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Everything posted by Dandelion

  1. Thank you Mullethunter, that's helpful. I did wonder after I had posted whether it was actually handling the hens which would necessitate changing clothes - I wouldn't have thought that just changing food and water containers (for instance) would pose much of a threat.
  2. After May 2nd we're going to be allowed to let our birds out, but have to observe strict biosecurity. The section which I find tricky is the one which says that clothing and footwear must be cleansed and disinfected after contact with poultry. Footwear is fine, we've been doing that, but clothing? My hens are in the garden and I must visit them eight times a day - seriously, am I really supposed to wash my clothes every time I see them?? I can see that this is important for someone who works with poultry, who can change at the end of their shift and wash their clothes, but how are backyard chicken keepers supposed to interpret this? I would be very interested to hear what other people are doing.
  3. Thank you mullethunter - I too only wear the same footwear in the garden so I'm not spreading anything from elsewhere. Jeyes fluid returned to the shop, Virkon picked up from a poultry place in the next county, now I'm ready to rumble!!
  4. During the last two Avian Influenza outbreaks I kept my birds inside, so I didn't use a disinfectant footbath. This time things area bit different as I now have an eglu and a Go Up, and far more hens than I had before. I have started to keep ex-commercial hens - the vet said "Buy more than you need as they probably won't all survive, but they have. So they are still free-ranging and I have followed all the other rules (vermin control, covering the runs, keeping food away from wild birds, netting over my pond). But footbaths are proving to be a problem. I just keep the hens in my back garden which is grassed. So if I use Jeyes fluid (which was all that the supplier had, as he had sold all the Virkon) I will be walking on the grass, which the hens eat, having dipped my clogs in a noxious substance. What are others doing? I would be really glad for some suggestions.
  5. Thanks for the advice. The hens are not old, I bought them a year ago, but I have had real problems in getting them to live peaceably with my existing hen, a Marigold who has remained at the top of the pecking order, and has intimidated the two younger hens. They all now get on well, and actually hate being separated, but the two Speckledys are still very cautious when it comes to food. I have tried all kinds of things such as food containers spread around the garden, keeping the Speckledys in and feeding them, keeping the Marigold in so the others are outside and can access their own food. The two younger hens drink an awful lot of water instead of eating. I've kept hens for over ten years and it has all gone well, so I feel a bit of a failure with these two new ones. Do you have to buy Ivermectin from the vet? Is there an egg withdrawal period?
  6. I've never had a problem with worming my hens before - I just used to mix Flubenvet with layers pellets, and all was well. I now have a dual problem - two very picky hens who aren't that keen on layers pellets at the best of times, and who would rather forage for themselves in the garden, and also not being able to buy Flubenvet powder. I can buy pellets which are already treated but they are not the normal pellets, so the hens virtually starved themselves when they were penned in all week to be wormed, and as neither of them have laid for a couple of months I assume they really do need to be wormed more efficiently. So what are my options? I have just bought some Verm-X to start with, but I remember when I first kept hens they wouldn't eat the bread I dripped it onto, so I'm not overly optimistic. What else can I get which will worm them properly?
  7. Thank you for your replies (sorry, just nipped in to hospital since I first posted the question, back now with a new knee!). My feeling is that it was bullying which started it. I'ver kept hens for some years and have never had any which drank water to this extent, and consequently made such a mess. The three of them were wormed in December with Flubenvet pellets, so I think this is unlikely as the problem existed before this and the worming made no difference to the water consumption. I do put extra feeding and water stations in the garden when the hens are free-ranging (this was one of the ways I tried to stop the dominant hen from hogging all the food),but to be honest I would like the job of cleaning the hens to be less messy than it has become, and I'l having to scrub out the inside of the eglu frequently because the hens squirt their dropping rather than leave them in a solid form.
  8. I bought two POL Speckledys last August to keep my remaining Marigold company. The Marigold (Ginger) is quite feisty - she kept her place at the top of the pecking order, and after some initial bullying and unpleasantness from Ginger they all get on well. Because Ginger used to try to stop the others (Dot and Dash) from getting to the layers pellets, I think they both began to drink quite a lot. I have managed to stop the food issue (by letting Ginger out to free range and keeping the others in the run to eat) and the Speckledys are both happy, healthy and are laying. But they can empty the Eglu Classic water container in a short time and both have very watery dropping - more like a squirt than a dropping! I've tried putting Cider Vinegar in the water thinking it might make them limit their intake but it made matters worse. I've kept hens for years now and have never come across this problem before. Any ideas?
  9. Having read the most recent information on the Defra website, I'm more confused than ever. For instance, there is the line which states: “However, all keepers must still observe strict disease prevention measures to reduce the risk of contamination from the environment, where the virus can survive for several weeks in bird droppings." So presumably that means we can't just let them out into the garden again - In my area we have many visiting wild birds (even though I have been strict about not feeding them) so the grass in our garden will have birds' droppings and other debris such as feathers on it, which Defra says we have to still keep our hens away from. I don't think it's very clear, and as I read it, it isn't a case of 'back into the garden'. The biosecurity rules still apply.
  10. I hope things work out for you all Cinnamon. We've just had a visit from DD2 (term has finished but she has a round of parties before she comes back for the summer!) - she said that they have resolved the big room/little room problem in her house now. They are all staying in their student house for another year, and those who had the biggest rooms have swapped with the two who had the smallest rooms for their last year.
  11. This all sounds familiar. Both my daughters had a similar problem. My oldest had the smallest room, and ended up doing all the admin/bill paying, but she at least paid a little less rent. My youngest (who has another year to go at the art college in Winchester) also has the smallest room and does the bill paying - the house 'mates' had resolved this by suggesting that the girl with the largest room should pay for the TV licence, but this fell through after the aforementioned girl had a wobbly and said it 'wasn't fair'. It concerns me, Cinnamon, about the way this was all decided without your daughter being there - this doesn't bode well for other decisions which have to be reached. Isn't it hard to let our kids sort things out themselves....?
  12. Ah,I can tell you about convoy mode thanks to my 87 year old mother who was sitting on her wheeled walker watching from the end of her road in Ledbury. The convoy (coaches, Coca Cola vehicle, Lloyds tsb vehicle) stopped by the end of her road on the outskirts of the town, and this was the point at which the first runner's torch was lit to go through town. Not sure how the flame is carried in the convoy though. I was out in the street in Hereford an hour later to see the flame arrive, with the 1000+ teenagers from our school. I shouted quite a lot as we were trying to keep the little monkeys on the pavement, and they would keep moving out into the road. At one point I grabbed a boy by the blazer and pulled him back as he almost ran under a coach. Will probably get into trouble for this tomorrow as I made physical contact... Apart from this (and the fact that Coca Cola turned up and distributed Coke to just some of the children!) it went well. One funny thing was that a collegue who is disabled watched the whole thing in school on the internet, and as the camera moved further into town spotted some pupils who had 'wandered off' and gone AWOL!!
  13. I work in a secondary school on the outskirts of Hereford - we are planning to take 1000+ kids out to line the route on Thursday (and then attempt to get them back in and teach them for the rest of the day...). We have been told that 'things' are thrown from the procession (presumably some kind of souvenirs?) - some of our lot will probably throw them back! Does anyone know what is actually thrown/
  14. Pellets are easier and cleaner (IMO), but I make up mash for a treat, especially in the winter.
  15. I have a galvanised dustbin for layers pellets which I keep in the shed. Good points: the lid stays firmly on and the size is just right for 20kg. Bad point - when you're rushing to feed the chickens in the near-dark, because The Hairy Bikers are on in five minutes, and you trip over the shed door and smack your face on the dustbin lid it makes a bit of a mess of your lip.
  16. During the Easter holidays I went into the garden because the chickens were making a terrible row. I could see a bird of some sort sitting under the mountain ash on the soil watching them - I thought it was a wood pigeon, but couldn't work out why the chickens were reacting so loudly. It turned out to be a sparrow hawk - it wasn't particularly bothered about me being there either. The oldest hen, Martha, gained a bit of confidence because I was in the garden, and went and squawked at the hawk, and it flew off. I didn't get the impression that the chickens were really at risk though.
  17. I had to take my Rhode Rock Blackberry to the vet on Monday because her wing was hanging down and didn't look right. He decided that she had damaged the wing, managed to 'click' something back into place, and gave me a bottle of Betamox to deal with any infection. He said 'It's quite simple to give pills to chickens. You just hold the head up like this and...oh, she is rather lively isn't she?' Eventually he got it down her throat, but Blackberry had decided that she was not going to repeat the experience. The next day when it was pill time I had a hollowed out sultana which I popped the pill into. She took the sultana, played around with it a bit, ate the fruit and let the pill drop out, then to my surprise pecked up the pill. The next day she left the sultana completely but pecked up the pill. I have been offering her the pill on my hand for the rest of the week, and she has been quite happy to take it. Strange bird!
  18. This is all very interesting as one of my hens started moulting before Christmas. Most of her feathers have grown back, but she too has a bare undercarriage, just below the vent to between her legs. Can't see signs of parasites, the vent is clean and a good colour. her comb is red, she's laying every few days which is right for her age and she seems otherwise happy. Have watched the three hens and can't see any signs of aggression, but will try the anti-pecking spray. She's the oldest of the three, and while they all seem to exist happily together she's not at the top of the pecking order.
  19. Thanks - that's answered my question too! I would imagine that this 'cigarette ash' is more noticeable in an eglu because of the tray than a traditional hen house.
  20. I probably wouldn't because it would be so much more useful on the garden from the point of view of the nutrients. But I also wonder if it would be too damp and claggy for a dustbath, and would question whether there would be a problem with worm eggs.
  21. Chard and perpetual spinach are the veg of choice for my hens - it's funny watching them try to sqeeze through the chicken proof fence trying to grab leaves from the raised bed. They eat the leaves and leave the stalks, so when one of the hens got round to what we call 'our' part of the garden the spinach plant was stripped with just the stalks sticking up! A word of caution though, as too much spinach can affect eggshell quality. Perpetual spinach is very easy to grow, and may survive a mildish winter. They do turn their beaks up at a lot of other things I've tried, like lettuce, soft ripe apples off the tree, but do love grapes and also plums. They also finished up the tiniest cherry tomatoes from the plants which were too small for humans!
  22. The first two hens we had in our eglu were well-behaved Omlet rangers, who ate their layers pellets from the Grub container, and were fairly tidy birds. (They could decimate a garden, but we won't go into that....) With the demise of one of the rangers we now have two new hens - a Blacktail and a Rhode Rock, and one of the original birds. They seem to have developed a habit of emptying out the pellets onto the floor so they can scratch in the wood chippings, but I'm a bit concerned about hygiene and the quality of the feed as it lies on the ground. We have the run covered so it doesn't tend to get wet, and change the flooring every few months.
  23. First day with the children back today. I was asked to help when the school photographer came to photograph year 7s and year10s, then discovered that no-one had organised the session. Instead of helping and doing a bit of crowd control I had 500 teenagers to sort out! I then did some cover with a special needs class for a couple of hours, during which time a boy left the room to 'go to the toilet' and was returned by one of the deputy heads who had found him up a tree outside. You can't say my job's boring....
  24. Have got through the first day back, tho it was only an Inset. As I work at a C of E secondary school we began with a service at the church nearby - today we sang a hymn which included the line 'bid my anxious fears subside' which I thought was well chosen. (Last year we had 'Hobgoblins nor foul fiends shall daunt his spirit' in a hymn - actually, the school isn't that bad!)

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