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


Nancy’s Back

Hi there keepers, just a quick update on the broody hen Nancy, it seems she has decided to return, it has been about 6 weeks since she set up home in Mani’s garden, well behind his shed to be precise. I have been over and physically pushed her out of the nest, trying to get her to come back, as she wasn’t eating, just sitting there with no eggs under her. Recently she has been coming over for feeds, and yesterday she came over the fence, and hung about all day, it was only at sunset she thought about going back to mani’s shed, but I caught her and put her in the tempory holding pen, (a welsh dresser that lives on the back deck), and this morning she seems to have resumed her place in the flock, bossing every one else around, however I think she has been knocked back a bit in the order, Dorothy the biggest hen now, doesn’t seemed too bothered by Nancy’s low grumbles.

Chicken Stir-Crazy

Hi there keepers, It’s been a little while since I last wrote anything, I ‘ve been having difficulties, stuck in a bit of a trough, haven’t wanted to do anything, at all. I have Bi-polar disorder, the new term for manic depression, enough of me, back to the chickens.

Not alot has been happening really, status quo, Nancy is still living next door, behind Mani’s shed, she is not even laying anymore,  Dorothy the Light Sussex, is slowly taking over, as she is by far the biggest bird, it’s funny to watch her run, as she is still running like a gangley teenager.

The new coop is coming along, Manuella the Minorca has taken to roosting on the top floor already, at present the old coop is within the new coop, I built the new one around the old one then took the roof and one of the sides walls off, there are still a few areas that need work, the roof isn’t completely waterproof yet, I got lulled into thinking ‘ It’s summer I’ll do the roof last, but it rained hard the other night and the girls looked very wet when they came out in the morning. Roof now temporarily fixed, but waiting for roll of waterproof material to materialise.

The council, have finally seen my point of veiw over the damage done to my enviroment after their sewage works were completed, basically they cut down two huge willow trees, scraped away two large areas of vegetation and topsoil, on either side of the creek, then to fix all of that they threw down some grass seed and straw one the other side of the creek, and that was their effort to restore my enviroment. they are now going to replant three native trees and fix up the the bottom of my garden. This was all made more difficult by the fact that the guy I was dealing with at the council was the water engineer for sewage, after asking him to bring a gardener with him next visit, things started to get through to him, as if the arborist was a translator, from non-council speak into council speak, basically they don’t listen to you, in some condesending fashion of ‘ you wouldn’t understand what is involved, it not just planting 3 trees you know’, well yes it is.

thanks to those regulars who hung in there when there was nothing new to read, hopefully I’ll be able to more soon.

It’s all over the place

Hi there readers, well you know, I try, I keep upgrading the facilities, however on occasion I have to go and earn some money, which of course means being away from the hens for the day, as it turns out I’ve been busy the past 2 weeks, and in that time the girls have moved nests, were down to 1 egg a day, Nancy is still broody but not laying, the coop le grande has come to a grinding halt, and the garden is in need of some t.l.c., it is frustrating to say the least.

I feel caught in a Catch 22 ( great book by the way), if I work from home I get a bit stir crazy, and if I work away from home, I end up with twice as much to do when I am here. This may sound like I’m complaining, well it isn’t, this is just one way I find useful to make it all seem better, ranting about it, seems to lighten the load, getting off your chest so to speak, or should I say breast as this is a chicken blog.

Manuella put her self into the coop last night, seems they are all friends now, well to a degree, not as pecky since Nancy has been absent. The rat seems to have disappeared, not in a David Copperfield way, more in a eaten by a cat way I think, as a stray tabby has been lurking around over the past couple of weeks, not really a threat to the girls, as she is smaller than most of them, and I’ve seen them fight off  ‘Leroy ‘  the Cornish Rex cat, known by some of the neighbours as ‘ the bird killer ‘, very sharp claws indeed, as he is brown, we have nicked named him, ‘ the  baddest cat in town ‘ .

Has Nancy Gone Broody?

Hi there reader, low and behold as I looked out of the window down into the garden this morning, there she was, I called to her with the same sort of tone you would use after loosing a friend at a festival , ‘ Nancy!!! , there you are ‘. It was great to her well, if a little hungry.  What struck me straight away as I went out into the garden, although Nancy had returned there was no sight of any other bird, all seven were hiding, as it turned out not so much hiding, just away from Nancy, it really seemed as if she were being ignored by the others, the three newbies were down in the ginger bush,  with Nellie, the shaver most pecked by Nancy, and the other three were down in the bamboo by the edge of the creek, both groups had that look about them, you when you come into a room and the conversation stops, and everybodies pretending to just be talking about the weather.

There they were the two factions of hens in their hides, discussing Nancy, ‘ I see she’s back then! ‘ , ‘ I thought we’d seen last last of her ‘ , maybe the chicks were consouling Nellie, ‘ I know, she pecks us too, it’s not very nice, hmm ‘.  Well all their ignoring her payed off, I noticed she was starting to squeeze her way through the bamboo fence again, into Mani’s garden, so I watched her, unfortunately I had to go the post office, early closing Saturday, by the time I had wrapped the parcel, she had disappeared from sight, I look in the neighbours garden, racing her last movements, no sign. So I think she has gone broody and is laying in secret somewhere nearby, sitting patiently for eggs that will never hatch, bless her.

Happy New Year

Hi there keepers,  Happy new  year to you all, thanks for your support during 2008, and I look forward to it again this year. I plan to do so much more than last year, so there should be plenty to report on.  At present much seems to be the same, however it’s the shift in mindspace that’s the key, funny how we can’t seem to do this at any other time of year, afterall it’s only really another day, but it seems to have an effect unlike any other, which I suppose means it isn’t like any other day.

So far this year, the chicks have now got a new found freedom, as they are big enough to be let out daily, which they seem to be enjoying, the big girls have moved their nest again, we found 9 eggs on returning from our breakaway, our chicken/house sitter missed out there, but i’m sure we’ll make it up to him. He told me a funny story on our return, he said one day 4 of the 5 hens were missing, he’d looked around the nearby area, no sign, so he went back out into the garden, where the solo hen was still there, by this time he said he was quite worried, and just then as if on cue, they all ran out of a nearby shrubery, as if to say ‘ surprise!!!’, an organised trick on the temp.

Civil engineers started back today with their noisey machinery, at 8am, so the ‘sleep in’  part of the holiday is over for now, but the weathers sunny so not so bad being up earlier.

I hope you all have a great start to the new year  and it continues to the next.

Chicks Out

Hi there, yesterday we allowed the chicks out for a proper free range in the garden, they have been in the run before now, but never just let roam free in the garden, so ofcourse this was a bit scary for them, also mixed with excitment Í think because they reminded me of a bunch of school kids in Hamley’s toy shop,  ‘  and look what they have over here, wow,  oh oh look at this’  running around not stopping anywhere for more than a second, too many things to explore.

The entertainment value for us was great , but the highlight had to be when Maria the biggest of the chicks, she is probably as big as the shavers now, got frightened of a Monarch butterfly flying overhead, I know they are larger than some, but really, she hopped and skipped, ran, tried to fly away, ducked down as the buttterfly swooped overhead.

I keep saying she, as we are hoping that she is a she and not a he, as we’re not allowed roosters, however her comb is very large as is her tail and to top it off she has on occasion framed up to the bigger girls through the fence, time will tell. After loooking at pics of black Minorcan’s, the females do tend to have bigger features than some other breeds, fingers crossed.

Minorca hen

Minorca hen

Chicken Colditz

Half way stage of camp Tenko


Half way stage of camp Tenko


I’ve had it with retrieving the hens from next door’s gardens, and I’m sure, although they haven’t said anything, the neighbours are fed up of chickens’ droppings on their driveway. So today I started to build a big run, using bamboo, I suppose it’s more chicken Tenko, for those of you familiar with the BBC.

Sooner or later the civil engineers are arriving at my property to carry out some major works on the sewerage pipes at the back of the house, and they are to replace the old pipe that runs across the creek, so the girls would have had to be penned in then, heavy machinery about and big holes.

The larger of the new chicks, who I think is ready for a bigger space, she started clucking today, when she was surprised by my hand reaching in to change the water, also she can be quiet rough with the much smaller chicks, as she scratches at the ground, if one of the little ones are near her feet, they invariably get flicked out the back, in a rather unceremonious fashion.

So if I work on the run tomorrow, being a Sunday,…????, we’ll see, I could have it finished, then Maria can get out and mix it with the big girls, If she’ll mix with non pedigree birds that is, all in all it’s not the ideal I had in mind of the hens roaming around the garden happy to stay put, but this way they still have loads of garden to use, 250sq ft, and we can still let them out into the rest of the garden when we are at home.

Also this should I estimate give me about 5 hours week back, and they will all have to lay inside the run, no more searching for secret nests, although that was great when I did finally find it full of eggs, 9 in total, good day.

Project Deluxe Coop

99% complete, just some finishing touches, it's no master piece i know.

99% complete, just some finishing touches, it

Hi there, well I’ve been busy than beaver in logging season, not only have I been trying to finish the coop, but I started building another herb box, stupidly before I had finished the coop, and so I ended up with two unfinished projects, who says men can’t multi task? Today though I got stuck into the coop, and yes it is finished, the girls are roosting in it as I type.

Ofcourse don’t think for one second they just marched in, in an orderly row, after I cut the ribbon to mark the occassion, oh no, it was more like an episode of Benny Hill, around and around the garden, til they ran into a corner, then they struck their squating down frightened pose, and we gathered them up, and into the new abode.

I checked on them after about ten minutes, Nellie seem to have taken to it quite well, and was already asleep, while the other four, sat nervously looking at me.

I am rather pleased with myself I must say, the design of the removable floor has worked out well, I have hinged the front and back door, also I have a removable panel on the back to enable easy egg snatching.

I can now go about, reusing the old coop, the chicken wire will come in handy to protect the veggies, which leads me back to the grow boxes I’ve been constructed, again from,  you guess it, pallets. Making them half a metre of the ground makes it easy to weed, access, plus keep the girls from getting to them easily. I am going to build a few extra ones put them on the front lawn forsale, see what happens, the garden centres want a small kings’ ransom for a box.

the chicken keeper