Firework fright 

As October drawers in November begins and people celebrate 5 November by lighting bonfires and setting off fireworks. As bright and colourful as they can be dangerous to your chickens. Last year one of our hens (Maisey) died after being spooked by fireworks. She was showing signs that she was spooked by not going to roost in the eglu and she wouldn’t move into the cute even when I had thrown some treats into the coop. There are couple of ways to try and prevent this from happening to you such closing your chickens in their coop as soon as it gets dark before all the firework shows kickoff. Another idea maybe to talk to any neighbours to see if they could use pet friendly fireworks. Most birds aren’t affected by them but if your hens i’m showing signs of being spooked by the fireworks keep an eye on them. 

Advertisements

Five tips to keep your quail safe

I’ve heard many stories where peoples pet quail have been killed by rodents such as rats. So in this blog post I’ll be talking about keeping your Quail safe by building a secure run…

  1. Use a strong galvanised mesh around your run The holes should be no bigger than 4 cm² to prevent any rats squeezing through but small mice May still be able to access inside of the run although these may spread mites and lice they shouldn’t harm your adult quail (seehere on mites and lice). 
  2. Place Stones or paving slabs around the perimeter of the quails enclosure to try and keep any predators digging down into the coop you could even put mesh underneath the rockery and underneath the soil in the run. although our quail have just rocks around the inside and outside perimeter of their enclosure and we have not (Touch wood) had any rodent attacks on our birds.
  3. Raise up the Coop on legs as a bid to prevent rodents climbing up into the quails house but still, Again our Quailrun is on the ground and we have not had any attacks.
  4. Simple husbandry such as making sure there is no leftover food in the enclosure overnight or around the enclosure that may attract rats into the keep this also counts as making sure there is no smells that may attract the rodents so regular cleaning is obviously useful you should also check around the enclosure daily to check there is no breakages or attempted attacks such as scratches and bite marks on the wooden frame of your Coop or any holes around the perimeter.
  5. Traps or poultry safe poison to me should only be used as a last resort as I believe in prevention and humane ways of dealing with things. 

I hope this helps you to either modify or build a safer how’s your quail, If you have any tips on keeping yours quail safe then please feel free to comment on them below.

The lady who brought the quail chicks this summer has built them safe ark style house with a wire bottom.

The death- Layer

I never thought that the two bullets I was given were A rare breed but as they started to befriend and trust me I started wondering what they could be. The white one was likely a arucana or a silkie cross as it was much more inquisitive and laid-back like a silkie and had a crest like an arucana. Furthermore I research into what breed the more flighty and stripey Hen was. It turns out that she was a rare Death-Layer hen! I had never heard of this breed so I thought I would research more and then write A blog post on them.

This breed is known as the death – layer but the real name is Braekel It originates from the Netherlands Where there was to distinctive types of this breed: Larger version were round the marshes of Flanders and a smaller version in the less fertile area of Kempen. The two different types were crossed to create the version that is still around today. Although there is a type called the Campine this “Sub breed” Is a lighter version of the Braekel And has a slightly different weather pattern. The breed is a good layer and there is a old tale that the hens lay an egg every day until they die which gave them the death – layer nickname. 

The bird itself has a distinctive stripey black pattern on its feathers and they can either have a gold or white base colour The base colour is dominant around the head and neck. They also have bright white earlobes and Grey legs and feet. Their combs can be large and very red. The overall shape of the Bird is like that of a leghorn but kmore “relaxed” as they are less upright and large as the leghorn breed.

Off to the market.

Early this morning me and two of the pullets I raised this year travelled to the Melton Mowbray cattle market. We got there very early and were able to book a cage her two young hens. It was easier than we thought as we just had to fill out a quick FORm. Soon lots of other bird started arriving which included geese and ducks as well as turkeys and a few partridges among lots and lots of hens and roosters, There was even a couple of small chicks. Along with the birds came members of the public and breeders, Keepers and owners of poultry. Quite a few people came up to our hens cage. Thankfully they were very well-behaved and want flighty or aggressive like some of the birds at the auction. Not meaning to boast but I think that my two pullets were two of the healthiest looking birds there since there was a breeder who tried to sell loads of dirty, ill, Unhealthy hens (See here to find out what a healthy hen looks like). There was only one chicken chicken I had my eye on she was a healthy, show quality cream legbar pullet. But since I thought my hens would sell for only around 6 pounds without the fees taken off I was only going to bid up to 6 pounds on this chicken.  But sadly the price for her reached £12 once the auctioneer had reached my birds cage he started the bidding at £12 which was surprisingly as most cages were selling for only £4. Nobody placed a bid I was very anxious but I thought maybe they were waiting for a price to drop and it did once it reached £10 a lady bidded on it she was now the owner of the two hens I had bred and reared I was very happy.

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. 

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 🐥 .