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Waiting List Image

Waiting List

Waiting List Information

Our waiting list is a mailchimp list whereby we can send an email to all our waiting list subscribers who would like to know as soon as we have some chickens for sale. You can find the waiting list option on our contact form here

WE HAVE NOW SOLD ALL OUR 2020 STOCK AND OUR INCUBATORS ARE NOW ON READY FOR 2021

Wrapped up chicken
A chicken is the gift that keeps on giving

The year 2020 was a funny old year.

We were inundated with requests for chickens for sale ever since Covid-19 has taken over the newsreels of the world. We restocked hybrids and Black Rocks twice but sold out of older chickens almost immediately. Our suppliers exhausted their supplies and had no more available. Chicken availability was somewhat of a problem but we tried to keep up with demand as much as possible.

This year 2021

Now in Spring 2021 it is looking like demand is similar to that of 2020. We normally mostly hatch from our own breeding flock and this year is going to be no different. Our incubators are on so that we can meet the demand. We will be obtaining some hybrid stock when travel arrangements are not so restrictive.

Chicks are sold whenever people want them. Unsexed chicks are available from day old. (There is a risk that they could be cockerels so please bear that in mind). We can determine the sex of our chicks at 6-8 weeks old and we offer a hen guarantee with those. Any that turn out to be boys will be swapped in line with the guarantee. We don’t swap boys when we have specifically sold them as unsexed. If you are looking for hens (albeit rather cute youngsters) then take a look at our latest stock post. We update our availability here on our blog page. We will be having Cochin, Brahma, Swedish Flower Hens, Coronation Sussex and Salmon Faverolles. Various hybrids will be available at some stage during year. We also have “guest” hatchings of breeds such as Cream Legbar, Marans, Leghorn, Orpington and Ixworth.

Essential things to do while you are waiting

Research the Care Requirements by joining our Online Course

While you are on our waiting list, you may wish to research some good chicken husbandry minimum requirements. Chickens don’t require much but they do require the correct care to enable them to lay well and remain healthy. Get a jump start in your chicken knowledge by looking into doing our online Chicken Keeping Course. It is £35 very well spent. The course can also make your realise that perhaps chicken keeping is not for you once you have more knowledge on the subject. This is a two edged sword because if your heart isn’t in it, you will have wasted money on setting yourself up to no avail if you decide at a later date that it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. Again it is £35 well spent.

Day Old and Young Chick Care Research

If you are looking for day old chicks or young chicks then it is very wise (essential) to consult our blog article on the care needs of these more delicate creatures. We will be asking for proof of your preparedness. It you don’t get the conditions right to look after young chicks, they will die.

Horror Stories

It is coming to our attention that some people are of the opinion that they can just dump chickens in the garden and they will stroll around popping out some eggs every day. Chickens require housing for safety and weather protection. We have been hearing of people feeding them on old bread and left-over takeaway rubbish. Their welfare needs to be high priority so this is not good enough. You need to feed your chickens well with a diet that is properly formulated and best suited for avian digestive systems. Feeding them household scraps is not legally allowed and is certainly not going to give them a diet which will make them most productive or healthy. Based on the saying rubbish in, rubbish out; with hens it is definitely rubbish in, nothing out.

Attend to Foxproofing

Most important is how to avoid your new hens from becoming a convenient take-away snack for a hungry fox or badger. Check out our chicken foxproofing post for tips to safeguard your chickens

Avian Influenza Current Information

We have a blog page devoted to the current regulations relating to Avian Influenza which has raised its head again this year in the UK. Make sure you are up to date with what you MUST do to comply with the current laws. There are unlimited fines and probably imprisonment for those not heeding the requirements.

How to get notified of new stock

Please use our Contact page to be added to our waiting list. Tick the waiting list option along with the “opt-in” to give us permission to contact you. Our mailing lists, which are infrequent, have an easy unsubscribe link to unsubscribe at any time. We do not wish to annoy you by emailing you unnecessarily. Please know that we take your privacy very seriously and will not spam you without permission. As we say, spam is for fritters and we hate fritters.

Update your equipment

We are now stocking fabulous coops which are easy to clean and are easy to manage from a Red Mite eradication perspective. If you need to have a lie in in the morning instead of living in “chicken-time” then invest in a Chickenguard. We now have Chickenguard for sale on our web shop.

Latest Stock

Latest Stock For Sale

and Breaking News

This post is here to show you at a glance what we have going on and what is the latest chicken availability for sale.

  • Splash Cochin and Brahma
  • Blue Salmon Faverolles
  • Swedish Flower Cockerel
  • Salmon Faverolles Boy
  • Black Rock Hens
  • Cockerel Group
  • Sussex group
  • Hatching Eggs
  • Chicks and Hen

Breeds available as at 13th April 2021

We had a busy year in 2020 as it seems COVID 19 has encouraged people to begin to keep chickens in the garden. 2021 is beginning to show a similar pattern so we are hatching as fast as nature will allow whilst still being mindful that we need to give them the best care possible.

New Breeds

This year we are hoping to have new breeds around. We have obtained some rather lovely Ixworth chickens as our breeding stock so once they start to produce eggs in sufficient numbers we will be offering those for sale in due course.

Hatching Eggs

We are now offering hatching eggs for collection only just at the moment. Egg supply for our incubators is a little on the low numbers side. Some breeders keep the lights on to fool the hormone system into a continued laying pattern but we allow our garden girls to roll with nature and have a well earned rest, so please bear with us. Hatching eggs will be available from April 2021

Waiting List

We are still running a waiting list if you want to be told when we have hens available. Please register on our contact form to go on the waiting list to be notified as soon as the available to be released for sale. See (proposed) stock list below. How our waiting list works

Breeds Available On Our Stock List

  • Other CockerelsBlue Cochin, Swedish Flower. All £15 each
  • Young chicks hatched 5th March 2021 sold unsexed (care info MUST be read)
  • Young chicks hatched on 21st March 2021 sold unsexed (read care info as per above)
  • Cochin  – Dayolds unsexed from £7.50
  • Brahma – Dayolds unsexed from £7.50
  • Faverolles – Dayolds unsexed from £7.50
  • Black Rock ® – We have LOTS of day old female chicks.
  • Brown Rock ® – No date of arrival known (subject to Covid travel restrictions)
  • Cream Legbar – None available currently.
  • Hedgerow Homemades – Dayolds unsexed from £7.50
  • Swedish Flower hens – Dayolds unsexed from £7.50
  • Hatching eggs – now available in Araucana crosses (with Swedish Flower), Sussex and Faverolles

Breaking News!!!!

Teacher chicken

Exciting development. Our chicken keeping courses are now ONLINE. See our Chicken Keeping Courses Page for details so you can START ONE TODAY.

We are hoping that people will find the easy-to-follow bite size chunks an enjoyable experience. It is crammed with masses of information you should know about keeping chickens. It will take you on a deep dive into the fascinating world of this wonderful creature. We guarantee that you will learn things that will make you think about chickens in a totally new light.

It will help you make good equipment choices, avoid illnesses, and be able to spot them before they get out of hand.

Getting the right coop for example will make the cleaning out of your chickens a 10 minute job rather than a real thankless task. We help you get it right, first time. This will save you money and time and who doesn’t need some of that?

Chickens are enjoyable but making poor choices can take the shine off it very quickly.

Premium Chickenguard

We are now able to offer Chickenguards for your coops

Having chickens is great but getting up early in the morning to let them out especially in Summer is not so great.

Fitting a chickenguard on your coop means you can have that lie in or even just get up at normal time rather than chicken time.

Chickenguards will allow you to go out of an evening and not have to get back at dusk to shut your chooks away. Chickenguard will do it all for you. Your chickens will not demand that you become party poopers.

Battery powered with 4AA batteries which last from 6 to 12 months.

Visit our shop page for more info

Henlay Coop

We are now stocking Henlays Roost chicken coops.

Perfectly designed coops that are manufactured from recycled plastic.

Built with both chicken welfare and human welfare in mind because humans matter too. They look and feel solid.

No more back breaking stooping or crouching to clean out. Contortionism is also not required. Just open the roofline, lift the well spaced perches out and hey presto, the entire coop area is at the mercy of your shovel and scraper.

Red mite will be spotted in double quick time so therefore you can treat if necessary as they have no where to hide.

Visit our shop page for details

Hazards of Backyard Hens

I saw this youtube video a number of years ago and I still find it really funny. I highly recommend you take a peek because it just sums up the hazards of backyard hen keeping quite well.

If you don’t already keep chickens then it is not meant to put you off but it does give a fine example of the way chicken keeping is very addictive. This is for all chicken addicts out there. Enjoy

Brahma

Incubator Hire News

An incubator hire story

Early in March 2019 we had an incubator hired out at Wirral Hospice St John’s in Bebington. I was a bit apprehensive to take it to somewhere that I felt might be quite a gloomy place given the massive healthcare issues the patients face. I could not have been more wrong. It is fair to say that they became ever so excited to witness the hatching of their eggs. Work stopped in favour of egg watching, you can feel the excitement in the air. The hot topic amongst patients and staff alike is not medical – it’s eggs and it’s chicks. The last thing on the patients’ minds was medical matters. They definitely are in the grips of chicken fever.

Hatching begins

On Monday 12th March the 21st day of the incubator hire period, the first chicks emerged to greet the world. But the rest are still to hatch so the incubator must remain closed to make sure that the humidity remains constant.

Conserving humidity

The way an egg incubator works is you need to wait until all the eggs have hatched before you can open it up to get at the chicks because otherwise you lose the humidity. Chicks need the  humidity to keep their shell membranes soft so they can break through them. Moisture laden air also assists the chick so it is able to spin inside the egg to unzip the top by creating a crack all the way round to make an escape hatch. Remaining egg yolk is absorbed by the chick into its body before hatching and they live off it for the  first 48 hours. The early birds are safe to remain in the incubator until the rest of the batch of eggs catches up.

And there’s more!

A day later passes and another 4 chicks have hatched. The brooder has been delivered and installed and there was a rush of staff to the incubation site so they could get their first experience of handling a bundle of cute fluffiness. There is much distraction around, staff making excuses to just have a peek on their way to another task. Patients with families and friends ogling the little tweeting fluffballs and a real sense of pride that they have produced their own little creatures. The incubator hire was a winner in more ways than one.

Therapeutic benefits of chickens

From what I have seen in care situations, chicks bring a sense of new beginnings. This is true for the elderly or the lonely or those who are very sick or dementia sufferers. They bring a real joy to those who witness it. It is something that I never tire of. It is no wonder that care institutions are bringing hens in as therapy. They are a source of chatter, where once there was none, and a thrill of excitement where there was numbness or loneliness. A humble chicken can provide a sense of being needed and of purpose. This is the superpower of a creature that seems to know exactly the right things to say to make all other problems seem to melt into the background. Chickens bring a feeling of well-being, cooperation and togetherness to all those involved in their care – such is their magic.

If you need convincing watch this video by equalarts.co.uk View our incubator hire packages here

The Hen Men from Equal Arts on Vimeo.

Coops for the less mobile

We have just started to stock these coops called Henlays Chicken Coops. They are easy to clean because there is no stooping or bending needed to make sure they are clean. We think they suit the needs of a care/medical/support organisation more than any other coop we have yet seen. Check this page for more info or view the specifics on our shop page

Spread the love

If you know of someone or somewhere that can benefit from the therapeutic benefits of these bridge-building creatures please ask us to see if we can assist you get up and running via our contact page. They don’t call them a gateway livestock for nothing.

Newly hatched chicks

Day-old Chicks

Day old chicks need special care

Looking after day-old chicks is a rewarding experience for everyone, no matter their age. However, there are some things that needs to be in place before you contemplate looking after dayold chicks in your home.

The list below is considerations that need to be addressed BEFORE embarking on this exciting adventure.

  • Day old chicks are delicate and can easily die
  • Young chicks need a heat source in their first weeks
  • Day-old chicks can drown in a water source
  • Chicks need to be kept indoors for at least 3 weeks in summer
  • They must be indoors for longer when the weather is cold
  • Chicks need cleaning out regularly otherwise they will smell
  • Raising young chicks indoors creates massive amounts of heavy dust from their feathers. This can cause breathing issues in sensitive individuals
  • Most non-hybrid dayold chicks cannot be sexed accurately until they are 6-8 weeks old
  • Unsexed means there is a risk that you will get cockerels which can cause neighbour issues
  • Most important if we have sold them unsexed we cannot take the boys back due to a biosecurity risk for our stock.

All our day-old chicks get sent to their new homes with a full care sheet. The minimum needs are listed below.

  1. Brooder to contain the dayolds. Rabbit or hamster cage. They must NOT go outside in a coop till they are at least 3 weeks old in warm weather. This will be longer in cold weather.
  2. Water dish or drinker, which should be shallow initially
  3. Food dish or specific feeder with chick crumb constantly available
  4. Warmth minimum 28C for the first week which can be reduced as they feather up. Suitable heat sources are electric hens, reptile heat mats or heat lamps. Bear in mind a possible fire risk from unsuitable equipment
  5. Safety from other animals including and especially other chickens
  6. Companion of other day old chicks because a solitary chick is very noisy indeed

Finally please don’t ask us for young chicks if you have no equipment ready we will not sell them to you.

Warning!!!

Don’t expect that a broody hen will take on the day-old chicks you present her with. Always have a backup plan. Broodies can be remarkably fickle, moody and dangerous. Unless a hen is showing clear signs of being very broody then she will NOT look after chicks. She will more than likely try to kill them. If she has not looked after young chicks before then please supervise any introductions and be prepared to intervene quickly if she decides to attack the chicks. A swift angry peck to the head of the chick can render them unconscious or severely bruised. A normal broody/chick communication is a gentle tap to the head. This is the broody telling the chick to pay attention to what she is telling it. If she sounds angry then she is so watch very carefully. More info on broody hens here

Wiley Fox

Fox Proofing

Fox Proofing to protect your chickens

Fox proofing needs to be your primary focus when you design your chicken accommodation.

Foxes have a bad press, but well deserved. They are are probably quite misunderstood. We are not fans of foxes except they are beautiful creatures and have a purpose in the great scheme of nature to keep the balance right as a top predator.

With this in mind, the first thing you should do beyond all else is to foxproofing, foxproofing, foxproofing. If you don’t attend to this then your beloved chickens will be on the take-away menu of any resident fox in your area. It upsets us enormously when we hear that chickens have been taken due to foxproofing errors.

Foxes are indiscriminate killers aren’t they?

Foxes are misunderstood. Most people are of the opinion that foxes kill for fun. The reason they think this is that when a fox attacks, he will kill everything living in sight. Foxes like all other creatures only kill for survival. Yes it appears indiscriminate, but they do have a cunning plan.

Whenever we humans think the shops are shut we will tend to fill our freezers, fridges and cupboards almost like the world is coming to an end. The fox has the same mentality. When food is plentiful, ie you have presented your lovely chickens to the fox on a plate then he is thinking that “I don’t know when I am going to get the opportunity to eat again so I will stockpile or cache the goods”. The equivalent of us going to do our Christmas shopping. While it is available, he is going to fill his cache with goodies.

A fox only has one mouth and he can only carry one at a time. By which time we have discovered his fowl deed (pun intended) and have gotten rather upset and have tidied up. Mr Renard is fully expecting to keep coming back and bury his goodies for lean times ahead.

So how do you fox-proof?

Any physical barriers you can place in the way for fox proofing the better. Firstly chicken wire is not fox-proof. It is only chicken-proof. It keeps chickens in but not foxes out.

Bury the wire at least 1 foot deep into the ground and also splay it out at right angles to your run sides along the ground the make a physical barrier to exclude Mr Fox. Paving slabs can be placed round the edge to make another no dig zone. Don’t forget the doorway or the roof. The more barriers you have the better. Make sure your nest boxes lids are well attached and securely bolted. Rooves should be well fitting and secure. Mesh should cover any ventilation points to exclude vermin. Most cheap wooden coops are not fox-proof. Don’t neglect the underside of your coop which is often used as an access point. These are often not screwed securely. Coops can easily tip over. Mr Fox knows this. He is wiley, strong and very persistent.

Materials used in fox-proofing

Weld-mesh with a minimum gauge of 16 and a small aperture. Two inch by two inch is not good enough. Foxes can get their mouths into that space and use it to overcome the barrier. A 1 inch mesh or smaller is better. Rats can get through 1 inch square mesh so a smaller space will exclude rats, and mink, stoat, pine marten, badgers and weasles also. These predators are all partial to a bit of takeaway chicken too. Weld-mesh is measured in gauges. The larger the gauge number the thinner the wire. 16g is better and stronger than 19g.

An excellent preventative obstacle is an electric chicken fence. The fencer or energiser (the thing that supplies the electric current) has to be powerful enough to zap any vegetation. Vegetation can weaken the current the fencer is supplying and make the difference between a startling jolt and a slight tickle for a resourceful hungry fox especially one with a load of cubs to feed in spring. A guide for installing an electric fence for chickens is here. If you want information on what electric fence to choose, there is a complete guide here

What to guard against

Foxes can climb trees. They are excellent jumpers, easily clearing a 6 foot fence. They are formidable diggers so don’t assume you are safe if you have not made the perimeter fox-proof and secure. Please remember that the fox only has to be lucky once, and that you have to be lucky every time. In the picture below, this fox visits every day.

Chickens ready for sale

Chicken Maths = How many chickens?

Today I spent a good few hours rearranging all my pens to keep the age groups in one place. I have chickens all over the place so it was time to make it more organised.

Well after I caught them up, they ran off, so I caught them again. They didn’t like their new pen because it was obviously a scary place. So inconsiderate! Considering I spent ages digging in some lime to disinfect the area. It also rearranged my hair as I got it caught in the netting. Dragged through a hedge backwards is a recurring theme for me these days. They then made a bolt for the door every time I brought another 2 over. I don’t know about them, but I found it quite stressful. It certainly increased my step count for the day according to my fitness phone app so not all bad!!

When I finally finished I took a picture so I could see what I had and which colour mixes I had. This is not the only batch of chickens I have either so I might have to give myself a stern talking to.

These are now ready to go to their new homes. We have Brahma in Pyle, and Buff Columbian. We have some Orpingtons in Lavender and some Swedish Flower Hens Crossed with either Leghorn or Ancona.

That moment when you realise exactly how many chickens you have. Chicken maths – aka chicken addiction – is a real thing, especially here.

For the uninitiated, the term Chicken Maths relates to a Phenomenon (excuse) for why numbers of chickens get out of control. It starts off by getting a flock of 3, then because you cannot add a single chicken to an existing flock, you end up with 2 more. If you lose one and need to replace it, you end up with another 2 minimum. And so it goes.

 

Bantams – 8 reasons why we don’t keep them

What is a Bantam

First of all, a bantam is a size of chicken, not a breed. They are divided into true bantams, which includes Pekins, Sebrights, Serema, Dutch and Booted bantams amongst others. True bantams have no large fowl equivalent. Many large fowl have a bantam equivalent, these are roughly a quarter of the size of the large fowl version. There is a bantam version of Wyandotte, Brahma, Leghorn, Sussex, Rhode Islands, Faverolles, Welsummer, Araucana to name a few.

An interesting fact regarding the Pekin and the Cochin which causes some confusion when viewing Facebook groups which have many nationalities as members. A Cochin has no bantam equivalent, however chicken keepers in the USA call Pekins a Cochin. As ever, the Americans are often at odds with the way we name stuff.

8 Reasons why we don’t keep bantams

  1. They are a quarter of the size of a regular chicken and they might not mix well in a large fowl flock
  2. They can have a “Napoleon Complex” which can actually show aggressive tendencies much bigger than their size in a mixed size flock. Sometimes bantam sized chickens can suffer with bullying when in with the bigger girls.
  3. They are usually very broody. Broody hens can be aggressive with other hens and also their keepers. Broody hens won’t lay eggs.
  4. They have repeated attacks of broodiness throughout the year and its often difficult to get them over it. Broodies can die from malnutrition or dehydration in particularly warm periods. The broodiest by reputation are Silkies, Goldtops, Pekins and Wyandottes.
  5. Their eggs are too small for your average chuckyegg. They need very small dippy soldiers to fit. Bring on those proper sized eggs!!
  6. They are no more easy to handle than large fowl even for children.
  7. The numbers of eggs are poor because they have repeated bouts of broodiness.
  8. They are more at risk of danger when a cat is involved or larger birds of prey.

We only stock Large Fowl

Large fowl and very large fowl can be just as friendly and cuddly as bantams. The largest chickens are fluff balls which are easy and calm to handle. They are not prone to panic running about as some bantams are. There is nothing standard about a chicken however as they all reserve the right to be individual characters, just like us.

Red Mite season

What is Red Mite

Red Mite is undoubtedly the chicken pest which is absolutely the scourge of chicken keepers. This evil chicken pest has earned its fearsome reputation. Why? It will hide in the tiniest of teeny tiny crevices, cracks or grooves in your coop by day. By night it will come hunting for a blood meal and your chickens are top choice of menu items.

Red Mite are the size of a full stop so how can they cause harm?

Well, it’s all to do with a numbers game. Red Mite will go from egg to egg laying adult in 7 days especially once the weather starts to warm up. A population explosion of these virtually invisible little ninjas will cause blood loss and death due to anaemia. Not to mention the diseases they carry. They can go dormant without food for months on end, only to reappear with a vengeance once food is available and the temperature increases. This is why you can never be complacent with these horrible little creatures.

So What are the Signs of Red Mite infestation?

The first indication you may notice could be that the chickens themselves tell you.

  • They will stop wanting to go into their coop at night and eggs may be randomly deposited outside.
  • Any eggs that are laid in the nest boxes may have small specs on them.
  • A visit to the coop at night-time will mean that you feel a rather uncomfortable creepy crawling sensation which seems to be caused by an invisible assailant.
  • Your chickens combs may become pale and they may look under the weather. Egg production will suffer – doesn’t it always – due to the stress it causes the ladies.
  • Little white flecks will be seen in and around obstacles. Red Mite discarded skeletons that they have grown out of.
  • Anaemia is a very real threat to their well-being and they can easily die.
  • You may spot piles of grey dust which will move in places like ledges and where perches attach.
  • Check round screws and nuts and bolts for small red dots as red mite cluster in these area most visibly. Open wood grain can also harbour sleeping red mite.

What can you do about Red Mite?

The Red Mite don’t live on the hens so treating the coop during day is not the best option as they are hiding inside crevices. Treating the hens themselves is also likely to be ineffective as an Ivermectin type treatment will require that the hens get bitten in order for the treatment to kill. Putting stuff in the water is also of very limited use as again the birds need to be bitten to treat.

Red Mite treatments need to be very proactive and aggressive to win this very serious war. Prevention is most definitely the best course.

The best treatments for Red Mite are nasty.  There is also an inconvenience factor that you can’t treat and put the chickens anywhere near it for about a week after.

Good Solutions

The top product for wooden coops is undoubtedly Creosote. The nasty cancer causing, banned for household use kind. You can get this online. Tame Creocote or Creoseal will not cut the mustard so don’t waste your time or money on this.  Creosote is usually applied yearly but the downside is that it will need to de-stink before you can let your hens have access to the coop again.

Next on the war list is Perbio-Choc or Ficam W. Both are residual and will give you protection for approximately 3 months. They are also nasty chemicals in their own right that do require hazmat style protection. Definitely eye, breathing, skin protection for these nasties. Also a de-stink period is needed of about a week. We use Perbio-Choc combined with a smoke bomb beforehand.

We have never used Ficam W but it is usually widely recommended by professional breeders.  Dergall is the new wonder treatment which claims to put a sort of sticky web that traps the mites and kills them. I am trialling a product which is cheaper than Dergall. It is called Mite Max which claims to do the same thing as Dergall.  I will let you know how that goes.

Questionable Solutions

Anecdotal evidence on Facebook forums say that Dettol pure and power, Jeyes fluid, Smite, blow torch, steam cleaning, jet washing, lime washing, diesel mixed with engine oil, siliconing, glossing etc have been used. One thing is for sure, desperate people clutch at all these straws with varying degrees of success or repeated dismal failures. Many “treatments” result in spectacular coop bonfires as a kill all or cure all solution.

When to treat

The best time to treat is night when this chicken pest is most active. Hens cannot obviously be in attendance. This will give your neighbours much amusement I am sure.

What most people don’t realise is that one treatment is rarely enough. You need to catch the hatching eggs also before they turn into adults themselves. Treatment has to be done at least every other day so watching the soaps or the football is not an option. Postponing the job is going to give you a bigger headache if you delay it. If you let the eggs hatch then you will be wasting your time and money. The Red Mite will win and your hens will be the losers. I cannot over-emphasise this.

Preventatives

At every clean you can give the wooden coop a good spraying with Poultry Shield followed by a dusting with diatom (mite killing diatomaceous earth). It has to say that it kills red mite otherwise it won’t. The laws have changed on how you can describe cheap ebay diatom (DE). The cheap stuff is not the good stuff. This should keep the coop fairly or completely free of mites. If you get complacent or lazy they will quite literally bite you on the bum. Smite is also supposed to be a good preventative. It’s is not a disinfectant though like Poultry Shield is.

Plastic coops are not immune

A lot of plastic coops have double skins which are a perfect unseen haven for the red mite. They do not have as many crevices as a wooden coop though and are easier to remove red mite from if you find them. Pressure washing is NOT a good way to deal with Red Mite. This will just blow them away but they will return. It wont kill them. The Poultry Shield and Diatom regime is great for plastic coops also unless you have an active infestation.

Monitoring

In time honoured Blue Peter style. If you take a used cardboard tube from the toilet roll and use this as a holder for a rolled up sheet of corrugated cardboard. Think of it as a serviette/napkin holder jobby. Place this somewhere in your coop such as attached to the underside of a perch. Periodically, unroll the cardboard and inspect it for this chicken pest. If you see a grey dust which will move when placed on your hand or red specks which are Red Mites which have recently fed within your “trap” you will need to treat your coop as a matter of urgency.

WARNING

This chicken pest can hitch a ride into your house so observe care you don’t introduce it to your sofa or bed as that would be a whole new world of pain.

Broody chicken

Broody Hen

Is a Broody Hen a blessing or a curse?

Broody hen season is upon us. This is where your chickens sit and sit and sit and sit. Even when you lift the hen out of her nest she remains in a sitting position like she has lost the use of her legs.

I have been waiting for any of my girls to go broody because the easiest way to care for eggs and then chicks is to get a mother hen to do it for you. It’s the lazy persons way, but the best and most natural way to raise chicks.

How do you know your hen is broody?

She will be making a noise that sounds like “clock” “clock” “clock. She will be flattened in the nest box. You may get pecked when you try to remove her as broodies can get rather moody and irritable. Every time you look for her she will still be there in residence.  When she moves around she will look and sound angry to the other hens and they will most likely attack her for her insolence if she is far enough down the pecking order.

What can you do to stop her being broody

Either you want her to hatch eggs, in which case add some fertile eggs under her. This is best done at night if she is a bit cantankerous. Or you will need to “break” her out of her broody phase.

Contrary to popular belief, broodies are not hot. Their body temperature is normally a little higher than our own. An egg needs incubating at 37.5C which is cooler than a hens normal temperature. Eggs overheat at the normal chicken temp so it would be a fair assumption that a broody is actually cooler than a normal hen. She will pluck her breast feathers so that she has less insulation.

To break her you will need to keep her in a cage such as a dog cage with a wire bottom. This is to make her uncomfortable and unable to nest. Put food and water in her cage as she will need to be kept in there day and night for at least 2 days. It is important she is safe from predators and the weather. Test her after 2 days. If she returns to her nest, add another day in the “broody gaol” until she is no longer wanting to sit.

You can also prevent her from getting anywhere she can make a nest by locking her out. Your other hens will need access to the nests however. She can go back in with the others overnight if you wish but turf her out each day until she gives up. Cage will take 2-4 days, lockout will take about the same.

Why do I need to break her

Broodies that do not have a job to do will only eat and drink once a day. They will lose condition if allowed to sit indefinitely. Some breeds can literally broody themselves to death. Either let her hatch or break her. She may have repeated episodes of broodiness if she is particularly prone to it. Silkies, Pekins, Wyandottes, Sussexes, Orpingtons are some of the most broody breeds.  If you are unhappy feeling cruel to be kind, then it is a good idea to avoid getting any of the above breeds.

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