It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to summer and welcome in the cooler, shorter days of autumn. For many pet owners, summer is a great opportunity to spend quality time with our animals, playing outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather. However, the change in season doesn’t have to mean that the fun has to stop!
It’s fundamental that you continue to keep your pets exercised throughout the year, and animal runs are great for this, giving your furry friends the freedom to roam within a safe and confined environment. Omlet supply a range of runs for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs, which are all predator resistant, so you needn’t have any concerns about safety in their run this autumn. Although runs are fantastic for providing your animals with more space, adding a few extras over the next coming months can help to keep both you and your pet/s entertained. Here are our top tips on what you can do to make your runs more fun this autumn.
For Guinea Pig and Rabbit Runs
Set Up a Vegetable Hunt
Cavies and rabbits love their fresh veg, so why not make a game out of it! You can try hiding their favourite pieces of veg around the run and have them go off to find it. This game will not only be an opportunity for you to spend some quality time outside with your pet, but they get to join in with the Halloween festivities of a scavenger hunt this autumn as well!
Get a Play Tunnel
Play tunnels can be attached to your guinea pig or rabbit’s run to give them a new way to exercise, designed with the natural behaviour of these two animals in mind. In the wild, both guinea pigs and rabbits would live in burrows, a hole which they dig to take temporary refuge underground. Watch as your piggy or rabbit has fun bouncing around, in and out of their tunnel.
Use a Shelter
Shelters can be a great addition to your run this season. The Omlet Zippi Shelters for rabbits and guinea pigs are weatherproof, meaning that your pet will be protected from the elements of wind and rain. Both species have a natural desire to seek a hiding space in a hole, so you can be assured that they are having fun, whilst feeling safe. Furthermore, the Omlet play tunnels have connector rings, which mean these can easily be attached to the Zippi Shelters, creating a fun maze for your furry friends!
Guinea Pig and Rabbit Toys
Who said toys were just for cats and dogs? Try giving a new toy to your small animal, which will help to bust their boredom this season. Toys for guinea pigs and rabbits can simply be hung up in their run and will keep them active, engaged, and curious.
For Chicken Runs
Chickens can have toys too! A bored chicken can lead to flock bullying, so at this time of year it’s even more important to keep your chickens entertained. Naturally, as the weather drops, these animals get increasingly restless, with less grass and weeds for them to forage on, as they enjoyed over summer. A chicken peck toy is one option to keep your flock happy, also providing them with mental stimulation.
Make Use of Your Autumn Leaves
The fallen leaves of autumn in your garden may not mean anything to us but they can actually be a great source of entertainment for your chickens. Build up a pile of crisp autumnal leaves in your chickens’ run, and watch them have endless hours of fun pecking. You can even add some sunflower seeds to your pile to have your flock hunt for.
Get a Chicken Swing
A chicken swing is another way to make your chickens’ run more fun. The Omlet Chicken Swing will have your chicken in their element, as they get to grips with their new toy. Not only will this run accessory provide them with plenty of entertainment, you’ll have just as much fun watching them hop on and off and swing back and forth.
Hopefully after a bit of guidance, you’ll have a few new ideas on how you can make your pets’ run more enjoyable this season! As the end of the season brings colder weather, don’t forget to have a read of the Omlet guides on keeping your guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens safe and warm when they’re outdoors.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Autumn is a season of change for chickens. They will usually moult at this time of year, which will make them a little uncomfortable when the temperature dips. They will be hungrier than ever while the new feathers sprout, and a few added treats in their diet will be well received. As ever, though, it’s a give-and-take situation when you’re keeping chickens, as the hens will repay your kindness with lots of droppings and soiled bedding, which are great fuel for your autumn compost.
Keeping chickens in the autumn
Autumn is the time for garden bonfires, as the year’s dead vegetation is consigned to the flames. Chickens will head straight for any ashes left over from a bonfire to have a good peck-and-scratch, so make sure these have cooled down before letting the chickens get to work. If anyone nearby is planning a firework or bonfire party, make sure the hens are safely in their coop before the fun begins – it’s not much fun at all for a chicken caught in the firework crossfire.
Before lighting those bonfires, check to make sure no chickens have decided to shelter there instead of heading home to the coop. While you’re at it, shoo out any hedgehogs, toads or other wildlife. The base of a cosy woodpile is a tempting place for a small animal to seek shelter from the storm!
Not all the garden waste will be burned, of course. Leaves, weeds and leftovers from the vegetable beds can be added to the compost. This is a good time to give your compost heap a good turn with a pitchfork, mixing the soiled hen coop bedding, chicken droppings and other goodies together so that they can work their magic next year. Only use soiled bedding, as clean sawdust takes a long time to rot down and can, in excess, ‘kill’ the compost.
Cold weather, chicken eggs and chicken feathers
For most hens, egg-laying will still be regular as the season progresses, but there will be a Fall in production (pun intended) as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. If you have lights in your coop to boost egg production, this won’t be an issue.
Chickens often moult in the autumn, so they need a good diet and a constant supply of grit to help them stay healthy and grow new feathers. Extra vitamins and minerals will help, and a little apple cider vinegar in their water will help ensure a healthy, glossy new plumage.
What do you feed chickens in the fall?
Although winter is looming, this time of year is actually a great season for hungry chickens. There are lots of juicy bugs to scratch for in the still-soft ground and leaf litter, and if you have any fruit trees, there are rich pickings for the birds in the shape of windfalls.
These treats should not be too plentiful, though, as the hens will need to be hungry enough to eat lots of their usual layers pellets to ensure maximum health for the colder months ahead. A less filling treat is a pile of autumn leaves – there will be a few bugs in there, but not too many. The hens will absolutely love scratching and pecking their way through the leaves, though!
Coops should be thoroughly cleaned before the winter sets in. Everything should be scrubbed, and you can use a Diatomaceous Earth product to keep lice and mites at bay.
How to care for the chicken coop in the autumn
As the nights draw in, it’s important to lock the door of your chicken coop promptly at dusk, to make sure night-prowling predators don’t try to snatch an early supper. The coop and run will need to be checked to make sure they are predator-proof after the wear and tear of the year. With food less plentiful in the cold months, animals such as rats, foxes and weasels may be tempted to check for holes in the chicken wire, or may dig their way under poorly secured fencing.
Rats will often try to take up residence by burrowing under a chicken shed in the autumn. It’s difficult for chicken keepers to deter them completely, but you can try to stop them by placing cat or dog poo in the entrance to their burrows. The smelly stuff won’t bother the chickens.
If you have a wooden chicken coop, fix any holes in walls and roofs. If you have a weatherproof coop such as the Eglu, your hens are in for a very cozy late autumn and winter!
At some point late in the season, when you’re finally resigned to the fact that the summer isn’t coming back this year and the cold weather lies ahead, give your hens a health check. A healthy autumn hen is well set for the winter and will already be looking forward to scratching through the snow and dreaming of spring!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Established in 1996, World Egg Day falls on the second Friday in October, meaning that this year we get to celebrate on the 8th of the month. If it’s your first time celebrating, take a look at these recipes for some inspiration on how you can make some protein-packed meals with your eggs, or how about partaking in local events or competitions like an egg and spoon race.
So, with World Egg Day just round the corner, it wouldn’t be right for us at Omlet to miss out on the opportunity to share some fascinating facts!
You Can Predict a Hen’s Egg Colour by Looking in Their Earlobes
You can usually tell if a chicken will lay brown eggs if they have red earlobes. Hens who will lay white eggs will probably have white earlobes. There are, of course, some exceptions to this but test it for yourself by taking a look at your chickens!
Hens Turn Their Eggs Nearly 50 Times a Day
A hen will turn their eggs nearly 50 times in one day when waiting for them to hatch. This is so that they can keep the embryo positioned properly, preventing the yolk from sticking to the side.
You Can Find Out Whether an Egg is Raw or Hard-Boiled by Spinning it
You can try this out as a fun activity by boiling some eggs and leaving others raw to test your friends and family. If your egg spins easily, this means that it has been hard-boiled. However, if it wobbles, it is raw. The science behind this is that a hard-boiled egg will spin easily because its centre of gravity is fixed, whereas with a raw egg the centre of gravity changes, as the liquid inside the egg moves about.
The Furthest Distance That an Egg Has Been Thrown and Caught is 98.51m
There are a number of world records when it comes to eggs. In 1978 Johnny Dell Foley threw a hen’s egg a very impressive 98.51m to Keith Thomas in Texas, USA, without breaking it. That’s nearly the distance of a 100m sprint!
The Most Omelettes Made in 30 Minutes is 427!
Here’s another egg related world record for you. In 1990, Howard Helmer made a whopping 427 two-egg omelettes in the short space of 30 minutes! The record still hasn’t been beaten to this day.
Eggs Are One Food That Naturally Contain Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is key to the functionality of our bodies, playing a key role in supporting our immune systems. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin d, however egg yolks are an exception here, being a great source of it.
Some Chickens Produce Blue and Pink Eggs!
If you thought chickens only laid brown and white eggs, you were wrong! Who said that Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was just a fictional story?! Several chicken breeds such as the Araucanian are known to naturally lay blue, green, and pink eggs!
The Average Person Consumes 173 Eggs a Year
This means that around the world, approximately 1.2 trillion eggs are produced for eating every year. A bonus fact: in Chinese households, the average person eats roughly 300 eggs per year. That’s a whole lot of eggs!
It Takes a Hen Between 24 and 26 Hours to Produce One Egg
Hens tend to take between 24 and 26 hours to produce and lay one egg, around 20 of these being just to form the shell. Following this, it takes a further 15 to 30 minutes for the process to start all over again.
With 2021 being the 25th anniversary of the event, you can really go all out this year, with celebrations happening around the world. Hopefully these fun facts will have given you some inspiration to maybe take on a world record yourself!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Ever cleaned your pets’ run and found old bits of mouldy cabbage or soggy feed that is nearly impossible to pick out of the grass? There is an easy way of keeping your pets’ treats fresh for longer, while also improving run cleanliness AND keeping your animals entertained!
The Caddi can be hung at any height from all pet runs, trees or other structures in your garden. It’s super easy to fill with whatever you want to give your pets, be it bits of fruit, fresh hay or Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls.
At the moment you will get 50% off Caddi Treat Holders for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter. Take this opportunity to make your pets’ run funner and more hygienic than ever before!
4 reasons Caddi will improve your pets’ run:
All pets will be happier if their living quarters are tidy and clean, but it’s also important for their health that both their coop or hutch and run are kept hygienic. Mouldy food left on the damp ground can make a chicken, rabbit or guinea pig very ill, so having a Caddi to keep it in will make it much easier for you to spot anything that’s gone off, and to remove it in a second.
Food, treats or hay that is left on the ground on the run will go off very quickly, especially at this time of year when temperatures can vary dramatically between day and night and there is likely to be more rainy days. With the Caddi, the treats you leave your pets will keep fresher for longer as they won’t come into contact with the wet ground. They will also be kept dryer thanks to the waterproof top.
The end of summer means that there will be less food available for wild animals like rodents and small birds, and they are likely to approach your garden and your pets’ home in search for tasty morsels. By putting feed, hay or vegetables in the Caddi rather than scattering on the ground, you are making things more difficult for uninvited visitors!
As the treats, veg or hay you are giving your pets are kept contained in one place and won’t get stepped on by muddy feet, they will be crunchier, cleaner and better tasting. As the swinging motion of the Caddi offers stimulation and entertainment, your pets will truly enjoy snacktime!
Buy now and get 50% off when you sign up for the Omlet newsletter!
Terms and conditions:
This promotion is only valid from 28/09/21 – midnight on 03/10/21. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs, Twin Pack with Peck Toys or packs with Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Excludes all other chicken accessories. Offer is limited to 2 Caddis per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Chickens
It’s often hard to tell if a hen is laying. Hens do not produce the same number of eggs each week throughout the year, and there may be health- and environment-related changes to egg production, too.
It’s useful to know when a hen stops laying, as you can then give her a quick health check to identify the cause of the interruption. But how do you tell which chicken is not laying eggs? In a coup of six hens, in which the daily average number of eggs is five, it’s not immediately obvious which hens are laying.
Seven signs that a hen has stopped laying
1. Age. This is the most obvious cause of a drop in egg production. Over her egg-laying years, a hen’s production will tail off. This is natural, and it does not mean the chicken has reached the end of its usefulness. All hens play a part in the social order of a coup, and a bird reaching the end of its egg-laying life will still be as feisty, active and lovable as the younger birds – and she’ll still lay the occasional egg.
2. Moulting. This occurs every year once a hen is 18 months old (although younger birds may shed feathers, too). The signs are very clear – lots of feathers lying in the coop, and bare patches appearing on the hen. During this time, chickens need to produce lots of new feathers, which is a physically demanding process. Consequently, egg-laying is reduced, and sometimes there will be several days without an egg. The moult tends to occur in the autumn, but it depends on when the hen first started laying. Moulting takes 8 to 12 weeks, occasionally longer.
3. Vent. A dry vent – the hole through which the hen lays her eggs – is a sign of no production. In a hen that is still laying, the vent will be moist.
4. Abdomen. If the area below the breast bone is hard, it means the hen is not laying eggs.
5. Comb and wattles. A healthy laying hen tends to have bright red comb and wattles. These become duller when she is about to lay, but turn bright red again once she has laid the egg. If the comb and wattles are pale or dull looking all the time, it could be a sign of illness.
6. The food dye test. If you put a small dab of food colouring on a hen’s vent, the colour will be transferred to the egg. The colour that fails to appear tells you who the non-layer is. This is only practical in smaller flocks, though, given the limited palette of food colourings…
7. No eggs. This isn’t as silly as it sounds! If you only have a few hens, and they are different breeds, you will often come to recognise which eggs are produced by which hen. In this case, the sudden disappearance of one particular egg-type will tell you who’s not laying.
Five reasons why hens stop laying eggs
1. Temperature and sunlight. Seasonal factors play a part in egg production. As the daylight hours lessen in autumn and winter, hens tend to lay fewer eggs. In the depths of winter, the low temperature becomes the cause, as a hen needs all her energy to produce body heat. With her resources diverted to this essential function, egg-laying is put on hold.
2. Stress. Any form of stress will tend to interrupt or stop egg production. Stress can be brought on by several things, including parasites, bullying, injuries and fear (of noisy dogs, for example).
3. Diet. Poor diet can impact egg production, too. If a hen is laying, she needs all the essential nutrients – not just calcium – to produce eggs. Top-quality layer’s pellets will contain everything the hen needs. A hen that fills up on treats before filling up on pellets may become malnourished and stop laying. It’s a good idea to let the chickens feed on their pellets first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and only offer corn and treats in the middle of the day.
4. Broodiness. A broody hen – that is, a hen who has decided to sit on her eggs in an attempt to hatch them – will stop laying. There are several ways of discouraging broodiness, but some hen breeds are more prone to it than others. If all attempts to dissuade her from leaving the nesting box, you have the consolation that after 21 days – the time it would take for a fertilised chicken egg to hatch – the hen’s self-inflicted ordeal will be over and she will resume normal life – including egg-laying.
5. Change of routine. If you move the hen house or introduce new birds to the flock, or if one of the hens dies, the birds’ routine and pecking order will be interrupted. This often causes them to stop laying for a short time, until their social lives settle down again.
Four ways to encouraging laying
1. Comfy coop. The first thing to do is to make sure the hens’ environment is adequately equipped and comfortable. Check for red mites, as an infestation of these nocturnal parasites can stop egg production. Reduce drafts and make sure there is no bullying going on – often a sign of an overcrowded hen house.
2. Light. Some chicken keepers install lights in the coop to encourage laying in the colder months of the year. However, bear in mind that a chicken can only lay a finite number of eggs in its lifetime. If she’s naturally programmed to lay 1,000 eggs, encouraging her to lay regularly throughout the winter will simply reduce her laying life.
3. Eggs. If an apparently healthy hen isn’t laying, she can be encouraged by leaving eggs in the nesting box, or placing rubber ones, or even golf balls, in the spot where she is supposed to lay. The sight and feel of these will encourage her laying instincts.
4. Reduce stress. Discourage dogs from disturbing the hens, and make your run and coop are as predator-proof as possible. Equally important, make sure the run isn’t overcrowded, and provide enough roosting space in the coop for all the hens to rest comfortably.
If your hens are free-ranging, they will sometimes lay an egg in a quiet corner of the garden. This can become habit-forming, and if she’s doing it in secret, you may reach the incorrect conclusion that the hen isn’t laying.
A healthy hen who does not appear to be laying may be the victim of egg sabotage. A predator, a human thief or an egg-eating chicken might be removing the evidence of her labours. The best way of preventing this is to encourage your hen back to the nest box for laying. In crowded coops, a hen will sometimes seek an alternative laying place if the boxes are all full when she feels the urge to lay.
As a hen ages, she will produce fewer eggs. If you are uncertain of the age of your chickens, there is a simple test you can conduct that might sometimes give you a clue. Place your hand gently on a hen’s back. If she immediately squats down, it means she is still fertile and therefore producing eggs. Hens squat when they are mating, and it is an automatic response.
Although egg production drops as a hen ages, it will often continue throughout her life. The occasional egg from an old hen always reminds you what a wonderful friend she’s been throughout your long time together!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Your chickens’ coop should be a space for your flock to eat, drink, lay eggs, and sleep. It should also be a place for your chickens to feel safe and be protected from the outside elements or any danger. However, sometimes chickens may suddenly decide that they do not want to go into their coop at night, which can be for a number of reasons. Here are some explanations as to why this could be happening.
A Broody Hen
Hens can get broody, regardless of if you have a rooster. Although many hens will decide to stay in the nest of their coop so that they can sit on their eggs, others like to search for a quiet space away from the coop, which can mean remaining outside the coop all night.
Moving a broody hen can be highly stressful for them, so should you decide that it’s best to move your hen inside the coop, due to safety concerns, you need to take great care when doing so. One way to start is by collecting your hen’s eggs regularly (twice a day). Be sure to wear leather gloves when doing so, as a broody hen is likely to be aggressive around you as they are very protective of their eggs. You’ll also want to reduce the light supply when you move her, as the moving process situation will be less traumatic in the dark.
Predators such as foxes, cats, rats, and badgers could be one reason as to why your chickens have stopped going inside the coop at night. These animals will spook your flock, with smaller predators such as badgers having the potential to gain access inside the coop by climbing over the fencing, or squeezing through small openings in the coop’s wiring.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to deter these animals and have your chickens back in their coop every night. One option is to get a motion sensitive light installed, which will scare off any unwanted guests. Alternatively, take a look at the Omlet chicken coop range. All of the Omlet coops are predator resistant, which will reassure you that your chickens will be safe from any night time visitors. With anti-tunnel skirts that lie flat on the ground, and heavy duty steel weld mesh, these features will help to prevent animals from digging in. You can also purchase the Omlet automatic coop door which shuts your chickens away in their coop at night to keep your flock secure, enclosing them until the time you set for the door to open in the morning.
An Overcrowded Coop
Chickens need their own personal space, hence why many chickens are also kept free range. Not only is overcrowding an unpleasant experience for chickens, causing them to avoid the coop at night, it can also lead to further complications such as the build up of ammonia and an increase in disease. The solution? The more space the better! For size reference, the Omlet Large Eglu Cube chicken coop can comfortably accommodate six large hens or up to ten bantams.
Tensions Amongst Your Chickens
Unfortunately, bullying amongst chickens happens, and isn’t actually too uncommon of a problem. Chickens naturally create a pecking order, whereby the flock will establish themselves in a social hierarchy of strongest to weakest chicken. However, if aggressive behaviour continues after the head rooster, or the dominant hen in their absence, has found their way to the top of the ladder, you may be dealing with a bully. Common signs are missing feathers from a chicken’s back, unusual weight loss, reduced egg production, or blood from where the victim has been pecked, all of which could lead to a chicken/s refusing to go into their coop at night.
To stop the bullying, and therefore get your chickens back in their coop at night, first try to establish the cause. Common reasons for bullying can be an injured or ill bird, having a large flock, or your chickens being bored. However, should the bullying continue after attempting to resolve what you believe to be the cause of conflict, you can purchase anti-pecking spray, which will discourage feather pecking. Alternatively, separate the bully from the flock. Isolating the bully for a week may mean that they lose their dominant position in the hierarchy once they are reintroduced.
Mites and Parasites in the Coop
Pests are a very common cause for chickens to have stopped going to their coop at night. Red mite in particular is a likely culprit, a parasitic mite that lives inside chicken housing and lays eggs in cracks near nests. They can make your chickens restless at night, as they live inside chicken coops and crawl onto the chickens to feed on their blood as they sleep. Only active during warmer weather, red mites are also more likely to strike wooden coops.
Red mites are not the easiest thing to get rid of, however, one solution is to purchase red mite treatment, which works by immobilising pests with its sticky consistency. Rest assured, it’s also completely safe to use in the chicken feeding area, so you do not have to have any concerns about your flock digesting the product.
Luckily, chickens are creatures of habit, so once you’ve identified the cause, you should be able to get your flock back into the coop at night in no time!
This entry was posted in Chickens
As the days get shorter, you might find that your chickens are not laying as much as they normally do. Egg production is partly regulated by daylight hours, and the more light the chickens see, the more eggs they will lay. Other factors that can affect the production are moulting, broodiness and your hens getting older.
But if you find that you’re collecting significantly less eggs than you did six months or a year ago, there might be some things you can do to encourage your hens to start laying again and get the most eggs possible from your flock. Have a look at our tips below!
1. Choose the right breeds
If eggs are the number one reason you keep chickens, you should make sure you pick hens for your flock that through generations have been bred to lay. Bantams or more decorative breeds like Polish and Silkies generally lay relatively few eggs, as do the larger breeds that were developed for meat.
The ideal egg layer is also hesitant to sit on her eggs, and rarely go broody. Some examples of breeds that lay many eggs are Australorp, Sussex, Rhode Island Red and Leghorns.
2. Give your hens a good quality feed
It’s always important to give your chickens the best possible quality feed you can, but extra important if you want them to produce eggs. A good feed should have a good amount of protein (16-20% depending on the age of your chickens) as well as important vitamins and minerals.
If you feed your chickens treats, they should be kept to a minimum, and be low in fat. Fat or obese chickens will not lay, so make sure they fill up on good feed, a handful of corn, and maybe some delicious worms from the garden. That should keep your hens happy and healthy, and hopefully laying regularly.
3. Minimise stress
Chickens that experience stress on a daily basis will put all their energy into being constantly on their toes, and will produce no or very few eggs.
Make sure your birds feel safe in their chicken coop and where they are free ranging. A predator resistant coop and run, like the Eglus, will allow your chickens to roost away from any danger. Try to keep cats and dogs away from the area where your chickens are roaming, and let the hens come to you rather than chasing them around the garden.
Generally, hens will also feel most comfortable when you have a clear routine. Let them out of the coop around the same time every day (made super easy with an automatic chicken coop door), feed them the same feed at the same place, and put them to bed when they’ve all returned to the coop.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a certain amount of stress, for example if you’re moving the hens to a new place or are introducing new chickens to your flock. The chickens should return to their normal laying pattern once things have calmed down, but you could experience a few weeks of disturbed laying.
4. Give them plenty of calcium
Chickens need calcium to create strong egg shells. A good feed will contain a fair amount, but you should also provide your laying hens with an additional source, most commonly oyster shell or crushed, baked egg shells.
5. Provide fresh water
A chicken can drink up to a pint of water a day (!), so it’s important to give your flock plenty of fresh, clean water. Chickens will happily drink from muddy puddles and other water sources, but as standing water can contain bacteria and parasites it’s always best to make sure they have plenty of clean water to drink from their drinker.
This is especially important in the warmer months, as a dehydrated chicken will not lay, but also make sure the water doesn’t freeze in winter.
6. Keep parasites at bay
Mites are the number one culprit when it comes to a decreased egg production. They suck blood from the chickens’ legs at night, resulting in the hens being anemic and too tired to lay. Fleas and lice can really annoy chickens and make them stressed, and internal parasites like worms will lower your hens’ immune system and possibly make them very ill.
Get into the habit of checking your chickens over every, or every other, week by picking them up and going through their face, feet and feathers. That way you will be able to spot a potential problem early, and hopefully treat it before it affects your pets and their egg production. You can read more about giving your chickens a health check here.
7. Keep the chicken coop clean
Just like you and I, chickens don’t like sleeping, eating and socialising in mess and dirt. Their idea of cleanliness might look slightly different from ours, but if you want your chickens to be happy and healthy and lay plenty of eggs, you must make sure the coop and the run are tidy and free from poo and dirt.
With a chicken coop like the Eglu Cube, making sure the hens’ home is clean is super easy. Thanks to the wipe down surfaces and the handy pull out dropping tray, it will only take minutes to clean the coop.
Fill the nest boxes with plenty of soft bedding so your hens have somewhere comfortable to lay.
8. Provide more space
Lack of space can lead to a lot of stress for chickens. While roosting they prefer sitting close together in the coop, but during the day it’s important that they have a good amount of space to move around on.
If you chickens aren’t laying, maybe consider giving them a slightly larger run or area to free range on. Or if you have introduced new hens to your flock, it might be time to buy a second coop to house one half of the group.
Chickens, like most animals, have a defined number of eggs in their bodies, and once they have used up their reserves, nothing you do will make them produce more delicious eggs. If you have rescued ex battery hens for example, the rate of egg laying might slow down quite quickly, despite the hens still being young, as they have lived in an environment where they were manipulated to lay as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
It’s also good to remember that chickens are not machines, and their bodies will sometimes just need a rest. This doesn’t mean they will never lay again, so don’t give up on them! After all, as well as eggs, our chickens provide us with plenty of entertainment and companionship, and they deserve to be properly cared for however many eggs they produce.
This entry was posted in Chickens
While the kids are away, the pets will play!
Start the new school year with 20% off selected Back To School Buys when you spend £30 on qualifying items. Look out for the pencil symbol on out website to find all the included items, or choose some of out favourites ✏️
Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 02/09/21 – midnight on 06/09/21. Use promo code BACK2SKWL at checkout to get 20% off when you spend £30 on selected products. While stocks last. Must spend £30 on items displaying on the website with pencil icon for 20% off to work. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Budgies
Unless you know exactly when your hens were born, it is difficult to determine their exact age. We can’t simply ask them how old they are, so we have to make educated guesses based on their looks and behaviour.
Like most animals, a chicken’s looks and behaviour gradually change as they age. It is the visible evidence of these life stages that helps us determine a hen’s age. Young birds are the easiest ones to identify, as chicks do not have a complete set of adult feathers, beginning life with the short-lived fluffy yellow coating called down. They wear this attractive yellow coat for the first week or so of their lives.
After the first couple of weeks, chicks gradually moult their down and small feathers begin to grow to replace it. A baby chicken can be considered a chick until it sheds all its down, which usually takes around 12 weeks.
So, if a chicken still has some down, chances are it is 12 weeks old or less, although some breeds may take a while longer to shed all their baby fluff. But, generally, the more down, the younger the bird.
From chick to pullet
Once a chick has moulted and lost its down, it enters the transitional period between chickhood and adulthood, the chicken equivalent of teenage years. Hens over the age of 12 weeks are in this phase, and are known as pullets. This period of their lives usually lasts until 20 weeks old, though it can be longer. The name ‘pullet’, though, is generally used for any hen under one year.
Pullets are considered adults when they lay their first eggs, which occurs somewhere between 18 and 25 weeks. Male chickens – cockerels, or roosters – reach adulthood when they start to crow and show an interest in the hens, usually by chasing them. This occurs at around five months old, although some breeds are later developers.
At this point in a chicken’s life, when it has finally become an adult bird, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how old they are. If your hens are not laying eggs yet but have all their adult plumage, they are most likely somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks old. Young hens of this age will tend to have smaller combs than fully adult birds.
From pullet to adult hen
If you are keeping multiple hens, it can be hard to tell if an individual bird has started laying or not. Pullets will have small, dry and pale vents in comparison to hens, and this can be used as a way of telling whether or not they are laying.
During this post-20 week period, both the pullets’ and cockerels’ combs and wattles will gradually become brighter and more pronounced. Birds with less vibrant combs and wattles are most likely to be aged around 12-15 weeks. It is during this prime egg-laying stage of a chicken’s life that their combs and wattles will be at their most vibrant – as a hen ages, it slowly loses the red colour.
Hens increase their body mass as they mature, and most have reached maximum plumes at nine months old.
Signs of an adult chicken
Once your pullet has laid its first egg, and your cockerel has started crowing and harassing the hens, they have reached adulthood. Despite the fact that they are considered adults at this point in their lives, they are still growing (albeit slower) and will reach their final size and weight at around one year.
At this age, hens will usually be laying one egg per day, and the cocks will spend a lot of time chasing the hens. At the age of 18 to 20 weeks, the chickens will have their first feather moult.
Guessing the age of a fully grown chicken that has had its first moult is more challenging. However, there are some features that help us determine their age with reasonable accuracy.
- A young cock will have short spurs, a little under 1cm in length. By the time your rooster is two years old, their spurs will have grown and may reach lengths of 2.5cm-3cm.
- Hens that lay an average of five to six eggs per week are probably in the first two years of their life
- For the first two years of their adult life, both hens and cocks will be in their prime. This manifests in vibrant feather colours, smoother legs than older birds and colourful combs and wattles.
Older hens and roosters
At around the second year of their lives, chickens will enter the second half of their adult lives. It is usual at this time for hens to stop laying daily, and cockerels will start showing less interest in the hens.
During this time, a chicken’s legs will start to get rougher and more scaly, and their combs, wattles and feathers will become less vibrant.
However, although past their prime, at this point in their lives, a chicken will still have around between two and five years left in them, depending on the breed. As they get older, hens will only lay occasionally, and the eggs may be larger than the ones they laid as young birds. However, some breeds continue laying into their fourth year, and some can live up to 10 years or more.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Chicken toys don’t get any better than this! Keep your chickens hentertained with the boredom-busting Chicken Swing, now with 25% off! Use code SWINGTASTIC. 🐔
Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 19/08/21 – midnight on 23/08/21. Use promo code SWINGTASTIC at checkout to get 25% off The Chicken Swing. This offer is limited to 2 Chicken Swings per household. Excludes all other chicken accessories. While stocks last. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Chickens
It’s frustrating when a hen decides to ignore the comfy nesting boxes and lay eggs on the floor of the coop or run instead. Chickens love routine, and once they get into the habit of laying eggs on the ground, it can be hard to change their routine.
The main disadvantage to laying an egg on the ground is that it can be damaged. It can also be pecked, as chickens tend to peck at anything they find. If hens acquire the taste for fresh eggs, they tend to peck at every egg they can find, which is disastrous.
Luckily, there are a few ways of persuading a hen that nesting boxes are the best place to lay eggs.
1. Make sure you have enough nest boxes
You will need space for all the hens to lay, which generally means one box for every four hens. Note: if there are too many nest boxes, some of them will be ‘vacant’, and one of the hens might decide to move in permanently, using it as her sleeping box, and it will soon become fouled with droppings.
2. Make the nest boxes clean and comfy
The nest box should have lots of soft bedding, changed regularly to make sure it remains unsoiled and free of red mites. You also need to collect the eggs regularly, as a hen faced with a pile of eggs might not want to sit there and lay one of her own. A nesting box with just one egg or none is more appealing to a hen.
3. Provide enough roosting bar space
This might not seem linked to nest boxes and eggs, but it’s actually vital to the process. Chickens need space to perch when roosting. If there isn’t enough of it, some hens will be forced to look for space elsewhere, and that means they’ll occupy a nesting box. Being stubborn creatures of habit, once they’re installed, it will be hard to evict them.
4. Tempt the hens in with an egg
Young hens might not know instinctively where to lay their eggs. If you place a ceramic or rubber egg in the nesting box, it will give them a visual clue, and once they’ve laid their first egg or two in the nest box, the habit will be ingrained.
5. Keep hens in the coop first thing in the morning
Most hens lay their eggs early in the morning, so confining them to the coop until the sun has been up for a bit will prevent them from wandering away and laying eggs in inappropriate places.
6. Make it harder for the hen to lay in the wrong place
As creatures of habit, hens tend to lay in the same ‘wrong’ spot each time. If this is on the ground, you can put a rock there, or some sticks or plastic bottles.
7. Move the hen before she lays
You will start to notice when a hen is ready to lay on the ground. She will stop her usual foraging and clucking and snuggle down. Move her to the nesting box when she does this, and she will soon – in theory – get the message and go to the box when she needs to lay.
8. Stop hens from sleeping in the nesting boxes
A hen who sleeps in a nest box will mess it up overnight and not want to lay her eggs in the same place. Shoo any hens from the boxes in the evening as they are settling down to discourage the nest-sleeping habit. If the problem is more to do with the roosting bars being hard to access, address that issue instead.
9. Make sure the hens feel safe in the box
If the nesting box is too close to the ground, or if bright light leaks in, or if noisy pets or children play next to it at the crucial laying time, hens will be discouraged from laying eggs there. Make the habitat as hen-friendly as possible. Raising the boxes a few inches from the ground is a good start (but not so high that young birds can’t access the box).
10. Make sure your hens can easily access the nesting box
This may sound obvious, but it is sometimes overlooked. A poorly designed coop might make it difficult for hens to access the boxes and lay eggs in the nest, in which case they will take the path of least resistance and lay elsewhere. The nest boxes may be too low or too high, making it difficult for smaller chickens to access, or the roosting bars might block easy access to the boxes.
You can bypass all these issues by installing your hens in a well-designed coop such as the Eglu. All hens prefer to lay in a quiet, dark, comfy spot, so a nesting box will nearly always be their first choice. It’s a simple case of ensuring they have the space and easy access to a clean, appealing egg-laying space.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Chickens are not only great companions, but also a great way of being more resourceful, providing you with a frequent supply of fresh eggs. However, you could have a problem on your hands if you begin to notice that a few eggs are going missing. Sometimes chickens develop a bad habit of eating their own eggs, which although is not detrimental to their health, is a sure sign that something is not right.
Your Chickens are Bored
Your poor chickens may simply be suffering from boredom! Boredom in chickens can occur when they either don’t have enough space to roam, or they’re lacking facilities to keep them entertained.
For a happy hen, they need a bare minimum of 1 square metre each in their run, however 2 square metres plus (per hen) is always preferable. Chicken toys are also a fantastic way to keep your chickens entertained. How about trying out the Omlet Pendant Peck Toy, an interactive and engaging feed toy that not only improves flock behaviour but will provide your hens with the mental stimulation they desire.
Chickens that eat their eggs may be dehydrated. Since eggs contain a large amount of water, your chickens may be resorting to eating them simply to keep themselves hydrated.
To stop egg eating behaviour, make sure that your hens are supplied with a clean water bowl/feeder at all times. During the warmer summer months, chickens need a lot more of it, so add some ice to their bowl or feeder to make sure they stay on top of hydration.
A vitamin deficiency can be another reason as to why your hens have turned to egg eating. Your chicken’s diet is fundamental to their wellbeing, and a poor one could be depriving them of their nutritional requirements. Along with eating eggs, broken eggs can be another indication that your chicken is vitamin deficient, more specifically suffering with a calcium deficiency.
It’s important to provide your chickens with a balanced diet of enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, so although they naturally forage, you should supply your chickens with a good quality feed. For added calcium, it’s recommended to add grit, a ground hard substance, to your chicken’s diet, which aids with digestion.
Inadequate Nesting Facilities
Your nesting box needs to be a secure and safe space for your hens. Egg eating can occur when your hens are uncomfortable with the nesting box, most commonly due to the bedding itself or exposing your chickens to too much light.
First of all, make sure that their nesting area has adequate bedding and is made of a comfortable nesting material. There are a number of choices of bedding to choose for your hens so if you notice that they are not getting on with what you’re currently using, try changing their bedding to see what works best for them. You’ll also want to keep on top of cleaning their bedding by replacing it weekly, also removing any droppings. The Eglu chicken coops make for easy cleaning, with integrated and private nesting boxes, whilst offering plenty of space that your hens will love.
An Anxious or Stressed Chicken
Chickens found to be eating eggs can also be suffering from stress or anxiety, which your hens can be experiencing for a number of reasons. Stress-inducing scenarios can be related to either handling, a new environment, the introduction of new chickens, extreme heat, or regular visits from predators.
Having an anxious hen isn’t pleasant for either you or them but fear not, as there are steps you can take to help minimise stress to help your egg eaters. Some stressful situations are easier to tackle than others, such as introducing new chickens or handling if these are two stressors. Take a look at Omlet’s guide on how to correctly handle your chickens and guide on introducing new chickens for some more help.
If you’ve tried all of the above, ruled out anything medical, and yet your flock remain stubborn with their egg eating habit, here’s what else you can do to try and tackle the problem:
Quickly Collecting Eggs
Quickly collecting eggs once they have been laid will give your chickens, or particular offender if it is just the one hen, less opportunity to eat the eggs. If possible, check the next box four times a day to start with. Hopefully after a few days, this will break the habit, and you can go back to collecting the eggs once a day.
Fake eggs can be made of wood, rubber, or ceramics and will leave your chicken pecking but will eventually become frustrated so that they’ll stop attempting to peck at real eggs.
Create a small hole in your egg, empty the contents and fill with mustard. Mustard is a flavour that (most!) hens can’t stand so after a few attempts, they’ll likely stop attempting to eat eggs.
If you do have an egg eater on your hands, don’t panic! It may seem a bit odd, or the behaviour might confuse you but with a few tips you can get the habit well under control. Hopefully next time you go to collect eggs, you’ll have happy laying hens, with your eggs still intact!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Are you a long term Eglu or Walk in Run owner? Omlet products are known to be extremely long lasting, but we do recommend checking over your coop and run every year for signs of wear and tear, and to remember the little maintenance needed to keep your coop in tip top condition and your pet happy and healthy. You may have also missed some of the new products we have developed over the years to make the coop and runs even better. Take a look at ways you can upgrade and improve your Eglu below!
When you carry out your regular deep clean, make sure you have a quick walk around the run and check the security and stability of the run panels. In time, the run clips can age and become weaker. If you notice that run clips are cracking when you open them or move the coop and run, or that there are some clips falling to the ground, you should consider refreshing all the run clips on your coop.
We have now made it super quick and easy for you to find the right pack of run clips for your Eglu or Walk in Run. Take a look here.
If you purchased your Eglu before summer 2019, you may not have benefited from the new Ladder Grips we have designed to resolve the problem of some chickens disliking the metal coop ladder, or being too small for the steps. The ladder grips replace the black friction strips, clipping on securely and easily to provide a wider platform for chicks to climb up on.
You can buy ladder grips for your Eglu Cube here or for your Eglu Go UP here.
Autodoor and Coop Light
We’re sure you haven’t missed the Automatic Chicken Coop door that can be attached straight onto your Eglu Cube or Walk In Run, but have you seen that you can also attach a coop light to guide your chickens in at night? The light is powered by the control panel of the Autodoor, and will automatically come on 5 minutes before the door closes. As soon as the door has closed for the night, the light turns off.
In high winds and torrential rain, old run covers can take a beating. If you have had your run covers for some time and they are looking a bit worse for wear, it might be a good idea to invest in a new set of covers to ensure your chickens continue to be fully protected from the elements.
Discover our wide range of run covers for all Eglus here.
We have also introduced new feeders and treat dispensing toys in the last few years, which your chickens are sure to love.
The Caddi Treat Holder is ideal for larger treats, such as fat balls or vegetables from your garden, and hangs in your run to keep food off the ground and prevent mess on the run floor. The Peck Toys are a rewarding, slow release solution for treat-dispensing which your chickens will be entertained by all day. The Pendant hangs from the run, while the Poppy is put into the ground – perfect if your chickens are fully free ranging.
We’re here to help
If you are unsure about the condition of your Eglu or your run, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Service team. They can give you advice on how to maintain your product, making sure it’s in top condition for many years to come!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Save 25% on the Caddi Treat Holder until 2nd August! Fill the slow-release treat dispenser with summer snacks to keep your pets entertained for hours.
5 things you’ll love about the Caddi Treat Holder:
💚 Ideal way to give treats to your pets
🌽 Keeps food off the ground for added hygiene
🔧 Easily attached to any run or enclosure
🍃 Swinging motion keeps chickens entertained
🌦 Completely weatherproof and easy to clean
Terms and conditions
This promotion is only valid from 28/07/21 – midnight on 02/08/21. Use promo code SUMMERSNACKS at checkout to get 25% off Caddi Treat Holders for chickens, rabbits or guinea pigs. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs, Twin Pack with Peck Toys or packs with Feldy Chicken Pecker Balls. Offer is limited to 2 Caddi per household. While stocks last. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Chickens sometimes lay eggs that look nothing like a standard supermarket egg. Some are huge, some are tiny, some are ball-shaped, some are pointy, and some are soft-shelled. There are various reasons for these oddities.
Each hen will have her own ‘quirks’ in terms of egg size and colour. Although most chicken breeds lay light brown eggs, some have eggs with pigmented shells. A hen will produce eggs of the same colour throughout her laying years. The palette ranges from deep browns to light blues and pastel greens, with speckling adding another dimension of prettiness.
Odd shapes and sizes are something quite different, though. They are quirks rather than breed-specific traits.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes bigger or smaller than usual?
A huge egg contains two yolks. In these cases, the hen has doubled up on her usual daily production and has had to produce a giant egg to accommodate the extra mass. These eggs usually have smaller-than-usual yolks, but they look very eye-catching in the poaching or frying pan!
Young birds often produce small eggs, and they will begin laying regular eggs very quickly. Some smaller bantam breeds produce small eggs all the time, of course.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes misshapen?
An oddly-shaped egg can be produced for various reasons. It often takes young hens an egg or two before they settle into their regular pattern. Stress in the chicken coop can lead to misshapen eggs too. This is usually due to a hen having the urge to lay but finding her space in the laying box occupied by another bird.
Misshapen eggs can be elongated, or they may have a thin, pointy end. Sometimes they are rough-looking, with craggy rather than smooth surfaces, or with thicker bands of shell running across their middles. In all these cases, the egg inside is unaffected and is perfectly safe to eat.
A ball-shaped egg is usually a sign of slight calcium deficiency. The round shape requires less calcium than a normal oval egg.
Are oddly-shaped chicken eggs a sign of illness?
Infectious bronchitis can lead to misshapen eggs. An infected hen will stop producing eggs for a few days or will only lay intermittently. The eggs she lays will have thin, wrinkled or rough-shelled eggs, and the white of the egg will be watery. It is also common for the affected eggs to have lighter-coloured shells than usual. The condition is rare, and chickens can be vaccinated against it.
Laryngotracheitis is another illness linked to egg abnormalities, and this, too, can be prevented through vaccination. Any ailment can cause a hen to become stressed, so, in theory, any illness can result in misshapen eggs.
Why do chickens lay freckled eggs?
Some breeds always lay speckled eggs. However, if a hen that typically produces plain eggs lays speckled ones, there are various possible causes. She may have been shocked or stressed in some way while the egg was forming, or she may have developed a quirk in the pigment-producing part of her egg-laying system.
Freckling is often the result of excess calcium production, sometimes associated with the ‘end of season’ laying at the beginning of winter. On some eggs, there is a marbled pattern rather than an area of freckles.
The speckling is usually smooth, but it sometimes manifests as raised blotches of excess calcium. These can be spots or wormlike strands, and they often occur as single spots on an otherwise standard egg. This may be linked to dehydration, so make sure your hens have enough water, and that a timid hen isn’t being bullied away from it all the time.
Why do chicken eggshells sometimes have a white ring?
Viewed from the side, an eggshell with this peculiar oddity has a thick white ring, looking uncannily like an x-ray of the egg that lies beneath. It is usually caused by an interruption in the formation of the eggshell, caused by stress or by a second egg entering the internal production line.
The second egg produced in this process will usually have a flattened side, as it has bumped into the first egg during the early stages of shell formation and has been ‘squashed’ into an odd, flattened shape.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes wrinkled?
A wrinkly eggshell can be a sign of stress or illness, but is usually a hereditary condition. Some older hens begin to lay wrinkly eggs too. The wrinkles are often deep grooves, giving a very misshapen egg and making this perhaps the weirdest of all the egg oddities.
The wrinkles sometimes look like a series of cracks in the shell. This results from an egg cracking during calcium formation, and the cracks are the chicken’s repairs, laying calcium over the cracks. Once again, the underlying cause is usually stress or illness, although sometimes it is simply the result of a second egg ‘crashing into’ the first due to an over-productive system.
Why do some chicken eggs have soft shells?
A soft shell is a sign of calcium deficiency or a lack of vitamin D. Low calcium can be prevented by making sure the hens have a high quality feed and don’t gorge on kitchen scraps (which may fill them up so much that they don’t bother eating the layers pellets). Low vitamin D can be prevented by sunlight – not always easy in the cloudier months of the year!
Other possible causes include heat stress, too much salt or too much spinach. When feeding chickens kitchen scraps, avoid giving them anything that is salted.
The extreme version of the soft-shelled egg is the egg with no shell at all. If a hen lays a shell-less egg, it should be cleaned up at once, as it will soon become rotten in the warm coop.
Weird eggs are usually one-offs, and they are nothing to worry about. If a hen lays an odd egg two days in a row, it is worth looking at possible underlying causes. Diet and stress are the chief culprits.
In terms of culinary uses, don’t worry. With the exception of soft-shelled and shell-less eggs, all these egg oddities are safe to eat.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to get free delivery on selected Eglu Chicken Coops!
Terms and conditions
This promotion of free delivery on selected Eglus is available while stocks last. No promo code needed, delivery costs have already been deducted at checkout. Promotion includes Eglu Cube in green and Eglu Go Chicken Coop in green and purple. Excludes Eglu Cube in purple, Eglu Go UP and Eglu Go Hutch, Eglu Go run handles, wheel set and run extensions. Subject to availability. Free delivery only applies to the included products, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, IE, FR, DE, NL, BE, SE, IT, DK, NO, ES and PL and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. 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 Chickens
Treat your chickens this summer with some fresh Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn. Until midnight on Sunday the 8th August you get FREE delivery on two bags when you enter the code FEEDSM at checkout!
Terms and conditions:
This promotion of free delivery on Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn is only valid from 21/07/21 – midnight on 25/07/21 (Edit: now extended until 08/08/21). Use promo code FEEDSM at checkout to get free delivery on Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn. This offer is available on twin packs. Offer is limited to 2 bags per customer. While stocks last. Subject to availability. Free delivery only applies to the included products, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Chickens are fascinating creatures, and their eyes, even more so. Here are some amazing facts about chickens’ eyes that you may not have heard before!
Chickens Can See More Colours Than Us
Chickens are tetrachromatic. They can see the colours we see in (red, yellow and blue), but whilst we have three types of cones in our retinas, chickens have four, which allows them to see in ultraviolet light. This gives chickens access to a much wider range of colours and shades than humans.
Chickens Have a Third Eyelid!
Believe it or not, chickens actually have a third eyelid, on each eye! The third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, horizontally draws across the eye which helps clean, moisten, and further protect the eyes from dirt. The nictitating membrane is transparent in appearance which means that chickens still have the ability to see, even when the third eyelid is closed.
They Can Use Each Eye Independently
Chickens are able to use each of their eyes independently, with a 300 degree field of vision (humans only have 180!), meaning that both of their eyes can focus on different tasks at the same time. This is also known as monocular vision, which amazingly already begins even before a chick’s arrival. When the chick is still in its shell, it turns towards the right to absorb any light and the left side of the shell is covered by their body. When the chick then hatches, nearsightedness develops in their right eye, which will allow the chick to search for food, as the left simultaneously develops farsightedness. This is to help the chick look out for any potential predators. You will probably notice this from when chickens tilt their heads when a hawk flies over.
Chickens Have Terrible Vision in The Dark
Night vision definitely isn’t their strong point! Having descended from dinosaurs all them millions of years ago, as opposed to being preyed on by them like other species, chickens had no need to learn how to run and hide in the dark. For this reason however, chickens today require protection at night because just like humans, they’re awake during the day and sleep during the night, and are highly susceptible to predators.
Chicks Have Amazing Eyesight From Birth
When chicks first hatch, they surprisingly have remarkable eyesight, in fact a lot better than humans. From the minute they hatch, chicks are able to detect small items such as grains of food and even have spatial awareness. A human baby however, lacks this ability and does not develop such skills until a few months down the line.
Chickens Rarely Move Their Eyeballs
Chicken eyes have a very limited range of motion and lack the ability to remain focused on an object whilst the rest of their body is moving. This is why you’ll often see chickens walking around, bobbing their heads, whilst facing onwards. It is not so much a case of chickens not being able to actually move their eyes at all, but rather their eyes cannot move quickly enough to process the image in front of them. Instead, chickens will tend to turn their heads when they want to gain better eyesight of something.
Their Eyes Have a Double Cone Structure
The retina of the eye is composed of rods and cones, the rods being to detect light-sensitive motion, and cones to see colour. As we found out earlier, chickens have more types of cones than us, hence why they are able to enter a fourth dimension of colour, which us humans can’t. A double cone retina structure means that a chicken’s eyes are more sensitive to movement. This is advantageous to chickens as it gives them a greater ability to detect motion, which is helpful when it comes to spotting a perceived threat.
Chicken Eyes Make Up 10% of Their Head Mass
That’s quite a lot, considering our eyes only make up for approximately 1% of our head mass! Although it may look humorous, there’s actually a good reason behind it. Having such large eyes helps chickens to see larger and clearer images as they are produced.
Chickens Can Sense Light Through Their Pineal Gland
Light reaches chickens through either their eyes, skulls, or skin, which activates the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal gland, also sometimes referred to as ‘the third eye’, is something else that makes chicken vision oh so interesting. A pineal gland helps chickens to sense daylight, or the lack of, even if they are unable to see with their eyes. This means that even a blind chicken is able to detect lighting or seasonal change!
They Have the Ability to Recognise up to One Hundred Different Faces
They say that elephants never forget but apparently chickens don’t either! Chickens are able to recognize up to one hundred faces, be it other chickens, humans or any other species. They can also amazingly decipher between their positive and negative encounters.
After a few interesting facts, we’re sure that you’ll now know a whole lot more about the amazing subject of chickens’ eyes, that’ll be bound to get you wondering just what’s really going on through the eyes of your chickens!
This entry was posted in Chickens
During their moult, chickens shed their old feathers and grow new ones. They usually stop laying eggs at this time, or reduce their laying rate, and this gives them time to rest and prepare themselves for the next laying season.
Moulting occurs every year, sometimes twice, and it can kick in at any time; although in the UK, most hens moult in late summer. Occasionally, an early moult can be brought on by stress. The process varies in length, but is usually complete after four weeks. In some cases, it can be three months or more before the new coat of feathers is complete.
When Do Chickens Moult?
Young chickens frequently moult as they shed their baby feathers and grow adult ones. The first moult occurs before they are six weeks old, and there is a second moult before nine weeks and a third at 12–13 weeks. The last of these ‘chick moults’ occurs between 20 and 22 weeks, at which point the bird is an adult and is laying eggs. She will moult once or twice every year.
How Do You Know if Your Chicken is Moulting?
Chickens will lose occasional feathers at any time of year, and that’s nothing to worry about. These are the obvious signs of moulting:
- A messy appearance, with bald spots
- A dull-looking comb and wattles
- A sudden stop to egg production, or a reduction in the usual number of eggs
- An increased appetite, with a hunger for protein (the hen may fight other birds away from food or scratch frantically for bugs and worms)
The moult usually starts at the chicken’s head, and travels via the breast and legs to the tail. By the time the tail is bare, the head feathers have started to regrow.
If a hen is losing feathers and doesn’t grow new ones, there may be a problem with feather mites or some other illness. Watch out for any unusual behaviour in your hens – listlessness or a hunched posture, for example, are signs of an underlying problem. If you are in any doubt about your chickens’ health, speak to your vet.
Similarly, if the laying cycle is severely interrupted and the hen is not laying several days after the end of the moult, contact your vet.
What to give chickens to help with moulting
Moulting is not an illness, so there is no treatment required as such. However, changes to the birds’ usual diet help them through the moult. Their taste for protein will increase during this time, as new feathers need lots of it. Indeed, feather growth will eat up all the usual protein you give your hens.
To add extra protein to the chickens’ diets, give them a feed that is at least 18% protein. Give them more protein rich treats, and if your hens have access to bugs and worms, all the better. Giving your chickens some extra treats during the moult can be helpful, but make sure the treats you choose are high in protein and low in fat.
To ensure general health and a robust immune system, add some apple cider vinegar to the hens’ water to boost their digestion too. Otherwise, simply continue with the healthy feeding regime, and make sure their diet has plenty of vitamins and minerals.
What to do when your chickens are moulting?
Do not handle your chickens during the moult, and resist the temptation to cover their balding bodies with chicken pullovers or jackets! The hens’ skins are tender and itchy during the moult, as hundreds of pin-feathers are pushing through. Handling them or dressing them up will only add to their irritability!
To ease the hens through their annual feather makeover, make sure they are in a stress-free environment. New birds should not be introduced during the moult, and coop renovations or changes to your henhouse setup should be put on hold until the new feathers are all in place.
Wild chickens were happily moulting for millions of years before we first domesticated them, so this is one of those cases where it is best to let nature take its course. With a little dietary help from their human friends!
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World’s Heaviest Chicken
The heaviest chicken breed, White Sully, was developed on a farm in California. It’s a hybrid breed of large Rhode Island Reds and other heavy breeds. The largest chicken ever recorded was a rooster called Weirdo, and he weighed just over 10kg (22 lb). It is said that he was so aggressive that he killed two cats during his lifetime and seriously hurt a dog that came too close to his territory.
World’s Oldest Chicken
The current world record holder is Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game hen, who died at the age of 22 in Maryland, USA. One of the more famous old chickens was a Red Pyle chicken called Matilda from Alabama, USA. She was the first hen to receive the title of World’s Oldest Living Chicken from Guinness World Records, and lived for 16 years. Veterinarians said it was likely she lived for so long because she was kept in her owners’ house as a pet, and never laid an egg in her life.
World’s Heaviest Egg
The heaviest egg ever recorded was laid by a White Leghorn chicken in New Jersey, USA in 1956. It weighed 454g (16 oz), and had both a double yolk and a double shell.
World’s Biggest Egg
The heaviest egg was however not the biggest egg ever found. Tony Barbouti in Eastwood, Sussex, once found an egg in his coop measuring 23cm (9.1 in) in diameter. It only weighed just over 161g, but certainly gave Barbouti a shock! He later said that the hen was noticeably shocked after having produced the egg, and she walked a bit funny for a few days, but recovered completely.
World’s Longest Flight
Chickens are not known for their ability to fly. In fact many mean that they can’t technically fly, but only jump high and flap their wings to stay in the air. The longest flight of a chicken that has been recorded is 13 seconds. A different record for the longest distance flown is just under 92m (301 ft). Pretty impressive for a supposedly flightless bird!
World’s Most Prolific Layer
A Prof. Harold V. Bieller conducted experiments with chickens in the late 1970s at the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri. The highest rate of egg-laying he found was by a White Leghorn in 1979. She laid a whopping 371 eggs in 364 days!
World’s Most Prolific Mother Hen
Northern Irish farmer John Dolan has got two hens that have made it into the Guinness Book of Records. His hen Sally entered by having two sets of chicks in just 55 days, the latest of which produced 11 live chicks from 12 eggs. Chickens normally stay with their young for at least three months, but Sally started laying again after only 21 days. John’s other record breaking chicken Marmalade made it into the Book of Records by hatching a remarkable 107 chicks in two years!
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