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HampshireGardener

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About HampshireGardener

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    Chicken Eggspert
  1. Thank you. I have Equinola in one half of my run and sharp sand in the other. A few days ago I liberally spread Bio-Dri Sanitising Powder throughout and Diatemaceous Earth inside the coop and the nest box. I probably made the two rats that I believe were in the run at the time, the cleanest in the county! We live in a rural area and have a stream at the bottom of the garden so it’s no surprise that we get rats, as do our neighbours, but this is the first time we’ve had them in with the chickens as we made the run as impregnable as possible. It is on a very large area of cemented paving slabs and the Cube is attached to the outside, on wheels so all living/nesting areas are raised off the floor (the chicken shelter that was on the floor under which the rats were hiding, I have removed. I have two rat boxes and probably need to get more. The Plaster of Paris mix has not worked for me as they just keep coming back for more! Last year I seemed to be feeding rats with very expensive rat poison, again with no apparent ill effects. I am now trying proprietary poison again, so wish me luck! Barbara
  2. When I went to clean the run and collect the eggs as usual today I moved the small chicken shelter that sits in the straw end and raked the straw underneath it, when two rats popped out and ran up the ramp into the Cube! My DH had the presence of mind to close the door between run and coop. When we opened the nest box opening and banged on the side of the Cube one rat jumped out and got away but DH despatched the second one with a spade. I hope we don’t have a recurrence as the worst thing is I don’t know how long they’d been hiding there in the deep litter. Ugh my poor chickens! I’ve thrown all the food out and the hanging treats and replaced everything including the water container so nothings contaminated and my husband has screwed triple mesh over the vent slot. I have no idea how they had got in as the run is completely covered in weld mesh and sits on cemented pave stones so there are no gaps. The only way as far as I could see was if they had managed to get under the winter cover and through the ventilation slot on the Cube and then couldn’t work out how to get back out as here we’re signs that they’d been digging in a corner at the sand end to get out. I’m going to nervously approaching the clean out for a while now but I’ve left the flow clear of objects that rats could hide under so fingers crossed it’s been a one off experience ......... Barbara
  3. This made me laugh because my Columbine pecks me on the back of my legs to chivvy me along with the treats and sometimes it can be quite sharp. A couple of months ago I broke my ankle and as I limped down the garden to their run in my surgical boot I could hear her tap tapping on the back of it to make me hurry. Some chickens have no manners!
  4. We lost one of our 4 hens to illness in June and the remaining Maran and the Blacktail decided to bully the Columbine who had previously had a sprained leg. So last Thursday we went to purchase 2 new girls. We thought it would be best to buy similar looking birds for easier integration, but my husband persuaded me to get 2 white ones, a Sussex Star and an Amber Link! The Sussex is very nervous but the Amber is calm and very friendly indeed. Our existing girls do a bit of chasing and bullying but nothing too serious, however the new girls wont sleep in the coop at night now, and have for a couple of days been roosting on a perch or the top of the plastic kennel I have as a second "coop". So I purchased a small chicken shelter/nest box and today I've closed the internal run doors to keep them separated while they eat and sleep, but let them all out to free range together. I think that before too long they should be ok all in together full time. I'm keen on this as I want them to be happy together quickly before the next bird flu scare comes about and we have to confine them all the time. And a bonus - because of the interlopers, Columbine is back in favour with her buddies!
  5. While I was away visiting my sister, my husband told me that one of my four chickens wasn't very well, one of the Marans. He didn't feel he could check out what was wrong so it was late the next day when I got home and I could see that she was very sick indeed and I didn't think she would last the nigh. The following morning I fed her some cod liver oil and did some research. She didn't appear to have sour crop, nor lice but I thought she might be egg bound. I read that someone recommended giving sick chickens a spa bath - hot water and a large handful of Epsom Salts for 10 a minute soak, so off I went to buy the salts. By this time she was not moving around, and kept her eyes closed, but I popped her in the bath, then dried her off and after half an hour she seemed noticeably better. She had been very wobbly on her feet, her tail was completely down and she just hunched in a corner. The next day I bathed her twice, ensuring her vent was in the water as you don't need to wet the rest of her. Today, she is just about back to normal. She had passed a softie, her tail was up and she's getting around and eating again! I'm so relieved as I'm sure she would have died. I've stocked up on Epsom Salts for the future. I wonder if anyone else has tried this as I'm sure while the cod liver oil probably helped, I'm sure it was the baths in the Epsom salts that made he difference.
  6. I hope I'm not speaking too soon, but our 4 hens haven't moulted much at all and are still laying an egg each every day. We give them a mixed porridge of oats, layers pellets, garlic, cod liver oil and a little bit of limestone flour. They always have fresh cabbage hanging up and treats of mealworms every day (it's like a drug for them), and tinned sweet corn. I think our eggs must be the most expensive in the world, but we love our girls and their plentiful manure is great for the vegetable patch.
  7. I've PMd you. Please let me know if you don't get it by tomorrow as its sitting in my outbox at present for some reason.
  8. I found that rain was getting in to the nestbox and under the poop trays and it turns out that it is running down the drain holes that are under the roof lid. I contacted Omlet to ask their advice as I know that wet in the nestbox is very bad for chickens but have not had a reply so I temporarily put on the extreme weather jacket. This solved the problem however not only does it make it harder to do the daily clean, it's also too warm for the jacket. So I contacted a company and had a heavy duty tarpaulin custom made which just covers the roof and doesn't affect the nestbox for egg collection, nor access to the poop trays. It arrived today and I've fixed it on with bungee hooks so I'll wait and see how it goes in the bad weather. I've also gaffer taped the big air vent on the side opposite the nestbox because it's quite a big gap when the wind is up, and there's plenty of ventilation in the coop as I always leave the door open so they can go to bed and get up when they want to. Call me silly but I can't bear to think of my chickens getting cold and damp in their beds!
  9. My run is on paving slabs and has a wooden slat across the middle which effectively makes two halves as I can close doors across if I bring new hens in whilst they get used to each other. I have filled half with deep Equinola Bedwell rape straw and the other half in quite deep sharp sand. If they kick lots of the rape straw In to the sand half, it helps to absorb the poop and I just rake it off and put it in the compost. I add a bag of sand every now and then to replace what I might have removed with the poop and I change the rape straw every few months. My hens are very happy as they have cosy cushioned warmth at one end, and a play area, sand dust bath and latrine at the other! I also put their water in the sand end so they don't kick the bedding into it. I find this is the best solution for me and my girls.
  10. My chickens are let out for the time it takes me to clear out their poop from the nestbox and the poop trays, rake and fluff the hemp bedding half of their run, rake their sand and gravel half and remove whatever poops I come across. Then I replenish their food and water. All the while the girls keep popping back into the run in case I've delivered their treats. When I'm finished I shake the mealworm tub and they come running back in. Then I spend a few minutes putting the soil back in the borders where it belongs after their earth removals, and replant anything they've dislodged. Theyre probably out about 20 minutes or so, sometimes twice a day, but usually once as I have 4 Jack Russells and although they happily co-exist I would never have them all loose in the garden together. The girls have quite a large run but whenever we appear they run to the door like eager convicts looking for freedom! They have cabbages and CDs hanging in their run to stop them being bored and all in all are very happy.
  11. Thank you everyone for your advice. I have 2 of the very large green and white water containers that you fill upside down and then put back upright which let more water out as the chickens drink from the rim and I've raised them quite high so they can't kick so much bedding in (and they're the sort the chickens can't sit on and tip or poop in). I have four Glugs which can be hooked onto the sides of the run which I will fill and put in, and I'm also leaving 3 Grubs filled with pellets and a large trough full that my DH fixed onto a stand. I'm going to see if my neighbour will do a 'dry run' with me so he gets used to their quirky little ways and that's a good idea about throwing the corn in as there is a 2nd smaller door in the run that he can use for that and then nip in through the main door! I'm sure he'll be fine, it's just that I don't want to cause him stress or worry when he's doing us a favour, as he has said he's happy to check on them and collect their eggs when we go camping, although that will be for fewer days at a time. I guess the first time is the worst! We've become so attached to our 4 girls in such a short time and they fit in beautifully, even with the 4 Jack Russell terriers. Thank you all for your input ; I feel considerably better about it and will even try to coincide being away with worming them as suggested. Barbara
  12. I have to go to the north for 6 days shortly to look after my sisters dogs (making 6 with my 4!) and 2 parrots while she is away and need to know that my 4 hens will be ok. They are in a walk in run of 15 x 7 feet that has perches and is roofed and completely predator proof and are on deep litter but while I am gone a neighbour will come in once a day to check on them and collect the eggs. I have a Cube and leave the pop hole open all the time so they're used to getting up and going to bed themselves. I intend to leave at least 4 full Grub feeders, several waterers including 2 very large ones and 2 hanging cabbages. The neighbour is unlikely to go into the run in case they come out and he can't get them to go back in. Is there anything else I should be doing? I am leaving corn and mealworms for him to give as treats. I'm anxious that they will be ok whilst I'm gone as they're very dear to me and I don't want to be cruel. I'm wishing I'd never said I'd go!
  13. Well I must be the luckiest chicken owner! Because I'm like you Shilojo not into early rising I decided to try leaving the pop hole open 24/7 (the WIR is very secure though), and my girls get up when they want to and eat their pellets and do chickens things until I go down to see them at anything between 8.30 and 9.30 with their warm mash and other than yesterday's early alarm call due to fear, we've not been disturbed in the morning by them at all. Unless of course I'm sleeping more deeply than I thought!! Barbara
  14. Hi Jo. I started this reply then lost it! Anyway good luck with your chickens too. Our dust bath is like a half a horse bucket made from old car tyres so it very robust. They sell them in Scats (now Mole Valley) but I bought ours online and they use it daily. Cat tails, don't worry I'm no early riser / feeder which is why I leave the cube open all night! I only got up at 6am this morning because they were freaking out, really shouting in fear so I knew something was trying to get in to the run which fortunately is very secure. I spoke to them and told them they were ok then went back to bed! They have pellets in their run over night and I make them a mash around 9am and they're happy with that. I just hope they don't miss it too much when we go away as I know I spoil them but they're great fun! Barbara
  15. Well our 4 hens have settled in as though they've always been with us. The 2 Gingernut Rangers are very bold and friendly, the Columbine and the Blacktail are still a little more wary, although when I approach the run they all get very excited and welcome me. The gingernuts have on a couple of occasions Hopped out of the run as I entered in the evening to give them their bokashi bran and mealworms treats. The first time I was in a panic since I wasnt sure whether any of the dogs were outdoors. So I picked them up for the first time and popped them back through the door. Yesterday I went down with OH in case they jumped out and as one did, I had to laugh as I watched him give chase, shouting "Stay!" as though it was one of the dogs! They are not spooked by any or all of the 4 dogs being around the run, and almost seem to enjoy watching them. Hens are very nosey aren't they? They love their dust bath (90% sharp sand, 10% compost and diatom) and they throw it everywhere. We hung a white cabbage from string and they ate the whole thing within around 5 days and are now into the spring greens. I leave the cube door open all the time and this morning was the first time I was woken at 6am by them yelling at something that was scaring them. I rushed down to see what was bothering them and whether it was a fox or a cat I don't know, but they were calm once I appeared and spoke to them. I feel like a proper chicken mummy now. Only 2 of the hens are in lay at present but the younger ones are colouring up nicely so it won't be long before we have 4 eggs a day. I'm very glad we decided to get them; we're are enjoying their company and they seem to be happy being with us. My only worry now is leaving them in someone else's care when we go away for a few days shortly! Barbara

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