Limited availability due to high demand. Please see our Stock Availability page for more information.

The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Chickens

Free Delivery on Selected Eglus – Don’t Miss Out!

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to get free delivery on selected Eglu Chicken Coops!

Terms and conditions
This promotion of free delivery on selected Eglus is available while stocks last. No promo code needed, delivery costs have already been deducted at checkout. Promotion includes Eglu Cube in green and Eglu Go Chicken Coop in green and purple. Excludes Eglu Cube in purple, Eglu Go UP and Eglu Go Hutch, Eglu Go run handles, wheel set and run extensions. Subject to availability. Free delivery only applies to the included products, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, IE, FR, DE, NL, BE, SE, IT, DK, NO, ES and PL and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Summer Savings – Free Delivery on Chicken Feed and Corn

Treat your chickens this summer with some fresh Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn. Until midnight on Sunday the 25th you get FREE delivery on two bags when you enter the code FEEDSM at checkout!

Terms and conditions:
This promotion of free delivery on Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn is only valid from 21/07/21 – midnight on 25/07/21. Use promo code FEEDSM at checkout to get free delivery on Omlet Chicken Feed and Corn. This offer is available on twin packs. Offer is limited to 2 bags per customer. While stocks last. Subject to availability. Free delivery only applies to the included products, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Amazing Facts About Chickens’ Eyes

Chickens are fascinating creatures, and their eyes, even more so. Here are some amazing facts about chickens’ eyes that you may not have heard before!

Chickens Can See More Colours Than Us

Chickens are tetrachromatic. They can see the colours we see in (red, yellow and blue), but whilst we have three types of cones in our retinas, chickens have four, which allows them to see in ultraviolet light. This gives chickens access to a much wider range of colours and shades than humans.

Chickens Have a Third Eyelid!

Believe it or not, chickens actually have a third eyelid, on each eye! The third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, horizontally draws across the eye which helps clean, moisten, and further protect the eyes from dirt. The nictitating membrane is transparent in appearance which means that chickens still have the ability to see, even when the third eyelid is closed.

They Can Use Each Eye Independently

Chickens are able to use each of their eyes independently, with a 300 degree field of vision (humans only have 180!), meaning that both of their eyes can focus on different tasks at the same time. This is also known as monocular vision, which amazingly already begins even before a chick’s arrival. When the chick is still in its shell, it turns towards the right to absorb any light and the left side of the shell is covered by their body. When the chick then hatches, nearsightedness develops in their right eye, which will allow the chick to search for food, as the left simultaneously develops farsightedness. This is to help the chick look out for any potential predators. You will probably notice this from when chickens tilt their heads when a hawk flies over.

Chickens Have Terrible Vision in The Dark

Night vision definitely isn’t their strong point! Having descended from dinosaurs all them millions of years ago, as opposed to being preyed on by them like other species, chickens had no need to learn how to run and hide in the dark. For this reason however, chickens today require protection at night because just like humans, they’re awake during the day and sleep during the night, and are highly susceptible to predators.

Chicks Have Amazing Eyesight From Birth

When chicks first hatch, they surprisingly have remarkable eyesight, in fact a lot better than humans. From the minute they hatch, chicks are able to detect small items such as grains of food and even have spatial awareness. A human baby however, lacks this ability and does not develop such skills until a few months down the line.

Chickens Rarely Move Their Eyeballs

Chicken eyes have a very limited range of motion and lack the ability to remain focused on an object whilst the rest of their body is moving. This is why you’ll often see chickens walking around, bobbing their heads, whilst facing onwards. It is not so much a case of chickens not being able to actually move their eyes at all, but rather their eyes cannot move quickly enough to process the image in front of them. Instead, chickens will tend to turn their heads when they want to gain better eyesight of something.

Their Eyes Have a Double Cone Structure

The retina of the eye is composed of rods and cones, the rods being to detect light-sensitive motion, and cones to see colour. As we found out earlier, chickens have more types of cones than us, hence why they are able to enter a fourth dimension of colour, which us humans can’t. A double cone retina structure means that a chicken’s eyes are more sensitive to movement. This is advantageous to chickens as it gives them a greater ability to detect motion, which is helpful when it comes to spotting a perceived threat.

Chicken Eyes Make Up 10% of Their Head Mass

That’s quite a lot, considering our eyes only make up for approximately 1% of our head mass! Although it may look humorous, there’s actually a good reason behind it. Having such large eyes helps chickens to see larger and clearer images as they are produced.

Chickens Can Sense Light Through Their Pineal Gland

Light reaches chickens through either their eyes, skulls, or skin, which activates the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal gland, also sometimes referred to as ‘the third eye’, is something else that makes chicken vision oh so interesting. A pineal gland helps chickens to sense daylight, or the lack of, even if they are unable to see with their eyes. This means that even a blind chicken is able to detect lighting or seasonal change!

They Have the Ability to Recognise up to One Hundred Different Faces

They say that elephants never forget but apparently chickens don’t either! Chickens are able to recognize up to one hundred faces, be it other chickens, humans or any other species. They can also amazingly decipher between their positive and negative encounters.

After a few interesting facts, we’re sure that you’ll now know a whole lot more about the amazing subject of chickens’ eyes, that’ll be bound to get you wondering just what’s really going on through the eyes of your chickens!

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


How to Help Your Chickens Through a Moult

During their moult, chickens shed their old feathers and grow new ones. They usually stop laying eggs at this time, or reduce their laying rate, and this gives them time to rest and prepare themselves for the next laying season.

Moulting occurs every year, sometimes twice, and it can kick in at any time; although in the UK, most hens moult in late summer. Occasionally, an early moult can be brought on by stress. The process varies in length, but is usually complete after four weeks. In some cases, it can be three months or more before the new coat of feathers is complete.

When Do Chickens Moult?

Young chickens frequently moult as they shed their baby feathers and grow adult ones. The first moult occurs before they are six weeks old, and there is a second moult before nine weeks and a third at 12–13 weeks. The last of these ‘chick moults’ occurs between 20 and 22 weeks, at which point the bird is an adult and is laying eggs. She will moult once or twice every year.

How Do You Know if Your Chicken is Moulting?

Chickens will lose occasional feathers at any time of year, and that’s nothing to worry about. These are the obvious signs of moulting:

  • A messy appearance, with bald spots
  • A dull-looking comb and wattles
  • Irritability 
  • A sudden stop to egg production, or a reduction in the usual number of eggs
  • An increased appetite, with a hunger for protein (the hen may fight other birds away from food or scratch frantically for bugs and worms)

The moult usually starts at the chicken’s head, and travels via the breast and legs to the tail. By the time the tail is bare, the head feathers have started to regrow.

If a hen is losing feathers and doesn’t grow new ones, there may be a problem with feather mites or some other illness. Watch out for any unusual behaviour in your hens – listlessness or a hunched posture, for example, are signs of an underlying problem. If you are in any doubt about your chickens’ health, speak to your vet.

Similarly, if the laying cycle is severely interrupted and the hen is not laying several days after the end of the moult, contact your vet.  

What to give chickens to help with moulting

Moulting is not an illness, so there is no treatment required as such. However, changes to the birds’ usual diet help them through the moult. Their taste for protein will increase during this time, as new feathers need lots of it. Indeed, feather growth will eat up all the usual protein you give your hens.

To add extra protein to the chickens’ diets, give them a feed that is at least 18% protein. Give them more protein rich treats, and if your hens have access to bugs and worms, all the better. Giving your chickens some extra treats during the moult can be helpful, but make sure the treats you choose are high in protein and low in fat.

To ensure general health and a robust immune system, add some apple cider vinegar to the hens’ water to boost their digestion too. Otherwise, simply continue with the healthy feeding regime, and make sure their diet has plenty of vitamins and minerals.

What to do when your chickens are moulting?

Do not handle your chickens during the moult, and resist the temptation to cover their balding bodies with chicken pullovers or jackets! The hens’ skins are tender and itchy during the moult, as hundreds of pin-feathers are pushing through. Handling them or dressing them up will only add to their irritability!

To ease the hens through their annual feather makeover, make sure they are in a stress-free environment. New birds should not be introduced during the moult, and coop renovations or changes to your henhouse setup should be put on hold until the new feathers are all in place.

Wild chickens were happily moulting for millions of years before we first domesticated them, so this is one of those cases where it is best to let nature take its course. With a little dietary help from their human friends!

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Record Breaking Chickens and Eggs

World’s Heaviest Chicken

The heaviest chicken breed, White Sully, was developed on a farm in California. It’s a hybrid breed of large Rhode Island Reds and other heavy breeds. The largest chicken ever recorded was a rooster called Weirdo, and he weighed just over 10kg (22 lb). It is said that he was so aggressive that he killed two cats during his lifetime and seriously hurt a dog that came too close to his territory. 

World’s Oldest Chicken

The current world record holder is Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game hen, who died at the age of 22 in Maryland, USA. One of the more famous old chickens was a Red Pyle chicken called Matilda from Alabama, USA. She was the first hen to receive the title of World’s Oldest Living Chicken from Guinness World Records, and lived for 16 years. Veterinarians said it was likely she lived for so long because she was kept in her owners’ house as a pet, and never laid an egg in her life. 

World’s Heaviest Egg

The heaviest egg ever recorded was laid by a White Leghorn chicken in New Jersey, USA in 1956. It weighed 454g (16 oz), and had both a double yolk and a double shell. 

World’s Biggest Egg

The heaviest egg was however not the biggest egg ever found. Tony Barbouti in Eastwood, Sussex, once found an egg in his coop measuring 23cm (9.1 in) in diameter. It only weighed just over 161g, but certainly gave Barbouti a shock! He later said that the hen was noticeably shocked after having produced the egg, and she walked a bit funny for a few days, but recovered completely. 

World’s Longest Flight

Chickens are not known for their ability to fly. In fact many mean that they can’t technically fly, but only jump high and flap their wings to stay in the air. The longest flight of a chicken that has been recorded is 13 seconds. A different record for the longest distance flown is just under 92m (301 ft). Pretty impressive for a supposedly flightless bird!

World’s Most Prolific Layer

A Prof. Harold V. Bieller conducted experiments with chickens in the late 1970s at the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri. The highest rate of egg-laying he found was by a White Leghorn in 1979. She laid a whopping 371 eggs in 364 days!

World’s Most Prolific Mother Hen

Northern Irish farmer John Dolan has got two hens that have made it into the Guinness Book of Records. His hen Sally entered by having two sets of chicks in just 55 days, the latest of which produced 11 live chicks from 12 eggs. Chickens normally stay with their young for at least three months, but Sally started laying again after only 21 days. John’s other record breaking chicken Marmalade made it into the Book of Records by hatching a remarkable 107 chicks in two years! 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Free Delivery on Easichick Bedding – For a Limited Time Only!

Easichick is a wood-based bedding specially formulated for chickens. Absorbent, dust and bacteria free and full biodegradable, it is the perfect bedding solution for your coop. And for a limited time only, using promo code EASICHICKSM at checkout, you can now get free delivery on two 10kg bags!

 

 

Terms and conditions
This promotion is valid while stocks last, until midnight 02/07/21. The offer of free delivery is available on Easichick Bedding only. Offer excludes any other type of bedding. Offer is limited to 2 bags of Easichick per household. Free delivery only applies to the included products, delivery charges will be added for other items added to the order. Free delivery offer is not redeemable on pallet deliveries. Omlet cannot take responsibility for third party supplier delays such as courier service. Free delivery is only valid for orders sent to mainland UK, and only applies to Standard Delivery Service. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Why Do New Hens Need to Be Quarantined?

Before introducing new birds to an established flock, they should be quarantined. You will also have to quarantine chickens that have fallen ill or shows signs of illness.

The reason for separating new birds from the established flock is eight parts sensible to two parts paranoia. If you source the new chickens from a reputable supplier or have hatched the birds yourself, there is little chance of the birds harbouring illnesses. However, the potential problems you are guarding against are not easy to spot. Chickens may have internal or external parasites, or the bacteria and viruses that cause disease may be lurking out of sight.

Quarantine significantly lowers the risk of the new chickens spreading parasites or infection in your established flock. In the age of Covid-19, the idea of quarantining has negative associations with isolation and inconvenience. With new chickens, all you’re doing is giving them some space away from the main flock. Other than that, it’s chicken business as usual!

What is quarantine, and when should I quarantine my flock?

Quarantine simply means separating one or more chickens from the rest of the flock. The aim is to minimise the danger of illness spreading between ill and/or new chickens and the existing flock.

All new birds should be put into quarantine. Chickens bought at a show or fair will have been in close proximity with lots of other birds. Chickens from reputable suppliers are not immune to disease either, and even a new-hatched chick may harbour illness, as certain bacteria can penetrate eggshells and infect unhatched birds.

Why do chickens need quarantining?

Bird diseases and parasites spread quickly, and by the time you spot the symptoms, it’s often too late to prevent the other chickens from falling ill. Stressed birds are particularly prone to illness, and a new hen will always be a stressed hen. There’s nothing you can do about this, as it’s a symptom of moving from the world she knew previously to the world of your backyard chickens. 

A bird that falls ill needs isolating from the rest of the flock to minimise the risk of the illness spreading. If the issue is parasites – lice, fleas or worms – by the time you spot the problem it will probably be present in every bird, so in these cases, you need to buy the appropriate parasite treatment rather than quarantining single birds.

How long do new chickens need to be quarantined?

New birds should be quarantined for at least four weeks. If there are any illnesses, they will show in the first week, following the stress associated with the move. Give the new birds a thorough health check every few days.

In the final week of quarantine, keepers with a larger existing flock often introduce an older bird – perhaps one that has stopped laying – into the quarantine shed. If at the end of this week the introduced hen is healthy, all is well. If there is any disease lurking unseen, the older bird will begin to look unwell. This is the so-called ‘Canary in the mine’ method, and not everyone will be happy putting an older bird at risk. However, the main point is that you are 90% sure that there is no problem in the quarantined flock by this stage.

Note: bird flu, or avian influenza, has an incubation period of around 21 days, so a hen that was infected on the day you brought her home will not show symptoms for three weeks. This is one of the reasons why the quarantine period is so long.

Setting up a quarantine area for new chickens

There is a simple checklist that gives the quarantine the best chance of being successful:

1. Give the new birds a physical check, looking for signs of lice or fleas. Check the consistency of their droppings and their general posture, referring to our guide to healthy chickens for reference.

2. Make sure the enclosure and coop have everything the new birds need, including a roosting perch, an egg-laying box, fresh food and water, and shelter from the elements.

3. Ensure that no feathers, sawdust, dander, food or water from the quarantined new birds enter the main flock’s enclosure.

4. Don’t wear the same shoes and clothes when tending the healthy and the ill birds. Infection can spread quickly, especially on your hands and the soles of your shoes.

5. The new birds should be kept as far from the other chickens as possible. Ideally, they should be at least 10 metres (33 feet) from the main flock, and downwind as much as possible. However, this will not always be practical, and simply keeping the new chickens in a separate enclosure will be as far as many owners can go. If there is an enclosed building to keep them in, that’s perfect. Keeping the new birds upwind of the existing flock is even more important in these close-proximity set-ups.

What to do if the quarantined chickens fall ill

If any of the new birds become ill, you will need to identify the illness. If you are uncertain, call in expert help to assist with the diagnosis. Depending on the problem, the new chickens will need to be treated and isolated for another month or so. If the illness turns out to be avian flu or another lethal disease, the birds will have to be culled. In the case of the bird flu, check out our bird flu article for the latest advice. 

Quarantine of new hens is a better-safe-than-sorry routine that ensures health and happiness in your ever-changing flock of chickens. It also has the advantage of acclimatising newcomers to the sights and sounds of your garden before they mingle with the existing flock.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Omlet’s Guide to Keeping Happy, Healthy Hens in Summer!

As we head into summer and the weather begins to warm up, you might be wondering how you can help your chickens keep cool in the hotter months. Get prepared now and catch up with our previous blog posts on keeping happy and healthy hens during summer below…

7 Ways to Help Your Chickens Stay Cool This Summer

 

Did you know, that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through their feathers. But what can you do to help?

From water to dust baths, here’s 7 simple but effective tips to help your chickens stay cool in the hot weather…

 

10 Things Not to Do in Summer if You’re a Chicken Keeper

 

From 7 things you should do, to 10 things you shouldn’t do this summer if you’re a chicken keeper! This advice is just as important as the tips above for ensuring a comfortable environment in the warmer weather, and also preventing your chickens from overheating. 

 

How to Protect Your Chickens from Red Mite

 

Red mites, or Dermanyssus gallinae, are without a doubt backyard chicken keepers’ worst enemies! They are nocturnal creatures living in cracks and crevices of the coop, and they only come out at night to feed on chicken blood. Most long term chicken keepers will have encountered these parasites, and can confirm that they are more destructive and difficult to get rid of than all other pests combined.

Learn how to treat and prevent red mite infestations in your coop to keep your chickens happy this summer.

 

How the Eglu Keeps Chickens Cool

 

Traditionally chicken coops and rabbit hutches have been made from wood. This has its advantages: it’s an easy material to work with, it’s customisable and it looks attractive. However, when it comes to coping with the weather, it can leave a lot to be desired. Wood is not a very good thermal insulator, meaning if it’s hot outside the temperature will transfer through to the inside quickly.

If you’re using a wooden coop, it might be a good time to consider upgrading to a better insulated and ventilated house before the worst of the hot weather hits. Learn how an Eglu keeps chickens cool in this blog post. 

 

 

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Why Chickens Make the Best Pets for Kids

Keeping chickens is a wonderful way to educate children about the lifecycle of animals and show them the many benefits of keeping any farm animal. It’s not just the never-ending supply of eggs on toast that children will enjoy – keeping chickens is a rewarding experience that will teach children of all ages the value of animal life and companionship. 

Learning to handle your chickens

If you choose to buy your chickens when they are still chicks, there’s a better chance of children forming bonds with them. Handling chicks regularly is easy and great fun for children, a surefire way to make them feel comfortable and confident around the hens. Some chicken breeds – the Silkie and Sussex, for example – actually enjoy being occasionally petted, not unlike cats! Always remind your kids to be gentle with the birds, though, whether chicks or adults. Even a ‘tame’ hen should be approached slowly and with caution and respect – sudden moves trigger a chicken’s instinct to flap, squawk and panic!

It’s important that children learn to wash their hands whenever they’ve been touching the chickens, or after washing and cleaning the coop or feeding the hens. Chickens, just like us, have all kinds of bacteria which are healthy for them, but not necessarily for us! 

Daily chicken activities

Chickens need tending every day, but they are very undemanding as pets. This is a great combination for kids, as it teaches them about routine and allows them to enjoy time with the chickens without feeling it’s too much of a chore.

Getting kids involved in the daily activities that keep chickens happy and healthy is fun and beneficial in giving children a sense of responsibility. The first job of the day is opening up the coop. Children love getting out into the garden after breakfast, and once they’ve refilled the feed and water bowls, it’s time to open the coop and let the chickens into the run. Again, these are simple but meaningful tasks that children will enjoy. 

Healthy chickens eat and drink lots in a day, so ask your children to check out our guide on Feeding and Watering Your Chickens to turn them into instant experts! 

Mucking out the chickens is probably a job for children of 11+, but consider asking a young child to help out too. They can certainly assist with putting new bedding and toys into the coop once the mucking out is completed. It can be fun setting up your chickens’ coop in new and different ways, and you can really tell when they love their homes! 

Children love going into the chicken coop to find freshly laid eggs, and if it’s in time for breakfast, that’s even better! You could teach your child to collect and (if necessary) gently clean the egg, and if they are yet to learn any cooking skills, a boiled egg is a great place to start! Perhaps soon you’ll be getting breakfast in bed… 

Teaching your children responsibility

Owning chickens is a great way to teach children responsibility. By looking after hens, a child can learn that a little hard work and reliability put food on the table – literally, in this case!

Having a pet is sometimes people’s only reason to go outside first thing in the morning, and any pet owner would tell you that this improves their lives in countless ways. Just like walking a dog, going out into the garden to feed the chickens can be a fun way to introduce routine, responsibility and regular fresh air into your kids’ lives. 

Get your kids involved in choosing the chicken breed

If you want a friendly hen for your kids, Silkies are an excellent choice, as they are known for their affectionate nature. Other child-friendly breeds include Australorp, Cochin, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Sussex and Wyandotte.

For more information on how to get children involved with chicken-keeping, including which breeds to choose, check out our article Children Love Keeping Chickens.

Tameness isn’t guaranteed in any hen, though, and the most important thing is ‘socialising’ them from – i.e. handling them – from a young age. If children spend time with the hens as soon as they arrive in the coop, they’ll be well on the way to making a feathered friend for life.

Whichever breed you choose, getting your children involved in the decision will help them feel responsible and connected with their chickens from day one. And then there’s all the fun of choosing names for the hens!

Having fun with your chickens at Easter

There are many Easter traditions that involve chicken eggs, the ever-popular egg hunt being the most obvious example. Try hiding eggs that your chickens have laid themselves – it’s lots of fun and a good way of working up an appetite before an egg-based breakfast!

Another Easter tradition is the painting of boiled eggs, which is a great way to introduce children to the weirder world of traditional art. And why not go a step further and go egg-rolling – another fine old British tradition! Find a hill and roll your painted eggs down the hill – the last one to crack and release its hard-boiled yolk wins! You’ll sometimes find an egg that seems unbreakable, no matter how many times it’s rolled – the challenge then becomes trying to break it, by throwing it as high as possible!

So, whether it’s using eggs for cakes or quiches, rolling hard-boiled eggs down a hill, or just spending meaningful social time with the chickens, there are loads of reasons why hens make great pets for children!

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


6 Mistakes To Avoid When Raising Chicks

Chickens pretty much take care of themselves from an early age. However, there are certain things you need to avoid if you want your baby chickens to get the very best start in life.

In this article, we present six easily preventable pitfalls.

1. Not Having The Brooder Ready Before The Chicks Arrive

You need to sort out the chicks’ housing – known as a brooder – before the birds arrive. Otherwise, there will be nowhere to put them, and that would be disastrous.

You can buy brooder boxes made specifically to keep chicks in, or you can make a DIY brooder using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. Only choose the DIY avenue if you’re 100% confident you know what you’re doing.

The important thing is to keep the birds in a warm and well-ventilated space, but protected from drafts. As a rule of thumb, allow two square feet per chick – this is more than enough space for fluffy newcomers, but remember you will also need to make sure they have enough room when they get bigger – which they will do very quickly!

A chicken wire covering for the top of the brooder is advisable. Chicks can easily ‘fly the nest’ if the sides of the brooder are less than 45cm high. Older chicks need roosting poles for perching when they sleep, and will appreciate the inclusion of these in the brooder.

2. Not Getting The Temperature Right

Too much or too little heat can kill chicks, so this is another life-or-death issue. The chicks need to be kept in a temperature of 35 °C (95 °F) in their first week. The heat should then be reduced slightly every five days or so until you’ve reached room temperature. 

The source of heat is an important detail too. A heater designed explicitly for coops and aviaries is the best option, or a red heat bulb. You should not use a white heat bulb, as these produce glare that keeps chicks awake at night. This will make them irritable, as a result of which they may start pecking each other. Standard light bulbs are not suitable either.

Even the correct type of heater or bulb will need some adjusting in terms of where it hangs, and how high it is from the ground. Watch how the chicks behave in relation to the heat source. If they crowd together directly under the bulb or in front of the heater, it means they’re too cold. Lower the heat source or add an additional one, depending on the situation.

If the chicks cluster away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot. In this case, the heater or bulb will need to be moved further away, or its temperature reduced slightly. The chicks’ behaviour may change as they grow larger and the space becomes more crowded, so watch them carefully each day.

3. Using The Wrong Type Of Bedding

With chicks, it’s not a case of “any old bedding will do”. Use wood shavings or other non-toxic, absorbent material recommended for baby chickens. Avoid newspaper or shredded magazines, and don’t use aromatic, oily woods such as cedar. A 2.5cm layer of this bedding will be enough. If you omit the bedding, the chicks are in danger of slipping and sliding on the surface, which can lead to an injury called “splayed leg”, which is a life-threatening condition. The bedding should be changed at least once a week to prevent sticky droppings from accumulating.

4. Getting The Wrong Type Of Feed

Starter feed – in the form of either ‘crumble’ or ‘mash’ – is the essential basis of a chick’s diet. If your chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, you will need to buy an unmedicated feed. The starter feed will double as a ‘grower’ feed, intended for chicks for up to 16 weeks. Some varieties, however, are for the first four weeks only, after which you can switch to a ‘grower’ feed.

Chicks will also enjoy a bit of fresh food as a treat, either vegetables or worms and bugs. These should never replace the starter feed mix, however. Chicks only eat as much as they need, and there’s no danger of them over-eating. So all you have to do is make sure the feeders are topped up at all times.

Like adult birds, chicks require grit to grind up their food. It needs to be sand grain-sized rather than the small pebbles and shell fragments that grown birds require.

The chicks will need food and water dispensers. Buy custom-made ones rather than improvising with dishes and trays: these inevitably end up fouled and/or spilt. Very young chicks will need to have their water changed at least twice a day, as they very quickly dirty it.

5. Forgetting To Perform Daily Health Checks

A chick health check is a simple case of looking at the young birds and making sure they look as lively and alert as usual. A chick that sits alone and looks lethargic or fluffed-up when the others are active may be unwell. An ill chick will deteriorate very quickly and die.

The most frequent health issue encountered in young chicks is ‘pasting up’. This is when their droppings become encrusted on their bodies, preventing them from pooping. An affected bird can be cured by wetting the pasted-up area with warm water and wiping it clean. You may occasionally have to use tweezers to remove a plug of poo from the vent. The chick will need holding securely during this rather delicate and undignified procedure. If left blocked, a pasted-up chick could quickly die.

Note: if there is a thin dark strand hanging from a chick’s rear end, this is NOT pasting up. It’s the dried up umbilical cord that attaches the bird to its yolk inside the egg. It will fall off in a few days.

6. Moving Chicks Outdoors Too Quickly

Chicks can spend up to three hours a day outdoors once they’ve reached two weeks, as long as there is someone to supervise them. A large wire cage or portable run will do the job. The birds should only be placed outside if it’s at least 18 °C (65 °F), dry and not too windy. They will need food, water and shade.

Note: If you take the chicks outdoors before two weeks old, or if you leave them for more than three hours, they may catch a chill or sunstroke (depending on the prevailing weather). These shocks to the system can kill a small bird.

By 12 weeks, the young hens are old enough to move into an Eglu coop and run. They will still be too small to negotiate the roosting bars, so these should be removed until the chicks are big enough to perch and walk across them safely. If you have an Eglu Cube, the chicks may have to be lifted in and out of the roosting and laying area, as they often struggle with the ladder. This can be converted into a ramp during these early weeks, to make things easier for the hens.

The roosting area of the Eglu – or any other walk-in coop and run set up – should have lots of bedding to ensure the hens stay warm at night. The bedding should also be replaced at least twice a week.

Chicks soon pick up the dos and don’ts of life from your other birds. A lot of their behaviour, remember, is based on instinct, so as long as you give them the right environment, nature will take care of the rest.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Pride of Omlet: Ten Amazing Stories

Pride of Omlet series is a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

We have been lucky enough to collect some wonderful stories of your extraordinary pets and share them with you for 10 weeks! Here is a summary of the stories that you can read again and find directly on our Blog.

Pride of Omlet: Stand Up for Disabled Animals

Jerry’s a cheeky, playful and boisterous rescue dog from Romania who can do a handstand! He landed on his feet when Shena gave him a home and inspired her to start a rescue centre specialising in disabled animals. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: The Constant Companion

Martha’s humans Nicola and Ben bought chickens to bring joy to Julia, their mother who they cared for at home. The family could never have imagined that a chicken would become a caring companion to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. Read the story here!

 

Pride of Omlet: Free Support

Once caged battery hens, Hennifer Marge and Sybil now work free-range with their human Jonathan, transforming lives for offenders at the Rosemead Project. Jonathan (support worker and chicken champion) believes the hens have the power to unscramble tricky social situations. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: A Perfect Match

On paper, Kipper wasn’t exactly what Angela wanted. After years of behavioural challenges, he’s become the best-behaved blood donor and saved over forty dog’s lives. Kipper’s turned out to be Angela’s perfect match. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Teachers Pet

Henni Hen is a teaching assistant by trade. A cute and cuddly chicken who loves children. She follows in the footsteps of her bubbly humans, Hamish and Verity. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Mipit Makes Sense

Mipit is a Mental Health Assistance Dog for his human, Henley. Mipit keeps Henly alive and independent. Who wouldn’t love a dog that can put out your recycling, answer your phone, and be your best friend, come rain or shine? Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Perfect Peaky

At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. But they are determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Saving Sophia’s Life

When you’ve grown up with animals, home isn’t home without a pet. Bringing Harry home was lifesaving for both him and his humans, Sarah and daughter Sophia. Harry has a special gift. He’s a unique epilepsy monitor, and he’s saved Sophia’s life countless times. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Buster’s Beard

Buster was destined to chase balls on the beaches of Barry Island. He’s a lovable labradoodle with big brown eyes and a long beard. A thinker with a playful nature, he’s co-authored a children’s book with his human Natalie to bring Autism Awareness to all. Read the story here!

Pride of Omlet: Brave Bunnies

It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy. Read the story here!

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Budgies


Can you feed pets a vegan diet? 

Some pets, including rabbits and guinea pigs, are naturally vegan. Hamsters and gerbils, although omnivorous, can thrive on a vegan diet in which the protein content is supplied by plants and vegetables. Others, including omnivorous dogs and out-and-out carnivore cats, cannot be easily pleased on meat-free diets.

All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. But this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.

Can my dog have a vegan diet?

If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.

However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?

The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs at the best of times, and a low-fat, high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.

The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by vegi equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.

All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.

Can my cat have a vegan diet?

The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals. 

The main challenge with minimising the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.

Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.

There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.

For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.

Top 10 pets for vegan households

There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favourites.

1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.

2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.

3. Hamsters. As most hamster owners feed their pets with shop-bought hamster food, they may not be able to say exactly what the ingredients of that food are. However, vegetarian and vegan hamster foods are readily available.

4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivores that can live happily on a vegan diet. They tend to have rather delicate stomachs, so feeding them with a high-quality pellet mix is essential. Too much fresh stuff can cause problems.

5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need. 

6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Indeed, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.

7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your veg patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!

8. Budgies and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.

9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.

10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Budgies


Amazing Health Benefits of Eggs: Why Eggs Are Good For You

Eggs can be consumed in lots of different ways, and are used in lots of wonderful, delicious recipes we all know and love. But do you know fact from fiction when it comes to the health benefits of eggs? Read on to crack the case…

Let’s break down the myths first

“Eating eggs causes bad cholesterol and can lead to cardiovascular problems…” – A prejudice from the 1980s, before scientists demonstrated the benefits of eggs. 

Eggs do not cause bad cholesterol in your body. The egg yolk contains about 200mg of cholesterol, making it one of the foods with the highest amount of cholesterol. However, once ingested, this cholesterol does not remain in the body. About 25% of the cholesterol in the food we eat is absorbed by the intestine. 

About 75% of the cholesterol in the blood, as shown on your blood test, is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is the result of an unbalanced diet, made up of foods rich in saturated fats (butter, cheese, cold cuts, etc.), which will cause your body to over-produce “bad cholesterol”. Once again, the egg is not responsible for this. Your body is simply out of balance, notably by an inadequate diet, and ends up producing more cholesterol than it needs. However, avoid eating fried eggs or eggs with toast and butter every morning. If you combine eggs with fatty acids, you are likely to increase your “bad cholesterol” levels. 

Eggs are not responsible for clogged arteries or cardiovascular problems. It’s all a question of balance. A healthy person can eat up to 6 eggs a week. 

Eggs: a fabulous source of micro and macro nutrients

First of all, it’s interesting to know that an egg contains only 90 calories! 

Whether it’s the yolk or the white, eggs are full of nutrients and vitamins that are useful for your body to function properly. Eggs contain carotenoids, antioxidants that help to fight against age-related diseases, especially eyesight. But not only that! 

Eggs are rich in protein (2 eggs are equivalent to 100g of meat), vitamins A, D, E, K, B2 and N12, as well as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and minerals, all of which keep your body in perfect working order. Two eggs at 90 calories each and you can make an omelette! Its appetite-suppressant effect makes it a food to include in your meals if you want to feel fuller for longer. Proteins are also involved in the proper functioning and maintenance of muscle tissues.

The vitamin B present in eggs helps your brain to function properly: memory and concentration.  

Eggs can be consumed by pregnant women, as the nutrients present in eggs, including vitamin B9, help the growth and proper development of the foetus. 

Eggs contain Zinc (for hormone regulation) and with the proteins and vitamins they provide, eggs are a real ally for your hair! There are many recipes on the internet for caring for your hair with the eggs you have on hand. 

Top tip: one egg, a few drops of sweet almond oil (no more than 4) and a spoonful of honey and your hair will thank you! Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly. 

And don’t forget the joy of delicious eggs, after all it’s good for your health but it’s also tasty! Eggs can be used in many different ways, allowing us to vary our meals, to vary our recipes, to vary between sweet and salty. Whether you like eggs fried, boiled, scrambled, in quiche, in cake or in pancakes, there is something for everyone. 

You can find our latest cake recipes here or do you want to try out a delicious banana bread? For the perfect pancake recipe click here.

How to choose your eggs

The nutrient content may vary slightly depending on the origin of the eggs you consume. The Omega 3 content may be lower if you buy your eggs from a cage farm than from an organic farm. 

What does the marking on the eggs mean? 

0 = organic farming

1 = free range

2 = free range, indoor

3 = cage farming, with nest and perch

 

Have you considered keeping chickens yourself to benefit from the joy of collecting fresh eggs in the morning? As you have seen, eggs are useful for your body and delicious! Having them on hand, without worrying about going shopping, is a real pleasure. 

Omlet’s egg skelter and Egg Ramp keep your eggs neatly arranged and stored in order of laying. This ensures that you always use the oldest eggs first, so there is no waste. 

Top tip: to tell if an egg is still fresh, take a glass of water and put the egg inside. If it sinks, the egg is still good, if it floats, the egg is no longer fresh and should not be eaten. 

Eggs have many virtues and benefits and it is good to eat them every week. The rule of balance on the plate is essential to have a balanced and healthy diet while enjoying delicious recipes.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Pride of Omlet: Teachers Pet

This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

-Written by Anneliese Paul

Henni Hen is a teaching assistant by trade. A cute and cuddly chicken who loves children. She follows in the footsteps of her bubbly humans, Hamish and Verity.

       

Verity hatches chicks in an incubator every year at the primary school in Kent, where she works as a reception teacher. It’s a highlight for the children in spring, with lots of learning opportunities and fluffy little chicks make Easter even more special

It was natural for Henni to become a teaching assistant at an early age. She was, after all, born in a school. Henni helped the children with topic work and became the subject of many good literacy and science lessons. 

But Henni’s talent lies in her ability to help children read. Henni can’t read herself, but children who wouldn’t usually read to an adult began taking Henni to beanbag in a quiet corner where they could get cosy. Henni cuddles up and listens patiently to her young reader, giving the odd encouraging cluck. 

When Henni and her sisters became too big for the classroom’s hutch, Verity and Hamish moved into a house with a garden. Instead of rehoming the chicks with local farmers (like they usually did), they decided to take Henni and her sisters home. They’d been talking about getting a dog, but both working full-time, the chickens seemed like a good option.

Most of the time, Henni is outside, like an ordinary chicken, scratching in the garden or getting up as high as she can. But Verity and Hamish potty trained her because she loves coming into the house for a cuddle, and of course,  she needs to work. 

         

During the lockdown, the children missed holding Henni. So, Henni sprang into action and delivered both live and recorded lessons from the study that she shares with Verity. Verity read children stories, and Henni sat on her shoulder, making sure the children were listening. The deputy head called Verity regularly to make sure Henni’s doing ok. 

Being a caring soul, Henni also gave to the community over lockdown. Together, Henni and her sisters lay six eggs a day, so Henni and Verity decided to do a doorstep delivery service for their neighbours. At 10 am, Henni would lay an egg and make a lot of noise about it, so all the neighbours knew when their eggs are ready. Then, Henni would hop onto Verity’s shoulder, and together they delivered eggs to all the houses on their close.

When she returned home, she’d often hop onto her favourite perch (the top of the garage), and the children from the neighbourhood would come over to Verity and Hamish’s to see “the one on the roof!”

Henni and her sisters Megg, Gertie, Margot, Ginger, Rona and Nora used to live in a wooden coop in the garden and come into the garage in winter when it was cold, but Verity and Hamish wanted the best for them. So last year, they got a new home, an Omlet Eglu Cube, and now they’re cosy outside all year round. 

But Henni still likes to come inside for a cuddle and can often be found sitting on the sofa between Verity and Hamish for a family film night after a hard week at work. 

   

She’s just an ordinary brown chicken, and she’s low in the pecking order, but she’s got high hopes for the world. She’s very special to the children she teaches and the community she lives in, and of course, to her humans Verity and Hamish. She’s worthy of a gold star for an outstanding effort.

     

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Can I keep chickens with other pets?


Photo by
Daniel Tuttle on Unsplash

When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.

Keeping chickens with dogs

If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behaviour is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop. 

The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.

Teaching dogs to get along with chickens

You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behaviour you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance. 

One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave in to their chasing instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens. 

There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get on, but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case. 

Keeping chickens with cats

Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry, and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers. 

Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbour’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.

 

Keeping chickens with guinea pigs

You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them. 

Keeping chickens with rabbits

Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.

Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.

Photo by JackieLou DL from Pixabay                           

 Having a large and secure garden run will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximise the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbours. 

Chickens and other pets

Chickens can also rub along happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.

Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.

By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your mixed menagerie happy!

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Budgies


Pride of Omlet: Free Support

This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

-Written by Anneliese Paul

Once caged battery hens, Hennifer Marge and Sybil now work free-range with their human Jonathan, transforming lives for offenders at the Rosemead Project. Jonathan (support worker and chicken champion) believes the hens have the power to unscramble tricky social situations.

The Rosemead Project is a residential home in Southend on Sea that exists to get people in need of support on the right path, by learning independent living skills to transform their lives. Six years ago, Southend council granted the project funding to transform the garden. They installed a polytunnel, created raised beds and planted fruit trees.

Jonathan introduced chickens to the garden. The ex-battery hens arrived in a sorry state, malnourished with large patches of missing feathers and pale, floppy combs. But within a few weeks of scratching in the garden and the compost heaps, they were on the road to recovery. 

When residents arrive, often from homelessness or prison, they are welcomed into their bedroom, and a bowl containing two eggs sits on the side table with a note that says ‘Welcome from Hennifer, Marge and Sybil’. 

Jonathan uses eggs to teach residents how to cook simple meals, like omelettes. He’s put posters up in the communal kitchen with recipes showing different ways of cooking eggs. And the eggs have also become currency, cracking once tricky relationships with neighbours. After an anti-social behaviour incident, Jonathan visited Jean, one of the elderly neighbours who was nervous about the project. He took eggs and found that they were a good conversation starter. 

It was all going well when a fox came. Doris, the mother hen of their original flock, ran towards the fox to protect the rest of them and was left dead. She’s buried in the garden and a lot of the residents were affected by the attack. So on his next egg delivery to Jean, Jonathan told her about the fox and said he would get some more chickens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. Jean came with him and got some hens too. It was a positive moment.

Hennifer, Marge and Sybil arrived, freed from their horrific caged lives. They’ve been with the project for two and a half years now and are the best-feathered support workers Jonathans ever met. Hennifer is confident, Sybil inquisitive, and Marge is really chilled. She can often be found under the lavender bush. 

Residents typically stay with the project for two years before going on to independent living, but the path isn’t always smooth, and occasionally, they are sent back to prison. When this happened to one resident, he contacted the Rosemead Project (through his family) to ask if they could send photos of the chickens, they become an important support to many people living at Rosemead.

Another resident says he loves the sound of chickens clucking when he wakes up. It takes him back to a happy place. And another has taken charge and gets up at 7am every morning to let the hens out. Either sitting or working in the garden, the hens build resident’s confidence. “The hens don’t run away from them. That’s important,” says Jonathan. 

Some residents like to buy treats for the chickens, which may seem like a small thing, but when it’s a choice between lager or mealworms and they’re choosing mealworms. It’s a good sign. There’s a trail of jobs that come from the hens that’s good for building life skills and the cleaning and care that goes into looking after a pet provides a sense of responsibility.

Jonathan says, “Sometimes, it’s hard to find positives in this job, but it’s a good thing to give something a quality of life, and the chickens are one of the little things that put a big smile on your face.”

 

          

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Why Spring is the Perfect Time to get Chickens!

Spring is the best time to set up a chicken coop or bring new hens home. In spring, your birds benefit from longer (and hopefully warmer) days. The garden begins to stir from its winter slumber, and the first fresh greens are available – an essential supplement to your hens’ diets. The chickens will start producing more eggs after the winter lull. They will generally look happier and livelier in this gentler climate of warmth and growth.

When should I buy point of lay chickens?

Point-of-lay hens become available in the spring, as most breeders hatch their chicks in December or January. These chickens are on the verge of laying between 16 and 22 weeks later – hence the term point-of-lay (and, indeed, the term ‘spring chicken’). This means your next generation of hens will be available at some point between mid-March and early June.

Bringing hens home at this time of year, at the very beginning of their laying lives, gives you at least three years of dependable egg production. This is a major consideration for many chicken keepers, as eggs are what it’s all about!

Red mite control

Red mites can be a problem in chicken coops, but their numbers drop drastically in the winter. Early spring is a good time to spray your chicken shed and run against these tiny blood-sucking creatures, before the warmer weather causes a population boom. Your pet supplier may stock a suitable mite spray, and failing that, you can source one from an agricultural supplier.

An even better year round preventative action is to give your spring chickens a coop that is practically mite-free. Mites thrive in traditional wooden coops with lots of nooks and crannies. Keeping hens in a state-of-the-art coop such as the Eglu range gives the pests nowhere to hide and thrive – the coop is made from easily washable plastic, and the mites don’t stand a chance!

Photo by Myriam from Pixabay

While you’re zapping the red mites, spring is also the best time to treat the hens for parasitic worms. Again, there are relatively few of these parasites in the environment at the end of winter, so treating the chickens now is a great preventative measure.

Summer chickens

If you’re rehousing barn hens, summer is the ideal time. These birds will not be used to life outdoors, and in the summer the weather will be at its kindest, giving the hens plenty of time to acclimatise. In spring, they’ll be fine; but in summer they’ll be as happy as a newly-liberated hen can possibly be!

Ex-barn hens (and ex-battery hens too, in parts of the world where batteries are still allowed) make great pets, and in spite of having been ‘retired’ by their former owners, they will have up to two years good laying left. In the UK, you can collect these birds via an organisation such as the British Hen Welfare Trust (www.bhwt.org.uk). The advantage of this is that all the hens have been screened for good health, and you will never knowingly be given an unhealthy bird.

If you let your hens free range in the garden during summer, they will pick off pests such as slugs and flies. You may want to protect young shoots and flower beds, though, as chickens are very partial to tender young plants.

If you live in an area that experiences very hot summers, make sure your birds have plenty of shade and a well-ventilated coop. The Eglu is perfect here – relatively cool inside, even on the hottest days, and with an Eglu weather protection shields that can be fixed onto the run to provide shade all day long.

Autumn and Winter Chickens

Autumn is a great season for chickens and chicken keepers. There are lots of juicy bugs to scratch for in the still-soft ground and leaf litter, and if you have any fruit trees, there are rich pickings for the birds in the shape of windfalls. 

Hens often moult in the autumn, so they need a good diet to help them stay healthy and grow new feathers. Extra vitamins and minerals will help, and a little apple cider vinegar in their water will help ensure a healthy, glossy new plumage.

Most chickens don’t mind the cold at all. However, they prefer not to get wet, so it’s a good idea to provide bit of extra protection with a cover for the coop, or somewhere dry for the hens to huddle. To prevent the area under the run becoming muddy, cover the ground with bark chippings.

Depending on the breed of your chickens, you will tend to get fewer eggs in the winter, but the supply will never be cut off completely. You can keep the chickens busy and healthy by using Caddi treat holders and peck toys to keep the nutritious food flowing!

Unless the winter months in your area is very harsh, your chickens will be able to keep warm by snugglingup in the coop. They are hardy birds (with the exception of some of the more delicate, decorative breeds), and will adapt to the climate. It’s always a good idea to assist them wherever you can, though, and an insulated coop such as the Eglu will go a long way towards ensuring your birds’ health and happiness in the winter months.

The takeaway message here is that even though spring is the best time to introduce new hens to your garden, they will thrive at any time of year.

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Pride of Omlet: The Constant Companion

This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.

-Written by Anneliese Paul

                            

Martha’s humans Nicola and Ben bought chickens to bring joy to Julia, their mother who they cared for at home. The family could never have imagined that a chicken would become a caring companion to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. 

Julia used to have chickens as a child. She fondly told Nicola stories about dressing up the chickens and wheeling them around the garden, like babies in her toy pram.  But it wasn’t until her 90th birthday that Julia owned chickens again. It was a dream come true.

Nicola and Ben always thought they didn’t have enough space in their bungalow garden, but whilst visiting relatives in Ireland, Ben saw an Omlet ad and brought it home to show Nicola. “That’s just what we need,” she said. Their Eglu arrived soon after, and then their two hybrid chickens moved in. Julia named them Martha and Mary.

Whilst Mary was always shy and kept her distance. From day one Martha ran to Julia, Nicola’s mum. “She was mums best friend from the beginning,” says Nicola.

Unfortunately, Mary died and then there was a near miss for Martha. Like most people, the family like to let their hens roam free in the garden for a bit, but one day a fox came into the garden and attacked Martha. Nicola and Ben heard her squawking and went to the window. The fox saw them and ran, leaving poor Martha very shaken and suffering from a broken wing. But Matha was brave, and luckily the wing has completely healed. Now Ben and Nicola have extended the run so the chickens only come out when they’re in the garden.

When it was sunny, Julia liked to sit outside in the sun watching Martha. Julia had to use a wheelchair, and Martha would jump (in a very ladylike way) onto the footrest to warm her feet. Last summer when Julia could no longer speak in sentences, she’d make gentle noises and Martha would answer back. She’d sit for hours by the wheelchair with Julia, having quiet conversations. 

Nicola couldn’t deny Martha had a human quality. She didn’t just come for crumbs because she was there when there weren’t any. Martha cared. 

“She went from a chicken, running around the garden then in those moments with mum, it was like she knew. It was beautiful.”

Nicola began to trust Martha to squawk loudly if something was wrong. When she went into the house to make a cup of tea, she’d leave Julia in the garden with Martha. 

 “It was weird,” says Nicola “ Martha would squawk, and I’d go out to find Mum had dropped something, or something had fallen off the table, or Mum was confused because she didn’t remember where I was.”

 

Martha was the thing that made Julia smile every time, and her eggs brought so much joy to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. Boiled was her favourite, and Martha would let them all know when it was ready to be collected. When Martha lays an egg, she stands at the edge of the run and squawks and squawks as if to say, “Come and get my egg!” 

Julia loved holding Martha’s warm eggs. Once, when Julia was having a lie-in, Nicola took her the freshly laid egg. She’d just woken up, and a big smile spread across her face, then she fell asleep again holding it. A couple of hours later, Nicola went to wake her up. Julia sat up. All of a sudden, the egg rolled out from behind her as if she’d laid it on the bed. Incredibly it was completely intact. “Are you laying eggs now?”  asked Nicola. Julia understood, and that made them all laugh. It was the happiest occasion, just an egg rolling along the sheet. Julia kept the egg in her hand for the rest of the day. Moments like that are precious memories to Nicola and Ben. 

Sadly, Julia died in September. When Julia was alive, it was Mum and Martha, Nicola says. She never thought she’d take to chickens. But having seen how Martha cared, chickens have become constant companions. 

I think we’ll probably always have chickens because they get under your skin. Well, no, that’s a bad expression. They become part of you. They’re like a little family.”

     

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


5 Reasons You Need the Omlet Autodoor for Summer


The Omlet Autodoor is a trusted coop companion for thousands of chicken keepers across the world and, just as in the dark winter months,
the Autodoor offers ultimate flexibility and convenience for you and your chickens in summer too. Here’s 5 reasons you need the Autodoor for summer…

1. No more early mornings!

The Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door allows you to open your coop door in the morning without even getting out of bed, perfect for the early sunrises of summer when your chickens want to get out and stretch their wings.

 

2. Light sensor adapts to the changing season

You can set your Autodoor to open and close at a selected time, or you can use the clever light sensor and set the door to open and close at a certain light percentage, meaning the timings will adapt with the changing season so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself. 

 

3. More play time for your chickens

As the sun rises earlier and earlier in summer, your chickens will be desperate to get out and play even earlier too. Now they can step out at dawn, and they won’t have to wait for you to start their day! 

 

4. Improved coop security

The Omlet Autodoor opens horizontally making it far safer than other vertical, guillotine-style automated coop doors which can be easily lifted up by predators.

 

5. Get 15% off green Autodoors now…

when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter! Get life changing coop flexibility and save £23.99 for a limited time only! Sign up to the Omlet newsletter here to claim your discount code. 

 

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s why our customers think the Autodoor is an essential coop accessory for summer…

 

Donald – “We chickens have had our automatic door for about a month and we love it. When it gets light the door opens and when it gets dark it closes. We no longer have to wait for our humans to come out late in the morning with some excuse about having overslept. I mean, really people?! There are bugs to be had and things to scratch and explore!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Becky – “I love this door. No need to rush out when I just want to lay in bed 5 more minutes. They put themselves away at night and I don’t have to worry about something getting them. They are safe and sound. Battery last long, easy to program. Tested the sensor and it worked perfectly. Very happy with this purchase!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Mary – “OMG. We installed the door a few nights ago and stood outside the coop like it was New Years Eve to watch the door shut. I can’t tell you the freedom this gives us. No more worrying about getting home to shut the coop door, no more getting up at dawn through all sorts of weather. And the door is very secure. No animal can possibly pry it open. I just ordered a second one for my other coop!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

John – “My wife was skeptical when I ordered the Omlet auto door! The fist morning she looked out of the window and saw all of our Girls out of their coop and roaming the pen without having to get out of bed, she said it was LIFE CHANGING!” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

15% off Green Autodoors when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter!

 

Terms and conditions

This promotion is only valid from 17/03/21 – midnight on 18/03/21. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on the Green Autodoor only. The offer does not apply to the Grey Autodoor. This offer also excludes the power adaptors for Autodoor, Autodoor Replacement Wire and Duracell Batteries. Offer is limited to 2 green Autodoors per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


What should I consider when keeping chickens?

Note: from 14/12/2020 all chickens in the UK should be kept indoors to prevent the spread of avian flu. For more information, please see these articles: https://blog.omlet.co.uk/2020/11/26/ 
https://blog.omlet.co.uk/2021/01/27/

Having some feathered friends in your garden who regularly lay eggs for your enjoyment – that sounds good, doesn’t it? But there are a few things to consider before raising and keeping chickens in your backyard. Whether your garden is suitable for chicken keeping or the actual costs which are involved… In this respect, we’re going to be egg-ucating you today about some advice and guidance!

What does it cost to keep chickens?

The regular running costs include feed, bedding, sand, lime, water and electricity. Depending on the breed and age of your chick and the type and quality of the feed, you should expect about £12 for five chickens/month. If your chickens also find a lot of feed in the run, you can keep the costs quite low, while high-quality organic feed costs significantly more. You can also budget stuff such as cabbage, cauliflower leaves or spinach to supplement their pellets, as hens do need a bit of greenery in their daily diet. Bedding cost approximately £15. 

In addition, there are costs for the vet, which can hardly be calculated. The vaccination costs are still quite manageable, the vaccine itself is a maximum of £15. Depending on what you want to vaccinate your chickens against and whether you also deworm regularly, the costs naturally increase. With other health supplements we can calculate £60/year. 

To answer simply, the maximum cost to raise chickens in your backyard will be £50/month, for a flock of 5 hens. Basically it can be said, chicks are cheaper than other pets like dogs or cats and we even receive some delicious eggs from them.

Please be aware that all prices listed here are very general estimates and can vary greatly from state to state and between cities and towns.

Besides these running costs you should definitely purchase a convenient and practical chicken coop to keep your pullets safe. You can buy a pre-made coop or you can build your own.

 

The Omlet Chicken Perch

Something that definitely needs to be on the list is a food and water dispenser, a perch and at best some peck toys and a treat holder for the cleanest and healthiest way to feed treats to your flock.

And don’t forget the costs of chickens themselves. These costs depend on the breed and their age. A good starter flock usually consists of 4 to 5 birds aged 16 to 24 weeks. If you’re up for a special breed or pedigree chickens, the prices might be more expensive. The chicken costs may vary between £3 and £12 per chick.

Please visit our guide ‘How Much Do Chickens Cost?’ for specific information

https://www.omlet.co.uk/guide/chickens/should_i_keep_chickens/how_much_do_chickens_cost/                   The Omlet Peck Toy                                                                                                                                                       

What is the workload and do I have enough time to keep chickens?

The daily workload depends on the size and age of your flock, and how well you pre-planned. It’s a matter of course that newly hatched or baby chicks might need much more of your time than adults. For finding out which chicken age is more suitable for you, please refer to our previous blog: ‘Chicken keeping for beginners: adult chickens or baby chicks?’ (insert the link).

Generally you can say, the more chickens you have, the more work there is to do – but also the more eggs that will make you and your family happy each morning! However, keeping chickens in a small flock with around 6 animals is much easier than keeping a dog. You will need to feed your flock and change their water daily, and give them all a quick daily health check. Moreover, you should let your chickens out of their coop at least once a day, either on a free-range basis or in an enclosure, which will ensure to keep them safe from predators. 

Another important factor you should keep in mind is your working hours. If your work starts in the early morning or in the late evening, it’s difficult to manage letting your chickens out of the coop and back inside again. However, this doesn’t necessarily imply that you are not able to keep chickens at all. For this, it’s a good alternative to purchase an Automatic Chicken Coop Door, which can completely open and close automatically, even when you’re not there!.

With an effort of approximately 10-15 minutes workload per day, you will be able to take the essential actions to keep happy and healthy chickens (plus any extra play and cuddle time you choose!).

Is my environment suitable for keeping chickens?

In order to keep healthy and happy chickens it is necessary to have a safe outdoor area with plenty of space, where they can exercise, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Your chicks should be able to express normal behaviours, such as scratching, foraging and dust bathing. 

The selection of the chicken breed as well as how many chickens you want to keep are the key indicators for the necessary space requirement. You should definitely give your chickens plenty of green space to enjoy their freedom. However, it is important to have a coop and an outdoor enclosure to keep your chickens safe from predators when you’re not around.

Who takes care of my flock if I’m away?

Whether you’re planning a short time away from your flock or a longer trip – with appropriate planning there are ways to manage it, so you can leave your chickens without a guilty conscience.

The most convenient and easy way would be to ask a friend, family member or your neighbour to have an eye on your flock while you’re away. If you’re unlucky and can’t find someone around you, don’t worry. Ever heard of a chicken sitter? Yes, they do exist. Investigate in your local area whether a chicken sitting or boarding service is available. As for dogs or cats the same goes with chickens: the ideal chicken sitter is one who knows poultry well.

An alternative is to invest in an automatic feeder. It allows your flock to get access to food all day at will and keeps rats or other unwelcome guests away. Another great item would be an Automatic Chicken Coop Door, where you can set the time via the control panel, when the door will open and close the coop at a certain time or based on the rising and setting sun, so they can still enjoy their freedom when you’re not home.

Can I mix different breeds of chicken?

Yes, in most cases you can mix breeds of hens, while it is better to let roosters be on their own.

If it comes to age, older chickens can sometimes bully chicks simply because of a 

pecking order issue. Suddenly, there are new chickens in the coop, and the older chickens want to establish themselves at the top of that pecking order but this is a natural conscious behaviour and has nothing to do with the breed itself.
Real problems may occur by “mixing” breeds when you have e.g. five chickens that are very similar looking (like Rhode Island Reds and New Hampshire Reds) but only one chicken with a very different look. Chickens who look entirely different from the rest of their flock can get picked on.

Some crested chicken breeds e.g. the Polish do not see very well, because their crest feathers are in the way, which can be a disadvantage and might lead to getting pecked.

The most important thing to remember when integrating new birds into an existing flock is to isolate or quarantine all new birds for at least 30 days. This gives you time to observe all new birds for symptoms of disease and/or signs of external parasites and to treat them if necessary. Then once the 30 day isolation period is completed, introduce new chickens or chicks to the flock and always monitor the interactions between old and new chooks up close and personal until you’re sure that all is well. When they feel comfortable and get along, a simple daily check-up will do fine. For acquaintance, allow your chickens to free range and mingle together. More information regarding introducing new chicks to your flock you can find here: https://blog.omlet.co.uk/2020/04/26/how-to-introduce-new-chickens-to-your-flock/

Always remember, your feathered friends are living animals and you’re making a commitment to care for them properly. Make sure you have sufficient time and space for them to live happily and healthily. 

If you keep your chickens in the above stated conditions, they will be grateful and thank you with some snuggles and delicious eggs. The better the pre-planning, the more relaxed you will be and the more satisfied your chickens will be.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens