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Annabel

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Everything posted by Annabel

  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.
  16. Thank you Cat Tails, I googled it too and it does appear to be. Since then I have actually seen this hen mated by the cockerel so I am guessing all these eggs will now be fertile! Thanks for your help.
  17. I got ground sanitiser from Flyte So Fancy (I think Omlet have it on their website too). Like you - this is my first winter and I think you just learn as you go along - trial and error, you see what your girls like. I made a chicken swing (tying string to the ends of a thick stick/branch and hanging it from the roof of my Eglu Cube Run- thought it would be a bit of entertainment but they completely ignored it (infact they found it quite annoying!) and I took it down but other people's chickens love them. I also put a cat carrier I had hanging around in the garage in there with some straw as an extra shelter or nesting box which has been very popular! I wonder if logs could be placed in there if sprayed with disinfectant and then hosed down after? Not sure (but may save your Christmas tree!).
  18. I have 4 chickens (rooster and 3 hens) stuck in a 3m Eglu cube run but lucky had just bought a 2x3 walk in. Mine looked bored stiff- they spend all their time in the walk in run and don’t use the Eglu cube run much. So far to keep them entertained I have put some large logs and tree trunks in to make different height perches, an old toy chest filled with dirt for dust baths (undercover), I hang cabbage up on strings, throw meal worms in late morning and corn just before bed and also built an extra level in the Eglu run part (try and get you some photos). They have a hanging corn peck toy that keeps them busy which I fill twice a week. with regards hygiene, my walk in is on mud so they pop mostly there and it decomposes (they have logs they can stand on if too muddy) and the Eglu cube run is on concrete slabs with hardwood chips to I use ground sanitiser for that every so often. mine like yours, are used to free ranging all day so this is all very boring for them so I try to stagger treats throughout the day for something to look forward to and find I provide entertainment for them by gardening! i just opened the top door of the run to take these photos and you can see how desperate they are to get out- one flew at the open section!
  19. I have a cockerel in with my hens but only ever see him mate one hen (the other is not in lay at 21weeks and the other is a 2.5 year ex-caged hen). this morning I cracked the ex-caged hens eggs from 6/12 and today’s to look at the difference in yolk colour since they’ve been confined and wondered if this mornings one (paler one at the bottom) was fertile? what do you think?
  20. aaaaar poor thing. One of our hens was hiding and I thought she would be dead. After the third time round the garden calling for her, after being completely silent, she came out and as soon as she saw me she came running making so much noise in protest! Glad Duck made it. Did she regrow her feathers ok? No such luck with our fence bill I'm sure!
  21. Gosh that is awful! I was imaging how painful it must have been to have all the tail feathers pulled out as th ends are so thick! eeek. I'm glad the vet managed to save your other hen, poor girl. Yes I am bracing myself for the cost of this (annoying as their dog and their wall- but of course it won't bother them if the dog gets over so we need to sort it!). Heyho.
  22. Yes they are all locked up today with us working out what sort of wiring we will need for that section of the wall (luckily only a very small bit is low and the rest is over 10ft)... He is an amazing chap - I didn't know the National Symbol of France was the cockerel - but makes perfect sense. Yes he's had a lot of meal worms, corn, veggies and porridge today to boost him and he seems on the mend but very nervous. I've had a look at his back and it appears ok - not still bleeding or oozing so we'll see how he does. The neighbour's dogs are hunting dogs they take with them on shoots so she was doing what she is trained to do and the neighbours didn't seem too bothered about it, even telling me to expect the cockerel to die from shock if not the wounds (which I found a little annoying!) - and also said that it may not be a problem as their dog knows the chickens are there now. Anyhow, we won't be letting them out now until the fence is sorted and I'm not going to care much if they find it ugly! Daphne - your cockerel made me laugh! Perhaps he knew it was a losing battle and legged it! *may now be a problem as their dogs know the chickens are there
  23. Some of you may remember me hatching out two chicks in July (Merry and Pippin). We had found homes for any cockerels beforehand but decided to keep the only cockerel- Pippin. He is now 3.5 months and I was wondering whether in fact he had much use despite being gloriously beautiful (saddle feathers were coming in), whatever the case we were keeping him as he is part of the family. Yesterday (after me explaining to my 9 year old that nothing bad really happens on Friday 13th), our neighbour's dog jumped the dry stone wall and attacked the flock. First I heard was a hen's alarm call over by the coup. All the hens were there and then Pippin came running over too. All his tail feathers had been pulled out and he was bleeding from the rump. He was missing other feathers and where he was attacked, it looked like a feather pillow had been emptied onto the ground. I just want to say how proud I am of this boy and how wrong I was to be disappointed when I realised he was a cockerel. I am pretty sure he gave one hell of a fight and allowed the rest of the hens to get away. After the attack he was so weak he fell over trying to jump onto his low perch. I gave him Nutridrops and this enabled him to make it up to roost last night and this morning he is down with the rest of them, walking around eating and drinking just looking a sadder state with his missing feathers. What a fantastic, young little fella. The girls are lucky to have him.
  24. They are Black Copper Marans (mother) and Cream Legbar (dad). Merry when she was born was the bigger one and that stayed the same until week 2 when Pippin then had a massive growth spurt (but Merry was also ill). Pippin's legs are huge (almost as chunky as the adult hens) and Merry's are very dainty (at least half the width of Pippin's). They will be large fowl (my other four are too, so they'll be roughly all the same size) Pippin squirms terribly if you try to hold him and sends out alarm calls (but happy to sit on my shoulder strangely). Merry will happily be carried. They have been handled the same amount (which is a few times a day) since they were born.

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