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About Annabel

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    Chicken Eggspert

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  1. Yes I was thinking that they are only struggling as it is against their routine and expectations of a free-ranging lifestyle. I have also been thinking (rather selfishly) that it would be nice when the spring comes to not give them from sun rise to sun set to dig up all my flowers and poo all over the garden - so I may well stick to a few hours free ranging a day. I can't help but think this is a little cruel given I can offer them more and they love it so much but it may be being 'cruel to me kind' in the long run and inevitable later lockdown!
  2. That is an interesting approach. It seems sensible not to have a blanket approach though there is the stricter 3km cull zones. I guess your chickens get to enjoy their freedom and all is fine unless you have a local outbreak but even then you're not sure if your chickens would need to be affected. Yeah I didn't expect it to continue for so long. My cockerel is starting to be quite aggressive and I've read I should be picking him up but that is vey difficult as I try to get him as he is walking away but he turns on me and also side walks looking at me the whole time. It's a bit nerve racking going in the enclosure so I am thinking about rehoming him but hubby thinks we should wait until they are allowed to freerange to see if it is the confinement which is affecting his behaviour so I was hoping to be able to let them out soon - but guessing not! I moved all their perches and food containers yesterday to make things a little more interesting so let's see if that adds some excitement to an otherwise utterly boring Groundhog day!
  3. Thanks everyone. I think I read the last avian flu had chickens locked down for just 3 weeks? This appears to be a worse case. Mine, like Columbian, are used to free ranging every day so are really bored. I was planning on getting rid off all the wood chips in spring and refreshing so I may do that now. I've been trying all the old tricks like new perches, interesting slow release treats (anyone tried the Chicken Ball?)- throwing corn in the woodchips, they even have another grass run they get to go in an hour a day (which the grass is now destroyed) but it's hardly a day's entertainment. Feel so sorry for the chickens all round the country as they have no idea why they can't go out in the garden they can see through their cage. I know we're all in the same boat. Really difficult when you can't see an end in sight. On a positive note, at least my spring bulbs will get a chance to come up this year! I expect you won't be alone with bad behaviours coming through in this boring time. I have a young cockerel which reached sexual maturity in this chicken lockdown and he does not stop crowing (unless he is in the grass run when he is then almost silent as he is stimulated), I have a timid hen that's decided to bully another and an ex-caged hen who is looking thinner daily and the cockerel who has decided to mate goodness knows how many times because he is bored! I expect there will be many more stories to come from other chicken owners esp the ones with the free-ranging ladies now locked up in prison!
  4. Anyone got any idea how long this avian flu lockdown is likely to continue? My chickens are doing their nut!
  5. Good luck with your hatching - post pictures when they arrive! Hope they manage to stay warm this early on in the year!
  6. We got three back in Feb - and that is the first time I saw a pecking order sorted out (previous chickens I've had over the years came together with this already done between them) - anyway - it was so viscious! I had to look away - went on for 2 days until the baldest, skiniest one managed to rise to the top and all three had bleeding combs. God it was awful. They are really friendly though, mine scratch at the backdoor and walk in the kitchen if the door is open, mug me for food if I go in the garden - right characters!
  7. Yep, I am really starting to think this is a natural behaviour increased through boredom because the crowing is almost constant. But if I move things around in the run or do anything remotely interesting, he barely crows. There is the possibility of a charity rehoming hens in 2 weeks which I am on the waiting list for and that would certainly help with the boredom and the hen's unwanted attention - but good chance of cancellation due to the lockdown restrictions too!
  8. Thank you for this idea - it is certainly an interesting one. As Cat tails points out, unfortunately they are all in lockdown at the moment however I did prepare something in advance of this. I bought a second hand Eglu Go with run and moved it onto the grass (ground sanitised and run covered plus mesh so small birds can't get in the sides). I have been using it as an extra run to let them out into for 2 hours a day to enjoy the grass and to break the boredom. I do find he mates with them less (in fact I have never seen him try in this grass run) which I think is due to the excitement and wanting to scratch away- he also barely crows in this run (in the walk-in he crows around once every 4 minutes - I'm not joking!). So I am hopeful that when he is back to free-ranging, he will not mate as frequently as I am sure it is partly boredom. I have also spent a lot of time in with them today, picking him up and feeding him meal worms and corn by hand to try and exert my dominance and show that I have great treats. I haven't been attacked today but I'm sure that will be on the horizon! I have also put my name down for some ex-caged (hyrbrid) hens which in my experience are extremely fiesty and so far always ranked 1,2 and 3 in the pecking order so again it may be there is less opportunity for him to mate with them around( as with your silkie) if they exert some dominance, but it not at least the attention will be more evenly distributed. Thank you for your ideas
  9. And thank you Patricia - I've just looked at those rescue sites just in case - and one is quite close to me. Amazing work those ladies do.
  10. That is a lovely story. I haven't discounted rehoming him but we would like to keep him if we possibly can. Two of the hens are less than a year and one is 2.5 years (although not that old, she came as a trio from BHWT and the other two died of what appears 'old age' a few months apart having never been ill, free ranging happily and even laying that day- their life expectancy isn't the same so may well be approaching what she may consider old age). We are also going to get some young girls in the new season, so he should have a good flock. But I am very tempted by your story. I am also very lucky to have a friend who has told me (when I was hatching him out) that her gamekeeper friend has said he would take an unwanted cockerel and that still stands. We don't want to lose him though unless things really don't work out here at home - which would include attacking the children, our current pets or stressing out the hens - so for the time being I'm hoping his separate pen will be ok. This morning the two hens he mates, are pacing their walk in run to get to him which I found surprising!
  11. I'll have to see what I can do. I think the chicken lockdown hasn't helped as normally they are free ranging, and I'm not shooing them one way or the other! Problem is, the kids do like to catch the hens to have a cuddle and I'm not sure he'll be accepting of it. Have to see when the lockdown for them ends and they are back to free ranging whether he chills out more with the extra freedom and space.
  12. thank you Mullethunter- I wonder whether I might just put her i the walk in run with the other two for a few hours of every day. That may help her and the cockerel could manage without her for a bit. I also noticed the last couple of days, as I was shooing the hens and cockerel away from the door as I was walking in, that the cockerel turned to face me and looked like he was going to 'take-me-on'- I then continued to shoo him and he bit my baggy (luckily) trousers - didn't fly at me or anything, but again today he did the same. I've read I should not accept this behaviour and carry him under my arm and go about my chores to show him I am boss - have you ever had experience having to exert your dominance on your cockerel? I know he's just protecting his ladies but I have two girls under 9 and he makes me a little nervous when he does this, so don't want him to get away with too much especially if he starts flying at people.
  13. My cockerel was hatched out the end of July and a few weeks ago he has started mating (treading) the hens he has. We are at a low number of hens at the moment (only 3) - looking to get some more in the summer. One he does not mate as she is not in lay (21 weeks) but the other two he mates with incredible frequency. I know ideally he should have around 8-10 hens and so will mate more frequently the two he has because of that. I have the run set up right next to the house and see the chickens from my kitchen table - so I have a good eye on them. He is a cross between cream legbar and marans and because of this, is a very big boy and heavy to pick up. Tonight I decided to seperate him from the two he mates to give them a break. He is now housed opposite with the hen he does not mate, and can clearly see the two he does tread easily. I plan to keep him here for a few days at least - can you forsee any problems with this (I'm assuming I will not have problems reintegrating?). I do think the fact I can see the chickens so easily means I probably take more issue with his frequent treading than I would do if they were down the bottom of the garden, he isn't rough with the hens (though they have scabs on their combs where he holds them still) and it is obviously over quickly but he is young and I am guessing his sex drive is higher than it will be as he ages. I know I can get saddles, but do you think separation will be ok for him (he is obviously desperate to get back to them) and also potential problems with the flock? I might add, the two hens separated from do not seem to be trying to get back to him. The hen that is also now separated from the flock had started to be picked on by one of the hens (the cockerels favourite mating partner who up until he started mating, was the bottom of the pecking order even when we had five hens- and now I expect has risen the ranks) so she also doesn't seem bothered by the separation.
  14. Yes I recently purchased a seperate broody coop (Englu Go with run). I hatched out in the summer 3 eggs, having lined up three cockerel homes and had a male and a female chick (I think you may have helped me when one was ill). Anyway, we decided to keep him nonetheless. So yes, I would always line up homes if we decided to do this again and never more eggs than homes secured as I have heard of one lady who hatched 6 and all were cocks! and thanks for your advice and confirmation on the egg.
  15. I am not sure at the moment as I only have 3 hens having lost a couple to old age recently so would like some more, but I like to have homes lined for potential cockerels and haven't looked into it yet. I was also lucky enough in the summer to have a hen go broody (two infact) and do not have an incubator so would be relying on the same luck again! My cockerel is an Olive Egger so I have worked out the eggs from breeding with the cream legbar should produce dull spearment, breeding from the other easter egger would give any array of colours including pink/white/darker green/brown/blue etc (bit of a surprise) and from the ex-caged hen - some other khaki coloured egg. I find all this very exciting! But the cockerels are the problem... wish there was a way to tell if an egg was male before incubating! Don't we all.

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