The other morning I went to clean the coop and feed/water the hens, and noticed Leslie wasn't out (she's usually one of the first to come and see what treats I have for them) - she was still in the house, dead. :(
I've no idea what it was - I checked the recordings and she was fine the previous day - Scarlet thought it might be Sudden Death Syndrome, maybe something congenital or just that first egg gone wrong...
We'll miss you, Helen took it badly as Leslie was the one that used to sit on her knee for treats and clicker training - we shouldn't really have favourites but she was a gorgeous and impressive hen - I've never known one so big and clumsy but she was also the most gentle hen too!
Snowing like crazy here... looked like it was going to be ok getting to work, but then it started to lay on the roads and it's now full-on blizzard...
Copied from my blog, posting here because it's important :)
I was on facebook recently and someone I am friends with but don’t know particularly well posted a status similar to this:
“Who is the irresponsible owner here? 1) The owner who has their dogs off lead and knows they won’t hurt anyone or anything 2) The owner who brings an aggressive dog to an area known for dog walking and where there are lots of dogs being walked off lead”
Now my answer should probably have been “maybe both – but really the first owner”, but I am sick and tired off the “it's okay, s/he's friendly” dog owners, so instead I replied:
Dogs that don’t like other dogs still need walks and have just as much of a right to go to nice places and not have other dogs run over and bother them – it’s the owners’ job to call “get your dog please!” and then the off lead friendly dog should have good enough recall to be called off and go back to their owner. Aggressive dogs should always be kept on lead if there are other dogs nearby, or if it’s in a popular walking spot. That’s my opinion.
Our Staffy was bothered and attacked by lots of off lead dogs, and she became scared of other dogs – she was never aggressive but we kept her on lead and gave her treats just for seeing other dogs. This was working well but the number of off lead dogs that would run up to her, jump all over her and scare her was infuriating, and their owners would just say “oh it’s okay, my dog’s friendly!”…well great, but my dog doesn’t want to meet your dog!
I want to reiterate a few points now in this blog post:
The view that aggressive, fearful or reactive dogs shouldn’t be walked anywhere where they might bump into other dogs is STUPID.
Where are you supposed to walk then, taking into account we have seen many off lead dogs in the village, by roads etc?!
But secondly: Dogs that hate having their personal space invaded have just as much right to walk in nice stimulating areas as so called “friendly” dogs.
Finally, another thing to remember, not all dogs that can’t greet others are aggressive. They could be:
I have two dogs. Kasper does not appreciate pushy, rude, unpleasant dogs – Raiden IS the rude, pushy, unpleasant dog!!
As a result we walk Rey on a longline when he is around other dogs, and he is in constant training to teach him to be calm. When there are no dogs, he is off lead. His recall is good with low-med distractions.
If someone says he can play with their dog, I warn them that he is a brat and plays rude and bouncily – if they say it’s okay, off he goes.
Important: if you let your dog off lead around other unknown dogs, s/he must have extremely reliable recall – it is NOT FAIR for your dog to go bother other dogs.
Please let this post be a reminder – reactive, fearful and aggressive dogs are NOT bad dogs, and they deserve good walks too
Well, the girls have laid their first egg!
It was completely unexpected, and I got a real shock when I turned the lamp on and went to say hello to them once we were home - there was just this gigantic egg staring back at me!!
It's absolutely beautiful, and perfect in every way.
We don't know who laid it - could it be Quorn, and that is why she has been acting off, or is it Kale, now that she is recovered??
Funnily enough, both girls hunker down when my hand goes near them, as if I was a boy quail...makes me think they're both ready to lay!
Erika looks like she is ok and the bleeding has stopped and the others don't seem to be picking on her, so that's a massive worry lifted for the moment...
And Ariel (the only chicken laying at the moment), finally managed to lay an egg in the nest box! Great celebrations!
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...!)