Sum up Sunday’s 9/7/17

I’ve not done much this week really. The Heat dosent help with making me want to get up and start doing things but as the phrase says “the show must go on” no mater What the temperature is outside in the sun. And I had a early morning today since I forgot to shut the eglu cubes door so I was awoken by pixie crowing- we usually don’t hear him but because of the heat the windows are all open- so at 4 am he was taken back into bed for a few hours. As I did I heard a loud screech, the 9 week old chicks have started crowing! And I think I have a 50/50 split this year of male to female chicks. That means I have 6 young male chicks that are all going to be screeching until I can rehome them, any one for a rooster? 😂 I’m also hoping to do a open day in the summer holidays so watch this space!

Sum-up Sundays 25/06/17

Recently I’ve been writing a lot of educational posts. When I first started theurbanhens it was really just to share experiences that we encounter with our chickens so I thought I’d bring back weekly updates in the form of sum-up Sundays where each Sunday I’ll summarise the weeks events and gossip from the coop. Wether it be a short catch up or a big essay I’ll be here each Sunday with the latest news from theurbanhens. As our first sum-up Sunday we have a rather sad thing to tell you. Today we lost one of our quail; this morning my mum found the quail Nick-named “funny eyes” (because of her eye deformity that didn’t get her down, she was one of our most craziest and likely  happiest quail) cowering in the corner of the run this afternoon she died peacefully- fly high little funny eyes you may of been tiny but you had a big  personality and will be very missed 🕊.

Funny eyes with one of the other quail greeting me,as she did every morning.
been a busy weekend aswell yesterday I moved the chicks into the run with the larger chickens, I also wrote a blog about it too https://theurbanhens.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/img_1212.jpg and so far theyve been alright but some times Autumn or Maia will give the chicks the odd peck so I created a safe area for them (I talk about this more in the blog) so they can go and relax without a bully harassing them. But this also has the beneficial factor that I can keep the birds feeds seperate. Since the chicks or should I say growers  have just been moved onto growers pellets mixed with the usual chick crumb (so they can get used to eating just the growers pellets) I can put their food in their safe area so the older chooks won’t be gobbling it down! I also found a worm in the omlet cube whilst cleaning it out, it’s the first time I’ve seen a worm in the chickens droppings. So now I’m going to mix 6 grams of flubevent domestic poultry wormer in 3kg of the adults feed and continue to do this for 7 days. Flubevent also has no egg withdraw meaning I can still eat the eggs. Once I cleaned out the coops I refreshed them with shavings and lavender; this herbs smell is relaxing for the hens and repels insects. I hope you enjoyed the first sum up Sunday if you did why not comment what you’ve been getting up to this week 🐓

Hatching eggs: broody or incubator?

It’s summer and hens are going broody and incubators are just calling to be used but which one is the best? Recently we’ve Been hatching lots of eggs . And it made myself think which ones better? So I’ve decided to channel my thoughts into a blog post… I’ll go over the dis advantages and advantages of both and then I’ll come to a conclusion.

Broody hen


 Advantages 

  1. No need to check humidity, egg turning and temperatures the broody hen will do it all herself.
  2. She’s Eco friendly too: no power needed just food, water and a shelter- she will even give you nice big smelly broody poos for the compost big too.
  3. It’s much more natural for the chicks they can learn to be a proper chicken.
  4. The mum will teach them to drink and eat.

 Disadvantages 

    1. You will need to move her into her own coop even when she’s incubating eggs.
    2. She may leave the eggs especially is she’s a first time mum.
    3. She may break eggs while incubating them.

    Incubator/brooder


     Advantages 

    1. Accurate hatching times as with a hen she gets off to eat drink etc. They might take a couple of days longer.
    2. You get to experience up close a chick hatching.
    3. You can candle the eggs easily (as with a hen she will peck your hand off!) to make sure you have no nasty eggs that may effect the growing embryos.

     Disadvantages 

    1. Once they’ve hatched you need to put them in brooder which needs regularly cleaning out and needs to be inside a Warm room.
    2. You need to regularly dip the chicks beaks in the drinker so they know where the food is, with a broody she will, teach them this herself.

     Conclusion 

    Both! We’ve found its better to incubate the eggs your self then brood them under a hen. You will get better hatch results with a good incubator especially if the hens a first time mum. As you might of picked up with the advantages and disadvantages that with the broody hen her advantages were mostly once the eggs have hatched and her disadvantages were when she was incubating the eggs the Opposite goes for a incubator. You’ll find that there’s nothing better than seeing a chick hatch and then for a affectionate mother hen raise it. 

    So how do you go about doing so firstly once your hen goes broody start to incubate the eggs (I’ve got a two part blog on incubating eggs ) then once they’ve all hatched wait for darkness outside then pop the chicks under the hen in her broody coop. (I also have a blog on caring for chicks) she should take to the chicks straight away when morning comes. Don’t disturb her to much. Leave her to it after all mumma hen knows best.

    The beautiful bond between a mother hen and her chick.


    Integrating new flock members.

    Betty (who we now know is a boy) looking happy in his new pen.
    Chicken math hits you again, you’ve got a flock who get on as happy as Larry and now all hell breaks loose because you’ve added new members. The thought of sharing the coop with the newbies leaves your hens distraught. They have no other choice but to attack so here’s 6 steps to help your chooks become best friends…

    1. If you have brought them from a market or have any worries that your hens might be carting diseases quarantine them until you are sure they are fine (search a healthy hen in the blog post to know what a healthy hen looks like). 
    2. It’s always best to add birds that are the same age or the same size as you’re existing flock for instance a 4 week oldchick and a two year old hen might not go down well. 
    3. If you have birds that may be younger or smaller than your original chickens givethem a space only they can access for instance a shelter with a door only they can fit through, here they can relax and you can givethem food and water in this area incase they are scared to come out for the first day.
    4. Create a distraction such as hanging veg, giving them some chicken toys. (To find out more search hentertainment  for a blog on entertaining/distracting chickens).
    5. Add extra drinkers and feeders to the run so if the original chickens guard the food and water The newbies have a supply too.
    6. Some people suggest keeping them separate for a week in a run inside your original chickens run so they get used to each other although I’ve never tried this.

    Don’t worry (he says as he checks them every five muinets) a peck and a kick is normal and will establish a pecking order. But if any of the flock are being really bullied spray them with anti pecking spray or use beak bits with the bully. These can be found in most country stores or on good old eBay. I hope this helps as it can be a very stressful time mixing birds. Thanks for reading 😊

    3 herbs to give to your hens.

    I like giving my chickens herbs not only do they love them but it also can improve their health and create a calm environment that smells nice too. Herbs are easy to grow or can be brought from any garden store or even food shop.

    1. Lavender is one of the herbs I give to my chickens more often. I take some of the leaves and flowers to sprinkle in the nest box. Since lavender scent calms chickens I feel it will make the hens daily laying more relaxed, it also prevents flies and other insects so is great in a coop! 
      Mix the lavender and shavings together before adding it to you flocks house.
    2. Oregano is one of the most beneficial herb for your birds it’s thought to fight off salmonella, coccidiosis even the dreaded avian flu which struck at the end of last year and still is lurking about… Its also full with vitamins K and E and boosts immune systems this is why I like giving it to my growers. You also can dry herbs for their feed or as I do cut and serve.
    3. Mint is a great plant it smells good, repels rodents and can cool your chickens down. So you could grow it around the coop to keep away rats and mice and then cut to use in the coop or in your chooks wateres on hot days to cool them down. 

    I hope you enjoyed this blog there are many more herbs for your chickens too and the great thing is that you can use the manure to grow them then cut them, give them more manure and the cycle continues. Why not comment what herb you flock like? I’d love to know.

    How to hatch eggs under a broody hen 

    So I’ve just had someone who’s about to collect some eggs from our pet flock to hatch under her broody so I thought I can make a blog post to help them and other people when they decide to satisfy there stubborn broody hen. So here’s a step to step guide…

    1. Move your hen into a “broody coop” is always better than leaving her in the coop with the other hens bothering her and you’ll need another house to keep her and her chicks once they’ve hatched away from the rest of the flock.move her off her nest at night when it’s dark. put her and her eggs in the broody coop and the next morning see if she’s still broody if she is you can either purchase some eggs from a breeder or eBay and if youve got a rooster hatch your own- it’s also best to buy or set more eggs than you need to hatch under a hen a specially if she’s a clumsy first time mum or if the eggs are posted.
    2. Make sure every morning your hen is getting up of the nest to strech her legs and have a drink and some food- it’s a good time to add some health tonic or vitamins to her water as being broody can take its toll on a hen.
    3. You’ll notice that she’ll be doing massive broody poos just remove these as they can be quite un pleasant- this is why she should come of the nest each morning to get dump it else where so it’s not making the eggs messy.
    4. On day 7-10 candle the eggs using a purpose made candeling light or torch- you should see a red dot this is the embryo there also should be veins that you may see pumping. Bad eggs such as embryos that have passed or not developed or infertile eggs will be clear with a light yellow or orange blob which is the yolk and embryos that have died produce a blood ring this will look like a red ring around the inside of the egg and you won’t be able to see any veins or a embryo.Between day 19-21 don’t take her off the nest as this is when she’ll up her humidity and sit tight ready for her eggs to pip. 
      Here’s a healthy developing embryo.
    5. Make sure to powder your birds with lice/mite powder since a hen sitting in the coop all day is easy prey for mites and lice. 
    6. Leave your hen to sit tight on the nest between day 19-21 as this is when she ups humidity ready for her babies to pop out.
    7. Feed your chicks chick crumbs these should be fed to them until they’re 8 weeks old and the mother should have mixed corn too. If you’ve got medicated chick feed to prevent cocidossis (see in blog post 3 common problems in chicks) there might be a egg withdrawal if the mother hen starts laying again. 
    8. Put pebbles or marbles in the water pots to allow the chicks to drink but not drown. 
    9. The hen will decide when’s best to say farewell to her babies this tends to start when the chicks are around  7 weeks of age. The hen can mix back into the flock when the chicks are fully feathered and when she’s fed up, but keep the young chicks in the broody coop and feed them growers pellets from 9-18 weeks of age.
    10. When your chicks are 18 weeks of age and big enough they can be re introduced carefully into the new flock. And then they can start eating layers pellets and hopefully once they’re settled lay their first eggs!
      It’s a fun and great experience for every one when a mother hen hatches her brood.

    I hope your mother hen hatches a lovely brood, you’ll find it’s Nice to have chicks running about the garden. Please feel free to use the categories section to serch up specific posts via key words as theres some posts on problems in chicks aswell as using a incubator to hatch them.

    Hentertainment 

    Our hens are happy in their run and whenever I get the chance I let them out into the garden to have a dust bathe and just generally enjoy themselves while destroying the garden in the process! But it’s important to keep your birds wether it be chickens, quail or any other poultry occupied. If birds are left in a bare run – no matter how big it is – they will soon get bored this can cause feather pecking and bulling and even depression your egg numbers may decrecrease any you flock won’t be exercising as much either. It’s easy to keep your flock entertained here are some tips you could use….

    1. Give your birds  the 5* luxury accommodation it can be cheap too: some branches and logs make great perches in a run that your hens will enjoy and soil mixed with a little bit of D.E makes a great dust bathe and straw to scratch about in.
    2. Treats are a great and nutritious, both you and the birds will benefit from these. A luettice you won’t use can be hung up with string you hens will love pecking at this the same goes for any other poultry friendly fruit and veg. Corn scattered in the straw or soil will encourage the birds to enjoy digging around aswell as wearing down their claws the eggs will also be nice and rich from the corn. And bird feeders you may use for fat balls can be filled with spinach or hentastic treats which our chooks love!
    3. Mineral blocks can be purchased cheaply and are full of vitamins and minerals, grit and all your birds favourite corns you flock will love them.- you can also DIY and I’m the summer make ice blocks: freeze mixed corn, peas, sweetcorn and other goodies with water put it in the freezer a ta-da a refreshing tasty ice block to not only give your hens something fun to do but cooling and hydrating them at the same time 🙂

    I hope this helps you as boredom can be a real problem especially in ” lock down ” when bird flu is about luckily we now can let out birds to free range or into a uncovered run due to restrictions being lifted Aswell as being a problem when it’s muddy and wet and the birds have nothing to do.If you’ve got any boredum busters comment below well love to hear your ideas! 

    Mites and lice

    The weather gets warmer and you might start worrying about mites and lice. Here’s what you need to know so you can fight these little bugs!

    First things first what are mites? They’re little grey parisites that sometimes decide they want to invest your coop and disrupt your flock. As your birds go to roost in their coop the little mites will crawl out of the cracks and crevices and climb onto your hens for a mid night feast of blood. A fully grown mite will lay lots of eggs in crevices of your coop after 2-3 days these will hatch and in around 5 days these will be laying more eggs and before you know it you’ve got thousands of them in your coop. Signs of mites can be that your chickens don’t want to roost at night in fear of the mites so instead they camp out. You also can place a piece of paper in the coop and in the morning or when you lock your chickens up in the evening you’ll see the red dots crawling on it. 

      How to treat mites. 

    1. Use D.E aka ditamatious Earth although only use this when needed as it can cause respitory problems! D.E is razor sharp particles of aquatic fossils called diatoms these will kill the mites when you sprinkle the D.E on the birds at night or in the cracks of the house. And alowing your chickens to dust bathe will help to kill mites.
    2. Particular sprays can be used in the house for mites I suggest ~ net-tex total mite kill. 

    Wooden houses are more Susceptible to red mite with plastic houses such as a omlet eglu you can just wash them away.

    So thas mites what are lice? Mites are another little bug but these live on the chicken, they feed on the skin laying lots of grey eggs round the base of the feather shaft. The lice cause irritation so chickens may peck out there feathers and stop laying eggs these are things to look out for. We find that our “fluffier” breeds such as orpingtons and brahmas are more likely to get lice but any of your birds can get them! 

      Treatment for lice. 

    1. Like mites you can purchase a powder for mites to put on your birds at night alowing for it to work its way into the feathers. Barrier louse powder is the one we’ve used in the past it works well and smells like mint, perfect!
    2. A bath can wash of mites and if you chop a few feathers covered in eggs will reduce numbers of lice although it’s always best to properly treat them with powders. 
    3. And like mites alowing your birds to dust bathe can prevent lice.

    The grey, white clumps are lice eggs you can find these around the vent, under wings and down the back and neck.

    I hope this will make you feel at ease going into the warm summer months knowing that if you get a infestation you can treat it. Every one will get mites or lice in poultry you just need to start treating it when it happens to prevent a large infestation. After I took a break from keeping chickens I purchased a house from eBay to start again, I’ll never buy a cheap chicken coop again! Lots of paces for mites to hide and hard to control and defeate the infestation so I moved over to buying a omlet eglu go and now a eglu cube . There great and plastic meaning I can wash away the mites and dirt and it’s easy to clean.

    3 common problems in young chicks.

    It’s half way through spring and many of us expanding our flocks may have little chicks snuggled under a brooder or with a mother hen, if your wondering how to incubate eggs then search hatching chicks into the serch bar on our page. Otherwise here are 3 common problems you may need to resolve when keeping chicks…

    Pasty butt

    Pasty butt is common it’s when droppings stick to the down around the chicks vent. It can be caused by being overheated, too cold even stress or because of something they have eaten. The vent should not be confused with the chick’s belly button. The vent is the area on a chick where droppings and eggs exit the body. Pulling off a belly button can not only hurt the chick but get infected and even cause disembowelment. But if droppings block up a chick’s vent without being removed the chicks could die. 
        Prevention    

    1. Clean regularly to minimise loose faeces.
    2. Check chicks vents every now and then for pasty but.

        Treatment  

    Its very simple just use a warm damp cloth or paper towel and remove the droppings carefully and be even more gentle not to pull the droppings or down other wise it can cause skin around the vent to rip. After you’ve dried and cleaned the area put some petroleum jelly on it to prevent any other droppings from sticking. 

    As you can see the droppings stuck to the vent area therefore this is pasty butt.

    Spraddle leg

     Spraddle leg is a deformity of a chick or birds legs, the feet a spread/pointing out to the sides. It makes walking hard or even impossible for the chick. if untreated it can be permanent. Although it can simply be fixed! It can be caused due to incubation problems such as the temperature going up or down or a long, difficult hatch. Injury to the legs in also a problem with another cause being a overcrowded brooder and last it could be a vitamin e deficiency. 

      Prevention  

    1. Don’t overcrowd your brooder and use paper towels or as we have found best shavings for a floor in your brooder.

      Treatment  

    You will need to “brace” your chicks legs to allow the muscles to strengthen in the right position. yarn, rubber bands, tape and vetwrap can be used for a brace although it will need to be able to stay fixed in place, not restrict blood circulation when applied, doesn’t damage the skin, is easy to take off and allows the chick try walking. Now to make a brace: wrap two little pieces of The material around each of the legs just below the knee, don’t wrap too tightly. With vetwrap it sticks to itself, so no tape is used. Next cut a long pice to secure the legs together. The legs should now be underneath the chick, slightly wider compared to a normal stance but allow a slight amount of space for the chick to more them a bit. Over time the chick’s legs will become stronger and therefore slowly start to allow for more leeway inbetween the legs until it is definite that the brace is no longer needed.

    As you can see a plaster is being used to brace the chicks legs together.

    Coccidossiss 

    Coccidiosis is a parasite which damages the wall of a chickens gut there are many different types some harmless right through to life threatening. sporoulated oocyst is digested by the chick then chemicals inside the gut start to break down the oocyst wall and it then releases the type of the coccidiosis called the sporocyst. The sporocyst changes and it occupies cells of the gut wall and they then start to replicate, more occysts are made and then they are passed out in the faeces into the brooder, run or enclosure and can infect other chickens. What is so fatal about coccidiosis is that one oocyst through its cycle can destroy thousands of cells in the gut, so think what happens if the chick is to digest lots of oocyst. It’s extremely painful for the chicks and causes the birds to stop eating, stand with a hunched posture and messy looking feathers. And damage created to the gut reduces the amount of nutrients it can absorb then the birds can loose weight and they usually may have diarrhoea.

      Prevention  

    1. Clean regularly, since the chicks are passing out oocyst in their faeces which then can infect other birds.
    2. Don’t overstock your pens, brooders etc. Birds are more likely to spread diseases rapidly if kept confined in a crowded space.

      Treatment  

    Keep them in a warm and dry environment- nice and cosy and Then treat with medication, I suggest Harkers coxoid .

    Here is a very bad case of coccidossiss note the hunched over chick and blood in the droppings .

    I hope you know feel more confident in raising chicks and enjoy the experience if you need anymore advice take a look at the blog posts or email me via reedhorspool.theurbanhens@gmail.com and find us on Facebook at Theurbanhens or on my own Instagram page which is now full of chicken photos called r33dyr0011 thats two zeros! Oh and don’t forget to keep an eye on our page as I’m aiming for at least two educational posts every month! 🐣

    A healthy hen

    Our last post was on choosing the right breed for your backyard so now you’ve chosen your preferred breed and have contacted the breeder that you may of found in the magazine, pets 4 Homes or even gumtree and now you need to know what a healthy hen looks like to avoid any issues or to resolve them from bringing home a unhealthy bird. 

    First things first the breeder. If they’re hiding something from you its best not to purchase the birds, they may also take advantage of your knowledge if your starting to keep chickens. Best way to buy birds is ask, see on poultry networks and Facebook pages if anyone knows any poultry breeders near to you and what they think about them.

    Now your breeder is secure just check the birds incase of any illnesses the breeder may of not picked up on.

    1. A bright shiny eye, no clouding or foam this could be a respitory problem.
    2. Nice smooth legs, scaly leg mites can cause rough and irratable legs on your birds if your hen has scaly legs coat them with vasaline.
    3. Sneezing and heavy breathing ; this also may be a respitory illness or mycoplasma and usually solved if taken straight to the vet for some antibiotics.
    4. Generally under the weather such as hunched over, siting in a corner etc. This could be a whole array of things and is best to search on the internet first with exact details or a trip to the vets to find out what may be wrong. 
    5. A messy bum isn’t as such a life or death situation but Still nearly to be cleared up scince it can lead to maggots and secondary illnesses, if your hen has a messy bun it may just be where her fluffyness is getting in the way so just trim it. It could be lice so check for white clumps of eggs around he vent and if she does have lice  purchase some poultry lice dust to shake under ur wings and around her vent. It could be worms so using a specialised feed or powder can clear this up.
    6. Lumps me bums, look for lumps especially below the vent this could be a stuck egg is the hen is not laying and is likely to need vet advice. A rock hard crop could be a impacted crop so massage the crop breaking up the food with help from olive oil then if it does not clear please get advice from a vet, otherwise it could be sour crop then withdraw food and water 24 hours an dose 3ml of neat brandy to help kill the fungus causing sour crop.

    So if there’s may thing that your chicken could have what does a healthy bird look like?

    We hope this help you to resolve your chickens illness or make you feel confident when buying chickens.

    At the moment we have a poorly chicken, Ivy the pekin you can get updated on her at Theurbanhens on Facebook.