Saturday, 26 March 2011

Update on everything

Well, I haven't had time to post in quite a while as we've been busy with chickens. Last week, we picked up 3 more hens from the BHWT. These were Barn hens, but they are much balder than the ex-batts. They run around and jump a lot more, but they are very timid. We have had a problem with the dominant hens in the ex-batts bullying them, so much so that we have had to separate them during the day and just put the new ones in the shed at dusk when the others are getting ready for bed. We allow them all to free range together as they don't do much bullying when they are distracted by foraging and scratching about. It seems to be working as there is less squawking at night now. I have been getting up every morning at 6am in order to remove the new hens before they gett picked on. Tomorrow I will leave them a while longer.

We went to the Rare Poultry Breeds show at Melton Mowbray today. We met up with some of the members of the Poultry Garden Forum. We bid on a trio of hen Nankins, but they went for £45 which was too much for us. Another member of the Poultry Garden breeds Nankins so I have contacted her to see if she has any hens or hatching eggs for sale. She is in Somerset so it might be possible to detour when we are going down to Sarah's on Casie's birthday.

I am going to stay at Sarah's for a week after Casie's Birthday party. That will be lovely, hopefully the weather will be good and we can do lots of gardening as well as admin for Sarah's business. Her new garden is huge, so will take a lot of preparation this year. Poor Phil will have to look after all the animals while I am away.

We are going to try hatching some Nankin eggs as soon as we have built an incubator. We have a polystyrene box with a lid which is about the right size, we just have to put some bulbs in to heat it, or we can try the reptile basking light which is around somewhere. We really just need a thermometer and thermostat. We will have to make a brooder as well for the chicks when they have hatched

We lost one of the Angoras a few weeks ago, but Aragon was old so it wasn't unexpected, but Jasper has suddenly lost weight and all his fur fell out. we took him to the Vets  as he lost weight so quickly. She couldn't find anything wrong with him so gave him some wormer, probably because I asked if it could be worms. He has to have the paste every day for 9 days. He is still with us, and I don't think he has lost any more weight. I will weigh him tomorrow and then every day after that to see if he is putting any weight back on. His fur is growing back very gradually. Thistle did much the same a few weeks ago but has put all the weight back on and regrown her fur. She didn't lose much as much weight though.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Ex-battery hens

The ex-bats shed is up after having been cleaned and disinfected. We picked up our 7 ex-bat girls on 27th Feb. Zinnia, Petunia, Lobelia, Loretta (Hermaphrodite), Daisy, Dandelion and Daffodil.             

They have a temporary run until we get the bigger one built.

First one out was Lobelia

I shot some videos with my phone

The Nankin house is done and they have been in residence a week.

We intend to make the ex-bats run big enough to incorporate the Nankin house/run and eventually have the Nankins in with the ex-bats. Del boy isn't big enough to hurt the bigger ex-bats.

The ex-bats have been laying quite well, usually at least 3 eggs a day, sometimes more. They are realy funny creatures, but it's lovely to see hens who have been shut in tiny cages for the last year roaming around and scratching and pecking. They squabble a bit and pick on poor Zinnia who is the baldest. She is obviously well down the pecking order. I'm not sure who is in charge yet. Dandelion likes to nest in the corner amongst the straw (we haven't got round to adding nest boxes yet), she picks up pieces of straw and throws them on to her back, it's quite entertaining to watch.

Loretta (who we were told is a Hermaphrodite) just seems to amble about, very laid back, s/he doesn't join in the squabbles. We have to wait and see if s/he starts to exhibit cockerel behaviour. Apparently in hens only one ovary of the two is working. If that gets damaged testosterone builds up and the chicken changes sex. They are never fertile and don't crow, although they will try and tread the hens and otherwise behave like cockerels.

We hope to add a nest box and perches tomorrow. The perch will be low down to start with and will be moved up to the correct height next week when they are used to it.

There is another ex-bat rehoming on March 20th and we have decided we have room for 3 more girls so will put our name down.

We have called the shed where the Araucanas and Silkie crosses live Cluckingham Palace.

The Blossom gang as we call them have been out in the garden quite a bit and now expect to be let out when we open them up in the morning. 2 of the Bantams are laying and one of the Araucanas. We are getting up to 7 eggs a day and should be able to sell some of them to help pay for the chicken feed.

On a sad note, we had to euthanase our oldest rabbit Aragon, a white Angora. He was old when we got him 3 years ago. He was only expected to live 6 months. so he didn't do badly. He was a greedy old boy. His one delight in life was to stuff his face all day long. He fell out of his cage more than once he was so eager to get to his food. I went in to feed them yesterday morning and he didn't come rushing out so I opened his bedroom door. He was lying there on his side, hardly breathing and covered in sawdust. He must have collapsed in the night and was trying to get up and just scrabbling in the messy sawdust.

I took him out and cleaned all the sawdust off him. I tried to give him some water from a syringe, but he wouldn't swallow at all so we decided to take him to the vet's. I was hoping he would just slip away on his own, but he was a stubborn little man and wouldn't give up even after the injection.

He has gone over the Rainbow Bridge now so should be jumping about in the fresh grass, young and healthy again.