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Forge Cottage

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About Forge Cottage

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    Chicken Eggspert
  1. On Foxes and Fences Can I just say that most foxes can scramble up or jump over suprisingly high fences. Click or paste these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6YQdi5gbFg Chicken wire is a doddle as they just hook their claws in – and they are also experts at finding a weakness and chewing through, or forcing their way under. They tend to sniff all around the base of an obstacle first, then decide whether to climb or tunnel. If they tunnel, they start right up against the fence, which is why the Omlet runs have a dig proof skirt. This is what you need to do with a fence, or bury the wire deep down. For an easy life, foxes will also look for something nearby they can climb on and then leap from... So you need to make sure the fence is isolated from anything they can use as a springboard to jump over. Getting out again is a problem they will tackle later! Electric Netting We swear by electric netting and it has worked perfectly so far for nearly 4 years, touch wood and The fox approaches, gets a zap on the nose and clears off. They will try again later, so you need to keep the fence on when possible. Foxes cannot scramble up a net and would get caught up in it. If the fence is off, they may try chewing through, but they just do not jump over, all though they could clear that height. These fences are perfectly safe for chickens. Think of it as a surprise, not a shock. They quickly learn to respect the fence and it does not hurt them. On Airborne Chickens Our girls have always had clipped wings, but some young fit girls can still jump high when they want to. The big point is that they have to want to... At first, the fact the food and nestbox are inside the fence is not embedded and they often feel safer when regarding their world from on high - a natural roosting instinct. They are not trying to escape as you may presume. One of our new chickens jumped on top of our 6ft boundary hedge, stayed there for a few minutes, then jumped down again. It did make my heart pound as there are dogs next door, but she was just checking it out. Another young girl who had just started laying desparately wanted out, so that she could nest in the hedge. She jumped out and found a spot. I had to home her back to the nestbox and she was fine after that. Many chickens seem to have vertigo and didn't fancy jumping down from anything higher than about 2ft!! Sorry, I do go on!
  2. Our girls are sometimes intrigued by the dark dots where new feathers are forming and peck them, maybe thinking they are tasty morsels. This can draw blood - most undignified for the recipient and no respect for the pecking order. We tried anti-pecking spray early on, but "Ooops, word censored!"ody told us that it reeked of creosote So we are not keen on using that again! Poor Peggy stank and had no friends for a while. Neither did I - but I blamed the overspray
  3. Thanks everyone for all the helpful advice and info (Yes, I'm gonna beat that rat ) No sign of the blighter yesterday and no footprints in the snow this morning... But I was not seeing things, so I will get one of these poisin solutions organised. I was just worried that they may contain something peckable. Here I come, Ratty
  4. If we go away for 1-3 days we ask neighbours to look after them and let them keep the eggs. They say they really enjoy doing it and bring the kids. If we go away for longer, we take them to the Chicken B&B in Hook. Very reasonable rates and in safe hands!
  5. Just about to leave the house this morning for work and I heard a shriek from 'er upstairs: Eeek, a Rat!! There was a cheeky rat sitting on the path next to the electric netting pen. The girls were alert and complaining too. Having seen Chicken Run, I know rats can steal eggs but the electric fence was on and we had to go. Tonight I checked around: the rat had found and eaten some old pellets waste in a bush. Our neighbour has a compost heap behind the fence near there, but a very tidy one. I guess they go out for a takeaway when it is cold, but I have never seen a rat in our garden before (in 4 years). We have always avoided leaving loose food on the ground and removed Grubs into a metal feed bin overnight. But I had crushed a couple of apples for the girls and left a bit of corn about. Something for them to peck on the frozen ground inside the pen, as the grass there is history! So maybe that smelled like breakfast. Obviously rat pellets are a no no. We will keep the ground as clean and food-free as possible, but is there anything else we can do to discourage rats? I have to presume that there are more where that came from! Any advice welcome, thanks. p.s. No offence if you have a brown Guinea Pig
  6. Congratulations on taking the plunge and we look forward to the piccies . You'll enjoy life more (even when they are naughty) and as you know, you will always find moral support, advice and ideas here. I notice you made a rational decision to buy two, left home to buy three, but arrived home with four... They will keep each other lovely and warm at night, don't worry. We think three is the ideal number for our garden. Then if we lose one, there is never a lonely one - and we can add a pair of newbies to max four. Of course adding our fourth hen meant 33% extra lawn scratching - and 33% more poo... But in this weather it is easy to pick up! The garden is at it's lowest ebb in February and takes a beating from little feet. But now that you are out in the garden every day, you'll notice the subtle start of spring before most people. Enjoy!
  7. Thanks for the replies. Yes, we kinda like it too, but I think it is always good to keep your eyes open. We have just finished worming them and they were mite-powdered 2 weeks ago. No signs of any health problems (apart from occasional odd poos but I am sure that is an ongoing experience for all of us!). I will make extra sure we don't leave any food around, but that does happen with chickens! My main concern was if there are any dangerous risks - like catching something they cannot recover from... First thing this morning, Phil was silhouetted on the back gate!
  8. That's brilliant, but the whistle might not go down well around here! I once glanced into my neighbours front garden and saw my chickens on his front lawn They had got out through the open side gate and stepped through the bushes. I just stood there with a handful of corn and they all came straight back, like lambs. Once they get used to their domain, they tend to stay within it, even though they could get out without much effort. Our only worry is that the neighbours have dogs, which would be a bit of a shock all round! Yes, I would give it a try under supervision and don't panic if they look interested in exploring further - just remind them where the food comes from! Best of luck.
  9. We have four sweet girls and still getting plenty of !eggcream!s despite the short days. Chickens are such a change from all the serious things in life and we adore them! One Saturday a few weeks ago I glanced outside into the garden where they were free ranging together and did my usual mental count: One, two, three, four... Five!? There was a handsome Pheasant grazing with our chickens. He soon approached the house and we could see that he is an impressive specimen, with beautiful red face and markings and a friendly inquisitive nature. We named him Phil and the next day saw how he dropped down from the shed roof into the electric pen, bold as brass, availing himself of scattered pellets or corn - and then washing it down with water from the glug. It has become a regular visit, but he could have been calling for months. Blooming cheek... Of course the visits cause deep concern. The girls all stand up tall and gather together often on the roof of the eglu run. We have corrugated plastic sheeting bungied onto the wire, so we can tell when they have spent time up there while we are at work - from the poo and muddy footprints! It appears that he also quite fancies our ISA Brown, Mabelene. Sometimes he follows her and she steps smartly away, having none of it. He is actually very polite with the girls and they run rings around him. Last weekend he was drinking inside the run, which surprised Winnie who had just finished in the nestbox. She is a timid softie and stayed cowering in the house for some time. But she suddenly decided to break out - and flew at him like Cato in attack, neck feathers up and talons in all directions. I didn't know she had it in her! Phil is a big lad, but he got the fright of his life, bounced off the inside of the roof and flew away, calling in alarm. We were so proud. One day last week, Phil introduced a couple more Pheasant friends: Fenton and Phillipa (sorry) while our girls were free ranging. This freaked them out and before long they were complaining at the back door. So we let our girls into the kitchen for some mealworm respite... There we all were, trapped in our own house!! Despite this, they seem capable of protecting their modesty - and there are no signs that they have needed to so far... Health Risk? It has been amusing, but are there any real health dangers? I know that Avian Flu is passed by wild bird droppings for example. Phil has occasionally left droppings in the pen (they are fairly small and reddy brown). He drinks from the glug, eats from the grub and we cannot always be there to stop him. I do a quick poo pick every morning and change the water regularly, so the place is pretty clear. I know that there are also certain diseases that cross species, meaning you should not keep chickens and turkeys together for example. So we wonder whether this is a bit of fun, or something we should take steps to prevent. Does anyone have any advice on this odd one please??
  10. Not long enough... They are funny, naughty characters, a constant delight and a great antidote to stress in a serious world. They should be on prescription!
  11. Yay, faaantastic day! Well done and enjoy. We spend hours watching our girls and they're the funniest things. Yes, the Bluebelles are pretty and lovable, like a grey fluffy ball with big soulful eyes - and feet like an L plate! Our Bluebelle Winnie lays eggs just the shape of your first egg, quite round, but normally darker.
  12. Best of luck Kalico, you will love looking after chickens and the special warm eggs they lay for you! The farmer was talking about Layers' Mash/Pellets (i.e. ground up/pelletised feed designed with a mix of nutrients that laying chickens need), as opposed to Growers' mash/pellets used for building up younger birds. Don't worry too much about all the detail - just refer to the forum whenever you can and you'll get all the support you need. There are some very experienced and helpful people and many have had the same experiences.
  13. Thanks... I don't think it is anything too worrying so we will just keep an eye on her for now. More of a concern is that the other girls think her new feather stubs are food... Ouch! Meanwhile we are keeping her indoors overnight while she is semi-clothed in this cold. She just walked backwards across the kitchen and knocked over a load of empty bottles. Strike!

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