Moving Chickens

Hi there keepers, it’s been a while since I posted, there has been alot going on. Our landlord moved to Australia leaving our house with a property manager. She immediately put the rent up by over 10%, (her fee), and then instructed us we had ten days to remove our chickens from the property, quoting some tenancy act.

Rubbish, we had an agreement with our landlord about our hens from the beginning nearly three yeears ago. Waiakere council allows twelve hens on an urban plot, no roosters.

So we have moved, lock stock n chicken coop. The girls found it all a bit confusing, and are settling into the new garden slowly, I had to cut their coop in half to transport it, and then realised it was far too big for them, now that there is only four left, so I just reconstructed the coop half the size. We didn’t give them their afternoon feed to make it easier to  catch them when we moved,using the food as a lure to the box, it worked just like you see in the cartoons.

Moulting or Molting, To-mat-oe or To-ma-toe

Moulting Manuella

Hi keepers, it’s that time of year again in New Zealand, the days are getting shorter and the air is growing cooler.  This is the trigger for the girls to start their moulting, the shedding of their feathers.  It looks worse than it is, to the unfamiliar, the hens will just start to drop feathers everywhere, the run can resemble the scene of a large pillow fight, they just get everywhere, the chickens themselves do look as if they have been in a fight,  or gone to a really bad hairdresser.

There’s not alot to done for them during this time, some say to add some nutrients to their water.  The down side to all of this is, they stop laying, all of their energy goes into growing new feathers, on the positve side, I have collected alot of the bigger tail feathers over the years and I am attempting some kind of feather art project.

So if you’re experiencing this for the first time, don’t worry,  it’s normal chicken behaviour.

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

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

Changing Seasons

Hi there keepers, the seasons are a changing, we’re in springtime down here in New Zealand, the Daffodils have been and gone, the Bee’s are swarming, and the hens are aware of the new year, Renee has already started to brood 2 days ago, we want to get some fertile eggs to put under this time, as are small flock has been depleated with the loss of Nelly and Daisy, and also last year Renee sat on the nest box for 2 months of more, and became quite dirty and thin, we thought if we give her some chicks to rear, she be off the nest quicker.

Another feature of the warmer weather is flies, this hadn’t been much of a problem in the past, other than a few extra ones in the house on occassion, however this spring I have encounter a nasty side of flies, one of our Shavers or Cinnamon Queens as someone described them the other day, had an infestation of maggots, I had heard of fly blown cattle before, mainly sheep, but  didn’t realise chickens were suseptable to them, since making a comment on another forum, I had several accounts of lots of different animals being attacked by fly, kittens seemed to be the most disturbing.

What I found was an open wound just below her vent, with 30 – 40 maggots wriggling around, quite digusting, as it was just below the vent it got very dirty, from the look of her comb, I’d say she got a touch of blood poisoning, I noticed a slight darkening to the tips of the comb.  So it was into the operating theatre ( laundry room), hot bath’s and cut away the dirty feathers around the wound, alot of the maggots came out in the hot water, but some needed prizing out with a cocktail stick, it wasn’t pleasant, the smell of the wound added to the whole experience. After ensuring all the maggots were out, and the infected flesh had been removed, I just scrape it away with wooden skewer, once this had been washed out with warm water using cotton buds, I applied some antiseptic cream. I repeated this for 3 days, and she seems to be on the mend, although she’s not out of the woods just yet, she’s very weak from not eating properly.

I’ll let you know how she gets on of course, and any other bits that crop up with the changing seasons. happy keeping.

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.

Chicken Update

Hi there, just a post to let you know i’m here, and general update on the girls. They are all molting at the moment, feathers everywhere, I’m afraid they do look rough, tails have gone, poor Gloria has gone bald on top, and as for Betty the previously beautiful Golden Lace Wyandotte, she looks like she been in a bad fight and lost. Nancy the top hen seems to be keeping her feathers quite intact, and Manuella Conchita Gonzales the Minorca has only lost a couple here and there. As a result of all this molting, egg production has gone down, only Manuella is still laying.

On an up note, Daisy our wandering hen, has been captured by myself, around the block at the neighbours. I took her home and locked her in a cupboard for 3 days, not quite as bad as it sounds, what I really did was contain her in a large dark tool cupboard under the house, with plenty of food and water, until it seems, she has forgotten about the nest around the corner, which took 3 days. I had read elsewhere that this is a cure for a broody hen.

Nest Discovered

Hi there, this was a few months ago now, I had forgotten all about the pic, just thought I’d share it with you. Sneeky girls.

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.

A Happy New Year

Hi and a happy new year to those following the christian calender, or gregorian as it’s refered to, I hope all went well with the start to the new decade. The hens have started 2010 contained finally, it seems, in my patchwork run made of wire, bamboo, string and pieces of pallet wood.

Renee our Light Sussex has seen the new decade in still sitting on the eggs that will never hatch, yesterday when I removed the nest box to change the hay, she went back into the coop, saw that the box was gone, and then came back out to look at the coop,  then went back in to check again, like she was checking if she had the right house, on the second visit convinced she was in the right coop, she just sat on the floor where the nest box had been.

Good fortunes in the new year..