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Everything posted by WitchHazel

  1. We had a very aggressive hen. We bought her (and another hen) at 6 weeks old and when they reached POL - added them to our then flock of 2. A year later we needed to replace one of the original 2, and so we kept two of our hatchlings to add to our flock. We did this when they were point of lay. Millie (the aggressive hen) went beserk. We thought for a long time that she was just "hen pecking". In fact, she only stopped "hen pecking" 2 new girls about a year later, when the other original hen died and Millie was Millie No Mates. Around this time, we added 2 more of our hatchlings, waiting until they were actually laying so they would be better able to stand up for themselves. Millie just would not leave them alone. I kept thinking it would settle down and that she was just hen pecking. Then I noticed that she didn't just peck at them when they crossed her path (which is what hen pecking tends to be), she actively went out of her way to find them to attack them. I tried separating her. It made no difference. One day, I watched her run across from the other side of the garden to get into the run so she could attack one of the youngsters who was trying to eat from the feeder. That's when I realised that it wasn't just hen pecking. She was never going to accept them, and that she really was a hen with a nasty streak. I watched for another day or so, and saw just how she went out of her way to dfind the youngsters wherever they were, and peck them repeatedly and with a lot of force. If they tried to run, she followed them and attacked them again. We culled her then, because I realised that she was never going to accet the "new girls" (unless she was Millie No Mates again), and she was making their lives hell. I hated doing it, but I was so very relieved. And I wished I'd done it sooner. I've told myself that if this ever happens again (really nasty deliberate bullying rather than just hen pecking), I'd cull the culprit immediately. I put her body in the run so that the remaining Girls could see that she was dead and wasn't coming back. Once they'd all had a look, I removed her. I don't know how or why she was such a nasty piece of work. I've never before or since had another hen like it. WHen I introduce new hens now, I watch the pecking carefully. After the first couple of weeks, when things should have started to settle down, I watch the behaviours of the older Girls carefully. If they give a quick peck or two when their path crosses a youngster, that's OK. If they chase the youngster, but stop as soon as the youngster moves away, that's ok. If hey peck the youngster when they realise they are sharing the same feeder, that's OK. Our current youngsters are still being hen pecked by one of our older hens (the last one to survive Millie), and I've been worried that she is repeating behaviours learned from Millie. She still pecks them when they cross her path (after 6 months), but as soon as they move away, she leaves them alone. She still makes life hard for them at bed time. She has chased them occasionally (but they have been confined since December, so that's not surprising). She isn't being a bully in the same way that Millie was.... but I am watching her. Just in case.
  2. We have a fox passing through our garden each morning at dawn, and that starts the Girls off. I've started shutting the Cube door (the Cube is attached to a large walk in run so haven't needed to shut it before), which the Girls really don't like but it gives me about an extra hour before they start making a racket.
  3. I can't wait to see the look on their faces and the grass in their beaks.
  4. Hallelujah!! https://www.gov.uk/government/news/updated-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu
  5. Lovely to hear your update Sarah, looking forward to pictures
  6. DEFRA have now published the rules that will be in place from 1st March. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-to-protect-against-avian-flu "High Risk Areas" are all over the country, usually fairly close to water. Check the DEFRA postcode map to see if you are in a high risk area. Even if you are not in a hugh risk area, you cannot just let your Grls out. There are strict measures you must take beforehand (and you must continue to do). LInks are available in the DEFRa post.
  7. Lincolnshire today https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-flu-confirmed-at-a-farm-near-boston-lincolnshire
  8. 2 years ago I named a couple of our hatch after my friends children, Sasha and Larna. Sasha was really excited to know tha tthere was a achicken named after her; Larna was a baby, so had no idea. It was several weeks before Sasha (child) was able to come over and meet Sasha (chook). In the meantime, Sasha (chook) turned out to be a boy. I knew how disappointed Sasha (child) was going to be, so we renamed Larna (chook) to Sasha. Sasha (chook) took to the new name.
  9. Poor birds (ducks and geese) in France. A mass cull of all previously free rangingducks and geese in an area in southwest Frnce was announced a week ago. The area was further enlarged yesterday. http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-france-idUKKBN14U1BU Farms which run a full production cycle, where the birds e completely confined from hatch to death, are exempt. What a sorry state of affairs.
  10. As antcipated, the precautions have been extended to 28th February https://www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-flu-prevention-zone-extended
  11. I really like Masterchef the Professionals (I don't watch the amateur or celebrity versions). Liek you, this year I found all 3 finalsts were likeable individuals and all very good. I was very sorry to see Arnaud go out in the Semi's. It was so close! I also woudl love to see a "where are they now" of the Professionals from the last 10 years - not just the winners, but the non-winning finalists too. I imagine that pretty much all of them receive good job offers as a result of getting that far. I was interested to see a couple of them pop up at the Chef's Table dinner...but I didn't remember any of them, I had to Google them. lol!
  12. I buy a half pig twice a year from a lady I met on a poultry forum and we butcher it ourselves (although she'd happily do that for us). She has 2 sows and a boar, and has 2 litters a year. The pigs are kept in fabulous conditions. The first time, we had to get a small freezer in the shed to accomodate it. It isn't a cheap way to buy, but I know EXACTY how her pork is raised. If she stops doing this, and I couldn't find someone else locally with pork-raising ethics I like, I'd get a half pig from Pipers Farm online. They do lots of pork (and beef - we buy their beef regulaly) so might be worth a look? http://pipersfarm.com/ They send their meat out by next day before 12 delivery (I've had suppliers previously who just use a next day service and the meat sometimes doesn't arrive until 5pm). It's well packed, using sheeps wool insulation and freezer blocks.
  13. I'm a strong believer in buying locally produced food where possible, and for a o=long time I ouldn't buy stuff that travelled a ridiculous distance. Then I realised that there is more than just food miles to consider on food purchases. For some countries, the food they produce is one of the few things (or the major thing) they have which they can trade. If we (everyone) just reject long-distance food without considering this, we could cause a country's fragile economy to collapse. I also then started to wonder why I was being so hard on food, when I'd be happy to buy a car, or spares for a car, which had not been made locally. And electrical goods. And wine. And clothes. And...well..pretty much anything really. I do still tend to buy food grown locally, but I also buy apples from New Zealand (for example) becauseI know it's an important part of the New Zealand economy.
  14. Very sad, poor birds, especially those that survived the flu and were culled. It occurred to me that maybe the birds who survived this outbreak at the farmin Louth shouldn't be culled... ,aybe they have a resistance to the strain, and should be bred from instead!
  15. Clare, I know it isn't funny...but that really made me laugh. Silly woman.
  16. Not sure we will be releasing them after 30 days, CM. I suspect it will depend what happens in the interim. I would guess that the "30 days" is to give DEFRA a marker, and after that time they will either continue as is, or will introduce more stringent measurement. (Or they might let the burds out,of course). "30 days" is short enough to not cause too much panic, apart from the initial furore we've all seen. This also means that DEFRA only have to deal with the initial "I can't possibly contain my birds" and "surely it doesn't apply to me" and "god aren't they overreacting" noise right now, and they can defer the "oh my god i'm going to lose my free range status" until an extension is announced. That's what I believe, anyway, lol.
  17. Yes. A fellow plot owner who keeps chickens onhis plot told my husband that he didn't need to do anything to his plot, the BBC told him that netting over the top is sufficient. It was like talking to a brick wall.
  18. On the subject of having runs... Our allotment flock has (or, more accurately, had) 1 and a half allotments which were surrounded by Heras fencing and electric fencing. No roof, ni need until now, It's impossible to cover an area that big, so we've ended up building a smaller run, inside their normal area, with Heras panels. We've had to put Heras panels down the middle, and heras panels on the top to support the weight of tarpaulins. Everything has then be covered with a fine mesh net, right down to the floor. It's still a large area (about 50 sq metres). It's been hard work (and not cheap), but we're doing to because it's the right thing to do. It doesn't matter how low the risk of our birds contracting the disease is, it has to be done. If we hadn't had the panels, we would have improvised and used pallets or anything, even if it wasn't human height. It has to be done. Anyone not doing it is not just putting their birds at risk If anything happens - if the disease is even suspected then birds all birds in a radius will be culled.
  19. It's more than an advisory, it's a requirement (although I don't think DEFRA has a penalty available for backyard non compliance). Luckily for my garden girls, they have a big enclosed run. We're having to do wome work on the allotment this morning to comply.
  20. I'm so very sorry to hear about your daughter, I cannot pretend to imagine what it must be like for you - all of you. Can you get any respite help from the children's father or other grandparents? Could your DS perhaps have them once a month? Any respite, however small, that you can depend on and look forward to, may make a difference. I'm sorry I don't have any practical advice or help to offer. What you are doing is amazing.
  21. Top tip: make sure you don't obstruct the air flow!! The vents are there for a reason. Hens generate a lot of heat, and if you don't gave good airflow through the coop, this means that the air becomes very wet and you'll end up with chickens with respiratory problems.
  22. I hate my birthday. I don't mind the getting older, I just find the actual day is (nearly) always a disappointment, despite the low expectations I have to start with. The week before my 18th birthday, I went out to the pictures with my then boyfriends best friend (I know, it *was* a terrible thing to do.) My parents were really angry, and cancelled my birthday. No presents allowed. My dad had bought me a car. Literally *every* day from then - until they moved house 250 miles away 6 months later - I woke up believeing that today would be the day they gave me my present. When my Dad drove off in the removal van, I realised that was it. On my 19th birthday, my parents sent me an 18th Birthday card. I was living in a horrible room in a horrible part of town, and this really upset me. It took me all day before I could swallow my upset enough to phone them and thank them. I mentioned that it wasn't actually my 18th. My lovely mother said "Oh that's OK then, we didn't like to think of you being on your own on your 18th". (If they were that bothered, they would have come to see me, surely! )

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