Broody

Broody

Unfortunately we’re not spending much time with the hens at the moment. It’s dark when we leave in the morning and dark when we get home.

Poppy went broody a few weeks ago which was shortly followed by Snowy going broody too. So the two of them are spending most of their time sat in the Eglu at the moment unless I turf them out. They’re not sat on any eggs as they’ve stopped laying and Polo is yet to lay.

Belle is now fully feathered again but Star is now moulting and looks like a plucked chicken bless her. Why do they lose their coats when the weather’s cold?!

When Snowy is out of the coop she’s keen to peck Polo which is disappointing although Polo is capable of getting away without problems.

The three big ones still attack the Silkies if they’re all together. Unless there’s an abundance of corn to distract them.

Plenty of corn occupies them all

We got up one morning last week to find the storm had ripped part of the corrugated roofing off the chicken coop. It was all wet inside, I suspect the three big ones had a rough night.

They could have got out or a predator could have got in.

Part of the roof had ripped away

I was due to work away and couldn’t leave it as is so had to rush to B&Q to get more sheets. The original sheets are 2.4m long which fits the dimensions of the roof perfectly, I’d got them from B&Q and intended to just get more.

When I got there it turns out they don’t do the 2.4m ones and only have 2m, that’s 40cm too short!

I bought 4 sheets and some screws, £50 unexpected spend!

Carefully placed ladders so I could install the new sheets

Once back home I found that the sheets had a different profile that didn’t lock-in with the originals, they’re totally different. It’s a bit annoying as it’s not as neat as it was before.

In the end I only installed two sheets overlapped but I’ll replace the two on the end when I have more time.

All done

I also fitted a wooden interior ceiling to the coop. I intended to do this in the summer but never went back to it. We stapled weed-stop fabric in place at the time to make it dark, I’ve removed that now. I realised how drafty it could be which needed to be resolved.

At some point I will remove the roof sheets that cover the coop and install a piece of plastic fabric between the wood and the sheets to protect the wood from moisture.

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Lagging behind again

Lagging behind again

This is a super quick post, an attempt to get up to date!

The Tylan did the trick and cleared up the illness in Polo, Poppy and Snowy.  We currently have the two separate flocks in their respective runs.  The small guys still have the Eglu Go coop, which I now dislike after the red mite drama.  It has way too many hiding places and I can confirm red mites DO reside in plastic coops.  The Nettex Total Mite Kill spray that contains Permethrin did the job and killed them off so I now put a light coat of that on as a precautionaty measure, it stinks though so you have to do it early morning so the smell goes before bed time.

After I’d moved the small guys out of the cages in the temporary hospital as per my last post, I didn’t get round to clearing the cages for about a week.  I found quite a few red mite on the cage that Polo was in, so the shed got a blasting with the Permethrin spray and I hope there aren’t any lurking in there.  The plan with that shed is to use it for storing gardening tools and garden furniture, so I definitely don’t want them horrible little things in there.

I’ve been putting all the birds together as much as I can in an attempt to work towards merging them if possible.  It’s not been so bad.

All together with minimum fuss

The little guys all get along well now despite a stage where Snowy seemed to be picking on Polo.  When they’re all together, the three big guys leave Polo alone unless she gets too close to “their” food, but they quite often show the Silkies who’s boss.  It’s not too bad now though so we might be getting there.  I’d love to have them all together.

Two groups

Polo is still insisting on sleeping outside.  She was settling on top of the Eglu coop, she’s an impressive flyer!  The last few days she’s settled on top of the water barrel.  I have to go and put her in the coop every night, I think it’s tool cold for her to be out now.

Belle has been moulting and looks quite sorry for herself.  She’s also very skittish and runs away if I go near her.  She does have new feathers coming through and it looks like they might be a lighter colour.

Looking tatty

I was working near Nottingham a few weeks ago and popped to a gearbox specialist with my van which needs some work doing.  It was in the middle of nowhere and I came across loads of chickens roaming around on the road!  As I approached they all ran the opposite way to what I was travelling, except one that ended up in front.  She then jumped up and flew over the hedge which was quite impressive!

Birds on the road

A few weeks ago we harvested everything from our vegetable patch.  We had carrots and runner beans which we’ve frozen and cook as required.  They are amazing and we’ll definitely be keeping the vegetable plot going!

Carrots!
Runner beans!

So, everything is ticking over here.  There is still quite a lot more work to do in the garden but I think we’ve settled on leaving the rest until after winter now.  I am quite happy with what we got done this year though.

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And… breath

And… breath

This is just a quick update – I’m conscious the blog has fell behind yet again.

We have had a nightmare.

First we found the red mites in the Eglu coop where Snowy, Poppy and Polo live.  Presuming they came with Poppy and Polo.  We got them under control with the help of Permethrin products.

A couple of days after my last post, so about two weeks ago now, I noticed that Polo was very lethargic, had gunky eyes and nostrils, oh no, our first poorly chicken.  So I separated her into a crate in the shed.

A couple of days on and Poppy had the same symptoms, so I separated her into another crate, also in the shed.

A couple of days later I decided to take them to the vets, he didn’t really know what it was and prescribed some (very expensive) Tylan soluble, which was what I wanted, it seems to be the wonder drug for chickens.

Then another couple of days later, Snowy who was alone in her run, also came down with the same symptoms.

So the three of them have been having Tylan in the beak via a syringe and also in their drinking water for a week each, Snowy has just finished hers and they all do seem better.

Tonight I have just put Poppy and Polo back in with Snowy for the first time in about two weeks.

The three big ones have been fine throughout, no symptoms at all and everything normal.

It was quite stressful in the beginning, having three separate poorly chickens to look after.

Hopefully it is behind us now.

The “hospital”

 

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Those pesky red things

Those pesky red things

The new guys

The first week with the new guys has been eventful. Thinking back now I can’t believe they’re in with Snowy without much disruption.

We tried merging them all together, interestingly the three big ones weren’t bothered with Polo apart from a couple of light pecks. They were however very interested in showing Poppy that they’re in charge. They left Snowy alone too.

It didn’t go to bad, Poppy was hiding out of shot

New steps and perches

I decided to change the steps that lead to the big coop. The big ones fly up and down but Belle seems to struggle getting down. I don’t think she’s keen on jumping down.

While I was working, Polo jumped up onto the water bucket in the adjacent little run and seemed interested in what I was upto.

She’s very nosey
Wants to be high up

We’d trimmed her feathers a bit more and now that she can see, she’s getting up to loads of mischief! If I put my hands out she will jump on and walk up my arm then sit on my shoulder!

The new steps and perch
New perch in the little run

Bedtime routine

Polo hasn’t gone into the coop of her own choice yet. Poppy has it sussed.

Back on top of the water bucket to sleep

Every night Polo settles on the water bucket or on top of the Eglu and we have to transfer her to the coop.

Those pesky red things turned up

I was routinely cleaning the Eglu coop so opened the rear door and removed the piece of wood that Snowy sits on with the intention of sliding the trays out and emptying them into the compost. As I picked the short piece of 2×4 up and saw underneath I sighed as the clusters of red mite came into view.

I straight away took the piece of wood out of the run and plonked it down on a patio slab.

I was prepared for this, there has been so many reports of bad mite infestations this summer, maybe due to the warm weather. But I mistakenly had a false sense of security with the plastic Eglu coop and other than cleaning it I’d left it unprotected.

The main coop does not have a mite in sight, but I’ve ensured to keep the perches covered with Permethrin powder, which has possibly helped.

I covered the wood with powder to kill off the mites and I’ll dispose of it later. The coop was then given a dosing of powder too.

I have some Nettex Total Mite Kill spray in stock that I’d bought with the intention of spraying the inside of the big coop as it’s wood and I wanted to proactively prevent mites. This spray is another Permethrin product but the benefit compared to powder is that it gets into all the gaps and crevices and then has a residual effect.

It was a bit late to spray the coops as the chickens were getting ready for bed, so I hoped the powder would help. Later that evening I went to check with the torch and I could see a fair amount of mites walking around the sides and ceiling of the Eglu. Poor chickens.

I wondered if Poppy or Polo had brought the mites in.

The following morning I checked again and there were a few dead mites, so I knew the powder worked. More importantly I soaked the coop in the spray and left it closed so the chickens couldn’t get in. I also sprayed the inside walls of the big coop. Then powdered the chickens.

I was away that evening but Sam reported back that there were no mites to be seen anywhere when it had gone dark.

I’ve also checked myself tonight and there are loads of dead mites and no live ones anywhere.

Tomorrow I’ll jet wash the coop and moving forward I’ll definitely use the spray as a preventative anywhere we have chickens sleeping. I really rate Permethrin for mites now.

She loves exploring

Polo loves exploring, we’d put the big chickens in the outside run and let the small ones in the big run. Polo had disappeared and I found her checking out the nest boxes.

Exploring!
Close up of Poppy

Ground works

I’ve finally finished the block work and can continue the wood work to build the new storage shed where poultry food and consumables will be stored!

The last blocks are fixed in place
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Second day

Second day

The second day with the new pair

Upon looking out of the window this morning we couldn’t see either Poppy or Polo in the small run yet Snowy was out.

The kids were first down there after scrambling to get their wellies on, but still in their pyjamas.

Turns out the new pair were still inside the coop, I’m not really sure why, it’s all new to them though that’s for sure. Once out everything was fine.

An interesting event occurred in that I watched Poppy the Silkie peck Snowy more than once, not aggressively, but definitely to claim her position in the pecking order. Unsurprisingly Snowy submitted and accepted the lower position. I have now seen both Snowy and Poppy do the same to Polo the Polish.

So that seems to be sorted. Poppy, Snowy and then Polo.

I do wonder what would happen if Poppy was introduced to the three big ones, she’s clearly not as timid as Snowy.

This evening we got home when it was dark. So I went to see if they’d found the coop. Nope.

Polo perched on the feeder!
Poppy settled in the corner

I moved them into the coop and wonder if they’ll emerge of their own accord in the morning.

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