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.

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.


    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.