With the holiday season winding down, it’s always a struggle to get back into a routine and avoid the winter blues. And that applies to pets as well as their owners.
By spending quality time with our pets and making the most of our friendship with them, we can all find the joy and energy to beat the blues.
Healthy food for pets
Animals often need more food in the winter months. This is because they spend a lot of energy on keeping warm, and they need the fuel to feed that energy (just like a boiler that needs to work harder to heat the house during cold snaps). Always give them the correct, high energy foods to get them through the cold spell.
Keeping moving is important all year round, but for dogs the winter walks may be shorter or less frequent than in the warmer months. Bear in mind that for a dog the need to exercise doesn’t change with the seasons – they’ll love sniffing through the snow every bit as much as they love chasing the scents of summer. If they have a space outside to run around in, this can help them let off steam before the next walk. You could try keeping a shorter walk interesting by taking it in a new location, or one you haven’t visited for a long time.
Exercise is important for all other pets, too. If you keep rabbits or guinea pigs outside, adding some excitement to their runs with a tunnel system adds hours of fun and exercise to those short winter days. Zippi runs for rabbits and guinea pigs are an ideal way of keeping these small pets content. You can add platforms, shelters and all kinds of twists and turns to keep them stimulated and happy.
Keep your pet’s brain active
By spending time with your pets, you can keep their minds active in various ways, depending on the pet. Talk to your pet birds; play with your dogs and cats; and give your hamsters, gerbils or other small mammals some stimulating new toys. Budgies, finches, canaries and parrots will enjoy getting to grips with a new bird toy, too. Nothing like a new cerebral challenge to beat the winter blues!
The toys will also help your pet entertain itself once everyone is back into their routines and the house is a falls quiet again after the holiday season.
It’s possible that your pet dog has been missing those trips to the park during the holidays and the cold weather. If you have a sociable dog, a trip to the park for a sniff around the old haunts and perhaps a meet-up with some old friends will give an added boost to the day. A doggy play date is another great way of combining socialising, fresh air and lots of moving around.
Keep your pets warm
In the average home in winter, some parts of the house or flat are warmer than others. Make sure your pet bird, hamster or gerbil isn’t in a cold or draughty corner, as a drop in temperature takes its toll on a small animal’s health and its ability to keep warm.
Extra bedding does the trick for rabbits and rodents. With cage birds, you need to keep a regular room temperature. You’ll notice when they’re cold, as they’ll fluff out their feathers and will be less active than usual to conserve energy. Covering the cages at night helps to retain heat.
A dog or cat is spoilt for choice when it comes to comfy corners and snug blankets. You can give your pet a real treat by ensuring maximum comfort with a Topology dog bed or Maya cat sofa bed. Cats and dogs that really feel the cold can be dressed in winter coats.
Rabbits and guinea pigs that live outdoors will need an insulated hutch to keep them snug during the winter. The Eglu rabbit hutch and the Eglu guinea pig hutch are the perfect choices here, as they keep your pets warm in the winter with a twin-walled insulation system, (and these hutches keep them cool in the summer too).
Keeping the indoor environment safe
When the winter winds and horizontal snow restricts you to the great indoors, you’ll need to keep the room warm, but not too dry. Spending all day in dry air can dry out an animal’s skin (and yours too). An open fire should always have a fireguard on it, and hot radiators and wood burning stoves need shielding from pets, too. Dogs and cats can easily scorch themselves by getting too close to the hot spot.
Keeping old dogs comfy
Cold weather has a tendency to make common conditions such as arthritis worse than usual. An older dog may need to take it easy for longer than usual after a run around in the park. Again, a super-comfy dog bed is what you need here, and some nice soft dog blankets.
Keeping yourself and your pets warm, active and healthy in the winter months is a surefire way to beat the winter blues!
This entry was posted in Dogs on December 29th, 2020 by chloewelch
Holiday Animal Quiz: Can you identify the roles of these animals in these holiday movie favourites?
1.What does the Grinch tie to Max’s head in the movie?
Photo by Woodson’s Mom on Unsplash
A. A twig
C. A bell
2.What does the Grinch steal from a mouse when he is stealing from the Who’s in Whoville?
A. A piece of cheese
B. A cookie
C. A candy cane
D. A crumb
3. Who provides the voice of Rebecca the Hen in the 2017 holiday movie “The Star”?
A. Mariah Carey
B. Keegan Michael Key
C. Aidy Bryant
D. Gina Rodriguez
4. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, why is Snoopy decorating his dog house?
A. For Charlie Brown
B. For a holiday contest
C. For Santa
D. For Woodstock
5. In the movie “Annie”, what is the name of her beloved Dog?
6. In the movie “The Holiday” what is the name of Kate Winslet’s Dog?
7. What animal says the line “Bye Buddy, I hope you find your dad!” in the movie “Elf”?
A. A whale
B. A seal
C. A narwhal
D. A polar bear
8. What is the name of Snoopy’s bird sidekick in “A Charlie Brown Christmas?”
9. What is the name of the famous red-nosed reindeer?
10. How does Rudolph help Santa on Christmas Eve?
A. His nose helps detect rain or snow
B. His nose detects which houses are on the naughty or nice list
C. He flashes his nose to the airplanes to make way for Santa
D. He guides his sleigh
Answers: 1.A, 2. D, 3. A, 4. B, 5. C, 6. A, 7. C, 8. D, 9. A, 10. D
This entry was posted in Uncategorised on December 22nd, 2020 by alicefellows
Dogtor Adem, founder and owner of Dog-Ease, is a dog behaviourist and trainer with over 15 years experience working with dog owners and their canine best friends. In this blog post, Adem talks you through everything you need to know about dog hygiene, and shares his thoughts on the new, easy clean Topology dog bed from Omlet.
With the nights drawing in and the wetter weather becoming more frequent it’s always a struggle to keep the mess out of the house and the dog beds clean and smelling fresh (aux de dog, anyone?) So, when Omlet asked me to review their new Topology dog bed I couldn’t help but get a little excited! The bed features an extremely comfy memory foam mattress that sits raised from the floor on stylish legs (that you can choose to match your style of décor!), has a fully removable and washable cover, and can be ‘topped’ with several styles of zip off top covers that make it easy to keep clean and hygienic.
Firstly, let’s talk about dog hygiene and why it’s important.
Our dogs naturally try to keep themselves clean through the act of licking themselves. To help to keep themselves clean they also try to keep their beds clean and comfortable by ‘clearing the ground’ through digging and circling on their bed areas. In years gone by, when dogs were less domesticated, this was an important act and allowed them to clean and clear their bed area of uncomfortable vegetation, parasites and small creatures that could cause them harm. In fact, our dog’s wild ancestors such as wolves and wild dogs still very much display this type of behaviour. Clearly, in our homes, our dogs do not need to remove vegetation or small creatures from their bed areas before residing in them, however their dog beds if not washed can harbour other harmful organisms – bacteria and fungi. Studies have found bacteria and fungi such as MRSA, Salmonella, ringworm and listeria, as well as fecal matter, on our beloved dogs’ beds. Pollen can also be brought in, as well as general dirt and grime, which can aggravate allergies and skin conditions that both we and our dogs may have. It is also important to remember that bacteria and infectious diseases can be passed from animals to humans (these are known as zoonotic diseases). As a result, it is important for both our dog’s health and our own health that we regularly clean our dog’s body and bed area so that they are less likely to be carrying any harmful organisms that could make them or us unwell.
So, how can we keep our dog’s clean?
The key to keeping your dog clean is to regularly groom your dog. Whether you choose to do this yourself or perhaps book a professional to carry this out (or choose to combine both approaches!) It is a good idea to ensure that your dog is confident and finds being groomed and handled in this way a positive experience. This will not only make it easier to fully groom and fully clean your dog, it will also help to ensure that your dog enjoys the experience and does not become stressed or fearful. If your dog has never been groomed before, or perhaps already shows an aversion to be groomed, take your training for this slowly. Start with short sessions that simply introduce your dog to the type of items they might encounter or need to be touched with when being groomed. Think brushes, nail clippers, towels, and so on. It is a good idea to just allow your dog to observe these to begin with whilst you praise positive and confident behaviour around these objects with a tasty treat. Once your dog is confident around the chosen grooming objects you can then progress on to bringing them closer and perhaps interacting with and touching your dog with the grooming tools. Again, don’t forget to reward positive and confident behaviour as you do so. Continue with this approach slowly, building up your dog’s understanding and confidence, until you are able to fully handle and groom your dog as is needed. If your chosen method of cleaning your dog is a grooming parlour, you might also want to visit this location a few times prior to leaving your dog there. Remember to take your introduction of these items and to this new experience at your dog’s pace and don’t be afraid to go back a step if needed.
What actions can we teach to help make cleaning our dog easier?
In order to help you to groom and handle your dog with ease there are a few key actions I like to help owners to teach their dogs and would recommend that you structure into your training schedule.
The first is ‘stand’. Although at first glance this might seem like a bit of a boring ‘action’ (they’re just standing still, right?!), this is actually a very useful command. If your dog understands this command they will be able to stand still whilst you perhaps wipe their paws and legs when coming in from a wet or muddy walk, when needing to check for grass seeds or sticky fauna that might have attached itself to their coat whilst walking, or when brushing their body – particularly their chest and stomach area. It can also be useful to you or a groomer when washing your dog, allowing you or your groomer to clean all parts of their body with ease.
The second command is ‘flat’. This is where the dog lays flat on their side. Again, this can help with general grooming of their coat and, in particular, being able to easily clean ears and eyes as well as enabling easy access to clean your dog’s paws and clip their nails.
The third command I would recommend is ‘twist’. This is where you teach a twist or spin command and I like to use this whilst my dogs are standing on the front or back door mat after a walk so that effectively they are wiping their own feet! This action can also be a fun one for children to practice alongside their parents to help keep the family dog clean as well as be an entertaining party trick!
How can we keep our dog’s bed clean?
If we are keeping our dog’s nice and clean it makes sense to also keep their beds clean – if you think about it, you wouldn’t shower to then get into a bed that hadn’t been washed for months! The most obvious way to keep our dog’s bed clean is to wash their bed. This is easier said than done with many beds on the market being too large for the average washing machine or not having removal covers that can be washed. At minimum, loose debris needs to be regularly removed from the bed and the bed should then be disinfected with a suitable animal friendly cleaner. Ventilation is also key to ensuring beds stay clean and hygienic as airflow ensures that any moist areas are able to dry quicker and that bacteria is limited in its ability to grow (dark, warm and moist areas encourage bacteria growth). Hanging your dog’s bed out in the sun to dry can also assist with elimination of any remaining bacteria after washing and of course after cleaning your dog’s bed it is also important to ensure it is fully dry before allowing them to use it again.
What if my dog doesn’t seem to like to sleep on their own bed?
In order to minimise the built up of dirt, fur and bacteria in places in your home that you may not want them, it’s important that we make our dog’s designated bed area as inviting as possible so that this is the area they choose to reside in. Think about the type of bed your dog prefers. Some breeds like to stretch out whilst others like to curl up. Some prefer a comfortable flat surface, whilst others prefer to cuddle into sides that make them feel cosy or more secure. The more inviting and comfortable your dog’s bed is, the more likely your dog is going to want to reside and sleep on it. It is good practice to observe how your dog likes to reside so that you can buy a bed for their individual preference. This is the first step to encouraging your dog to reside on their designated bed area.
If you have ensured that your dog’s bed is as inviting as possible and your dog still does not seem to want to sleep on it, think about the location of your dog’s bed. Is it in a draft free area? Is it away from direct sunlight that could make them hot or is perhaps uncomfortable on their eyes? If so, the next step is to practice making their bed area a safe and fun place to reside. You can teach the action ‘go to bed’, offering a tasty reward for their compliance. You can also offer food items such as chews and food dispensing toys on their bed, encouraging them to stay in this area and making it fun to do so.
It is also important to ensure that your dog is ready to settle and lay on their bed area by ensuring they have had enough mental and physical stimulation across the day to tire them and help them to then relax. This last point can also help with addressing the behaviour issue ‘separation anxiety’, which may be another reason why your dog might prefer to perhaps sit physically close to you rather than on their bed. If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety it is advisable to seek help from a behaviourist to address this issue so that your dog is able to lead a confident and stress-free life.
What does this mean we should ideally be looking for in a dog bed?
Given the above, my recommended ‘wish list’ for a bed would be that
- It is easy to clean with removable covers
- It is easy to clean around and under the bed, and ideally raised off of the floor to allow ventilation
- It suits your dog’s individual preferences i.e. is big enough to lay flat on, or perhaps has comfy bolster sides if your dog likes to snuggle into these.
The Omlet Topology ticks all these boxes, plus looks super stylish and can be styled to fit a range of interiors. The zip off top also makes extremely light work of regularly cleaning the bed, and if you purchase more than one topper your dog never needs to be without a clean place to reside! After trying out the Topology bed for a few weeks now, I’m about to purchase another, my dogs love this bed and so do I!
Dog Behaviourist and Trainer
Owner of Dog-ease
This entry was posted in Dogs on December 16th, 2020 by chloewelch
Holidays offer a great opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends – and that includes pets! It’s important to remember, however, that the kind of fun humans enjoy at Christmas and New Year might not be so much fun for the pet you live with.
With a bit of care and consideration, though, you can make sure the holidays are great fun for your pets too. These ten top tips for keeping pets happy at Christmas will set you on the right track.
- Keep the noise down
Christmas and New Year are noisy, with people, music and games all adding to the decibels. For cats and dogs, it may simply be a case of looking for a quiet spot, and many dogs will be perfectly happy at the centre of the party. Caged animals such as budgies, finches, parrots and small mammals don’t find it so easy to escape the noise, though.
If possible, cages should be placed in a quieter part of the house if there is a party taking place in the main room. If the cage can’t be moved – if it’s built in, for example, or simply too large to relocate – you’ll have to take that into consideration, making sure the noise isn’t too excessive for your pet.
- Ban the fireworks!
The biggest bang comes from fireworks. No pet enjoys explosions, and some simply head for a safe corner and sit it out. Many cats and dogs, however, become genuinely terrified by the noise, and in extreme cases they may need to be sedated. Unless your pet is a new one, you will know how they react to fireworks, and will be able to take appropriate precautions. If you are the owner of a very nervous cat or dog, or if you have chickens or other pet animals in the garden, don’t turn your garden into a firework and bonfire display site!
- Go easy on the treats
There’s lots of food around at Christmas. Your dog will probably be happy to eat leftovers and treats all day, given the chance, but this does not make it a good idea. As far as your dog is concerned, it’s best to treat Christmas Day and other festive times like any other day, perhaps with a simple treat such as some turkey skin with the evening meal.
The same applies to other pets; and you need to make sure that everyone knows the rules. A well-meaning guest might try to feed pretzels and salted peanuts to the hamsters and gerbils, or pieces of Christmas cake to the pet birds. These human snacks will bring no benefit to your pet, and some items are highly toxic. Dogs, for example, cannot eat chocolate or raisins.
The rule of thumb is simple here, and is one familiar to anyone who has ever visited a zoo – Do Not Feed The Animals!
- Hang on to some routine
During the holiday season it’s easy to lose your routine. You’ll probably be in bed late, up late, and preoccupied with children, guests, or people in the community who need a bit of extra Christmas cheer. With all that other stuff going on, there’s a danger that you might forget to refill the pets’ food bowls, close the hen house door, skip the dog walk, or lose all track of where the cat’s got to.
It’s simple to add a reminder to your Christmas and New Year to-do list – Feed the Pets, Walk the Dog, etc. Perhaps you could get someone else to do the dog walk, if you’re too busy?
You also need to remember that cage birds like to have lights-out in the evening, so make sure your late party doesn’t turn into an all-nighter for the budgies, finches and parrots, too. If the room isn’t too noisy, a cage cover might suffice; otherwise, relocating the pet cage will be the best option.
- Minimising stress caused by visitors
Unless you have the type of dog that loves big crowds and new people, chances are that your pet will not want lots of fuss from your visitors over the holiday season. Cage-rattling and pet chasing are things your young visitors may need to be warned against.
- Don’t take the pets with you
If you’re travelling away for Christmas, arrange for someone to look after your house and garden pets. For cats and dogs, the cattery or local kennels is a good alternative, although you’ll need to book well in advance as they are usually busy at this time of year.
The only pet you should consider taking away with you for Christmas is your dog – and you should only do so if your dog is happy away from home with other people (and possibly their pets). Some dogs just enjoy being with you and meeting people, others treat familiar places as a second home, while some dogs will be traumatised by the whole process. You’re the one who know your dog best, so you need to act appropriately.
- Watch the temperature
If pets are being placed in rooms away from the Christmas party, or are being left outside, make sure it’s not too cold for them. Even a hardy cat or dog will need a snug bolt hole in a shed or other sheltered space if they are going to spend the day comfortably in the great outdoors. For birds, you need to make sure the room you put them in is neither too hot nor too cold.
- Tidy the mess
The Christmas season tends to involve lots of pet hazards, such as wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, tinsel, and various bits of plastic. To avoid these items ending up in your pet’s mouth or wrapped around their heads and legs, get everything tidied away once the presents have been opened.
- Protect the Christmas tree!
A Christmas tree can sometimes be bashed by wagging dog tails, and an adventurous cat may try to climb to the top. It’s a good idea not to have heavy decorations high up in the Christmas tree, as these could easily fall and break, and nothing fragile (or valuable) should be kept within reach of that excited tail!
- Be careful with new pets
If a new pet is part of your Christmas plans, make sure they have been introduced to any other free-roaming pets you may have. This will avoid confrontations and potential chaos. The house should be made pet-proof, too, and you should make sure you have all the food and equipment you need for the newcomer.
A new pet can enjoy Christmas and New Year, as long as you don’t neglect them or put them in situations that could make them uncomfortable. Stick to these basic rules, and pets and pet owners will all be having happy holidays together.
Photo by Nathan McDine on Unsplash
This entry was posted in Christmas on December 12th, 2020 by chloewelch
Still looking for the perfect gift for a pet-lover in your life? You’ve come to the right place! Take a look at our last minute gift ideas below…
For chicken keepers
Who doesn’t love the delicious, fresh scent of peppermint? Now chickens and their owners can enjoy that sweet scent in their coop’s nest box with our Candy Cane Coop-pourri. This limited edition festive scent will be a hit with hens and humans alike this Christmas and makes the perfect stocking filler.
Our Christmas Jumper Chicken Jacket is the must have accessory this festive season. The classic jumper, complete with a reflective pattern, is made from breathable, showerproof fabric and offers excellent comfort and protection in cold weather, as well as protection from dirt. Do you know a chicken keeper who would love this for their star hen?
For dog and cat parents
Fresh off the sleigh, our new Luxury Super Soft Christmas Blankets in a suitably festive poinsettia red are the perfect gift for dogs and cats who love to snuggle up, and they’re reindeer approved (probably). Choose from three sizes to suit your friend’s four legged companion.
The Omlet Christmas Market is full of novelty treats for dogs and cats! For the cheese lovers, why not get their dog their own Cheeseboard Platter to enjoy? Or there’s a cute Christmas Paw Cookie for dogs made from peanuts, milk and oats, with no added sugar, for those who like a sweeter treat. The Rubber Belly Santa Dog Toy will keep pups entertained over the festive season, while the Joules Olive Bee Water Resistant Coat is a great choice for stylish, pampered pooches.
For cat lovers there’s delicious Turkey Strips, a Christmas Koala Cat Toy filled with catnip, or a Metallic Feather Teaser Cat Toy complete with a cute gingerbread man for cats who love to pounce and leap for hours!
For small animal owners
The Zippi Shelters and Play Tunnels make a thoughtful gift for rabbit or guinea pig owners who love to add new and exciting features to their pets’ run. The Caddi Treat Holder is also a great way for owners to feed their pets vegetables in winter, without food getting mucky on the run floor.
The Naturals Festive Fruit Tree is a tasty, festive gift for all small animals, while hamsters and gerbils will love hiding in the Santa Sack Den & Cave.
This entry was posted in Christmas on December 9th, 2020 by chloewelch
In Britain, the fact that black cats are considered unlucky is a complete reversal of the original belief that black cats were actually lucky. It is white cats that were considered unlucky.
The cause of this drastic reversal of fortune, and the fact that black is the new white, is transatlantic exchange. In America, which in its early days was obsessed with witches and witchcraft, black cats – the classic pet of the witch – were demonised, and that superstition has been imported along with all the other baggage of the American Halloween. What Halloween goody bag is complete without its pumkin, bat and black cat?
Are black cats a sign of bad luck?
The American blacklisting of black cats is linked to the days when British settlers were founding colonies in New England. These founding fathers were Christian fundamentalists, hounding out anything they perceived as witchcraft. Witches and their pet cats were viewed with fear and hatred, and a black cat was thought to be particularly demonic. They featured regualrly in witch trials of the period.
This classic US symbol of bad luck began to overturn the black-cat-good-white-cat-bad superstitions of pre-20th century Britain after the appearance of the 1934 movie The Black Cat, starring Bela Legosi and Boris Karloff (more famous for their Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster roles in that same decade). The film was based on a short story by American horror writer Edgar Allen Poe, which was first published in 1843. The commercialisation of the American-style Halloween in the last few decades has set in stone these superstitions of the black cat as a scary beast.
Why are black cats sometimes said to be lucky?
The reason why black cats hadn’t been demonised in Britain was that witches and their cats had always been there, originally as part of everyday life. And there was nothing sinister about keeping a cat – they were the only means of controlling the mouse and rat population. The so-called witches were the herbalists and healers of the villages, the Middle Ages version of the GP.
Black cats used to be thought lucky on board ships, not only keeping the rodent population under control, but helping to keep storms away too. Fishermen’s wives sometimes kept black cats at home to ensure their husbands were safe at sea. However, if the cat ran away, or if a random black cat hopped on board and then off again, it meant the ship was in danger of sinking.
In Scotland, the arrival of a black cat in a house was said to be a sign of good fortune. In general, a black cat taking up temporary residence in a porch was said to be a good omen. This is an echo of superstitious ages gone by, when felines (and not just black cats) symbolised domestic happiness. In Ancient Egypt, for example, the cat-shaped goddess Bastet was a symbol of domestic bliss and good fortune.
Gladstone – the black cat of Whitehall
The tradition of black cats as bringers of good luck still survives at the heart of the British government. Whitehall has adopted several cats from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home over the years, for the traditional role of mouse hunter. Many of them have been black cats, including the current holder of the post, Gladstone, who began his official government work in 2016.
Gladstone the black cat is a social media star, not surprisingly. His popular Instagram page makes him one of the most famous black cats around today.
What is the superstition about a black cat crossing your path?
In some parts of the world, including Britain a few centuries ago, the direction of travel of a black cat crossing the road was important. If the cat crosses your path left to right, it means good luck; if it goes the other way, it means bad luck. Similarly, if the cat walks towards you, it brings good luck, but if it runs away from you, it takes the good luck with it. For this reason, chasing a black cat from your property is said to bring misfortune.
The ultimate symbol of a black cat running away is when it dies. In the 1640s, King Charles I was reported to have said that he owed his good fortune to his pet black cat, and that he dreaded the day its nine lives were used up. Shortly after the cat’s death, Charles – having been on the losing side in the English Civil War – was arrested and eventually beheaded.
Where do black cats originate from?
In folklore, the witches’ black cat has very deep roots indeed. In Greek mythology, Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft had a black cat that had originally been Galinthias, a servant of Hera (wife of the god Zeus). She had turned him into a black cat as punishment for trying to prevent the birth of Hercules. Shakespeare’s witchcraft-coloured play Macbeth features Hecate (although her black cat is not mentioned).
Putting all superstition about cats aside, a black cat is simply a cat with the maximum amount of melanin, which turns the fur black. Pure black cats are rare in cross-breed cats, and it is thought that only 22 of the recognised cat breeds can have completely black varieties.
The superstitions about black cats may all sound like simple good fun, but there are definitely downsides. Stray cats and kittens with black fur are harder to rehome, and there are stories of black cats being abused by revellers during Halloween. So, even though we may dismiss the superstition about unlucky black cats as harmless fun, it can still cause very real problems.
The truth of the matter is that black cats, along with all other cats, are wonderful and bring nothing but good luck. The estimated 200 million cat owners worldwide will certainly vouch for that!
This entry was posted in Uncategorised on December 5th, 2020 by chloewelch
All different breeds of chicken have been developed from the same ancestor, the Asian Jungle Fowl, and so most chickens get along, regardless of the variety. However, there are some exceptions to this chicken chumminess.
Any new hen introduced to a flock will need to be separated from the other birds for a week or so until all the birds get used to each other. She will then find her natural place in the chicken pecking order, and that may involve a little bullying and squabbling in the early days. That’s all very natural, and has nothing to do with feuds between specific breeds.
Occasionally, one hen will fall out with another for no obvious reason, and the weaker chicken will sometimes be pecked and harassed by the more aggressive bird. If this situation continues for more than three days after introducing the new chicken, the two combatants may need to be separated.
What breeds of chickens are aggressive?
Some chicken varieties are more confident and assertive than others, but this does not make them aggressive. Aggression is usually the result of environment – poor living conditions – or visual stimulus. The chicken bullying only usually persists beyond the first few days if the new hen has unusual plumage on its head. The fancy crown of feathers on the Araucana, Houdan, Poland, Silkie and Sultan breeds, for example, is like a red rag to a bull for some hens.
The reasons for this aggression are purely instinctive. Chickens respond to the size of their fellow birds’ combs, and there is evidence that larger-combed chickens tend to dominate the pecking order, and will challenge any large-combed newcomer to assert and retain her dominance. No one is entirely sure how the visual stimulus works with feather-crowned breeds. A chicken with feathers on its head is judged by the other hens to be one of two things – either a bird with a very large comb, and therefore a threat, or one with no comb at all, which makes it fair game for some bullying. Whichever way a hen looks at it, the feather-headed newcomer is a direct challenge to the dominant birds.
Birds with fancy head feathers are additionally vulnerable because the plumage flops in front of their eyes, impairing their vision, and so they may not spot an oncoming attack. This can result in pecks and injuries.
Other causes of chicken bullying
Other unusual feathering will occasionally inspire bullying amongst chickens, such as the feathered ‘trousers’ of the Faverolles. This is not generally a problem, though, and this breed should get along well with your other hens.
Sometimes, new chickens with no unusual feathers or peculiar combs may be picked on if they are a different breed to all the other hens in the flock. The bullying appears to take place simply because the new chicken looks different to the others. This is an unusual issue, though, and clearly the problem disappears if your existing hens are a mixed breed flock.
Do chickens bond with each other?
In general, mixing breeds actually assists with the pecking order and the general bonding, as different varieties have different temperaments. There is more likely to be squabbling in a run that has chickens of a single breed – they may all be assertive and dominant, or they may all be shrinking violets, depending on the breed, but they still need to establish a pecking order.
The body size of the hen does not affect how it is treated. A dainty bantam can rub along fine with a hulking Sussex, and a cockerel will be respectful of all his hens, regardless of their breed, and in the vast majority of cases the birds will all get on well together.
There are other practical considerations when keeping a mixed flock. Some chickens thrive in cold weather, while others are not as robust. Age may be an issue too, if you want to minimise the number of changes in your chicken flock. If your hens all have a similar lifespan, and if you buy them at the same time, you will probably be buying all your next generation of point-of-lay hens in the same year. This prevents constant new introductions and the accompanying fluctuations in the pecking order.
What chicken breeds get along best?
Some breeds are naturally friendly, and these varieties are far less likely to start pecking and bullying each other. Super-chilled backyard chickens include Australorps, Cochins, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, Silkies, Sussex and Wyandottes.
Another key to keeping all the different breeds happy and non-aggressive is making sure they have plenty of space, thus avoiding the chicken version of cabin fever. The more chicken enclosure space you give them, the less likely they are to bully each other, and the more likely it is that your chickens will get along.
This entry was posted in on December 4th, 2020 by chloewelch