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Everything posted by Roobaloo

  1. Coming into this a bit late...but for me, it's the heartbreak. I can't face it any more. I've been keeping hens for 20 months...at first, I just had my original two and all was well. Toph (a hybrid) turned broody. Suki spent her days stressed that she was alone. I put some fertile eggs under Toph (she'd been sitting on Suki's eggs)...who decided she'd had enough. I then bought an incubator and did it myself...waking up at 5am to make sure I got 3 vaguely even turns (rather than two before midday and one at 9pm!) 10 out of 12 showed life forming...then each candling after that showed failure after failure. Day 18, one remained. I was going to be left with another lonely bird. So I rushed out and bought 3 x one day old chicks, two CLV and a Poland! They'd only be a day older, it'd be ok... After 21 days of anticipation, excitement, disappointment, guilt and a lack of sleep...nothing hatched. I thought I'd give it a day or so extra...By day 25, I admitted total defeat. The chicks meanwhile kept me busy...one had stopped walking. Lil'un. She was bright and alert but seemed unable to stand. The vet couldn't find anything so said it was probably just soft tissue damage, she'd either heal or give up. I made a support hammock for her, to keep her on her legs but support her weight. I slept in the sane room so I could help her if she got stuck, distressed or fell out. She could move her legs, she just wouldn't put weight on them, so I started physio with her. Gently moving the limb to try and strengthen it. It seemed to be working as she tried to stand...we'd encourage her with live mealworms and cooked egg, she'd get so excited and start desperately trying to stand. Then one day she gave up. Her sister was more than 3 times her size and almost covered in adult feathers. Lil'un was still fluffy. We made the decision to let her go. Her sister had developed an issue with her foot, she had wonky toes. We tried to brace them straight but she was too old. She wasn't struggling, so we let her be. Obviously she was now called Wonky. She was doing well, even when she, Pippin (Poland) and their two new chick friends (nicknamed Goldie - Wyandotte chick and Yellow head - Arucana chick) got Cocci. Then my big girls went down too. They all recovered thankfully. Yellow head developed a wry neck, at first it was mild but when we came home one day to find it sat with the top of it's head on the floor, we knew it was time again. Goldie became Oscar. So we had a new challenge... Then Wonky had to be pts. It was my fault. I'd noticed a length of string from that years bean crop had fallen against the run frame. I saw it and dismissed it. Wonky was it too and must've spent hours trying to get it. She did. When I found her, she'd swallowed more than half of it. We rushed her to the Vet. They were amazing, saw her immediately, they valued that little life but they couldn't help her. It was too far through her digestive tract...and it was stuck. I will always hate myself for that. Now we only had a male Wyandotte and a Poland who seemed to change genders daily. Mum took them to her garden so they could gave more space and fresh grass. Oscar started growing too big for Pippin...and too clumsy. He'd get worked up or scared, go to run and wobble, crashing headlong into Pip. A friend was rehoming two Polands, so I took them. Slowly but surely introducing the two pairs. Pip was always very independent and didn't care much, Oscar followed but the other Polands weren't impressed. After weeks, they accepted Pip but not Oscar. Understandable. I took Oscar back home. I bought him a new girl, a hybrid...Apple. They had half of Toph and Suki's run...and very slow introductions were made. Eventually we let them all in together. Toph kept harassing Oscar...who was showing more signs of unsteadiness on his feet. He couldn't roost, climb up the ramps...or run in a straight line. Spring arrived and Oscar found his voice. Time to go. We took him to the stables, bought him two girls (as Apple had found her place with Toph and Suki) and we spend two solid days building a WIR for them. It was hard work...and having the second lot of hens IS hardwork, there's no electric, no running water, no lights, no storage...you have to carry it with you. That wad ok, that was the decision I made when I decided to keep a cockerel. Pippin had blossomed into a wonderful hen, sociable, bold, chatty! My parents moved house and we agreed she would keep the Polands...she'd fallen in love with them. Within a month, Pippin was dead. I will always blame Mum for it. While they were sorting permanent housing, their house sat on a small patch of lawn. The previous house owners had two hybrids that they couldn't take with them and Mum had agreed to keep. I repeatedly told her the dangers of mixing Polands. I warned her again and again. She divided them with electric pig fencing. It was useless as even the hybrids could duck through the gaps unzipped if they were quick. After lining the fence with mesh, so the chickens couldn't get out...and more significantly, so Poppy the Springer spaniel couldn't get in. Poppy had always been obsessed with the Polands...their bobbing heads would send her into a trance. At the old house, Mum knew never to let her out if there was a risk that a chicken might get out (when feeding etc) but suddenly in the new house, she let down her guard. She left Poppy running free whilst she went shopping. Pip somehow walked through the fence. Poppy saw her chance. Pip had no idea what was coming. It was over in a blink of an eye. Since all that, I've had more stress with Toph, who started plucking herself (been treated for parasites etc) and was getting more aggressive. We gave her to Mum to live with her hybrids in a much larger run. She still plucks herself but is much calmer. We found a chicken roaming the village, clearly an ex-batt...we kept her and called her Twenty. Robin (Oscars girl) has developed a tumour or similar, she is blind in one eye. We're just facing the decision of when we take her...she's still bright and active but we worry that the others will turn on her. Twenty is now in isolation. For her safety. Summer ended and Oscar no longer wants her...so turned on her, Raven joined in. I have 7 chickens. I've gone through so much heartbreak and misery. I would keep the girls at home to the end of their days, they're easy enough to look after but the ones at the field...there are days that I quietly hope the fox got through my defences. I wish I had the strength to cull them myself. But I don't. I cannot send a healthy or happy life to its end. So I keep fighting against the fox and the elements, I keep spending money I don't have to keep them happy. I keep straining my already damaged back to ensure their welfare...and I always will. But I know I don't want to do it any more. I know I won't do it again.
  2. Thanks everyone!! I really don't want to lose her...I was sat hugging her, in tears, when I wrote my original post ....but want to make sure I'm doing what's best for her, not me. Should I be worried by the fact she's closing her eye in bright light? Could it be painful for her? Their run is currently in direct sunlight (they have a canopy to shelter under and a large branch that throws shade but about 80% of the run is exposed) so I might move their run to the barn...It's light and airy (three sides are only a mesh) but it just takes the edge off the elements. Plus there's a light in there so I can check on her easier when winter sets in. Thanks again!
  3. I put a post on here a little while ago about my beautiful girl, Robin. Her pupil was extremely contracted and I wondered if it was Mareks. No other symptoms developed, but it has become very clear she is partially blind. It's slightly cloudy, the pupil is so small that on first inspection it doesn't even appear to be there. Today the sun is very bright and she's keeping the eye closed, which she didn't do yesterday when it was overcast. She's active, seems bright and alert..at a glance, you'd not know there was a problem. My Vet says it'd be very expensive to investigate further and ultimately it would be futile as there'd be little they could do for her even if they knew what it was. He suggested euthanising her or seeing how she goes. I'm torn as to what I should do next. I don't know if she's suffering in any way, But I don't want to end her life if she's coping. I also don't want her to get hurt (or worse) by the other hens, because she's now got a weakness. What would you do?
  4. They usually attack anything...introducing hybrids to hybrids can be traumatic enough!! But it is possible to mix them....Poland's are just so vulnerable that it's just too high risk. Some bantams are very fiesty and can hold their own....so I would consider slowly introducing a couple of new, young hybrids to an established flock of bantams (again, if they are a fairly sturdy, strong willed breed!) But I would never introduce bantams to established hybrids/large fowl.
  5. I also agree with Redwing! There are a few breeds that I would try to mix with Polands....but never hybrids. There's something about them, they just seem so boisterous and competitive...if there's a weakness in another hen, they find it fast and go at it endlessly. Those bobbing poms are like a magnet for other birds to attack! As you already have hybrids, they will be very territorial and aggressive to any newcomer. Especially if you're planning to introduce them directly (putting them together straight away rather than in two separate enclosures, introducing them at a distance, free-ranging them next to each other...then together whilst supervised etc) My hybrids always seem quiet, friendly birds....yet turned very nasty when we introduced our cockerel (a sturdy Wyandotte, who was already bigger than them!) In the end, we had to remove him for his safety and establish a new flock for him!! A Poland would not stand a chance as their vision is restricted, so they don't see any danger approaching until the last moment and their skulls are fragile. One good peck and things will go downhill fast. My Mum keeps Polands and hybrids...in two separate pens. She's had to reinforce the fence line that divides the two...as the hybrids were obsessively attacking it to get at the Polands. It's just not worth the risk, in my opinion.
  6. Me too Perhaps they lay gold eggs ...if they do, I'm buying the next 20 of 'em!!
  7. Thanks everyone! Wow!! I'm amazed they've sold as many as they have at that price!!! They had three coops, about 20 pekins in total...and all were reserved! I've been 3 times before and it's been the same story! I definitely think I'll take Mum to the National show!! Great idea!!
  8. I just called them to cancel the reservation on the Buff...and the person I spoke to said that the price we'd been quoted should've been for the millefleur, the Buff is cheaper. And that they have other colours available... I had originally told Mum that I was expecting £30-£35 per hen maximum...so as that was the budget she had in mind, she's happy to go back and look again. I'll tell her it's still quite high...but I have a feeling that she's got her heart set on the buff now! I think that's the problem, when Mum exclaimed at the price...he started defending it by rattling off prices he'd seen at shows, including the price of show standard TNN's...hardly your mainstream garden breed! Which is why I told her to reserve them so she could go away and think about it and not feel pressured into it or convinced they were a bargain... Though, he also said that they've been reserving birds weeks before they're ready for sale...so I guess it's supply and demand.
  9. I'm dealing with my Morehens disease through my Mum....!! She is looking for a couple of bantams. She currently has 5 hens...three are hybrids and have one pen, the other two are Polands. She did have three Polands, one of which I hand-reared (Pip) When Pip was still around, she had a very calming influence on the other two (who are both very scatty/nervous...we think they weren't handled much as the previous owner had two small children) After Pip died, Mum made them a huge new pen so they could have ample space without the risk of getting hurt (Pip was killed by her dog after she got out the house whilst the hens were free-ranging :'( ) I suggested she get a couple more hens to go with or next to the Polands. Something that doesn't have the restricted vision, so the Polands don't feel they need to be "on guard" so much. I suggested Pekins as they tend to be calm, fairly bold...and they're small, so if they do go with the Polands, there's less risk of pecking their poms. Does that sound reasonable? Well, we visited a poultry centre yesterday and were told that there were only two available...one beautiful buff and one adorable little white. Mum fell in love with the buff but didn't want the white (her hybrids are white and she's convinced she'll keep scaring herself thinking one is in the wrong enclosure! ) The price per bird was £45. They said there was a very high demand for pekins at the moment and a millefleur would be £10 more. Is this an average price? If so, we'll wait and see if any of their reserved birds become available. If not, we'll shop around! Can anyone recommend a place to buy pekins? (I'm based in Beds, she's in Huntingdon...) Thanks!
  10. I noticed this morning that Robin's (Rhode Star) left pupil is severely contracted. At first I assumed Marek's but can't find any solid information. Some state that a hen of her age couldn't be affected (she was bought in March and was already laying...) She's got no sign of weakness in her legs or wings, she's bright, alert, active (jumping to pluck blackberries) Her pupil is the only sign something is wrong. Could it be Marek's? If not, what else? If Marek's, should she be pts immediately or can she be left until her quality of life is affected? As long as the others show no symptoms, are they safe? Thanks!
  11. A fertilized egg is just packaged cells, they need the right environment in order to develop (incubation or a womb) into life...without it, nothing happens. It's no different to a plant... they're made of cells...neither feel pain. Where do you draw the line? That's just how I see it. Considering how many people have hatched supermarket eggs, the only way you could guarantee they weren't buying fertilized eggs would be to buy battery hen eggs....hardly humane for those who are against meat because of cruelty.
  12. My boy is just over a year old and only started mounting his girls this spring as he was with two old girls who were not impressed by him. No critisism on your belief but just to give more info to those who may not understand. If they've not been incubated (eg. A hen sat on it all day long or put in an incubator) there's no life in there! An unincubated egg will never develop. So if you collect the eggs every day, there's nothing developing And they're perfectly fine to eat (from a health point of view!)
  13. Try The Barns Poultry Centre! http://thebarnspoultrycentre.co.uk/ It's in Moggerhanger, just off the A603 (on the left as you head from Moggerhanger into Willington) it's fairly new and they're still expanding but it's nicely set out and the birds look beautiful!! I'm very happy as it's almost on my doorstep!! And any Thornes customers will recognise a very familiar face!
  14. I definitely enjoyed the extra Zzzzz's....I had a few too many as I'd forgotten to reset my alarm clock, didn't wake up until 9:30!! Oops!! Lil 20 seemed to have a comfortable night too, she was very bubbly this morning...the only downside is that they've pulled all the bedding out her bucket!! Useful! According to my OH, the extension is on the strict condition of "No more hens!"...which I think is a little unfair as technically he found 20 and he said she could stay...so I think it's my turn again, right?
  15. It's been raining all day...but thankfully, lil 20 had some sense and took shelter when night fell...not in the Eglu but under the platform it sits on, so she was completely dry. I found an old manger bucket (flat one side to hook over a stable door, the brackets had long since fallen off!) and filled it with straw...with a gentle poke, she gladly stepped into it and I placed it back under the platform to reduce draughts!! I'm looking forward to my lie-in!! Long term (once I can get a job) we'll be extending the run, making a covered section and buying a bigger house...so, hopefully the weather can stay mild until then...
  16. The run is uncovered and quite exposed. She'd either be under cover on the grass (which is quite damp at 5am) or off the grass with no shelter! Will she be ok? I might try putting a bucket on it's side, filled with bedding. Will she learn to put herself to bed?
  17. I posted previously about a hen found in Bedfordshire....well, no owner was found so we kept her. We've named her 20...she's currently the 20th animal we own....and she was found on the lawn of Number 20! She's an ex-batt...still missing some feathers, her beak is trimmed and slightly misaligned/"scissored"...but she's half the size of my girls. So, therein lies the problem! What to do with her... I can't keep her at home, Suki and Apple are very aggressive towards newcomers. When I got Nutmeg, it was only her size that kept her out of serious harm. So, I took her to the stables to join Oscar and his ladies. I figured Oscar would control the situation and the two girls are fairly timid and young, so shouldn't be too bad. Initially this worked...Oscar and 20 had a face-off, she backed down straight away and the girls all found their place very quickly...until bed time. We used to use a two storey hen house that my Dad built...upstairs consists of a very generous roosting area, downstairs is three nest boxes. It worked well with the three. 20 came along and couldn't understand the ramps...so went to bed in the next boxes...Oscar got very stressed about being unable to round her up, this in turn upset the other girls. With the increase in flock size, we needed more space in the run....if only to allow 20 more room to get away from Oscar's dancing The original house took up a lot of room, so we took it out and gave them the Eglu...all parties had been housed in it before (it was 20's temp housing while we tried to find her original owner) so I assumed it's work. 20 won't go in. It's raised on a platform, slightly off the ground (so it doesn't take up too much floor space as they can shelter under it) and there's a lower platform to make two equally sized steps. She'll jump up onto the first step but not make the final leap up. So every night, after dark, I go and put her to bed, I then shut the Eglu door, just in case she IS being forced out and wait 20 minutes...there's never any squabbling when I do, only Oscar's swearing as he thinks I'm stealing his women! I then have to get up at 5am, to go let them out before sun rise...as Oscar immediately gets fidgety when he's aware it's light out and I don't want anyone getting hurt. What can I do with her? I can't leave her out at night without all her feathers...but I can't keep getting up at 5am. Will she eventually learn to go to bed herself, or does she just assume she waits and gets put to bed? I don't think the light/torch trick would work as it'll keep the others awake and I worry they might peck her when so confined...does the lowest ranking hen go to bed first or last? Would it be ok to leave the door open after the 20 minutes are up and all is quiet or is there a chance they'll chase her out at some point in the night?? I'm currently unemployed so a solution involving buying anything sadly isn't an option right now. She is the sweetest hen you could ever meet, very friendly and calm...we let her free range for the first time at the weekend...and while the others wandered off, she shadowed us the whole time, trying to get involved in everything we did. As lovely as she is....my Chicken of fate is giving me a headache.
  18. She's still with us. Visited a possible chicken owner...but no answer!! OH has agreed to keep her as a chicken of fate if they aren't the owners!!
  19. Have had a tip of a possible local hen owner so will go knock on their door tomorrow! Failing that, will Call the local vets...and poster the neighbourhood! Love the idea of the lost and found radio bulletin but I've not heard similar here!! 100% confident it's a girl,though I'd guess she might be past her best laying days. So perhaps she was let go...?
  20. Just found a little lost red hen wandering round Blunham in Bedfordshire. After wandering round for over an hour to find her home, we've taken her with us and given her some food and water. If anyone knows any hen keepers in the area, please ask them to count beaks...! Otherwise, please suggest what else I can do to find her owner? Thanks!
  21. You're definitely the Master, ANH! Your run was my inspiration when trying to come up with new ramps/shelves etc!! I just want to know how you keep it so clean!! I've got two "shelves" and 3 ladders and it's a nightmare trying to scrub poo off them!!
  22. Diatom is a powder that lots of people use for natural mite control....Diatomaceous (sp?) Earth! I'm sure they sell it in the Omlet shop! As for distance between rungs, just a natural step...for my hybrids, I'd guess 10-15cm between rungs...the beauty of those edging fences is that they use the long bars that go the length if the distance is too great! ...my Mum's Polands probably 6-10cms. I wouldn't go any steeper than 45 degrees from the floor...if possible, make it as gentle a slope as possible!
  23. I use the little picket "edging" fences they sell at Homebase for ladders, others use the rigid log roll ones, which are probably better for bantams!! I just cut the 'stakes' off and cable tie them in place! Link 1 Link 2 For the dust bath, I have a wooden planter filled with a mix of compost, play sand and Diatom! It fits two hybrids at once! Link 3 I have been considering buying a kiddies play table...it's like a standard kiddies picnic bench but the table has a built in sand pit!!
  24. Always good to be organised!! You'll soon learn what time of day they lay, then just block it off past that time....with mine, they're usually done by 10am, so I close the Rollaway box then...one of mine sometimes lays in the afternoon but she prefers to lay in the dustbath anyway, so she does her own thing! If they're desperate, they'll just lay on the roosting bars, not ideal but they'd cope for a one off. As long as the broody isn't the top/dominant hen then it'll be easier...the dominant hen will push her out the nest (Suki climbs in on top of Toph to get her to move!) If the broody is top hen, you'll definitely need a broody cage as she'll just block the nestbox and keep returning, turfing the others out! To be honest, I wouldn't worry too much...What breed are you going for? If you're going for a "prone" type, then definitely get a broody cage ready...if you're going for hybrids, you may never have to worry! Toph is a hybrid (Magpie/Silver Sussex...and I've heard others with the same who have gone broody) but my other 5 have never shown any tendancies.

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