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.

Top 10 breeds for a backyard flock

Wether your a first time poultry keeper or a experienced one looking to expand here are some tips on choosing the right breed for you, first thing to decide is what you want them for. Most common purposes for urban or garden keepers are eggs, showing and breeding and you might want them to look nice or be child friendly,the  less common purpose is meat. You might slaughter a spare cockerel or old hen as a meal for you and your family and therefore want a dual purpose breed.

Hybrid or pure breed

Hybrids are generally bred for eggs although some are produced to grow incredibly fast and therefore can break bones and have heart problems. If you have a egg producing hybrid they do lay incredibly well 260 to even 320+ a year! This said hybrids will live considerably shorter lives than purebreeds and due to the amount of eggs they create they can get prolapsed vents and egg boundness lastly the males are slaughtered after hatching but most hybrids are vaccinated against common deseaises . Purebreeds come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of breeds to fit your set up, most purebreeds  an be taken to shows and contests if of good quality. Even though they may lay only 100-150+ eggs per year over their lifespan they can provide just as many as a hybrid. Some pure chickens can be rare and therefore breeding or even keeping them can help to preserve them. If you do breed heritage, rare or pure breeds it’s worth having a dual purpose type: the females can lay a reasonable amount of eggs whilst the males can be slaughtered for a nice sized carcass.

Top ten breeds

due to the fact we’ve never kept any meat hybrids I will not review them.

Purebreeds

  1. Rhode Island reds: this hardy breed is the base of many egg laying hybrids due to the fact they are a dual purpose breed and are incredibly friendly, although these birds aren’t rare they are a wonderful heritage breed.
  2. Orpington: a English breed created by Thomas cook in the village of Orpington, this breed lay well for a purebreed and come in a range of colours which will contrast in your garden perfect if you’d like a pretty bird. Due to their tameness and size they are good mothers and make great pets. 
  3. Serama: tiny little chooks with massive personalitys this true bantam breed originates from Malaysia where they are kept as house pets, a true bantam is a small chicken(bantam) with no large fowl of its breed. The males can be kept in a urban garden since their crow is very quiet and is like a cockadoodaledoo although it sound as if their voice has broken halfway through! The males love their “wives” and are very gentle towards humans.
  4. Pekin: another true bantam these little chickens also have attitude and aren’t afraid of their bigger flock members. With big feathers on their feet they need to be kept dry or trimmed of, but this feature makes them quite funny when they run its more of a side to side Waddle and the feathers mean they are less destructive to the ground. They make great mothers too.
  5. Leghorn: this Mediterranean breed are heat hardy and common in hotter countries for this reason aswell as the May eggs they lay, 300+ large white eggs per year. The way they keep cool is by sending blood through their large combs but when it’s cold they can get frostbite but a bit of Vaseline can help if you put a bit on the comb.
  6. Legbar: created by Reginald Crundall Punnett after the first three arucana hens were brought to England and the male was slaughtered by accident. Punnett cross bred these hens to create the crested cream Legbar which not only lay blue eggs but are sexable at day old the males are lighter with a large spot on the head and the females have dark stripes. Legbars are flighty but can be tamed. Legbars are the opposite of true bantams in the fact they only come in large fowl.

Hybrids

    7. Warren: this hybrid is deprived from the Rhode Island Red and light Sussex, used in the egg industry these friendly birds will lay nearly a egg a day and are perfect starter birds, cheaper than purebreeds these are easy to come by.


    8. Skylines: these are a crossbred Legbar laying more eggs it too can lay a blue egg, some olive and even a few cream. These birds share the looks of a Legbar but have a cream neck unlike the legbars grey, they also can have a salmon chest or lovely red feathers.

     9. Goldtop : this silkieXsussex isn’t bred for eggs but for friendliness and broodiness. Going broody most of the year they lay around 150 eggs, but are extremely friendly and pretty birds, harder to find a breeder of these.

         10. Copper black: a Maran hybrid who shares the gentle personality of the purebreed, the glossy black feathers and shiny rich brown eggs but lay more per year and tend to be vaccinated like most hybrids. These also are cheaper and more common than a purebreed.

Which ever breed you choose make sure you read up on the standards and other information and purchase from a good breeder.

Shadow needs rehoming

If you have  followed our blog for a while you will know that we have been hand rearing a pure-breed copper Marans chick who is named Shadow, brought as a dark brown egg at a market we placed it in the incubator in hope one would hatch and it did! But only one, so we grew attached teaching shadow to run up and get some treats when I clap, climbing all over me and my favourite reading the poultry books to shadow as he or she would peck the chickens. Then I realised it was all to good to be true! Shadow was deffinetly a boy, we integrated him into the flock carefully all was well until this week, him and pixie the domminant cockerel have started to fight and sadly we don’t have the room for them to have the acquired space or seperate pens. So shadow is up for rehoming, he’s roughly 21 weeks old and a handsome young chap, showing all the qualities and feature of his type would be perfect for breeding since he’s already starting to charm our girls. Please comment if your interested and I can send some contacts or find us on Facebook at Theurbanhens and message us there. We’re located in Stamford lincolnshire and only want him to go to either a home as a pet or to be used in breeding even showing , please take in to account we have grown attached to him and chosen to let him go for the best and therefore he is not to be used in cock fighting  or to be slaughtered  . 

shadow from a chick to 21 weeks old.

Wintering quail on a urban scale.

We have six egg laying female quail who live in our back garden, they like to dust bathe and hide in the straw playing chase on the warm summer months but when winter encroaches the quail need some slight changes in their care. Originally quail would fly over to Africa for winter, yes you heard me right, tiny quail flapping with their little wings all the way to AFRICA! But let’s face it who wouldn’t rather go on holiday to Africa when winter in England can be so bitter. But our girls being domestic can’t make that journey across the challenging seas so we have to try and keep them warm and mostly dry. But we didn’t  have the time, space or money to build a ideal housing situation such as a shed so we’ve got some simple steps we’ve taken to keep them happy over winter.

  • Covering them up. Our quail are in a old chicken run which already has plastic sheeting on the roof but we’ve used a table cloth to give the sides of the run extra cover from wind and rain.
  • Adding a deep layer of straw in the run, this not only can keep them warm but also creates cover from wind and enchanted their environment and natural behaviour eg. burrowing into the straw. Remember if this bedding gets wet it will need to be changed to keep them dry.
  • Adding a house. Quail don’t seem to enter their house at night so if the forecast for the night is unbelievably cold, then placing your quail in the house and retaining them from coming out till the morning is best for them, also adding a extra house. We’ve used the tortoise house as this has a lager door which quail prefer. Also tunnels and Guinea pig play housing are good to use it means if you are unable to shut them away they still have extra shelter.

People say that quail eat more when out in the cold. I think that really it’s not changed. They eat the food in the summer for  to lay eggs and eat the same amount but just aren’t laying their putting it towards the energy to pull through, this is the reason naturally kept quails eggs will be more expensive since they’re not laying in the winter and can be a bit hit and miss in the summer still when they do lay the eggs they do taste amazing! 

Happy new year!

So it’s been awhile since I’ve updated I think since way before Christmas, now it’s the new year so happy new year!

Just a update for you if you haven’t seen on Facebook that our birds also got Xmas pressies too, a eglu cube for the Chicks we hatched out this ye….. Last year. And now at least three of them first a speckled egg belived to be autumns as its identical to her mothers egg, then a sort of darkish brown egg which I believe is Maia, we thought as a arucana X she would lay a nice green egg but still her beutiful plumage Makes up for it. Then a cream egg was laid most deffinetly by Lyra. My cousins have visited, first thing in the morning we let out the birds gave them some corn but sadly we opened up each house with a result of no egg, later in the afternoon we got two eggs, opening up the eglu cubes door to find Lyra setteling on the nest “give her half an our and we’ll come and see if she’s laid one by then” and hey presto she did! They’ve taken a dozen home initially to eat but they might try having ago at incubating them in the airing cupboard 🙂 

BIRD FLU UPDATE: please still keep your birds undercover or away from wild birds until the 28th of February  And take safety precautions such as devoting clothes for when you are doing your chicken chorus such as wearing a pair of shoes only in your chicken run and monitor your chickens closely for signs of bird flu. Find out more at http://www.gov.uk and read the recent article on the situation .

Pixie says hi

Pixie the little roo at the top of his voice says hi to all our viewers, he would also say thankyou but his voice would break by then so I’ll say thankyou for him. We are grateful that your following the hens and quail on their journey especially pingu aka Luna from egg to moody teenager, we’ve even managed to spread to different countries such as USA where a handful of people have read our blogs, I’m sure our chooks would be happy to join the viewers in Canada maybe not in the harsh winter! And Australia the other side of the world we hope you enjoy reading the blogs to, South Africa maybe the birds could come and have a holiday at yours I’m sure they’ll prefere it to rainy britian and finnaly Barbados! In the Caribbean islands where the beutiful brahma originated from and extra special hello from pepper.
Thankyou again for reading the blogs and following us on the journey, please feel free to share pictures of your birds,dogs,tortoises,Guinea pigs and even fish or any other amazing and cute pets you own.
From pepper, Beyoncé, shadow, Autumn, princess, pixie, Ivy, rose, Maia, Lyra, pingu, Khloé, kourtney, Kim, bonsai, sushi, kimono, Tokyo, yoko, noodles, Toby, Bailey, freeda, elvis, teddy, quaver, spotty, stripey, peach.

RIP Maisey

I’ve been having late rehearsals for a production iam being in called “wonderland”, people are celerbrating This festive month with fireworks and bonfires to burn guy Fawkes. Coming home at six it being dark I am un able to shut away the chickens as early as I would like. I came home on Halloween to find the young birds on the eglu as they usually are but for some reason maisey was out side I tried to move her, she wouldn’t budge. Pushing her, nope. Throwing food in the house, no way would she go in it was clear she was spooked by the fireworks. She was calmer than Luna who was running frantically running about the coop so I picked maisey up and shut her in the eglu to find her dead the next morning.


we will ever forget the 2 and a half years you spent with us😢 ,She was brought along with Beyoncé and pepper when they were probably a year old, she’s gone through a mite infestation, moving house, lice laying egg sacks all over her, 3 new flocks of birds joining that she’s shown who’s boss and looking after ones being bullied.

Autumn 

As iam writing this all the leaves are gently falling to the ground leaving bare branches but some trees are full with bright reds from berries ready to be eaten by the migrating birds yes; it’s Autumn.

We’ve started the October months with mud, rainfall and mud. So much that I’ve been digging trenches in the run and laying down hay. Each morning as I go out to wake the birds up there’s fog, dew and spiders webs covering the ground and black birds nibbling the fallen apples. Iam having to wear wellies and a big puffy coat to keep myself warm.

There’s been good news and bad news, firstly the good news…


The hen pictured above is Maia and lyras 3 week younger half sister. She’s been known as ” the ginger one” now she’s called Autumn, her gorgeous orange feathers remind me of the Autumn leaves. If you want to know she’s a light Sussex X warren hybrid.

Now for bad news…

The serama chick that was hatched along with Autumn also known as “pixies little sister” is a micro serama, she could still be pixies full sister because apparently it’s in the genes all of a sudden out of all your seramas you could have a micro! It’s cute but she’ll never lay eggs and unlikely to breed and you probably wouldn’t want to breed micros and here’s why because they can live for upto 1 year, if you’re lucky😢.

Now to leave on a high here’s some more good news…

I’ve been rearing shadow for I think 6 weeks he’s deffinetly a cockerel and I’ve been slowly inter grating him into the flock because we’ve got two older males. For a few days he’s been in a run away from the coops but I’ve been putting him in the eglu at night with maisey, pepper, beyonce and sometimes Autumn but today he’s in a small run in the larger run. This morning I did let him out with out the younger birds I’ve hatched running about, Ivy started on him but he fought back than ran away, next Autumn pecked him a few times and Rose warned him off. As I’ve said he’s in a run now and mainly Luna/pingu the cockerel and Lyra have been pecking him and flapping their wings. Pixie the more domminant cockerel dosent mind . Beyonce is chasing Lyra and Luna/pingu when they try to attack shadow, beyonce also lest pixies little sister sleep under her wing if she’s in the eglu. She’s always trying to be a mum brooding eggs and looking out for the younger birds.

I hope you enjoyed this post find our page on Facebook at theurbanhens and find us on Instagram by searching our hashtag #theurbanhens that way you get updated earlier than on here.🐓

Teenagers becoming adults and adults becoming elderly

On the 4th of June we welcomed Luna onto the world, she was a chick from the eggs we hatched from new macdonalds farm. Now she’s a big cockerel and is nearing maturity along with her pullet friends Maia and lyra and his “brother” pixie who’s all ready getting to business with Khloé😂. Exactly 16 weeks ago today she was born! I know Iam repeating myself but I can’t believe how quick they’ve grown! In around 3-6 weeks they’ll be laying eggs (hopefully if the days light dosent fade to quickly!), pixie and Luna/pingu are definitely filled up with testosterone squarking at the crack of dawn as they’re voice breaks😂.

But in sadder news two of the quail seem unwell, they’re staying in the house not darting back and forth attacking the sweet corn like seagulls at Skegness, so we researched it and quail tend to  live 2 years, 3 at the max apparently. It’s sad but for new life to be created old life must leave but still, who knows they maybe with us for years to come!

Newest member of the poultry family!

So as you may know we’ve been incubating eggs under both rose and Ivy and in the brinsea well on day 22 of incubation this little fluffy leged bundle of fluff hatched and although we probably will be saying good bye to her when she’s older I am calling her Shadow.


We waited hoping for a friend to hatch but none did. It’s now day 23 so we cracked them open one had died roughly around day 18 another died before it even developed a bean sized body and the last was infertile. The broody eggs neither hatched so we tried to get rose and Ivy to adopt her sadly Ivy attacked her, well to hard pecks sending her flying so we left rose and Ivy and just stood holding the chick to beyonce and Luna/pingu so she can see what she is😊. When she gets to 1 week I’ll start taking her on trips to see the other chicks but for now she’s happy running around my room following my every step☺️. I’d love to get her a friend like we did Luna but Iam afraid my mum won’t let me as it’s costing too much to feed them, she’s already talking about selling the kardashians and pixies little sister!😔I accept we incubated this batch to grow and sell them at the market but when there’s one of them they bond with you like your their parent and I know it will be hard rehoming her when the time comes😢, and I’ve made it worse for myself by naming her!, shadow😊.

(This was written a week ago!)