The Omlet Blog Archives: October 2018
Winter is coming. If you’re new to keeping chickens you might wonder what you can do for your chickens to keep them happy and healthy during winter. Most chicken breeds cope well in moderately cold temperatures as long as they have a well-insulated and dry coop. Chickens normally acclimatise themselves to the cold weather, so you shouldn’t worry too much about your chickens getting too cold, especially if you have an Eglu which is well insulated. In fact, chickens are able to adapt better to the cold than they are the heat. But why not give your chickens a bit of extra protection during the winter, if only for your own piece of mind.
The basics of any chicken coop and run in the winter
Weather Protection and insulation. The coop must be weatherproof. As said, most chicken breeds don’t mind the cold at all but they prefer not to get wet. The chicken coop should also be insulated enough that it remains warm inside even in the midst of winter. If you have an well-insulated Eglu chicken coop you can increase the level of protection against the most extreme temperatures with our range of insulating blankets and jackets.
Ventilation. A well ventilated chicken coop will ensure that plenty of fresh air gets inside the coop. This will keep the odours down and avoids moisture build-up. When a chicken coop is too tightly insulated, not only will it retain heat, it will also retain moisture. Just make sure the coop is draft-free.
Rising damp. Rising damp can also be an issue for chicken coops. Coops should be raised off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp. If your coop doesn’t have legs fitted, you can place bricks under the coop to allow air to circulate and reduce damp. Always make sure you place or build your chicken coop and run on high ground that won’t flood during heavy rain.
Size of the coop. Make sure your chicken coop is not too big for the amount of chickens you have. When the coop is too big, your chickens won’t create enough body heat to warm up the space. Chickens huddle together and keep each other warm, so they don’t need a lot of space. Try not to open the door of the coop at night when your chickens are roosting. Be mindful that their body heat is keeping them warm and by opening the coop you will let out the build-up warmth. If you do have a large coop/stable and just a few chickens, you can put a large cardboard box on its side, half filled with chopped straw/wood shavings in a corner to help them conserve their body heat.
Run. It’s important that at least part of the chicken run is covered with a winter shade. You can even build a kind of greenhouse style addition to your coop, covering it with clear plastic. This will give your chickens a bit more space on nice days. Another tip to prevent the area under the run becoming muddy is to cover the area with bark chippings. Mud is a breeding ground for poultry worms so muddy areas should always be avoided.
Perches. Give your chickens have plenty places to roost. To prevent their feet will get too cold, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run. The perches need to be wide enough so that the chickens can cover their toes with their feathers. This will provide them with a little extra warmth which will save them from the bitter cold.
Cleaning. Keep your chicken coop clean and dry. Clean the droppings from inside the coop daily and replace the bedding as necessary. By keeping the coop both dry and clean, you will help to prevent dampness which can cause frostbite.
Also take care of…
Water. It is important your flock always has a source of fresh, unfrozen water. Depending on where you live this can be quite challenging. To prevent you have to keep rushing outside to swap over your drinkers every few hours, there are heated waterers like the Eton Drinker Heater. You can also wrap the drinkers up in a layer of bubble wrap to keep the water unfrozen for longer. Don’t place the water inside the coop, this can cause damp.
Feed. During winter your chickens feed consumption will typically be much higher than in the spring/summer. Often chickens enjoy warm feed, like cooked lentils or warm oatmeal with some raisins or other small dried fruits. Give your hens extra corn in the afternoon as this will heat them up internally as they digest it overnight. To encourage your chickens to keep laying eggs in the winter, always have a good amount of food available. Layer pellets have the right nutrients your chickens need throughout the winter.
Combs and Wattles. If it gets extremely cold across the winters your chickens’ combs and wattles can be in danger of getting frostbite. Most hardy chicken breeds have small combs, but if you have breeds with very large, floppy combs you will need to gently rub petroleum jelly onto their combs and wattles. You will also need to keep an eye out for coughs, colds and general symptoms of being unwell. Read our chicken breed directory to find out which birds are best suited to colder climates.
Vermin. Remember at this time of year, there are hungry rats and mice attracted to the chickens feed and water. Take extra care with the storage of your feeds. Store feed away from the coop and keep it in an airtight container. If you notice any signs of vermin, remove the feeders and drinkers at night.
Boredom. It is more likely your chickens will get bored in the winter, when there are no grass and weeds to munch and fewer bugs to feast on. This will lead to mischief, like feather pecking, egg eating etc. Prevent boredom by giving your chickens a Chicken Swings, perches, piles of leaves and/or a mirror. Read our blog “Keep your hens entertained!” for more non-food ideas for keeping your chickens busy.
Halloween baking is so much better with eggs fresh from your backyard chicken coop. This pumpkin cheesecake is the perfect dessert to serve to guests. Deceptively elegant but surprisingly easy to make, it’s great for holiday parties because it can be made a day or two in advance.
Sharing this yummy recipe from guest blogger Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily.
What is a clicker?
A clicker is a little box with a button that gives a “click” sounds once pressed, In the ‘50s it was mainly used as a training device for dolphins and cetacean, but it quickly became extremely popular among dog trainers.
Why use a clicker instead of just voice commands?
Using only voice commands to train your dog can be quite challenging and confusing. The same word can be pronounced with different intonations and used in different contexts, while a clicker always produces the exact same sound, giving you the opportunity to train your dog in an efficient and straightforward way.
- Arm yourself with patience
- Choose a suitable training place, without many distractions for your dog
- Start the training when your dog is still hungry, otherwise the treats won’t be much of an incentive
- Make sure your dog has already peed so you can have its full attention
Step 1: positive reinforcement (clicker, treat)
The clicker wants to be a training device based on positive reinforcement. With clicker training you want to encourage and reinforce a particular positive behaviour rather than punish your dog’s “bad” actions. As a first step, you will need to teach your dog to associate the sound of the clicker to a prize. Click the device and immediately offer a treat to your dog. Repeat the action for around 10 times then take a break. Repeat this at various times during the day and in different places so that your dog will associate the clicking sound to the receipt of a treat, regardless of the location.
Remember that the “click” sounds becomes a promise, so if you click the device by mistake you’ll still need to treat your dog.
Step 2: teaching the action (command, action, clicker, treat)
Once your dog learns that for every “click” sounds he gets a treat you can start the proper training. For instance, if you want to teach your dog the command “sit” you will need to command the action with a specific word and gesture of your choice (and that will always stay the same). As soon as your dog sit, immediately press the clicker and give him a treat. Repeat the cycle “command-action-clicker-treat” until your dog has learnt it.
If you’re not confident or not sure you can train your dog with a clicker, do contact a professional dog trainer.
Immagini prese da The Company of Animals UK
Patience. The first thing to remember is that pet photography requires patience. It doesn’t matter if you want a posed photo of your rabbit or a action shot of your dog, you’re probably going to get rather frustrated when your models are not behaving in the way you want them to. So arm yourself with patience, and never force your pet into doing something the don’t feel comfortable doing.
Get help. If you have a family member or a friend at hand, it’s always useful to ask them to assist you. They can use toys or treats to get the attention of the pet and direct their gaze while you focus on getting a great photo. If you’re by yourself you’re going to have to find other ways. Sometimes making a sudden noise can get the attention of the pet, but probably only for a second or two, so make sure you’re ready. Depending on the type of photo you’re after it might be easier to have the photo session after you’re played together for a while and the pet is less excited and bouncy.
Use natural light. If you’re not a professional photographer with access to different lenses and flashes, you’re probably going to want to take advantage of the natural light. Try starting outdoors, or if you’re indoors, by a window. The light will make the photo look better, and will give you more freedom to experiment. We would suggest going somewhere where both you and your pet feel comfortable, maybe a place that means a lot to you and where you have created lots of memories together. Try to choose a place with a relatively clear backdrop, like a while wall or a grassy field, as a messy background can be distracting.
Try to focus on the eyes. If the eyes are blurry or out of focus the photo will look slightly off. The camera will automatically focus on what is closest to the lens, which in most cases will be the nose of your pet rather than the eyes. This is especially important when you’re taking close ups.
Get down to their level. This might mean you have to crouch down in the mud or crawl on the floor, but in return your photos will be significantly more unique and interesting. Try taking photos from different angles: from above, below, in front of your pet, behind it. You’ll get to see your pet from all sides, and sometimes the photos from the weirdest of angles are the ones you will love the most.
Have their personalities in mind. The whole point of taking photographs of your pets is to try and capture their personalities, so try to make sure that their characters are showing in the photo. If you cat is the lazy ruler of the house you probably want to capture it yawning in their favourite spot on the sofa, and if you have a dog that bounces around the house and is impossible to tire, you probably want to capture its liveliness in the middle of a jump or running towards you in the park.
Quantity is key. The more photos you take, at different times and locations, the more likely you are to get that one amazing shot. This will also mean that you get loads of photos of your pet in different places, moods and positions. Get used to taking photos when you’re out on walks, playing in the garden, or just relaxing at home, and try to spy on your pet to catch what they’re doing when you’re not around. And remember to always take 20 photos instead of just one.
Use treats. If you’re trying to have a properly arranged photo shoot, try using treats. Depending on what pet you have, and their personalities, offering treats can make them sit still and look at the camera. Others will just walk up to you to get the treat, or ignore the treat completely, but it’s worth trying. Make sure that you reward your model throughout the shoot.
Add humans to the photo. Having family members in the photos with your pet makes the pictures even more special, and they are the ones that you will come back to and look at. A photo of your child playing with your dog or feeding the chickens will capture their characters in a way that a posed photo very rarely do.
Have a go at these tips, and make sure to tag your photos on social media with #OmletPets – we love to see what you’re up to!
Happy World Egg Day! World Egg Day is celebrated on the second Friday of October every year, and around the world events are held celebrating the egg.
To celebrate, we want to help our friends at British Hen Welfare Trust, while also giving you the chance to win a Chicken Swing to say thanks! To enter simply like our Facebook page and comment on the World Egg Day post how you like your eggs in the morning (you can also enter in the same way on Instagram and Twitter). For every comment we receive we will donate £1 to BHWT! We will also select 2 entrants at random to WIN a Chicken Swing. Competition closes at midnight on 16th of October 2018. Good luck and don’t forget to share with your friends!
Terms and Conditions:
The competition closes at midnight on Tuesday 16th October 2018. To enter please like our Facebook page and comment on the post for World Egg Day. £1 for every comment posted will be donated to the British Hen Welfare Trust (you can also enter in the same way on Instagram and Twitter). The maximum amount combined donated for all Omlet countries running the competition will be £250. Two entrants will will a Chicken Swing. The winners will be randomly selected from all entries and notified on Wednesday 17th October 2018. Omlet reserve the right to withdraw the competition at any point. Prizes cannot be transferred to cash. This competition is only open to UK residents. This competition is not open to Omlet employees or members of their immediate families. Likewise, it is not open to the Employees of Omlet Partners who may be involved in promoting this competition. Omlet may cancel or amend any competition, competition information, or these terms and conditions without prior notice. Any changes will be posted either within the competition information or these terms and conditions. All entries must be made on the relevant competition post.