In the winter months it's a bit depressing when you work full-time and keep chickens as you never really get to see them - it's still dark when you set off for work and it's dark again by the time you get home... so it's nice that I have viewers on here to keep an eye on the hens for me and today at lunch time I received an email saying Erika was getting picked on and she had strange colouring around her neck (thank you Bri) - I had a quick look but couldn't see anything, but something didn't look 'right' as she kept going in and out of the coop and Renee seemed to be chasing her more than usual.
Then I noticed it. Blood. All around Erika's neck, and I'm at work with a horrible feeling of dread and helplessnes...
I googled what we can do as I couldn't find any blu-kote wound spray in the UK, and found that pine-tar spray is supposed to be very good for stopping pecking of wounds - I drove to Skipton and bought some from an equestrian shop and will douse the area liberally tonight - it might work out for the best tonight as it will mean Erika will have gone to bed so will be easier to catch (though nobody can say how serious it is - hopefully it's not as bad as it looks).
Fingers and wings crossed...
Thought you guys might like this. Renee likes the new Oyster grit block :)
It's also nice to see how clean and dry the feathers of the girls with feathery feet are - our drainage is still performing really nicely...
As suspected, it's Ariel who's laying. And we have proof! :)
It makes sense as she's the only hybrid we have - they've been selectively bred to lay more eggs and for longer, so no surprises really (although it does seem early to go into lay - maybe the freaky weather has had an effect).
The droopy nest box cam actually helped here!
Shortly after the egg appeared, Ariel left the nestbox:
And here's one of Renee looking cute even though she's not laying any eggs :)
3 this year so far! :)
Ollie noticed that the coop door isn't automatically opening/closing anymore - there's an issue with out automatic opener but hopefully a replacement is winging it's way - I'll update when I hear more.
I also plan on finally fixing that bloody camera that keeps getting knocked - that way we can see who's laying eggs and not freeloading anymore!! Keep your eyes on the indoor view over the next few days...
Well I can't call (at least one of) the hens freeloaders anymore! Look at the egg counter!! :)
When I went to clean the coop out, I found two perfect eggs laid in the middle of the chicken wagon floor! Never mind they missed the nest box, I'm amazed they've laid an egg in the middle of winter!
Oh and we seem to be getting loads of interest in the jumpers for chickens knitting pattern - I've collated all Nanny North's info she posted into one easy section here.
So there's only eight more sleeps until Christmas!
If you want to send a last minute Christmas card online (for free!), head over to The Hencam Christmas Cards now!
And visitors can view and show off their Christmas trees from all over the world on the Hencam Forum Christmas 2015 thread!
Oh, and if you buy anything from Amazon, please use our link we'll get a small payment from them and it doesn't cost you a penny :)
Merry Christmas everyone (and yes, I'm going to fix the nesting box cam as soon as I can - it appears to have been knocked sideways by the quite-large Leslie - the gormless goon!)
You've probably seen the horrendous flooding that parts of Cumbria and Lancaster have recently endured over the last few days - whilst Scarlet is lucky in that their house/street isn't flooded, they haven't had electricity for 2 days from Saturday morning to yesterday when the power came back on - for a coupe of hours - and then cut again.
She called to say they couldn't get any details from the electricity company and their mobile was quickly running out of charge - as we spoke the call ended with her mobile dying. I feel a bit (completely) helpless as we can't contact her - mobiles can't be charged, home phone lines don't work - we can't get to her as many of the roads are closed and still flooded, the shops near her are all closed due to the power outages - they have very little food and no heating / hot water. :(
I was happy to see her sense of humour was still there even in the face of adversity when she mentioned they were really chuffed when they received a little package from us today - a couple of baubles and an advent candle - as they were using the advent candle for heat and light!!
I've checked with the energy supplier and they say as their home is very near the fault their supply isn't due to come back on until all repairs are complete - estimated at 4pm tomorrow! So they've not had electricity for 4 days...
I've texted to let them know but obviously they won't get it until the power is on anyway..! We've also sent an Asda home shopping delivery their way (should be delivered tomorrow morning) so hopefully they'll be in for it to arrive safely - it's all snack food/drink so hopefully stuff they can eat if they still don't have power.
There's not much more we can do, apart from send our love and hugs - they've been through the wringer a bit recently so could really do with some good fortune for once.
Much loves, dad xxx
We like changing things around in the hencam coop to keep the hens stimulated and hopefully prevent fighting and feather picking which can happen to hens in confinement...
We've had brocolli hanging from a string (very well received and quite hilarious to watch them attack it like a punch bag) - and brussels sprouts "on the stalk" which although treat with some disdain at first was also picked (pecked?) clean.
So I thought I'd take it a step further and buy a couple of commercially available boredom busters, with mixed results. The Feathers & Beaky "Peck It" treat dispenser (basically a hanging ball with holes in for them to peck the treats out) has been resoundly ignored for over a week now :( I've tried mealworms (the girl's absolute favourite), seed, corn, they just don't seem to bother with it.
However, the other treat dispenser I bought, a "Hentastic Chick Stick" dispenser, has fared slightly better - after getting ignored for a week, Renee decided to attack the feeder, and decided she liked the taste! The others quickly realised this was free food, and the ends of the sticks (which are a bit waxy/oily so don't crumble easily which helps make it last) are now well and truly pecked and rounded.
Although Mabel has been seen to peck the treat then spend the next few minutes trying to wipe it off her beak! She doesn't seem as much of a fan...
Well, the website is sporting it's annual snow effect (it's all automatic, don't blame me if you don't feel Christmassy yet!), and the outdoor lights that are on the Chicken Wagon have already failed!
We'll try and work out what's wrong with them and get them replaced as soon as we can...
Seems we have a power cut or tripped fuse at hencam - seems to have happened just after I set off to work... typical.
We've been looking at more toys & treats for chickens as the girls really love the treat ball puzzle toy we give them occasionally (they peck and attack it to make it drop mealworms), so today I bought a log hanger which you fill with healthy tubes of snacks, and a seed/grit hanger treat. We also have a hanging toy in the post too...
We might not be able to use them all at the same time as we won't be able to walk around without falling over them!
We're currently 'enjoying' really horrid weather - torrential rain, gales, the lot. Lots of leaks in the house (great) including water in our extractor fan so that's been running constantly for the last 3 days.
The hens are pretty protected (as long as the wind doesn't rip their tarpaulin roof off) - I bought some 'clear as glass' tarpaulin for their protective side and roof which has kept them relatively breeze-free and dry.
You can tell it's grim, they're going to bed at 3:50pm in the afternoon...
Camera came back on at around 6:30pm on Thursday 12th Nov - some kind of power cut tripped most of our fusebox?! Scary.
Thursday 12th Nov: The cam is down at the moment - I'm not sure why - I can't access the PC it streams from (frustratingly it went offline at 8:28am this morning - I set off to work a little before that!) - if it doesn't come back itself then it will be when I get home from work tonight until I can fix it. Sorry guys.
Here's our little display for this year, hope you enjoy!
Trying to keep your chickens happy and healthy is an ongoing process and Helen has been enriching their coop with treat puzzle balls, hanging various veggies from string around the coop, planting interesting non-toxic plants and providing dust bathing areas (which of course they didn't use! I caught Renee dust bathing NEXT to the actual area they were supposed to be using one day...)
The girls were initially on some lovely fresh turf - we knew it wouldn't last very long but it hasn't done too bad lasting nearly a month, but some bits were starting to look a bit worn and even worse, we had a week of pretty awful weather and the turf was acting like a sponge and soaking up so that when you stood on it, it seeped out in puddles!
This wasn't great as it meant that it would eventually turn to mud, which is bad for hens with feathered feet (and we have three of those!) If mud balls up in the feathers it can make it painful for the chickens to walk, and if it's too wet their feathers can become very messy...
So Helen spent some time researching and along with Scarlet we decided that better drainage was definitely needed. The aim was to put some pea gravel down to create good drainage, and then top that with sand to give a nice surface for the hens to scratch in (it's also bug resistant and makes cleaning up easy too).
9 bags of pea gravel later, we started to realise how big that damn coop is! There's six large bags of sand in there too. It's been an expensive weekend...
But it seems to be working - their feet feathers look good and it's nice and easy to clean too!
Of course when Helen was emptying their small (mostly unused) dust bathing area of sand, they all decided it was now the best place to dust bathe in the world...
(Maude is in there somewhere...!)
You might have noticed our quite striking chicken coop, it's one of the new breed of plastic coops which promise easier cleaning, better insulation and better protection against the dreaded red-mite.
There are a few plastic coops available now - most seem to be quite expensive! We originally looked at Omlet's Cube, but it was ruled out when we realised how tiny it was (all of Omlet's coops/runs/cages are really small - their chicken runs always have either bantams or pullets in them - no fully grown hens! This is more than a bit naughty :( They also say they are suitable for 6-10 birds! What kind, finches?!)
We were really impressed by Green Frog Designs as they show real, large grown hens in their product images! Scarlet very astutely noticed that most other sellers used very young or bantam hens in their product images - so Green Frog's images of the chicken wagon with a massive Brahma in were wonderfully refreshing and honest. They also specify the number of hens suitable for the wagon by quoting Poultry Club of Great Britain Guidelines and even say they prefer using Soil Association Guidelines as it offers more space per bird - this is so refreshing after seeing other's ridiculous quotes for how many birds you can cram in their tiny enclosures...
The Chicken Wagon coop was ordered mid-day and arrived the very next morning - delivery was free and certainly very fast! The guys at Green Frog were brilliant too - friendly and helpful.
You end up with several huge various sized boxes, opening them up reveals lots of large bits of plastic and small pieces and a rather daunting instruction leaflet. We laid everything out on the lawn (luckily the weather was fine) and went through the instructions identifying the bits and pieces so that when we came to actually make it we might have a better idea of what we were doing. They seemed pretty clear (they must have been or we'd have gone wrong!) and taking it slowly and carefully we had no problems - even having to build the wagon inside their coop as the final build wouldn't have fit through the door!
I had useful help whilst building it (thanks to my nephew Joe!) - it eventually took us about 7 hours to completely build.
After using it for several weeks, I'm still impressed by the chicken wagon. It's huge - I mean huge - it says it's suitable for 6 large hens but our 6 various sized can all roost on ONE of the perches - there are three in total!
The wagon is pre-setup for the Chicken Guard automatic door opener - this is amazingly well designed as you don't have to worry about setting it up, it's literally fit and forget, no more worrying about getting up to let the hens out, or secure them at night.
The nest boxes are designed in a way so that the eggs roll away from the hens to aid collection and to help prevent hens eating their eggs (after having a naughty hen who did this, this is another brilliant touch).
The inside of the chicken wagon can be pressure-washed to clean it, and there is practically nowhere for mites to hide - the lack of seams and joins you'd find in wooden coops is great.
It also looks fab on hencam - we really like the unusual design and style!
We also have loads more space for the hens - we've gone from:
The new chicken wagon is nearly as big as the total run size the hens used to have! We had several leylandii taken out and the others severely trimmed back so we could fit the very biggest run that we could in there. Landscaping and enrichment is ongoing... It all looks great!
It was Zoey's birthday a week and a half ago, but we just haven't had time to bake her a cake. I've picked three batches of blackberries whilst out walking dogs, to use to colour the 'icing', and all but this last batch have gone off in our fridge as we've left them too long!!
Today whilst walking a dog I found the last few blackberries of the year, so I picked them and knew I just HAD to bake a cake for Zoey when we got home...cue cake making!
We normally make our pups cakes with a fairly human recipe, but this time I decided to make it totally doggy!
Ingredients: Lamb tripe mince, Rabbit & Cranberry wet dog food, various vegetables and herbs. The 'icing' is simply mashed potatoes, but I ruined it a little by not blending the blackberries, meaning it was a little pale and patchy looking...oh well, Zoey doesn't care ;)
The cake didn't look much like a cake, but it was fun (and easy!) to make! We decorated it with a band of dog-friendly chocolate buttons, and a strip of a dog treat as a 'candle'!
Kasper and Zoey got a slice each, and they really seemed to enjoy it. Normally when we give Zoey something she's never had before she sniffs it suspiciously and gives it a tentative nibble...she gobbled this cake down in record time!
Head over to the forum to see more pics!
Once again this weekend we found ourselves time-poor and didn't get chance to start on Helen's planned landscaping in the chicken coop until 8pm on Sunday, when it was completely dark! I had to set up a flood-light (and put some blu-tak over the light sensor on the chicken coop door opener so it wouldn't let the hens out early!)
Helen had bought some chicken-friendly plants earlier in the week and on Saturday we bought 3 bags of sand for their new dust-bath.
It's not finished yet - we have some natural branches to put in for the hens to hopefully perch on, and one of the plants was a bit big and covered the cam view! But here's how it looked last night after we finished:
And here's their new dust-bathing area complete with log perch/wall and plants:
As well as their dust-bathing area they have a Rosemary plant (so they can self-stuff themselves!!) and a tall grass (which you can't see here), panaromic shot which might give you an idea of the layout:
We waited with baited breath this morning to watch the hens explore their new features, but nobody has dared go into the sand yet (although Mabel did step into it and then hopped back out!) - let us know if you spot anyone in it!
Here's Mabel and Leslie looking pretty!
Not sure how long these plants will last!
They have a little area behind the coop which will have plants too:
Our Chicken Wagon has 3 large perches and is quoted as suitable for around 6 large hens, looking at how our girls slept last night this might be a conservative estimate! We could cram about 18 in there :)
After some very stressful days building chicken runs, multiple finger injuries whilst fitting chicken wire, building chicken wagons and possibly the most stressful journey to buy chickens which should have taken 25 minutes but actually took 2 hours 20, the new girls are in their new home!
Traffic conspired against us (you can read about that nightmare journey) which culminated in us having to ask those lovely people at Pear Tree Poultry to open late for us which they very kindly agreed to. We were really impressed by the set up, and the hens were simply gorgeous! Scarlet had a definite list of breeds we should have, and luckily they had every one - at least this bit went to plan!
We then made the ardous trip back to our home, and it was completely dark by then so the girls went straight to bed, and it was amazing to see them up and about the next morning!
Their Green Frog Designs home is brilliantly designed with lots of nifty features and very few places for red mite to hide in - the girls arleady see it as 'their home'. I'm going to write a full review of the chicken wagon as a poultry house, but initial findings are very positive.
You might notice as well THAT THE WEBCAM IS BACK ONLINE!!! It's only a temporary camera but it heralds the return of hencam! Audio will be returning shortly (the old microphone developed a fault due to moisture ingress).
But look how fantastic everything looks! :)