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Everything posted by Beantree

  1. Their first moult will be around 18 months, so about now. They won't lay when they are moulting as they need all the protein for new feathers so it's likely they will all stop laying. I don't switch from growers to layers until the first one lays. If the layers are getting to the growers pellets that would explain thin shells as layers have 4% Calcium and growers only 1%.
  2. Some breeds sex late, particularly Orpingtons. We had a brother and sister at 20 weeks which became two brothers at 26 weeks. Leghorns can be sexed as early as 4 weeks, simply by the size of the comb. I seem to remember somewhere that hens ('pullets' up to laying) develop wing feathers before cockerels. The feathering on the hackles gives a cockerel away but the only way to be sure is when they crow. Problem is cockerels start fighting in sight of pullets at about 12 weeks, so you may have your hands full with mixed breeds. Cockerels are difficult to find homes for. You can only keep one and if you have potential noise issues with neighbours you may not be able to keep any. Problems with disposing of cockerels is why many people don't hatch. Statistically 50-55% will be cockerels and the remainder pullets but that's only an average. Our first hatch had 8 cockerels and one pullet. Our second had 12 pullets and two cockerels. Over 5 hatches it did average out. So you will be looking at an average of 4 cockerels, but you may have none and you may have 7.
  3. Doesn't sound like 'egg bound' to me. You would see her pushing to try and shift it and she wouldn't stay in the nest box, just keep returning. I think you could have what we term 'a silent broody', which is a broody hen not exhibiting the usual signs which are fluffed up feathers, screeching if you go near, throwing twigs on her back, plucking out her breast feathers and even pecking you. If she is broody she won't lay. Just keep taking her out and block the nest box at night (plant pot works). I might be wrong, only time will tell as they usually develop proper broody behaviour after a few days.
  4. Not raising them for meat Patricia W. They will come into lay end of October and should give us eggs over Winter. Unfortunately because of their abnormal size they don't live long; two years we've been told. But in that time they will have a nice life and then we'll 'rescue' some more. If we end up with a cockerel the plan may change? At the moment we're struggling with the heat, even though their coop now has 4 high-level air vents and the pop-hole open. Job for today is to make and fit a mesh door into one of the access doorways, then do the same thing for two other coops. No shortage of work here!
  5. We've just bought 6 chickens from the local farm which breeds for meat and sends to slaughter at 12 weeks, which may not sound long but it's a lot longer than 5 ½ weeks in a shed in the UK. These chickens are in tremendous condition and well feathered, having spent a lot of time free ranging and sometimes flying to graze in the neighbouring fields. Very timid though and could only be taken out of the barn on the final day, to avoid undue stress for the others. Cou-Nu (naked neck) isn't a breed you would see often in the UK but a few have been shown. Derived from a TNN but much bigger. We were advised not to have a cockerel because they can be ferocious and we have seen that for ourselves, but one of these pullets looks suspiciously like a cockerel and I won't be surprised to hear him singing from the top of the hill any time soon. Still, at 30€ for the six we won't complain. Canary yellow feet and very strong legs which gets them onto an 18" high perch with ease. We suspect the farmer selected these for us carefully, because we have seen some rather tatty ones in the fields. They are in the new 'Fort Nox' enclosure, which isn't quite finished as intended because the ground is far too hard to get the electric line posts in as we've had no rain for weeks. Taken 3 years to get it built, for many reasons but the most significant was the total lack of grass on that patch of land, just flat weeds. Grass can only be sown in October so that was 6 months lost for a start. Then finding posts for the principle points (it's not square) is a whole new story as was getting them into the ground (I knew that scaffold tower would be handy).
  6. The little worms you describe are 'hair' worms which die when they leave the body. I've only seen them once, in a liquid poo which was full of them. Flubenvet will kill all worms within two days, based on my experience, but the dose needs to be extended to kill any that subsequently hatch from eggs.
  7. The best thing for the coop floor is newspaper. It's free and allows easy daily inspection of overnight poos; the best/first indicator of impending illness. Fancy drinkers are unnecessary. A plant pot base is easy to fill, clean and empty. Allows chickens to stand in it to cool down, easy addition of ice in Summer and easily emptied and refilled in Winter to stop freezing. They do need a good sized run though.
  8. Depends very much on your taste. UK type 'mushy which sticks to your teeth' battery chicken doesn't exist here. Chickens get to run about as as a result taste far better with meat that has texture/ substance. If you let your Cobbs move about they may be OK, but with these supermarket breeds flesh growth exceeds bone growth and they just break.
  9. Mycoplasma. We've just lost a hen to this as it can lead to swollen nostrils and infection. Definitely return the bird as it is far too much trouble to try and treat. The breeder shouldn't have this in their flock and should stop breeding and selling immediately. Yes it will infect the other birds so keep it separate. It flares up when their immune system is depressed eg. end of a season laying, bad weather and moulting.
  10. She might be coming up to first moult, has not really settled yet or as said, both may be laying. Next Spring will be the time to tell. In the meantime console yourself with the fact that of the many dozens of hens we have had only one was actually barren. Margo hasn't ever laid an egg, doesn't eat much as a result, is very sweet and will be 11 years old in March.
  11. Well you can't do much until she is healed. We've had hens alongside each other for weeks, but once in the same coop problems started and they were immediately separated permanently. Introducing a single hen is very difficult at the best of times and is really best considered impossible. Your only chance, based on our experience, is to introduce the flock to her. That means that she occupies the eventual coop and run for a few weeks and then the flock is introduced singularly, over a week or so, starting with the lowest in the pecking order. It does work, if you have spare accommodation.
  12. I made a mistake with our carrots DM and didn't thin them. The result is they are so tightly packed I can't pull them out. No problem with the beetroot though. We have self-seeded potatoes on the compost heap which I think are Spunta, but I can't get to them because of the squash plant. The blackbirds and chickens have scratched around and covered the stems, so I'd risk losing squashes if i tried. Thanks for the offer of a cat Daphne, but the dangling CD's seem to be working and our dog would probably eat the cat before it could catch anything.
  13. The Bintje were a bit of a disappointment Daphne. Supposed to be great for chips but, although they tasted good they were all pale and looked unappetising. Perhaps they are too fresh?
  14. Broodies can get very aggressive. Chicks can be trodden on and need separate feed anyway. They are best kept separate until the chicks are 6 weeks old, at which time the mother will lose interest and can be re-introduced to the flock. Chicks need to remain separated until they are old enough to defend themselves. They will be on rearer pellets after 6 weeks. You may run into problems putting them in with the flock as they will be invading the territory.
  15. Lifted two Bintje potato plants yesterday, which wasn't easy as the bed is very poor clay soil and had to be watered to soften it. Lots of small to medium sized which came to 5Kg per metre and as we have 24 metres we are due a bumper 120Kg crop. The second attempt at parsnips was going well as they started to shoot at 11 days, but then DISASTER. Two thirds of one row just disappeared in a few hours and the culprit turned out to be a lizard, darting out from under the lavender bush to grab another shoot! CD's have been hung over the rows now and no more lost this morning.
  16. Lunchtime French TV news headlines said "Pubs open in England" and I just couldn't watch the article because I just knew it would be embarrassing, having been told earlier that people were queueing at 8.00am to get a place inside one Pub in the Midlands. I gather a spokesperson for the emergency services said they are expecting "chaos" later today.
  17. The only thing that I can think of is the smell of everything may be a bit too much or it's too dusty. We stopped using Aubiose because it was too dusty in summer and don't use diatom for health reasons. What do tobacco stems and the spray smell like? Not sure the ventilation can be definitely OK as it will need some breeze for an airflow, so it depends on your location. Certainly looks as though the hens want the safety of the coop, but don't want to be inside it.
  18. The usual answer is red mite in the coop, but perhaps it is too hot or there isn't enough ventilation?
  19. Our raspberries are also great this year; we moved a lot from other beds into just one bed without compost. The squash on the compost heap are big and so are the self seeding potatoes amongst them which can't be reached now. Our strawberries are rubbish this year Mullethunter, even though they should be at their best; we have lizzards eating them. Next year that will be a row of sweetcorn and if we want strawberries we'll go to the market as theirs are very good.
  20. The one we had was very good. The important feature was a thermostat that stopped the fan from switching on until the system was warm enough, so you could leave it on without it blowing cold air and it would switch off when the system went off. Unfortunately I can't remember the make and it wasn't particularly cheap. Fairly quiet, until the fan was turned up to full speed. Did kick out a lot of heat so if the room is small you will need a room thermostat as well, as we did. Plumbing is important, with a good flow and isolating valves, so not suitable for microbore systems.
  21. Just been on the news was an article about these masks printed with the lower half of the face. They had a setup in a supermarket where you went to a photo booth and the picture came out onto a transfer print which was then heat/pressure applied to a mask. The staff are wearing them in restaurants and bars apparently, but at 22€ for a mask than can only be washed 8 to 10 times it's not something I'd buy (and some would say my face is better covered).
  22. French beans have cropped well and the one self seeded squash on the compost heap has been trimmed back many times but still covers 25m2. Had two disasters though; the parsnip rows didn't germinate so have been re-seeded from a new packet and the tomatoes have developed a strange ailment where the stems go brown and shrink. I've cut the areas that I can off, which seems to have slowed the spread, but some trusses have been lost so it will be a poor crop at best. Out Bintje potatoes are ready to lift but it's far too hot for digging so they have been left in the ground for now.
  23. Some of these problems are bred in Booger, because the breeders didn't wait to take out the inherent breed problems; they just went for a fast profit. Breeding shouldn't take place until the hens are at least 3 years old and the cock 2 years old. If they don't get that far the breed is a failure and should be abandoned. We've bred from hens 6 years old with great success and I hope their offspring go further. Hens should get to at least 10 years, cocks 5, any less is a result of bad breeding.
  24. I had to smile when I saw a game show on TV here. To obey the distancing rules the audience has been reduced to a third and put on the empty seats are full size cartoon style cardboard cutouts of people. The real people in the audience are wearing cleverly disguised masks. What has been done is a photo of the persons lower face has been printed onto the mask, so you can see what they actually look like, rather than everyone wearing blue ones. They are so well made that they are not obvious at first glance. Some 'mask snobbery' has emerged. People are having masks custom made and the attempt by a supermarket here to sell half the normal price tissue masks has failed completely. They are now on special offer at half the price again without success; people just don't want to look cheap.
  25. The French are staggered by the beach fiasco and it featured on all the news broadcasts. May be the factor that decides on EU quarantine for UK visitors, same as has been set for Americans, as the virus could be deemed out of control and may well become so when pubs open. With the UK mortality rate running at TEN TIMES the rate in France, which has the same number population, I'm surprised France hasn't imposed quarantine for UK visitors already and I'm surprised Spain has opened its boarders. In the meantime here it still isn't going away. We have approximately 400 a day leaving hospital and 300 going in. Problem is half the people who catch it don't realise, so can potentially infect others for about 10 days. Even those who do develop symptoms are infectious for 2 days before they get them and can then isolate. Social distancing is vital to avoid a second wave. Why aren't people in the UK wearing masks? The other thing featured here is that applying alcohol gel to your hands and then going out in the sun can cause serious burns.

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