Molting Madness

As the Autumn leaves fall so do the feathers on chickens. Many chickens molt this time of year which results in your coop looking like some ones emptied a pillow in there. Like dogs and cats chickens will molt. Usually when they reach around 18 month old hens and roosters will molts just before winter sets in so they will have a nice, new cover of feathers to keep them warm. An annual molt can take between 5-12 weeks for new feathers to grow. Usually they will start loosing head feathers and then work the way down their body. As feathers are lost new ones regrow and therefore you should never have a fully bold hen, although some do have extreme molts. Newly growing feathers are called pin feathers and can be sore so try not to touch or agrivate these. Since feathers are mostly protein give molting hens protein rich treats such as meal worms. Don’t feel the need to purchase your chicken a jumper! They restrict feather growth and can agrivate pin feathers instead make sure they have shelter and maybe a weekend treat of porridge with raisins and corn.

A close up of Maias pin feathers.

Young birds go through  a pair of little molts between the ages of 2-12 weeks of age to grow adult feathers.  So don’t be starteled if you see Down and little feathers scattered in your brooder. Also if your hens continuously have feathers missing it could be a parasite or feather pecking/bulling read my blog on mites and lice or on Preventing feather pecking.

 Key points:

  • Loose feathers around Autumn when they’re about 18 weeks old.
  • Lasts upto 12 weeks.
  • Feed protein.
  • Be gentle with pin feathers – they don’t need jumpers!
  • Chicks have mini molts.
  • Don’t mistake parasites with a molt.

I hope you feel less worried about your scraggly hens now, any questions comment or email reedhorspool.theurbanhens@gmail.com and feel free to share. 

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Sum up Sunday 24/9/17

This week I’ve been updated on how birds + eggs we’ve sold are getting on…

The quail hAve grown loads. And from some hatching eggs we sold they now have a cockerel with a great personality who loves attention just like his  father pixie. Both customers are thinking of getting more quail from us soon! 

Preparing for bird flu

There  is a constant threat of a bird flu out break. But in the U.K it is more likely to break out in the winter since birds are migrating to England for winter. So we should always be careful and aware of avian influenza. Here are some tips to prevent your flock being affected by the flu…

  • Make sure that wild birds and waterfowl can’t get into contact with your flock. Wether this means keep in them in spacious ventilated sheds or even just making a temporary netted run to keep out wild birds.
  • Keeping the feeders and waters under cover and making them unecssesable by wild birds is vital.
  • If you can cover the area you keep your birds in with a roofing material such as tarpaulin to prevent birds droppings falling into your coop.
  • Keep your coop clean and use disinfectant.
  • Wash your foot wear and any and vehicles before entering the area you keep your birds.
  • Try not to Intergrate too many new birds from markets as markets are perfect places for bird flu to be distributed.
  • Contact your vet if any birds as seeming poorly even if you think it may not be th Flu.
  • Try to deter rodents.
  • Keep your birds entertained when kept enclosed ~ See Here on how to hentertain your flock.

Hopefully there will not be any out breaks this year but keep updated by DEFRA . 

    Sum up Sunday 10/9/17

    What a week! We’ve rehomed birds and taken in some and managed to put together a play house. The play house was given to us and is perfect to keep the silkies warm on wet cold days so a lick of paint and some felt and it’s nearly ready to put them in, we just need a nest box and perches, a door and Windows and then they can move into “cluckingham palace”we also rehomed Ronnie and the four other roosters on Saturday. A short drive took us to the smallholding where the man took them to a barn with thirty or so pullets. He said on Tuesday he will take them to the market. We explained that we hatched them so he gave us a box of Orpington eggs and two young pullets that I picked out from a array of chicks. He said any roosters we hatch we can take them back. The two chicks exploring their run, he has no idea what they are I reckon the one on the right is a silver campine. When I returned home my mums friend had delivered her two chickens in their eglu go. She had to rehome them since their dog was frightened of them as they would chase him  inside 😂 one of thems a little; very hen pecked but hopefully her feathers will grow back.and finally I’ve been avertising the quail chicks for some time now and if I could rehome at least 7 I would hatch the eggs as I would be able to cope withso many birds! I didn’t think any one would want them and decided to crack the eggs, 4 were fertile and then soon after I found that bobtail orpingtons are quite rare and now some one wants all eleven quail. I should of kept them! Any way the quail will be going on Tuesday then I may hatch some more. 🐣

    Sum up Sunday 3/9/17

    This week we’ve welcomed 11 quail into the flock and they are growing rapidly and are keep jumpers! These will be for sale in about 6 weeks time so if you may be interested in some contact me at reedhorspool.theurbanhens@gmail.com were also painting and re erecting a play house for the silkie chickens and we’ve got plans to build a roof on the big chicken run so check back next week to see how we’re getting on.

     Sum up Sunday 13/8/17 

    I’ve not been able to do many weekly updates since my iPad has been playing up but I’m able to do so now and it just seems to be that this week has been jam packed! On Tuesday I visited Melton market and I bidded on some Italian quail eggs to hatch out in the incubator. While I was there some pens of bantams caught my eye. So bidding started and the pens of pekins and a pen of four white silkies were all being sold for £17 yet when it came to the four blue bearded silkies I liked they raised to £10, £20, £35,£47,£52! Not including the 10% fee we pay to the market. But none the less the beutiful birds are here to stay an each one of them has there one personality that starts to shine each day. At the moment the silkies are in the temporary housing that the three growers were in, we were going to buy them a large dog kennel and run but it was sold so we are still looking. The growers were moved into the small ark in the run with the larger birds they were inclosed into the arks run because Ronnie was being very aggressive towards them (as a cockerel he wants to be at the top of the pecking order so any new boys will have to back down to him). On Their first night in the run it started to rain so we moved them into the nest box and closed the partition the only problem was that Beyoncè was broody and wouldn’t move out of the nest box and I thought that she may attack them. But in the morning I let them out and the chicks just stood there staring at Ronnie and the chickens below. Beyond ruffled her feathers at the chicks as the brushed passed her and then all of a sudden one of the young cockerels grabbed her on her neck almost pushing her forward so she nearly fell out of the nest box. I rushed over as I did Beyoncè aggressively pecked him for what he had done. I don’t know why he did it either. Maybe he thought he would claim it as his territory so I shooed him and his siblings out. The rest of the day for them was spent in the corner of the run away from everybody. I feel bad for the pullet since she means no harm unlike her boisterous brothers.

     Since the arrival of the young males to the large coop the testosterone levels in the coop have risen and it’s no doubt there’s been some fighting. Pixie had some small scabs on his face but he looked rather well and if he had been in a fight I would suggest he won as he perched high on the broomstick. The only problem with all these young roosters is the unstoppable crowing through out the day hopefully my neighbours like screeching and bellowing that they do every five minutes. 

    Last night I candled the quail eggs and I think all of them are fertile and growing so hopefully in a couple of weeks there will little newborn quail 🐥 .

    Sum up Sunday 30/07/17

    I think it was last week that I put an advert up in my local moles farmer store for the chicks I had for sale. And yesterday I had a phone call from a man asking about them. He asked what they look liked, what food they needed etc. He brought around a box and his family. I belive they hadn’t kept poultry before but were eager to start. They had a look at what we had for sale and we talked about what treats we can give them. How long they live for and they explained their set up . For a house they had a trailer about half the size of our run – Which is 9 meters squared ! And they will be able to free range too once they are settled in. The first hen was chosen by their daughter. It was the female frizzle since she wanted to breed frizzles the second hen chosen was the speckled arucana cross as she may lay a blue egg. Then we visited the younger birds and they liked the look of the two cockerels because of their blue/grey tails but they decided on the older brother (you may know as Betty) then the young brown hen was selected. There was a bit of a debate as the brown hen was smaller and didn’t know the older birds but since they will be in a new large environment she should mingle with them well.  Why not Comment, telling us what you’ve been doing this week 😊

    Personal space.

    T building a chicken run its hard to determine how much space you may need. But as a rule of thumb at least 1 square meter per bird is adequate although this is a far cry from “free range” farms Where the housing situation upto 9 hens per LkAsquare meter is exceptable. So really what is the perfect “consistency” of chickens through out your coop?

    There is no one answer. It all differs. For instance flighty breeds need more space than smaller relaxed pekins and birds in a bland run will need more space than chickens who have lots of things to interactive with (interactive objects should always be provided: see post hentertainment ). I personally would ideally love to have acres of land for my little flock but that isn’t possible, this said I still try to retain at least 1 square meter for each hen. But recently my 9 square meter run is being inhabited by 5 large fowl older hens a pair of seramas and 6 growers this is only 3 birds over limit but still 3 too many any how they seem to be doing fine. I’ve given them lots of logs and branches to climb on and hung treats up to keep them occupied and already one of the cockerels fits in perfectly with the flock. I think you have to find out what is best for you when it comes to a run. More birds in a smaller run means more work cleaning it out and vice versa you’ll find a niche for you and your hens.

    Scaly leg

    Scaly leg mites are a insect that burrows into your chickens scales on their legs. The Mites form little tunnels in the scales of your birds legs and feet leaving the scales in an upright, sticking out position. To treat this problem you can… 

    1.  in warm water
    2. Dry the feet with a dry cloth to remove the damaged and dead scales.
    3. Then wipe olive oil or vegetable oil into the legs and leave for a muinets then wipe off.
    4. Finally coat the legs in vasaline.

    It is best to repeat this process every week until the issue is resolved.

    This is our serama princess with scaly leg mites. You can see in this photo that the scales aren’t smooth and also the dirt and dust that the mites deposit under the scales.

    I hope  this helps you to treat scaly legs in poultry and if you have any questions email me at reedhorspool.theurbanhens@gmail.com 😊

    Roosters

    A rooster is seen as two things in the modern world: A alarm clock and an aggressive monster that preys on little kids at farm parks. This is not true. Roosters are calm and on alert for any danger. They can be vicious toward predators or opposing males. This means that if a cockerel is aggressive toward a human it is likely it feels threatened by them although this crazy rooster could think it is stronger and therefore is trying to dominate you as it would do to a weaker cockerel. Some young roosters are “aggressive” because they  are feuded with testosterone.

    Either way an so called mean rooster can be very annoying or worrying when your doing chores with a cock hanging from you but seriously here’s how you can tame your randy rooster…

    1. Never retaliate to a aggressive rooster just stay calm ( I know it’s hard not to run away when there’s a big copper Marans rooster with massive Spurs chasing you!) 
    2. Firmly pick up your rooster with its head facing away from you and hold it.
    3. To establish dominance when your rooster mates with a hen pick him up and hold him again- this is performing what a domminant cockerel would do to a less dominant  male.

    Repeat the steps above it may take a month or two and if still you do have a rare persistent mean cockerel then try to rehome him or if this isn’t a option slaughter him.

    A young female and rooster. We find that if we pet and tame them while there young they will be peaceful roosters.