Straw

With three separate hen enclosures on the go, the morning routine is a little more time consuming than usual … and we’re getting through bales of straw! I use it in the nest boxes, and whatever folk say about hens preferring to roost on higher perches, our hens have always slept in the nest boxes! So each morning I do the rounds … always starting with the established flock, so as not to contaminate them with anything the newbies may have brought with them.

First, I clean out the nest boxes and litter trays. I carry a pile of trugs round with me, one of clean straw, one of clean wood shavings, and a larger one for the dirty straw and shavings to go in the compost. Then back to the garage to collect the feed bucket. And finally, clean and refill any drinkers that are low.

I carry an egg basket with me too … there are usually one or two already laid. We check the boxes quite frequently during the day, and at the moment we’re averaging 6 eggs from our 7 ex-batts, and 3-5 eggs from our 7 bantams. But I can’t sell any of them just now :o All the hens were recently dosed with Frontline (NB not licensed for poultry) … we routinely treat new hens to avoid lice and mites, and repeat the treatment about once a year. My understanding is that the best advice says to withdraw the eggs for 28 days. I confess I don’t – we continue to eat them, but I won’t sell them on. I will also start the newbies on Flubenvet this week, for worms.

One of the Moppets is gaping … it may simply be that she has something stuck in her crop. But in case it’s gapeworm, I think I’ll treat them too. So perhaps I’ll just do everyone to be sure?! I threw some Flubenvet in with their feed while we were away, but I wasn’t very careful about quantity, so I’ll use the mash method instead this time.

I promised you some pictures and news of the new girls :D

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I moved the temporary fencing around the garden to give the B Team an enclosure around the Eglu. They’ll be there for a couple of weeks yet, and while they seemed content in their run, it’s really not sufficient space for them to develop normal hen behaviour after living in the cages. It occurs to me that these hens are among the first to have lived in the so-called ‘enriched’ cages which were introduced by legislation in January 2012. They are certainly stronger and more confident than the ex-batt hens we have had previously :) and I hope that is as a result of the improved conditions. They may not recognise treats when they first experience them … but they’ll try anything … and they already love peas and pasta! :lol:

I should like also to put an enclosure around The Moppet House … but I’ve run out of fencing. I bought a 50m roll when we first had hens and thought it would last forever! It does tear after a while, but it’s been an excellent investment. So I shall wait until I have some pocket money again and I’ll buy a new roll and some fencing pins. I buy online … you can get both items at the DIY stores, but of course it’s far more expensive. And although 50m may seem a lot … it seems I can use it! I do still have lengths of both chicken wire and wind netting that I bought in 50m rolls … but it’s the mesh fencing I use the most.

With so many eggs I can’t sell, I need to find uses for them. Eggs from the B Team are improving as they are getting used to our pellets and real grass … but for now I shall use them up in peck blocks. At the moment their yolks are quite pale, but they’ll colour up soon. The Moppets yolks are an amazing colour … cakes made with them look almost yellow.

Hens from intensive farming are often starved for 24 hours before they are culled. I was quite concerned for a while that these girls may have been malnourished for a lot longer … as I go round the litter trays each day, it’s a good opportunity to check their droppings for any problems, but theirs were sparse, almost as if they had nothing to pass :( They’ve been with us three full days now, and they are only just getting back to normal.

But it’s time to stop and go and get the tea … boiled eggs is a tradition on Sundays in this house … I bet we can’t eat three!

These girls are not shy!

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