicken dander.  The chick’s feathers were coming in and leaving a film of dust all around.  We realized that it was time for their first transition – moving them into the garage.

 

We were initially concerned about the cold temperatures, but realized that the heat lamp would keep them plenty warm.  We transferred the existing brooder into the garage and built a nice wall of pavers around the brooder to keep it from blowing over every time we opened the garage door.  They were instantly comfortable in their new home.

 

The Peck and Play

The Peck and Play

It didn’t take long for them to find a way to perch up on top of the brooder.  Rio, our Araucana/Ameraucana, was the first to perch and Sydney, a Buff Orpington, quickly followed.  Thanks to the genius Peck and Play from Murray McMurray, they could perch and still stay contained.  We put the Peck and Play over the brooder and it gave us a peace of mind that our chicks wouldn’t hop out.

 

OutdoorPlay

Outdoor Play

Today, we got to a enjoy a sunny, 65 degree day here in Colorado Springs, CO!  We let the chicks scratch and peck around our backyard, free range if you will, for their very first time.  They LOVED being outside and we were also entertained as we watched them play.  We’ve realized that it’s now time to make the next transition – the big move to a real coop.  Our goal is to have it built this week.  I can’t believe how fast the past 6 weeks with our chicks have gone.  Before we know it, we’ll be eating fresh eggs straight from our backyard!  Who’s ready for fresh eggs?

You can read more about Hunter Kemper at http://www.hunterkemper.com.

 

 

 

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2014 Winter Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to our winners of the 2014 Winter Photo Contest!

1st Place

1st Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Place

2nd Place

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Place

3rd Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

4th Place

4th Place

 

 

 

 

 

5th Place

5th Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

6th Place

6th Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Olympic Triathlete Hunter Kemper Visits Murray McMurray Hatchery

Four Time Olympic Triathlete, Hunter Kemper, visited with us at the hatchery this past week and we gave him the grand tour! Hunter is helping us spread the message that fresh eggs from your backyard Murray McMurray Hatchery chickens are the ideal source of natural protein. With his recent acquisition of Murray McMurray Hatchery chicks that made him an official backyard chicken owner, it was time to give him a full understanding of our operations.

As soon as he arrived we took him to one of our many flock farms so he could see the

Hunter tours one of our many flock farms.

Hunter tours one of our many flock farms.

‘parent flocks’ in action.  He got up close and personal with these chickens, asked them many questions and observed the entertaining chicken behavior.  Hunter picked up his first fresh egg straight out of the nest boxes!

After seeing some of our parent stock, we gave him a quick “Coop Tour” around the area so he could see some of our chickens in their separate homes.  Hunter will be

Hunter viewing some 'backyard chickens' around Webster City.

Hunter viewing some ‘backyard chickens’ around Webster City.

putting his coop together soon for his own chickens so this gave him a good look at what can be done for chicken housing.

After a quick lunch and a tour of Webster City, Iowa, we got Hunter to suit up in his Triathlon gear for a couple of promotional shots.  After we got the chicks out of their dressing room, they looked fabulous and were ready for their session.

One of the first resources we sent Hunter before he got his chicks was our new book,

Hunter does another read of our book, "Chickens in Five Minutes a Day".

Hunter does another read of our book, “Chickens in Five Minutes a Day”.

Chickens in Five Minutes a Day.”  As Hunter said, “The Chickens in Five Minutes a Day book was such a great resource for us to read through.  I couldn’t believe how prepared we were for our chicks after reading the book.  It was a very easy read that was easy to follow and we loved all the illustrations and pictures in it.”

In the photo to the right, Hunter is reading to the chicks and telling them all about what they are going to get from their new families they are going to.  Of course, some chicks were better students than others.  Have you ever tried to keep 50 chicks standing still for a photo with an Olympic Triathlete?

One of the bonuses of having an Olympic athlete in your town is the opportunity to share him with everyone.  While we kept Hunter on a pretty tight and active schedule, he was every bit the perfect ambassador for his sport and country as he spent nearly four hours

Hunter talks to the students in one of two sessions during his visit.

Hunter talks to the students in one of two sessions during his visit.

visiting and talking with people.  One of the first stops was at the Webster City Middle School where he visited with the students and talked about the value of Goals and Character.  He helped students devise a plan to work towards achieving their goals and answered many questions from the audience about being an Olympian.

After the school visit, we took Hunter to Fuller Hall Recreation center where we held a “Meet and Greet” for anyone interested in visiting with Hunter.  For more than an hour,

Hunter signing one of many autographs at Fuller Hall Recreation center.

Hunter signing one of many autographs at Fuller Hall Recreation center.

Hunter signed autographs and had many photos taken.  Conversations and questions ranged across many subjects to include the Olympics, chickens, eating fresh eggs, exercising, eating right, dreams, goals and many more.  While it had been a full two days with Hunter already, there was no rest for the weary as we had to get back to the hatchery and watch some chickens hatch!

 

Hunter 192

Hunter takes a few orders on the phone

Once we got back to the hatchery, we gave Hunter the tour again but this time with all the action happening!  For the first stop, we had Hunter take some orders on the phone.  While he might not have known all the answers asked of him, he did a wonderful job of maintaining that excitement of talking to others.  He even got a call from a customer in Florida that lives near Hunter’s home town.  What a small world!  “Hello this is Hunter Kemper, four-time Olympic Triathlete and seven-time US Elite National Triathlete Champion, how can I help you today?”

Hunter watches as our team of sexers separates the males from the femals.

Hunter watches as our team of sexers separates the males from the females.

Next Hunter got to see a portion of our business that separates the men from the women,

besides the restroom that is.  He visited our team of sexers who’s job it is to identify the chicks as either male or female.  This team has a keen eye for very small details that determine the sex of the chicken.  Some chickens can be feather sexed, some vent sexed while others can be sexed by their color.

Hunter fills an order of chicks

Hunter fills an order of chicks

Hunter then proceeded to fill some orders that would be shipped out.  There is a lot that happens quickly once the hatching begins.  Hunter’s quick reflexes and energy served him well as he kept everything moving smoothly and got the chicks into the right boxes.

Within hours of being hatched, our chicks are shipped to destinations all across the United States.  It is amazing how energized the chicks are as they anticipate their new home.  Was your order filled by our Olympic Triathlete?

 

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The Conveyor Luge

Please don't ride on the conveyor anymore Hunter

Please don’t ride on the conveyor anymore Hunter

With all the hard work that Hunter and our team had

been doing, it was just a matter of time before someone wanted to see if he could do any other Olympic sport.  I guess we could call this the conveyor luge…maybe we’ll keep him in the triathlon event.

And of course when we were just figuring out how to get the top speed out of it, the boss had to shut it down for safety reasons (just kidding).

After the cheering was over and the race was won, we sent off our Olympic athlete to go and preach the good news of chicken ownership to all.  With his chicks at home and his new appreciation for how it all works at Murray McMurray Hatchery, Hunter is ready for his new role as ambassador for Murray McMurray Hatchery.  We had a wonderful time with Hunter Kemper, husband, father, four-time Olympic triathlete and now, proud chicken owner.

Some of the Murray McMurray Hatchery team with Hunter Kemper

Some of the Murray McMurray Hatchery team with Hunter Kemper

 

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Naming our baby chicks and HOW we decided on the names for each Breed by Hunter Kemper

We received 5 different breeds of chicks.  Before they arrived, we learned a little about each type of chick and named them according to the things we learned.  The 5 names we chose for our 5 different breeds of chicks represent the 4 Olympic Games cities I’ve competed in and the 2016 Olympic Games I will be going after.

Buff Orpington – Sydney (host of the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia)

We named this chicken Sydney because it is a very friendly breed, and Sydney was known as the “friendly” Olympic Games.  Buff Orpingtons are the “Golden Retrievers” of Chickens.  They are calm and affectionate.  They are golden in color and lay brown eggs.

Barred Rock – Athens (host of the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece)

Our Barred Rock baby chick is actually the smallest of all the chicks.  We’re not sure how she’ll grow, but we thought that naming her Athens would be ironic since the Athena division in triathlon is for women over a certain weight.  It will be interesting to see if she remains on the smaller side, or if she begins to pass the others in size.  The Barred Rock is also friendly and is a reliable brown egg producer.

New Hampshire Red – Beijing (host city of the 2008 Olympic Games China)

We named the New Hampshire Red Beijing because the color red has importance in Chinese culture.  Red symbolizes good fortune and joy.  The New Hampshire Red chick is yellow with a soft cast of red on her back.  She will grow up to have a rich red hue.  She lays brown eggs and supposedly can be competitive with other chickens.  It will be interesting to see if this is the case.

White Leghorn – London (host city of the 2012 Olympic Games in England)

We named the White Leghorn, London because of her pure white color that reminded us of the queen and the royalty found in London.  The White Leghorn will be a good egg layer, producing large white eggs like the kind you typically find in your grocery store.

Araucana/ Ameraucana – RIO (will be the host city of the 2016 Games in Brazil)

We named the Araucana/ Ameraucana RIO because she is very colorful.  Not only are her feathers made up of a variety of colors, she lays colorful eggs!  Yes, several of these chicks can lay an Easter basket full of green, blue, and even pink and yellow eggs.  When we think of RIO and South America, we think of a lot of vibrant colors.

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Marek’s Disease by Dr. Darrell W. Trampel, D.V.M., PhD.

Marek’s Disease

 Darrell W. Trampel, D.V.M., PhD.
Iowa State University
January 27, 2014

Marek’s disease (MD) is a highly contagious disease of chickens characterized by a) varying degrees of paralysis of wings and legs and/or b) development of lymphoid tumors.  Marek’s disease is found in broiler chickens raised for meat and in laying hens maintained for egg production.  “Range paralysis” is an old, but very descriptive name for MD.  With this condition, chickens are unable to walk and tend to lie with one leg stretched forward and the other back.  Paralysis of one or both legs is caused by accumulation of neoplastic lymphocytes in nerves which causes structural damage and nerve enlargement.  Death often results from starvation and dehydration because paralyzed chickens are unable to reach food and water.  After 3 weeks of age, chickens may develop tumors (lymphomas) in almost any tissue or organ.  Chickens with lymphomas frequently become depressed, stop eating, often have pale shriveled combs, and become emaciated prior to death.  Marek’s disease tumors are gray-white in color and may appear as distinct nodules or as a diffuse infiltration that makes the affected organ look paler than normal.

Marek’s disease is a form of cancer caused by a herpesvirus (Gallid herpesvirus 2).  Marek’s disease viruses are placed into categories based upon their ability to produce disease.  These categories include mild, virulent, very virulent, and very virulent plus strains of Marek’s disease virus.  The virus initially infects and destroys B lymphocytes which causes a transient immunosuppression.  However, most neoplastic cells present in tumors consist of CD4+ helper T lymphocytes.  In addition to paralysis and tumors that are the most common manifestations of MD, several other syndromes occur.  Immunosuppression develops in the early stages of infection due to destruction of B lymphocytes that normally produce antibodies.   Skin leucosis results from accumulation of neoplastic lymphocytes around feather follicles.  “Gray eye” describes the appearance of chicken eyes after MD tumor cells have infiltrated the iris and cornea and results in blindness.   Atherosclerosis in chickens is caused by MD virus and closely resembles chronic human atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of cholesterol‑filled plaques on the inner walls of blood vessels which reduces the diameter of the vessel lumen.  Transient paralysis is caused by MDV-induced damage to blood vessels in the brain with subsequent leakage of fluid into the surrounding brain tissue.  Temporary swelling of the brain causes chickens to develop nervous tics and twisted necks.

Marek’s disease virus in large numbers are shed in keratinized feather follicle epithelial cells (dander) that slough off the surface of the skin of infected chickens and are disseminated by air currents.  Shedding begins 2 to 4 weeks after infection, prior to the appearance of clinical disease, and can continue for the life of the chicken.  Dander protects the virus from physical degradation and contaminated poultry house dust remains infectious for at least 4‑6 months at room temperature.  Dander is a major component of poultry dust and inhalation of keratinized epithelium containing MD virus is the major route of infection.  Chickens may contact residual dust and dander in the growing house from a previous flock or dust from adjacent chicken houses.  Poultry dust can remain infectious for over a year.  Contaminated dander may be spread from one location to another on undisinfected eggs, contaminated clothing, shoes, equipment, and vehicles.  Feather tips contain MD virus and darkling beetles can carry the virus from one location to another.  Once introduced into a house, infection spreads quickly from bird to bird.  Transmission through the egg does not occur.

Prevention requires a combination of good hygiene and vaccination.  Chicks placed in a contaminated environment are likely to be infected within the first few days of life.  Delaying the time of exposure allows more time for development of the chick’s immune system and immunity following vaccination in the hatchery.  Up to 7 days is required for solid immunity following vaccination.  Failure to prevent early exposure is the most common cause of vaccine failure.  Exposure to MD virus can be delayed and the challenge dose diminished by careful cleaning followed by disinfection of the brooder house prior to chick placement.  Thorough cleaning is an essential first step because droppings, dust, and other organic matter remaining on surfaces will inactivate disinfectants.  Chicks should be housed in a building that do not contain older chickens.  Older chickens are likely to be shedding MD virus and represent a potential source of infection for baby chicks.

Marek’s disease vaccine was the first practical effective cancer vaccine in any species of animal and represented a major scientific advance in medical science.  The first commercial vaccine against MD was the herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT, serotype 3) introduced in 1971 and still widely used today.  HVT can still be obtained as a cell-free lyophilized vaccine that does not need to remain frozen to maintain potency.  HVT became less effective as MDV in the field became more virulent.  In the early 1980’s, bivalent vaccines containing HVT and naturally non-oncogenic serotype 2 MDV became available.  Serotype 2 vaccine viruses include strains SB-1 and 301B/1.  Serotype 3 vaccine (HVT) and a serotype 2 vaccine (SB-1 or 301B/1) have synergistic activity when combined and administered together.  During the 1990s, field strains of MDV became even more virulent and a serotype 1 vaccine was employed to generate higher levels of immunity.  This vaccine (Rispins, CVI988) was developed at the Central Veterinary Institute in the Netherlands and is now widely used in the United States and around the world.   Serotype 1 and 2 vaccines are cell-associated vaccines and consist of frozen, viable MDV-infected cells that require storage and transport in liquid nitrogen.  MD vaccines can be administered subcutaneously on the back of the neck at 1 day of age or in fertile eggs (in ovo) at 18 days of incubation.  More broilers in the United States are vaccinated by the in ovo method.

Vaccination of chicks to prevent Marek’s disease is strongly recommended.  Marek’s disease vaccines are not perfect, but they are very effective.  In most hatcheries, the cost of Mark’s disease vaccination is 19-20 cents per chick –  money well spent to prevent a widespread disease of chickens.

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4 Time Olympic Triathlete teams up with Murray McMurray Hatchery

Four Time Olympic Triathlete and Seven Time U.S. Elite National Champion, Hunter Kemper, has joined with Murray McMurray Hatchery to promote backyard chickens and fresh, backyard eggs.

Hunter and his family recently received newly hatched chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa.  The Kemper family will start enjoying fresh eggs from their own chickens within approximately 16 weeks.  As Hunter continues to train and monitor his nutrition, the value of a nutritious fresh egg will fit well into his diet.  “The egg is the standard when it comes to a natural form of protein,” says Hunter.  “By having our own chickens, I know what they are being fed, how they are being treated, and I love the idea of eating fresh eggs right from my backyard.  My family and I are looking forward to getting our first egg.”

Murray McMurray Hatchery will be showcasing Hunter’s adventure with his new chicks throughout the year at www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/hunterkemper  .  The Kemper family will be posting pictures, videos and blogs about their experiences as they learn how to care for the chicks.  Fans of Hunter Kemper and chicken lovers alike will be able to ask questions of Hunter and offer him advice on caring for the chickens.

“When Chris (Chris Huseman, Director of Marketing for Murray McMurray Hatchery) and I first started talking, I didn’t realize how popular raising your own chickens is,” explains Hunter.  “I love the idea that my family now can help play an integral part in my nutrition as we all share in the fun of raising our own chickens.  My boys absolutely loved getting the chicks – they have not stopped smiling about them.”

With his five new breeds of chickens, Hunter Kemper will be aiming for his record breaking fifth U.S. Olympic team at the 2016 RIO Olympic Games.

Murray McMurray Hatchery has been providing family memories with newly hatched chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and other fowl since 1917.  The company offers more than 100 breeds of chickens and other fowl and serves customers throughout the entire United States.  More information about Murray McMurray Hatchery can be found at http://www.mcurrayhatchery.com.

Hunter Kemper is a Four Time Olympic Triathlete and Seven Time U.S. Elite National Champion.     Hunter and his wife, Val, live in Colorado Springs, CO with their three boys and baby girl.   More information on Hunter can be found at www.hunterkemper.com.   You can follow Hunter on Twitter at @hunterkemper.

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The Arrival by Hunter Kemper

Chris called us last week to let us know that our chicks would be arriving – this is great as our kids would all be home for their delivery.  The anticipation was great as the boys, especially our oldest son Davis (7 years old), could not wait to meet our new baby chicks.

Saturday morning came, and they were determined to meet the mail lady at the front door.  It was a very warm January day, so the kids waited outside on the front stoop.  They waited and waited.  The mail lady actually came to deliver our mail, but no chicks.  I thought they might arrive on a separate truck perhaps.  So they waited some more.  Finally, around 2:00pm, I called our local post office looking for our chicks.  They had not seen them.  They figured their transit was probably slowed by the weather in Iowa.  The kids were bummed.  We were a little worried that the chicks would suffer if they didn’t arrive until Monday.  However, we talked to the people at Murray McMurray and they assured us that the chicks would be fine.  Apparently it is very common for it to take a few days for the chicks to arrive.  We felt reassured that the chicks would be ok.

The next morning, we were all ready to go to church when there was a knock on the door.  It was the mail man and he had our chicks!  I had no idea U.S. Postal Service delivered on Sunday.  Apparently they make some exceptions, and this was one of them!  What an exciting surprise to start off our Sunday morning.

Watch this movie trailer which features our new adventure raising our chicks:

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