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Category Archives: Keeping Chickens

All Chickens Need to Perch – Here’s Why…

Chickens love to hop onto a perch.  This fondness for perches is instinctive. Chickens are descended from the Asian Jungle Fowl, which roosts on the branches of trees. Perching is as natural to hens as scratching and egg-laying. This might lead you to assume that the ideal perch is in a tree, or at least high off the ground. But while some of the lighter breeds such as Bantams or Leghorns might be able to flap their way to the topmost branches, the average domestic hen is way too big to try.  A perch that a bird can hop onto from the ground is perfectly adequate.

During the day they’ll use the perch to relax, take a break and watch the world pass by.  If you are keeping your chickens in a run then adding a perch is an excellent way to enrich their enclosure.  Enrichment is one of those terms that does what it says on the tin.  By adding accessories to the bird’s run you are enriching their lives by providing activities, variation and interest for them.  Whilst it might not seem like an obvious activity, a static perch is actually one of the best additions you can make to your chickens environment, click here to see a video of how to attach a perch to your run.   And if you have a big flock of chickens, you can add several perches in different locations, which will help to avoid any pecking order problems where the chickens lower down are not allowed to join in the perching fun!  Top 4 tips when choosing a perch for your chickens

  1. Make sure that the perch is strong enough to take the weight of your chickens, an average egg laying chicken weighs about 2kg.  A bantam would be about 800g-1kg and a large breed could be up to 5kg.
  2. Make sure that the perch is long enough, you should allow about 20cm per average sized chicken.
  3. Don’t place the perch too high. When you first introduce the perch, place it quite low, maybe 10cm off the ground.  The chickens will quickly learn to trust it and then you can raise it so it’s just above their heads.
  4. When choosing a place to position your perch try to find a spot in the run that is covered so that the hens can still perch when it’s raining without getting wet.

Using a perch in the chicken house. 

When chickens “come home to roost”, they usually head straight for their favourite spot on the perch. It may not look like the most comfortable way to spend the night, but that perch is every bit as snug and inviting to a hen as your warm, cosy bed is to you.

Hens will roost on pretty much anything, from an old ladder to a flat plank of wood. But it’s best to give them something custom made – wide enough with rounded corners, and easily adjustable. As their well-being is at stake – and that impacts your egg supply – it makes sense to buy the best.  Omlet’s chicken perch is very easy to fit to every type of chicken run and wooden coops too, click here to find out more. 

If a chicken doesn’t have a perch, they are more likely to attract mites and lice, or to pick up bacteria from the soiled ground. The stress of having no perch will also lower their immune systems, maximising their chances of disease.

Perches help hens feel safe and secure. At night a chicken is totally blind, and a perch gives them somewhere to “sit tight” if they are disturbed. As far as they’re concerned, if their feet are gripping that reassuring perch, they’re safe from predators. This reduces stress, which in turn promotes good egg-laying.

Perches even help with coop hygiene, as the entire night’s load of droppings will be dumped in one convenient spot for you to clean out.

Click here to buy Omlet’s NEW Chicken Perch – available in two lengths

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New Run Door Self Fit Kit

 

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The Run Door Self Fit Kit lets you add an extra access door to your Eglu run or Walk in Run.Simply cut out a section of your run mesh, cover the edges with the supplied edge protectors and clip the door in place.(You will need some good quality pliers to cut the hole in your run panel.) If your pets move their toys to awkward parts of the run or occasionally lay an egg just out of reach, the Self Fit Door Kit is just the thing for you! Note: The door opens inwards not outwards, so remember to take that into account when deciding on the location of your new door. If you are using it on an Eglu Go run or an Eglu Cube run, the angle of the Run panels will mean you need to mount it slightly higher to avoid it colliding with the ground when you open it.

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Remember, Remember, Your Pets This November




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Omlet @ Friday Late, V&A Museum.

The Victoria and Albert Museum houses the largest collection of art and design in the world, across 145 galleries and 13 acres of space in the centre of London.  Home to priceless pieces by Faberge, Michaelangelo, Charles Renee Macintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright to name a few it’s not exactly the kind of place you would expect to find a couple of chickens wandering around.  But that’s exactly what you would have found if you went to the Late Nights series in August which the V&A puts on every last friday in the month.  In August the focus was on Urban Grow Your Own and as well as hydroponics, a seed exchange and disco soup, Omlet were invited to display an Eglu and chickens in the amazing surroundings of the John Madjeski garden.  A beautiful summers evening meant that the garden was packed and plenty of people did a double take as we set up the Eglu and produced two real live chickens who promptly did real live droppings much to all the kids delight.  We answered loads of questions from people all over the world who were visiting and it was great to meet so many chicken fans. It’s not the first time the Eglu has been in the V&A though, you may remember that the Eglu Classic was picked to represent great british design alongside the E-Type jaguar and Concorde during an exhibtion that ran alongside the London Olympics in 2012.

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Meet Monique…the hen who is sailing around the world!

Meet Guirec Soudee, a 24 year old man from Brittany, France and Monique, his pet hen. This unlikely pair are currently sailing around the world, they set out on their voyage 2 years ago and they haven’t looked back since.

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Monique is the loyal pet hen of Guirec, who had originally planned on keeping a cat on the boat for company but changed his mind and opted for a feathered friend for companionship. Guirec said that he chose a chicken as they’re very easy to keep, plus he gets to have fresh eggs whilst at sea. Win win.

Others doubted whether this new found friendship would work but Guirec said that Monique took to sea life very quickly and was laying straight away.

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The dynamic duo are currently in Greenland but are heading to Alaska soon, Monique continues to lay eggs even in the colder climates, according to Guirec she lays on average 6 eggs a week.

She follows me everywhere, and doesn’t create any problems. All I need to do is shout ‘Monique!’ and she will come to me, sit on me, give me company. She is amazing.

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We wish Guirec and Monique good luck for their continued travels, we’ll be keeping a close eye on their Instagram and Facebook.

 

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Keeping Your Hens Cool in the Heat

As the weather starts to heat up we have created a list of our top tips for keeping your chickens cool in the summer months. Chickens can suffer from heat stress and stop laying eggs therefore it’s incredibly important to take measures to ensure their temperature stays as cool as possible in the heat of summer.

When chickens become very hot, you will also see them holding their wings out away from their bodies and ruffling their feathers, this is to help the heat escape. Unlike humans, chickens don’t sweat to release the heat, they pant,  similar to a dog. Please keep an eye on them so that they don’t suffer from heat stress.

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Signs of heat stress include:

-panting with beak open

-laying around with wings outstretched

-loss of appetite

-slow to respond to stimuli, unresponsive

Top 11 tips to help avoid heat stress

 

  • Make sure you provide plenty of shade for your hens to escape the sun. We have a variety of heavy duty and shade covers for all our Eglu runs.

 

  • Keep your hens hydrated with plenty of fresh water, why not add a few ice cubes to their glugs to keep the water nice and cold for as long as possible

 

  • Create a dust bath area for your chooks to nestle down and find a cool part in the ground.

 

  • One key tip is to look out for the signs of heat stress and act fast, if you think one of your chickens is suffering, dunk them in a bucket of room temperature water keeping their neck and head above the water. Keep them inside in the air con and make sure they get plenty of water.

 

  • Use a sprinkler/mister- the hens won’t like the water very much but it’s for their own good.

 

  • Freeze fruit and veg in ice blocks so that your hens can peck at it. Or just freeze pieces of fruit, Watermelon is a popular favourite among chickens.

 

  • Avoid foods such as corn and scratch as they require longer digestion processes, which creates more body heat.

 

  • If your local climate stays warm at night simply place a large ice block in the coop, your hens will enjoy sleeping near it at night.

 

  • Add vitamins to their water to make sure they are replacing the lost nutrients.

 

  • Pay close attention to bigger/heavier hens

 

  • Plan ahead for next year and plant a tree or bush to provide extra shade!

 

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3 for 2 on All Covers This Week

Welcome the Autumnal weather with 3 for 2 on all Clear, Heavy Duty and Combi Covers this week only. Suitable for all Eglus, Walk in Runs and other coops and hutches, Omlet Covers will keep your furry and feathered friends dry on the drizzliest of days. Stock up today using promo code: COVERS3FOR2

This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other Omlet offer. The offer expires at 11:59pm on 25th October 2015. The cheapest product will be free. Offer applies to Heavy Duty, Clear and Combi Covers. Previous purchases are not eligible for this offer.

Omlet Ltd, Tuthill Park, Wardington, Banbury, Oxon, OX17 1RR.

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Buy an Eglu Today and We’ll Donate £50 to the BHWT

Buy an Eglu this World Egg Day and Help a Hen!

Having supported the British Hen Welfare Trust for many years now, we have decided to do something eggstra special this World Egg Day. To celebrate the humble egg, the awesome chicken and 10 years of the BHWT, Omlet are going to donate money from every Eglu sale this World Egg Day to this marvellous organisation.

Order an Eglu today and we will donate £50 to the BHWT! That’s £50 for every Eglu Go, Eglu Go UP, Eglu Classic and Eglu Cube Chicken Coop sold today!

About the British Hen Welfare Trust

Established 10 years ago, the BHWT saves hens from slaughter by rescuing them at the end of their commercial laying life and finding them caring homes around the country. As well as rehoming hens, they educate consumers about caged eggs in processed food so they can make an informed choice when shopping and they actively promote Great British Free Range Farmers.

The BHWT’s work to increase consumer awareness has led to big names, such as Hellmans, switching to free range eggs in their food products. These policy changes have improved the quality of life for tens of thousands of hens. The BHWT have also played a role in improving veterinary care of backyard chickens by facilitating the training of vets across the country.

To date, the British Hen Welfare Trust has rehomed 486,192 chickens that have gone on to have happy, healthy lives, just like Lily, in the photo above. She was rescued by an Eglu owner earlier this year and after just eight months and a little TLC, she is looking fabulous and laying eggs every day.

All in all, our pals at the BHWT are good eggs!

 

Help us Raise £5,000 for a Trailer

We would love to raise as much money as possible for the fantastic folks at the BHWT to help them to continue their amazing work and rescue even more brilliant chickens. Here’s how your Eglu purchase will help…

20 Eglus sold = £1,000 – enough for 40 new crates to transport hens.

50 Eglus sold = £2,500 – enough to set up two new teams with necessary equipment including crates, feeders, drinkers, hen first aid kits, banners, tshirts, stationary etc.

70 Eglus sold = £3,500 – enough for a standard, open trailer to transport 480 hens, with a customer-made tarpaulin that keeps hens ventilated.

100 Eglus sold = £5,000 – enough to buy a larger, fully enclosed stock trailer that can carry up to 600 hens.

So what are you waiting for? …. Buy an Eglu today and help a hen!

This offer is valid from 12:01am until 11:59pm on the 9th October 2015. Previous purchases are not eligible for this offer. This offer applies to UK orders for Eglu Go Chicken Coops, Eglu Go UP Chicken Coops, Eglu Classic Chicken Coops and Eglu Cube Chicken Coops. Orders that are later cancelled will not be eligble.

Omlet Ltd, Tuthill Park, Wardington, Banbury, Oxon, OX17 1RR.

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Egg Skelter

As seen on ‘River Cottage’ and ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’. This egg skelter is a brilliant way of storing and displaying your fresh eggs in date order. Every time your hens lay a lovely egg simply add it to the skelter, and when it comes to eating them you will know to use the one at the front, which will always be the oldest. Your eggs will be proudly on display and you will never have to waste one again! Suitable for 20 medium to large sized eggs.

Please note: Eggs are different shapes and sizes and we cannot guarantee that they will roll down the egg skelter.

Cast: Omlet

Tags: kitchen, chickens, eggs and baking

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Walk in Chicken Run

Give your chickens more space while keeping them safe with a Walk in Chicken Run from Omlet. New and improved, this range of Walk in Runs look great whilst blending into the garden and they are designed to work with any kind of chicken house or chicken coop.

Cast: Omlet

Tags: chickens, pets and chicken run

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Omlet Chicken Fencing

Cast: Omlet

Tags: pets, chickens and gardening

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Too Many Drakes Spoil the Ducks

The Muscovy ducks have been their usual fecund selves and one duck hatched off eight ducklings more or less unassisted in the hay shed, protected of course from the fox. Looking at the sizes of them I believe that at least five are drakes so it will be a full freezer this autumn. We take no pleasure in this actually and although Mick is an expert and quick duck dispatcher, it is not something we relish. It always seems such a shame but totally necessary. In all the books and articles I have written over the years I frequently rant about drakes. It’s not their fault but they are rampant and the ratio of ducks to drakes should be very low, ideally one drake to each group of ducks especially for the ultra virile light duck breeds such as runners. Call ducks tend to be more faithful and the larger ducks are less sexually active but even so attention must be paid to family groups and ensuring the drakes do not harass the females.

If you have more than one drake they do compete meaning that they force themselves on to the same duck several times. Drakes have penises and can and do injure the ducks internally causing death. They can also accidentally drown them by holding their heads below water. This does not happen at all if you have the right ratio of drakes to ducks. They will still have plenty of sex but it will be non competitive and the duck will normally be equally interested.

Some people have obviously solved their drake problem by dumping unwanted drakes on rivers and this is disastrous not only for the domestic drake who will normally be well out of his depth and will die pretty soon but if he survives, disastrous for the native duck population and that’s when you see cross bred ducks on rivers which is not good for anything.

I think the message is do not breed if you are not prepared to kill your surplus drakes (call it cull if it makes it sound better). Don’t try and off load them on someone else and think hard before you put them in a sale as their fate is almost certainly the freezer and it would be better for them to have gone there straight from your garden or yard without travelling and being in a strange environment before hand.

This is a good guide to humane slaughter of poultry for small producers http://www.hsa.org.uk/introduction-1/introduction-3

You can also join your local self sufficiency group or smallholding club who will normally have someone who can slaughter humanely.

The only other thing you can do if you really want to keep your drakes is pen them separately with plenty of space and water well away from the girls and they will normally live together fairly peacefully. If they fight then you will have to separate them further or remove the offender and deal with that one.

So you can see why I say, don’t breed unless you are prepared for dealing with the surplus drakes!

Muscovies Mating

The male is heavier than the female which is acceptable for normal mating but not continuous harassment.

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