LL's chicken keeping adventures

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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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KarenE wrote:Have you decided what you want to do yet LL? Are the White Ladies going to form the new Spice Girls? Perhaps that will bring the Quail plan back in...


sandy wrote:LL if you do have quails I have lots of egg boxes ordered them by mistake :oops:


I think the Quail plan is on the back burner for now - until I see an interest in the eggs, it's not going to be worth it, but thank you for the offer

I'm still debating about the flock merge - I think I'll wait until the days start getting a lot shorter so that they spend more time in the coop than in the run .... might speed up the integration quicker.

Meanwhile, Baby has gone broody. I thought I was about to lose another Spice Girl as she anchored herself down in one of the nest boxes. Unlike the others that hid in the coop when unwell, she didn't look ill and if anything, has been a bit feisty. Never having had a hen go broody on me before, I wasn't really sure. When she did come out of the coop in a morning, she ran into the run to eat the morning greens and scratch for seeds as well as drink loads before retiring to the nest box again. I did notice she seemed to cluck and do a lot of the headless chicken act (something she would do, tucking her head right down and scuffle backwards to avoid being pecked by Scary, the bully Bluebelle) even though there was no danger of it. When I came to clean out the bedding when she was in the coop, all her feathers were standing up, she was making a sort of "chuck chuck" noise (but then she always was a chatterbox and made lots of noises so nothing particularly unusual about that) and then gave me an almighty peck .... did not look like a typical poorly hen to me. However, she has not been coming out of the coop to eat or drink for a couple of days so I was getting a bit worried especially with the recent heatwave (she must have been broiled in the nest box) so to be on the safe side, I put a little pot of water next to her and a piece of melon which she pecked at.

Yesterday I had to go to Ravenshead where there is a supplier for oyster shell (I buy it in bulk and works out cheaper, plus mealworms - where I normally get them have not been available for several weeks now) - as the owner also keeps and sells chickens, I asked about Baby and the response was most definitely broody and to turf her out of the nest box and not let her back in until later. Easier said than done - Scary has been laying daily so a bit of a compromise this morning when I shut them out for a couple of hours but no sooner had I opened the coop door, they were both in like a shot, sigh. I'll go down later after Scary has laid her egg and try again.

In one of the DTL topics on broody hens

kitla wrote:or cooling her undercarriage with water/coolpacks


I think I might give the coolpack a try )t'
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by bikesandbirdsbob »

Hi , warning they lay on eggs for 21 days so if you cannot crowbar her off it is going to be a long haul . Make sure water and food and grit etc so she does not get ill.
She is def broody . How they change from an angel to an absolute devil .
Good luck , Can say I have been there and got many t shirts.
Bob
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KarenE
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by KarenE »

You could put a water bottle in the freezer and put it near her if you don't have an icepack. Or sit her on a bag of frozen peas :-D

They wouldn't raise a clutch at this time of year naturally would they?
Karen
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Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Well I think Baby is finally getting back to normal - it seems like months since she first started being broody. Every morning I'd turf her out of the nest box and shut the door to the coop so she'd be forced to try and eat something. All she seemed to do is complain even more but now and again I'd see her scratch the soil like she'd do to search for food. Unfortunately, a combination of late dark mornings and my having to set off for work earlier has meant this week I had no option but to just dump the greens and seeds in the run and shoot off. Yesterday I didn't even have time to do a poo pick in the coops ...

This morning I made a special breakfast for the girls with their usual greens (hard boil eggs from the old stock with crushed the egg shells) It was barely light when I took it down but I was making an extra special effort to get their coops cleaned and fresh bedding down. I was mortified to find one of the drinkers was bone dry, and in the other run, the feeder was completely empty (not a single pellet - I'm wondering if some nocturnal visitor has been at it) While I was busy topping everything up, to my amazement Baby came down to the run all by herself and it was still fairly dark (well, day break) Fingers crossed this is a good sign.
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sandy
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by sandy »

LL I have found a great way to stop Baby being broody, my bantams are not keen on their new bedroom, they may sleep in there but have refused to lay anywhere but on the floor of the run }hairout{ Of course they break the eggs so no baby eggs to fill my bantam boxes! However Lottie has been broody every other month but I since moving homes no sign of it! You def need to check for visitors but I cant imagine any rodent drinking the water dry . >coc<
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:You def need to check for visitors but I cant imagine any rodent drinking the water dry .


there's a bit more to the tale - when I bought the White Ladies and kitted the run out with a new feeder and drinker (both were a bit on the big side and the next size up from the others), I realised that the clips to hang them on from the ceiling didn't fit over the handles, so I switched them round with the older ones. However, since losing Posh and then Ginger, the big drinker seemed excessive for 2 girls (and one hen that didn't look like she ever left the coop!) so I switched the drinkers back using a wire hook to hang the bigger one up. Maybe the lightweight one had got tipped over and with rushing about in a morning, I had not noticed the drinker had emptied.

Food-wise, the White Ladies have always been good pellet feeders (unlike the fussy Spice Girls) and with a change in the weather, they had probably upped their feeding. However, to be completely empty seemed extraordinary considering I'd not long filled it up so I'm inclined to think visitors may have been helping themselves.

Fingers crossed, Baby seems to be getting back to normal )c( She seemed to have taken root in that one nest box over the past few weeks but I had noticed with having to get them sorted in the dark mornings that Baby was once again using the perch at nights )t' And following Scary out of the coop when I put the greens out. Unfortunately, all the girls appear to be on strike - I barely get an egg a day so I'm going to have to let my customers know that there's about to be an egg famine.
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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lancashire lass wrote:I'm going to have to let my customers know that there's about to be an egg famine.


Not a true egg famine but when only one egg a day appears (sometimes none! followed by 2 the next day), it can take a little while to build up enough eggs for sale. Luckily one of my customers prefers his eggs at least a week or so old because he hard boils them and he has realised the shell comes off easier.

Baby is back to her old self BUT, the Spice Palace looks like the fox has been in - I can't be sure for certain, but due to the sheer amount of feathers everywhere, I think both Baby and Scary are moulting . The White Ladies have also decided to join in and start moulting as well but not on the same grand scale. This morning Baby was on the high rise balcony at 6.30 am and making such a racket for her breakfast - yep, I'd say she's back to her old (vocal) self LOL

Meanwhile, it is that time of year when I like to get the girls wormed before winter ... they are not going to be best pleased with me when I take their treats away. I'd better place an order soon ....
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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All last week there wasn't a single egg {cry} Not something I'm accustomed to, and so disappointing when opening the nest boxes every morning to find no eggs. I began to wonder if all the fireworks going off day and night had anything to do with it but then on Friday while clearing out the Spice Girls palace, Baby was more noisier than her usual self. And not surprising - a small brown egg (well, for Baby - her eggs are different in size, shape and colour to Scary's eggs) was in the next box )app( Then again on Saturday (egg was even smaller) and on Sunday, a small white egg in the White House. If I didn't sell eggs, the numbers would be just about right for my own use. But it does mean no income from sales (which usually contributes to their board and lodgings!)

All 5 girls do seem to be in moult now and the amount of feathers in both coops and runs would fill a pillow. I decided to read up about it and found an article on The Poultry Site As the article was written in Australia, when chickens moult might be different in the UK. I thought this was interesting:

Poor producing hens moult early (November-December) and take a long time to complete the process and resume laying i.e. she will hang in the moult and be out of production for a long period - from six to seven months. Poor producers seldom cast more than a few feathers at a time and rarely show bare patches. High producing hens moult late, moult for a short period (no more than 12 weeks) and come back into production very quickly. Rapid moulting is not only seen in the wing feathers of good producers, but also in the loss of body feathers generally. Because of this it is common to see a late and rapid moulting hen practically devoid of feathers and showing many bare patches over her body.


So when a hen looks pretty bald in a short space of time, it is supposed to be indicative of being a good layer? I'm not sure I agree with that - Scary sheds loads of feathers all at once and can be quite dramatic in her appearance, but she's hardly my best layer whereas Baby has mini moults and although the egg tally is down a little, has been laying fairly regularly (when she's not broody, that is LOL)

Earlier this year after losing Ginger (a Gold Star), I said I might consider putting the White Ladies in the bigger run and coop with Scary and Baby when the days got shorter (hopefully less time for sorting out the new pecking order and any bloodbaths) so that if something should happen to one or the other, they would be established into a new flock. Because of the high rise balcony, the White Ladies will be able to fly up to it very easily and might appreciate it better than the wooden chair I had set up in their own run. So I think any time soon for the merge, and then if all goes smoothly that would release their coop and run for ... maybe some new girls? I've been giving this some thought - Gold Stars are not only cheaper than other breeds but are also very good layers as well as being friendly and less fussy. And we are going to need some new girls to keep the egg sales going over winter ....
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lancashire lass
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Farewell to Lesley of the White Ladies

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A quick catch up since my last post - the odd egg from Baby and Scary now and again for my own use, but there's never been enough for a sale in weeks now. The White Ladies have been on total egg strike for over 2 months but eating well. Then on Christmas Day morning ... I found one of the White Ladies dead in the run {cry} Difficult to distinguish between the White Ladies but I'd say it was the one at the bottom of the pecking order, Lesley. I always used to see how they were all doing but the week up to Christmas the mornings have been dark and I've had to rush through the feed and clean routine so as not to be late leaving for work. Perhaps I missed something but I didn't see anything wrong with any of them so it was a bit of a shock. I'm keeping a closer eye on the other girls at the moment, but they look fine - well fed and in good health. So I'm not exactly sure why Lesley died. So sad to lose a girl, and not a present I wanted on Christmas day!
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by KarenE »

So sorry to hear about Lesley LL, not the gift you want under the Christmas tree for sure {hug}

Hope you had a good Christmas in spite of this sad event.
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
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sandy
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

Post by sandy »

Aw LL so sorry you have lost Lesley White {hug}
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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Feeling really bad after a week of going back to work since the New Year - my usual clean and feed routine completely mucked up by dark mornings that it's been a minimal effort before rushing off - that this morning I decided to treat the girls to a majorly clean (all the feeders and drinkers washed and filled, big poo pick, all new bedding in the coop - took me well over an hour instead of the daily 10 minutes). Imagine my surprise when I opened the nest box and found 2 white eggs {hug} I haven't seen a white egg in over 2 months! Not the biggest eggs they have ever laid but were perfect and smooth. Aw, an extra portion of mealworms for you today.

The strange thing, I didn't really expect any eggs at all as we have a cat visitor. New cat, never seen him before but when I go to the run in a morning, he is sitting watching the girls through the netting LOL. He seems fascinated by them and likes to watch the White Ladies more than the Spice Girls, and they are a lot quieter and intimidated by him. When I first got chickens and the neighbours cat came a visiting within an hour of them being in their new home, the girls made a huge raucous ... I thought a fox was about only to find one very frightened old cat hiding behind the greenhouse in shock. This cat on the other hand is a little cheeky young thing, almost bolshie until I make a half-hearted threat to get it to move away. I don't particularly want to lose the cat as he might be good to have around to keep the mice and rats away )t'
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lancashire lass
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Dare I say it but I think the egg famine is coming to an end )c( It started off with the occasional white egg - not fast enough to make up a half dozen for sale so were for home use - but this past couple of weeks, both runs are now becoming productive. Of course there are only 4 girls left but the other weekend when I checked the nest boxes there were 2 white eggs and 2 brown eggs! I asked for 2 more for the next day and I knew it was too good to be true ... I got none instead LOL but gradually 2 finally arrived.

This past week on the other hand, definitely 2 eggs a day and anymore are a bonus. I've actually got a dozen eggs ready for sale today (just in time too as I need to buy some more feeds soon! Not to mention it is Frugal February, so every £1 counts!!) )t'
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Re: LL's chicken keeping adventures

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Hi - glad your egg famine appears to be coming to an end. My 2 younger girls have laid every single day since they started laying, bless them (they are one year old this month). I liked your post about the cat. We have cats and our 3 girls are very used to them and in fact are used to all the neighbours cats as well. We also have a stray cat that we feed. All last winter he slept underneath the chicken coop. I never minded him doing that as I felt he would keep any mice at bay. He is also very gentle and never bothers with the girls. He now has a bed in our greenhouse (which he seems to prefer). Have a good chicken-keeping weekend.
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And then there were just 3

Post by lancashire lass »

Can't believe it has been so long since my last entry as there has been very little to report. Today unfortunately I have some sad news - I lost one of the White Stars. I suspect she was already unwell despite being active and eating. About a month ago, her lovely big comb was shrivelled and almost purple in colour. She kept close to the coop but was still eating and looked okay so I made an effort to keep an eye on her and she seemed to recover. While I've been working on the pond, I have been watching the girls in the runs and all looked fine. Her comb gradually filled up and was big and red again so I put it down to an in-house squabble. This morning when I brought their breakfast down, only one hen bounced out of the coop. I wondered if she was laying so sneaked a peek at the nest box and there she was {cry} So unexpected.

I'm in a bit of a dilemma as there is only one White Star on her own now, while Scary and Baby are in the other run. Baby has always been the henpecked girl but at least she only had Scary to run away from. For the past 2 months, her comb has got small and pale but generally she is still fit and well despite her age (I bought the Spice Girls at Point-of-Lay in September 2013, so she must be about 4 and half years old which is considered a good age for hybrids) The last White Star was the top hen in the the White House so I'd imagine there would be a right battle if I tried to introduce her to the Spice Girl flock - Scary will not give up her throne readily, and poor Baby will be at risk of excessive bullying. Fortunately the 2 runs face each other therefore can see and hear each other so I'll just watch and see how it goes for now.

The other news has been the rats - the numbers were on the increase and I seemed at a lost of what to do. As soon as I put the food out for the girls, the rats spilled out of the hiding holes. And the rats were getting big. Despite efforts of dosing the chicken feed with hot chilli spice (has no effect on the chickens but should have deterred the rats) and using the rat traps, these seemed to have got wise and cunning. When I started on the pond project in June, the rats were running about all over the garden in broad daylight (if they had been anything but rats, I might have found their playfulness quite enduring) In the end, I had to resort to poison.

One of the places where the rats have been living is within the double fence of the patio (there is a 3 foot height on the patio side, with 6 foot length fitted to a frame on the garden side) One of the panels has always been loose so I encouraged them to visit that part of the fence with a small handful of mixed corn just inside the fence before switching to the poisoned bait. It was far enough away for none of the bait to get into the chicken runs and every day the bait was gone. Finally, just one rat remained in the White Star run but he was a bit of an acrobat, climbing up the netting to the roof and squeezing through impossible small unreachable gaps (how on earth did it know there was a gap there in the first place - I'm amazed at the intelligence of these animals despite them being vermin) Clearly he was getting big and fat and managed to dislodge the wood wedged under the shed for easier access to the run, so I put a sachet under the shed and blocked the entrance with the wood weighted down with heavy bricks. There is no way the chickens had access to the bait but the sudden death of one of the White Stars does concern me a little.

Rats still live in the Spice Palace but I blocked off the fence access with a sheet of PVC but they then tunneled under the netting which had covered the cherry tree roots and managed to find another route into the run but for some reason, are fewer in numbers so perhaps the others had visited the bait in the other fence? I have to confess I really don't know how to put poison down for this run without risk of the chickens eating it so I might continue with the bait in the other fence for now. I really don't like using the poison and would have preferred a quick death using the rat traps. I have found 4 dead rats, all outside the runs (one must have crawled under one of the water butts from the allotment and when I was tidying up the patio after finishing off the pond, I barely recognised what I was looking at but for a dried up tail )loo( - it was a mass of matted hair flattened on the paving and completely decomposed)

As for egg production, Scary is laying an egg every other day and I would get an occasional white egg so roughly a half dozen eggs a week so sale of eggs are well down if any. I would like to get some more girls in the future but for the moment I think it best to wait until I have managed to control the rat situation before then. My concern is the rats might move from the chicken runs to the house (and neighbours) so is quite serious.

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