20,000 Visitors from 121 Nations.

Hello keepers, readers, I ‘d just want to say  Thanks, Tena Koe, Merci, Danke, Gracias, Dank, ευχαριστίες , ありがとう, Cпасибо and Obrigado, to all of you out there for reading my blog, sorry to any languages i’ve left out, babelfish only covers certain ones. I’m overwhelemed by the amount of people who are interseted in chicken keeping. Recent studies suggest chicken keeping is on the rise, highest figures since 1955.

The list of nations from which you are visiting the site now stands at 121, great to see something we all have in common. I hope you are enjoying both the factual and personal sides to the posts, if there is anything anyone would like me to add, please do leave a comment in the box, and thankyou to all the regular visitors to the site.

May your chickens live long and lay well

Counting Your Chickens

Hi there keepers, I have truly found out the meaning of  ‘ Do not count your chickens before the eggs have hatched ‘ . We bought eight fertile eggs from our regular breeder, she said at the time she was having about an 80% hatching rate, good we thought, we’ll have six new chicks, which would bring us to capacity for our urban chicken run,  maximum allowed in our city 12 hens, no roosters.

So three weeks ago we popped the eggs under our broody hens and waited with excitement, we discussed the feed requirements, planned the trip to the rural store some miles away, to buy the special chick feed. This very weekend I made some measurements for extra chick requirements in the coop, anticipating that they would be along at any second.

However yesterday when I looked in on the broody pair, I was so disappointed, it seems they have broken most of the eggs, I’m not sure if it’s just from being clumsy on the nest or if one of them is attacking the foreign eggs, but it appears that only four are left intact, and whether they will hatch now after 24 days seems unlikely, it was very frustrating and annoying after all the efforts I’d made for the arrival of these chicks, so I can now say the saying ‘ Don’t count your chickens before your eggs have hatched’, from first hand experience. Good luck with your hatchings.

Coop Building

Hi there keepers, I’m currently working on building yet another coop. I’m taking a bit more time over this one, using all the lessons learnt from building the first three, hopefully this one will last a few years. 

I went to find some  wood today at the local refuse centre, where you can get free fire wood, however a guy working there asked me what I was looking for, when I replied ‘ Long pieces to build a chicken coop.’, he led me away to a warehouse, which contained a large pile of long crates, previously used to store soil core samples, all made from decent solid timber.

If you click on the pics, it will give you a close up, you may notice I’ve over lapped the wood on the sides, like weather boards to allow the rain to run off, you may note from the pics, I haven’t done any fancy wood work, just butted the pieces of the frame and nailed them together, I used thicker wood(4 x 2) for the bottom frame and legs at the front. It’s important to have the structure raised off of the ground to prevent it rotting from moisture.

I will endeavour to take pictures along the way, incase anyones interested in making one themselves

Fox is out Foxed by Chickens.

Hi there keepers, while chatting on the phone with my Mother in the UK other day, she alerted me to a story that broke a few months ago in the UK, now I normally don’t copy and paste, I write all the contents on here myself, but on this occasion I thought i’d share two articles from two very different UK newspapers with you.

first this is from the Guardian, a broadsheet newspaper.

Michelle Cordell, 43, was amazed when she went to collect eggs from her garden brood on Saturday morning and found the dead fox lying in their pen.She said: “I was so shocked. When I opened it up, the chickens came running out, happy as anything. I went inside and the fox was laying there. “The little table in the corner of the coup, which the chickens perch on, had been kicked over and was lying next to the fox’s head. It seems they kicked over the table and knocked the fox out and then pecked it to death. It had little blood marks on its legs that look like they had been pecked.”

Mrs Cordell, who lives in Langdon Hills, Essex, with her partner Gary Howell, 45, said foxes had often broken into the coup and killed their chickens in the past. She said she had shut up the sliding door of the shed on Friday night when she put the chickens to bed but thinks the fox must have nosed its way under the door. When she went out the next morning the door was still shut but the fox was trapped inside with the birds.

Now from a tabloid newspaper, ‘The Sun’

A GANG of four plucky chickens hatched a murderous plan to take revenge on a fox terrorising their coop — and pecked him to death.

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2874450/Fox-comes-last-in-pecking-order.html#ixzz11j2tXcZx

I hope you enjoyed both accounts.

Back in the Eggs

Well it seems the winter has passed, the daffodils are starting to reach for the sun, and the first one popped it’s face out today, the other sign is,

eggs eggs eggs

 two of the shavers have started laying again. Its been a while since I found a brown egg in the nest box, a good few months. This will be the third summer we have had our hens, I wonder if their prime laying years are already over?. I do remember one of the breeders we obtained our chicks from saying to replace the birds after 2 years if you want to keep a good supply of eggs.

Of course she was looking at it from a commercial point, but you can’t just dispose of pets after 2 years and replace them with younger models,  it was quite difficult to return the two roosters, Dorothy and Maria, (aka Dave and Manuel), and  we’d only had them for a few months, before we realised they were boys, and besides I don’t think anyone else would put up with ‘big fat Renee’s’ constant moaning.

So the eggs are a plenty again after the longest dry period we’ve had since being keepers of the chicken. May your nests be full and your birds be healthy and happy.

Moulting or Molting

Moulting or Molting, english or american spelling, it still results in the same, feathers everywhere. For those who are unaware of the process, moulting occurs normally once a year, can happen twice depending on the climate. The bird will  gradually shed a considerable amount of it’s feathers, I have noticed it generally starts with the tail feathers, then spreads to the rest of the body. Now the bird doesn’t become bald all of a sudden,  the process happens over a period of weeks, can last for months, depending on the condition of the bird at the start of the process.

In my observations of our hens, it started with one bird, and then a few days later, others joined  the shedding process, interestingly the top hens Nancy and Manuella were the last to start. During this time of renewing their feathers, the laying stops, as the bird is putting all of its energy into the growth of the new feathers, they can become very subdued, spending alot of time sleeping during the day. One other thing I have just noticed, is that their combs seem to shrink down and lose some of their colour, side effect of directing all that energy to the feathers I suspect.

Moulting Manuella

The moulting or molting process, is to renew their weakened and damaged feathers to prepare themselves for winter and better their chance of escape from any predators, perhaps this is why they stagger  the moulting in the flock, so they can maintain some overall strength and protection. Make they have grit (calcium = crushed seashells) in their feed.

They do look a bit of a mess while this is all going on, however when they have finished, they look splendid in their new plumage, like a group of ladies who have just returned from a fancy hair salon.

5000 Visitors

Well a big thankyou to all visitors to the chicken keeper, the site got it’s five thousanth visitor today, which is almost a year to the day I started the site, I didn’t really get going properly on it til November 2008, it had only had 7 views until then, so the figures have primarily been achived in ten months.

One wet hen

One wet hen

This might not sound like alot in ten months compared to some other sites who can reach figures like that almost daily, but it far exceeds my expectations, and the most surprising thing of all is the list of countries that the visitors have come from, which if you are interested in you can view by clicking on the world map in the left colomn at the top, it can be a bit of a geography lesson too.

It’s great to see how many people are keeping their own hens, ”Coop It Going!”  (copyright R.Callaghan.2009)  What do think as a bumper sticker?

Thanks again