Food and Water is not Enough

Hi there readers, after keeping hens now for some 15 months and of course documenting it along the way, I have reached the conclusion that chickens need alot of stimulation.

It appears that they are very emotive, for example if one lays a soft egg, she may be depressed for up to 3 days, maybe to a hen this is the equivilent to a miscarriage. Also since  they have been confined to the run, I have noticed that they search for food almost most of the time, when not dust bathing or napping, therefore when the source of food in the run expires, they instantly look bored.

Their mental well being ensures a better physical well being, so I am increasingly giving them more to explore and play with in the run, also trying to provide potential homes for bugs etc, hence the title Food and Water is just not enough, the difference between living a life and exsisting. I recently cut down a dead tree that have been strangled by Ivy and dragged the ivy covered trunk into the run, this has provided both a new source of food for them and a new object to explore, now I’m not suggesting you do the same, but have a think about their day, and give them something to do.

The Joy Of Eggs

Hi there readers, eggs eggs eggs, I cannot say enough about the quality of the eggs our hens produce, as I’m sure other keepers will relate, the taste, colour and nutrience is far above the mass produced varieties that fill our supermarket shelves. I have written previously of the health qualities of the home grown egg or organic egg, mainly the omega contents can be up to 500% more than that of a supermarket egg.

The second best use of the eggs is giving them to friends and family, it’s great to hear the responses from those who are so used to the pale tasteless battery variety, I hope that it will encourage them to buy organic eggs, or better still get some of their own hens.

 It costs less than the price of 6 organic eggs  to keep 3 hens per week.  

eggs eggs eggs

Chicken Feed

When it comes to eating, we have found that our chickens will try anything once, your toes, fingers, hair, buttons, infact anything small enough to fit in their beaks, and more often than not, pieces of bread that are far too big to fit into their beaks, but they’ll try anyway. Since getting our chickens we have mainly fed them with layer pellets, as they were raised on pellets at the farm where we bought them. Occasionally when the supermarket has run out of pellets, we buy layer mash, which is a bit like porridge mix,  you add water and stir it up, we use a bucket, the girls seem to enjoy the change from pellets, my partner told me that one of her pupils, who’s family also keep chickens, said that her parents are mixing up the mash with hot water (as it’s winter here), and it has increased their hens egg output.

One important factor when choosing a feed, is to check whether it contains grit, or shell,  which is essential for the chickens diet, it helps with forming the egg shell, lack of calcium will cause soft shelled eggs, some pellets have the shell included the the pellet, other manufactures place a small bag of crushed oyster shell in with the pellets, or alternatively you can but it from most pet shops. I always try to bring a few shells from any beaches we visit, I put in them in a plastic bag, place them on a hard surface and smash them up with a hammer, do this at home, as it looks strange at the beach.

Other suppliments to the hens diet come from the garden, in the form of bugs and grasses, some plants and weeds, they have really helped keep the weeds down the the back garden, we also throw our food scraps on the compost heap, and they will rake through those and pick out any good bits. A bit of varity is the main thing when it comes to chicken feed, it makes them healthier, both in body and mind, they get bored with the same food everyday.

Layer pellets
Layer pellets

feed

Is it possible to change egg colour?

Hi there keepers, just a quick post to ask that question really. Can you change, or I should say tint the colour of the eggs, by feeding the hens coloured food? The reason I ask this somewhat strange question is that, I noticed today that manuella’s eggs had a slight pink tinge to them, and it was only two days ago that she stopped eating the party food, which included a cake with very pink (fushia) icing, I’m wondering if this has made her eggs look slightly pink, hardly noticeable really, it was only when I put the eggs in the basket next to the previously layed eggs that I noticed this strange pink tinge.

Has any one had experience of this? or is it some other reason? please let me know via comment here, cheers.

Fussy Eaters

Hello keepers, not much to report so far this week, no projects on the go, although I did aquire a small fence, from a job I did earlier in the week, so I imagine that will be going up somewhere soon, just trying to figure out the best spot for it.

The main thing I have noticed about the girls this week, is that after their party food had ran out, of course we went back to buying feed, they have mainly been fed layer pellets, from several suppliers, they have turned their beaks up at the budget pellets before. Well we had swapped them onto mash, the week before the party, so they had been used to moist food for a couple of weeks, unfortunatly the two shops we tried were sold out of mash, so we bought them the midrange layer pellets again, well it wasn’t good enough, although they were hungry, as they had been complaining for a half an hour before I went to the shop,  when I delivered pellets to their feeding trough, they had a look, tried a couple, gagged a bit on them, like P.O.W’s from an old film, then took themselves off to bed, moaning about the dry food. I don’t know some birds just aren’t grateful.

Bartering with Free Range Eggs

Hi there , well new developements, yesterday as we were cycling back from the school where t.o.h works, I saw a lady carrying a large cabbage, to which I remarked, ‘ nice cabbage!’, carried on cycling, she called out to me ‘ do you want it?’, not often you get offered free food on the road, ‘ pardon?’ I said, ‘ Would you like the cabbage, I’m trying to find a home for it, I have too many’ she replied.

So ofcourse I stopped turned around and introduce myself to the bearer of the cabbage, who turned out to be called Jenny, today we went back as promised with 6 eggs, and Jenny let us take a bag full of fresh organic veggies, so I think we have struck up a bartering relationship there, as Jenny and her son seemed very pleased with the eggs.

On the not so good news front, we lost two eggs today at the beaks of Pukeko’s ( swamp hens, pic below), a rather noisey and aggressive bird that will kill the chicks of other birds in their surroundings, the hens see them off when they come over to our garden, but they must of been stealthy to get the eggs, as I’m sure if the girls had seen them they would have steamed in claws flying.

pukeko-nz swamp hen-(wild bird)

pukeko-nz swamp hen-(wild bird)