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Rob Thomson

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Everything posted by Rob Thomson

  1. Hello all, I wonder if anyone can recommend a vet in the south-west who would be willing to administer Suprelorin hormone implants? There seems to be a growing reluctance to use these - our (otherwise brilliant) vet says he no longer prescribe them due to the risk of affected eggs being fed to pregnant women. Our girls haven't laid an edible egg for about a year so there's not much chance of that! In the same breath he says he thinks the implants are worth considering as they help to prevent peritonitis and are likely to extend the little girls' lives. Anyway, any recommendations would be gratefully received. I'm based in always-sunny Weston-Super-Mare but I'm willing to travel. Many thanks, Rob.
  2. Thanks Beantree. Yes, on closer inspection they do seem to be little pieces of feather sheath and there are new feathers growing on her lower neck. Tonight she's even turned her nose up at mealworm - is moulting really enough to make her quit her favourite treat?! Thanks, Rob.
  3. Hello, Thanks for the reply. Yes, she's up-to-date with Flubinvet, I've never seen evidence of mites, and she doesn't lay soft eggs. She was much more lethargic this morning so she's now booked in to see the vet ASAP. The only other symptom is 'dandruff', can't tell whether it's flakes of skin or feathers, which I haven't noticed previously. Perhaps it's mites. Thanks, Rob.
  4. Hello, One of our BHWT ex-batts seems a little under the weather at the moment. Her unusually large comb is quite droopy and has lost it's usually bright blood-red colour. I suppose I'd describe her comb as looking slightly deflated in terms of its shape and texture. She doesn't seem quite as cheerful as normal, but the change is slight. Otherwise she seems in very good condition. She's as heavy as she's ever been, she's eating normally, she still comes running like a mentalist when I shake the mealworm tub... we gave her a good looking over tonight and nothing is obviously amiss. We've had her since November 2013 (so she's getting on for 3.5yrs old), she hasn't layed for about six months. Any ideas? Thanks, Rob.
  5. Hello all, I just wanted to update this... Evil Pamela has been separated from the other two, and has her very own Eglu at the other end of the garden. While I feel sorry for her, the other two are really blossoming after a fortnight without their bully and they seem so much happier. I hope at some point we'll be able to reintroduce them but for the time being I'm sure we've done the right thing. Thanks again for your help. Rob.
  6. We failed at Bumpabit fitting simply because we couldn't hold her head firmly enough to stop her moving - at least not without feeling like we'd break something. Time to man-up?
  7. Thanks both. We've been using anti-peck and purple sprays but it probably could do with a top-up. They have at least 100m2 between the three of them. We're fairlt sure they're lice/mite-free - Milly went to the vets a few weeks ago and was pronounced clear. We tried fitting a Bumpabit to Pamela about a year ago after one incident when Anita had a big hole pecked in her back. However we couldn't get it to fit, felt that we were hurting her, and gave up. Maybe it's time to try again. Beantree, please could you elborate about feeding at three levels. They spend their days scratching the lawn into a muddy mess, take their pellets from an Omlet Grub, but they don't have anything higher. We have tried hanging things from trees but they've never taken any interest. Please could you suggest how to improve this? Thanks, Rob.
  8. Hello all, I wonder if anyone can offer some advice. One of our ex-batts has gone psycho and is severely pecking the other two. We've had our three girls for about 15 months. They've never been a particularly harmonious flock but (excepting one or two incidents when blood has been drawn) they've seemed fairly happy together. The pecking order is clear; Pamela's in charge (she's a fair bit larger than the other two), Milly's second, and poor little Anita's always been bottom of the tree (except for the mouse that lives in the tree and the wild birds that she takes out her frustrations on). They were in terrible condition when we got them, but Pamela re-feathered within a couple of months. The other two took much longer which we put down to luck of the draw, but with hindsight I reckon Pamela's always had a taste for feathers. However, in the autumn Milly and Anita suddenly re-feathered too, and for a while we had three beautiful hens running around the garden. Since Christmas Pamela has started removing feathers from a patch in the middle of Milly's back, and more recently from around Anita's tail. Last night I went to tuck them up and discovered that Anita had packed her bags, moved out of the coop, and was cuddled up in a corner of their covered dust bath. She was bleeding from several feather stubs on her lower back, and had evidently decided that a night in the cold was preferable to another night in the coop with Pamela. Instead she spent a night in the downstairs loo, tucked up in a cosy box, and had an extra supper of mealworm and corn to cheer her up. The BHWT suggested that Pamela might be vitamin deficient, so for the past couple of weeks they've been on multivits. This hasn't made any difference, if anything she's getting worse. I don't know whether it's relevent, but the little girls more-or-less free range - they have our quite large back lawn (or what used to be a lawn) all to themselves (apart from the mouse and wild birds). Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks, Rob (6'7", 16 stone, 35yr old man crying over his chickens ).
  9. I just wanted to add that we've suffered a cat-attack. Opinion seems to be that cats won't attack chickens, but I can confirm that they will! Thankfully we were home and heard the cries for help. There was little visible damage but she didn't eat or drank for two days before finally deciding she was okay... Thankfully she's still going strong six months later, protected by 10,000 volts of cat-zapping electricity.
  10. Ours is great, we've had no problems at all apart from having to mow the grass a little more often than I'd like! We have a little voltage meter keyring device which means I can easily check the fence every morning. With cut grass the meter shows 10kV, which is probably a bit optimistic, and as the grass grows it slowly drops. When it gets to 7kV or so I'll cut the grass. At the moment that's three or four weeks of growth so it's not too onerous. Anyway, the meter is great as it gives you the confidence that all's well. Ours came with the kit but I think they're about £20 and well worth the money for the peace of mind. The little girls still shock themselves every now and again but the local cats seem to steer well clear. I'm yet to see a fox in the garden even though the neighbours tell me they're everywhere!
  11. It was my other-half who suggested that we get some ex-bats and I was initially a bit sceptical about the idea (mainly because I knew I'd be the one getting up early to let them out!). It's seven months since we collected our three little chickens from the BHWT and I think it's fair to say it was one of the best things we've ever done, I really can't imagine living without them. They're just wonderful little girls, they have such interesting and distinct personalities, they're so much fun to watch going about their daft little antics... honestly, they're just great. We have a large urban garden and initially (well, after a few weeks) we fenced off a large section of the lawn with some plastic netting so they could semi-free-range all day. This was fine for a few months, until we had an incident with a cat. Thankfully little Milly survived but it made us realise we'd been chancing our luck, and an electric fence soon arrived in the post. This seems to do a pretty good job, the neighbours cats all keep a good distance and we haven't had any problems at all (apart from the silly little chickens ocassionally reminding themselves what 10,000 volts feels like - but a couple of minutes of squalking and all is well). I let them out at 5:30am, they run about all day, and I shut them away after they go to bed (10pm at the moment) - doesn't seem too bad a life to me! Even though they've got about 150m2 of nice safe garden to run about in they love being let out to explore the rest of the garden, but only under strict supervision. Today I had a long and stressful day at work but came home and let the chickens out for an hour. I'm sure the neighbours think I'm mad chaperoning three little chickens around the garden but watching them scratch around the borders is such a good way to unwind and forget about the stresses of life. They're just fabulous little creatures. Get some.
  12. I'm pretty well trained at staggering downstairs, sorting out their food, letting them out, changing their water, checking the voltage of their fence, staggering back upstairs, climbing into bed and falling straight back to sleep. My better-half always sleeps through no matter how loudly I slam the doors in protest at our one-sided chicken keeping relationship.
  13. Hello, Thanks for all your replies. It seems I get up really early - I've been letting them out at about 5:30am! I've always had the impression that any serious pecking occurs while they're bored waiting to be set free in the morning, so I've been getting up at dawn when I can. When dawn got before 5:30 I decided that was early enough! Anyway, I left their inner door open on Friday night. Typically I woke up at my usual time on Saturday morning and when I looked outside there were three bored looking chickens looking slightly forlorn in their run. They looked a bit perplexed when I let them out into the garden, and then spent quite a lot of the day standing around looking unusally sleepy/p*ssed-off so I'm not convinced they like their new sleeping arrangements! So it was back to normal on Saturday night, and another early start on Sunday morning. The power these three little chickens have over me is ridicuous! I'm glad mice nibbling on tootsies isn't a problem, I'm sure I read that it was quite a common problem but perhaps that was a dream... Cheers, Rob.
  14. Thanks! I'm happy they're safe from foxes etc, but what about mice nibbling on their tootsies...?! I reckon I'll give it a try tonight. Leaving the door open I mean, not nibbling on their tootsies. Cheers, Rob.
  15. Hello all, Just curious whether or not people close the inner door of the Eglu at this time of year? We have an Eglu classic. We always close both the inner and the outer doors (i.e. the plastic flap and the run's mesh door) at night, but we're wondering whether it would be a problem if we left the inner door (plastic flap) open so the little girls can let themselves out in the mornings. We currently keep it closed for a couple of reasons: 1) Maximum security from predators. 2) Draft exclusion (and water-proofing when it rains). However, they're pretty safe within an electric fence (they get to free range from dawn til dusk) and the Eglu run has about 18,000 pegs holding down the skirt. Basically, what I want to know is whether I can have a lie-in tomorrow? Cheers, Rob.
  16. Hello all, I thought I should update this in case anyone has similar worries in the future... All three little ex-batts have been shocked a couple of times resulting in much squalking and a couple of days of slightly nervous looks, but they've quickly sussed out that they can't touch the fence and are happily pecking their way around the garden once again. Previously if we'd gone into the garden carrying a bag of mealworm the little girls would have come tearing over and crammed themselves into the nearest corner of their fence, pushing past each other to be closest to us. Now they stop eighteen inches short. Even the excitement of mealworm isn't enough for them to forget about 10,000 volts. The initial shocks did seem to upset their laying a little, but after a week of one or two eggs a day we're now consistently back to the usual three. Sadly the neighbours cats seem to know they should steer clear of the fence so I haven't had quite as much as enjoyment from the fence as I was expecting! But otherwise all good, apart from having to mow the grass under the fence once a week or so. Cheers, Rob.
  17. Hello all, After our cat incident a couple of weeks ago we invested in some poncey electrified poultry netting to keep our little girls safe. This has been up and running for a week now but we can't bring ourselves to remove their old fence from within the new because we can't bear the thought of the little darlings being shocked! I wasn't too worried about this until I got shocked for the first time... and was surprised how powerful it was. I'm 6'7" and 17 stone, if it knocked me for six what's it going to do to a fragile 4lb ex-batt trying to live a happy retirement pecking around the garden without the stress of electrocution?! Anyone got any experience of this? Many thanks, Rob.
  18. Thanks all. She's seemed fine for the last couple of days so fingers crossed she's back to normal.
  19. Hello all, After little Milly's cat incident last Monday (http://club.omlet.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=96615) she seemed to bounce back very quickly and seemed entirely back to normal by Thursday. However, on Sunday afternoon she seemed subdued, kept closing her eyes, and even spent a couple of hours in the coop. Yesterday she seemed completely fixed again; tearing around the garden, destroying our tulips, and relentlessly pecking everything she could find to peck at (including poor little Anita who always takes the brunt). This morning she seemed quiet again, having periods of frenzied pecking but also periods of standing still (and a bit hunched) and closing her eyes. She seems to be eating and drinking normally, is laying an egg a day (she only missed one day last week but I won't hold that against her as she'd nearly been killed by a cat), and generally looks well - but has these uncharacteristic periods of lethargy. Any ideas? Could it just be the heat? Maybe she's having cat-related nightmares and isn't getting enough sleep? Thanks, Rob.
  20. Little Milly's much better now. She really perked up while at the vets yesterday and spent yesterday evening pecking her way around the garden (with us on cat-watch). She's still a bit sluggish but very much better than she was. Thanks, Rob.
  21. Hello, After little Milly's cat attack yesterday I'm wondering if we should invest in some electrified netting to keep the lovely little girls safe as they free range around the garden. Does anyone have any experience with these? I'm looking at something like this... http://shop.electricfencing.co.uk/shop/electric-fencing/electric-fencing-kits-all-animals/poultry-kits/poultry-netting-kits/premium-poultry-kits/50m-mains-powered-premium-poultry-kit ... which could be easier to manage than a battery powered system as we have an outdoor waterproof 13A socket which I imagine we could connect the fence to. Are there any other pros/cons with mains/battery systems we should be aware of? Thanks, Rob.
  22. Hello all, Thanks for your comments and kind words. We thought we were losing her yesterday evening. She was so quiet and inactive - not moving, not eating, not drinking, not talking, standing with her eyes closed, etc. Our usual chicken-friendly vet wasn't available yesterday so we took her to the local late-opening vet, and she was given some anti-inflamatories and antibiotics. She didn't seem any better, but she survived the night (in the luxury of a cosy box in the downstairs toilet) and this morning she seemed a little better, drinking a tiny amount of water and nibbling at some mealworm from my hand. This morning she's been to our usual vet for a thorough check-up, and she's been kept in for a day of R&R and observation. Thankfully the vet thinks she'll be okay once she's got over her fright. I'll keep you updated. Thanks, Rob.
  23. Thanks Beantree. We were surprised too. She's an ex-bat hybrid, possibly the smallest of our three, but by no means tiny.
  24. Hello, This morning one of our chickens was attacked by a cat. I heard a very strange noise outside - it sounded like a sea gull but it was so close to the house I knew it must be one of the chickens - and looked out of the bedroom window to see a cat on its haunches with a chicken's wing sticking out from underneath. I've never moved so fast; sprinted down the stairs and outside and saw the cat disappearing over the fence. The chicken had gone too, making me think she'd been taken by the cat, but then I saw her on the other side of the garden looking very dishevelled. Physically she seems okay, bar some scratches on her back which bled briefly. But she's absolutely not happy, she wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink and just stands very still looking very unhappy. We went home at lunch to see how she is and found her standing exactly where we'd left her. She finally ate some mealworm from my hand which gave me some hope, but she's extremely out of sorts and we're very worried about her. Our local chicken-friendly vet couldn't see her today, but we're booked in first thing tomorrow. In the meantime is there anything we could or should do to cheer her up? Thanks, Rob.

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