Planning ahead

Everyone is very happy where they are. But we can’t continue to run three separate broods for long. It’s a lot of work each morning to clean three coops and top up three different sets of drinkers and feeders. And it wouldn’t be fair on our lovely chicken sitter.

Nor can we leave hens in the greenhouse all summer as it will get far too hot. The Moppet House isn’t water-tight, nor is the wooden coop, but it will do as a summer house for a small brood who could then over-winter in the greenhouse. But exactly which hens?

Although the Famous Five in the Hen Run, and the Vicarage girls in the Hen Garden/Moppet House are neighbours with only a mesh fence dividing them (actually there are three layers … plastic mesh plus chicken wire plus shade netting), we don’t see much by way of chest bumping, although there has been the occasional show of aggression. But one of the ex-batts continues to ail (Betsy – although her feathers are slowly returning, she isn’t showing any signs of improvement in her stance) and one of them, Babs, is severely underweight. Would that be a good combination?

The Moppets are feisty birds (and by the way, the broody season has begun o_O ) so could stand up for themselves. They would pose less of a threat to the Famous Five, but I wonder whether they’d struggle to reach the Cube to roost? There’s be plenty of space since they’d almost certainly sleep in the nest box.

As they are, the Famous Five have sufficient space in the run by themselves. But add in any more birds and we would need to allow them more space somehow. The bantams really need to be on grass, but the Hen Garden is now down to woodchip and there isn’t a lot of grass left on the other side of the path, either.

If we were to lose any of the ex-batts or bantams, we still have the Eglu we can use as housing for two or three birds, just to add to the conundrum.

And to complicate it further, Carey (the Buff Sussex) is sneezing … there’s no sign of any discharge from nasal passages or eyes, and no-one else is sneezing (so hopefully it’s not an infection or not infectious), but if you pick her up you can hear her bubbling as she breathes 😦

We have told the farm she came from, but there’s no sign of infection in their flock, either. Thankfully. But we have to be absolutely certain she isn’t ill before we even consider starting to integrate the broods (if we can ever decide what to do next!). I think the next step is to worm the Five, to see if that settles her down at all. They’ve not really had time to get used to treats yet, though they have had a bowl of porridge and natural yoghurt as a first try. But they have had some cooked rice which they loved, so a little Flubenvet sprinkled on some cooked rice might be as good a method as any …

I’ll report back.

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  • The Hen House Archive

    Our original hen keeping adventure came to an end in January 2013, when a fox took our entire brood of hens. But don’t let that put you off … you can find the story at The Hen House Archive where there are still lots of stories, photos, and information about keeping hens I hope you'll find useful.

    March 2017 ... All change in the hen garden as the fruit cage run is retired in favour of an electric fence, the veg beds are relocated to put the hens on fresh ground, and the new girls arrive, Dorcas, Delilah and Deanna.

    January 2017 ... Bird flu outbreak and all domestic foul are quarantined until the end of February.

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