The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Chickens

Warming Winter Breakfast for your Chickens

The cold, frosty temperatures of Winter are in full swing, and while you are enjoying a warm cup of tea in the warmth of your kitchen, you might be looking out on your girls wondering how they feel about the colder weather.

If you’re looking for a new way to keep them warm first thing in the morning, or late afternoon just before they go to roost, consider making this yummy, warm corn recipe, specially for your hens, with a festive flavour which will provide extra nutrients to keep up their health this winter. It’s super simple and quick to make.

Ingredients – for 2-3 chickens

40g corn

20g oats

20g raisins

100ml hot water

Pinch of ginger, cinnamon

Method

Soak the corn, oats and raisins in hot water for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in a pinch of Ginger and Cinnamon for added nutrients for your chickens. Leave to cool slightly before feeding to chickens.

Ginger supports the immune system and provides anti-inflammatory benefits which can be particularly beneficial for a poorly hen. Cinnamon has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits, and can reduce inflammation, these are extremely good for chickens as they are likely to experience respiratory problems.

Only feed your chicken’s porridge as an occasional treat. Make this recipe outside of your kitchen to avoid cross contamination of food.

Source: https://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2015/05/spice-up-your-chicken-keeping-for.html

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Get your Chickens and their Coop ready for Winter

Winter is coming. If you’re new to keeping chickens you might wonder what you can do for your chickens to keep them happy and healthy during winter. Most chicken breeds cope well in moderately cold temperatures as long as they have a well-insulated and dry coop. Chickens normally acclimatise themselves to the cold weather, so you shouldn’t worry too much about your chickens getting too cold, especially if you have an Eglu which is well insulated. In fact, chickens are able to adapt better to the cold than they are the heat. But why not give your chickens a bit of extra protection during the winter, if only for your own piece of mind.


The basics of any chicken coop and run in the winter

 

Weather Protection and insulation. The coop must be weatherproof. As said, most chicken breeds don’t mind the cold at all but they prefer not to get wet. The chicken coop should also be insulated enough that it remains warm inside even in the midst of winter. If you have an well-insulated Eglu chicken coop you can increase the level of protection against the most extreme temperatures with our range of insulating blankets and jackets.

Ventilation. A well ventilated chicken coop will ensure that plenty of fresh air gets inside the coop. This will keep the odours down and avoids moisture build-up. When a chicken coop is too tightly insulated, not only will it retain heat, it will also retain moisture. Just make sure the coop is draft-free.

Rising damp. Rising damp can also be an issue for chicken coops. Coops should be raised off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp. If your coop doesn’t have legs fitted, you can place bricks under the coop to allow air to circulate and reduce damp. Always make sure you place or build your chicken coop and run on high ground that won’t flood during heavy rain.

Size of the coop. Make sure your chicken coop is not too big for the amount of chickens you have. When the coop is too big, your chickens won’t create enough body heat to warm up the space. Chickens huddle together and keep each other warm, so they don’t need a lot of space. Try not to open the door of the coop at night when your chickens are roosting. Be mindful that their body heat is keeping them warm and by opening the coop you will let out the build-up warmth. If you do have a large coop/stable and just a few chickens, you can put a large cardboard box on its side, half filled with chopped straw/wood shavings in a corner to help them conserve their body heat.

Run. It’s important that at least part of the chicken run is covered with a winter shade. You can even build a kind of greenhouse style addition to your coop, covering it with clear plastic. This will give your chickens a bit more space on nice days. Another tip to prevent the area under the run becoming muddy is to cover the area with bark chippings. Mud is a breeding ground for poultry worms so muddy areas should always be avoided.

Perches. Give your chickens have plenty places to roost. To prevent their feet will get too cold, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run. The perches need to be wide enough so that the chickens can cover their toes with their feathers. This will provide them with a little extra warmth which will save them from the bitter cold.

Cleaning. Keep your chicken coop clean and dry. Clean the droppings from inside the coop daily and replace the bedding as necessary. By keeping the coop both dry and clean, you will help to prevent dampness which can cause frostbite.

 

Also take care of…

Water. It is important your flock always has a source of fresh, unfrozen water. Depending on where you live this can be quite challenging. To prevent you have to keep rushing outside to swap over your drinkers every few hours, there are heated waterers like the Eton Drinker Heater. You can also wrap the drinkers up in a layer of bubble wrap to keep the water unfrozen for longer. Don’t place the water inside the coop, this can cause damp.

Feed. During winter your chickens feed consumption will typically be much higher than in the spring/summer. Often chickens enjoy warm feed, like cooked lentils or warm oatmeal with some raisins or other small dried fruits. Give your hens extra corn in the afternoon as this will heat them up internally as they digest it overnight. To encourage your chickens to keep laying eggs in the winter, always have a good amount of food available. Layer pellets have the right nutrients your chickens need throughout the winter.

Combs and Wattles. If it gets extremely cold across the winters your chickens’ combs and wattles can be in danger of getting frostbite. Most hardy chicken breeds have small combs, but if you have breeds with very large, floppy combs you will need to gently rub petroleum jelly onto their combs and wattles. You will also need to keep an eye out for coughs, colds and general symptoms of being unwell. Read our chicken breed directory to find out which birds are best suited to colder climates.

Vermin. Remember at this time of year, there are hungry rats and mice attracted to the chickens feed and water. Take extra care with the storage of your feeds. Store feed away from the coop and keep it in an airtight container. If you notice any signs of vermin, remove the feeders and drinkers at night.

Boredom. It is more likely your chickens will get bored in the winter, when there are no grass and weeds to munch and fewer bugs to feast on. This will lead to mischief, like feather pecking, egg eating etc. Prevent boredom by giving your chickens a Chicken Swings, perches, piles of leaves and/or a mirror. Read our blog “Keep your hens entertained!” for more non-food ideas for keeping your chickens busy.

 

Sources: Omlet Chicken guide, the British Hen Welfare Trust, My Pet Chicken, the Happy Chicken Coop, Fresh Eggs Daily, Poultrykeeper.com.

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Omlet Eglu Go – the perfect home for chicks and ducklings

By Lotte Denckert 


I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to test the Omlet Eglu Go. Over the spring and summer I’ve first had a brood of chicks and later a brood of ducklings living in my Eglu Go.

The house is awesome to use as a broody coop and for raising chicks. The house is easy to clean, has good draught-free ventilation, it has a good size for chicks and ducklings, and the attached run gives great protection for the little ones early on, when they are very exposed in relation to birds of prey and other unwelcome guests.

Eglu Go for raising chicks

At first, my chicks were living in a cage in our guest room. They were hatched using an incubator and needed a chick brooder in the first few months as it was very cold outside. When the temperatures started to rise and the chicks had more well developed feathers, I moved them out into the coop. I kept them here for about 10 weeks. There were 10 chicks and they fitted easily in the coop until they were large enough to move into the large chicken coop with the grown-ups. I removed the roosting bars in the coop since small chicks don’t sleep on roosting bars in the beginning. I filled the coop with a generous layer of wood shavings and straw since it was still cold in the spring.

The coop is pretty easy to move around, especially if you add the wheels. You can therefore move the coop and run when the grass starts to get dull, this way, the chicks always have fresh grass to walk around on.
It’s great to have a closed run for the first while. Small chicks are exposed to birds of prey – this run keeps the birds from attacking. My grown hens were also a danger to the chicks in the beginning. Chickens aren’t always hospitable when it comes to new members of the flock. The small chicks could be left in peace in their run and the big hens could slowly get used to their presence. This made it so much easier to introduce them later, since they were already used to each other.

Hatching and rearing in the Eglu Go

When the chicks were too large to all live in the coop, I introduced them to the large flock, and then I suddenly had an empty Eglu Go. My ducks had laid a lot of eggs in a large nest but none of them were interesting in brooding. I already had two broody silkies, so I tried putting the duck eggs under them. The chickens weren’t discriminative about the eggs, and they happily lay brooding.. About a week before the eggs were supposed to start hatching, I moved the two hens and their eggs into the empty Eglu Go. The hens were very good about it and continued their persistent brooding, a week later 8 large ducklings came into the world.

Again, I had removed the roosting bars from the coop since ducks don’t sleep on roosting bars. This way, there was also room for two nests. The hens got along fine and they didn’t seem to mind that their babies had webbed feet rather than chicken feet.

Again, the other poultry in the garden could slowly get used to the new arrivals, and for that reason, there were also no issues when, a few weeks later, I let the ducklings and their mothers out to join the others in the garden.

The benefit of having ducks in an Eglu Go is that ducks often prefer to sleep outside. At night I let them into the run attached to the Eglu Go and close the run door so they are protected from predators. At the same time, they can decide for themselves whether to sleep in the coop or out in the run. In the morning I open the run door, so they can run freely in the garden and collect slugs, snails and insects.

I can definitely recommend this coop both for chicks and ducklings, whether hatched naturally or in an incubator. It’s a good idea to choose the 3 meter run, since it gives the little ones more space to play and explore.

 

 

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Tried & tested: Autodoor customers give their feedback!

Omlet’s first ever Autodoor for chicken coops has just launched!

Designed to work with the best selling Eglu Cube as well as any wooden chicken coop. Omlet’s Automatic Chicken Coop door is battery powered and combines both a timer and a light sensor, giving you the ultimate flexibility and control.

Some customers have been testing this new Autodoor for us and we’ve been in touch with a few of them to see what they think of this fantastic new door and whether or not it has changed their lifestyles; giving them the lay in that they’ve always longed for…


Hayley from Hayley’s Lottie Haven rescued 6 Chickens in November 2017 that live in an Eglu Cube on her allotment

How are you getting on with Omlet’s new auto door? I absolutely 100% love it! It is literally a life changer for us hen mums!

Was it easy to install ? Have you installed directly onto your Cube or to the run? I installed it onto the Cube as I wanted them to be able to get up when they wanted and go back to sleep without the risk of Mr Fox getting to them. It was really easy to install and took about 20 minutes. The instructions are very user friendly.

What do you love about it? The freedom it gives me. As a new chicken keeper I understood the commitment of having chickens, although the reality is quite different. The girls like to get up at first light and for me to have even an hour lie in at the weekend, leaves me feeling guilty when I see them desperate to get out into the run. Likewise in the evening if I cannot be back for last light I worry frantically about the night time wildlife coming and disturbing the girls. However since trying the auto door a weight has been lifted. I no longer have the gruelling first light wake up call and I now know they are safely tucked up in bed while I’m out for dinner.

Which setting do you use? What is easy to set up? I use the timer setting. My chickens are kept at my allotment so unlike most I cannot keep a close eye on them out of the living room window. I have had first hand experience with foxes sniffing round the coop (the chickens were tucked up safe). That means I am extra cautious and like to let the girls out when the coast is clear so the timer allows me to have full control.

Has it changed your lifestyle? Do you finally get that lay in that most chicken keepers long for? It has completely changed my lifestyle. I even went through last winter leaving work for half a hour so I could go and lock the girls up safe and sound before dark. I suppose its not only changed my lifestyle but also my girls. I don’t think there are many people that keep chickens purely for the eggs. We all want to give the best life for our chickens, especially as mine have been rescued from a horrible life in a battery farm. So for the girls to have consistency, waking up at the same time every day, having as long as possible to roam around as they please, and then put themselves to bed knowing that they are going to be safe. Its perfect for us.

Not knowing anything about automatic doors, I didn’t know what to expect or how it would work. I may have been a bit sceptical but I was completely won over after setting it up. Being able to set the timer or use the light setting filled me with confidence. I was a tad worried about the door shutting on the girls but it moves fairly slowly and gives the girls plenty of warning. Plus it has a “crush” detector, so if anything gets in the way, it won’t close. I wasn’t sure if I would be having to refill it with batteries every two seconds as I don’t have mains electricity down my allotment, however the battery has never run down. The info panel tells you exactly how much battery is left which again gives me peace of mind.


Ruth has three chickens and has been a chicken owner for about ten years.

How are you getting on with your new Autodoor? We really like the auto door. Previously, we had a different light sensitive auto door but it was not integrated into the door and so was more likely to fail.

Where have you fitted your Autodoor? The auto door is on our Eglu and was easy to install.

What setting do you use? We use the light sensitive setting to ensure that it opens as soon as our girls are ready to get up for the day and closes shortly after they take themselves off to bed at night.

What do you love about the new Autodoor? We love the reliability of the door and the battery indicator on the controller. We used to worry about the door failing because the batteries suddenly ran out or because the wire snapped on the old auto door opener. The chickens being shut in or out would be awful.


Emma has been keeping Chickens for over 17 months and has 8 hens living in an Eglu Cube.

How are you getting on with Omlet’s new auto door? We’ve been trialing the door since May. I was very excited as I knew it was going to cut down the amount of time doing the morning chores.

It’s lived up to what I hoped it would be. It’s made mornings/evenings smoother and  I am very impressed it’s very well made.

Was it easy to install ? Have you installed directly onto your Cube or to the run? It was really easy to install my husband did it in 20 mins. We have installed it directly onto the cube.

What do you love about it? I love that this summer holiday & weekends i can lie in bed and not worry about running downstairs and going out to open up.

I can have a lie in, I Love it!  I wouldn’t be without it now.

Which setting do you use? What is easy to set up? We use the solar setting.  Yes very easy instructions to follow.

Has it changed your lifestyle? Do you finally get that lay in that most chicken keepers long for? Yes! ! Such a lovely feeling.

It has made a big difference to our family, it’s stopped the arguments of who’s turn it is. I’m looking forward to it being Autumn and Winter now!

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NEWS: Lay Long and Prosper – Chickens Take Over the Starship Henterprise

The Omlet HQ chickens have been on an important mission across the universe. To boldly go where no chicken has gone before is no mean feat, but the United Featheration have pushed the limits and travelled through space and time to deliver the most safe and convenient Automatic Chicken Coop Door available to man (and chicken).

Now we invite you to take a look on board the Starchick Henterprise, where Captain Cluck is in command as the crew hurtle towards Earth, issuing instructions to prepare for an exploration of the planet. Following frantic communication and button pressing, they are finally able to use the new addition to the Henterprise… the new Autodoor.

The chicken’s keeper heads to the garden in the morning, unaware of the chickens’ previous busy evening, and discovers a mysterious badge causing the crew to scramble back inside the Henterprise and blast back off into space, as the Autodoor closes just in time behind them.

While travelling through space, the chickens visited member states of the United Federation of Planets gathering feedback on their latest innovation, the Automatic Chicken Coop Door. Throughout their expedition the Autodoor was developed to be compatible for all wooden coops, any chicken run as well as the infamous Eglu Cube. The battery powered Autodoor and control panel were put to the test in extreme weather conditions, while the door system was developed to include an obstruction sensor making it the most safe and secure system of its kind, and ensuring no chicken will come in harm’s way.

The Automatic Chicken Coop Door works by selecting a time or light level for the door to be opened and closed at. This ensures chickens can be let out as the sun rises, so owners can stay in bed that little bit longer, and that chickens can also be safely shut away again at dusk throughout the year.

Now your chicken can join the Featheration with the Limited Edition ‘Lay Long and Prosper’ Chicken Jackets, inspired by the iconic uniforms of Captain Kirk, Scotty and Bones. Order here

Watch the full Star Trek inspired video here

Omlet’s new Automatic Chicken Coop door opener is available to pre-order now, starting from £149.99.

 

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The Autodoor Has Arrived!

Did you know that over 60% of chicken keepers aren’t getting enough sleep?! Omlet has the solution as they launch the New Automatic Chicken Coop Door.

In the last decade chicken keeping has become a hit with families wanting a slice of the good life, propelling hens into the top ten list of pets.  The reasons are clear: a supply of fresh eggs that’s the envy of your friends as well as teaching children important lessons of where their food comes from suggests that chickens really are the ultimate pet.  

However, a recent survey found that over 60% of chicken keepers wish they could spend longer in bed in the mornings with many admitting they would be willing to pay up to £200 for a solution that could prolong their lazy mornings in bed! 1 in 6 couples even admitted to regularly arguing about who should let the chickens out. What will save the UK’s chicken keepers from tiredness and possibly even divorce?

Introducing the brilliant new Automatic Chicken Coop door opener from Omlet. Designed to work with the best-selling Eglu Cube as well as any wooden chicken coop. Omlet’s Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener is battery powered and combines both a timer and a light sensor, giving you the ultimate flexibility and control.

Omlet’s Head of Product Design, Simon Nicholls, said:  “We know our customers love their chickens and always want the best for them, that’s why we designed the Autodoor so that the hens could get up when they want, which can be quite early in the summer.  It was also important to ensure that it works as well at closing the coop at night and in all weather conditions too, so we carried out extensive testing in several different countries over 2 years to perfect the design.”

The unique integrated frame and door design comes with everything you need to attach it to your chicken house or run and has been tested to work down to -20 deg C. Like a personal chicken coop concierge, the Autodoor will always make sure your chicken’s coop is securely closed at night even when you’re running late.

Sharon Burton, who has kept hens for 4 years in Oxford, believes the Autodoor has even saved her marriage! “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my chickens. I buy them the best food, I sprinkle dried flowers in their nest box to keep it fresh, but I always felt guilty if I didn’t hop straight out of bed at the crack of dawn to let them out and whenever I asked my husband Paul to do it he would pretend to be asleep! When Omlet asked me to test the Autodoor I was delighted, it’s saved my marriage!”

Omlet’s new Automatic Chicken Coop door opener is available to pre-order now! Prices starting from £149.99.

 

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7 Ways to Help Your Chickens Stay Cool This Summer

En flok høns nyder at gå i det grønne sommergræs

Did you know that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through those feathers. Chickens also enjoy lying down in the shade when it’s very hot, and of course they drink lots of water. Did you know that it is actually easier for chickens to keep themselves warm in winter than it is for them to cool down during the summer? It isn’t just an issue of comfort either – chickens can die of heatstroke. Since chickens have a hard time cooling themselves down, when it gets extremely hot they rely on you to help them. So, what can you do to help your chickens keep cool in the summer heat?

Here are our 7 top tips:

1) WaterEn flok høns drikker vand af et Eglu Cube vandtrug

Eggs consist mainly of water, so producing an egg absorbs a lot of water from a hen’s body. Drinking cool water is also one of the main ways in which chickens cool themselves down. Your chickens will therefore need lots of fresh, clean and cool water in the heat of the summer. It’s best to change the water every day to make sure they have this. It is also a good idea to provide several water sources so all your chickens can drink at the same time and don’t have to fight for access and end up dehydrating.

Another way you can use water to help your chickens cool down is by providing some shallow pools where they can dip and cool their feet and legs, remember that this is one of the areas where heat leaves their bodies. Try filling some shallow bowls or tubs and leaving them around in the run or your garden. If your chickens don’t like to stand directly in the water you can try placing a brick in there which will be cooled by the water and which the chickens can then stand on top of.

 

Eglu Cube hønsehuset er hævet over jorden

2) Shade

It is absolutely essential to provide shade for your chickens and even more so when it gets really hot. If you let your chickens free-range in the garden they might be able to find shade under trees and bushes but in any case it is a good idea to provide shade in the run as well. You can easily create shady spots in the run for instance by having a raised coop and/or attaching covers to the run.

 

 

 

3) Treats and FeedingHøns elsker vandmelon

Try giving you hens some cool treats such as frozen berries, vegetables or pieces of fruit. You could even create hanging treats by freezing your chickens’ favourite treats in an ice cube tray with a string in the middle so they can hang in the run. Or try keeping a whole watermelon in the fridge to cool it down before serving as a summery treat.

Be careful not to give your chickens too many treat though, as you want to make sure they eat their layers pellets. Chickens eat less when it’s extremely hot because digestion produces more body heat, so it’s important to make sure they eat the right things and get the vitamins and minerals they need. Try feeding your chickens during the cooler parts of the day such as in the evening. See tip #4 as well.

 

 

En høne har fundet sig det perfekte støvbad - i blomsterbedet

4) Nutritional Supplements

It is a good idea to give your hens some nutritional supplements in the heat such as vitamins and tonics which can be added directly to their food or water. These can improve absorption of minerals, give your chickens a boost to improve their overall health and help them cope better with the heat.

Apple cider vinegar, for instance, can help with calcium absorption in the body which is essential for egg shell production.

 

5) Dust Baths

Chickens love to dust bathe in the warm weather, but you might not want them scraping around in your flower beds. The best thing to do is to build another flower bed (but not for your flowers) and fill it with some sand, soil and some louse powder. If you have a large flock you might even want to provide several spaces so all your chickens have a chance to dust bathe in the shade.
Make sure that you place the dust bath in a sheltered spot or cover it up when your chickens aren’t using it otherwise the rain might turn it into a mud bath.

 

Tre høns leder efter lækkerier i haven6) Space

Your chickens will need plenty of space during the hot summer months so make sure they aren’t overcrowded. It will be even hotter for them if they are crowded too closely together. Chickens need to be able to spread out and spread their wings for ventilation, and everyone in the flock needs to be able to drink cool water and lie in the shade at any time.

 

7) Cool Coop

All Omlet Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin-wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing. This means they do not overheat in the summer. They are also built with a draught-free ventilation system, carefully designed to avoid air blowing directly over the roosting area whilst allowing fresh air to circulate.

If you have a wooden chicken coop, it is important to think about how you can keep the coop nice and cool for your chickens. Make sure you create plenty of ventilation either by opening windows in the coop or by using a fan. Be careful not to have too much thick and heavy bedding as it absorbs heat. Also keep an eye out for mould if you’ve got a wooden coop. Mould can make straw and hay start to rot faster, thereby producing more heat, so make sure you clean out the coop regularly and especially at any signs of mould.

If your chickens are reluctant to go into the hot coop during the day to lay their eggs you could try providing nesting boxes for them outside in cooler, shaded areas.

We wish you and your chickens a lovely summer!

Sources: https://www.fresheggsdaily.com, http://www.henrescue.org, https://www.omlet.dk, https://www.backyardchickens.com

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An Eggcellent School Project

A school in Italy, Agrinido e Agriasilo Montessoriano Al Nido dell’Aquila’ has recently bought an Eglu Cube and Eglu Classic Chicken Coop for their educational programme on nature and pet caring.

We spoke with Mr Colombo’s about their new exciting project.

“Our farm with vegetable garden area produces fruit and vegetable and has recently added a nursery and a kindergarten following the Montessori method.

According to the Montessori method, the outside space needs to be prepared and organised as well as the classrooms inside the building. Therefore, we created and equipped an area
of our farm for the purpose of having children grow and care for the vegetables and also the pets (chickens and tortoises).

We wanted our little students to care for their own chickens for different reasons: firstly, to teach them how to care for another living being, and secondly, for the daily exiting reward of
getting delicious fresh eggs. Moreover, chicken- and pet-keeping has been a valuable starting point to teach numbers to the children, not to mention that the eggs were perfect to
paint and use as Easter decorations!

In order to assure that our students had the best and most educational experience, we needed something practical, clean and safe. In addition, it has to fit in the 55sqm we dedicated to the project. We decided to choose an Eglu Chicken Coop as, compared to regular wooden coops, plastic was easy to clean, highly hygienic, wouldn’t rot and would last for a very long time.

We decided to opt for Omlet’s Eglu Cube, as we valued the possibility to move the coop regularly. We move our Eglu every Saturday, in order to allow our chickens to enjoy new fresh grass every week. We were pleased to discover that one person can easily move such a big coop alone thanks to the wheels.

The size of the coop was also essential: it has to be accessible by small children. The Eglu Cube features a lateral door for easy access to the nest and eggs which is at the perfect height even for 2-year-old children. Thanks to this, our students can easily collect eggs in complete autonomy.

After a year, we wanted to expand the program and we bought another coop, the Eglu Classic, which we use to keep chicks. Keeping chicks helps children learning about time flowing and the phases of life from the egg incubation, to hatching and growing, and the patience necessary to wait for all these changes to happen.”

The Eglu Cube Chicken Coop is the ideal way to keep up to 10 chickens in a town or country garden – find out more here

The Eglu Classic Chicken Coop is an easy to move starter chicken house suitable for 2-4 birds – find out more here

If you are a school looking to purchase an Eglu Chicken Coop please email hello@omlet.co.uk or call 01295 500900

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A Quacking Rescue Story

A few weeks ago the Springfield Sanctuary in Banbury gained a few extra guests.  Two broods of ducklings arrived at the sanctuary a week apart. We’ve spoken to Joanne, the owner of the sanctuary to find out more about them and to see how they are getting on in their new Omlet Walk In Run!

When did the ducklings arrive?
The first group of 12 came in on 26th April from a village near Witney. The residents had been keeping an eye on them all day as there was no parent in sight. Apparently they were knocked about in the road, went in and out of the brook and got waterlogged, and then ended up in a garden! To keep them out of trouble one of the residents popped them in a recycling box in her garden, hoping mum would come for them. By evening they were cold and limp and there was still no sign of mum so they were brought all the way to Banbury for us to care for.
Less than a week later, on 1st May, we got a call from a house not far from us. This mum duck had laid her eggs under some decking (unbeknown to the homeowner!) and they all appeared one morning! The garden had no exit for the ducklings and so mum could not lead them to water. Mum left them and by evening hadn’t returned. So the ten little humbugs came to us too. So we then had 22 ducklings!

How old do you think they are now?
We think they were around 2 days old when they came in so the older ones are nearly 7 weeks and the younger ones are 6 weeks old now.

When are you hoping to release them?
They should be ready for release at around 8-9 weeks old, so we’re very close now! We are just waiting for their flight feathers to grow so they have the best chance at getting away from predators when they are released.
The younger ones are going to Swalcliffe School but we have not yet decided about the big kids. We will separate them into smaller groups to avoid over populating any area.

Have you named them?
We have named the groups but not individuals. The older ducks are the Big Kids and the younger are the Little Ones! There are only two we can tell apart from the others because the Little Ones are actually Hybrid and two of the ducklings are paler! Down by the canal in Banbury there are a couple of white pekin ducks which I’ve seen a few times. We think these ducklings came from this area and so are hybrid, mallard x pekin.

What do you feed them?
They are fed much like chicken chicks. They start on chick crumb for the first 3 weeks then they move onto Growers Pellets. In the last week or so we have added some duck and goose mix to the growers for variety prior to release. We will need to go and feed them for at least a week after release (gradually reducing the amount) to make sure they are finding their own food.

 

They love playing with the hose when I clean them! Ducks are ridiculously dirty and we have to clean them every 3 days. When we clean the pen it makes a lovely slurry of what we have called ‘Duck Poo Soup’ (it’s as pleasant as it sounds). The ducks have clean water in drinkers all the time but as soon as you get the hose out they start drinking. So I spend a lot of time sweeping up duck poo soup, dodging drinking ducks, and getting filthy! They also like to get in the paddling pool before it’s filled and paddle around playing in the hose spray.

Have you introduced them to the chickens or any other animals that you have at the sanctuary?
We have set up our Omlet Walk in Run as two runs which share a wall. The little ones are in one side and our rooster chicks Rodger and Mike are next door (Roger and Mike hatched at a school on 21st March and came to us with their sister as the school didn’t want them to go back to the farm to join the food chain!!). The boys were fascinated but the ducklings seemed completely oblivious. The boys have recently found their voices and crow if we are seeing to the ducks and not giving them any attention!!
We love the walk in run. We have another large run but we lost one of the big kids to a fox who managed break the ties and get under the chicken wire. The Omlet Walk in runs are much sturdier. We love that they are modular so I can add length to the run and link runs together to save space. They will be fantastic for introducing rabbits for the first time when we need to pair up lone rabbits, as they will be able to meet with a barrier between them. The size will allow the rabbits to be rabbits! Jumping, hopping, flopping and binkying with lots of space for a pair of bonded rabbits. With the amount of cleaning we have to do the height is ideal as we can stand tall while we sweep up. The stable door is great for putting feed and water in without little animals escaping! It’s also a great width so I can get in with a bucket and brooms. Having a cheaper run we can see the difference in quality and I would definitely change the large run for an Omlet one in a heartbeat! No sharp edges or chicken wire, plenty of headroom so no stooping, nice wide door and fox resistant. Everything I need for the wide variety of animals we get in.
The runs are earmarked for our pheasant chick when he is big enough to go out. His name is Pippin and he has a best friend called Hobble who is a Pekin Bantam chick with a dodgy leg! They will hopefully go out into our Omlet run once the ducks have been released.

To continue reading about the ducklings as they get ready to be released, please follow the

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Prevent and combat Red Mite

A familiar problem for backyard chicken keepers and commercial enterprises for laying hens, is infestation of the birds’ environment with Dermanyssus gallinae, also known as red (poultry) mites. Compared to other poultry parasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies, mites are by far the most common, most destructive and difficult to remove. Red mites are nocturnal parasites and hide themselves in all kinds of gaps and cracks during the daytime. This makes the treatment of red mites harder and more complicated.

 

SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS

Red mites are up to 1mm in size. The title “Red” has been given to this mite as it turns from grey to red after it has a blood feed. Once the infestation becomes significant, your chickens will become anaemic. Their wattles and the combs will start looking pale and their egg production will drop significantly. Red mites also cause skin irritation, feather pecking, weight loss and restlessness in the flock. Because of the mites your chickens will probably be reluctant to go to bed, because that’s where the mites are!

When checking your chicken coop for red mites, check the perch’s at the end and cracks and crevices. An even easier way to check is to run a white paper towel underneath the perches at night. If there are red mites, at this time they will be on the underside on the perch after feeding on your chickens and you will be able to see red streaks on your paper towel.

 

PREVENTION

Prevention is always better than cure. But this is not always that simple. Wild birds or new chickens can transmit red mites to your coop. It’s a good idea to check for red mite routinely when you clean your chicken coop and use some preventative treatment to the coop. For example, you can use Diatomaceous earth as part of the weekly clean (DE is a 100% natural powder which dehydrates parasites it comes into contact with). All types of chicken coops can get red mite, however wooden coops tend to suffer from infestations the most.

Unfortunately red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house, so leaving a coop empty for a while doesn’t usually fix the problem. Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent infestations. Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops are made from plastic which makes it very difficult for red mites to make a home. And in the event that there is a Red mite infestation, they are quick and easy to clean. A quick blast with a pressure washer should do the trick.

 

TREATMENT

1) Cleaning

If you find lots of red mite in the coop, it’s time for a big clean up. The initial clean out will take a couple of hours for wooden coops, with a plastic coop it will take less time. Remove all birds from the house and strip the house down as much as possible. If you have a felt roof you will need to remove this and have your coop re-felted.

2) Mite disinfectant detergent

Mix a mite disinfectant detergent (such as Smite Professional Disinfectant 1 Litre Concentrate or Barrier Red Mite X 500ml Concentrate) with water (using the manufacturer’s guidelines). Apply this to the coop ensuring you get it in the cracks and crevices, concentrating where there are perch ends and concentrations of red mite. Leave for 15-20 minutes.

3) High pressure hose

Use a hose (preferably high pressure) to hose down the coop and the parts. Try to get in every nook and cranny as this is where the mites like to live. Leave for 10-15 minutes to dry. After this you will most probably see more mites, which have been disturbed, crawling out. Repeat this process until there are very few mites emerging after each wash.

4) UV

Leave the house to thoroughly dry. It’s ideal to do the initial clean on a sunny day as the UV can kill some bacteria and will dry the house quicker. Put the coop back together and add bedding (dispose the old bedding in a plastic bag in a bin as the red mites will happily find somewhere else to live).

5) Red mite powder

Sprinkle the whole coop and your chickens with a red mite powder. Ensure you rub the powder onto the perches so any remaining mites will have to crawl through it to reach your chickens. Omlet stocks a large range of red mite powders and diatom powders to deal with red mite infestations.

6) Repeat red mite powder treatment

Re-apply the red mite powder every couple of days or when it has rubbed of. Red mite are only active during mild weather, so in the UK the red mite season usually falls between May and October. During the fall and winter, the mites become dormant and do not feed. But this doesn’t per se mean they are gone…

Sources: www.omlet.co.uk, www.poultryworld.net, www.accidentalsmallholder.net, www.wikivet.net, www.poultrykeeper.com

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Keep your hens entertained!

No one likes being bored, and that goes for chickens as well! Bored chickens are more prone to start bullying each other, trying to escape the garden or eating eggs. Some also suggest that a bored chicken is more likely to go broody. If you have nothing else to do, why not just stay in bed all day?

You are probably already, without thinking about it, providing your chickens with toys and entertainment. Anything that encourages natural chicken behaviour creates fun for your chickens, even if it’s just perching or pecking for corn. But if you want to give them even more hentertainment – here are some top tips:

Provide perches. We might not see perching on a branch as entertainment, but it’s one of the things chickens love most in the world! Try to vary the perches so that there are a few different sizes at different heights. You could lean a ladder against one side of the run, find some dead branches lying around the park, or use Omlet’s amazingly easy-to-use perches.

Put out heaps of leaves, straw or hay. Chickens hate piles, and will rush straight to it to try and level everything to the ground in search of tasty morsels. It’s yummy if they find anything, and provides them with both entertainment and exercise!

Put up a mirror. Chickens take great pride in their looks, and love checking themselves out, so putting a mirror in the run will most certainly be a hit. However, make sure that the mirror is securely fastened so that it doesn’t fall and hurt your girls, and be careful if you have a cockerel – they really don’t enjoy having another cock in the flock!

Peck toys. Rather than feeding your chickens from a dispenser or a container, you can mix it up and make them work for their treats! Pecking and foraging are natural behaviours for chickens, and they will love Elvis and Rocky, Omlet’s super fun peck toys. They will randomly scatter treats when pecked, and provide mental stimulation for your chickens while also improving flock behaviour!

Chicken specific toys. There are several products on the market that are specifically designed to entertain hens and keep them busy. The Chicken Swing is a must in every chicken run or enclosure, and your pets will love chasing after the Manna Pro Food Ball to get to the treats, passing it between themselves as training for the next match!

Don’t be scared of change! It’s easy to think you’re finished once you’ve got your coop and your run in place, but chickens really benefit from variation. Maybe you could move your Eglu to a different part of the garden, introduce some hanging toys or get a new dust bath for the chickens to roll around in?

Spend time with them. All chicken keepers know that spending time together with the chickens is both fun and very therapeutic, and the chickens feel the same. Even if they just see you as a rather large food dispenser, they will certainly enjoy having you around.

 

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Guide to keeping Chickens!

Thinking about keeping chickens?

Read our handy guide first that has been provided by Sarah from Sussex Garden Poultry ….

 

 

What advice would you give for someone looking to keep Chickens? 

The most important thing is going to be the coop, choose something that will be safe for the hens, that will last, that’s easy to clean. Spend well, spend once. Buy your hens from a reputable source, it’s easy to be fobbed off with cockerels or older hens if you don’t know what to look for. Buying ‘point of lay’ means they may not be laying yet, but within a few weeks you’ll get eggs, there is no way of ageing a hen, you don’t want to buy something that’s 3 years old.

Which type of Chickens would you suggest to get as a first time Chicken owner?

 

If you’ve never kept hens before I always suggest you choose a fairly calm type of hybrid. The Red Rangers, Blacktails, Light Sussex & speckled hens. These girls will lay you lots of eggs with the minimum of fuss. Bantams are also a good choice if you have a small garden.

 

What type of Coop would you recommend?

 

Always buy the biggest coop you can afford & have space for, hen keeping is addictive, you start with 3 & end up saying, ‘oh I like that colour, that breed, that shape……..’

 

How many Chickens would you suggest getting initially?

 

First think about your coop size, I always recommend starting with 3, the classic & the Go easily take 3 hens, should you have the misfortune to loose a bird you need to add a minimum of 2 hens, these coops have the space for 4 hens max. With the Cube you can take more hens, but remember when you want to add to your flock it’s best to double your numbers, so 4 or 5 in a cube allows you to add again in a couple of years time to keep a year round supply of eggs from new layers.

 

Should you always keep more than one Chicken?

 

Chickens like to be in flocks, no one wants to be lonely, why would a chicken?

 

To read even more about keeping Chickens read the Omlet Chicken Guide here
You can purchase Chickens from Sussex Garden Poulty and then even offer a Hen Holidays service – visit their website here

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Top 15 Chicken Facts!

 

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the minds of your chickens?

 

  • Chickens have, just like us, full-colour vision. So the colourful Eglus from Omlet will also brighten up your chickens’ day!
  • Chickens dream just like we do. During sleep they also experience REM (Rapid Egg Movement?). Maybe they dream about all the exciting things they did during the day…
  • Chickens are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetables and meat. They love seeds and juicy worms, but will also appreciate a small mouse if they come across one.
  • Chickens are related to the Tyrannosaurus rex. Maybe this is not that hard to believe when they stare at you with a penetrating gaze (trying to convince you to feed them…again!).
  • There is a word for the extreme fear of chickens, namely alektorophobia.
    People with alektorophobia can even develop a fear for eggs.

 

  • Chickens have an excellent memory. They are able to recognise the faces of more than 100 members of their species, other animals and humans.
  • Wild chickens just lay ten to fifteen eggs a year during the breeding season. Battery hens are bred to lay an egg almost every day. To make sure you’ll use the eggs of your hens in date order, Omlet provides the Egg Date Stamping Kit, the Egg Skelter and Egg Ramp
  • The heaviest chicken egg ever weighed was 340g (as a comparison: an average chicken egg weighs between 55-75g). As chickens get older they will lay fewer but larger eggs.

 

  • The colour of the egg does not alter its nutritional value or taste. The reasoning behind different shell colours is that different breeds lay eggs of different colours.
  • It takes 21 days on average for a chicken egg to hatch once incubation begins, whether you incubate them with an incubator or set them under a hen.
  • It is very unlikely that an egg with a double yolk will produce a chicken twin. There is too little space in the egg for two chicks to fully develop.

 

  • Worldwide there are more than 25 billion chickens (as a comparison: there are less than 7.5 billion people). Chickens are therefore the most common birds on earth.
  • The red junglefowl (gallus gallus) from Asia is the ancestor of the modern chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). Chickens were probably already domesticated in the sixth millenium B.C.

 

 

Sources: www.omlet.co.uk, www.backyardchickens.com, www.countrysidenetwork.com, www.smithsonianmag.com, www.thefactsite.com, www.thehappychickencoop.com.

 

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Top Tips for an Epic Easter Egg Hunt!

Keep it fair and fun

Avoid arguments between children by color coding the hunt, give each child one color that they need to search for. Alternatively if you have a broad range of ages playing, why not color code the hunt based on ages, younger children can look for the large gold eggs whereas the older children need to look for the pink eggs which you will have made harder to find.

Provide alternatives to chocolate

Think ahead about who will be participating in your Easter Egg Hunt? Are any of the children diabetic? Are they allergic to dairy, gluten, cocoa or nuts? You could always use plastic decorative eggs for them to find then have prizes such as coloring books or toys instead of the sugary treats.

Remember the baskets!

The children will need something to carry their eggs in, lots of craft stores have cute baskets you can use or alternatively you make them as an activity before the hunt. See here for a guide on how to weave your own basket.

Think of fun clues

If you want to add another fun element to your hunt, you could think about providing the kids with clues as to where the eggs are hidden, such as “Somewhere that’s cold (fridge)” “What shall we have for breakfast? (cereal box)”, “It’s raining outside, what shall we take with us? (umbrella stand).

 

Keep track of your hiding places

It’s worth making a note of the hiding places and the number of eggs hidden for your own reference.

Check the weather forecast

Firstly so you’re not planning to commence the hunt when it’s due to rain, also if you are hiding chocolate, double check the temperature forecasted as you might need to make sure they’re all hidden in shaded areas, or you don’t put them out too early before it kicks off. Noone wants a melted Easter egg!  If the weather is going to be stormy, plan a backup hunt for inside the house.

Set boundaries

Let the kids know where the searching area is, it’s important to make sure everyone has fun but in a safe environment. Show the children where the start and end of the hunting zone is.

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Helpful tips to keep your hens safe from flu

From 18 January 2018, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone applies to everyone who keeps poultry or captive birds in England. From 25 January 2018 there’s a similar Prevention Zone in Wales.

 

Here’s some helpful tips:

 

    1. Place your birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas that are protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly.
    2. Keep your equipment clean and tidy and regularly disinfect hard surfaces. Use disinfectant such as Virkon.
    3. Clean footwear before and after visiting your birds
    4. Ensure clothing that you use when handling your chickens is washed after contact.
    5. Use Run Covers
    6. Keep moveable coops in the same place – If coops are moving to fresh ground there is more chance of coming into contact with wild bird faeces.
    7. Keep a close eye on your chickens. If you have any signs of illness, seek advice from a qualified vet.

 

For further information please read the Government Guidelines here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone

 

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Top 10 Christmas Gifts for your Chickens

 

     

 

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

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Vets Advice: How To Keep Your Hens Happy This Winter

We recently got the chance to speak with Frau Dr. Sewerin, a German Vet who specialises in poultry. We asked her what her top tips were for keeping your hens happy in colder conditions, here’s what she had to say:

“Make sure the water does not freeze. To do this, place a thick, well-insulated bowl of warm water in a sheltered place, change the water on regular basis or get a water heater.

You should also make sure that there is a dry, snow-free place in the run. You can regularly mix leaves with some wheat grains so that the animals have something to pick. A dry corner with sandbathing possibility must not be missing. Different perching options should always be available during the day anyway, but especially in winter: this helps keeping their feet warm!

Depending on the circumstances, a windcover should be installed at chicken height so that the animals are somewhat protected. You can easily turn the Eglu run into a sheltered, snow-free area. There is are a range of weather protection covers available at Omlet or you could use simple greenhouse film, combined with bubble wrap. This way the run will be a few degrees warmer and windproof on the inside.

In order to help the chickens saving energy and make it a little bit more comfortable for them, you can get an extreme weather jacket for Eglu coops or use tinfoil as it can be found in emergency blankets. The dropping tray can be additionally insulated with an extra thick layer of straw or newspaper. But after all the easiest way is to use the Omlet extreme weather jackets which makes sure that there’s still a good insulation on the inside of the coop.

Pay special attention to the inside of the coop, because the exhalations of the excretions will otherwise accumulate quickly in the interior and irritate the respiratory tract. Good ventilation is also important to remove the humidity, so that the animals do not catch a cold.

A few extra vitamins in the form of fruits, vegetables and herbs can help the immune system. Also onions, garlic and leeks shredded with vegetables or mixed with “flavor enhancers” such as oatmeal, grated carrots, yogurt and oil are very popular.

Once moulting has finished it is the ideal time to do a worming cure. If chickens are heavily infested with worms, it weakens them very much.”

If you’re thinking of upgrading your coop, now is the best time to do so.  Here are some of the top benefits of having an Eglu plastic chicken coop vs a wooden one, particularly in winter:

  • Eglu chicken coops and rabbit hutches do not absorb water so they don’t get heavy and remain easy to move.
  • They don’t rot and don’t require painting with varnish or wood stains (also means that you don’t have to move pets out whilst you are waiting for the fumes to go.)
  • They have insulation built in so remain warm.
  • They have draft free ventilation so your pets wont get a nasty chilly breeze coming in.
  • The door locks are made from heavy duty steel and wont break even in the freezing weather.
  • The door handles are all made from plastic so your fingers won’t freeze to them.
  • The door handles are nice and big so you can use them with gloves on.
  • The water container is really quick to lift out so you can take it in at night to prevent it from freezing.

Looking to upgrade your Chicken Coop? Click here to find out more about the different types of insulated Eglu coops, plus get FREE Delivery if you order before 21st December. Just quote SANTAPAWS at checkout. 

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Eglu Cube Mk1 Chicken House – Box Dimensions

Eglu Cube Mk1 (House Box A)
W1250mm x D250mm x H250mm 0.078m3 = 2.76 cubic feet
The box include: Base, Droppings Tray x2, Ladder, Partition, Eggboxes, Roosting Rack 25kg

Eglu Cube Mk1 (House Box B)
W1250mm x D700mm x H200mm 0.175m3 = 6.18 cubic feet
The box includes: Front Face, Rear Panel 14kg

Eglu Cube Mk1 (House Box C)
W1000mm x D850mm x H300mm 0.255m3 = 9.01 cubic feet
The box includes: Lid, Side Panel Left, Side Panel Right, Eggport 21kg

Eglu Cube Mk1 (House Box D)
W850mm x D850mm x H250mm 0.181m3 = 6.38 cubic feet
The box includes: Wheel Assy left and right, Super Glug, Grub, Shade, Fastener Pack. 16kg

Eglu Cube Mk1 (Run Box E)
W1200mm x D240mm x H1040mm 0.299 m3 = 10.55 cubic feet 20kg
The box includes: The run panels

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Cold Weather

The Eglu will keep your pets snug and warm in really cold weather. The Eglu has a special twin walled construction which provides an insulating layer in the chicken coop which keeps the interior warm in winter and cool in summer so that the hens are comfortable all year round.  If you live in a particularly cold area with lots of days and nights below zero or in an very exposed area for example next to the coast or on top of a hill then it’s a good idea to provide your pets with extra insulation in the form of an Eglu Extreme Weather jacket or blanket available on the Omlet website.

Hens are remarkably hardy and their feathers keep them very well insulated in very cold weather. They don’t mind snow but don’t like being damp so try to provide somewhere dry for them to shelter during the rain if at all possible. The only recommendations for winter are to make sure that the water feeder doesn’t freeze by taking it into the house or garage overnight and to make sure that hens with large combs don’t get them frost-bitten by rubbing on some Vaseline to protect them.

Another way you can help the hens is to feed them things which release energy slowly and therefore keep their bodies warmer for longer. Foods like wheat and oats are wonderful slow energy releasers so sprinkling wheat as a scratch feed in the late afternoons or making wheatgerm or oats into a porridge with warm water for an afternoon feed will keep their little bodies warm overnight and will not put too much weight on as corn would.

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How many chickens can be kept in the Eglu Go/Classic/Cube

Both the Eglu Go and Eglu Classic houses sleep up to 4 medium to large chickens, however the standard 2 metre run that come with them, are really only suitable for up to 2 chickens, as it is best to try and give each chicken about a metre of run each.

You can extend both the runs, 1 metre at a time, to make them longer which in turn allows you to keep up to 4 chickens… (If you want three chickens, purchase the standard Eglu with a 1 meter run extension, the chickens will be quite happy in a run this size)

The Eglu Go UP can sleep up to 4 medium to large chickens, but again the standard 2 metre run for the Eglu Go UP would only be suitable for 2 chickens. You can also extend the Eglu Go UP run by adding 1metre extensions.

With regards to the Eglu Cube, the house itself will sleep up to 10 small chickens, but with the standard 2 metre run, we would suggest between 4 and 6 chickens, 4 chickens if you were NOT going to let them free range and 6 chickens if you were. The Eglu Cube run extension can also be extended 1 metre at a time, and you can have as many 1 metre extensions as you require.

If you were to have an extension on the Eglu Cube run making it 3 metres long, we suggest the number of chickens be between 6 and 10 chickens, 6 chickens if you were NOT going to let them free range and 10 if you were.

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