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Everything posted by Gallina

  1. All I do is empty the water containers after the hens have gone to bed and hang them back up empty. They haven't frozen solid at this point: that happens during the night. Then all I have to do in the morning is fill them up from a watering can, which is much easier, as there is not so much to carry down the garden. This may sound obvious, but I didn't think of it the first time I looked after hens during an icy spell.
  2. I have just had the city council pest control officer at my house as I am plagued with rats, and he said a rat could easily get through the mesh of the eglu/cube run. I have never quite believed this: what do other people think?
  3. I don't think that those square pieces of mesh necessarily get lost: they were a later modification, and people who bought early Mark 2s were not made aware that they should buy them, and wouldn't have known about them if they hadn't followed this forum. All later Mark 2s have them as standard. But these pieces are intended to stop foxes tunnelling into the run, which has happened, particularly on light or uneven soil. What I don't understand is how the fox then got into a closed Eglu. Did it gnaw through the small hole in the bottom? I have had rats do this, so I suppose it isn't impossible for a fox to do the same. It must have been an awful shock.
  4. This subject comes up again and again. Wouldn't it be a good idea if Omlet paid for proper legal advice and put it on their website? As long as you don't have a cockerel and keep the numbers down (fifty sounds a lot to me: I wouldn't be too thrilled myself at having that many next door!) you will get away with it. And make sure any rat problem is nipped in the bud. Even if you have a restrictive covenant which your neighbours have the power to enforce, they are unlikely to try: going to law is so expensive, and this is a very grey area.
  5. My Amber Star is not the most beautiful of my hens (the amber bits are very splodgy); but she is the most intelligent hen I have ever had.
  6. If you move the Eglu around regularly on grass, you are probably all right. But an Eglu left in one place on soil will almost certainly attract rats. They love being snug and warm underneath it, and then they will start gnawing the drainage hole. This has been my experience, anyway: it was solved by getting a Cube.
  7. It depends very much on your soil. I have light sandy soil and it is no problem at all having the run on it. If you have clay soil, it could get unpleasant. But the Eglu itself must go on slabs because of rats: they just love nesting under Eglus. They don't seem so interested in the run: they have never tried to dig under the skirt of mine. With light soil, it is particularly important to weigh the skirt down. Slabbing the whole area would be much easier for you, but I know that my hens would miss digging their craters, and they don't get out much.
  8. Mad cow disease was caused by feeding meat to animals which were vegetarian: it was very unnatural, and the meat was not properly cooked. Chickens are natural omnivores, and love meat more than anything. I draw the line at feeding them poultry, but I can't see any harm in feeding them other meat, as long as it is thoroughly cooked. I would rather see them eating this than live mice, frogs, and slugs. Layers' pellets are not natural: they are designed to make a hen lay far more eggs than is good for them. A natural diet for a hen would be a nice roast dinner, just like we have.
  9. Is anyone else's cube door partially jammed? I was terrified that my fat girls would not be able to get out of the gap this morning, but thankfully they managed it. I have not been well, and do not want to go out in the freezing weather to investigate fully. Is it likely there is some ice somewhere blocking the mechanism? If so, I will wait with my fingers crossed and hope my Cochin doesn't get any fatter.
  10. Someone asked in The Times yesterday how they can make their neighbour get rid of their three chickens: http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article6894208.ece You won't like the answer (and may not agree with it).
  11. The two cockerels I had last year always remained darlings to me: real softies, and willing to be cuddled at any time. But when the mating started in a confined space, it wasn't so nice for the girls, especially for one of them who was his special favourite. Think about purchasing a saddle in advance, just in case -- I wish I had. I had imagined they would continue to be mummies' boys, but they were scarily virile.
  12. It happens so rarely I wouldn't worry too much about it. But you certainly need to check on icy mornings that the water hasn't frozen. I use the run pin to test it, and any ice is usually so thin that the pin breaks it. It would become a problem if you go away during a very cold spell and the people looking after your hens don't think about the possibility of the water freezing, so this is something to emphasize. This advice probably doesn't apply to the frozen north. If I lived up there, I would solve the problem by having two water containers: I would put the clean one out each morning at the same time as bringing the frozen one in to dethaw.
  13. I would say don't keep your cockerel unless you have a large walk-in run. He will harass the girls too much otherwise. I was desperate to keep my gorgeous cockerel, but both he and the girls needed more space. If you do decide to keep him and you don't have a lot of space, make sure you get saddles for the girls well in advance. I found out too late just how necessary they are. On the positive side, cockerels are lovely, and the noise was tolerable.
  14. What about Beak House? Or you could call it Rhodes House, as in http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/AboutRH.htm
  15. More interesting hen research from the University of Oxford: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2009/090807.html This how your hens know (without opening their eyes) that it is dawn, so time to get up and make a nuisance of themselves.
  16. The gaps in the roof are meant to be there, so don't necessarily blame then. The gap on one side is much bigger than the one on the other, and as Johannes himself (the designer) put my first cube together you can't argue with him. My second cube used to leak in very heavy rain, and after being convinced for a long time it was coming through the roof, I found out in the end it was getting in around the egg-port door. I stuffed a strip of old towel around the groove to make a tight fit, and it has never leaked again. But all cubes will be different.
  17. I think it's a boy with those long legs. But there again, maybe with four Cochin/Brahma-type hens I have forgotten what real hens's legs look like. But the wattles are quite big too....
  18. I used to think you couldn't have too many hens, but after quite a lot of squabbling and feather-pecking recently, I think eight hens is about right for a garden. Don't be tempted to get more hens just because you have gained some extra space, because this immediately takes away the extra space. I have ten hens at the moment, but have vowed not to get two more until I am reduced to six, which I am glad to say could be some time, as they are all fighting fit. Just don't look at threads which will lead you astray. I am trying not to -- one picture of a couple of baby Cochins, and I will be done for.
  19. The cockerels know that big combs = big eggs, and improve their sperm accordingly: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/science_blog/090716.html
  20. Gallina


    Thanks to everyone for their help. I did all ten hens with Johnson's Anti-Mite Extra, and it was extremely easy, as most of them crouched for me, and you only have to spray it in the area of their bottoms. I realize why I have to throw the eggs away for the next week: they will be rubbing their bottoms on the eggs (especially the two broody hens I have at the moment) and egg shells are permeable, so some of the spray will get through to the inside of the egg. But I am puzzled about how commercial breeders manage. Battery hens won't be a problem, as the egg doesn't actually touch the hen's external body as it comes out, and will go straight on to a conveyor belt uncontaminated. But do free-range breeders really throw away a week's supply of eggs every time they treat their hens? Permethrin is nasty stuff: even a very small amount can lead to changes in the brain, and it is thought to be a trigger of Parkinson's disease, according to this study: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2881431.stm
  21. One of my cockerels hiccup'd for a few minutes just like a human if he was suddenly grabbed. It was so funny.
  22. Gallina


    I went to one pet shop who refused to sell me anything and said I had to go to a vet. I have been to three vets, and none of them had any idea what you should use on hens. I went to a second pet shop, and they suggested I buy Johnson's Anti-Mite Extra, and ring Johnson's to ask if it was safe to use on hens. I rang them, and they said it was perfectly safe. As it has permethrin, I think it may be the solution. But when are pet shops and vets going to wake up to the idea that a lot of people have hens as pets?
  23. Gallina


    The hens don't have mites. It's definitely fleas: I have seen them. Would Frontline for cats be marginally better than Frontline for dogs? I don't feel very happy about using it. I am surprised that you can't get any kind of special flea treatment for hens. There is nothing in the cubes themselves. The fleas move with the hens.
  24. Gallina


    My hens have fleas. What is the best product to get rid of them fast, and where do you get it? I have tried pet shops, but they won't sell me anything and tell me I have to go to a vet. Can Frontline be sprayed on hens? I have rubbed them all over with Diatom, but have doubts that will be sufficient. (I have also been dusting myself with Diatom just in case.) I have never seen so many wild birds in my garden as this year, and blame them.
  25. The same happens if you type 4,75 instead of 4.75, as I did once: and I didn't want to risk my good name by refusing to pay £475 for a postcard. Knowing my luck, the next bidder would have made exactly the same kind of typing error. You can't rely on people to be nice (although I find that most people on eBay are very nice indeed). Always retract your bid.

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