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About grahamrhind

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    Chicken Eggspert

Omlet Products

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    Eglu Classic

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  1. grahamrhind

    Chicken dream over before it’s begun??!

    @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!
  2. grahamrhind

    Chicken dream over before it’s begun??!

    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 ....
  3. grahamrhind

    Treadle Feeder that Works with Crumble

    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.
  4. grahamrhind

    Ducks with a chicken setup

    Cheers, thanks Lewis.
  5. grahamrhind

    Ducks with a chicken setup

    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?
  6. 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
  7. grahamrhind

    Foot operated feeders

    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.
  8. grahamrhind

    Foot operated feeders

    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.
  9. grahamrhind

    Why won't they sleep in the Eglu?

    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 ...
  10. grahamrhind

    Is free-ranging enough?

    @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.
  11. grahamrhind

    Is free-ranging enough?

    @AyeAyeMagpie Am I not being clear enough? I live in a rural area surrounded by farmland and riding stables. I could be outside with a spade, caving in little rat skulls from morning to night from now until Christmas. The prevailing view is that it will not do the slightest bit of good - as long as there is food for them to eat, they will keep coming. Ergo, I am removing the food. I am in principle against killing other living creatures, so that's the route I have to take. I can understand people who live in more urban areas, who have rats in the house and who don't share my principles having other solutions - that's fine. But all my research suggests that you have to remove the reason you have the rats to get a result, and that's what I'm doing. I do somewhat resent the implication that I am contributing to the problem because I am not taking action against it - that's not true. It's just that my solution doesn’t involve killing.
  12. grahamrhind

    Is free-ranging enough?

    @Beantree As far as I can ascertain, there are no laws requiring me to kill rats (or any rodents) where I live in Germany. But don't get me wrong - I am trying to control them, by removing a food source that I control. They can carry diseases - so can chickens. I don’t intend to start down a path of killing them (or anything else) when it won't do the slightest bit of good (Germany is in the throes of a rat plague after the warm dry summer - any I kill will be replaced if I leave an easy food source lying around for them). I do notice that when I can successfully prevent their access to the chickens' feed their numbers drop significantly - that strategy works for me.
  13. grahamrhind

    Is free-ranging enough?

    Thanks everybody for your respomnses - they are much appreciated. As I said, there'll be no killing. Rats have as much right to life as I have and I admire their cunning and intelligence. I don't have any problems with rats being around per se - I just want to limit their numbers and prevent them from rolling around in the chicken feed, for hygiene reasons, and from attacking the chickens when they get hungry - I saw that once and it was quite frightening, though the chicken came off much better in that fight! I do take the chickens' fresh water in at night, but as I have a pond which is deliberately accessible to wildlife, and there's a drainage ditch next to my property, that just means they have to travel a few metres more for their drinks. There is also a lot of fruit and veg lying around and three compost heaps (my garden sounds like yours, Daphne!) so plenty to eat if they can't get at the chicken feed, and there are stables next door, probably with enough rats to repopulate any I could kill, so even were I the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I'll never get rid of them all. I live in rural splenditude, so the rats will always be there - I guess it's a different situation if you live in an urban area. My rats are also active during the day, but I shall certainly start taking the feed in at night - thanks Daphne, I should have thought of that - and I am now experimenting with magnets to increase the weight of the flap on the feeder to make it harder for the rats to get in whilst not preventing the hens from feeding, rather than trying to move the feeder to a higher place. Let's see what happens ...
  14. Can anybody tell me whether a chicken can get enough nutrition from free-ranging alone? Mine free-range 24 hours per day. I'm asking because, like so many on here, I'm currently having a running battle with rats in their feed. As mentioned here: I am using a Feed-o-Matic to keep the rats out. For a short period the feed I needed went down. Then it went back to normal. I assumed that this was because the chickens were working up to laying again until I found nine rats in a row, like men on bar stools in a pub, enjoying a meal from the feeder; and this morning there were five rats shut inside it. The only solution I have is to raise the feeder off the ground so that the rats cannot reach it, but that has to be high - greater than 80 cm I've read, as rats can jump - and even experimenting with low heights has shown that the chickens can't work out that they need to jump up to get to the feeder. So, I'm wondering if they get enough nutrition from free-ranging to keep them going until me and the rats have finished our battle, or whether anybody has any other ideas (that doesn’t involve killing the rats). Cheers.
  15. grahamrhind

    Can chickens have tomatoes ?

    When I owned a restaurant we would give the hens the leftovers from the salad bar, including tomatoes. It caused them no harm. My experience is that chickens generally avoid eating anything that would harm them.