You may be thinking of buying chickens, or expanding your flock. But what exactly are you looking for?
There are a number of factors to consider. For example, is the main aim to have a good egg supply? Or colourful eggs? Will the hens be kept chiefly as pets rather than providers of eggs and/or meat? Will they need to be docile so that children can handle them?
Here are a few pointers, to make sure your feathered friends are fit for purpose.
All the chicken breeds available for purchase lay eggs. But if you’re looking for two or three hens that will satisfy your family’s weekly egg requirements, there are certain breeds renowned for their productivity.
Most hens go through a period in winter when production drops off. So, an average of five-plus eggs a week over the course of a year is the most you can hope for, and the breeds that regularly achieve this are Ancona, Australorps, Favaucana and Rhode Island Red. Many other breeds average four a week, but these four breeds are the queens of the coup when it comes to eggs, and will deliver between 260 and 300 a year.
And if we had to pick an overall winner, it would be the Australorps, as one hen of this breed holds the world record – 364 eggs in a single year!
Most hens lay brown or white eggs, and shell colour makes no difference to the taste of an egg or the colour of its yolk (that’s all down to what you feed your hens – plenty of greens will result in rich orange-yellow yolks).
However, some hens lay eggs of a more unusual colour. The Ameraucana, Cuckoo Bluebar, Cream Legbar and Super Blue Egg Layer will – as you may have guessed from that last name – deliver blue eggs.
The Araucana, Easter Egger, Favaucana and Ameriflower lay green-blue eggs, while the group of birds known as Olive Eggers give you eggs of a lovely olive-green hue.
Beautiful chocolate-brown eggs are the speciality of the Delaware, Marans and Penedesencas, while red-browns and pinkish-browns are delivered by Catalana, Plymouth Rock, Barnevelder and Welsummer hens.
The Sumatran and Swiss breeds produce eggs of a very pleasing cream hue. A mixture of different colours from a mixed flock of hens makes the perfect Easter basket – no dyes required!
Hens For Kids
Many chicken breeds can be nervous, while others can be quick to peck at intruding hands. These are not ideal for children, for the obvious reasons – ‘scared’ and ‘aggressive’ are not tags you would wish to apply to any kid’s pet!
Some hens are lovely and docile, though, and will soon get used to being stroked, picked up and treated as friendly members of the family. Some of the best breeds in this respect are the Brahma, Cochin, Belgian d’Uccle Bantam, Easter Egger, Golden Buff, Orpington, Silkie Bantam and Sussex.
Many people keep what are known as ‘dual-purpose’ chickens, and these are the breeds that combine good egg production (an average of four a week) with good eating. Not all good egg-layers make good oven birds, but many – including the Delaware, Dorking, Faverolle, Jersey Giant, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Redcap, Rhode Island Red, Sussex and Wyandotte – do.
Hens bred specifically for meat, and not eggs, are known as broilers. They grow faster than breeds developed for egg-laying. Popular birds in this category include Bresse, Cornish Cross and Freedom Ranger.
If you’re not worried about egg supply or drumsticks and simply want something that will brighten up the garden, bantams are best. These are small birds, purposefully bred to look good, with endless variations on plumage, patterns and colours. They are particularly popular with keepers who like to enter their birds in shows and exhibitions.
Popular breeds in this category include Barred Plymouth Rock, boasting a striking stripy plumage; Buff Brahma with lovely bright colours and feathery feet; Cochins, which come in a wide variety of coat patterns and colours; the spectacular Mille Fleur d’Uccle Bantam; and the wonderfully fluffy Silkies.
So, whatever you’re looking for in a hen, the ideal chicken is out there somewhere!
This entry was posted in Chickens on August 27th, 2019 by linnearask
Ever heard the expression ‘cooped up’? It means being stuck indoors with nothing to do, resulting in frustration and boredom. We tend to lock hens in a chicken coop, and that’s where the saying comes from.
A hen kept in a shed with nothing to do will soon start to show all the signs of boredom, just like a human. She may start pecking at her neighbours, or plucking out her own feathers. If blood is drawn, the other hens will often join in the beak-attack, and hens can actually be killed in a frustrated frenzy of pecking.
With nothing better to peck and scratch at, chickens may also start to eat their own and other hens’ eggs. Once a chicken becomes an egg-eater, it’s very hard to make her kick the habit.
Bored birds will also tend to sit in the egg box all day, and may become weak through lack of exercise. Boredom also causes stress, and stress can bring egg production to a temporary halt.
Bidding Bye-Bye to Bantam Boredom
As usual, prevention is the best cure, and there are many ways of stopping boredom from becoming a problem in the chicken run. The general rule is simple enough – don’t keep hens cooped up!
- Room to Roam – Give your chickens as much outdoor space as possible. If they have a garden or meadow to peck and scratch in, that’s ideal. You don’t have to worry about rounding the birds up in the evening – as soon as the sun dips in the west, hens instinctively head for the safety and security of the coop. All you have to do is close the door behind them.
- Weather the Storm – A day spent indoors is a day of boredom for a chicken. They should only be confined to the coop if the weather is particularly bad. A bit of rain, snow and wind will not harm them, no matter how unpleasantly muddy the run may look to you.
- Fowl Play – Chickens need stimulation, like most animals. Provide plenty of perches for roosting and resting, along with ladders, and a few pots, tree stumps or ornaments of different heights for them to clamber on and off. Many hens enjoy a chicken swing, too, as if they were parrots in a previous life.
- Treats to Eat – Concealing a few tasty treats in the undergrowth or on ledges is a great way to keep hens entertained. Pack tasty titbits into a wicker ball, place it on the ground, and watch your hens enjoy a game of football as they eat. Alternatively, hang greens or a veg-filled Caddi just out of reach, so that the birds have to jump to get a beakful. Shop-bought or homemade suet-and-seed pecking blocks keep them coming back for more, too. The treats should not be overdone, though, as healthy diet is an essential part of good chicken care.
- Making Hay – A pile of hay, straw, leaves or garden compost will give your hens something to scratch and rummage through, and they will find probably a few tasty worms and beetles to eat during the fun. Piles of vegetation will be levelled in no time at all – chickens remove piles, you could say!
- Novelty Value – Chickens will be fascinated by anything new in their runs, even something as simple as a box or tray of straw, or an old brush. They are also fascinated by their own reflections, so an old mirror can be a good distraction. An old alarm clock or large watch with a reflective glass surface and a loud tick will intrigue them, too.
- Dust to Dust – A dust bath goes down a treat at any time of year, not just in the hot summer months. If the weather is wet, you could provide a dry earth bath in a sheltered part of the run or coop.
- Quality Time – Don’t underestimate the importance of interaction with your hens. Once they come to trust you they will relish your company, like any other friendly pet. Admittedly this can sometimes get a little out of hand, when hens start to flap onto the garden table to see what you’re eating, drinking or reading!
Boredom really doesn’t have to be a problem in the chicken run. As long as your hens can satisfy their strong scratching and perching instincts, and have a little fun along the way, they will remain healthy and happy.
This entry was posted in Chickens on August 22nd, 2019 by linnearask
The arrival of a baby in a household turns things upside down. That’s certainly how it can seem to your pets. A dog may find there’s less time for walks and playing, and a cat may suddenly be ousted from her favourite sleeping places in the bedroom or on your lap, due to the presence of the baby.
It’s important to get your pets used to the idea of having the newcomer around, along with the changes in routine that go with it. And ideally the preparation needs to start before the baby is born.
Prenatal Pet Training
In the months leading up to the birth, spend slightly less time with your cat or dog – particularly if they are used to lazing in your lap or sitting by your feet demanding attention.
If your dog is not fully trained at this point, fill in the gaps with some training sessions. Get an expert in to help out, if necessary. Your dog needs to know the basic ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ commands, at the very least. It’s essential that the humans in the house reinforce their roles as Alphas in the pack.
A new baby will bring new sounds and smells to the house. You can get your pets ready for this by inviting mums and dads with babies or toddlers to call in for coffee. Play a recording of a crying baby to acclimatise pets’ ears, and switch on any noisy new toys, mobiles, swings or other baby-related apparatus. Let your pets sniff a nappy and a cloth with a few drops of baby oil on it. Familiarity is half the battle.
Get Your Pet Vet-Ready
A neutered pet is a calmer pet, and less likely to bite. This is especially true with males. When neutered, they are less likely to view the baby as a rival. Arrange for a vet to perform the operation, if the pet is not yet neutered. And while you’re there, make sure Puss and Fido are up to date with their vaccinations, worm-free, and generally in tip top health.
Babies bring lots of unpredictability to a household, and old routines soon break down. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a pet who’s set in his ways may not take kindly to sudden change. Break him in by varying feeding times, blocking off no-go areas with a baby gate, or perhaps hiring a dog walker.
If the human mum-to-be has always been the pet’s chief companion, it’s handy if you can introduce another ‘favourite’ into its life. This could be a partner, older child or friend – anyone able to spend quality time with the animal.
Introducing the Baby
Before letting a dog or cat see the baby, let them sniff a blanket and a soiled nappy. Try not to show any nervousness when bringing the baby into the house for the first time, as pets will pick up on the bad vibes.
To make the first introduction, sit with the baby in your arms – ideally in a ‘neutral’ room, one where the pet doesn’t usually go – and let the dog or cat approach in its own good time (and one at a time, if you have multiple pets). Don’t force the issue. Have some treats ready to reward good behaviour.
You can reinforce the positive associations by treating a dog whenever it’s around you and the baby. That way your pet will come to associate the baby with good things (i.e. food!) A cat will need less fuss in this respect, and will simply equate the baby with you, logging it as something not to worry about.
Whenever there’s any interaction between baby/toddler and pet, make sure there’s an adult around to keep an eye on the situation.
Special Notes For Cats
A docile cat needs to get used to the new baby, and to keep away when it’s asleep. A more flighty cat should simply be kept away. Toddlers seem to have an instinct for grabbing handfuls of pet fur, and a nervous cat may react by scratching. A cat flap with a lock can be handy in the early days, to keep puss outdoors at key times.
Many cats dislike a baby’s crying, and will disappear when the screaming begins. This is very handy! Make sure there’s a quiet, safe spot for them, away from the mayhem. The Maya Nook is a perfect solution to give your cat some privacy.
Cats feel exposed and nervous when they eat, so you should keep a toddler away from the place where your pet is feeding. It should also go without saying that you should prevent young ‘uns from rummaging in the litter tray too!
Special Notes For Dogs
All dogs will need to be well-trained, in a situation where trust is so fundamental. Some dog breeds are very rarely going to be friendly with children, though. A dog bred over hundreds of years for aggression is NOT a dog you should have in the family home. ‘Snappy’ breeds such as Jack Russel, Dachshund or Chihuahua can be problematic too, but you probably know your dog best.
A treat-based puzzle toy such as a Kong ball is a useful distraction. You can give it to your dog while you spend time tending to the baby, to divert the pet’s attention.
It’s important not to abandon dog walks, as that will lead to doggy stress and frustration. It’s a case of ‘business as usual’, where ‘usual’ has simply undergone a few changes.
The dog/child relationship is a two-way process, and youngsters need training too. Teach them to be gentle with the dog, and they will have the basis for a good relationship.
And the importance of that relationship shouldn’t be underestimated. Children learn lots about friendship, respect and responsibility from interacting with animals. There is also evidence that allergies are less of an issue in kids who have been brought up with pets.
So – you’ve replaced your ‘pet baby’ with the real thing. That means big change. But when handled properly it’s a positive change, the beginning of a new chapter in the happy family home.
This entry was posted in Cats on August 22nd, 2019 by linnearask
If you’re keeping chickens in your garden, you’ve probably become accustomed to your morning routine: wake up, drink a cup of tea or coffee and collect fresh eggs from your flock. Of course it’s an unpleasant surprise when one day you go outside, looking forward to your fresh eggs for breakfast, but return to the kitchen empty handed. There are a number of possible reasons why you’re not finding eggs in the nesting boxes anymore. Maybe your hens are too old, it’s wintertime or they’re broody or moulting. But there’s also the possibility your hens are in fact still laying eggs, but are hiding them in a nest they’ve created outside their coop.
Why do chickens hide their eggs?
In a few words the cause might be either a shortage of nesting boxes, or your hens for some reason aren’t comfortable in the ones you have provided. The general ratio of nesting boxes to hens is 1:4, although 1:6 or 1:8 might be sufficient. It is important you give your chickens a safe, tranquil and shady spot for laying that makes them feel protected. Nesting boxes can sit on the ground or be elevated. Chickens aren’t picky about the material the nesting box is made off, but they are picky about where they lay their eggs. Although wooden nesting boxes are common, plastic and metal ones are less susceptible to bacteria and easier to clean. If your hens were happily using the boxes and then suddenly stopped, there might be mites in the nesting material.
Ways to get your hens laying in their nesting box
Of course you don’t want to go on a hunt every day to find eggs and you want to be able to gather them freshly from the nesting box you’ve provided for that purpose. You can take steps to encourage your chickens to lay in the nests and not outside hidden in grass, hay bales, under the chicken coop or any other place that for some reason seem to appeal to them.
Clean the nesting area out at least once a week
Whether an egg will be hatched or eaten, in both cases cleanliness of the nesting box is very important. The nest needs to be cleaned, disinfected and treated for mites regularly. Obviously a clean nest, free from droppings and red mites, will encourage your chickens to use it. It is recommended to clean the nesting area at least once a week. Put some fresh straw, wood shavings or hay in the bottom of the box to provide you’re chickens with a comfortable nesting space.
Find the secret nest
If you are letting your chickens roam about in the garden they may have made a nest under a bush or in a corner somewhere. Follow your chicken discreetly to find the nest. Hens will often let off a loud celebration cackle when they have laid an egg, which can help you finding the nest. Once you’ve discovered the nest, remove the eggs from it and try to block it off or make it otherwise unattractive. You can simply cover it with a scrap piece of wood, rocks or plastic bottles filled with water. Hopefully this will convince your chickens to return to the comfortable nesting box you’ve provided.
Hens will often lay in places where there are already eggs. Fake eggs are useful for encouraging your chickens to lay their eggs in a particular place. When young hens get ready to start laying, the fake eggs in a nesting box will give them the hint that this is the place to lay their eggs.
Collect the eggs regularly
Collecting eggs regularly is not only one of the greatest joys of keeping chickens, it is also an important thing to do. A few eggs won’t keep a hen from adding one more, but a box already full of eggs isn’t very appealing to a hen. Collect the eggs at least once a day, every day. This will also discourage egg eating and broodiness, and it will help you keep track of which eggs are fresh.
Break the habit
Chickens are creatures of habit, and they can be very stubborn about their egg-hiding-behaviour. Most chickens lay their egg in the morning. To help stop your hens laying in places other than the nesting box, you can keep them in their run until about midday. If your chickens are very stubborn, you can try to close your hens in for a few days. They’ll have to lay inside and hopefully get into this preferable routine.
This entry was posted in Chickens on August 20th, 2019 by linnearask
Those who have lost a beloved pet will know the pain can be as heart wrenching as the loss of a family member or friend. For many couples, the family pet becomes another child, just one with four legs and a tail who doesn’t answer back. Many of us also find comfort and friendship in our pets throughout the highs and lows of day to day life, so the passing of a pet can be extremely painful.
It’s okay to be sad
Take the time to process what has happened and allow yourself to be sad. This is especially important if you have children who may be experiencing this kind of loss for the first time and might struggle to understand.
Pet owners often have to make the difficult decision to have their pets put to sleep when their health deteriorates too far to be helped. This adds another aspect to the grief as some may feel guilty for having to make that decision, or as though they could have done things differently. Discuss the events with your vet, as they will be able to reassure you that you did the right thing.
Don’t feel ashamed for any sadness you feel. Many people may not understand or be sympathetic towards the sadness when we lose a pet, but that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel upset. If you think it would help you to take a couple of days off work to grieve, do so. Pets who have been in your home for years leave a big hole, and feelings of loneliness and emptiness are completely normal.
Confide in your family and friends about how you feel, but if you do not think they understand, seek the support of organisations such as Blue Cross and Cats Protection who provide grief support helplines.
If they were your only pet, consider moving your pet’s bed, food bowls, toys and other belongings into a garage or shed so they are out of sight. Throwing these in the bin straight away can be difficult so don’t rush, just put them away so there is one less reminder in the home.
If you have another pet, keep a close eye on them for signs of depression and loneliness. Consult a vet if you believe your pet’s behaviour has changed drastically and shows no sign of improvement.
Some people choose to rescue or adopt another pet soon after the loss, as the home can feel empty without them. However, others find this feels too much like attempting to replace them. Consider rescuing a different type of pet, e.g. if you have lost a dog, why not rescue a cat instead. That way you are not at all replacing your previous pet, but you are offering a cat in need a happy home.
We are all guilty of taking lots of photos of our pets, and this is the time to put those photos to use. Find your favourites and prepare a photo album, or get a canvas printed, so they can still be a part of your home. Other things you could do in memory of your pet are plant a tree or flower in their favourite garden spot, read or write a poem, make a donation to a pet charity which means a lot to you, or volunteer at a local rescue shelter.
Pawprints Left By You – By Vayda Venue
You no longer greet me
As I walk through the door,
You’re not there to make me smile,
To make me laugh anymore,
Life seems quiet without you,
You were far more than a pet,
You were a family member, a friend,
A loving soul i’ll never forget.
It will take time to heal,
For the silence to go away,
I still listen for you ,
And miss you everyday,
You were such a great companion,
Constant, loyal, and true,
My heart will always wear,
The pawprints left by you.
This entry was posted in Dogs on August 15th, 2019 by chloewelch
As naughty as your dog may be, we all know you can’t stay mad for long.
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Terms and conditions
This 15% off promotion is only valid from 14/08/19 – midnight on 28/08/19. 15% off requires no promo code. This offer is available on all dog products listed in our dog category only. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Dogs on August 14th, 2019 by chloewelch
Rabbits, as prey animals, tend to hide their illnesses as much as possible, and they are very good at it. This is why it is important for all rabbit owners to keep a close eye at your rabbit and do regular health checks, so that you can spot problems as early as possible.
Checking your pet rabbits’ poo is a brilliant way to see how they are doing, and from just having a little look and possibly a little feel, you will be able to tell a lot about your pet’s health. But before we start exploring the wonderful world of rabbit poo, it’s important to mention that if you’re ever worried or unsure, it’s always best to consult your vet.
Different types of poo
Rabbits produce two types of droppings:
- Faecal pellets. This is what most people think of when you say rabbit poo. They are small, round balls made up of mainly undigested hay. These droppings are relatively firm and more or less completely dry, and they don’t smell. There will be lots of these to clean up in the hutch, so take the opportunity to see if they look normal.
- Cecotropes. These are not actually poo, but little balls of nutrition that the rabbits will pick from their bottoms and eat again. We know, not very nice, but they are a vital part of the rabbits diet, and if you see your bunny munching on these poo bits you should be comforted and proud, as it’s very important that your rabbit eats these.
Cecotropes are formed in a part of the digestive system called the caecum. After the food has gone through the small intestine, it is separated. Food matter that has been digested or doesn’t contain any nutrients will go through the large intestine and come out as pellets, whereas undigested food will be sent through the caecum. There, plenty of healthy microorganisms and bacteria will break it down to a form that the body will actually be able to digest, and the rabbit will dispose of the cecotropes and munch away at them again.
Most of the time the rabbit will eat the cecotropes straight away. If you have a healthy rabbit with a good diet, you might not ever notice them, but they are soft and shiny black balls that sit together in a cluster, almost resembling a blackberry (sorry to ruin blackberries for you!).
Check your rabbit’s poo regularly to see if you notice anything new or irregular. Are the faecal pellets too small, too hard or not uniform? Are the pellets strung together by hair? Are they a weird colour?
The main reason for poo related problems is an unbalanced diet. Try changing a few things in the way you feed your rabbits, but make sure you never make any big changes too quickly. A balanced diet for a rabbit consists of roughly 90% good quality hay, a small handful of pellets and some fresh fruit and vegetables (how much depends a bit on the size of your rabbit). He or she must also have unlimited access to fresh water at all times.
If you think something might not be right you can try changing the vegetables you give your pet. Instead of peppers and carrots, try vegetables with less sugar and more fibre, like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens. You might be giving your rabbit too much food, or food that is too rich. Try limiting the amount of pellets the rabbit is given, and make sure the feed you give them has got everything they need, and a good amount of fibre.
If you have long-haired rabbits it’s inevitable that they sometimes ingest some fur, which will inevitably need come out the other way. If you see a string of pellets connected by hair every now and again it’s nothing to worry about, but if it happens several times a week, it might be a good idea to groom your rabbit more often.
Diarrhea is very serious in rabbits, especially during the warmer months of the year when flies are attracted to damp and dirty fur. They lay their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom, and when the larvae emerge they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into their bodies. This can kill a rabbit in only a few days, so if you notice your rabbit has a soggy bottom it’s important to clean it, and to check on them several times a day. If the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days it’s best to take your pet to the vet.
Rabbit droppings as manure
Rabbits and gardeners are not always the best of friends, but your pet rabbits, and their droppings, will really help your plants. Unlike most other fertilizers, rabbit droppings can be spread on flower beds or veg patches straight away, as it breaks down quickly and doesn’t burn the plants or roots in the process.
Rabbit manure contains 4 times more nutrients than cow or horse manure, and twice as much as chicken manure, but it doesn’t have as much nitrogen in it, which means that you don’t have to compost it if you don’t want to. Another benefit of the rabbit’s pellets is that they continue to release nutrients as they break down, and will improve the structure of the soil.
This entry was posted in Rabbits on August 14th, 2019 by linnearask
Thankfully, animal ill health is very much the exception rather than the norm. Many pets go for years suffering nothing worse than the occasional tick, flea or minor wound.
However, if illness or injury strike you can cut the stress by making sure your pet first aid kit is well-stocked and ready to go. Many illnesses will require diagnosis and treatment from a vet, but there are minor problems and non-medical issues that you can easily address yourself.
What you need very much depends on the type of pet you have. But let’s start with some general med-kit classics.
No First Aid Kit Is Complete Without…
- Bandages – self-adhesive or crepe, 2.5 and 5cm width
- Non-adhesive absorbent dressing pads (5cm x 5cm, or smaller for guinea pigs, rabbits, etc)
- Sterile absorbent gauze
- Sterile wipes
- Antiseptic ointment and antibacterial spray
- Surgical tape
- Cotton wool rolls, pads, balls and buds
- Tough scissors – a blunt-ended pair, and a small curve-bladed pair
- A thick towel or blanket
- Disposable gloves
- Tick-remover tweezers
- Iodine, for treating small wounds (including tick wounds)
- Flea and lice comb
- Nail clippers
- Sterile eye wash – for clearing dust, dirt or smoke from the eyes
- A full water container – for washing cuts and dirt, and for hydration
- A mild detergent – for use with the water
- Styptic powder – this stops bleeding from broken nails
- Cornflour (cornstarch) – for staunching minor cuts and abrasions
- Diphenhydramine (or Benadryl) – an antihistamine for mild allergic reactions
- A pet thermometer
- A card with your vet’s phone number, and other useful emergency numbers
- Treats – very useful for rewarding and reassuring a pet who has just been bandaged, tweezered or manhandled in some other undignified manner!
- You should also keep a supply of species-specific flea and mite powders and worming tablets
- For smaller pets, an oral syringe is useful for giving water or liquidised food to an animal that refuses to, or is unable to drink
- A magnifying glass can be useful too, for examining wounds or infestations on rodents, rabbits and cage birds.
Cats and Dogs
Additional items useful for cats and dogs include Elizabethan collars, to prevent your furry friend biting at wounds or dressings. The collar size will vary depending on the size of your pet.
A muzzle is also a very useful inclusion in any dog first aid kit, as even the most placid pet can become afraid and defensive when in pain. You can buy face masks for cats too, with a similar purpose.
First Aid For Birds
Many of the items in the general list above are useful for treating birds. Additional items for avian first aid include a bird net, specifically made for capturing frightened or untamed pet birds in cages and aviaries.
A styptic pencil is an essential tool for staunching wounds resulting from broken feathers or claws. Unlike mammals, birds do not have efficient clotting agents in their blood, and what may appear to be a relatively minor wound can result in death, simply through bleeding. The styptic will swiftly staunch the flow.
A cage sanitizer will help minimise the risk of contagious disease spreading, should one of your birds fall ill. There are various brands available in stores, and your vet will be able to advise you on the most suitable preparation for your particular species of bird.
It is also possible to buy Ivermectin drops from your vet. This medicine kills internal and external parasites, along with the mites responsible for scaly face and scaly leg. It is also used for fur, ear and mange mites and lice in small mammals such as hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs.
It’s a good idea to keep some wire-cutters in your med-kit too, as birds can sometimes become entangled in loose wires or hangings intended for suspending toys or treats.
Crop needles and blood-feather tweezers can also be useful, but these are precision tools that require expertise to use. Ask a vet or bird breeder for more advice.
DIY is Not Always Best
Pet first aid is fine for minor problems, but in emergencies it is only a stop-gap solution before consulting a vet. Any pet illness needs proper medical care.
A well-stocked first aid kit will, however, save you a lot of time and worry when confronted with pet parasites, small wounds and other conditions that can be tackled with a swift and effective DIY approach.
This entry was posted in Pets on August 12th, 2019 by linnearask
Read this account from a British Hen Welfare Trust volunteer and Omlet customer who recently rescued two ex battery hens. If you want to volunteer or rehome hens, please visit the BHWT website.
As I watched my flock potter about in my garden leading the blissful life and giving me so much in return, from their glorious eggs to laughter at their non-stop antics, I knew I wanted to give back something to these wonderful creatures.
That evening I registered my interest at the British Hen Welfare Trust to become a volunteer. I’d heard stories and seen posts online about ex-battery hens but I don’t think I really had any idea what I was going to face, and the life I was about to see thousands of beautiful ladies live day in and day out.
Picking up my new hens
Volunteer day saw an early rise at 6:30am to get to the farm. The first sight I had was a row of massive windowless barns and I could hear the faint whisper of thousands of voices inside.
I rallied off with the other volunteers who were already carrying out bewildered little faces and loading them into the crates that would be taking them onto their forever homes, where they would finally be loved and get a name.
Upon entering the reality was far worse than I could’ve imagined. So many cramped bald fragile bodies lined in cages five high, as far as the eye could see. Dust and ammonia filled the air, andall I wanted was to get them all out from the dark, away from the bare wires cages as quickly as I could.
Working with other like-minded volunteers was an inspiration, everyone worked so hard. I knew I had to be strong so that I could get some of the girls out of there; that day we got two thousand out of their prisons, all who’d seen nothing but that life for 18 months. At this young age their bodies are nutritional depleted causing them to no long produce eggs to the standard or frequency the industry wants, therefore they are not deemed commercially viable. The harsh reality is that they are then sent for slaughter. Yes, the sad truth is we had to leave some girls behind and really we only make a small drop in the ocean but for those few that do go on to a loving family its means the world.
I personally carried out my two hens, and they happened to be two of the baldest of the lot. One girl, who I called Tess, only had a few feathers on her entire body. I cuddled her in my arms as we drove home, where she shut her little eyes after such a long day realising she could now finally rest.
First few days at home
Once I got Tess and Gloria (named after the song ‘I will survive’) home I let them settle in the cat carrier until the evening with some food and water. They were terrified of me as the only human touch they’d ever previously had was never filled with love.
Even though I have a large walk in run for my flock I knew the girls needed to adjust to every day life at their own pace. They’d never even seen daylight before, instead having 20 hours of artificial light and four hours of darkness to get them to lay as many eggs as possible.
I treated them to their own luxury apartment with a view – a lovely new Eglu Go UP with a 2 meter run and wheels so I could easily move it around the garden and they could snack on as much fresh grass as they wanted. The Eglu is so easy to clean, and another main factor was to keep the dreaded red mite at bay as I did not want anything hindering my precious girls recovery whilst so weak. Looks trendy in the garden too.
Later that evening I gently placed them into the Eglu coop with the door closed so that they could get used to it and get a good night’s sleep. It’s important to allow them time to imprint on their sleeping area, as this will encourage them to go to bed at night on their own.
In the morning I let them out and even though not the most gracious of the descents both came out to explore and dive straight into the Glug and Grub containers. And so began my bonding, greatly helped by their appetite for yummy grapes.
I think my favourite sight in the first few days was them laying in the sun completely at ease and finally acting out natural behaviours like having a dust bath.
They both adapted better each day and I marvel at their ability to take on new situations. It took a little while to understand the concept of a ladder, more so due to the fact they had to build up the strength in their fragile legs, but now that they understand night and day they run up and I find them both snuggled in the coop before lock up when I say sleep tight.
Now six weeks on in their freedom journey they are flourishing. They have massive personalities which continue to shine each day: Tess is bold and Gloria is cheeky. Both are growing lots of feathers each day and they fill my heart with such love that I know they feel back.
As I write this both are running around enjoying summer with my other girls in the garden, casually going back to their Eglu run for a bite to eat and a drink before stepping out and having more adventures, because they know thats their forever home.
I want to thank Omlet for giving my girls such an amazing coop to grow old in and enjoy retirement – they love it!
For more information on battery hens and maybe opening up your home to some check out the ‘British Hen Welfare Trust’ for upcoming rehoming dates.
This entry was posted in Chickens on August 10th, 2019 by linnearask
Richard Whately, 19th century Oxford academic and Bishop of Durham, taught his dogs to climb trees on the banks of the river Cherwell, and jump into the water from the branches.
Fortunately, there are much easier ways of getting your pet dog used to taking a dip. But the key word in the previous paragraph is ‘taught’. Dogs are not born swimmers – they need teaching to a certain extent, even though most of them can stay afloat and doggy-paddle their way back to shore if you throw them in. But this is certainly not a recommended way to introduce pooch to the pond!
Many of them need no persuasion at all, and jump into rivers, ponds and the sea at every opportunity. Others are less eager to take the plunge, and some breeds are simply not built for the doggy paddle.
Sorting the Water-Dogs from the Non-Swimmers
Dog breeds with no snout, such as the Boxer, English bulldog, French bulldog, Pekingese and Pug, have great difficulties keeping their noses above the water. Their squashed muzzles – ‘brachycephalic’ is the proper term – means they are simply not built for swimming. Similarly, breeds with large heads and muscular upper bodies such as American bulldogs and Staffordshire bull terriers are not able to swim well, or at all.
Dogs with short legs find it hard to get very far in the water, even though they are capable of holding their heads above the surface. This applies to such breeds as the Basset hound and Dachshund.
Taking the First Dip
For dogs that can swim in theory but are a bit nervous, or simply not yet used to taking a dip, there are a few tips and tricks that should turn them into water dogs in no time.
- Choose a location with water shallow enough for you to easily rescue the dog if it starts to panic. Somewhere with a slope is ideal – a lakeside, a gentle river, or a coastal pool. A paddling pool at home is where many dogs take their first swim.
- Try to choose a quiet location, to minimise distractions and enable the dog to concentrate on the swimming lesson.
- Keep the dog on a long lead during these early dips.
- Take a stick or toy to tempt your dog into the water. If you go in first, the dog will be more inclined to follow. Some will leap in at once, others need more time to get used to the idea. Never drag, throw or otherwise force a dog into water.
- Doggy lifejackets can be bought, if your pet is particularly nervous, or if you’re not sure whether he will be able to swim very well, based on his body shape.
- Once the dog is used to being in the water, wade further out (tricky in a paddling pool!) and encourage him to follow you. It’s all about building confidence.
- To help a nervous dog get used to having its feet off the bottom of the pool or river, hold him by the middle for reassurance. Paddling with the front paws will be instinctive, and you can encourage use of the back legs by raising the dog’s back end slightly. He will instinctively kick his hind legs to regain equilibrium.
- Once the dog is paddling at the front and kicking at the back, he’s cracked it. You can now let him test his new skill – but stay close and be prepared to hold him by the middle again, in case he tires or suddenly panics.
- It’s a good idea to take a towel to dry the dog once it’s emerged from the water. Smaller ones in particular can get cold very quickly. Be prepared for a gentle soaking as your wet pet shakes the water from its coat!
For many dogs, the so-called training process will be over in a couple of seconds. Many hounds swim as naturally as they woof – breeds such as Newfoundlands, Poodles, Otterhounds, the various Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, and – surprise surprise – Portuguese and Spanish Water Dogs, for example.
And rest assured – you don’t need to teach them to climb trees as well!
This entry was posted in Dogs on August 7th, 2019 by linnearask
Summertime… Beach stays, trips abroad, hikes in Yorkshire… It is a great opportunity to take a break with your family and keep daily stress at bay. You book a lovely hotel with your other half, you read a map with your children asking them where they want to go, you pack your suitcases, you… Wait! Aren’t you forgetting someone? “Babe, what about the cat? Is he coming with us?!”
Most pet owners tend to forget about it: having a pet means new responsibilities and taking care of them when you go on holidays is one of them. Unfortunately, too many people still ignore it: although the Animal Welfare Act 2006 states abandonment as a criminal offence, the RSCPA received 1 call every 6 minutes to report an abandoned animal last summer. The months of June, July and August are critical since many people seem to struggle when it comes to taking care of their pets while also going on holiday. Read our tips below to make sure your pets will have a great time this summer, just like you!
You might be an adventurous Frenchman aiming to sail around the world with your hen (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672). However, in all other cases, we recommend that you do not take your chickens on holidays with you. The best thing to do is to ask some friends or neighbours to take care of them while you are away, offering them to help themselves to eggs. If you are lucky enough to have an Eglu Cube on wheels, you can even move your coop directly into your neighbour’s garden!
HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS
Just like with chickens, it is better to leave your hamster, rabbit or guinea pig at home and ask a friend, ideally someone they already know, to come and look after them. If you still decide to take them with you, or if you don’t have any other choice, be very careful with temperature change. These smaller pets are extremely sensitive to it and a sudden temperature change could be fatal. While in the car, make sure that they are neither too hot (do not leave them next to a window or in a parked car) or too cold (do not put them in front of the air con). You also want to check that nothing is at risk of falling and hurting them in the cage: take away the bottle and the feeder and stop regularly to give them some water and food. Remember that rodents and rabbits are very shy animals that like to have their own routine and tend to struggle with change.
You can definitely take them with you, but in most cases you don’t have to: cats are independent animals that can take care of themselves for a few days. Fill their bowls with food and water before leaving. If you are away for less than 10 days, ask a friend to come and check on them (one or two short visits a day should do).
If you are away for more than 10 days, it is better to leave your cat with some relatives, preferably people who already know your cat and who don’t have any animals that the cat won’t get along with. You can also put your cat in a boarding kennel. However, keep in mind that this can be risky since your cat could feel abandoned (new place, new faces…) and get depressed. Before taking them to the cattery you can give them some soft and natural tranquillizer, like Bach flower, to help them adjust.
Dogs are probably the most complicated animal to deal with when going on holidays. You can’t just leave them at home with food and water. This is not only bad for your dog, but could also lead you to be accused of animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (punishable by a £20,000 fine and a 51-week jail term). The best option is definitely to book a seat for your dog in your car and help them pack their suitcase!
Why should I take my dog with me?
Of course you can leave your dog with your friends or family (preferably someone they already know). However, keep in mind that dogs are very social animals and thrive on their owner’s company. For them, holidays will be a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with their favourite humans. Moreover, since you are on holidays, you will have more free time and will be able to spend entire days with your dog, which will make them extremely happy. No more long and boring days waiting for you at home! No doubt that you and your family will also be delighted to spend the whole day playing and exercising with your dog. They can also help you to interact with fellow holiday makers: many people won’t be able to resist giving them some attention!
How to organize a trip with a dog
Here is a list of what you can do to make sure your dog is ready for the holidays and everything goes fine while you two are away from home:
- Before going, make sure your dog is used to travelling in a car. Some dogs can be car sick and it is good to prepare them, especially if you’re planning on a road trip and are spending a lot of time in the car!
- Make sure your dog knows some basic commands such as heel and sit. If they are able to go on a walk without pulling on the lead, it is even better!
- Check that their vaccinations are up to date, and if you’re going abroad, double check what the requirements are far in advance.
- Bring everything they may need: food, of course, but also a first-aid kit, their health record book, the lead, the food and water bowls, the crate, their favourite toys, some poo bags… It is very important to take your dog’s food with you if you are going abroad since you can’t make sure you’ll find their favourite brand in the country you’re visiting.
- While travelling, put your dog in their cage in the boot of the car.
- Before visiting a place, make sure they accept pets. Never go to a hotel before checking it. Likewise, you will easily find on the Internet a list of dog friendly beaches in the UK.
- Check that your dog is not too hot. If you’re going on a walk, don’t forget to bring a bowl and a good amoutn of water.
- When settling your dog somewhere, do it properly: make sure they have some food, some water, some shadow… Even if it is just for an hour!
- If you think it is necessary, you can fit your dog with a GPS collar. This can be useful when you go hiking in the wild. You can also download various apps on your mobile to help you locate a lost dog, find a vets near you or keep record of your dog’s health.
- https://www.fleatickrisk.com/ is a very helpful website that will tell you if your dog is at risk of pest infections in the city you’re visiting. Check the website before going and take the necessary equipment with you.
In the UK, you can travel for free with your pet on most public transport: buses, taxis, trains and ferries. However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, always check that that is the case before you board. Be aware that coach companies generally do not accept pets except for assistance dogs. Remember that passengers can complain about your animal’s behaviour so try and make sure your pet will be able to behave themselves while travelling.
When travelling abroad, make sure you can go on public transport with your pet since this can vary according to the country (in some places you will have to book a ticket for your animal).
If you’re travelling by plane, mention that you have an animal when booking and check that your animal’s vaccination is up to date. On the day of the departure, make sure to arrive early. Cats and small dogs will generally be allowed to fly with you in the cabin. However, bigger dogs will have to travel in a heated and pressurized part of the cargo hold. Birds, rabbits and hamsters are often forbidden but some airlines may accept them.
This entry was posted in Pets on August 3rd, 2019 by linnearask
Cats are famous for several things. Independence, hunting and purring, for example. But intelligence? That’s a word more commonly handed out to dogs and parrots.
But that doesn’t mean cats aren’t smart. It’s simply that they don’t show off or shout about it. Under that cool exterior, there may be a lot of brain power.
So, do you have a feline Einstein, or more of a Tired Tom?
To find out how your pet’s grey matter measures up, we’ve put together this fun Cat IQ test. Put puss through her paces and see how she compares to the other brain-fit felines out there! Add up your results in the points column and share them with your friends!
The Omlet Cat IQ Test
1 . How old is your cat?
Less than 1 year
Older than 15
The years of peak feline fitness are matched by peak brain power.
2 . Does your cat respond to its name?
Yes – along with any other word I say!
No zero points here, as a cat that knows its own name may sometimes simply choose to ignore it!
3 . Does your cat sit in the middle of the street?
Basic knowledge of what constitutes a dangerous place is key to cat intelligence.
4 . Does your cat run out in front of cars?
We live away from busy roads, so it’s hard to tell
Awareness of danger sorts the smart cat from the not-so-smart.
5 . Does your cat stalk and kill small animals?
Hunts, but doesn’t usually catch anything
For a cat, a hunting brain equals a clever brain.
6 . What is your cat like around people?
Likes family and friends, dislikes strangers
Seems scared of everyone
Has certain people she seems to hate
Doesn’t seem interested in anybody
A cat that can differentiate between people is a smart puss.
7 . How does your cat react when you come home?
Pleased to see you, rubbing and meowing
Comes to check who it is, but leaves it at that
No reaction (but make sure the cat’s actually in the house before reaching this conclusion!)
Bright cats will be pleased to see you.
8 . How does your pet respond to other cats in the neighbourhood?
In a friendly way
Clever cats need to work out their place in the feline hierarchy.
9 . How does your cat respond to strange dogs?
Stands its ground and hisses
A smart puss knows an enemy when it sees one, and also knows when a fight isn’t worth it!
10 . Present your cat with food she’s not tried before. How does she react?
Refuses to eat it
Sniffs cautiously, possibly with an experimental bite
Not everything is edible, and a sensible cat will show a certain amount of caution.
11 . At feeding time, put an unopened tin of food next to the food bowl. What does the cat do?
Sits and looks at the tin, and then at you
Sniffs and/or rubs against the tin and meows
Examines the tin cautiously and then walks away
Shows no interest in the tin
Interaction with the tin suggests that the cat knows it contains food.
12 . Hold one of the cat’s favourite toys in front of her for a few seconds, and then hide it. Make sure your pet is watching as you do this. What does she then do?
Look for the toy, and find it
Look for the toy, but fail to find it
Remain sitting impassively
Cats don’t always want to ‘play ball’, so it might be worth trying this one a few times before deciding on the result.
13 . Place a windup toy on the floor and let it ‘run’ under a chair, sofa, or other piece of furniture. What does your cat do?
Anticipates were it will emerge, either by moving there or simply watching the space
Looks at you expectantly
Gazes at the place where the toy first set off on its journey
Looks away and takes no interest
A bright puss can deduce where the toy will emerge. But she might just not be in the mood!
14 . Put your shoes and coat on, as if you were about to leave. What is the cat’s reaction?
Meows or rubs against you
Goes to a window ledge to watch you leave
Seems uninterested, or walks away
Observant cats will recognise the clues that mean you’re about to leave the building.
15 . Has your cat learned to – or tried to – open doors, cupboards, windows, etc?
Clever cats watch and work it out, soon learning that things can be opened.
The smartest cats are thought to have an IQ equivalent to a 2- or 3-year-old human. How did yours do?
5-10 – Not-So-Cool Cat – Your pet barely has a claw on the IQ scale – less catnip and more training required!
11-19 – Tired Tom – Maybe your cat was feeling a bit lazy today… and every other day, come to that!
20-28 – Purrfect Puss – nothing wrong with this score, although if your cat keeps on looking and listening it might learn even more.
29-37 – Moggy Mastermind – your pet is well above the average when it comes to knowing how the world ticks.
38-42 – Feline Einstein – only a tiny percentage of cats are this clever!
This entry was posted in Cats on August 1st, 2019 by linnearask