Chickens Feed

New Additions to the Flock

We've had the ex-bats now for a week and they've settled down very nicely. The run and two hen houses are looking very poorly populated though and today was the day to go and pick out the rest of our hens. 

DSC_3406The plan has always been to get a mixture. I really wanted to give some ex-bats a retirement home, they are reliable layers for the next short while, but their best laying period is coming to or is at an I thought it would be good to get some hybrids at point of lay. My theory is for them to get into their peak laying as the ex-bats start to slow down and then I thought about having some chickens for fun...more pets than as egg providers. 

I'm quite keen to get chickens which will give different coloured eggs too, as this is always a nice combination. 

In November, a lot of places don't have the selection of chickens that they have during the spring and summer's really the low season, so it was very difficult to find a good farm/breeder who would have a broad selection. I didn't mind travelling to a few places, but I did want the introduction to include all the chickens, so it was one intro and minimal stress to the ex-bats. And although I do have a separate run which I could use for introductions, I was keen not to use it for this first flock integration. 

In the end, I was able to locate one place where they had a broad selection and of course I ended up with more chickens than I had planned. I am really pleased though, as I managed to get a good selection of hybrids and pure breeds, and of large and bantam fowl. Among them cream legbar, marans, pekin bantam, booted bantam, appenzeller spitzhauben, laced-winged wyandotte. 

So far there have been a few scuffles as everyone gets acquainted, but nothing too major...I'm told it'll take a few days for everyone to settle down and a few weeks for them to all be nicely bonded and knowing their place in the pecking order. 

3rd Nov 2015

Today, I thought I'd treat the chickens to their first chard meal...they weren't very sure at all to start with. But of course they slowly started to get that the weird green stuff might actually be tasty. It's very rewarding watching them start to get to grips with normal chicken behaviour. The past couple of nights, two of the chickens haven't worked out that there's two snug warm hen houses to sleep in. I've found them fast asleep outside, just at the entrance to one of the houses. So they needed popping into their house to keep warm and safe.

I've also decided to keep a track of eggs and a mini record of the hens. It's a good way to track, injury, who's laying (if you can tell), what's happening at what time of the year...etc etc. This morning there was one egg. Yesterday there were they seem to be fine and settling in nicely. 


2nd Nov 2015

So this is a picture of our first egg and Little Blue. Poor Little Blue wasn't feeling too bright in this picture. She unfortunately got stuck in one of the doors on her journey from the battery farm to the rescue centre. The other hens thought it was a great game to peck her bum. As we arrived at the rescue centre, one of the volunteers was carrying her to give her a little sunshine and asked if we wanted to take her...I promptly said yes. I just figured if we were going to rescue unfortunate chickens, we may as well rehome one of the most unfortunate. I wasn't sure how many other people would want her, as she looked pretty awful.

Anyhow, as chickens are attracted to the colour red, any bleeding wound can attract attention and result in quite serious injury. The rescue workers sprayed her bum with gentian violet antiseptic her bum is blue. And she subsequently got called Little Blue.

I should also mention, she did not lay the egg in the picture. As soon as the chickens were released into their new home, one of them quickly discovered the nest boxes and kindly left a homecoming gift. 


My First Chickens are Booked!!!

I'm super excited...I've just booked to pick up my first batch of chickens. I'm going to be rehoming some ex-battery hens and will pick them up on 1st November. 

It's really good, as it gives me a little more time to get ready. I've been advised that ex-bats have never eaten layer pellets, so I need to start them on mash and move to pellets by gradually integrating them. So I have some time to get them and also, to do a few last minute tweaks to the chicken run, as I ran out of cable ties and although I'm pretty sure all the gaps are filled, I'd like to do a few final checks. I don't think I can be overly secure as it's the difference between life and death. 

One of my allotment neighbours had all their chickens killed in the first 24 hours by a fox. It wasn't a big gap in the fencing, but foxes are smaller than you imagine under all that fluff. So even small gaps need to be filled. I would be totally heartbroken if my lack of attention resulted in anything like that happening and I'm lucky enough that all of us on the site can benefit from the harsh lesson. 

Anyhow, the plan is to pick up these four ex-battery hens and let them settle in to their new home for a week or maybe two and then go to one of the farms to get some hybrid point of lay hens and maybe some bantams. I'm not exactly sure where I'm going to go yet. As I've mentioned in the past, I really want some silkie bantams, but they aren't that easy to source. So the places I've looked at to get the POL hybrids don't seem to have silkies...the places that do have silkies seem overly expensive and I don't want to pay £40 for a chicken. So I'm having a bit of trouble working out the best place to go at the moment. I may end up getting a different bantam breed instead of a silkie. I quite like lavender pekins too...polish bantams are also really cool. 

I think I just need to look at the hybrid chickens and decide on the place to go for them. If I need to get the bantams elsewhere, that's fine...I had hoped to get the rest of my hens from the same place in the hope that I would only need to do one lot of introductions...but I think bringing in new hens is something that's inevitable when owing chickens. I also don't want my ex-bats to be too stressed through all the changes. But I guess we'll see how things go. I have two hen houses and an extra small run which fits inside the big run, so at least I have space to be able to separate chickens if needs be. 

Chickens here we come!!!

Finally, finally after the long wait, the chicken run is finally finished. I am soooo eggcited!!! Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. 

20151011_160840I know we have to wait a few weeks before we go and pick out our chickens, but that's okay. It's just very nice to know that everything is ready to go. 

I'm planning a trip to a place that sells lots of different kinds of chickens, as I really want some silkie bantams and some POL hybrids. My niece and nephew are coming too, as they want to pick a chicken each and name it. I have a few other people with dibs on names too. But they will have to name their chicken by photo.  I'm also toying with the idea of some ex-batts...but I'm not sure at the moment, as they only do hen rescue runs at set times during the year. I will be looking into it though, as I've heard they are really reliable layers and I want to give some chickens who've had a rough start, a nice retirement. 

Chickens and eggs, but first comes the chicken run

Tumblr_lvqw3ixZ5D1qzo0l6o1_500I've been planning for chickens on plot 67 for at least a year now. I got permission from the council last summer, but just haven't managed to get the run and coops set up and built and fox-proofed etc. 

But Sunday was the day when the chicken run work began. It's still a long way off being ready, but I am hoping that everything will be set-up by the end of August. 

I'm allowed to keep between 3 and 9 chickens, and I've started researching into what kinds I would like. I have totally fallen in love with silkie bantams. They just look ridiculous and adorable all at the same time. They are also supposed to be great for a beginner and also with children.  I am keen to have three of them. I'd love a white, a buff and a grey one...but I think it's not going to be easy to source them, so colours aren't really that important. I'm also thinking of getting some ex-battery hens - maybe 3 or 4 and then 2 or 3 point of lay hybrids. Luckily I bought a second hand hen house and small run, and a new hen house, so I will be able to separate the chickens as I integrate them. The large run will go around the small run and being made out of harris panels, so is about 4m x 4m, with the hen houses being attached to the outside of it. 

I'm going to have to start creating a list of potential chicken names and I have a few people already asking to get to pick a chicken name.