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    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 2:01am (Jun 28th 2010)

    Keeper of the hens

    Questions from fuchia:

    The biggest one thats upsetting me, is I can't pick up the girls, I've treid a few times, stooping down arms outstretched but I just can't do it, I'm afraid I'll grab and hurt, and I'll need to do so in order to check for mites etc!!!

    Also I'm so confused with food, I have a feeder, but wonder if I should do feeding the old fashioned way and sprinkle hand fulls morning and evening or let them feed away themselves and just make sure there's always food in there feeder.

    Also the actual feed! I'm feeding a mix, one looks like linseed or wheat and the other is like a powder. Well there's a few questions about the hens
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 2:22am (Jun 28th 2010) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    Okay, so, in answer to your questions...

    Chickens quite often don't like being picked up - even tame chickens may not like it. Tilly, one of our hens, will tolerate being lifted only for a very short period of time, and even then doesn't particularly like it. Milly, on the other hand, loved being carried around. It all depends on the individual chickens' personality and especially on how much trust they have with you.

    How long have you had your girls, how old are they and how old were they when you got them? How tame are they?

    If they aren't very tame, you need to build a friendship with them...and the way to a chickens' heart is through food!

    Spend as much time in your chickens' company. Talk to them constantly, take a book and sit fairly close to them and read aloud. You can have a bag of raisins, grapes or other healthy treats they like nearby, and now and again throw the treats a metre or so away, gradually lessening the distance until they peck the treats from your lap or your hand etc.

    Next, offer them a slightly larger treat that you can keep hold off whilst they peck bits off, such as a lettuce head. While they are busy pecking at the treat use youe other hand to stroke them on their backs. If they panic, don't worry just repeat!

    If you can befriend them enough they will probably voluntary hop onto your lap if you are sat on the floor, or even on a chair. This makes it easier to lift them.

    The most important thing to do when lifting a chicken is to pin their wings down - a chickens' wings are incredibly powerful, and a flapping chicken is a nightmare to hold and wings to the face can be painful!! I have my thumbs resting on the chickens' back and then have my fingers pointing down at the chickens' feet, pinning their wings to their body, with their bottom facing towards you and their head away. That way they can't get their wings free, and it's impossible for them to kick their way free with their legs either.

    I know other people use one hand to hold the chickens' legs still, and use the other to hold down one wing, pressing the other side of the chicken close to their body so they can't flap that wing either.

    It's up to you how you hold your chickens, practice makes perfect! Just never grap them by the neck, wing, leg and don't ever hold them upside-down...unsurprisingly, they don't like it!

    Feeding: you can either scatter food on the floor twice a day, or use a feeder and give them access to food whenever they want. We let our girls' have access to their food all day; as long as they get enough exercise there is no problem.

    What you should be feeding them is layers pellets or layers mash (that would probably be the powder you describe) corn can be given as an added bonus, just a handful or so each day, but the food should be predominantly layers pellets or mash. The mash can be fed dry or mixed with water to make a sort of porridge. Layers pellets are just small cylinder pellets. Both mash and pellets provide all the nutrition a laying hen needs.

    Are your girls free range? If they aren't you will need to feed them grit (grit meant for pet birds such as budgies will do fine) to help them digest the corn.

    Hope this helps :heart:
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 2:24am (Jun 28th 2010)

    Keeper of the hens

    Hope all the makes sense, it's quite late so my brain isn't working properly :laugh:
    • CommentAuthorfuchia
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 6:04pm (Jun 28th 2010) edited
    :interesting:Oh Red, thanks soooooooooo much for all that info.Three of the girls are about 30 days old, but as for my two bantoms, I don't know, they are much older, since they were laying when I got them ( have stopped since the other three arrived but thats just down to a bit of stress I think ). They are free range, well their run is 12ft by 12ft which I'm told is a good size, was hoping to let them out during the day around our large garden, but I don't think I will, as my dog Calvin is dying to play with them and don't want mother nature to set into his up to now playful head!!!! Will post some pics soon.
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 6:06pm (Jun 28th 2010)

    Keeper of the hens

    I think Scarlet (Red) has it spot on.

    When your hens are new, they probably won't have been handled or be used to humans, so don't worry if they run a mile when you get close - just keep been around them, maybe give them the occasional (healthy) treat, and they'll soon equate you as something good to be around!

    Then try picking up the hen you think won't mind the most, they way I do it is spread thumb and fingers apart, the two thumbs go across the chickens back (the top side of the hen), and the fingers hold around the bottom/chest of the hen. If they don't like it, expect lots of flapping but they may settle down after a moment. If you have a particularly laid back hen (like Milly was), then by far the easiest was to hold the hen with one arm, so one side was pressed against the side of your body, and that arm went around and under the hen to support it. It means you have a free hand so you can do checks, open doors, administer medicine etc etc.

    The feeder is a good idea as it holds lots of food and keeps it off the ground so mice etc don't help themselves to it!

    You can also throw a handful of treats or food down so the hens have something good to find as they naturally scratch and dig in the earth.

    I'd be tempted to offer the pellets most as they are less messy and easier to use, then maybe go to layers mash in winter when it gets cold - you can make it with warm water and it's like hot porridge to them!
    • CommentAuthorfuchia
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 6:33pm (Jun 28th 2010) edited
    Oh sounds delicious Neil! LOL Thank you! Oh gave them uncooked corn on the cob the other day, they avoided it for about two days, then a sudden realisation " Yummy" I presume its not meant to be cooked?

    • CommentAuthornanny north
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 8:46pm (Jun 28th 2010)
    They will eat it raw or cooked Fuchia. I buy a bag of cheap frozen corn each week for mine. I just defrost some and then give it to them or in the winter I cook it amd they have it warm. It makes a nice little treat for their supper before they go to bed !!!!
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 8:48pm (Jun 28th 2010)
    This is the point at which Eric would say 'They get better fed than I do...' Bring a tear to a glass eye, it would...
    • CommentAuthornanny north
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 9:03pm (Jun 28th 2010)
    Ha ha
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 10:17pm (Jun 28th 2010)
    Yes, hubby says the same about my rats when I give them their veg each evening!

    Great advice - it almost (I said almost) makes me want to get hens!
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJun 28th, 2010 10:46pm (Jun 28th 2010)
    Go on, Kate! You know you want to!
    • CommentTimeJun 29th, 2010 9:38am (Jun 29th 2010)

    Keeper of the hens

    Posted By: fuchiaOh gave them uncooked corn on the cob the other day, they avoided it for about two days, then a sudden realisation " Yummy" I presume its not meant to be cooked?

    It's fine, once they figure out it's good they'll chase you round the garden for it!

    You can try hanging a lettuce on a piece of string (so it's like a hanging disco ball) within easy reach of the hens, they'll soon be pecking at it like a punch bag and will keep them amused for hours.

    Ours love grapes and raisins too... as well as stuff not so good for them such as cream cakes and custard!
    • CommentAuthorvolka
    • CommentTimeJun 29th, 2010 7:28pm (Jun 29th 2010)
    I agree with Red, talk the pants off your chickens. Try and imitate the noises they make at you - your neighbours will think you're bonkers but the chickens will eventually come to accept you as the big, pink, bald chicken who has the food.

    We quite often just sit on the lawn and sprinkle a circle of corn around us and chat to the birds. Most of them will now climb onto our laps and tolerate a scritch in the neck feathers. Only Rosie enjoys being carried around and fell asleep in Rob's arms the other day. Two of the others enjoy sitting on our shoulders where there's more freedom to disembark at will. The others are still a bit flighty but you'll get used to their personalities in no time.