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Posts posted by Sue

  1. A lot of breeds which were originally bred for their egg production qualities have been taken over by the breeders who show their birds and the markings and features of the bird take on more importance than their performance in quantity or quality of eggs. I think it would depend on what the particular stain was being bred for, and if your breeder says they lay small eggs then she will.


    But don't forget that the eggs are always smaller when they first start to lay. My Marans normally lay around 55 grm at first but are soon up to 65+ and the following year the are 70-80 grms.

  2. My 8 month Sussex Bantam Hilda has just started crowing since being confined to a cage after having a bad wet bottom.

    I caught her straining and she had prolapsed her vent. We attended to that and she then laid a blood stained egg and passed a little more blood. Since then and no further eggs she has started this feeble crowing only in the moring when I put the lights on. I let her out with her feathered friends and she initally started cock-like fighting with one then it all settled and she is back at bottom of the pecking order and behaving normally but no sign of any eggs. I still bring her in the house at night until I'm 100% sure she is healthy (checking her bottom for being wet/prolapse vent and checking her poos) Just dont understand the crowing but maybe she has damaged her ovary. Will just have to wait and see. The crowing is very entertaining but the neighbours will moan as they're that sort of people.


    I think the females only have one ovary and if that is damaged in some way then they don't produce enough hormones to stay in lay and will begin to crow and exhibit male characteristics, but will never function fully as a male.


    The old saying was "A whistling woman and a crowing hen is neither good for God nor men" :lol:

  3. Rats get very put off and perturbed when things are moved around - though unfortunately they will not usually decamp - so if you are intending to use poison it might be better to put it down before you move everything


    It is unlikely they will take any bait at first, until they are used to the bait boxes, then they will gingerly investigate them, later try a tiny bit of bait, then next day a bit more, and so on. It is natural selection in that if the bait makes them feel ill they will never eat it again. Also once they begin to take the bait you must keep it topped up till they don't take any more.


    Then when you are sure they are all gone maybe move everything and have a good sort out. Just thinking about how I would tackle it.


    Also make sure that anything edible is removed once you start baiting as they will be more likely to start taking the bait - as the saying goes.

  4. As far as I understand it the situation with Mareks and vaccination is as follows


    Vaccination does not prevent Mareks, but it does, in most, though not all of the cases, alleviate some or all of the symptoms

    ]vaccination does not prevent infection with the virus, and the Marek's Disease virus has evolved increased virulence and resistance to this vaccine


    It also reduces the amount of infected dander shed by the birds, so vaccination is imperitive in commercial situations where buildings contain thousands of birds in close proximity which would mean huge finacial losses for the business concerned


    Birds still have the potential to succumb when under stress, which could be when moved to new surroundings and introduced to established birds. Similarly the resident birds may be stressed by the change in pecking order when new fowl arrives.


    POL is a particularly stressful time in any case so this is a natural time when Mareks will manifest. Any other stressors, such as change of routine ie attendents and type of feed, adverse weather conditions, and illnesses of any sort may also have an effect. Also potenial infections by lice and mites, and disturbance by rats or other vermin should be looked to as all these will weaken the birds.


    It is a horrible disease, though one that (at least in my liftetime) has always been around. Personally it is my experience that strong healthy birds bred for a degree of natural immunity survive and perform without problems even when not vaccinated. But it will be interesting to hear what your vet says

  5. A year or two ago I went up to a local farm with tons of feed everywhere, and asked them what they did for rat control and they used a "rat man" He has been visiting me since (pretty expensive!) but I have learnt a lot.


    What he does


    Try to give them as little access to feed as possible (I use the spring pheasant feeders on legs wherever possible)


    Put the bait boxes down at the points where they are gaining access, but try to keep the boxes outside to k"Ooops, word censored!"ble them before they have got in (obviously this is after you have got rid of the current crop) Leave the boxes in situe as the rats won't use them at first. Once they are being used they will be good. Site the boxes so the rats can slink in and feel protected



    If you find a hole put grain type poison down it and then cover the entrance securely with earth and stamp down and make sure you can keep non target species away from it till the rat is dead. If the hole gets opened again repeat the exercise until it remains covered. Dont use the blocks as they may carry them around.


    Try to make sure the bait and box stay dry


    If poison is being taken keep topping it up, and if you think the rats have gone keep checking the bait stations preferably every few weeks and certainly not more than 6 weeks apart. In peak problem times such as harvest and wet/cold weather be especially vigilant.


    If rubbish and leaves are being put in the boxes then it is probably harvest mice rather than rats, but in any case look for droppings which are the same colour as the bait if it is being taken, but darkish brown if not. If the droppings look moist or shiny then you know they are fresh and the vermin are active - ones about the size of a woodlouse generally mean rats, small thin ones mice


    This is only what I have gleaned from what he does, so if someone knows better I am most interested.


    I don't like killing anything really, but rats are too expensive to keep feeding plus they have certainly killed and eaten ducklings of mine in the past.


    I don't think rats should have a singular, there is pretty well always more than one

  6. Though he is obviously not pure as such, it makes very little difference if you just fancy having a coq round the place.


    Its always interesting seeing the interaction between the males and females, and you will probably have chicks next year as well which is fun. The males generally spend a lot of time keeping watch, and will give a range of alarm calls depending on the perceived threat, so they can help the girls take evasive action, and they will call them over if there is anything extra tasty to eat.


    Make sure there are sufficient hens for him as otherwise they can become a bit threadbare on their backs, but usually if they have complete free range they get out of the way if they are not interested. As long as he is a pleasant temperament and nice to his girls I would say keep him. :)

  7. Yes - females can lose their "femaleness" and begin to crow and display male features.


    This generally happens because chickens only have one functioning ovary, and if anything happens to that (often as the result of an illness or infection) then they don't produce enough of the female , and secondary male characteristics come to the fore. When this has happened they will never function fully as a male, so will not fertilize eggs, but neither will they lay eggs.


    On the other hand I have heard of hens which will make a crowing sound, but still lay eggs, usually when there is no cockerel in the flock. I would suspect time will tell, it will be interesting :) .

  8. Ok you lot :o:lol: I wish I had kept quiet about this now. :D


    1 - Egg eating is a normal behaviour when egg shells are thin. The danger arises when it becomes a habit, which may first start with a protein imbalance (so think when you are giving "treats" whether they contain more or less protein than their pellets - which often contain the minimum needed for laying).


    2 - Hens will naturally lay thin shelled eggs at certain times, particularly when approaching the moult, and especially those high laying hybrids, which have been bred to lay vast quantities of eggs in the first part of their life


    3 - The calcium hens need for their egg shells comes actually from their bones, and their feed replaces this. Those hens who have over produced will possibly always have a problem.


    4 - You cannot expect any hen to lay eggs whilst they are moulting and regrowing feathers. As they approach the moulting period they will gradually lay fewer eggs, and the shell quality will deteriorate, and even soft shelled eggs occour, and then they will normally cease laying for the duration of the moult. The moulting period tends to start at the end of the summer through into early winter. Depending on the breeding of the hen and the weather conditions it will take a few weeks or 2 months or more.

    Feeding extra limestone at this time is not going to help, and may overload their kidneys. I would not add oystershell to the feed, but put it in a small individual pot for them to take when they need it.


    5 - The milk thing is an emergency "fix" when things are going horribly wrong. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing sometimes and I feel it is best to concentrate on supplying good quality properly balanced feed and as much quality free range as possible. Often these problems are associated with chickens which lay a lot of eggs,ie the modern commercial high laying hybirds. To avoid this you could try to choose a breed which is know for the strength of its shell over a period of time, not simply its first 12 months of lay.


    6 - When you are feeding anything don't forget we are much larger volume wise compared to a chicken and adjust your quantities accordingly.


    Here endeth the lesson for today....... :lol::lol::lol:(I remember why I pm'd you now Chestnut Mare rather than posting on open forum :lol: )


    zakjon-98 - Peck holes in eggs can often mean you have over enthusiatic shell testers rather than thin shelled eggs. Also are you sure they are peck holes and not toe holes which happens when a clumsy layer is adjusting the nest, again not the result of thin shells.

  9. Thanks so much for your help, she isn't eating other eggs only her own, so perhaps she is laying soft shells. Plus she hasn't had her moult yet, but is due.

    I will watch and wait!


    Hens are genetically programmed to eat eggs which are not strong enough to be "sat " on. Most hens, when they have laid, will get their breath back for a few moments, then inspect the egg by a gently tap with their beak. You will sometimes see evidence of this with a small oval hole in the shell, but if the shell is weak the egg breaks, and the hen - waste not want not - will eat the egg and normally the shell and any eggy bedding as well, in other words clean out the nest so other eggs are not at risk of infection.


    The trouble arises sometimes in that the hen develops a taste for eggs, then will not only eat every one of her own eggs, but may eat others eggs as well, and even worse teach the trick to others in the flock.


    Chestnut Mare - Milk probably contains easily absorbable calcium and the vitamins needed to help absorption. :) After all calves must need enormous quantities of calcium for their early growth.

  10. Yes - it would have been me - I am not allowed to be known as D-B-E on here :D


    It was a old favourite trick of mine, but apparently some modern day poultry keepers seem to have got the idea that milk is poison for chickens, so I often keep my counsel :wink:


    But as one who kept a milking cow some years ago and fattened cockerels and pigs on skim and wheatings plus kitchen s"Ooops, word censored!"s I can confirm mine all survived (well the required amount of time anyway) :wink:


    I often hesitate to mention feeding extra protein online, as I dislike arguments, and so many folk seem to have absorbed the idea that layers pellets are the ideal ration. They certainly are for the small framed modern commercial hybrids bred to lay maximum eggs on minimum feed value, but not every bird is like that. But certainly unless you are prepared to carefully work out and balance a ration they are the best option.


    Extra protein is valuable at certain times, ie early growth period, moulting, and for certain breeds like Marans, but how to give this and comply with DEFRA regs is a moot point. Victorian poultry farmers recommended unlimited amount of fresh egg shells or eggs to stop egg eating.


    Total free range in a varied woodland environment supplemented with a good balanced whole grain diet is probably the answer - but with todays fox population who can provide that :(


    But hens coming into or going out of lay will often be taken by surprise and lay soft shelled eggs on the perches. This normally sorts itself out once the laying gets into full swing, which is why I suggested darkened nest boxes and false eggs. If this doesn't work then further measures may be called for. :)

  11. Chickens can be surprisingly resilient and often heal quickly. I think you are doing all you can, see she has a good diet and some fresh air and exercise when the weather is ok.


    You will have to watch her when she goes back in, apparently they get pecked when they don't react in the correct way to the others behaviour, so there may be some underlying problem. The trouble is once the others have tasted blood it is difficult to get them to stop. If it is on her back a hen saddle might help

  12. Are they just coming into lay? If so the problem may sort itself out ok. Would be worth putting a china or rubber egg in the nest box where you want them to lay just to give them the idea, also if they peck at it nothing happens.


    Make sure there is oystershell always on offer in a small container, and that they are getting enough vit d - are any of us this year? They call it the Sunshine Vitamin :lol:

  13. Might she be laying soft shelled eggs if she is going into the moult, and then just clearing up the nest when one is accidentally damaged.


    You can check how confirmed an egg eater she is by putting a normal egg on the run floor where she can see it and checking her reactions. If she is a genuine egg eater, rather than just eating eggs inadvertenly damaged, then she will rush towards it and peck it hard till it breaks


    If she is going into the moult and laying thin/soft shelled eggs there is not much you can do, but make sure she has plenty of protein in her diet and oystershell grit available also a bit of cod liver oil for vit d which helps efficient absorbtion of calcium can help, just don't overdo it, the merest amount will suffice.


    You could try darkening the nest box by hanging a bit of towelling or blanket about 2/3rds of the way over the opening. Rollaway nest boxes can also help.


    Sometimes an egg, blown and filled with natural washing up liquid like ecover can put them off. Its no good trying mustard/chilli eggs, birds are designed to eat hot seeds, it is only mammals which are affected by the chemicals they contain.

  14. She may well resent any strangers in her home, and peck at them. As long as this does not degenerate into her pulling feathers out of them or even drawing blood, then it will probably sort itself out once she has established herself as top hen.


    If they can be kept seperate then there will be no problem, and she shouldn't bother them if they free range, but if you need to put them together you could try putting her in their space where she might be calmer, not having owners rights.


    Hens have an excellent sense of smell, so spraying them lightly with something like diluted lavendar essence may help, as then they will all smell the same.


    All the best with them.

  15. It normally takes just over a day to make an egg from scratch. So your commercial hybrids will be producing at top speed, with the egg coming later and later each day, until they have to miss a day, so their "clutch" run of 7 or 8 days is excellent.


    Light Sussex although good layers cannot compete with hybrids, and pullets just beginning to lay are notoriously erratic till their laying cycle is established. So it all sounds perfectly normal at present.

  16. Hi there - Yes a bit of straw to give them something drier to stand on would probably cheer them up :)


    If they are a gingery brown colour then they are probably modern commercial hybrids who will pretty well lay eggs come what may for the first 18mths of their lives, though poor weather and low light levels put the best of layers off a bit. If they are older traditional breeds or as you say a bit of a mongrel mix, then they may produce less, or even go right off lay during the dark winter days.


    The crouching behaviour is because they regard something large looming over them as a potential mate, and crouch down accordingly, ready to be "trodden" as the old venacular goes. :)

  17. When did they first start to lay? And what breed are they?


    It sounds like they are in moult, in which case, depending on what type of hens they are you will get eggs again in a few weeks/months.


    But you probably need something stronger than diatom if you have seen mite. Check again round the perch ends, and in any little cracks etc. Best time is at night with a strong torch, or wipe round the perch ends with a white tissue, any bloody smears mean redmite. I think the eggs rehatch on a 4 day cycle and they are at breeding age in 10 days.


    Redmite will certainly stop them from laying, and even if you replace the hens the redmite will just do the same, and in fact a bad infection can kill young stock.

  18. I read it somewhere, though I can't remember the exact quantities but they need surprising amounts of eggshell to get the calcium they require.


    Most layers pellets contain the maximum of calcium in the form of ground limestone, mainly as it is cheaper than actual feed, but by putting some Oystershell grit in a little pot then if they do feel the need it is there. It is pretty inexpensive. 20 kilos is probably less than £10 from an agricultral merchants, and lasts forever and doesn't need to be kept dry.


    As I say they need vit. D in order use calcium effectively which is where the oil comes in, but of course good sunshine is a help, probably a bit in short supply here this year :roll:

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