The Omlet Blog Category Archives: 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


Why chickens are the ultimate anti-waste weapon!

Photo Photo by Erik Karits from Pexels

Chickens and green eco-living go hand in hand. Hens are a great part of the ecosystem of a healthy garden, and they also ‘recycle’ a lot of food that would otherwise be thrown away.

Converting scraps into eggs is a powerful symbol of eco-friendly living. Keeping your own hens is also a significant step in the direction of a ‘green’ lifestyle. No intensive rearing, crowded barns or other ethical issues involved!

Kitchen scraps can be a healthy supplement to your hens’ pellet-based diet. Chickens are omnivorous and will eat most of the things you offer them, including cooked pasta, wholemeal bread (soaked in water to avoid it swelling in the bird’s crop), green vegetables, cereals, cooked meat (nothing cured or salted), banana, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, pumpkin, courgette, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. If you hang a cabbage or broccoli stalks in the chicken run, the hens will have great fun pecking at it.

Treats such as bread, cereals and pasta should only be fed in moderation, as they have little nutritional value and can cause your chickens to pile on the pounds. Dairy products and too much lettuce (especially Iceberg varieties) can cause diarrhoea, so these should also be avoided.

Chickens enjoy many garden plants, including nettles and dandelions. There are several toxic wild foods, though, and this is a hazard when feeding wild-sourced foods. A good starting place is the Plants and Foods that are Poisonous for Chickens page in Omlet’s online chicken guide.

Foods that should never be given to chickens

Potatoes, tomatoes, and aubergines (eggplant) are in the Nightshade family, and they are toxic for chickens. That applies to all raw forms of these foods. The toxic ingredient, solanine, is broken down when the plants are cooked, and so cooked potatoes or tomatoes will not cause problems. 

The other everyday foods that you should never feed to chickens are apple seeds, avocados, chocolate and other confectionary, salty foods such as bacon, cheese and crisps, dried raw beans and pulses, and raw garlic, onions and leeks.

Citrus fruits are mildly toxic, and although they will not kill your chickens, if fed in excess they will cause diarrhoea and a drop in egg production. 

 

 

Photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash

It also needs emphasising that all kitchen scraps offered to chickens should be fresh. Any mouldy food should be thrown away and not fed to chickens, other pets or wild birds.             

Overripe and wilted vegetables or stale bread are all fine as long as there is no mould present.

You should only feed wild plants to chickens if you know they are safe. First, you need to identify the plant. If you are in any doubt, don’t give the plant to your chickens.                                                                                                                                                                                                                Photo by Ayda Oz on Unsplash

…And don’t forget the chicken manure

The food waste fed to chickens isn’t all transformed into eggs, of course. Some of it is ejected as chicken poo, and this is an excellent fertiliser once it has been rotted down. Chickens droppings should never be applied fresh to vegetable or flower beds, but should be added to the compost heap along with the soiled bedding from the coop.

In intensive hen farms, waste is a big problem, as run-off from accumulated chicken droppings can pollute rivers. On the small scale of backyard hens, though, composted chicken poo is a great benefit to the garden.

How chickens help you stop wasting food

When you feed kitchen scraps to chickens, you suddenly become aware of what you and your family are wasting. Those scraps are all things that were being routinely thrown away before you invested in a chicken coop and a few hens.

This may make you reassess your buying and cooking habits, and it puts the notion of food waste into a new perspective. As a result, you may stop cooking more than you need, and you may stop bulk-buying and keeping veg in the fridge until it rots. If finances are tight, these details can make a big difference to the family budget.

To begin with, you may have enjoyed taking all those leftovers out to the hens, but once you start to question the cost of it all, it gets you thinking. How much are you effectively ‘spending’ on kitchen waste for your chickens? After all, the hens can get all the nourishment they need from a diet of layers pellets, grain, grit and lots of dandelion leaves. They don’t actually need those kitchen scraps.

Once you’ve found a balance here that suits your lifestyle, it can lead to other positive changes in your attitude to waste and sustainability in general. Your chickens can teach you, in a roundabout way, to reduce food waste, and that poses the question – what other waste could you reduce? The list here is endless, but it begins with single-use plastics and other environmentally unfriendly products and packaging. We’ve moved a long way from the throwaway culture of previous decades, but there’s still a long way to go. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

How local communities use chickens for anti-waste campaigns

Some communities have taken this thinking to its logical conclusion, reducing personal waste on the one hand and, on the other, making sure nothing is wasted. Chickens are the beneficiaries here. Any appropriate waste food – from households, restaurants or shops – is collected and fed to the communal flock. The hens convert the waste into eggs, which are enjoyed by everyone involved in the community scheme. There is very little extra expenditure involved, so people are, in effect, getting their eggs for free.

To give a large-scale example of this, in Austin, Texas, a local authority pioneered a zero-waste food programme a few years ago, paying people in the area to keep backyard chickens. The hens were fed solely on waste food, of sufficient variety and high quality to satisfy the birds’ nutritional requirements. The goal was to reduce the amount of food entering landfills. In redirecting it to backyard chickens instead, there has been a substantial reduction in landfill-derived methane emissions.

Some schools in the UK, the USA and elsewhere have taken up this anti-waste challenge too, channelling the community’s waste food to their chickens. It’s certainly food for thought!

The thought of household waste being converted into fresh eggs is a very pleasing one. Taking that concept to the community level is an exciting idea, and it’s possible that such schemes are about to become commonplace.

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


Chicken keeping for beginners: adult chickens or baby chicks?

You can buy chickens when they are still chicks, or you can choose ‘point of lay’ hens (also known as started pullets). These are ready-to-go birds that are about to begin laying eggs, and they offer the easiest entry into the wonderful world of chicken keeping. 

If you choose to buy chicks or hatch fertilized eggs laid by your own hens, you will have to care for the young birds for the five months before they start laying. They are extremely cute but delicate little things, and easy prey for cats, rats and other creatures that wouldn’t attempt to attack a full sized hen. You will also need to keep them warm, which means investing in special equipment.

Photo by Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash

So, if you are simply keeping chickens for fresh eggs, you should start with adult birds rather than chicks. 

Why buying point-of-lay hens?

This is the entry point for most people who are new to keeping chickens. By checking availability in your local area, you will be able to source birds close to home. The advantages of choosing these older birds pretty much outweigh all other options, and the only reason you would opt for buying or hatching chicks is if you want to look after small birds. For many people, this is a very rewarding activity, but for someone who just wants to look after laying hens, started pullets are the way forward.

Why keeping ex-barn hens?

Another great way to stock your coop is with rescued chickens. Intensively reared hens kept in barns are judged to be past their prime after a year and a half, even though they still have a good 18 months of laying ahead of them. For the majority, this is the end of the road. However, charities such as the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) rehome these hens.

All ex-barn hens have great charm and personality. They tend to look rather bedraggled and sad when first rescued from their imprisonment, but with a bit of TLC they will blossom as impressively as the Ugly Duckling!

The advantage of sourcing these chickens from the BHWT is that all the hens will have been screened for good health, and you will never knowingly be given an unhealthy bird. Some ex-barn hens may arrive with a limp, and most of them will look half-plucked, but they will soon recover their composure, and – as most of these chickens are ‘disposed of’ at less than 18 months old – they will still give you a couple of years of good laying.

What do I need to know about buying chicks?

You need to be sure that you buy baby hens and not cockerels. There are no external clues as to what sex a chick is, and any stock sold sight unseen (or ‘straight run’) will be a 50/50 mix of male and female birds. You need the chickens to be sexed to ensure you get hens. If this is not possible, wait for started pullets to become available. 

Chicks need special accommodation for the first few weeks, and they can’t simply be kept in a standard coop and run. You can buy brooder boxes to keep them, or you can improvise one using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. The important thing is to keep the birds warm and protect them from drafts while ensuring good ventilation. 

After installing your chicks, pay close attention to how they behave. If they’re crowded together directly under or adjacent to the heat source, they’re cold. Lower the heat source or add another. If, on the other hand, they shy away from it, they’re too hot. In this case, the heater or bulb will need to be moved further away.

What do I need to know about chicken brooders?

You will need to provide 6 square inches (39 square cm) per chick in the brooder. Once they are five weeks old they can be moved to a coop and run, where they will need at least two square feet (0.19 square metres) per bird to ensure they have enough room when they get bigger – which they will do, very quickly. The chicks need to be kept in a temperature of 35C (95F) in their first week. The heat should be reduced slightly each week until you’ve reached room temperature. A heater designed for coops and aviaries is the best buy. A red heat bulb is another option (not a white one – these produce glare that keeps chicks awake at night and tends to make them irritable and prone to pecking). Standard light bulbs will not do the job.

Very young chicks will need to have their water changed at least twice a day, as they have the uncanny ability of turning all liquids to messy soups within a few hours! They also need their bedding changed at least once a week. A chicken wire covering for the top of the brooder is advisable, too. Chicks can easily ‘fly the nest’ if the sides of the brooder are less than 45cm high.

Chicks can spend a little time outdoors when they’ve reached two weeks. A large wire cage or some other type of portable enclosure can be placed outside for a few hours a day – but only if it’s at least 18C (65F) and not too windy, and dry. The birds will need food, water and shade, and shouldn’t be left alone for very long. Predators are everywhere when you’re a small chick!

Once they’ve reached four to five weeks, the chicks can be moved permanently into the outdoor chicken run.

Do I want to breed my own chickens?

Another way of keeping chickens is to keep the flock refreshed by hatching eggs from their own chickens. The easiest way of raising chickens is to let nature take its course. All you have to do is provide a nest box for a broody hen. She will provide the right conditions for hatching eggs (although she will not be able to cope with more than a dozen at a time, or fewer with smaller breeds), warming and turning them as necessary. An incubator is the alternative hatching method.

A cockerel will do everything in his power to tread the hens in his flock and fertilize the eggs. If a chicken is broody, she will then sit on the eggs for 21 days (the incubation period), and with a bit of luck these eggs they will then hatch.

Rearing chicks is a great hobby, but you need to be dedicated to the job. If all you want is fresh eggs and a flock of healthy, happy adult chickens, wait for point-of-lay birds to become available, or contact the BHWT for some of those rescue hens in need of a good home.

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


10 things to always have in stock when you have 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/

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced chicken keeper, we have put together a list of 10 essential products you should consider having to hand if you decide to keep chickens in your garden.

Image by Xuân Tuấn Anh Đặng from Pixabay 

Certain accessories and equipment are essential to keep your chickens safe and healthy. 

The products to have on your shelves

  1. Diatomaceous earth: a must! Diatomaceous earth is a natural and completely organic product which can be sprinkled in the chicken house to prevent the proliferation of red mites. You can also treat your chickens by mixing it with their feed, or dusting them with the powder and incorporating it into their dust bath.
  2. A coop disinfectant. The shelter, equipment and accessories of your chickens must be cleaned regularly to keep their home hygienic and healthy. Use a pet safe disinfectant, like Battles.
  3. Cider vinegar has many benefits. A little cider vinegar in your chickens’ water will help to improve their respiratory system, boost their immune system and maintain a healthy digestive system. Warning: do not use cider vinegar in metal drinkers. This breaks down the metal and can create a toxic chemical reaction for your chickens. Want to clean your eggs but water is not enough? Use the cider vinegar by dipping your eggs in it for 10 seconds. They will be impeccable! You can even add cider vinegar to the water before washing your chickens. Finally, clean your drinkers and equipment with apple cider vinegar to remove traces of limestone. Vinegar is a whitener and a very good disinfectant.
  4. Grit: Having grit on your shelf is essential. Your chickens don’t have teeth, so grit helps your chickens digest the grains and other foods they eat more easily. The ingestion of grit is a physiological need essential for the good health of your flock.
  5. Food supplements: A chicken eats an average of 120 g of food per day. Food supplements can be great for maintaining your chickens’ health and egg production, and providing them with their daily dose of vitamins. For example, chickens need calcium and phosphorus to produce quality eggs which can be supplemented with Equimins Egg Shell Improver. This is ideal for ex battery chickens.Garlic powder is recognised for its many virtues. Added to the daily feed of your chickens, it will improve their immune system, deworm and eliminate red lice and mites.Did you know that herbs are great for their immune system and that it protects your chickens from infections and intestinal parasites? A herb treat mix will support their health and happiness!
  6. Vaseline/Petroleum jelly: If your chicken loves going out for a run in winter. It is advisable to coat the comb with petroleum jelly/vaseline to prevent frostbite.
  7. Scaly leg spray: To prevent unwanted parasite invasions on your chickens and particularly leg scabies, do not hesitate to invest in a scaly leg spray. This form of mange is caused by a mite and can kill your hen. As soon as symptoms appear, growths, yellowish legs, deformation or enlargement of the leg, treat the affected areas immediately.
  8. Gentian Violet Spray: It is necessary to have a small first aid kit on your shelf in case of small injuries. An antiseptic spray is very effective against small abrasions or wounds from feather pecking.
  9. Egg boxes: Having chickens is great, having eggs is even better! Keep them safe after collecting them with egg boxes, just like in the supermarket, or stylish Skelters where you can display them proudly in your kitchen, and keep them in date order.
  10. Bumpa bits: Pecking in chickens is quite common. They can sting with their beaks on the heads of other hens, pluck the feathers, or simply sting the other hen until they bleed. It is a habitual and frequent behavior, it can be caused for the sake of hierarchy or for any other reason: heat, food… In the event of a big crisis in your flock, you can opt for an astonishing solution: bumpa bits. Installed on the beak of your bird, the clip will prevent your hen from pecking and harming the other birds. The end of the spout does not close completely and allows your hen to drink and eat safely.

If you are worried about running out of a product or are unsure of what to buy, we have specially collated packs with all the essential products for the good health of your chickens:

               

Chicken Keeping Ultimate Starter Pack – Omlet            Ultimate Chicken Health Pack – Omlet

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


What are the legal requirements for chicken keeping?

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/

A fresh egg every day – that’s just one of the best things about having your own flock of chickens in your garden. But it’s not that simple. For the private keeping of chickens, there are some legal frameworks and conditions you must take into consideration – and those may differ from country to country.

To receive the most accurate and timely information and policies to avoid obsolete and incorrect information, please always contact the responsible authority for a local law and/or ordinance regarding livestock and poultry or an official veterinarian as a first point of contact.

Do you need to register your chickens?

Depending on the country you live in, you might need to register your chickens. In some countries, like the UK or U.S., you must register your chickens within one month by using the compulsory registration form if you keep 50 or more birds in your premises. This is important, as if you don’t register your chickens, you’re breaking the law. The law also applies if you keep flocks made up of different species, – chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, patridges, pheasants, pigeons or turkeys – and birds for the consumption of meat and eggs.

In Germany, every single chicken has to be registered directly on the first day with the responsible veterinary office and must be reported to the animal disease fund. This applies to all types of poultry. This is important in order to reduce the risk of spread of an epidemic quickly and efficiently.

How many chickens make a perfect flock?

To answer this question, one major consideration is how much space you have for your chickens and how many eggs you need.

As a mature hen lays about two eggs in three days on average, keeping three to six chickens will ensure you always have a steady supply of eggs for your family. However, if your family really loves eggs or plans to give eggs away occasionally, you may wish to consider expanding your flock.

In general, it’s good to start with at least three chickens – if there’s an unexpected death, you won’t be left with a lonely one. In a breeding flock, a rooster will need four to six hens.

Space requirements of chickens vary depending on the size and breed of the chicks, and how long you are free ranging the chickens during the day. Although it is recommended to have a minimum size of 2-3 square feet per hen, please keep in your mind, the bigger, the better!

Nevertheless, it is important to have an outdoor enclosure, like the Walk In Chicken Run, to keep your chickens safe from avian predators. Another good defense against unwanted “night visitors” is a chicken coop door. If you come home late in the evening and need an alternative way of closing them safely inside, an Automatic Chicken Coop Door is recommended. With the control panel you can set the automatic door so that it opens and closes the coop at a certain time or based on the rising and setting sun.

The Omlet Autodoor opens horizontally, meaning it cannot simply be lifted up when it is closed by predators, so you and your chickens can sleep peacefully knowing that you have the safest automatic chicken door in the world.

If you have ground predators, you can also protect your flock with an electric poultry fencing.

Do my chickens need to be vaccinated?

Different countries have different requirements for poultry vaccinations, so check with the government environmental website or a local vet for advice. However, there are some diseases you should be aware of and may consider vaccinating against, such as the Bird Flu (e.g. Avian Influenza), Newcastle disease and Marek’s disease.

Bird Flu can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. In the worst scenario, if e.g. the avian influenza affects a flock, the flock has to be put down. These viruses do not normally infect humans. For more information, please visit our blog article What You Need To Know About Avian Flu

The Newcastle disease can vary from mild to severe and unfortunately, there is no treatment for Newcastle disease yet – but when given between 14 and 21 days of age, a vaccine can help to prevent this disease. Newcastle disease is also transmissible to humans.

Marek’s Disease is caused by a chicken herpes virus and affects the chicken’s central nervous system. Like many herpes viruses, once an animal becomes infected, it will be infected for life. However, not all infected birds will get sick. This disease isn’t contagious to humans.

For the health and safety of your chicken and flock, and to prevent the risk of spread, it is definitely recommended to vaccinate them. Especially if you plan to sell or buy chickens, you need to vaccinate your hens.

And remember: always isolate new flock members for at least 30 days!

Do I need permission for chicken keeping?

The Eglu Cube accomodates up to 6 large hens

Depending on where you live, some cities and towns have restrictions and regulations on chicken keeping, for example, the number of chickens that can be kept, the minimum and maximum size of the coop in which the chickens will be housed or a minimum distance to the neighbouring property. Some areas prohibit the keeping of roosters due to the extra noise; others require that all chickens be leg-banded for identification purposes.

However, you may also be subject to by-laws, lease conditions or the deeds to your house preventing you from keeping chickens, and there are rules that may apply to back-garden poultry keepers, so be sure to check your local restrictions before buying chickens.

In addition, you might want to consider your neighbours when raising chickens. Although lots of people will be won over with the promise of fresh eggs, it might be a good idea to check with your neighbours first, and assess your gardens to ensure you’ve done all you can to prevent your hens hopping over to their vegetable patch!

What are other considerations of keeping chickens in my yard?

Some regulations require you to meet some minimum requirements. In Spain, for example, the legislative provisions stipulate, you need to keep the noise level as low as possible, the chicken coop must be well illuminated and regular veterinary care must be provided.

Most suburban councils will limit the number of birds you can keep or even prohibit roosters on residential properties due to the disturbance they could cause to neighbours.

Photo by furbymama on pixabay

Australia is an interesting example of how different local restrictions can be. In Victoria, residences with backyards can have a maximum of five chickens, whereas New South Wales allows no more than 10 chickens in residential areas. In Western Australia, owners can keep up to 12 poultry birds. Furthermore, it is prohibited to keep roosters in general in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Even the height of the perch where your chooks sleep on is set at around 30 cm off the ground.

Although there are many different regulations andlaws when it comes to chicken keeping, there is one inevitable rule which applies to all countries and local areas: chickens need access to fresh bedding, food and water at all times!

Always be sure you are in accordance with local ordinances and up-to-date before embarking on your chicken-keeping endeavor, especially as policies and law can change. Obtaining information such as the correct local hen house keeping (farming method for laying hens) or the examination of species-appropriate hen houses is important, – each country has its own animal welfare requirements and regulations, and should not be ignored.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


How to Calm an Aggressive Cockerel

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/

Cockerels have three main purposes in a flock of chickens. They protect the hens by warning of any danger, they enable you to breed your own chicks, and they look fabulous. Sometimes, however, the cockerel’s protective instincts becomes a problem, and the bird becomes over-aggressive. This can be a particular issue in the spring, which is the breeding season.

cockerel

Image by Anthony Scanlon from Pixabay

Cockerels are wired to protect their hens. If you watch the flock foraging in a garden, the loud clucking of a hen will bring the cockerel running to make sure everything’s okay. If a hen squawks when you pick her up, the cockerel will put on an aggressive display until you put her down again. As long as this doesn’t involve physical attacks, there’s no problem. Some cockerels will physically attack, though.

If these face-offs continue, the cockerel might decide that you – and all humans – represent danger and will try to fight you off at all times. Luckily, you can usually defuse the situation. 

Cockerels give warning of their intention to attack. They lower their heads and perform a strutting dance while looking straight at you. Things get trickier if the cockerel decides to run up and attack your legs, like an angry farmyard goose. If you’re walking away, the cockerel may chase you from the yard, and that can cause nasty surprises too.

How Do You Stop a Rooster From Attacking You?

  • Don’t walk straight towards the cockerel when you enter the place where the chickens are kept.
  • Don’t stare at the cockerel unless he’s already behaving aggressively, as this is a sign of aggression as far as he’s concerned – you’re fixing your eyes on him and his flock just like a predator would.
  • Don’t tiptoe around or run away if the cockerel looks at you, as these are signs that you’re afraid, and the cockerel might take this as a cue to rush in and finish the job!
  • Don’t dash around the yard – the cockerel equates quick movements with predators. Go about your business in the chicken yard in a calm, slow but focused way.
  • Make sure your hens are in a stress-free environment. If there are prowling dogs or unruly children running amongst the hens, their clucks and squawks will send the rooster into overdrive to protect his girls.
  • If your cockerel brings you small ‘gifts’ such as stones or twigs, don’t be too flattered. He is treating you like a hen, and you will have to refuse the gifts and shoo him away, otherwise he will think he’s subdued you with his presents!
  • Don’t crowd the cockerel. If he feels trapped in a corner, he is likely to fight his way out.

How to Handle an Aggressive Cockerel

Never respond to an angry cockerel with violence.

Attack cockerel

Image by Linda Saayman from Pixabay

This will have no positive effect on the cockerel or flock’s behaviour afterwards, and it can result in serious injury to the bird. He may be aggressive, but a cockerel is still a bird, fragile bones and all. 

A cockerel should be lifted with thick protective gloves to remove him to a safe place or away from the eye of the storm. Your arms and legs shouldn’t be bare when handling the rooster, and your footwear should be sturdy too. If the cockerel is only in the early stages of aggression, he can often be calmed down with a few treats. It is a good idea to carry treats with you whenever you’re in the same place as the cockerel. After you’ve fed him a few times, he will come to associate you with treats rather than danger. The treats should be hand-offered. If you throw them down and then run away, the rooster will recognise that you’re afraid, and the problems might continue.

A more hands-on – or feet-on – method is to gently roll the cockerel over with your safely booted foot when he approaches you looking for trouble. After a few of these gentle wrestling throws, the cockerel will realise that you’re the top bird in the run and give you no more trouble. In theory, at least! 

How to Lift an Angry Cockerel

Cockerel starts pecking the ground

Image by Irina_kukuts from Pixabay

Alternatively, when the cockerel tries to peck you, scoop him up with your gloved hands and hold him like you would hold a hen, under your arm. The cockerel will flap and squawk angrily, but he will eventually calm down if you ignore these protestations. This may take 10 to 15 minutes, but it’s time well spent if it means that the cockerel will not attempt to attack you again. 

If the cockerel has not yet attacked, you may be able to deter him by taking a large, deliberate step towards him, looking at him as you do so. If the rooster starts to fidget and looks at the ground or starts pecking it, you have won the battle, and you can back down without fear of attack.

The key to all these methods is to make the cockerel realise that you’re not a threat to his hens. Protecting the flock is all he wants to do. If that doesn’t work, and if the cockerel starts to stretch his wings and neck ready for attack, stretch out your arms. Carrying a stick can help here, as it makes your ‘wingspan’ look even greater in the rooster’s eyes.

What is the Most Aggressive Rooster?

Circumstantial evidence suggests that some cockerels are just born mean! In these cases, the cockerel’s instinct to protect a flock of hens is in constant overdrive. The aggression is occasionally seen when the birds are still chicks, although it is more usual for the aggression to kick in at 6 to 8 months old. Although the breed of the chicken makes a certain amount of difference, even supposedly gentle breeds can sometimes decide to take no prisoners in the chicken yard!

The most aggressive rooster breeds are said to be Aseel (allegedly the biggest bullies of all), Cornish, Leghorn, Malay, Old English Game and all other traditional ‘cockfighting’ or ‘game’ species.

What is the Least Aggressive Rooster?

The least aggressive roosters include the Australorp, Brahma, Polish, Silkie and Welsummer. Bantam breeds tend to be relatively calm, too. However, there are occasional ‘bad pennies’ in all breeds, and some cockerels just seem to hit an aggressive streak and never entirely leave it behind.

Constantly aggressive roosters are a real problem, especially if you have children wandering in the garden. A cockerel readily backs up his anger with a physical attack, and he is armed with sharp spurs – the spikes on his legs – that can do real damage. If all attempts to calm the cockerel down fail, the tyrant rooster will have to be rehoused. 

If you have chosen a non-aggressive breed of cockerel, and if your chickens have lots of space, you will seldom have major problems with rooster aggression. Let cockerels know who’s boss as soon as they hit adulthood, never accept those tempting little gifts, and you should be recognised by all your chickens as being top of the pecking order.

 

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Go Bold with 10% off Purple Eglu Cubes!

Want to make a statement? Go Big, Go Bold, Go Purple with 10% off Purple Eglu Cube Chicken Coops!

*Includes runs, run extensions and wheels when bought with the purple Cube house.

Use promo code: GOBOLD

Hurry – offer ends 31st of January 2021. T&C’s apply.

 

Terms and conditions

Promotion of 10% off Purple Eglu Cubes runs from 28/01/21 until midnight on 31/01/21. Use promo code GOBOLD at checkout. Includes purple Eglu Cube chicken coops only. Includes runs, run extensions and wheels when bought as part of a purple Cube package only. Excludes all green Cubes, and individual Cube accessories sold separately. Exclude purple Cube feeders and drinkers. 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 are the New Bird Flu Rules for Chicken Keepers, and Which Wild Birds Spread the Disease?

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is back in the headlines, and new restrictions have been imposed on chicken keepers. In these circumstances, it is natural to ask whether wild birds present a major risk.

Wild birds are not the main source of the spread of the disease, however, even though they can act as reservoirs for the virus. It is human commercial activities associated with poultry farming that are the major cause of the bird flu’s spread across the world. If you are keeping just a few chickens, most of the risks can be avoided by simple hygiene and protective housing measures.

Avian influenza (bird flu)

As its name suggest, the avian flu virus is a form of influenza (flu) biologically adapted to bird hosts. Avian influenza is not a virus specific to chickens and poultry, and in theory any bird, wild or domestic, can be infected. The disease is always been at large somewhere in the world, and the safety risk for UK wild birds and bird keepers is currently quite high.

Bird flu – good news and bad news

In theory, any species of wild bird can catch the flu. Waterfowl such as geese, swans and ducks are thought to be major carriers of the disease, sometimes displaying no symptoms themselves. Chickens that come into contact with avian influenza are likely to catch it.

But let’s look at the good news first. The risk to human health from wild bird diseases, including avian influenza, are extremely low. In 99.9% of cases, humans affected by the highly virulent H5N1 strain of the bird flu have caught it from intensively reared poultry. The disease is not easily transmitted from human to human, and there have been no cases of avian influenza in humans in the UK, in spite of the safety risk for UK birds currently classed as high.

Similarly, chickens that are kept in runs and subject to common sense precautions are unlikely to catch the disease. Unless you live in an area suffering a major avian influenza outbreak, the visitors to your bird table are unlikely to be carriers of the disease.

Now for the bad news… If only one wild bird in a thousand is a carrier of avian influenza, that’s still one too many. Like it or not, backyard chickens are at risk. This is why new rules and new housing measures were introduced in December 2020.

What are the new rules for keeping chickens due to bird flu?

On 14 December 2020 it became a legal requirement for all poultry keepers, regardless of the size of the flock, to keep their birds indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures to combat the spread of avian influenza. A joint statement from the three Chief Veterinary Officers announced:

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. We have not taken this decision lightly, but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

 

All poultry keepers must implement these new housing measures and precautions until further notice:

  • House all poultry and captive birds, or keep them in a run or fenced-off area outdoors
  • Cover the runs or pens with a solid top to minimise wild bird droppings entering the enclosure
  • Do not allow people other than the owners to enter the run or enclosure
  • Implement effective vermin control (rats, etc) as these animals can spread disease
  • Disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment and other items used for cleaning the chicken coop and run, along with the feeders, drinkers, etc.
  • Use the same pair of boots when entering the run or enclosure, and do not use this footwear for any other purpose (walking, shopping, etc)
  • Make sure the chickens’ feed and water is separate from wild birds
  • Keep weed wild bird tables and feeding stations away from the chicken run 

Avian flu in wild birds

The chances of a human catching avian influenza directly from birds that visit the garden are practically nil. This is no reason to avoid basic precautions, however, especially if you keep chickens. Keeping bird feeding stations clean is important, to avoid droppings and moulds accumulating. These can impact the health of wild birds and lower their immune systems. You should always wash your hands after restocking or cleaning a feeding station, or after any situation that brings you into contact with bird droppings (feeding the ducks in the local park, for example).

Sick or dead wild birds should not be touched. In general, you do not need to report the discovery of a dead bird. However, if dead ducks, geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey should be reported, as should the discovery of five or more dead birds of any species in one place. In these situations, contact the Defra helpline (03459 335577; 0300 200 7840 in Northern Ireland).

How do I know if my chicken has bird flu? 

Chickens with avian influenza will display various symptoms. They may be less active than usual, and will lose their appetite and show signs of nervousness. Their egg production will drop, and eventually their combs and wattles will look swollen, with a blue discoloration. Other avian influenza symptoms in poultry include coughs, sneezes and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, many of these avian influenza symptoms are associated with other ailments, too, so a vet will need to make the diagnosis.

It can take 14 days for an avian influenza outbreak to spread throughout a flock. Some infected birds may exhibit no signs, even though they are still potential virus carriers. Others may sicken and die very quickly.

How to treat avian flu in chickens

You can reduce the risk of avian influenza in your poultry by following the latest guidelines issued by Defra and the government. The NFU has a very useful page containing guidance and the latest news regarding bird flu.

Vaccination of a flock at risk from the avian influenza virus is the only method of prevention. If avian influenza affects a flock, the flock has to be put down. 

This is from the Gov.uk website:

“All bird keepers (whether you have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.”

The main takeaway messages 

  • The new rules about housing chickens apply to everyone
  • Feeding wild birds in the garden is still safe
  • Simple precautions and good cleaning regimes minimise the dangers

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Are my chickens too cold?

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/

Chickens are hardy birds, and are fantastically good at adapting to the climate, whether it’s midsummer or deepest winter. Unless the winter in your area is very harsh, your chickens will be able to keep warm by snuggling up in the coop, and the cold weather will not prevent them from going about their usual business of scratching and pecking through the run or garden.

How do chickens keep warm in the winter?

The chicken’s secret is natural insulation. Their feathers help them retain body heat and warm the air trapped beneath their downy under-feathers. When she’s at rest, a hen’s body temperature is 40–43C, and her heart rate is around 400 beats per minute – evidence of a high metabolism that sets up the birds very well for winter weather.

Watching chickens scratch at the frozen ground or strut through the snow, you might wonder how they manage to keep their feet and legs warm. After all, this is one part of their body with no feathers to keep it cosy (unless you happen to have a feathery-legged breed such as the Cochin, Brahma or Silkie). The answer lies in the chicken’s leg scales, which retain heat to a certain extent. The average chicken will always be on the move, not keeping all its toes on the ground for too long.

How can you tell if chickens are too cold?

You can tell if a hen is feeling cold by simply looking at her. She will have her feathers ruffled up and will be perched off the ground, probably with one leg tucked up. Her wattles and comb may look paler than usual. These are not signs of distress, and as long as the chicken is only having a brief rest, rather than staying hunkered up for the whole day, you don’t have to worry.

Chickens are should not be allowed to remain soaking wet. This is more dangerous than the outdoor temperature or the falling snow, and in extreme cases will result in hypothermia. An affected hen will be stiff and cold to the touch, with her eyes wider and unblinking, or closed. If you find one of your chickens in this state, take her indoors and wrap her in a warm towel. When she recovers, put her in a bedding-lined box in a warm spot for a few hours.

Does perching keep chickens warm?

Like many other birds, chickens often adopt the ‘one leg’ pose in the winter, 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. Like all birds, chickens are warm-blooded, and their own body heat soon works its magic.

Perching is the most effective way for a chicken to retain body heat. A hen hunkers down when roosting, with her feathers fluffed up and her legs tucked into her warm body. If space allows, install a flat perch in your coop or run. This will enable the hens to roost without having to curl their toes around the roosting bar, which in really cold weather will prevent their toes freezing. An upturned pot, a log, pallet or other slightly elevated space will give the birds a flat surface to perch on, to escape the ice and snow.

How cold is too cold for chickens?

Chickens will regulate their temperature and behaviour accordingly, so wherever humans can live, chickens can thrive too. It is the combination of cold and wet that can prove fatal, so ensuring a dry coop is vital, and any bird who becomes soaked should be towelled dry. Applying Vaseline to their combs will prevent frost bite.

Can chickens freeze to death?

Cold conditions will not usually kill chickens, as long as they have a warm coop to retire too when the weather become extreme. Cold hens may be more susceptible than usual to illness and parasites, though, and their egg production will fall. The chickens will simply hunker down on perches and in nesting boxes, with their feathers fluffed out.

What’s the best chicken coop for cold weather?

The type of coop you have makes a big difference. In really cold winters, a wooden coop with a draughty coop door can soon become damp and semi-frozen – not to mention very draughty – while a more robust state-of-the-art structure such as the Eglu will keep out the cold and damp and enable chickens to defrost after a busy day in the run. The temperature in the Eglu will remain relatively high when all the hens are tucked in at night.

You can help your backyard chickens keep warm in the frost and snow by making sure the coop is clean and dry. Clear out any snow dragged in on the birds’ feet, and keep an insulating layer of straw on the floor. You can give the birds extra protection by insulating the run – although there should still be some ventilation, to allow the gases released from the birds’ droppings to escape.

An automatic door will help keep the living quarters snug, too. If installing a heater, it must be one designed specifically for hen houses, and it’s best to use it only if the temperature dips below -5°C, otherwise hens may get used to being cosy all the time, and that could be disastrous if the heater fails and the birds are suddenly exposed. Heat-pampered poultry can die of cold shock.

What happens if a chick gets too cold?

Chicks and young hens are more susceptible to the cold than adult chickens. If a young chicken has its full coat of feathers, it will be as hardy as the older birds. Chicks, however, will need protection from the cold, and should be kept under an appropriate heat lamp. Any chick left to fend for itself in cold weather will die.

Cold Weather Tips

The following precautions will help ensure happy chickens in winter:

  • Protect combs and wattles from frostbite with petroleum jelly or an equivalent product.
  • Prevent water from freezing. Check it at least twice a day to keep it clear of ice. If a freeze is forecast, bring the containers indoors at night, or, if possible, buy a water heater designed for the job of preventing freezing.
  • Chickens usually return to the coop at dusk, but in the winter you may find your birds trying to get more pecking time from the short days. If your hens tend to wander in the dark, a high visibility hen coat will help you locate them, and will ensure they’re visible to anyone else, should they stray from the garden. The coats also keep the birds cosy, so it’s a double blessing in the winter.
  • Heat lamps or oil filled radiators can provide extra warmth in sheds and outbuildings, but are generally only needed for frail birds or ones with lots of feathers missing (such as ex-battery hens). The space should be made slightly less chilly rather than actually warm.
  • If you do not have a cosy Eglu, a wooden coop can be insulated with bubble-wrap, cardboard or old carpets or blankets.
  • Extra bedding on the floor of the coop will help keep the chickens warm, too.
  • Providing weather-proof shelter in the chicken run will give the hens some respite.
  • Some extra corn offered as a treat before the hen’s bedtime will act as an internal heater as the chickens digest it overnight. In general, hens will eat more food in the cold months, as more of their energy is spent keeping warm.
  • Some owners like to supplement their chickens’ diets with extra protein or a little suet, to increase their fat levels for the winter. Fat retains heat, and the whole bird benefits – not just the legs.

So, the answer to the question ‘Are my chickens suffering from the cold?’ is usually ‘no’. Make sure the hens’ environment – specifically the coop and run – is fit for all weathers, and your hens will be too.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Help, my chicken keeps flying away!

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/

Help, my chicken keeps flying away!

It’s nice to have chickens in your garden but they need to stay there! Seeing them fly away and attempting to catch them again is not necessarily the easiest of tasks. It’s stressful for everyone and sometimes even dangerous for your chickens! So what is the solution? Cut off their wings? Obviously not, but here are a number of flap busting techniques that may help to keep your feathery friends on the ground.

Why does my chicken want to fly away?

If you are dealing with a runaway chicken it could be for several reasons. Each chicken’s character is different from one bird to another. While some like to lounge under a tree or in their chicken run, others prefer to frolic in search of freedom. This traveling and sometimes adventurous spirit can be associated with certain breeds of chickens. So, it’s not uncommon to find breeds such as the Leghorn or the Gauloise, for example, perched on a branch to rest. This is mainly due to their lighter weight in comparison to other breeds. Evolved with a fairly developed herd instinct, it only takes one chicken to take flight for the rest to follow suit.

However, sometimes your chickens may fly away, or even jump, not to rest but to escape a situation. A sudden or unusual situation can induce panic. A visit from a dog, the presence of a wild predator such as a fox, or the triggering of an unexpected high pitched noise can stress your hens and cause them to flee. They then have two options: run or try to fly. Under stress, fear and panic they can easily surprise you and fly higher than you think. They may even injure themselves in a panic to get away. So how do you avoid this kind of situation?

How can I prevent my chicken from flying away?

There are three main precautions that can be taken when you have a flight-happy chicken:

  • Choose a quiet but well placed area in your garden to set up your chicken coop. If you have space, keep the chicken coop away from potential dangers: roads, parking areas, children’s toys. Here, your chickens should feel safe. Their chicken coop is their home, they need to be able to eat, peck and sleep in peace.

  • Invest in a fairly large enclosure. Having a high enough fence can deter them from trying to fly and protect them from potential animal attacks and external dangers.
    An enclosed space, like the Walk in Chicken Run, is ideal for giving chickens a safe area to exercise and stretch their wings, without escape.

  • The third precaution is often known to chicken owners, but it is not often applied. However, this is an elementary precaution when bringing a bird into a chicken coop. It regards cutting the feathers of a single wing in order to unbalance your chicken and stop them from being able to take flight

    . But how to do it? Take a pair of clippers and cut the flight feathers, that is, the larger feathers. You can also cut the primary and secondary flight feathers. The feathers must be cut halfway for it to be effective. Rest assured, we only cut Keratin (what our hair and nails are made of). It’s like going to the hairdressers!

Find the tutorial video “How to Clip your Chickens Wings (Safe and painless) (Easy to do)” by here.

Providing a comfortable living space, and large, safe enclosure will keep your hens happy and healthy in their home. And if necessary, wing clipping can be an effective solution for particularly determined escapees.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Christmas Gift Guide – For the Chicken Keeper

Eglu Cube / Eglu Go / Eglu Go UP

This is the ideal time to treat yourself to that chicken coop you have been dreaming about! If would like to start keeping chickens in the new year, the Eglu Go or Eglu Go UP are brilliant starter coops for 3-4 hens. If you currently have a smaller Eglu, or keep chickens in a coop that is starting to look a bit worse for ware, you might want to consider investing in an Eglu Cube, our largest chicken coop with space for up to 10 small bantam hens.

All Eglus are super safe, very easy to clean and can be moved around the garden as often as you like. This makes life easier and more relaxing for both you and your pets!

Eglu Chicken Coops are currently discounted by up to 20% in our Winter Sale!

Chicken Accessories

Omlet’s amazing range of Chicken Toys and Accessories make great Christmas gifts for chicken keepers of all ages. Interactive food toys like the Poppy and Pendant Peck Toys and the Caddi Treat Holder that can be filled with fresh veg and hung from the roof of the run will entertain chickens during the cold winter months, as will the super fun Chicken Swing and the more traditional Chicken Perch.

All these accessories are currently significantly discounted, so why not take the opportunity to get the whole hentertainment bundle?

Boughton

If you’re planning to treat a traditionalist that prefers to keep their hens in a wooden chicken coop this Christmas, we’ve got just the house for you. The timeless, yet practical, design of the Boughton makes it easier to keep chickens happy and healthy, and any chicken keeper will enjoy seeing the coop in the garden every morning. It also comes untreated, so that the person getting this very generous gift can decide what look they would like to go for!

The Boughton is now 15% off in the Omlet Winter Sale!


Click here for full terms and conditions.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


How to Catch a Chicken

Photo by Jim Tegman on Unsplash

Only very tame pet hens enjoy being picked up. Most chickens find the whole procedure stressful, so you should only catch or handle them if you have to.

There are a few reasons why you might need to know how to catch a chicken. Your hens might be in danger, might require a clean-up after coming into contact with something oily or sticky, or you might need to carry out a chicken health check.

There are various ways to catch a chicken. If the hen is in danger as a result of escaping onto a road or into a garden with a dog in it, you can usually manage things by ‘herding’ the chicken rather than trying to lift it. If a dog is the problem, controlling or confining the dog is the first thing to sort out. If the hen has escaped and you need to catch her, guiding her back to safety by standing with your arms stretched out to the sides and encouraging her to return to the chicken coop is the best option. In these situations, the chicken will desperately want to find her fellow hens, so ‘steer’ her towards the hole in the fence or the open gate, or whichever escape route she took.

If the hen has flapped over a wall, however, you may have to resort to old fashioned hunting techniques for catching chickens.

How Do You Catch a Stray Chicken?

If your hens are very tame, you can simply offer some treats, bend down and pick them up. If only it were that easy with every chicken! Some are about as easy to catch as a fast-moving bar of wet soap – they can sprint at speeds of around 9 miles (14.5 km) per hour – and you will usually have to corner them first if you want to catch them.

If a hen has escaped or you spot her running away, or simply hidden somewhere in a large garden or meadow where you can find to trace of her, the best approach is to be patient and rely on the chicken’s homing instinct. As dusk begins to fall, the hen will instinctively head back to the coop. This is one of the handy things about keeping poultry!

The Best Way to Catch a Chicken

Do chickens like being picked up? In general, the answer is no. But if you’re trying to catch a chicken for whatever reason there are various ways of doing so. Not all of them can be recommended for the non-expert chicken keeper.

  • Using a pole with a hook or noose for catching a chicken. Let’s get the dangerous one out of the way first. A pole, hook or noose should only be used by experts when trying to catch a chicken. This is a dangerous tool, and in the wrong hands the poultry hook or noose can break a chicken’s leg or neck as you try to grab it, so our advice is to avoid it.
  • Using a net to catch chickens. Nets can be dangerous tools, as a chicken’s claws can snag in the netting, causing injury. If you opt for this method, the chickens should be netted as quickly as possible to minimise stress – although forever afterwards the sight of that net will send the poor hen into a panic! You should always use as large a net as possible for catching your chickens. A blanket may offer a safer way to catch them.
  • Using crate traps for catching chickens. Putting irresistible treats into a crate, and then slyly closing the door with a pole or long stick is an effective method. The main drawback is that all the other chickens will be tempted to take a look inside too!
  • Boxes for catching chickens. A large box can be placed over a cornered bird in the coop or run, and the flaps can be tucked in to secure the chicken. This technique can be useful if you need to capture chickens in daylight (although it works at night, too) and if they tend to be aggressive.
  • Torchlight makes chickens easier to catch. This is the simplest and most effective method when you need to trap a roosting chicken. When chickens are with the rest of the flock in the coop or run on their roosting bars or perches or in their nesting boxes at night, they instinctively stay put. If you open the top of the coop and shine a torch in (head-mounted ones are perfect), you’ll be able to pinpoint the hen you need to examine, and grab her up with minimal fuss.

Picking Up the Chicken

When picking up the hen, try to be firm but not rough. Getting a good grip and preventing the wings from flapping is the key. The correct method is to hold the chicken by placing your hand over its back, confining the wings, and then bring it close to your body. If the bird is very nervous, you may have to cover her with a towel to calm her down.

A tame hen is the easiest type of chicken to capture. Simply lure the hen in with a few treats, and grab her, stroking her back to reassure her. Once the cleaning or the examination is over, put the chicken on the ground and step back. She will do the rest, scuttling back to the safety of the flock.

So, there are several ways to catch a chicken, but you should only put them into operation when you definitely need to catch one. Try to avoid the poultry hook or net if you can, and use the method that suits both the chicken and the circumstances.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


Moving House with Chickens

Moving house is stressful for everyone involved – and that includes pets and chickens. As far as your hens are concerned, the secret to a successful relocation is to have everything ready at the other end. In the same way as you might unpack a kettle and two mugs before opening any of the big boxes, the chicken shed and run should be ready in the garden before the first kettle boils!

Hens are prone to stress, and at the very least you can expect the egg count to plummet for a few days following a move. Weak or very nervous chickens are in particular danger, as panic can make them flap blindly and break legs, or even kill themselves. Minimising stress is therefore the key to a successful move.

The most stress-free way to get your hens ready for the move is to collect and crate/box them from the coop, rather than later in the day when they are out and about and need chasing and cornering. That is not a good way to minimise stress!

Transporting Chickens

Your hen-carriers need to be covered, well-ventilated boxes or pet crates. They should have enough space for the birds to turn around in (to prevent them from panicking at the confined space), while being dark enough to make their instincts kick in and help them snuggle down for the duration of the trip. On longer journeys, however, you will need to have enough light in the boxes to enable the hens to feed, and pet crates will make this easier.

You’ll need one box per chicken, generally, so make sure you have enough boxes for the big day. Hens with similar, placid temperaments can be transported in a single box. Each box or crate should be lined with straw to soak up the droppings, and the boxes should be stacked securely, not more than three boxes high.

It’s important that the birds don’t get too hot on the journey, so ventilation is an issue. If you only have two or three hens, they could travel on the back seat of a well-ventilated car, secured with quilts or blankets – or even seatbelts – to prevent the boxes from sliding around.

The journey itself should be taken using as many straight, non-bumpy roads as possible, combined with the need to make the trip as brief as you can. If your new home is a short stretch of motorway and a couple of A-roads away, that’s all very straightforward. Rural locations with lots of windy-road options will need more planning. If all the roads are B-roads with lots of bends, the quickest route is the best option.

In the two weeks before the move, make sure your hens’ diet is rich in all the required vitamins and minerals. Some owners recommend adding probiotics or extra vitamins to the feed, and this is something you should discuss with your vet.

For short journeys, you will not have to worry about chicken feed. On longer trips, though, food will need to be provided. Make sure you take a long break at least every three hours, to allow the confined birds to settle down and feed. If you are transporting the hens in crates, you can attach a water dispenser to the side.

A Portable Chicken Coop?

Old fashioned chicken coops can be tricky to transport, and many hen keepers prefer to erect a new run and chicken shed at their new property. This sometimes involves housing the birds in temporary accommodation while the new coop and run are being sorted out.

There are ways of avoiding the inconvenience, though. A portable coop and run can be packed away and then installed in the new garden in a few minutes, and they have the advantage of familiarity. Hens introduced into a coop that they already know inside out will reduce the stress of the move enormously.

Coops and runs such as the Eglu are ideal in this respect. Placing the coop in your new garden as soon as you arrive will enable the chickens to feel at home before you’ve even managed to open any of your removal boxes. Human will inevitably feel the stress of the moving-in process, but the hens don’t have to!

The process isn’t quite over when your hens are safely cooped up in the new garden. Stress can cause any underlying diseases to bloom, so you need to carry out daily health checks on your birds as the flock settles down in its new surroundings. This is yet another reason to consider a pack-and-go portable coop and run.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens


How Long Can I Leave My Chickens Alone for?

As with all pets, you as the owner have the main responsibility for making sure the animals are safe and happy. That means that before you go away overnight, whether it’s for work or on holiday, you will need to make sure you have a plan for the chickens, ensuring they will be alright while you’re not around. 

Chickens are much more self-sufficient than some other popular pets; they don’t need human interaction every day, will sort out their own exercise, and will not overeat even if there is more food than needed available. That being said though, there are lots of things to think about before you leave them alone.

How long can I leave my chickens alone for? 

This is not an easy question to answer, as it depends heavily on your chickens, where you live, and what your setup looks like. Even leaving your flock of chickens for a day requires some preparation. 

Hens need constant access to food and water, and enough space to move around on. This is relatively easy to organise if you’re going away for 2-3 days. The more important, and probably the trickier, thing to ensure is that the chickens are safe from predators when you are not there to keep an eye on them. Letting your chickens free range without any supervision is very risky, so you will need to have a safe enclosure that is big enough for your chickens to move around on. 

An Eglu Cube connected to a Walk in run is a perfect setup for all chicken keeping situations, but maybe particularly when you’re not able to keep a constant eye on your hens. The Walk in run can be extended to suit the number of chickens you have, and you can be sure that they won’t have to fend off any foxes or wild birds.

If you are confident your enclosure is safe and spacious enough, and that there is no risk that the chickens will run out of food and water, most flocks will be alright by themselves for a weekend. 

Should I get a chicken sitter?

If you’re going away for anything longer than three days, you will need to organise for someone to help you come and check on and take care of your chickens on a daily basis. Even if you’re just gone for one night, we would recommend asking a friendly neighbour to poke their head over the fence to make sure the hens are well. 

Accidents happen: one of your chickens could have had a fall and seems to be in pain, or a water container may have fallen over. Your friend or neighbour will then hopefully be able to refill the water or give you a call to let you know what has happened. 

You might be surprised at how many of your friends and family will be happy to go and check on your chickens once a day if they get to keep the delicious fresh eggs. If you have an automatic door that lets your chickens out in the morning and shuts behind them at night, your helpers can decide for themselves at what time of the day they would like to go. 

If you are getting someone to look after your chickens for you, it’s nice to make it as easy as possible for them before you leave home. 

What do my chickens need while I’m away?

If you have decided you feel confident that your chickens will be okay by themselves for a few days you will probably already have thought about these things, but they are still worth mentioning:

Food and water

You probably have quite a good idea of how much your chickens eat and drink in a day, it all depends on breed, age and size. It’s always better to leave a bit too much food than too little, and make sure you have more than one feeder to choose from in case something were to happen to one of them. 

Prep for different weathers

Don’t trust the weather forecast completely. Make sure the chickens can return to the coop and that they have sheltered spots on the run in case of all day rain or a particularly scorching sunny day. 

Entertainment

If your chickens are used to you coming to hang out with them after work every day they might miss the fun. Try to make up for this by giving them some fun toys to play with on the run. Some chickens absolutely love perching on the Chicken Swing, whereas others will go crazy for food dispensing toys, like the Caddi Treat Holder or Peck Toys.

No comments yet - Leave a comment

This entry was posted in Chickens