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grahamrhind

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About grahamrhind

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    Chicken Eggspert

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    Eglu Classic

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  1. For a few weeks one of my hens has been laying eggs with slightly thinner shells than usual and with spots and little "heaps" of calcium on them. There's no signs of illness, the eggs are perfectly edible, and I'm guessing it's just a minor malfunction of her egg production system. But I wanted to check with the experts on this forum to make sure - does anybody know if this is a sign of any structural or deeper health issues? Thanks in advance!
  2. The area for my two chickens is, per chicken, similar (perhaps slightly larger) to yours, but my experience is not the same as Beantree's. It turns into the Somme every winter, but by spring it is always full of grass and other plants which the ladies can't destroy, however hard they try. I also don't poo pick and haven't noticed that causing any issues at all. Though obviously you don't want the hens knee deep in mud all the time, I think within a few weeks this issue will have resolved itself. Let us know what happens!
  3. Yes, I agree with the general advice given here and, as ever, it depends on your setup. Mine free range permanently (no predator problems), they have a treadle-feeder that can hold many week's worth of food, multiple water sources that can't be tipped over, and no pecking order issues. I wouldn't hesitate to leave them for a night. That said, I would ask a friend just to drop in to cast an eye over them if it were to be longer than that - I wouldn't sleep snugly with thoughts that the treadle-feeder might get blocked or something like that. The friend get the eggs and otherwise there's nothing really for them to do if all is as it should be.
  4. Thanks Lewis. A quick internet search showed loads of sites which suggested giving fruit to chickens was no problem, but I value the comprehensive knowledge of this group's members more I've never had any chickens with crop problems, but then (apart from watermelon rind) I never give fruit to the chickens - they take it themselves from windfall, but that's incidental. My experience is that chickens with give themselves a varied diet if they get the chance - mine free range 24 hours per day so they don't gorge themselves from any one source. I'll keep an eye on their eating habits in future, though, though I wouldn't want to start having to clear up the fallen fruit - there's not enough hours left in my life for that .... 🤗
  5. Can somebody enlighten me as to why fruit seems to be considered a no no for hens? Mine live in an orchard - they eat apples, pears, plums and blackberries and we give them watermelon rinds. I've never noticed it doing any of them any harm and they get all the other nutrients they need via their feed. Am I missing something?
  6. @Cats Tails Out of interest, and slightly off topic, where in the Netherlands are you? I lived in Amsterdam in a terraced canal house and wouldn't have considered chickens at that time because of the proximity of, and number of, neighbours. One, in particular, moaned incessantly about everything: about shade from the trees in my garden, for example, and about the wild birds waking them up in the mornings (!) even though I had to put up with their two screaming, ill-behaved children. They even had the audacity to complain to me when I moved and sold the house because there was a chance that somebody who was less compliant to their demands would move in. Good riddance, frankly - I'm with @mullethunter in my views of most people. Present company excepted, naturally!
  7. In my opinion, any neighbour who thinks that it's their role to decide what you may or may not do with your garden (and I've had loads over the years) is not worth cultivating. You will never satisfy them. If it's not the chickens it will be trees that need pruning, beds that need weeding or fences that need painting. Keeping chickens is accepted and legal provided you take steps to reduce potential problems, and I think you need to stand firm but remain friendly and polite. (I should state that this is easy for me to say because my only neighbour is a horse stables where they are more interested in their livestock than in mine). The rats issue is one I've had problems with in the past, and you would need to stay on top of that so that they had no valid grounds for complaint. Consider getting a treadle feeder - rats can't get into those and move elsewhere for easier pickings. Good luck! It's because of "neighbours" that I moved to a house surrounded only by fields. Best move I've ever made ....
  8. With the treadle feeder that I use: this hasn't been a problem - I never used pellets, only meal. I do, very occasionally, give it a poke with a screwdriver just to get the meal moving if it's been damp, but that's very rarely so it's not a big problem.
  9. Thanks @Lewis. Have you tried to feed them with meal instead of pellets? (I know they'll eat virtually anything. When I owned a restaurant a pair of (wild) ducks would visit 6 or 7 times per day (entering the restaurant if we were too slow in reacting) to gorge themselves on our bread. It became quite the tourist attraction because I would have to help them cross the road both ways. I know they're not supposed to eat bread but she wouldn't take anything else and, as she was back five years in a row, I guess it didn't damage her too much .... ) Also, the water. If I make a pool, e.g. a children's paddling pool, which isn't sunk into the ground, do I need to provide a ramp for them to get into/out of it, or can they jump up and down if required?
  10. I know that the knowledge of the members here extends way beyond chickens, so if anybody can help with these duck questions, I'd be much obliged. My current setup is for chickens (Eglu Classic, treadle feeder with chicken feed, all-day free-ranging), but it's currently empty as my surviving hen has defected to a neighbour's flock (I can just about see her to wave to across the fields some mornings). Enter somebody who has asked me to take their four Indian Runner ducks which, as the alternative was for them to end up in the pot, I agreed to do. However, I have no experience at all with ducks. So, the questions are related to what I need to do to make my setup duck-friendly. Do I have to buy special feed for the ducks, or will they be happy with the feed I have left over from the chickens? Or can they get their nutrition just from free-ranging? Could they feed from a treadle feeder? I'm wondering if their bills would make it hard for them to get at the food? If not, what alternatives are there - I want to avoid open food sources as I've only just got rid of the rats? If I remove the roosting bars, is an Eglu classic OK for them? It may be too small for four ducks, but actually, as we have no predators, do they need to roost at all or are they happy to settle down anywhere? Or do I need to look at buying a new house for them? And ... anything else I may not have thought about. I'm a bit anxious about being fobbed off with them (though I'm sure I'll love them when they arrive), but I'm a sucker for rescuing animals, so ..... Thanks in advance! Graham
  11. The rats can't open the one I have unless they work in union. They were able to open mine to start with but I used some fridge magnets to increase the weight of the flap so that the chickens could open it but the rats couldn't. Worked a treat.
  12. Alis, check out the thread I started here: My hens had no problems with the feeder and, with some adjustments, it also rid me of all the rats as they couldn't get to the feed any more. I would recommend one, though I can imagine those where the top opens could frighten the hens. If you have any questions, just let me know.
  13. Whilst my most recent hens were happy to lay in the Eglu (when in lay), they would leave its shelter, in rain, gales, snow and ice, to roost up a tree. It concerned me to see them clinging for dear life on the merest of twigs, but it didn't seem to do them any harm and I couldn't have climbed up to retrieve them in any case. Recently, my remaining hen has moved her roost across the field to the stables where she spends most of her time - I get visited occasionally when she wants a dust bath, but otherwise the Eglu is sitting there gathering dust like an expensive folly. We don't have a predator problem and I've always taken the view that, as long as she's not in danger, let her be. She's the picture of health despite everything.... That said, I won't be getting any more white hens. Mad as hatters ...
  14. @Dogmother This forum is one of the very few I take part in because the members are generally very supportive and understanding, and there's little bullying. Of course not everybody will agree with everybody and everything - as long as we all stay polite that's OK with me. But ... back to rats. This is going to be a process, and I will do what I can without killing unless no other options remain open. I take all the advice on board - the compost bin with food remains is rat-proof (the others contains just garden waste), our rubbish bags sit on top of a wall where the rats can't (easily) climb up to, the chicken feed is in closed containers, and so on. The rats have never yet succeeded in getting into any outhouses (they tried to chew through a shed door last time I succeeded in locking away the food, but they failed). They also won’t find food anywhere inside any of them. Inside my house, if they can get through the concrete, they will find two ex-feral cats, who don't share my principles. My belief is that, when they disappear (which they do when I succeed in locking down the food source), they go to the stables next door where they have an easier time finding food than trying to break into my house. That suits me fine. If they do start raiding the house, then I will take other action. But until then, I'll stick to my preferred humane course. Just for the information of anybody else who uses a Feed-o-Matic: it's important that it is placed on a hard flat surface, slanted slightly forward. This was how I had it originally and the rats couldn't get into it. However, they did tunnel beneath it and, in so doing, tilted it slightly backwards so that the rats needed less pressure to open the flap to get to the food. I have tilted it forward again, and added magnetic weights to the flap, and that seems to be keeping them out.

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