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BrightonSteve

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Everything posted by BrightonSteve

  1. I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I have a house and run for three girls, although have only had two for about a year. My oldest bird (a hybrid, 3 yrs old) had to be put down last week as she'd developed an internal problem that was making her tummy swell and was clearly not long for this world. She stopped laying last summer after being spectacularly productive - non-stop laying for about 2.5 years. This means I've only got one bird left. Also a hybrid, she's about 2 years old but hasn't laid for nearly a month. I've wormed her and also used Frontline to clear any ticks or mites and she seems healthy and behaves normally -she's eating, drinking, dust-bathing, scratching etc but just not laying, after laying pretty much non-stop since we got her, including through the winter. I'm guessing she may have come to end of her laying career. She's also clearly lonely since the other bird went. For me the chickens have always been about the eggs - they're not pets but a productive part of the garden. What I'd really like to do is start again with three new pullets - I'm not sure I want to introduce two new ones and continue to feed and care for the older one if she's not laying. She's also been top of the pecking order and I suspect may object to two new interlopers. Having said that, she's an otherwise healthy bird who has been a productive layer so destroying her seems wrong - or am I being too sentimental about this? Is there any way of rehoming an unproductive chicken? Also, having lost one recently to an unknown infection, would it be a risk to introduce new birds to an older chicken who could potentially be carrying something (although as I say, she's currently healthy)? And would another chicken keeper want to rehome her, for exactly the same reason? Any thoughts/suggestions welcome!
  2. Thanks - if you don't mind me asking roughly what size did you order and how much did you pay?
  3. I need a new cover for our chicken run, especially as the weather is getting worse. As it's a run I build myself it's not a standard size so I'm wondering if anyone can recommend anywhere than makes made-to-measure tarpaulins or covers? Ideally I want something medium weight and with eyelets or preferably bungee hooks in each corner to make it easy to attach and take off. Thanks in advance!
  4. That's quite possible, actually - do they typically stop laying some time before the moult actually starts?
  5. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've just introduced two point of lay girls to the last of our previous girls, a Columbian Black Tail, Bette. Bette has always been a really good layer but we haven't had anything from her now for almost two weeks. She laid the first couple of days after the new girls were introduced, then we had one tiny pullet-style egg, then nothing. I wasn't altogether surprised when she stopped as I know big changes can cause them to go off lay but how long does that normally last? Bette has asserted herself as top of the pecking order (having been at the bottom before) but the pecking was never too bad and it all seems to have settled now. I had a feel of her vent but can't feel an egg waiting there, so I don't think she's egg bound. How long before 'not laying' becomes worrying? On a brighter note, one of the POLs, Sheila, produced her first, tiny, egg this morning!
  6. After posting last week about losing one of our two girls then asking for advice on introducing two new girls to the one remaining, we 'did the deed' yesterday and thus far, I'm pleased to report, all seems peaceful! We took the opportunity to extend the run on their Chicube to give them all more space and bought two new hybrids - a Rhode Rock called Sheila (as in Ferguson as she's dark and glamorous) and a Goldline called Geri (as in Ginger Spice) who now join Columbian Blacktail Bette (as in Midler, as she's a redhead!) Bette was in a temporary run on the lawn yesterday while we took her run apart and built the new one. When we picked up the new girls late afternoon I divided the temporary run and popped them in the other half. After some initial squawking from Bette, they all soon settled down and pecked around peacefully. Once I'd finished the new run and as the light was fading I popped Bette in her house, gave her time to settle then popped in the other two. There was a bit of banging about but they settled very fast. This morning Bette came barrelling out of the coop and was stopped in her tracks as she realised the run had changed and she now had to walk twice as far to get her breakfast! The other two followed shortly thereafter and soon found the food, water and grit. All three are now scratching around - Bette is clearly in the process of putting Geri in her place by chasing her around a bit but there's no pecking or fighting. Better seems to be ignoring Sheila completely which is great. Hopefully this quiet start will continue - Geri is clearly going to be at the bottom of the pecking order but then someone has to be! I've added some photos of the new run and the new girls via Facebook - I hope this link works: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150961074246636.402681.734576635&type=1&l=b575cb5bc0
  7. Hi - I know this is a topic that comes up regularly and I've read some of the other threads with interest, but wondered if there was anyone who's done what I'm thinking of doing and can offer any tips. As I mentioned in a thread the other day, I had to have one of our two remaining hybrids PTS when the vet discovered a tumour in her uterus. This leaves us with Bette, a Columbian Blacktail, who clearly isn't happy on her own - lots of squawking and throwing herself at us when we appear outside. I want to introduce two new birds this weekend but will they gang up on Bette? I'm also going to take the opportunity to extend their run before they are introduced, so they'll all have more room. I can separate the new run for a few days if necessary, although it means they'll all have less space per bird (they don't free range) and only one half could have direct access to the house, although I can do food/water/grit in both halves. I've ready some conflicting advice about the initial introduction - some say do it during the day, in adjacent runs/cages, so they can see each other. Others say pop the new birds into the coop once dark so the original bird is drowsy, then whisk out the newbies the following morning. Any words of wisdom or suggestions?!
  8. As I've just posted in the chicken forum, I took the bird to the vet this morning who found a tumour in her uterus that would have been the cause of the egg problems (and her lifetime of erratic laying). Unfortunately Babs has now gone to the great chicken coop in the sky.
  9. Just back from the vet without one of the girls, unfortunately. As I'd posted on the eggs forum earlier in the week, our sussex light hybrid had always been an erratic layer but recently we'd had shell-less eggs (that were getting eaten) then nothing at all for a week now. She was happy and healthy, eating well, scratching around and not looking sick but clearly something wasn't right in the egg department so I took her to a specialist poultry vet this morning who found a tumour in her uterus. While he could have extended her life for a while by various means, she would never have been productive and would probably have started to decline, so we decided it was best if she was euthanised. It means Bette, our Columbian Black Tail is now on her own - how quickly should we look to introduce one or two new pullets?
  10. Thanks for the feedback - yes, please do keep us posted on the results with the calcium feed!
  11. My Sussex hybrid has always been an erratic layer but now she's laying eggs with no shell and quite often no yolk - and then eating it. I've been keeping a careful eye on her to spot when she disappears into the nest box, to see what the results are - the last few days it's simply been a puddle of egg white which she then starts eating before I get it cleared up. There's no sign of any yolk and most days no sign of any shell - although yesterday there was a small lump of crushed shell (about half an egg's worth, crushed together) - I couldn't tell whether the 'white' had been laid within this shell or whether it was laid separately - the shell was between roosting bars, not in the nest box with the white. She's otherwise healthy and perky, eating well, plenty of fresh water, grit etc and has recently been wormed. Any idea what might be causing this and what I can do to stop it?
  12. I have hardwood wood chip on the floor the run but need more as it inevitably gets kicked out, compacts or rots down so needs occasional replacement. My usual supplier (Martins Wood Farm in East Sussex - can't recommend them highly enough for all things chook-related) normally has piles of it but they're not selling their latest delivery as they say is has arrived from the tree surgeon full of conifer that is apparently very strong smelling and they're not sure whether it might be damaging to chicken's health - they're not using it for their own girls and don't want to sell it to customers until they're sure it's safe. Anyone know anything about this and whether conifer is safe for chickens? Or does anyone know any other suppliers of hardwood wood chip in the Brighton/Sussex area?
  13. Thanks Sarah - is it OK to both worm and treat for mites at the same time? I wondered if it might be a bit of an assault on her system!
  14. I've been trawling through all the various threads about mites and worms but I'm not quite sure what I'm dealing with. My Sussex Light Hybrid (about a year old now) has always been a slightly erratic layer but in the last couple of weeks she's only laid twice, both times huge eggs with quite thin shells. I had wondered if it was simply because of the very low light levels due to all this rain we've been having. Yesterday she laid a large egg but was then incredibly listless - sat hunched in the run or just disappearing into the house, which is most unlike her. She didn't even struggle when I picked her up, which she's never liked. Looking around her vent, there is no sign of lice or eggs but her skin beneath her feathers looks like it's got eczema - which I'm guessing could be a sign she is being bitten by something? The skin around her neck and under her wings appears to be fine. I cleaned out the house (a Chicube) and run thoroughly but there was nothing to suggest mites in the house. I added extra Diotom to their dust bath and also to the house and bedding. Both she and her sister are due to be wormed as it's six months since I last did it - but I can't imagine worms would have this effect on her skin? I've delayed starting the Flubenvet treatment as I don't want to start doing that to a chicken who seems weak and under the weather. Thinking of buying some Frontline (which I use on my dog) and giving them both a couple of drops, to see if that stops the problem (I'm aware I need to discard the eggs for a week or so) but I'd welcome any other advice or ideas on what I should be doing. Am also giving Poultry Spice to try to give her a boost.
  15. Thanks for the reply - she laid today while I was at work, thankfully - I'll keep an eye on her laying for a few days but luckily it seems I was worried prematurely!
  16. One of our girls hasn't laid for three days and I'm not sure whether I should be getting concerned. She's a Sussex Light hybrid and has always been a slightly erratic layer, especially compared to her Columbian Blacktail flock-mate, but she's been laying pretty much daily since late January (over mid-Winter we only got one or two eggs a week). Her eggs vary in size (the last one was a big one) and sometimes have little 'bubbles' in the shell at one end. I've been looking at the forums about egg-binding and she's not (yet) displaying any particular symptoms - she's her usual active self, eating properly (haven't seen her drinking but I haven't been around much today) and not hanging around the nest box, but when I pick her up and check her vent, I can definitely feel an egg there. At what point does 'not having laid for a few days' become 'egg-bound'? Would I be able to feel tomorrow morning's egg already, right inside her vent? She normally lays about 9am. I've just shut them up for the night and they went into their house happily - I'll wait and see what state she's in tomorrow morning but is there anything else I should be looking for? Should I be sticking her in a warm bath for 30 minutes tomorrow morning, as a lot of the online advice suggests?!
  17. Thanks for the replies - I gave them the tonic for a couple of days but they stopped drinking altogether, so I reverted to plain water and they drank and drank! Is poultry spice a good alternative?
  18. I want to give our girls a boost as the weather gets colder and have tried using apple cider vinegar (the poultry version, not the culinary one) but even at a lower than suggested dose they just stop drinking the water. Am wondering whether to try poultry spice instead - is it a suitable tonic? Or are there other ways of getting the girls to drink a tonic?
  19. Oooh, thanks - I virtually pass Coombes on my way home from work - I'll pop in!
  20. Thanks for the thoughts - can someone point me towards the peck blocks? I'm not quite sure what they are or where to get them!
  21. Thanks for the ideas - I'm hoping to find some non-food treats to keep them occupied- I've heard hanging CDs in the run can be good - has anyone tried it?
  22. I'm interested to know if anyone has any tips for keeping girls interested when they're in their run. I'm aware we're using s"Ooops, word censored!"s and treats to give them something to do but I don't want them putting on weight, as they're not able to free range in our garden. Any suggestions for what I can put in the run that will keep them interested and occupied while we're out at work, without making them fat?
  23. We think the run is quite small, despite it being sold as being suitable for 3 birds, so we're already looking to extend it to give them more room. It's currently approx 14 square feet - we want to make it 22 square feet. We've been giving them plenty of things to scratch for to keep them busy and they seem fairly contented - I'm told bored birds won't lay! On the nesting material - I've been keeping an eye on them and I think it's one of the birds (the Light Sussex) always removing the bedding from the nest box, leaving it empty. Is that significant? Is there any way of changing her behaviour?
  24. Three weeks after we got our girls (see my previous posts for pics!) we've had a first egg: http://yfrog.com/j2hsykqj We think it's probably from the Rhode Rock, as her comb flushed red first and most strongly. It's thrown up a question, though - the girls keep emptying the next box of all the material we put in it (currently a mix of straw and shredded paper) so the egg was laid on the bare floor of the house (a Chicube). As soon as I'd collected the egg I refilled the nest but within 15 minutes it had been emptied again, so the material is now among and below the roosting bars. Could this be a sign of boredom, or a need for more bedding? Or do they like to lay on bare space? Or do they object to the materials we're using? Any advice gratefully received!
  25. Here you go - this is when they had literally just arrived so were very nervous: http://yfrog.com/h69frjij And them getting to know their run: http://yfrog.com/mganbkbj

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