LL's chicken keeping adventures

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bikesandbirdsbob
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by bikesandbirdsbob »

Hi ,The above sounds like a normal chicken residence.Fortunately I work early/come home early so it is not aproblem for me ,not sure about the neighbours on weekends though.
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KarenE
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by KarenE »

LL, would you be tempted to put the White Ladies and Spice Girls together into the 1 run? Might save you chicken duties.
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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KarenE wrote:LL, would you be tempted to put the White Ladies and Spice Girls together into the 1 run? Might save you chicken duties.


Maybe my post sounded more down than I had intended - to be honest the work load is not excessive (especially when compared to other pets like dogs) but in terms of my expanding to a "3rd run" with more new girls to keep the egg production up for sales, then I would need to assess how much time I'd have to spend on daily general chicken duties. To be fair I prioritise and clean the coops out every day so that it doesn't smell or cause breathing problems, and clean bedding means the eggs don't get dirty. I also make sure they have plenty of feed (only need to top up the feeders now and again) and fresh water. The runs can be left if time is short especially if for whatever reason I am running late in a morning, and then a poo pick at a later time or day. So it's not arduous.

To answer your question - the size of each run is just big enough for the number of girls already occupying them so I wouldn't want to put extra birds in each run, but the size of the coops would be the deciding factor - I think 3-4 hens per coop is an absolute maximum. Enclosing and securing the walk way between the 2 runs and opening them up so that the girls can intermingle more is an option I've been considering now that the new girls are old enough, but that won't reduce the work load LOL
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lancashire lass
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Egg Thief!

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Yesterday a customer asked for half a dozen eggs but I wasn't too sure if I had enough. When I collected them from the nest boxes last night, there was only 4 (I had already taken one from an early morning lay) so it might be possible IF the girls laid eggs today before I left for work. As the evenings have been getting cooler, I am now tempted to lock them in to stop the dawn breakfast call but I have noticed that when out earlier, some have been laying earlier too. So last night I let them have one more night of freedom ...

As per usual, at 5.00am the White Ladies were the first up and letting the others it was time to get up so I was out with their bowl of greens and seeds before I was actually fully awake. After my breakfast, it was time to pop down to the coops and clean out and put fresh bedding down. The Spice Girls let themselves out of the run to have a natter with the White Ladies while I tidied up their run and Palace, then as I turned my attention to the White House one of the White Ladies was in the nest box (actually a washing up bowl) - damn. Never mind, I needed to visit the greenhouses and polytunnels to pollinate the chilli plants and to shut vents and doors as today is forecast cold and wet. By the time I got back, another White Lady was in the nest box now but ... I spied 2 white eggs under her legs! Too good a chance to miss!

I quietly slipped my hand into the washing up bowl and nearly dropped the eggs when Liz the White Lady in the nest gave the alarm call. Loud and piercing, she strutted out of the coop and the other White Ladies joined in, followed by the Spice Girls. I'll swear blind I could hear them calling "egg thief! egg thief!" {rofwl}

At least my customer will have super fresh eggs today )t'
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sandy
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by sandy »

Oh LL that was wishful thinking cleaning out the ladies bedroom in the morning {rofwl}
The Pink Ladies..Audrey,Blossom,Merle-Oberon Cyd-Charisse,Ingrid-Bergman,Georgia,Madeleline,Myfawny ,Monica-Rose
The Peds…Suranne,Jennifer,Nancy,
Vorky Blueped,Ginger,Ninger &Linky

Sunny Clucker was ere July 12-21 2012
Sunny Clucker was ere July 6 2016 to Sept 9th 2017
Sunny Clucker is here , rehomed Aug 18th 2018/
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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The Spice Girls have decided to take semi-retirement and kindly let me have just one egg a day between them - I know they were all laying or at the very least, would pay a visit to the coop and pretend. But now Ginger has gone into a full blown moult - each day I'm convinced I'm about to see a totally bald chicken as I see another pile of feathers scattered in the run and coop ... so far, mainly the tail and primary wing feathers and base of tail (she has been sporting a bald bum for some time that I hardly notice anymore LOL) The Spice Palace is surprisingly stress free these days as Scary the Bluebelle takes on a matriarchal role and less of a bully although noisy Baby seems to take no chances and ducks and dives out of the way before she is picked on.

In the White House, the girls are laying every day. All my customers prefer the white eggs but I find they are easily stained with dirt and poop - even when cleaned, any marks are still there. But there's no doubt they are probably better layers than the others. However, the bullying is more intense than what was experienced in the Spice Palace - for all the loss of feathers and beak bites, I don't remember seeing much in the way of blood (except for poor Baby - no wonder she behaves as she does) Pearl as top hen seemed to be the biggest culprit as she is the only one in pristine condition and a full set of bum feathers - last night as I collected the eggs, there was blood on a couple and on the washing up bowl (their "nest" box) It looked serious so I carefully looked in the run to find Liz was sporting a bloody hole to the side of her tail. Arrrrrrrgh. The girls don't usually run away when I step into the run, if anything get under my feet in a bid to be the first for any treats but they sure know when I have a spray bottle in my hand that it is time to bolt through the hole in the wall }hairout{

I decided to go about with a pretend poo pick session so they warily returned and then I was able to catch Liz - talk about squawking .... you'd think I was murdering her but after a good squirt of gentian violet round the bottom of the tail, I let her go. She stood up and gave me that "what was that for" look and strutted off indignantly. That's when I noticed I had sprayed Leslie instead (who already sported a purple bottom so easily mixed) At this point there was a heightened wariness so I thought I'd better leave them alone to let them calm down. This morning when I opened their coop door, I was ready as they bolted out for their morning feed and grabbed Liz and treated her wound. She was not very pleased with me at all LOL

As I did the daily poop pick, out of the blue Leslie pecked Liz on the very spot where I had just sprayed - so it would seem that I had been wrongly blaming Pearl when in fact Leslie was the culprit. Leslie used to be the bottom hen and smaller than the others but she seems to be coming into her own these days. It's almost a repeat of Ginger who was so timid when I brought the Spice Girls home and is now "2nd in command" so to speak.

Here's hoping peace will return to the White House soon >fi<
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sandy
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by sandy »

Those bottom hens seem to seize the smallest of opportunities to climb the heady pecking order of the flock {rofwl}
The Pink Ladies..Audrey,Blossom,Merle-Oberon Cyd-Charisse,Ingrid-Bergman,Georgia,Madeleline,Myfawny ,Monica-Rose
The Peds…Suranne,Jennifer,Nancy,
Vorky Blueped,Ginger,Ninger &Linky

Sunny Clucker was ere July 12-21 2012
Sunny Clucker was ere July 6 2016 to Sept 9th 2017
Sunny Clucker is here , rehomed Aug 18th 2018/
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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sandy wrote:Those bottom hens seem to seize the smallest of opportunities to climb the heady pecking order of the flock {rofwl}


there's not a lot of climbing to do when the flock size is only 3 {rofwl}

The girls this week have been on an egg strike - I suspect a lot to do with my shutting them in at night so they can no longer get up as they please and make a racket until I come out with the treats/greens! Most mornings the first peep to be heard are as usual the White Ladies (I suspect the ventilation holes on the main run side of the White House allows more light in than the Spice Girl Palace which has none on the south side) but I'm slowly training them into learning that 6.15am is an almost acceptable time to get up, not 5.00am. However, I suspect the training is being reciprocated with demanding a second and a third "breakfast" ... because historically I would check on the security of the runs before leaving for work, I used to drop off their daily greens then but this seems to have shifted to a first thing session now. But there also seems to be a memory of a feast before I go (which they know by listening for the key locking the back door and the car starting up - they are not deaf nor blind, especially if I leave the back door open to let air into the house after a stuffy night and they can see I've not gone)

Anyway, today I'm finishing for my 3 week annual leave )c( Over the Christmas and Easter break I was inundated with surplus eggs so I want to avoid that this time. I have arranged to take some fresh eggs in to work at least once a week, and I'll try to coincide the trip with some other task (such as calling in at B&Q or similar) so hopefully won't be so bad. However, as my regular customers were asking for eggs this week, the little darlings seem to decide together that they were not going to cooperate LOL

On another note, this week is a bit of an anniversary for me - for 2 years running I have spent my September holidays planning and building chicken runs and coops, so it seems strange not to be charging up the cordless drill and dusting off the saw for another bash. Still, I have plenty of other things to do in the garden and allotment so will still be very busy. The girls will probably thank me for not making a racket.
Librarychick
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Hi there LL. Just been catching up - it's been a while and I think you sort of get out of the habit after a bit. Devastated to read of the loss of Posh back in the spring. So sorry. Your diary really inspired me in the early weeks of my chicken adventure and I still enjoy hearing how your Spice Girls and White Ladies are doing. Still no quails though. Hope you have a good 3 weeks off and that the weather is a bit better for you. Cheers Librarychick, Bluebell and Ginger
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Librarychick wrote:Your diary really inspired me in the early weeks of my chicken adventure and I still enjoy hearing how your Spice Girls and White Ladies are doing. Still no quails though


{hug} thank you. It's still a learning curve for me and although sad to lose Posh, I've been otherwise lucky. Quails - one day LOL To be honest I've been considering some ducks (Campbells) as well but my garden is going to need some serious re-organisation ... as I'm trying to be frugal, possibly 2017?

Mornings are quietening down with the later dawn times so less stress for me. Also a reminder that in a few short weeks, I'll be coming home from work in the dark {cry} Where did summer go? I'm glad to see both Ginger and Baby decided to moult while the weather was warmer so should be nice and warm in their new coats before winter strikes (can't help feeling it's going to be a cold one this year). Yesterday I could see Baby's permanent bare bum was sporting a flush of pin head feathers coming through - as she moulted later than Ginger, I tried to see under Ginger's tail and awwww, her bum feathers were already out. I wonder if Scary will notice and keep her beak off them.

Despite moulting, neither of them stopped laying albeit a very hit and miss affair. One day none from the Spice Girls, then one and on Sunday for the first time in ages, 3! The White Ladies on the other hand are still my best layers. I've had them a year now so I expect the egg laying to get less reliable. Egg sales are still good and despite the summer holidays when people going away don't want to buy them, I managed to get 4 new customers as a result ... I'm almost regretting not getting 3 new girls as per my long term plans.

I'm currently trying to be frugal (that time of year for car service, MOT and road tax), so even the girls are having to contribute to the household budget this month. Their sack of mixed corn ran out but I had some wild bird seed and after reading the list of ingredients, realised that it contained much the same as the chicken treat I used to buy when getting the medicated pellets. I added some more peanuts, sunflower hearts and sultanas and mixed everything together for a makeshift treat until I get round to the farm feed merchant in Derby (the feed is not expensive, just the trip there and back so when I next need layers I can get the corn at the same time) I'm also considering getting a sack of alfalfa pellets as it is supposed to be high in protein and fibre and especially vitamin D and calcium, and caretenoids for colouring egg yolks. Apparently alfalfa also contains antinutitional factors such as saponins - some of these can reduce cholesterol in eggs which makes for healthier eggs. However, it is suggested that inclusion in the diet should be low. As my original research on alfalfa was for a gardening project anyway (weird how one thing leads to another), this won't mean buying a big sack of horse feed for nothing.
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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"Ducks!" )wav( Now you are talking. I'm desperate for some Indian Runner Ducks but now we have the puppy ... I see you are doing Richard's Saving September challenge. I've just had the most ridiculous start to month. Spend Spend Spend. And a lot of £ on Chickens. Mind you we have a garage renovation project going on so that I can get a freezer in there - maybe a chest freezer so I can do more cook ahead and freeze. That Jamie Oliver programme on how much sugar there is in shop bought meals and sauces was shocking. So cheaper and healthier to do my own. Time is a problem though - new term soon in the Library. All the best for now. >ch< +f+
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Librarychick wrote:"Ducks!" Now you are talking. I'm desperate for some Indian Runner Ducks


I have got myself set on Campbells (whether white or Khaki) but also made a note on my short list that Welsh Harlequinn are derived from Khaki Campbells and supposedly good layers too, just in case I come across them.

Well my girls are still reeling from treat withdrawal since Saturday while on their medicated layers pellets - strangely the White Ladies seem their usual bouncy hyper selves whereas all 3 of the Spice Girls have suddenly started using the balcony again to eyeball the back door {rofwl} - even the Amber Star "Baby" has joined in the crowd (she hasn't been up on the balcony for a very long time and I put that down to her being a bigger, heavier bird whereas Ginger is still nimble on her toes and Scary ... well, when it comes to treats she's there at the front of the queue) I did give the lavender (it was big and would have impeded the view a little) a severe (possibly fatal) trim so there's no hiding behind that bush anymore LOL

I wasn't going to bother worming the girls as both do not freely forage outside the runs and there should be no reason for them to be infested. However, egg numbers have been a little erratic - sometimes 5 eggs (never 6 from 6 chickens), then next day only 1 or 2. The Spice Girls are much older so it is to be expected their egg laying will not be so reliable but when the White Ladies decided to join in, I wondered. I think what really decided it is the loose poo in one of the coops - identified as Baby's (she seems to sleep on the same bit of perch every night) even though all 3 girls look happy and healthy. Getting them wormed before winter sets in is probably for the best anyway.

I might have mentioned it a number of times but all my customers really do prefer the white shelled eggs from the White Stars and say they look and taste better. As all the chickens get fed the same, it does seem strange for the preference. The egg shell definitely feels smoother like candied almonds in comparison to the brown egg layers (even when they were young) but the downside is that the shell easily stains from dirt and poop so you would always have to make sure the coop was cleaned (or at least poo picked) every morning to prevent them treading in it and marking the eggs with their feet.

The other weekend I did an emergency trip to Ravenshead to get the girls a load of oyster shell. If I get mixed grit, they take out the oyster shell and leave the grit. The shop I go to sell just the shell in bags weighed out from bulk - I got a 5 kg tub of oyster shell for £5 so that should keep them going. Also a litre of apple cider vinegar. It's such a long trip just for oyster shell but it's the only place that sell just that and not mixed. I could get the feed and bedding from there but it is much cheaper from Derby.

In my last post I contemplated getting some alfalfa but I had it in my head it would be in pellet form but the stuff I got for the allotment was definitely straw like. I've always been concerned about them eating stuff which might cause compacted crop so that idea is sadly out of the window. And yes, since my last post in September they really have had no mixed corn but with the long and colder nights now, I thought it time it was back on the menu after they have been wormed. While at the feed store, I also got a bale of straw for the coop bedding as last week I really was scraping the bottom of the bin at a time when the girls seemed intent on pooping more LOL. Now that the coop floor is at a luxury depth level, I noticed the weather has decided to go milder ... typical.
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sandy
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by sandy »

My girls don't free range but I worm them regularly as birds plop through the wire overhead. Funny your customers like white eggs, are they American?
Good to hear some news on The Spice Girls and the white ladies )t'
The Pink Ladies..Audrey,Blossom,Merle-Oberon Cyd-Charisse,Ingrid-Bergman,Georgia,Madeleline,Myfawny ,Monica-Rose
The Peds…Suranne,Jennifer,Nancy,
Vorky Blueped,Ginger,Ninger &Linky

Sunny Clucker was ere July 12-21 2012
Sunny Clucker was ere July 6 2016 to Sept 9th 2017
Sunny Clucker is here , rehomed Aug 18th 2018/
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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sandy wrote:My girls don't free range but I worm them regularly as birds plop through the wire overhead. Funny your customers like white eggs, are they American?
Good to hear some news on The Spice Girls and the white ladies )t'


A couple of reasons of why I wasn't going to bother worming is:

1.) The roof on both runs is corrugated plastic so keeps the run dry (and no bird droppings + the soil is dust bowl dry)

2.) When the uninvited rats moved in on the Spice Palace, I laid mesh and paving stones in the run to stop them from digging in especially along the fence line, and whatever soil I had put on top has gradually been replaced with sharp sand. In the White House run, there has always been paving stones / concrete on which I put several bags of sand so never been in contact with "natural" soil.

3.) The girls had been regularly wormed so if there had been worm eggs, they should have long gone I would have thought.

Anyway, they are being treated now. One thing I've noticed is that the girls do seem to like these pellets so not a big hardship.

As for the white egg preference, no Americans. They say the eggs taste better (I can't tell the difference LOL)
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KarenE
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by KarenE »

Well I am reduced to buying eggs now LL so it looks like all our flocks are slowing down in synch. Worming is probably a good idea to keep their systems working well, although I suppose you could put them on verm-x if you felt worming wasn't necessary but prevention would be good.
Karen
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper
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