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The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Chickens

How Strong Are Eglu Cube Chicken Coops?

Sometimes we get questions from potential customers asking how durable and robust the Eglu Cube Chicken Coops are, and if they will be safe enough for chickens in rural areas with wild weathers and a plethora of predators. And then on the other hand, we have customers contacting us from across the globe to tell us jaw-dropping stories of how their Eglus have survived the most amazing challenges, be it tornados or visits from black bears. If you’re one of the people asking “How strong are Eglu Cube Chicken Coops?”, read on for some pretty compelling case studies!


Can the Eglu Cube survive a tornado?

crushed eglu cube chicken coop and aerial view of destroyed farm
“We sustained a direct hit from a F3 (almost F4) tornado in April. Much of our ranch was destroyed (hay barn completely gone, barndominium, horse stalls and woodshop required demo to slab, house currently unliveable). We lost two cows and many trees. But, we survived in our tornado room with our dogs and our 2 Omlet Cubes and all of our chickens survived. One Cube was completely upside down and the other was trapped by fallen tree limbs and debris. The chickens were trapped by our hawk netting that collapsed with the tree limbs; actually fortutios and I think they would have been blown away – ah, the story they could tell! We were able to turn the one coop upright and get them all in one for that first night. Yes, 12 wet hens can fit in an Eglu Cube!

While the run and skirting are bent up, and I had to remove a few pieces of skirting, they are still functional. The back door on one sustained a hit that broke a small piece of plastic that makes the handle a little loose, but still functional. The Autodoors still work, one of the shade covers survived, as did the food and water bowls! Other than being scratched up, very dirty and with misshapen runs, they are fine! They have since had a thorough washing and if you didn’t look at the bent run, you’d never know anything happened! Thanks for making such a great product!”

Lori – Texas, USA.

Will the Eglu Cube keep my chicken safe from predators?

bobcat trying to break into eglu cube chicken coop

“We are the Lloyds, and we live in San Diego, CA. We have four silkies – Elsa, Nugget, Ickey, and Shuffle. They are the cutest and sweetest, little bunch. They like to stick together, and scratch for bugs, worms, and other treats.

The predator in the video is a bobcat, but we also have coyotes, owls, hawks, and more. Our house backs to a canyon, and we have frequent visits from various predators. We have so many visits, that I do not allow my poodles to go outside in the backyard unless they are next to us, and we are actively watching them, but I’m confident the hens are safe in their coop. 

We purchased an Eglu Cube because we love our silkies, and we wanted to keep them safe. Although we still have a motion-sensor camera to monitor, the silkies have been happy and safe!”

Tracy – California, USA.

Is the Eglu Cube house strong?

fallen pine tree on top of the eglu cube chicken house

“Man, did we have a few stormy days! Everywhere in the neighbourhood, trees were falling left, right and centre, and one of them on the edge of our premises, exactly where our Eglu Cube chicken coop is!

The giant pine tree fell across our Cube, but when we came out to check on the hens we couldn’t believe our eyes. The tree was resting right on top of the Eglu, but it hadn’t been damaged at all. As soon as the Autodoor opened, the chickens walked out and started to scratch around as if nothing had happened, and we could collect fresh eggs that same afternoon. 

After some serious chainsaw work we were able to investigate the Cube, finding that only one roof panel was damaged, but we could even bend that back a bit. Unbelievable!”

Anna – Germany

Will large predators be able to get to my hens in an Eglu Cube chicken coop?

black bear on top of an eglu cube chicken coop

“We live in an area with black bears, coyotes, foxes, and other predators. Over the weekend our Eglu was attacked by a 300 pound black bear and despite the wire roof being smushed with its weight, the Eglu remained intact and no chickens were harmed. We most likely will need an electric fence but we were impressed with the coop being able to withstand the assault. Very impressed! Also, with 2 young children the Eglu is easy to clean and maintain – minimal maintenance required and our boys able to open and close the doors. Outstanding! The best coop we could have with our rural area and lifestyle”

Tom – Virginia, USA.

How good are Eglu Cubes in stormy weathers?tree fallen on top of eglu cube chicken coop

“We’ve had storms overnight and went to let the chickens out this morning to find a large tree had come down from the bush behind the house and had landed on our fence and chicken coop. The fence couldn’t withstand the impact, but the Eglu Cube did. We replaced our old wooden coop with the Omlet one a few months ago as the wooden coop was rotting in our humid mountain air, and we’re so glad we did. Not only is it so easy to clean, I don’t think our chickens would have survived the tree falling on the coop. The coop does need some repairs as the run and coop itself have buckled, but I still can’t believe how strong it is.”

Ashleigh – New South Wales, Australia.


We really love hearing these stories, and they will help Eglu owners around the world relax in the knowledge that their pets are truly safe at night. So if your Eglu has ever saved your hens from stormy weathers, unwelcomed visitors or anything else, please email us at blog@omlet.co.uk!

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Rosie’s Chicken Keeping Adventure – A Taste of the Free Ranging

Social Media Executive Rosie has been at Omlet for a year, and when she was asked by her managers if she was interested in broadening her chicken knowledge (and creating fun content for Omlet’s social media platforms) with her very own flock, she said yes straight away.

Since we last spoke to Rosie a few weeks ago, the 5 ex-caged hens have settled into their new home, and are starting to discover the world outside the safety of their Eglu Cube and Walk in Chicken Run. 


We let them out one nice afternoon after having had them on the run for a few weeks. They were quite hesitant at first, as if they didn’t really know what to do. But once they realised they could go and explore they absolutely loved it!

They have a few hours outside every day and they run around on the grass, make dust baths in the borders and peck at everything. Before, we could go in and out of the run and they wouldn’t really be bothered about the door being open, but now as soon as we come to see them they stand waiting to be let out and often try to escape between our legs. So they’ve definitely had a taste of freedom, and they love it!

Rosie's Chicken Keeping Adventure - a taste of the free ranging, Omlet Eglu Cube Chicken Coop

Have you had any luck with Evie the dog interacting with them?

We still keep Evie inside when the chickens are out, just because I’m not sure how she would handle it. More than anything I think she would just like to play with them, but probably a bit too rough.

We’re going to get some chicken fencing for when they are all out at the same time, to create a kind of barrier. Once they are used to each other I hope that will be fine.

What do the hens do for fun?

They use the PoleTree in the run all the time, when I come out in the morning they are already on there. They haven’t reached the highest perches yet, but they’re slowly climbing up.

So far they haven’t been too bothered about the Freestanding Perch Tree. We have it out in the garden, and I think they are just too busy exploring everything else when they are free ranging that they don’t want to perch. But once it’s not quite as much of a novelty it’ll be nice for them to have somewhere to perch outside the run as well.

What else has happened since we last spoke?

Their feathers are getting a lot healthier, you can really tell a difference from when we rehomed them. One of the hens has got more or less a full plumage with really shiny feathers, and she was the one that looked the worst to start with.

We’re still getting 3-5 eggs every day, so we’ve had to start giving them away to friends and family. We’re super popular guests now!

I also gave them some strawberries from the veg patch the other day, and they absolutely loved it – they were going crazy!

Any problems?

Not really a problem, but we live in quite a rural area and the neighbourhood cats have definitely sniffed out the hens. We can see them sitting on the fence looking at the chickens when they are out in the garden, and there was a red kite circling over them the other day as well. I don’t know if they would actually go for them, but I’m glad they are in the Walk in Run when we’re not there though, so I know they are safe. 

Rosie's chicken keeping adventure, free ranging hens

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Chicken Keeping in the Summer

Cara Martin lives in Gwynedd with her flock of happy back garden hens as well as those kept at the family smallholding just up the road. The girls love nothing more than following the family around helping to turn over the veg beds and getting into mischief in compost piles. Follow Cara over at The Poultry Pages.

man in chicken run with chickens

When keeping back-garden poultry you soon become very aware of the seasons. In the winter many new poultry keepers worry about their flock getting too cold, although this is actually rarely a risk in the UK. A flock over-heating in the summer months is actually a far bigger concern. So, as the weather heats up it is important to help your flock keep cool.

It’s important to be able to identify the signs that your flock is overheating. The five main indicators of an overheated hen are:

  • Panting – when hot you will notice your hen’s beak open panting;
  • Feathers fluffed – you will see your hens hold their wings away from their bodies;
  • Decreased appetite – as they heat up they will eat less during the day;
  • Lethargic flock – an overheated hen is likely to be more lethargic and sleepy;
  • Pale combs – both wattle and comb will become pale on an overheated hen, especially over a prolonged heat-wave.

You may also notice a drop in egg numbers if the weather gets really hot. This can be through a combination of the heat and the decreased appetite, meaning less energy for production. I’ve kept chickens, ducks, and quail in the garden for nearly 20 years now and have picked up a few tips and tricks to keep the ladies cool and comfortable even on the hottest of days. 

 

Shade and Shelter

If your flock free ranges and they have access to areas with trees and bushes you’ll find that they naturally gravitate to these cooler shady areas when the weather heats up. Some back garden keepers though will keep their flock within more permanent runs due to space or local predators – for example we have a lot of foxes where we live.

If you do have a permanent run, or are constructing one, it is important to keep shade in mind as well as rain cover. When we built our most recent chicken run we made use of a strong wind and shade mesh to cover the sides and roof in order to create sheltered areas from the elements. On hotter days the flock will head into the shaded areas to dust bathe and perch. Omlet have chicken run shades for all the runs with the heavy duty covers providing good weather protection in the winter months too.

chicken run with chicken and chicken tree

Cold Water

It is crucial in the warmer months to keep the water clean, cool, and regularly topped up. Adding in an extra chicken drinker is also a good idea if you have a flock bigger than 4 hens. Keep the drinkers in shaded areas to avoid the water heating up and ideally change the water early afternoon to keep it cool and fresh throughout the day.

Dust Bathing 

A dust bath is how chickens keep themselves both clean and cool. You’ll notice when free ranging they will make their own dust baths, and on hotter days these are often under a tree for the shade too. In permanent runs a lot of keepers use woodchips as a base once the grass has been demolished by the flock. Although woodchips are great for them to scratch about in and to keep the run dry, they don’t prove as good for dust bathing.

In a movable run it may be the case that you would rather the flock not make dust baths all over the garden – especially if the run is rotated over a lawn for example. So, a movable dust bath is a great alternative to encourage them to use. I personally favour using a low level flexible tub for this.

With an enclosed run I find that building in a dust bath is really useful for the flock. In our current run we have used a 100ltr pot that has been dug to half depth into the ground. Before placing the pot into the hole we make sure to add drainage holes to the pot and put a layer of stones beneath it to help with drainage.

For both movable trugs and dug in pots I use a mixture of 70/30 soil/sand. The sand helps to keep the soil draining well if it gets wet and my flock seem to prefer this looser mix for dust bathing. On cooler days a movable trug can be put in a sunny spot, and on the hotter days move it into the shade for them to cool down. I also add a dusting of diatomaceous earth to the dust bath in the summer months as a great way to keep ahead of potential lice problems to which flocks are more susceptible to in warm weather.

dustbath and chicken dustbathing

Coop Care

Obviously we want to be keeping the chicken coop clean throughout the year, but on hot days it is a good idea to try and daily poop-scoop and clean. Droppings quickly become smelly in the heat, and a build up can also increase the heat within the coop; plus you’ll attract flies without regular cleaning too. If you ordinarily use a deep-litter method for your chicken house it is really important to switch to low bedding and regular cleaning during a heat-wave.

You need to make sure that any ventilation holes in the coop are unobstructed, keeping air flow through the coop at night. During the day I make sure our coop is fully opened up to help keep it cool. If you have an Eglu Chicken Coop or other plastic coop then giving the outside a good spray with the hose in the afternoon will also help drop down the internal coop temperature.

Mist the Air

Our girls love nothing more than when the sprinkler is on near to them in hot weather. Although I never mist the girls directly we do set it up near to their coop and run. The cooling effect of the cold water helps to reduce the ground temperature. 

Larger pure breeds, especially our Brahma girl, seem to suffer with the heat more than the smaller hybrid ladies. I find a couple of our girls, including our Brahma, like to go right under the sprinkler in the mid-afternoon heat – just make sure it is just gentle misting not a full flow though.

Obviously you know your flock best and by keeping an eye on them during hotter days it is usually easy to tell if they need more shade or water. If they seem to really struggle I’ve even been known to bring them into the house to cool down – we had a very cool basement years ago and an hour or two lounging about in our dog crate with some treats would soon have them cooled down and perked up! 

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Rosie’s Chicken Keeping Adventure – Rehoming and Getting Settled

Social Media Executive Rosie has been at Omlet for a year, and when she was asked by her managers if she was interested in broadening her chicken knowledge (and creating fun content for Omlet’s social media platforms) with her very own flock, she said yes straight away.

Since we last spoke to Rosie a few weeks ago, she has rescued 5 ex-caged hens that now live in her garden in their very own Eglu Cube chicken coop. We caught up with Rosie to see what the first few days as a chicken keeper has been like.


man holding rescue chicken and chickens in run

Why did you decide to rescue in the end?

We went to see some breeders, but none of them had any Buff Orpingtons available, which are one of Max’s favourite breeds. He’s always been keen on the idea of rescuing though, so one evening I went on BHWT’s website and realised there was an adoption pickup in the next village that same weekend. It seemed like a sign. 

Now I’m really happy that we did, it adds another level seeing them be so happy when they’ve had a rubbish start to their lives. 

What was the experience of picking them up?

It was all very well organised and efficient! I received an email telling us where and when to collect the hens, and the volunteers were super kind and helpful when we got there too. 

We had originally reserved four hens, but they had a few extras and we couldn’t resist taking one more home with us! We knew these particular rescue hens were ex-caged hens, but I actually expected them to look way worse than they did. Three of them are in a pretty bad state in terms of feathers, and one has a bit of a wonky beak, but they all seem relatively healthy. I can’t wait to see their transformation in a few months! 

While I put the hens in the dog crate we had brought and got them in the car Max got talking to the volunteers. They do the full rehoming process in one day to minimise the stress for the poor hens. Such a crazy thought they were in cages that same morning, and now we were taking them home to our garden.

What were the first days like?

We put them in the coop for a few hours to get them used to it, then let them out into the run. It was amazing seeing them have all these firsts. We have wood chips in the Walk in Run, but under the coop there’s a bit of grass, and they were absolutely amazed by it. They were pecking and scratching like crazy. 

I couldn’t stop watching them explore. We picked them up and put them back in the coop the first night, but looking back I’m not sure we would have had to, because on the second night they all climbed back in by themselves when it was bedtime. Fast learners! 

There was a bit of squabbling the first days, I could tell they were working on the pecking order. I was prepared for fighting and bullying, but it really wasn’t very bad. The top hen makes sure she gets to eat first, and if someone tries to cut the queue she gives them a peck, but once she’s finished she’s happy for the others to have their go.

girl with rescue chicken and chicken eating corn from hand

Have they produced any eggs?

Yes, lots. I’ve been giving quite a few to Mum as she’s been baking cakes for my nieces’ birthdays, but there’s still plenty for me and Max. I’m sure I’ll be bringing them into the office soon! 

How is your dog finding it?

When we first let her out in the garden after the hens had moved in she would stand by the run and stare at them and whine – she really wanted to get in and meet them. She leaves them alone when you tell her though, and she’s already losing interest, so I hope they’ll get along. 

A funny thing is that when I let her out in the garden unsupervised she doesn’t even go close to the coop. I was watching her from the window and she was just doing her own thing, but as soon as we’re in the garden with her and give the chickens any attention she suddenly wants to join in. So there’s probably a bit of jealousy there. 

The chickens are not scared of her at all though. When she stands by the run they walk straight up to the mesh and look at her.

Any surprises? 

I’m a bit surprised by how much I already like them. When I’m working from home I go out and see them a few times every day – they’re definitely time wasters, but in a good way. Everyone at work is saying how much I talk about them already, I’m quickly becoming a crazy chicken lady! 

They have got really tame super quickly. To begin with they would run away when we came close, but now they take corn from my hand and let us hold them. I knew Max would love being a chicken keeper, and he’s really enjoying it, but I didn’t think I would get this attached so quickly.

Now they are used to their home I am going to let them out to explore the garden a bit more, I’m really looking forward to that. 

dog in front of omlet eglu cube chicken coop

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Keeping Chickens as a Gardener

Amy Wolsey lives in Norfolk with her 11 happy hens. She’s kept busy with 6 Cream legbars and 5 Pekin Bantams. They, like her Springer Spaniel Oliver, love to help her in her garden and vegetable patch!  Follow Amy on her Instagram account chicksandveg.


My garden just wouldn’t be the same without my chickens. As I potter round, their chatter keeps me company and there is something so joyful about seeing them have a dust bath under the hedges or weed my paths! My chickens love helping me out in the vegetable patch but if I left them too it, I wouldn’t have many veg left! So I’ve tried to design my garden in a way that allows all of us to enjoy it. 

keeping chickens as a gardener

Setting up your space 

It’s a good idea to have the ability to move your chickens around the garden and shut off areas you don’t want them exploring. I’ve divided my garden into areas, some the chickens are free to explore and others are kept gated. This isn’t possible in every garden but the same can be done using temporary fencing. I’ve used chicken fencing and even expandable trellis to section off areas. It’s a good idea to move your chickens around, giving areas of your garden or lawn a breather and it keeps your chickens busy exploring new spaces. 

Despite being mostly able to range freely in my patch, I do have a safe and secure home for them in the form of their Walk in Chicken Run from Omlet. It’s got plenty of room, treats and perches to keep them occupied, and it provides a great space to shut them away if required.

I use raised beds in my vegetable patch which go someway to stopping my hens nibbling my vegetables but if you want to guarantee your chickens can’t access your precious veg you could look at using tunnels or netting to cover them. I have hoops and netting over some of my seedlings to keep pests out but they also help to keep hungry chickens at bay too!

chickens on perch and eglu go up chicken coop in garden

Growing for chickens 

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I like to make sure my chickens don’t help themselves to everything I’m growing, I do like to treat them every so often! I grow lots of ‘extra’ veg throughout the season and my hens are great at tidying up any plants that are looking past their best. 

My favourite thing to grow for my chickens are speedy salads and super quick microgreens. I have a few pots that I dedicate to sowing and growing some tasty treats for the hens. Each week I’ll scatter a few seeds in a pot or shallow tray and some of the speediest microgreens can be growing after only a few days. They finish them off in a few minutes but their happy chirps are so worth it! 

Another speedy crop that doesn’t take up too much space is radish! Plus if you want to keep the root yourself they love the leaves on their own! Speaking of leaves you’ll often find me pulling off and sharing the outer leaves of brassicas and lettuce with my hens. The love chard too which is handy as it thrives in my garden and I’m often overrun! 

I don’t just grow vegetables for my hens! They are big fans of sunflowers (aren’t we all). So once they’ve finished blooming, as well as leaving some for the garden birds, the chickens love nothing more than pecking out all of the seeds. Nasturtiums are another beautiful bloom which I love to have dotted round my garden, they grow well in hanging baskets and draped over the edge of beds. Perfectly placed for hungry chickens and they distract them from my vegetables! 

Chickens bring so many benefits to the garden. They are great at pest control for slugs and other critters, they provide manure which when broken down properly can act as a brilliant fertiliser and most of all, they are great company! I’ll always share my garden with my chickens and I want to make sure they enjoy it as much as I do! 

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Rosie’s Chicken Keeping Adventure

selfie of chicken keeper rosie and dog evieSocial Media Executive Rosie has been at Omlet for a year, and when she was asked by her managers if she was interested in broadening her chicken knowledge (and to create fun content for Omlet’s social media platforms) with her very own flock, she said yes straight away.


“My partner Max has always wanted chickens – he was so excited when I got this job as he thought it would make me more keen to keep hens. So when they asked me I knew he would be over the moon, and I was right. But I’m of course also really excited!”

How much research have you done so far? 

“I read ‘What the Cluck’, Omlet’s chicken keeping book, which was really helpful. I have obviously picked up some knowledge when working with pet content and seeing the chickens at the office. I also manage Omlet’s Facebook Group for chicken keepers, that’s where you get to hear what it’s really like.”

Rosie and Max decided to go for the top notch backyard chicken setup. They have got an Eglu Cube Chicken Coop with a 2m run connected to a 3×3 Walk in Chicken Run, an Automatic Chicken Coop Door and a PoleTree Chicken Perch, plus some covers and other Omlet hentertainment accessories. 

“We set it up a few weekends ago, and we didn’t fight once! To be fair, Max did most of it by himself while I painted the fence, and it was really nice and sunny, but despite being quite a lot of products it was pretty fun actually. 

Although ‘flockdown’ is now over and the chickens are allowed to free range we will probably keep them on the run for a bit to get them used to the space and each other.”

eglu cube chicken coop with walk in chicken run in the garden

Have you decided what chickens you’re getting? 

“There’s been a lot of discussion about this, we didn’t completely agree to begin with. But in the end we decided we wanted good layers, and quite big hens rather than bantams, so we went to see someone that breeds Buff Orpingtons, and I think that might be the breed we’ll go for.”

Rosie and Max are not the only ones in the family; they also live with Evie the Sprocker. 

“I’m really not sure how she will react, but she’s been very interested in the coop going up. We will slowly try to introduce her to the chickens and hopefully she’ll be alright. She’s quite small, so maybe a big chicken will scare her a bit? We’ll see, but to start with she won’t be allowed into the garden if the chickens are out free ranging.”

What are you most looking forward to about becoming a chicken keeper?

“I really like the thought of having them around in the garden, pottering about. Of course the fresh eggs. My mum is a keen baker, so I’m sure she’ll be happy to have a few! And then I’m just looking forward to seeing Max with them, hopefully it’ll be just like he’s imagined it”.

And is there anything you’re scared of?

“I guess I’m a bit worried they are going to get ill or get some kind of parasites, it’s not nice to see your animals feel bad. But I also know that once you have a pet, making sure they are happy and healthy is not something you see as a problem or a hassle, you just do what you can to look after them in the best possible way.”

eglu cube chicken coop with walk in chicken run in garden


We’ll catch up with Rosie again next month when she’s picked up her chickens to hear how they are all getting on!

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A Day in the Life of a Chicken Tender

Miriam Drennan grew up on an organic farm with chickens, guineas, quail, cows, ponies, dogs, and any number of cats. She now lives in an urban neighbourhood in Nashville, Tennessee, and works as a freelance writer. She has had her current flock of hens for about two years. Even in an urban setting, she retains the practices her father taught her regarding how to care for the soil, plants, and creatures responsibly. It’s worth mentioning that her two rescue dogs, Anchor and Chance, are not much help around the house, and simply coast through life on their looks and charm.  Miriam is also an enthusiastic Omlet ambassador, so if you happen to pass by Tennessee and are interested in any of the products she has – get in contact!


“What’s it like, raising urban chickens?”

I get this question a lot, once people learn that I have hens in my backyard, three miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks to the Omlet system, it’s quite easy.

My set-up is simple and stylish—the Eglu Go Up Chicken Coop and its adjacent Walk In Chicken Run are surrounded by the Omlet chicken fencing. No running water or electricity, but I have found a few hacks when the weather gets extreme.

So—what is it like, raising urban chickens? The timeline will shed a little light on what an average day might look like for me.

7:15 a.m. The sun is just beginning to stir, but not fully awake, which is a good time to refill the feeder with fresh food and replace the water in the drinker. It’s easier to do this before turning them out; I can leave the gate open and wander in and out freely, which comes in handy when you are lugging heavy containers and bags. My girls eat organic food, sprinkled with some herbal supplements to keep their yolks bright yellow and their immune systems healthy.

7:30 a.m. This will be a big morning for them, because they are getting their Free Standing Chicken Perch! Where to place it? Finally, I find a spot and insert the stakes—the rain we had recently helps them go in easy, then I add some dried mealworms to the treat tray that attaches to it.

7:45 a.m. It’s still a bit chilly this morning, so I add another layer of straw on the floor of their yard. They have scratched it bare, which is what chickens do, and the straw keeps their feet from getting too cold. In the summer, I switch to shredded pine mulch.

7:55 a.m. Next, I sprinkle their yard with grit and oyster shell for their gizzards and calcium intake, respectively. Chickens enjoy scratching for treasures, so it doesn’t matter if I leave these in small bowls or sprinkle throughout their yard.

By now, the girls are stirring—they know I’m there, and they’re ready to get out and play. Time to turn the crank . . . and out they come, like big feathered cannonballs shot out of a cannon (who needs steps when you have feathers?). As they fluff and flap, let me introduce them:

  • Zuzu: A White Leghorn who looks brown because she likes to drink from mudpuddles. Although Zuzu is the smallest, she is the queen of the flock.
  • Daisy: An Easter Egger and friendly, she is the largest in the crew.
  • Dixie: An Olive Egger and shy; Dixie is a beautiful bluish-grey hen and her feathers are outlined in darker grey.
  • Beaker: A Speckled Sussex and a bit of a rebel. Beaker’s finally getting tiny pops of brilliant green, purple, and blue feathers after this last molting.

8:10 a.m. As expected, Zuzu is the first to approach the perch tree, cocking her head a bit. She realizes this new “thing” in her yard has treats, so she’s good with that. Beaker is next, followed by Daisy. Dixie is shy; she hangs back and eventually, snatches a mealworm and runs back to safety.

I leave them to get acquainted with their new toy.

8:30–9:45 a.m. They sing their egg songs for all the neighborhood to hear. (Thankfully, my neighbors think it’s funny.)

10:00 a.m. Lawn Man has arrived to mow and trim, and as far as the girls are concerned, he is Public Enemy #1. They don’t like his noisy machines and they don’t like him in their yard, even though they are completely enclosed and safe in their Walk-in Run. After running around, trying to figure out where to escape Lawn Man’s motorized beast, they settle for the area underneath their coop. I recently enclosed this section with a few Omlet Heavy Duty Tarps as another place they can use for privacy. They love it. It’s a great little space for dust baths, running from the Scary Evil Snow that falls, or just to gather and cluck. Only Zuzu dares to walk out and challenge Lawn Man, who tips his hat to her and mows on.

12:00 p.m. I have time between work calls to check for eggs. Happy hens are productive hens, and mine lay fairly consistently all year long. I credit the Eglu Go Up for a lot of this, because its insulation and design help maintain a fairly consistent temperature inside the coop. In the winter, I wrap the coop in Omlet’s Extreme Temperature Blanket, and if the temps dip to single digits, I might stick a hot water bottle inside with them—a bit of overkill, perhaps, because the Eglu’s insulation and the hens own body temperatures keep things quite warm inside. Each of mine lay an egg of a different color, which helps me keep up with who is producing and how often.

When I take a peek, I see that they’ve had a busy morning—all four have produced!

2:30 p.m. It’s warming into a nice spring day, so it’s time to clean the coop. Normally, it might take me 15–20 minutes total to clean, but today, I need to give it a really thorough scrub, so it might take about 30 minutes total. I dump the droppings into my composter and head for the outdoor spigot. A drop of the original Dawn dishwashing detergent makes this easy—the actual scrubbing takes less than 15 minutes. I leave the tray and roosting bar in the sun to dry while I wipe out the coop’s interior, which is easy. Zuzu wanders underneath to supervise, and lets me know whether I’ve missed a spot.

I finish drying the trays by hand and add soft pine shavings for a nest. Sliding the trays back in, I open the coop door again, so that each one can hop up the ladder and critique my work. Zuzu makes a point to tear up the nest within minutes after it’s in place—I’m not sure if that’s a compliment, or if she’s demanding a do-over?

4:30 p.m. My neighbor Lisa texts that she has some spinach for the girls. We place the spinach in their Caddi Treat Holder. Their reaction is priceless; to them, Lisa = Spinach, so they’re always excited to see her. We chat and watch them still figuring out their new perch tree.

7:30 p.m. The sun is setting; most of the girls have gone up. All but Beaker. Always Beaker. Why does she linger and wander around?

7:32 p.m. Beaker, aren’t you tired?

7:35 p.m. C’mon Beaker, why do you do me this way?

7:42 p.m. She’s going, going . . . nope, false alarm! She’s back in the yard. And now she’s got Dixie with her.

7:50 p.m. Dixie hops back inside the coop. Beaker, why won’t you do the same?

8:08 p.m. Finally, finally, Beaker turns in. I slink back out to the coop, because I know the slightest noise will bring her right back out. I quietly unhook the fence and turn the crank on the coop’s door.

Good night, ladies, I whisper.

I hear a gentle cluck-cluck-cluck as I’m walking away, telling me to sleep well.

Only now am I aware of hushed laughter, a neighbor’s guitar, and a faraway siren to remind me that yes, my chickens are city girls, and thanks to the Omlet system and accessories, they are safe, happy, and healthy.

That’s what it’s like to raise urban chickens.

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Normal Chicken Behaviour (And Not So Normal)

women having tea with their chickens by the large chicken coop eglu cube

Sometimes chickens behave in a strange way, and it’s not always easy to figure out if it’s normal chicken behaviour or whether something is wrong. Here are some things your flock might get up to, so you can easily figure out what they are actually up to!

My chicken is rolling around in the flower bed

This is completely normal. Chickens don’t wash themselves with water like you and I, but to get rid of dirt and parasites from their skin and feathers they have dust baths. When doing so, they look for a dry piece of soil or sand. They then lie down and use their wings to flap up the loose dust to let it run between their feathers and “wash” away dirt. It can look a bit strange, almost alarming in some cases, but it’s something they love doing and that is very good for them as well. 

My chicken is losing its feathers

Whether or not to worry depends on how your chicken is losing them. All chickens lose their feathers once a year in a process called moulting, where they shed old feathers and grow new ones in a way to keep the plumage strong and healthy. This can look quite messy, and you might find that hens stop laying while moulting. However, this is completely normal and you don’t necessarily have to intervene in any way. 

If you notice that your chicken is losing feathers but is not moulting it could be a sign that something is not right, especially if she has got bald patches on her neck or chest. This could either be that she’s picking her own feathers, or that she is being badly bullied by others in the flock. Both of this could indicate that you chickens are stressed or bored, often due to lack of space and stimulation. Inspect the flock as they interact with each other and see if you can notice any feather pecking.

If you find that the feather loss is indeed self-inflicted or caused by another hen, try to give the flock more space and something to keep them busy. Maybe a larger Walk In Chicken Run with a super fun PoleTree Chicken Perch Tree? You can find more ideas on how to entertain your flock here

My chicken won’t leave the nest box

If you’ve got a hen who is refusing to leave the nest box, it’s most likely because she’s gone broody. This happens to hens from time to time (to some breeds more often than others), most likely because a maternal instinct has kicked in and she wants to sit on her eggs until they hatch. To her, it doesn’t matter that they aren’t fertilised and will never result in any chicks – she will stay put regardless. 

You will probably struggle to move her from the nest box, but put on some gloves and try to get her out to make sure she gets to move around and have some food and water. A hen will most likely snap out of this state after around 21 days, but there are ways to break the broodiness and prevent it happening again. You can read more about it in this previous blog post about broody hens.

My chickens seem to be bullying another hen

Unfortunately this can also be seen as normal chicken behaviour. Chickens in a flock need to establish a pecking order to decide who is top hen, and this is often decided through some rather unfriendly pecking and flighting. Whilst this behaviour is not exclusive to male chickens, cockerels are said to always have an eye out for danger, ready to fight to protect their flock. 

If you have just introduced some new chickens or if the flock is new, you will likely see some quarrelling for a week or so. As long as no one is getting seriously injured, you’re best off staying out of it. If your hens however have been living together for a while and you still find that the other hens are picking on a specific individual you might have to interfere, as this will be stressful for the whole flock.

It’s always best to separate the main bully. Keep her elsewhere for a few days, and then slowly reintroduce her to the flock. In some cases a rearrangement in the pecking order can solve things.

My chicken is eating its eggs

This is not normal chicken behaviour. It’s not necessarily bad for your chickens’ health if they get into the habit of eating their eggs, but not only is it annoying for you to miss out on delicious eggs, it could also be a sign that something is not right. 

The cause of this behaviour could be that your hens are dehydrated or vitamin deficient, or that they are stressed or anxious. It could also be that they feel the nesting box isn’t safe or comfortable enough, or eggs have been left in the coop for too long. The nesting box in the Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop is a good example of what chickens like when laying. Its’ dark, deep and private, and up to three hens can nest at the same time. 

Keep on top of egg collection and keep an eye on your chickens to make sure they are otherwise happy, and they should hopefully snap out of the habit before too long.

two chickens in portable chicken coop eglu go up

My chicken is panting

Chicken have no sweat glands, so like dogs they drive off body heat by panting. This is normal chicken behaviour and just a way for your hens to stay cool, so unless the panting is excessive and you have made sure she has access to shade and plenty of water, it’s not necessarily something to worry about. 

That being said, panting can also be a sign of stress or breathing problems, so if it’s not warm outside or your chicken is panting more than you think is normal, you should definitely check for other symptoms, and potentially take her to the vet for a check up. 

My chicken has stopped laying

Again, it depends on a few different things, mainly the age of your chicken, the time of year, and your hens’ general health. It’s normal for most chickens to stop laying over the winter, as egg laying is strongly linked to hours of sunlight. They will also stop laying when moulting, or if something has interrupted their routine. 

Again it’s useful to take a step back and see how your chickens are doing. Carry out a health check to make sure they are not ill or have parasites, check that they are getting enough good quality feed, and make sure there isn’t anything in or around the coop that is making them stressed or anxious.

It should also be said that hens only have a predefined number of eggs in them, so if your hen is getting older it’s completely normal for her production to slow down and eventually stop. This is particularly common for ex-battery hens who have been laying intensely for the first 18 months of her life. You can read more about why chickens might not lay in this blog post.


We hope that was helpful. If you have any other questions about normal chicken behaviour, comment below and we will follow up with another post! You will also find lots of other Omlet blog posts that go into more detail about the behaviour we’ve mentioned here, so check it out to learn more!

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Everything You Need to Know About Chicken Wings

chickens perching on omlets poletree chicken perch tree

No, not those chicken wings. If you’re looking for a recipe or a greasy takeout, you’re in the wrong place. We’re taking a look at everything you need to know about chicken wings, actual chickens’ wings, and answering some common questions.

Can chickens fly?

Yes, and no. Chicken should technically be able to fly, they have strong wings, large feathers and hollow bones that makes the body lighter. The ancestors of today’s chickens, the red jungle fowl, escaped land based predators by flying up into trees. Having said that, not even they were able to fly longer distances, as they didn’t have the endurance.

When chickens were domesticated, and later on selectively bred to produce more eggs and more meat, their muscles grew, and most backyard chickens today have too big a body for the wings to hold them. So while you might see lighter chicken breeds flapping their wings to get up onto their chicken perch tree, garden chairs and low hanging branches, they would struggle to get very far. 

Do chickens want to fly?

In general, if your chickens have enough enrichment and feel happy with their coop and run, they will have very little interest in flying. Make sure they have opportunities to carry out all their natural behaviours, like perching and pecking, and that they have ample space to move around.

Give your hens a safe environment, for example with a large Eglu Cube Chicken Coop and Walk In Chicken Run, and they won’t be looking for greener grass. If you’re having some trouble with adventurous chickens trying to escape, read our previous post Help, My Chicken Keeps Flying Away! for more tips.

How do chickens use their wings?

While chickens are more or less flightless birds, they still use their wings for other purposes . As we mentioned, the wings help chickens jump, sometimes impressively high, and they are also useful for balance when getting down from an elevated space. 

Chickens also use their wings for mating, to regulate body temperature, and to scare off predators. Mother hens also shelter their young under their wings to keep them warm, and to hide them from external threats. 

Should l clip my chickens’ wings?

This is a commonly discussed topic among chicken keepers. While clipping a chicken’s wings doesn’t cause them any pain (as long as you do it right), some people still think chickens should have the opportunity to fly, however limited. This is as it gives them a possibility to escape potential danger. 

Other chicken keepers argue that clipping the wings and stopping a particularly flighty hen from escaping the enclosure and running into the neighbours’ garden or out onto the road is actually the safer option.

Whether you want to clip your chickens’ wings is up to you, and depends a bit on your circumstances, but if you do decide to, you will need to make sure you do it right.

How do I clip my chickens’ wings?

All you need is a sharp pair of scissors, and ideally an extra set of hands to hold the chicken. 

  • Extend the wing fully
  • Identify where the primary flight feathers meet the covert feathering. This should be a pretty obvious line.
  • Only cut the primary feathers, and be very careful you don’t cut the body of the wing itself. This is normally about 10 feathers.

Never cut growing feathers with a dark quill, these are growing feathers that will bleed if cut. You only need to clip one wing, as this will make the hen unbalanced, and unable to lift very high. 

Watch this video to get a full understanding of how to properly clip your chickens’ wings!

Do the wings grow back?

Yes, when the hens moult they gradually lose their feathers, and grow new ones. These will grow to full length, even if you clipped the old feathers. Backyard hens (and roosters) moult once, or maybe twice, a year, so that is how often you will need to cut the feathers if you want to stop your birds from flapping over the fence. 

What are wing claws?

Wing claws are small curved claws that stick out from the last joint of the wing. This is a trait left over from when the birds needed to climb up trees and then glide down the stems, and were possibly also used in fights. 

As the birds have evolved to no longer need these claws, they have grown much smaller, and on many hens they are not visible. 

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Hatching Eggs 101

Baby chicks outside on grass with mother hen

Considering hatching chicken eggs? Well, you’re in for an exciting time! Hatching eggs is an unforgettable experience for any chicken keeper but before you begin, here is the hatching eggs 101 guide to ensure that you and your chicks get off to the best start!

Why Should I Hatch Eggs?

First and foremost, chickens make for fantastic pets. In fact, this month we’re telling you all about why chickens are so great! Have a read of our Chicken Keeping Myths blog that will set straight facts from fiction when it comes to getting chickens.

As well as this, hatching eggs is an incredibly rewarding experience. From incubating eggs to seeing your chicks hatch, and then going on to flourish as adult chickens. You really do witness life from its very beginning!

Can I Hatch Supermarket Eggs?

Here we have a very common egg hatching myth… or, is it? We’ve all heard a story from a friend of a friend who has supposedly hatched a supermarket egg. And whilst the prospect of this seems rather exciting, the reality is that is a highly unlikely event.

For an egg to hatch it must be fertilised, and fertile eggs are hardly found in our supermarket aisles. For an egg to be fertilised, the hen must have had access to a male chicken. This does not occur for most chickens that produce eggs for our supermarkets. However, you may find that if you shop for eggs at a farm shop where hens have had interaction with a cockerel, the eggs you pick up could, in fact, be fertile. This still doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to hatch chicks, though, as the conditions in which the eggs are contained also plays a role in the development from egg to chick. For example, being refrigerated or the humidity levels being unsuitable, will stunt this development. So if you’re looking to hatch chicks, supermarket eggs is probably not the way to go.”

Where Do I Get the Eggs?

One good place to start on your egg hunt is by contacting a reliable chicken breeder. It’s important to note that whilst a chicken breeder can be confident that the eggs they’re selling are fertilised, this still doesn’t mean a 100% guarantee. Therefore choosing an experienced breeder will give you the best chance. The method most breeders will use to see if an egg is fertilised is called candling. This is whereby an egg is very literally held up to a warm candle. If the egg appears to be opaque when candled, then it is most likely fertilised.

Alternatively, you can also buy fertilised eggs online from websites such as eBay, Craigslist, or browse chicken keeping forums. Again, always buy from sellers with a good reputation. If you’re unsure of what chicken breed is right for you, have a read of our Chicken Breed Guide to find your perfect fit!

Regardless of whether you obtain your eggs from a breeder, farmer, or via an online community, if you can, opt for a local breeder or farmer over having your eggs shipped to you. This is because shipped eggs have reduced hatch rates. This is mainly due to conditions such as excessive shaking/poor handling or the temperature they have travelled at.

What Do I Need?

Hatching eggs doesn’t have to be complicated! If you’re new to the incubation process, it might initially seem a little daunting trying to work out how you can take your eggs to baby chicks! Fortunately, Omlet has everything you need to guide you on along the hatching process. Other than of course fertile eggs, you’ll only need an egg carton, water, and most importantly an egg incubator to begin.

A smaller chicken egg incubator like the Brinsea Mini II Advance is ideal for beginners. It can hatch up to 7 chicken eggs and is fitted with a digital alarm and countdown to hatch day system.

If you’re looking to hatch more eggs, the Brinsea Ovation 28 EX incubator is great, with space for up to 28 chicken eggs, along with a range of advanced features like automatic egg turning and an incubator temperature alarm. The egg incubator also has an automatic humidity control feature, and with two of the leading causes of hatching failure being incorrect temperature and humidity levels, it’s helpful to be able to keep track of this.  The optimal temperature for hatching chicks is 37.5 degrees Celsius, but for a more in-depth guide on what temperature and humidity levels should be throughout the process, take a look at our Step by Step Guide to Hatching Chicks blog, which will take you through a daily routine towards hatching eggs.

How Long Will it Take?

The incubation period for chicken eggs is usually 21 days. This being said, some eggs may hatch slightly before or after this period. Approximately between 25-50% of eggs, however, might not make it to hatch day for various reasons. Some are due to the incubation process, whilst others are out of your control. For example, a genetic problem with the embryo.

Alternatively, you can let a hen do the work and put fertilised eggs under a broody hen. However, if that’s not possible for you, hatching artificially is a great option! 


Chick in Chick Enclosure Panels Set of 8

What Happens When the Eggs Are Hatched?

It’s day 21 and the big hatch day has arrived! The first sign of hatching you’ll notice is known as pipping. This is when your chick will break a small hole in its shell. The next stage is called zipping! During this stage, your chick will start turning inside its shell, before making a full breakthrough! At this time, keep a close eye on your eggs, as the zipping process can be as quick as 30 minutes!

As previously mentioned, however, some eggs take a bit longer to make an appearance than others. Therefore, you should avoid removing any chicks that have already hatched from their incubator too soon. This could hugely disturb the environment for any other remaining eggs that are left hatch. You should wait up to 12 hours before considering assisting with hatching as a last resort. Chicks can go 3 days without food or water, so do not be in a rush to help with hatching, therefore disturbing your chicks, if this is not completely necessary. Before you then go on to remove any remaining eggs inside the incubator that have not hatched, wait until day 25 just to be safe.

If you’re new to raising chicks, we also recommend reading our 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Raising Chicks to help you with this stage after they have hatched. 

What Happens to Male Chicks?

Before deciding on hatching eggs, it’s a good idea to know what your plan is should the result be a male chick/s. In the world of egg production, male baby chicks are considered a by-product of the industry. They are, in many circumstances, therefore discarded at an early stage of their lives.

Ultimately, many chicken keepers decide on keeping only female chickens, or hens. This is because cockerels, which you might have heard being called roosters, can have their downsides. For one, they don’t produce eggs! However, this doesn’t mean a cockerel won’t slot into your life perfectly, depending on why you want to keep chickens. Have a read of our guide Everything You Need To Know About Keeping Roosters, which will help you to decide on whether one of these beautiful birds is right for you.

Something worth noting here is that it can be difficult to sex chicks until they are slightly older. It’s not usually until between weeks 5-9 when they’ll start showing these determining differences. For more information on this subject, read our blog How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen.

If you decide that having male chickens is not for you, then you do have the option to sell them. Just because a male chicken might not be right for you, they might be for someone else. Asking around on websites such as Craigslist or Facebook is a good place to begin.

What Next?

Now, we all know how cute baby chicks are! However, let’s not forget that after you hatch chicken eggs, these fluffy yellow birds will soon of course be fully grown chickens.  Once your chicks are adults, Omlet has just what you need to provide your birds with the best life they can have! Keep them happy and healthy with a range of Omlet chicken keeping products including the Omlet Eglu Chicken Coop which hens can move into from 12 weeks old!

Chickens outside in their pink Omlet Eglu Go Chicken Coop and run

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Chicken Keeping Myths

What’s stopping people from getting chickens? Today we’re busting some chicken keeping myths to ensure no one is staying away from these wonderful pets for the wrong reasons. Perfect to read up on if you’re trying to persuade a hen-hesitant friend, partner or parent!

 group of chickens outside omlet lenham chicken coop with automatic chicken coop door

Chickens smell

Chickens themselves are actually quite cleanly animals and will regularly carry out dust baths to get rid of any dirt in their plumage. Sure, they do get muddy feet sometimes, but it’s nothing that will smell. 

What smells is droppings and dirt that gets stuck in the coop, so if you carry out regular coop cleans you will never have to worry about unpleasant odours. With an easy clean chicken coop like the Eglus, getting your chickens’ home sparkly clean and fresh smelling will take you minutes!

You need a rooster to get eggs

Nope, not at all. Chickens will lay the same number of eggs whether there’s a rooster in the flock or not. However, cockerels are of course necessary if you want fertilised eggs for chicks. 

Chickens take a lot of time

Chickens, like all other animals, will take some time and commitment, but in comparison to most other pets they are incredibly self-sufficient. On a daily basis you will need to let them out of the coop, fill up their food and water and give them a quick health check. Other than that they will happily peck around in the garden by themselves. 

You will of course also have to keep their home nice and clean, but that is made quick and simple with an easy clean chicken coop, like Omlet’s Eglus. If you want to optimise chicken keeping even more, you can invest in an Automatic Chicken Coop Door that will let your flock out in the morning and tuck them up at night when they’ve returned to the coop. 

Chickens destroy your garden

This depends a bit on what chickens you have and how many, but yes, it’s true that a flock of hens cooped up on a small area might do some damage to your lawn. There are three ways to go about this. 

  • Let your hens free range as much as possible – over a larger area their pecking will barely be noticeable.  
  • Get a portable chicken coop which you can move around the garden as often as you like. If you move it a few times every week, your chickens won’t have time to ruin the grass.
  • Create a hen specific part of the garden, with a larger Walk in Chicken run or chicken fencing. That way, even if the hens do scratch up some of the grass, you can decide where they do it.

chicken pecking at omlet chicken peck toy

Chicken manure is too strong to use in the garden

Quite the opposite! Chicken manure is one of the best fertilisers there is, and having a steady stream of it coming from your coop will have a hugely positive impact on your garden.

That being said, you should always compost chicken droppings before using it on your flowers or vegetables. Because it is so strong and powerful, fresh manure might actually burn your crop.

Chickens need a lot of space

Obviously the space you need depends on the size of flock you’re planning on, but in general most chickens will be happy in the average sized garden. 

Ideally the space where you’re keeping your chickens should be fenced off, to prevent them wandering into the neighbour’s garden and laying any precious eggs there. 

Grass isn’t essential either, if you haven’t got a big lawn. A layer of wood chippings to rummage about in will provide your hens with something to scratch on, and wood chippings have the right type of surface underfoot.

Chickens are noisy

You don’t need to worry about this one. Chickens make noises, some breeds more than others, but it’s a pleasant clucking and purring even the grumpiest of neighbours won’t object to. Cockerels are a different kettle of fish, they can be pretty loud, but as you’ve already found out, you’ll be fine having only hens. 

Chickens will attract rats

Chickens themselves will not attract rodents to your garden, mice and rats are in fact often scared of chickens and their sharp beaks. The problem here is the food; chicken feed and corn left on the ground can be difficult for pests to resist. You can prevent them from getting interested in your chickens’ home by keeping feed in airtight containers and giving your flock snacks in treat holders and peck toys that are more difficult for other animals to get to. We’ve written a whole other blog about how to keep rats away from your chicken coop.

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8 Things Chicken Keepers Love About the Autodoor 

Omlet’s innovative chicken Autodoor is the must have accessory for any chicken keeper! The automatic chicken coop door has been designed to make letting chickens in and out of the coop safe and convenient for both pet and owner. Here’s 8 things chicken keepers love about the Autodoor!

The Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door on an Omlet Eglu run and on a traditional wooden coop

1. Lets chickens out and closes to secure them in

The Autodoor is battery powered, using a light sensor or timer to give chicken keepers full control over when their chickens should be in and out of the coop or run. The door offers maximum security when chickens are being kept inside, and simply lets them out as you decide. This means that there is no need to rush out of bed on early summer mornings to let the chickens out. On dark winter evenings, chicken keepers can be sure their flock is safely tucked up in the coop if they have to stay late at work. You can read more about how the Autodoor makes winter easier for you and your chickens on our previous blog!

2. Choose from three settings

Chicken keepers can use the chicken Autodoor to fit around their lifestyle with three unique settings. By choosing the light setting, your Autodoor can be automated to close at dusk and open at dawn. The feature naturally follows the seasons, so that chicken keepers needn’t worry about adjusting this setting throughout the year. The time setting allows users to choose an exact time for the door to open and close, whilst the manual setting gives chicken keepers the option to control the door however they wish. 

3. Easy to use!

Another thing that chicken keepers love about the Autodoor is how easy it is to use, regardless of how good (or bad!) your DIY skills are! The Autodoor comes with everything chicken keepers need in one place, making assembling your door as simple as can be. Who said chicken keeping had to be complicated?!

4. Built-in safety sensors 

Because of the Autodoor’s built-in safety sensors, there’s no potential risk of the door accidentally shutting in on any chickens or obstructions. Should a chicken or any other obstruction be in the way of the door as it goes to shut, then the sensors will simply open the Autodoor again, allowing your chicken to move before it tries to close again. 

The Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door control panel

5. Works in all weathers

Having been put through exhaustive testing, the Autodoor can withstand even the most extreme weather conditions from as low as -20°C! Furthermore, the Autodoor LCD control panel has been designed with triple weather-proof casing, making the Autodoor an incredibly durable product. 

6. Improves insulation

Chicken keepers know the importance of insulation when it comes to their chickens’ coop. This is why the Autodoor has been engineered to improve this. Since the automatic door can be used to upgrade virtually any chicken coop, even wooden chicken coops that are traditionally more difficult to keep well insulated over Eglu Chicken Coops, can still benefit from having the Autodoor. 

7. Closes horizontally

Traditional chicken coop door models often use a string or a pulley system that lifts vertically, giving cunning predators the opportunity to access your chickens’ coop or run using strength. Something that makes the Autodoor so different and a reason why chicken keepers love the product, is that it closes horizontally, meaning that you can be assured that your flock will remain safe and sound!

8. Battery powered or the option to be plugged in

Another one of the 8 things chicken keepers love about the Autodoor is that it can either be powered by battery or plugged into the mains using the 12V Power Adaptor for the Automatic Chicken Coop Door, giving chicken keepers flexibility to set up their Autodoor as they would like!

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Give Your Pets’ Run a Spring Clean

Eglu Go Guinea Pig Hutch with tulipsSpring has nearly sprung, which of course means new beginnings! Many of us will make a start to the annual spring clean and take advantage of the slightly longer days and warmer weather by spending some more quality time outdoors again. And just like us, our pets appreciate all that spring has to offer after a long winter! For our furry friends, this season means more time outside in their run, where there will now be a lot less mud, and plenty of luscious grass to play in and peck at. But before your pets head out again, get them involved with the spring clean and give their run a tidy up as well!

Move Runs to a Fresh Space

Before beginning a spring clean, you’ll want to take your chickens, guinea pigs, or rabbits to a temporary enclosure to keep them safe and out of the way. Once this is done, you can move their run to a fresh spot in the garden. All Omlet runs can be transported and can then simply be secured in their new position using the Omlet screw pegs.

As we’ll now (hopefully!) have a bit more sun, place your run in an area where your pets will have plenty of room to explore. When we head later into the season, it’s a good idea to purchase some weather protection for your run, which will keep your animals shaded from the sunlight. 

Change Their Bedding

Guinea pig and rabbit bedding should be changed frequently (twice a week), so be sure to include this job when you’re carrying out the spring clean. Fortunately, the Omlet rabbit hutches and guinea pig hutches can be easily navigated to change bedding with slide-out trays, which can be cleaned and refilled.

For hens, spring is the time of year where you’ll begin to notice an increase in egg laying output after a winter of minimal or reduced egg production. Make sure that your hens’ nesting boxes have soft bedding for chickens, which will provide them with a cosy place to nest, as well as reducing odours in their coop. 

Use Caddis to Improve Run Cleanliness 

To further improve cleanliness of your rabbit or guinea pig hutch, you can use Caddis as an alternative way of feeding. Not only do Caddi Treat Holders provide pets with the mental stimulation they require but they keep food off of the run floor. In doing so, you’ll also keep unwanted predators and rodents away from your pets. 

Rabbits hopping around their Omlet Caddi Treat Holder

Give Your Pets a Groom 

As well as keeping your pets in pristine condition, grooming is a great way to build a bond, and it’s not just for cats and dogs! So why not hop into the new season with your pet looking their very best, all ready to get back into their run? 

Although it might be your first instinct to run your guinea pig a bath if they’re looking in need of a clean, this can actually be harmful for them. Instead, invest in a guinea pig grooming kit and chemical-free wipes, which will help to maintain their fur cleanliness. For more information on guinea pig hygiene, have a read of a previous blog we wrote on this topic. 

The amount of grooming a rabbit needs, however, is dependent on its breed. Longer haired breeds such as the Lionhead require a thorough grooming regime, so it’s important that you upkeep this routine all year round. 

Chickens are very low maintenance animals, and will often bathe themselves in dust to keep clean. You can even offer them a helping hand and make your very own chicken dust bath by converting a bucket or old cat litter tray!

Extend Their Run

Now that your spring clean is complete, why not consider adding a few extras to their run? Your pets will be spending more time outside, so it’s the perfect excuse to get an extension for their run, and the Zippi Run Extension Kits are ideal for making your rabbit or guinea pigs’ play space bigger. For chickens, try the Chicken Walk In Run Extensions, which can be fitted to your existing chicken run to give your flock some extra freedom.

Upgrade Your Pets’ Run With New Toys and Accessories

A few more toys and accessories for your pets’ run won’t go amiss either! Omlet has a wide range for chickens, guinea pigs, and rabbits. The Zippi Shelter with a Play Tunnel is a great option to go for, giving your cavies hours of entertainment in their run, alongside providing them with plenty of exercise, essential for their wellbeing. 

Chickens will absolutely love the Omlet Chicken Peck Toy for their run, which can be filled with their favourite treats or feed, stimulating their foraging instinct.

Extending Omlet Chicken Eglu Go UP

Now you’re hopefully all ready for what spring brings you and your pet. Make a start to upgrading their run today!

 

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Give Your Eglu Chicken Coop a Spring Clean

woman cleaning eglu go up raised chicken coop
Giving your Eglu Coop a spring clean won’t take you long! It’s soon coming up to that time of year when your chicken coop is probably looking a bit worse for wear. The hens have been cooped up inside more than normal, there’s probably plenty of mud around the garden your hens have been spreading around, and you might have kept spending time in the cold to a minimum. 

Don’t put it off any longer – time for the annual chicken coop spring clean! If you have a wooden chicken coop, you might think you have to block out the whole day for this task, but if you’re lucky enough to own an Eglu Chicken Coop, you’ll be done before the family notices you have gone outside. 

Let us talk you through just how easy it is to clean an Eglu Chicken Coop!

1 – Empty the droppings tray

All Eglu Chicken Coops have a slide out dropping tray where all your chickens’ waste lands when they are roosting at night. Just take out the tray, empty it on your compost heap (it will make great fertiliser next year!) and hose or wipe down the tray to make it sparkling clean again!

2 – Take out and clean all removable parts

Once the tray is clean, leave it to one side and remove all other loose parts of your Eglu. The back panel, the roosting bars and nesting box can all be taken out for cleaning. If you have an Eglu Cube, you can also take out the partition between the egg box and the roosting space. 

Feeders, drinkers, any chicken treat toys or other accessories should also be taken off for a refreshing wash. Remove chicken perches from your run or your chicken perch tree as well. 

Give all of these a thorough clean. If you have a pressure washer you can just lay them out on the lawn or on your patio and spray them clean, but it’s just as easy with a garden hose or simply a bucket of water and a soft cloth. 

children giving chicken coop a spring clean

3 – Hose and wipe smooth surfaces

While all loose parts are out, give the inside of the coop a wash as well. Because all the surfaces of the Eglu Plastic Chicken Coops are smooth, and there are no inconvenient nooks and crannies like you would find in a wooden coop, you will be able to easily find any dirt and quickly remove it.

Thanks to the hard wearing, durable materials of the coops, you are not weakening the coop by scrubbing and cleaning it, and as nothing is absorbed by the plastic, you don’t have to use any strong chemicals to get the coop clean. In most cases warm, soapy water will be enough, but if you’ve got some tough stains you can spray on a pet-safe disinfectant.  

If you have a Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop or a Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop, all this spring cleaning can be done standing up at a convenient height. That way you have a good view of the coop without having to crawl on all fours. Perfect if your knees are not what they used to be!

4 – Move the coop to fresh grass

If you have wheels on your Eglu Coop, and it’s not attached to a larger structure, this is the perfect time to move it to a different place in the garden. Maybe you want to place it somewhere shadier to prepare for warm spring days, or just use another part of the garden to save the grass from getting too pecked?

The dropping tray and wipeable roosting bars keeps your Eglu looking fresh for longer.

eglu cube easy to clean chicken coop

5 – Leave to dry

You should always let the coop dry before you let your chickens back in again, damp environments are really bad for chickens’ respiratory systems. With wooden coops, you’re looking at at least a few hours before the coop is dry again, but with the Eglus, and maybe a bit of help from the sun, the hens can start using the coop in no time. If you want to speed up the process you can even dry all the components with a towel before you reassemble.

6 – Get everything ready

Last bit is to put some new, fresh bedding in the nest box, refill the feeder and drinker and put all accessories back. If you want to give your chickens a bit of extra protection, this is also a good time to sprinkle some mite powder around the roosting bars to prevent any pesky pests from attacking your hens at night. 

Depending on how thorough you’ve been with your weekly cleans, to give your Eglu chicken coop a spring clean should not take you longer than half an hour. Your coop will look even better in the garden, and your flock will really appreciate all your hard work! And if you haven’t got chickens already, find out why spring is the perfect time to start your chicken keeping journey in this blog.

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How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop?

Chicken keeper with the Omlet Eglu Go UP

One of the main reasons why people get chickens is, of course, for the freshly laid eggs! Waking up to find eggs in the morning is one of the biggest joys of being a chicken keeper, and you’ll rarely ever be in short supply because of how frequently hens lay! Whilst factors such as age, the time of year, and illness can affect how often your chickens produce eggs, you can generally expect a happy and healthy hen to lay an egg for you every day. If you notice that your chicken is not laying at all however, you may in fact have a cockerel! Have a read of our previous blog How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen to find out more on this topic. So, what exactly do you do after you find your hen has laid an egg, and how long can chicken eggs stay in the coop for?

So, How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop?

Ideally, a freshly laid egg should be collected from your chicken coop nesting box as soon as possible and you should not leave eggs in the coop overnight if you can help it. Whilst it’s true that eggs should not be left in the coop for a prolonged period because it makes them susceptible to becoming contaminated with salmonella bacteria, it’s not solely for this reason. In fact, eggs can actually be left in the coop for 4-5 weeks and still be fresh to eat. This is because unwashed eggs have a protective bloom, or cuticle, which naturally prevents bacteria from the outside of the egg from entering inside. When you wash eggs, this bloom is then also washed away. Therefore, you do not have to wash fresh eggs unless soiled.

Why Should Chicken Eggs Not Be Left in the Coop for Too Long?

One of the other main reasons why you should not leave eggs in the coop for too long is because of the risk of your chickens eating their own eggs. Although it might sound like peculiar behaviour, the longer you leave your chickens’ eggs in the coop, the more time they have to break them and begin feasting! You can read more about this topic in a previous blog where we spoke about why some chickens do this and what you can do to stop this behaviour. Furthermore, the smell of broken eggs attracts predators such as racoons and rats, who could also be stealing your hens’ eggs to eat.

Collecting eggs frequently will also help you to prevent your hens from going broody. A broody hen will sit on her egg all day, every day for up to 21 days, if not broken. This could prove an issue as you still need to ensure your hen is provided with adequate food and water, which of course will be difficult with a chicken that won’t move!

Fortunately, the Omlet Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop has been designed to make it simple for chicken keepers to collect eggs. The easy to clean roosting bars and nesting box, along with a large and accessible back door, make for enjoyable and effortless egg collecting. All Omlet chicken coops are also predator resistant, so you can be assured that not only will your hens remain safe, but their eggs from being stolen too!

Chicken wooden large coop free range egg nesting box

How To Tell if an Egg Has Gone Bad

It can be tricky to keep track of how fresh your eggs are if you’re unsure of how long they’ve been sitting in your hen’s nest box, or your egg basket if you have already collected them. Luckily, there are a few methods out there that can help you tell whether your eggs are still good to eat.

The Visual Test

First and foremost, you can carry out a visual inspection of your egg. Start by having a check of the shell, which should appear undamaged if your egg is still good to eat. Signs to look out for include any slime or cracks on the shell, as well as a powdery feel. Should you notice any of these, then your eggs could either be mouldy or contain bacteria and are therefore unsafe to eat. If the shell of your egg appears to be normal but you’re still dubious, crack the egg open. If any of the insides of your egg is unusually discoloured i.e. are pink or green, then your egg has gone bad and should not be consumed.

The Smell Test

Next, is the smell test. When you crack open a fresh egg, it should not smell. An egg that has gone off, however, will have a distinct, foul odour, similar to a “stink bomb”. In some circumstances where an egg has gone really bad, you may even be able to smell it before even cracking its shell open!

The Float Test

Another way you can tell how old your eggs are is by conducting the float test, which measures the air pocket of your egg. The amount of air inside an egg is an indication of its age, and the more air inside means the older it is. All you have to do for this one is to fill up a bowl or glass with water, which you should then place your suspected egg/s into. If your egg floats, then your egg has gone off, but if your egg sinks, then it’s still fresh!

To ensure optimum freshness and reduce waste, it’s a good idea to use an chicken egg marking date stamp after collecting your chickens’ eggs from their coop. Simply mark your eggs with food-grade ink with the date of lay as an easy way to keep a record of your hens’ eggs.

How Often Should You Collect Chicken Eggs?

Collecting fresh eggs from the coop should be done at least once a day, and if possible, twice. Egg-laying times can differ from hen to hen but generally speaking, most will lay by the late morning, so it’s best to do the first collection around this time. If you are doing a second collection of the day, check for any more fresh eggs later in the evening. However, there are specific circumstances that mean as a chicken keeper, you may have to occasionally collect eggs more often. 

If you’re experiencing that your chickens are eating their own eggs, for example, you should check their nesting box four times a day and collect any new or previously missed eggs. If this helps to break the habit, you’ll be able to resume your usual collecting regime after a few days. As well as this, the time of year may also impact how often you should collect eggs, as we will discuss below.

Hens nesting in Omlet Eglu Classic Chicken Coop

How Long Can Eggs Stay in the Coop in Spring and Summer?

The answer to how long you can keep fresh eggs in the coop before storing them inside is dependent on the climate of where you keep your chickens. The outside climate, in turn, affects the temperature of your coop, especially those made of wood. The warmer the temperature, the easier your eggs can spoil. If you’re experiencing a particularly hot summer, if left in the coop, your eggs will start going bad more so at 3 weeks as opposed to 4.

How Long Can Eggs Stay in the Coop in Autumn and Winter?

Late autumn and winter as a chicken keeper can bring challenges, which means making a few adjustments for you and your flock. Use these tips to keep your chickens fit and healthy this winter, but a good place to start is by providing your hens with additional chicken vitamins and minerals to help their immune systems. Regarding eggs, something to note as a chicken keeper over this period is that most breeds of chicken will either stop or reduce their egg-laying output as there is less daylight, although some owners combat this by using artificial light in the chicken coop so that they have a supply of eggs throughout the year.

If your hen is still laying this time of year, their eggs can spoil very quickly as a result of freezing. As an egg freezes, the inside of the egg expands and the shell cracks, now making it unsafe to eat. At -0.45°C, an egg white will freeze and at -0.58°C, the yolk will too, so you’ll need to be quick when it comes to collecting and storing your hens’ eggs in cold weather! Fortunately, well-insulated chicken coops, alongside using a chicken coop temperature protection jacket will prevent eggs from freezing.

Can the Type of Chicken Coop Affect How Long Eggs Can Stay in the Coop?

When it comes to keeping chickens, deciding which coop to get is one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make. Whilst your hens’ eggs hopefully won’t be in the nesting box for too long, it’s wise to consider how you can maximise keeping your eggs fresh for longer by choosing a suitable coop. Both wooden and plastic chicken coops have their advantages and disadvantages, however, in terms of practicality, plastic chicken coops definitely take the lead.

Plastic Chicken Coops

Plastic chicken coops such as the Omlet Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop and Run, Eglu Go Chicken Coop, and Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop have excellent ventilation systems, which mean your chickens (and their eggs) will remain cool in warm weather, and not freeze in cold weather. Another overarching advantage of plastic chicken coops is the potential issue with red mite, a parasitic mite that can infest your chickens’ coop and suck their blood! Whilst red mite can be treated, prevention is always better than the cure. Plastic chicken coops make it very difficult for red mites to live in, as opposed to wooden coops where mites love to get stuck in.

Concerning how this will affect your eggs, is that a red mite infestation could mean your hens will completely stop laying altogether, and if they are still producing eggs, you may notice red spots on the shell. These are squashed red mites, which now mean your eggs are inedible. 

Wooden Chicken Coops

The main advantage of wooden chicken coops is their traditional appearance. The Lenham Wooden Chicken Coop is an example of a beautiful coop, which chicken keepers can customise by choosing to finish the wood in a colour of their choice. An issue with wooden chicken coops is that wood is not a very good thermal insulator. What this means is that when the weather warms up outside, the temperature inside of your coop will quickly increase too. As we learnt earlier, this becomes an issue over the summer when of course, eggs will go bad at a quicker rate due to the high temperatures.

Blue Wooden Lenham Chicken Coop

What Can You do to Make your Chickens’ Eggs Better

Your chickens’ general health goes hand in hand with the quality and quantity of eggs they produce. Therefore, as a chicken keeper, it’s fundamental to remain responsible for their wellbeing to not only prevent illness but to also ensure they continue to lay tasty eggs! If you’re struggling to tell which of your chickens are laying, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to find out.

In our previous blog 8 Ways To Make Your Chickens Lay More Eggs, we discussed the importance of feeding your hens a good quality feed. If you’re unsure of what to look out for, a good feed should be made up of between 16-20% protein, depending on the age of your chickens. Additionally, chickens should regularly be fed plenty of calcium, often in the form of oyster shells. You can also use a natural supplement chicken eggshell improver if your hen’s eggshells feel particularly soft or weak.

Putting Eggs in the Fridge to Last Longer, Does it Work?

When we think about keeping food, particularly animal products, fresh, we all acknowledge the importance of storing these products in a fridge (or freezer).  When it comes to supermarket eggs, in the UK and the rest of Europe, eggs are typically not refrigerated, whereas, in the US, they are! So what about the freshly laid eggs from our backyard hens? Well, the answer to this question still remains largely unanswered by the chicken keeping community, with are arguments on both sides as to which way will make your eggs last the longest. You can read more about this on a previous blog we wrote on storing chicken eggs. However, the rule of thumb is that you should store eggs below 20°C (room temperature) once they have been collected. So whether this is in or out of the fridge in a basket, box, or chicken egg skelter, is your choice!

Conclusion

Although it might seem like a simple question, there’s really no simple, “one size fits all” answer to how long you can keep your hens’ eggs in the coop! In summary, you should collect eggs at least once a day, regardless of the time of year. Just be mindful of factors such as the weather that could make your eggs spoil sooner, and act accordingly by collecting more frequently. And if in doubt, go ahead and test the various methods to help you determine if your egg is good to eat!

 

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Winter Chicken Keeping FAQs

Will my chickens get too cold over winter?

Chickens acclimatise themselves very well to the cold weather and are actually able to adapt better to the cold than they are to the heat! As long as they have an insulated coop like the Eglu to keep them snug, you needn’t worry about them becoming too chilly over winter. You might notice your chickens fluffing up their feathers or huddling together to share body heat through the winter to keep warm. Like many other birds, chickens also often adopt the ‘one leg’ look, tucking one of their limbs up into the warmth of their bellies. This reduces overall heat loss and stops feet and toes from freezing on the icy ground.

A boy sat in an Eglu chicken enclosure in the snow

Eglu chicken coops offer protection from all types of weather extremes.

Can chickens get frostbite?

As it’s unlikely that your chickens will ever become too cold, frostbite and hypothermia are usually the result of excess moisture in their coop as opposed to low temperatures. Make sure to opt for a coop with draft free ventilation to help with this. Particularly breeds with large combs and wattles run the risk of frostbite on these sensitive body parts during winter, so to prevent this from happening you will need to gently rub Vaseline on their combs and wattles. 

Do I need to insulate my chicken coop?

Well-insulated chicken coops like the Eglus will keep your chickens warm in winter by capturing the heat from the chickens’ bodies while not letting any cold air travel through the walls. They are also designed to let air flow through the coop to prevent a build up of moisture, without any nasty drafts. You can increase the level of protection against the most extreme temperatures with the Omlet range of insulating chicken coop blankets and jackets. If you do not have a cosy Eglu, a wooden coop can be insulated with bubble-wrap, cardboard or old carpets or blankets.

Should I heat my chicken coop?

Did you know that heating your coop can prevent your chickens wanting to go outside? 

This is because they may struggle to adapt to the cold after staying inside their heated coop, making them less likely to get that exercise, fresh air, and entertainment that they require to stay happy and healthy! Furthermore, your chickens also run the risk of getting a shock at a sudden drop in temperature if the power was to go off for some reason, as well as heaters in the coop being a potential fire hazard.

What should I feed my chickens in winter?

Over winter, it’s a good idea to continue to feed your chickens a diet of high-quality layers pellets to keep them healthy. They usually eat more during cold weather to fuel their metabolism and stay warm, so you’ll want to add in a little extra to their usual feed. Providing your flock with additional chicken vitamins and minerals will help to keep their immune systems up to scratch over the winter. Additionally, make sure to watch your chickens’ water. Be prepared to break the ice, and have some spare water dispensers ready in case things freeze up entirely.

Will my chickens become unwell over winter?

Just like us, some chickens with a weak constitution can be more vulnerable to illness in winter time. Look out for coughs, sneezes, lethargy, or other signs of illness in your chickens. For a bit more advice, you can read the Omlet guide on how to look after your chickens’ general health.

Hens on their Omlet perch protected from the elements in their Omlet run

The Omlet Chicken Perch fits any Eglu Chicken Coop, Walk in Run or a DIY coop!

Do chickens roost for longer in winter?

Chickens love to roost, and during winter, they’ll be doing a lot more of it. You’ll find that they huddle together into one feathery ball, which is what helps them to keep each other warm, especially at night. The perches need to be wide enough so that they can cover their toes with their feathers. To prevent their feet from getting too cold, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run. 

How can I keep my chickens entertained during winter?

Winter is the time of year when backyard chickens might need a little bit more entertaining. Fortunately, you keep your chickens happy with a few boredom busters such as chicken peck toys, chicken perches, chicken swings, and the Omlet Chicken Pole Tree. Alternatively, a pile of leaves will provide your chickens with hours of fun and keep them out of mischief over winter when there’s fewer bugs to feast on and no grass or weeds to munch on.

Will my hens still lay eggs in winter?

The time of year can actually have an impact on how many eggs your chickens are producing! This is due to a hen’s hormonal response to how much light they are exposed to. They’ll typically need between 12-14 hours of daylight each day to produce eggs, and 16 hours for optimum production. Therefore, for most breeds, hens tend to either stop, or drastically reduce their egg laying output in the colder months when there is less daylight.

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Keep Your Chickens Fit and Healthy This Winter

healthy hens in winter pecking outside an eglu cube

For any animal living outdoors, winter is likely to be the most challenging time of year, and chickens are no exception. The days are short, there aren’t as many bugs and plants to peck at, and the humans they like following around the garden tend to spend less time outside. The days can get a bit repetitive, and even more so in years with avian flu outbreaks, when hens are not allowed to roam free in the garden. 

Chickens will do their best to find ways to entertain themselves, but there is only so much excitement they can invent before they turn to pecking their friends or eating feathers and eggs. That’s why it’s important for you as an owner to step in and make sure your flock has enough stimulation and entertainment in their run to make it through to warmer weather and longer days. For more information on how the winter weather can have an effect on your hens’ eggs, take a read of our How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop? blog.

Here are some suggestions on how you can keep your chickens fit, healthy and entertained this winter:

Perches

One of the best things you can do to enrich your hens environment is to invest in a range of perches. Perching is an extremely relaxing and stimulating activity for chickens, and having perches at different heights in the run will make their day much more exciting.

Omlet’s PoleTree Chicken Perch is perfect for this. The strong vertical poles fasten to the roof of most chicken runs, and you can then accessorise with as many perches as you see fit, at any height and orientation.

Make sure there is enough space for the whole flock to perch, and customise the position of the perches to make sure they fit the age and ability of your pets. You can even create a spiral staircase for them to climb up to the top of the run when they get confident enough! 

Bigger run

Having more space to move around on will, unsurprisingly, encourage chickens to exercise and explore. As you might not be able to let your flock free range at the moment, providing them with a bigger run is a good solution. The Omlet Walk In Run can be customised to fit the space you’ve got and will hinder all types of predators from getting to your hens. You can also accessorise it with covers to stop rain, and visits from wild birds.

If you already have a Walk In Chicken Run, remember that you can extend it at any time with easy to add panels. Use the handy extension configurator on our website to see what opportunities you have to make your run bigger!

chickens perching to stay happy in winter

Straw or hay bales

You might have seen your hens absolutely demolish a pile of leaves as you were raking the lawn this autumn. They hate piles and mounds, and will do their very best to level anything they can to the ground, while also looking for yummy bugs and seeds. 

Place an appropriately sized bale in the run, and your chickens will immediately jump on top and peck away! 

(Please note that to limit the spread of avian flu, it’s important that you get your bales from a place where they have not been in contact with wild birds or other poultry.)

Toys

Like with dogs and small children, the right toys will keep your hens occupied for hours! Chicken Peck Toys, like Omlet’s Poppy or Pendant, are slow release treat toys that randomly scatter treats, corn or grit as the chickens peck them. The Poppy is pressed into the ground and sways as it’s pecked, whereas Pendant is hung from the run or any other structure. 

Give your flock a couple of peck toys to play with to minimise the risk of the dominant members of the flock having all the fun!

Extra treats

Of course you don’t want your chickens to overeat at a time when they are not as active as they might be during the warmer months, and providing hens with a balanced diet is the best thing you can do to keep them fit and healthy. With that being said, occasionally giving them high quality goodies can help them stay warm, while also activating their mind and bodies. 

The Feldy Pecker balls fit perfectly into the Caddi Chicken Treat Holders, which can be hung from the roof of your run, or a high perch. As the chickens peck the tasty balls, the Caddi will swing and create a rewarding challenge for your flock – it will keep them going for hours!

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What to Do With Your Chickens When You Go on Holiday

man looking at chickens in eglu coop with bunting

It’s a dilemma that all chicken owners will face at some point. You want to go away on holiday but who will look after your beloved chickens? There are many different options that are available to you, but the welfare of your chickens will obviously be your top priority.  

Leaving them on their own 

If you are out for the day, don’t worry. Chickens are not like other pets, dogs for example, that need company. They are happy in their flock, so you are fine to go out for the day. Ideally you would be there to close the coop door when they put themselves to roost at nightfall. This will protect them from nocturnal predators. 

If you have an Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door then you don’t have to worry, but just check they’re all in when you get home. If you frequently rely on an Autodoor and leave your chickens unsupervised, then you would be wise to make sure your run is predator proof, in case any stragglers get left outside. Either dig your fencing at least a foot into the ground or make sure it comes out in a “skirt” along the ground to dissuade burrowing predators. Personally, I love the skirts on the Eglu chicken runs

If you plan on being away for one night or more, we recommend that you find some care for your beloved chooks. Perhaps your flock has a few divas, or maybe there are some predators in the area? Either way, we feel that human oversight is incredibly important.  

But what could go wrong? 

Some people think that they can just rely on leaving a large amount of feed and water to sustain their chooks while they’re away. However, there are many things that can go wrong with this scenario. Here are some possible risks:

  • The water could freeze overnight, leaving your chooks high and dry
  • The chickens could knock over their water or it could get blocked
  • Chickens often have problems, maybe one landed badly and hurt a leg or broke a wing, or has there been feather pecking etc 
  • They may have run out of food… 
  • Or, if you left lots of food lying around it could have attracted rats or other vermin who might venture back after dark! 
  • The weather could suddenly turn hot, wet or cold. Do your chickens have places they can shelter? What if they run out of water? 

eglu run with bunting and a wooden sign

Asking a friend or neighbour 

Friends and neighbours are great if you’re going away for a short time and they can even get paid in eggs! (An egg-cellent deal if you ask me.) If you are away for longer than a few days then this becomes a less appropriate option, unless you have chicken expert neighbours. 

For trips of a week or more you will be asking your chicken foster parents to come to visit twice a day, collect eggs, poop pick and clean waterers, feeders etc. It’s a lot to ask, especially in the colder, darker, wetter months. Not only that, but if they are not experienced in chicken care then they might miss some unusual behaviours which indicate ailments such as mite infestation, damaged limbs, worms, sour crop or being egg bound.  

Using a chicken hotel 

Dogs and cats have had a long history of dedicated accommodation for their holiday boarding needs. Now is the time of the chicken! With chicken ownership at over 1.5 million and growing at a faster rate than any other pet, is it any wonder that new enterprising individuals are starting to offer holiday boarding for chickens? Many of these businesses can be found by word of mouth, or an internet search of: ‘Chicken Boarding near me’. You can also find individuals on a dedicated chicken boarding platform called Betsy, which is a bit like Airbnb for Chickens!

How do you choose a chicken hotel? 

This is something that you need to think carefully about. First of all is to check out their website and look through their photos and what they are offering in terms of their service. If it seems to suit your needs you might like to take a visit to their premises to check that reality matches up to their persuasive photos. Listings on Betsy are all verified and pre-checked and often come with reviews from past customers. This can speed up your search and save you time. 

Some of the things you need to look out for include:

  • Dedicated coop and run for your chickens
  • Plenty of space so that they feel comfortable
  • Thorough cleaning between guests
  • The run is moved often to provide fresh grass
  • Chickens are woken up and put to bed
  • Chickens and are fed and watered daily
  • The environment is well protected from pest and threats
  • The host knows how to spot common ailments, such as red mite and scaly foot

Using a professional pet sitter  

If you have a large flock, or you want your chickens to stay in their own coop, then there are alternatives to Chicken Hotels. A visiting chicken sitter can be the answer you are looking for. They might be someone that will come and housesit while you are away, also looking after your other animals. Alternatively they might be someone who specifically comes to visit your chickens each day.

The perfect sitter will have specific experience with chickens and will be willing to come twice a day, in the morning and the evening around the times that you would normally tend to the coop. They need to agree to collect eggs (or you might develop an egg-eating problem within your flock), check on the condition of the birds, ensure clean water and fresh food is available. You will probably want to talk to the person first to confirm the service they intend to offer and to check that you are happy for them to care for your flock. You can find many pet sitting websites on the internet. Betsy has a dedicated section for visiting chicken sitters with pre-vetted hosts and customer reviews. 

This article was written for Omlet by David, the CEO and founder of Betsy, the UK’s local network of Chicken Hotels for all your Chicken boarding needs.

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Chicken Perches – The Ultimate Guide

Like the absolute majority of birds, chickens love to perch. It’s one of the strongest natural instincts they have, and something that makes them feel safe, while also providing comfort and stimulation. But while wild birds will have to do with branches, telephone wires and garden chairs, you should make sure your flock have perches that are made especially for chicken feet, to make sure they stay happy and healthy both day and night. Read on to get all your perching questions answered!

chicken perching on omlet poletree

Why do chickens need perches?

Perching is one of the strong instincts that domesticated chickens still very much have, and you will find chickens, just like all other birds, seeking out places off the ground to sit and relax.

Having a perch means hens feel safe while sleeping next to their friends, and it’s important to provide them with this sense of security both inside and outside of their coop. In fact, perching is a recognised welfare need of all birds, and European law insists on perches, even for caged birds. 

What shape should a chicken perch have?

This depends slightly on how long the chickens are spending sitting on the perch or roosting bar. Unlike most other birds, chickens sleep with their feet resting flat, and a handy locking mechanism curls only the toes around the perch so they don’t fall off when drifting off to sleep. 

When chickens settle in for the night they rest their keel bones (the bone on the breast) on the perch as well as their feet, which spreads the pressure from the birds’ weight. If the perch is sharp or very bumpy, this can put the pressure balance off which can lead to sores on the feet, and rubbing the keel bone against an uneven, rough surface can irritate the skin. That’s why it’s best to have a flat, smooth perch for roosting. 

Perches put on the chicken run or elsewhere in the garden that are not specifically used for sleeping, but rather as somewhere the bird can sit for a quick nap or to see what is going on around them, can be rounder and rougher. This is simply because the chickens won’t spend as long on them in one sitting. You can put up some branches for your flock to rest on, but if you want something custom made the Omlet Chicken Perch can be attached at any height, to any surface, and is the perfect size for the absolute majority of hens. 

How much perch space should each chicken have?

You should calculate 20-25cm perch space per bird, but large birds might require a bit more, and bantams less, so it depends a bit on the flock. At night, especially in winter, you will find that the chickens huddle together into one feathery ball to help each other stay warm, but to prevent aggressive behaviour, and to keep your flock cool in warmer weather, it’s important to give each bird enough perching space. 

How thick should a chicken perch be? 

The ideal perch size varies slightly depending on what breed of chicken you have, but somewhere between 2cm and 5cm suits most hens. For roosting bars, don’t go wider than around 8cm, as the birds will then struggle to grip the perch with their back toes, and can find it hard to keep their balance while sleeping. 

eglu roosting bars chicken perch

What material should a chicken perch be made of?

The important thing here is to assure that the perch will be safe to touch in all temperatures, and that the perch is smooth but still has grip. For example, chickens’ feet can literally freeze to a metal perch in the depths of winter, and some plastic materials run the risk of cracking in the cold and melting in the heat. 

Strong, untreated wood is the most common material for chicken roosting bars, such as eucalyptus, the material used for the perches of Omlet’s Chicken PoleTree. A good quality plastic that isn’t too slippery has the added benefit of being very easy to wipe clean. The roosting bars in the Eglu Chicken Coops have a structured pattern on top of the flat bar with rounded edges, which provides grip and stability.

How high should roosting bars be placed? 

You often hear that wild chickens perch high up in trees, and it’s natural to think that would be the dream scenario for your flock as well. But domesticated backyard chickens of today are far from the wild jungle fowl they descend from, and although they like perching off the ground, most don’t need to be particularly high, especially not while sleeping.

In fact, keeping perches too far off the ground can increase the risk of injuries when the hens jump down from the bars, especially risky for elderly or recently rescued hens. So as long as they have something to grip, and aren’t sitting on the unsanitary floor of the coop, most birds will be happy. 

Should chicks have perches?

Yes. Chicks start exploring their surroundings and jumping onto higher surfaces from the age of three days, so even though they most likely won’t roost on the perches, it’s a good idea to provide them with something to perch on early on to get them used to it. It’s also good for their bones, and teaches them how to safely hold onto a perch.

With this being said, don’t provide your chicks with high perches, as you don’t want them to jump before their bones have properly formed. Start with something on the floor, and raise gradually as the chicks grow.

 

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How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen

Claudia Audley Chicken Keeping Expert BannerA cockerel and hen with a Caddi Treat Holder and Peck Toy
Are you considering incubating some of your chicken’s eggs? Or maybe you’ve even already welcomed in some newly-hatched chicks and have been left wondering how exactly you can tell a cockerel from a hen?!

Whilst both are chickens, a cockerel, also known as a rooster depending on where you’re from, is a male, and a hen is a female. When it comes to chicks, you may be familiar with the term ‘pullet’, which is the name given to a hen who is from the current year’s breeding. You may find it useful to take a look at the Omlet Chicken Glossary and our blog on how to tell the age of your chickens to find out some further information on this subject.

So, now we have established what both are, we can look into what the physical and behavioural differences are between them. It’s worth noting that most of these differences won’t be immediately identifiable upon hatching, and may slightly vary from breed to breed. However, later in this blog we’ll look more at the weekly development of chicks, and at which stage you will be able to tell the differences between the sexes. 

5 Easy Ways to Tell Physical Difference Between a Cockerel and a Hen

Hackle Feathers

When we look at determining the sex of a chicken, this is called sexing. One way to do this is by looking at their feathers, their hackle feathers in particular. Hackle feathers are the type of feathers that you’ll find around a chicken’s neck, with the appearance differing between males and females. Something you’ll notice is that male chickens have long, pointy, and thin hackles, which stand up. This is so that they can make themselves appear bigger when they are facing an opponent. Female hackles, on the other hand, are smaller, rounder, and softer.

Do They Have a Cockerel Tail?

Looking at the tail feathers of your birds is another way to distinguish between a male and female chicken.

Saddle feathers are a type of tail feather, which extend on from a chicken’s back and actually sit in front of the tail. Whilst both hens and cockerels have saddle feathers, with female chickens, these are rounder than the saddle feathers of male chickens, which are not only longer, but also more pointed.

Next we have sickle feathers, which hens do not have. These are the long, arched feathers which you find sticking out from a rooster’s tail.

Feet and Legs

Roosters tend to have sturdier, thicker legs, which are actually to serve the purpose of fighting when they need to defend their flock. We’ll look at behavioural differences more later on in the blog.

Spur growth, a part of the leg bone which resembles a horn, could also be another indication of whether you have a rooster or a hen. These are found on the back of chickens’ feet, and whilst not exclusively being a physical attribute of male chickens, these are a lot more common to find on roosters as opposed to hens. The spurs on a male chicken can be inches long and are sharper than those you’d see on a female, should she have any growth at all.

Combs and Wattles

Hens and roosters both have combs and wattles, with the comb being located at the top of a chicken’s head, and the wattles hanging below their chin. The appearance of a chicken’s comb and wattle will differ between breeds, however generally speaking, you can sex a chick by looking at their comb. This is because whilst hens and roosters have red combs, a hen’s comb is not as bright or large as a rooster’s, which is vibrant and will feel waxy to touch.

When it comes to wattles, hens’ are smaller in size than the wattle you’ll see on a rooster. Just as the comb, a rooster’s wattle will also be brighter in colour than a hen’s. 

Are They Laying Eggs?

Egg laying is one sure way to know whether you have a male or female chicken! If you notice that your chicken is laying eggs, regardless of whether their other physical or behavioural traits have said otherwise, then your chicken is most definitely a hen!

Three hens nesting in the Eglu Go UP chicken coop

What are the Behavioural Differences Between a Hen and a Cockerel?

Cockerel vs. Hen Behaviour

We’ve looked at the physical difference between hens and cockerels, but what are the different behavioural traits that will help you to sex your chickens?

One big difference when looking at how to tell a cockerel from a hen is with vocalisations, or how your chickens communicate via the sounds they make. Cockerels are notorious for their usually very noisy cock-a-doodle-doo crow! They begin to crow at around five months old, or when they have matured, and do so for a number of reasons. This can be to announce their dominant presence, to mark their territory, or even as a mating ritual.

Whilst it’s definitely not impossible for a hen to crow, it’s a lot less common, and should they do so, it’s often a lot quieter as well. If a female chicken does begin to crow, this is usually because they are at top of the pecking order or will occur in the absence of a rooster in the flock when you previously had one.

You may also notice differences in the levels of aggression between cockerels and hens. Unfortunately, bullying amongst chickens is not that uncommon and can happen for a multitude of reasons. Whilst this behaviour is not exclusive to male chickens, roosters are said to always have an eye out for danger, ready to fight to protect their flock. Usually being top of the pecking order, roosters like to assert their dominance by fighting with other roosters to try and show who’s boss! You can read more about aggressive behaviour with cockerels in our previous post. As with the other physical differences pointed out, how aggressive your chickens are can also depend on their breed. Certain breeds such as the Asil, Modern Game, and Old English Game for example, all rank top of the list of some of the least friendly chicken breeds!

From What Age Can You Tell The Difference Between a Hen and a Cockerel?

A mother hen looking after her chicks

We have now established what the main physical and behavioural differences are between the two, but at which age can we start to tell a cockerel from a hen?

Week 1

For the vast majority of chicken breeds, you will not able to tell their sex from when they have been hatched or even during the first week. The exception to this rule is with auto-sex breeds, who can be sexed just by looking at their colouring within their very first few days. An example of this is the Purebred Cuckoo Maran breed, whereby male chicks usually are an overall lighter colour than females and have a larger and paler spot on their heads than females do.

Similarly, sex links are also an exception. Sex links however, are crossbred chickens as opposed to pure bred auto-sex breeds. In this circumstance, a breeder will mix one specific chicken breed with another to create chicks that will hatch as different colours, based on their sex. This again, will mean that it is possible to be able to tell a rooster from a hen at a very early point i.e. from when they hatch.  An example of this is the Red Sex Link, a cross between the Rhode Island Red male with either a White Plymouth Rock, Delaware, Rhode Island White, or Silver Laced Wyandotte female, which produce red hens and white roosters.

Weeks 5-9

Between weeks 5 and 8 in particular, is when chicks start to develop features that will make it easier for you to determine their sex. At this point you’ll notice changes in their physical appearance, such as with their combs. As we mentioned, male chickens generally have a redder comb, and it is at this stage where this will begin to show. This being said, at this stage this is not always an entirely accurate method of sexing.

Another physical difference when it comes to how to tell the difference between a cockerel and a hen during these weeks is the legs of male chicks will likely start looking chunkier than females’.

When looking at rooster vs hen behaviour between these weeks, you may also notice that male chicks will begin ‘strutting’ i.e. standing up straight, walking in an exaggerated manner, and sticking their chest out.

Weeks 10-15

At this point, your chicks will be well into their ‘teenage’ stage, where they’ll be going through some big developmental changes. If your chicks have now reached 12 weeks, they’ll also be ready to move into their Eglu Go Chicken Coop. It will be helpful to go over theOmlet guide on common mistakes that are often made when it comes to raising chicks of this age as well as taking a read of our blog How Long Can Chicken Eggs Stay in the Coop?

In regard to the differences between male and female chicks during these pivotal weeks, it is around week 12 when the pointy hackle feathers (adult neck feathers) will really begin to stand out on roosters. The same goes for the growth of sickle feathers for male chicks, which even at full maturity, hens do not have.

Whilst crowing can begin at a slightly earlier stage, it is usually around the 12 week mark as well when a chicken first does so. Crowing is a behaviour that is generally more associated with male chickens, however as pointed out, this can occasionally happen for hens too.

Additionally, you may notice your female chick beginning to squat. Although most hens will not begin laying until the next coming weeks, this behaviour indicates that she could be getting ready to lay soon, but not just yet!

Weeks 16-20

Now that we’re at weeks 16 to 20 your chickens will be maturing into adulthood! If you have struggled to establish the sex of your chicken by this point, you’ll definitely know, should your chicken start laying eggs between these weeks. This is the most failproof way of determining the sex of your chicken!

Can Hens Turn Into Cockerels?

Claudia Audley Chicken Keeping Expert BannerAs bizarre as this question may sound, there have been a number of documented cases of chicken keepers claiming that their chickens have changed sex! From the offset, the answer to this question is no – hens most definitely cannot genetically turn into cockerels, nor can cockerels turn into hens.

However, what can occur in very rare circumstances, is when a hen takes on the characteristics of a cockerel as a result of complications with her ovaries. Hens are born with two ovaries – the left organ is responsible for producing eggs and estrogen, whilst the right, on the other hand, becomes dormant when a chick is hatched. Should the female chicken encounter a medical issue such as an ovarian cyst, testosterone levels will begin to rise, and the left ovary can shrink, which causes the development of an avo-testis. At this point, your hen will stop laying eggs and can even take on the appearance of a male chicken such as a more established comb and wattle!


So, now you know all about the differences between a cockerel and a hen! If you’re new to chicken keeping altogether, or you’re considering incubating some of your chicken’s eggs take a look at the Omlet range of Incubation and rearing equipment.

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