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Everything posted by snaps

  1. I'd be very interested to hear if the ice pack works, Angela & Ken and Gertie. I don't know if it makes much difference but I just wrapped my ice pack in a secure plastic bag - just so it's as uncomfortable, slippery and cold as possible! Mean or what?
  2. It is frustrating. I got our first two hens nine years ago and never had a sign of broodiness from, over this time, two Isa Browns, two Light Sussexes, one Bluebelle and one Black Rock. Then, last summer we bought a Magpie for our Cuckoo Maran. The Magpie went broody several times and the CM copied her - not sure she would have thought of it on her own! It does seem as if they're doing it deliberately to annoy - especially as Magpies are hybrids and not supposed to go broody at all!
  3. Last year I used the dunking in a bucket method but only on warmish days. I had to repeat it a few times and I think you have to be around so you can catch them immediately before they settle back on the nest and dunk them again but it did work. I used to keep a bucket of water close at hand. Our Magpie was outraged - she's a volatile one - but our Cuckoo Maran was quite calm about it and neither had any ill effects. Having heard that dunking can give them a chill (unless it's really warm ) I've started using an ice pack on the suggestion of a chicken owning friend. My Magpie seems to go broody practically every time she lays an egg at the moment but an ice pack on the nest box gets her out again in under an hour and she returns to normal (until the next time). Of course it's a nuisance when you have more than one hen and they all want to lay and yesterday I was trying to urge one in to lay, having chased out the broody one out so I could put the ice pack in. No-one said it was easy!
  4. Yes, the Magpie is a cross between a Barred Plymouth Rock and a White Rhode - or so I was informed when we got our Magpie, Jessie, last year. We have also had a Black Rock - similar to the Magpie in looks and temperament, active, curious and inclined to be top hen. Lovely little creatures. Only downside, and this is probably not the breed but just one of those things, Jessie is desperate for a chick and last summer went broody three times and once already this year and is quite assertive about it although we did manage to 'break' the broodiness each time.
  5. I second Mr Rhode Island Red's suggestion of the mustard egg. I went to a great deal of trouble to make a perfect mustard egg the first time but as this is a problem that has raised its head on more than one occasion I have become more slapdash. I use an egg that I've broken for cooking (as neatly as possible as it helps), fill it with a mixture of mustard powder, water and pieces of kitchen paper to pad it out, sellotape it up and place it near the hens to encourage them to 'have a go'. So far it has worked a treat - just as well as my better effort. If an egg gets broken by accident one of mine just can't help herself so I occasionally have to repeat the mustard egg treatment. It never seems to occur to my other hen to try and peck an egg.
  6. My Magpie, in spite of being a hybrid and so not supposed to get up to these tricks, went broody three times last summer and our Cuckoo Maran, once or twice too. We used the dunking in cold water method (to lower the temperature of the hen) which worked although it took more than one dunking. But the weather is too cold still for this, I think, as they might get a chill. And I know some people are against dunking anyway, even in the summer - although, I must say, ours didn't seem to mind and there were no ill effects. Another trick, which I haven't tried, is to put a gel ice pack under the broody hen. I shall be trying this if either go broody again. I plan to have two ice packs and just keep swapping them over and see what happens and if it doesn't work and if it's warm enough I shall use dunking again.
  7. The first time we introduced two new ones to our surviving singleton the new ones were about the same age. Then we had just two for ages. Next time one died we just replaced with one as there was a real shortage of hens - this one was younger. Then we added one more and then two more as ones died. We never had more than three and never seemed to have three for very long. There was a bit of a fight once and one drew blood from the other's comb but it didn't last long. Perhaps only having two or three means there's less of a pecking order? Definitely the worst time was having to shut them all in at night together, usually having to round up the newcomer and post her through the door - in the same eglu - I dreaded what I might find in the morning but it was always ok. Th funniest was when we introduced a new third one to two established ones and the established pair sat outside the eglu at bed time in an aggrieved mood and resisted being put in with the usurper but that too was ok after the first night's resistance. I was warned not to get a bantam as bigger hens might go for smaller ones. Good luck!
  8. When this happened to me the first time I got two more hens very quickly, the same day, I think, Thereafter we did the same thing and it seemed to work. There was initial distrust of sharing their eglu sleeping quarters and sometimes I had to push the reluctant hen in and shut the door on all three but they always settled down very quickly. I felt most sorry for our first little Isa Brown hen when her lifelong companion died and was replaced by two sturdy year old Light Sussexes but she was quite philosophical about it. You have the advantage of being able to keep a newcomer separate for a bit which is an advantage if your hen might be a bit agressive. It also helps in making sure the newcomer isn't carrying lice or anything.
  9. Oh thanks for that, sjp. That makes sense. This afternoon, after I'd posted, I was cleaning the poo tray from the eglu and noticed a few feathers. Also, I was watching her quite a lot and thought she looked a bit dishevelled and was a bit worried that she might be going down with something. It didn't occur to me that she was moulting 'normally'. I didn't know about hybrids moulting by age - I didn't think they moulted very much at all because they're such laying machines. So thanks again. This forum always comes up with the goods!
  10. I wondered if anyone on the forum can suggest why our 18 month old Magpie has not produced any eggs in the last 2-3 weeks? She has laid regularly since we first got her as a point of lay pullet in January '12 all through the winter up to now. She is eating well, no significant change in her behaviour except perhaps not quite so keen on her food, has been wormed, checked for mites and ticks and has a bright red comb and is generally bright eyed and healthy looking. We clipped her wing last year and noticed when we clipped both hens recently that her flight feathers hadn't grown back unlike our Cuckoo Marran. She is also inclined to be broody - three times last summer although each time we managed to get her out of it. I wondered whether perhaps she might have been older than point of lay when we bought her? Certainly she laid straight away (next day) and we had no egg irregularities from her like double yolkers or small/large/soft shelled eggs. I thought nothing of it at the time although other hybrids we've had did produce odd eggs occasionally while just starting laying. If she is older then I suppose she has just run out of eggs and come to the end of laying? Although spring and the warmer weather seems a strange time to do it. Our Cuckoo Marran is laying well.
  11. Without wanting to depress you, we have a Bluebelle bought at the very beginning of November as POL who still hasn't produced a thing. Nine months old and counting! Is this a record? Our other two (not Bluebelles) lay beautifully and have done since February.
  12. If she's pecking and eating the eggs you might find a mustard egg helps. You keep the shells, as whole as possible but two halves seems to work too, and stuff them with mustard. I use powdered mustard and mix it with water and pieces of kitchen paper to really pack it in. Then masking or sellotape to close it up. Put it in the nest. I've had a couple of egg eaters (seemed to happen when they grew old for some reason) and this stopped them although I had to repeat it occasionally as they forget. I hope this isn't cruel. It didn't seem to do them any harm.
  13. I now think of red mite like head lice. I am extremely susceptible and merely have to step inside a classroom for them to call a party. Like headlice, Red mite get to know where the best sites are and tell all their mates. Joybelle, like you, I find that really puzzling. I suppose some of your original red mites might have somehow escaped detection and hidden in the cube somewhere. Or from wild birds perching on the roof and casting off a passenger? I certainly didn't realise until I got everyone's helpful replies quite how persistent they are. Red Mite The Undead
  14. Looks like when you've had red mite once it's more likely to return. That makes sense really, thinking about the odd couple staying on the hen, dropping off, getting into the grass, the wood, breeding, breeding, breeding, staying alive for up to six months, marshalling its troops and launching another attack. Thanks for all responses.
  15. Thanks lozboz. It's not so much how to get rid of them (which I think, for the moment, fingers crossed) we are doing), more how they get there in the first place. I get that they can lie in the ground and hide in wood etc and that they're carried by wild birds - I've heard especially pigeons - but if they're only active at night and lie dormant during the day they must somehow attach themselves to the hens and get carried in to the eglu. I just wondered how they do it. perhaps just moving the eglu onto another piece of ground might find some hiding in the grass? Also I would love to hear from anyone who keeps their hens solely in the eglu and run or under wire whether they get red mite.
  16. Thanks for your answers, Egluntyne and Chubby Chook. So it looks as if red mite have a mystery past.
  17. I'm currently dealing with red mite. I have some questions if anyone out there has the patience, with apologies if this has been raised before - although I have searched the forum. Where do they come from? I know they are supposed to come from wild birds but how? Do the mites drop off and re attach themselves to the hens? Do they brush against each other (as with head lice)? And if the wild bird theory is true then presumably hens kept permanently in the eglu run or under wire don't get red mite? Also, we didn't get red mite for the first few years of owning an eglu. It's just in the last year or so we've started to get them. Don't know if others have had the same experience? Finally, if I'm extra vigilant with keeping the eglu free of them (checking every day, treating regularly) then will the problem eventually disappear? I'm about to treat the ends of the roosting bars with creosote as soon as it's a fine enough day to do it early enough to air and dry properly. I've heard this can be a good deterent and that it doesn't matter if it's not the real stuff (banned a few years ago).
  18. I chose our Bluebell from among seven or eight others and picked her because she seemed quite assertive and I thought it was worth having one who could hold her own against Rosie, our cuckoo maran who is a bit aggressive towards other hens. Certainly she took no time to settle in and wasn't fazed by Rosie driving her away - she just kept coming back. But "Ooops, word censored!"ody could call her friendly or much interested in humans so it's nice to know from you Bluebell experts that Bluebells can develop more approachable characters when they start laying. Here's hoping - both for a few eggs and a friendlier personality!
  19. Seems like Bluebells are as diverse as other chickens! Our Bluey is very shy. I can't get near her except at night time and even then she put up a bit of resistance when we clipped her wing recently. I don't feel at all confident that Bluey will lay very soon partly because we don't have another layer to encourage her (our cuckoo maran, Rosie, has definitely moulted and packed up for the winter - don't expect to see anything until the days lengthen) and the deteriorating weather. Somehow it seems counter intuitive to me for a hen to start laying in the winter even though I know hybrids are different. Also Bluey doesn't eat a great deal. We had a couple of Isa Browns a few years back and they laid and laid all through two winters until they died aged around two. But it was the early summer when they started. Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I think we've got a black combed girl and I'm relieved to find it's normal.
  20. That's really helpful, thank you, percy049 and Kazzy73, and reassuring. I was starting to wonder if she had some illness. And I didn't realise all hens crouch. I thought it was only if they had been running with cockerels. I think I came to that conclusion because the hens we've had who haven't crouched (Light Sussexes) hadn't been with cockerels and one that definitely had been with cockerels (a Black Rock) crouched a lot. But my experience is rather limited! It was our little Black Rock, Rocky, who died. She developed a respitory illness almost overnight and she had also, to our guilt and horror, lost quite a lot of weight. Our vet said that sometimes by the time owners notice something's wrong hens can be quite ill. We decided to have her put down as the most humane option although it was a tough decision. She was a dear little hen, very calm and inquisitive and easy to handle. I think she may have been more of a leader than we realised which might have put our Bluebell back a bit.
  21. About three weeks ago we bought a POL 17 week old Bluebell. I'm a bit worried about her comb. It's small and grey with only a bit of red at one tip and no wattles to speak of apart from a bit of red where they seem to be emerging. Is this normal? I would have thought her comb would be much redder by now. The person I bought her from seemed to think it would turn red as she got closer to lay but I'm beginning to wonder if there's something wrong with her. She did have a setback in that one of our other hens died about ten days ago leaving us with just two at the moment. If there are any Bluebell owners out there I'd be so pleased to hear your experiences. This is the first one we've had.
  22. Then I shall discard the cover! Because they don't feed in there - except at worming time when I shut them in until they've finished their dose - so there' s really nothing to protect. Re the surgical spirit for Red Mite. We've found this to be totally effective and can't see the need to get anything else. But did just wonder if there was a down side to using it. Thanks for responses.
  23. We have owned an eglu for about seven years and in that time have religiously kept the run covered with the green shade. We've replaced it three times now. Today my husband suggested that we don't need the shade. Our three hens have a generous part of our back garden to peck in and they don't use the run except to get in and out of the eglu. Somehow I've never questioned it! The shade seems almost an integral part of the eglu package. So is there any reason to keep it? Does it serve any other function apart from shelter from the weather? Re Red Mite: I was shocked to discover our eglu was infested a few weeks ago. I did what I did a few years back and gave it a thorough dousing in water and mild disinfectant and it solved it. I think I was just lucky. This time the mites didn't go away and my husband (him of the bright ideas) said surgical spirit would get rid of them. We put some in a spray bottle and sprayed every conceivable nook and cranny. Sure enough it worked. But although I've heard of, and use, surgical spirit for scaly leg I don't think I've heard anyone say it was good in eglus. Perhaps other methods are cheaper? Or have longer term efficacy? And finally, a few months ago I posted that our elderly hen, Lupin, was pecking the eggs other hens were laying and in spite of our best efforts (mustard eggs) kept doing so. I asked for opinions - really, was it time to say goodbye to her? Everyone who answered said Don't even think about having her put down. So we didn't. Shortly afterwards she lost interest in egg pecking and became a very very old hen interested only in her food. And then, when she lost interest even in that we took her to a friend who knows how to despatch hens kindly. So many thanks again for the sound advice and friendly interest. We have a new Bluebell bought a week ago who is settling in nicely.
  24. Thanks, Snowy. I have got a rubber and a marble egg I use from time to time. Every little helps although nothing seems permanent! I'm spending a lot of time watching them and as soon as Rocky or Rosie go into the eglu I belt down the garden to close the gate so Lupin can't get in. This morning I got there to find Rocky settling in for a good lay closely watched by Lupin who I shooed out sharpish. Of course, I could keep Rocky and Rosie both shut in until they lay and let Lupin out but that seems a bit hard on them as it can be past midday sometimes when they lay and they don't every day. So far: Rocky never damages her eggs, good little thing. Rosie almost always leaves peck marks in one end but not usually enough to pierce the membrane - at least I suppose they are peck marks. At the moment she doesn't seem to want to persevere and eat them. Her shells are not as tough as Rocky's although they have identical diets. This is hard evidence from leaving them shut in in turn while they lay. Lupin: least said the better. I'm saving the mustard egg as my master weapon for when I go back to work in September. I've never heard of a beak ring. Must find out. If there was more room to manouevre inside the eglu a roll away or drop through egg system would be great.
  25. Thanks so much for suggestions and support in keeping Lupin going. The roll away idea is one we've thought about but would be hard to incorporate. Standard chicken coops would have this as part of their design, I think.

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