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19/04/2012 at 15:35

If you keep chickens, have problems with them or just want to swap notes about them...this is the place to be.

I'll start the ball rolling by saying I have 3 Copper Star hybrid hens. I've had them as POL pullets since late July last year. Since then they have been prolific layers...3 eggs on most days & just 2 occasionally.

I'm aware that hybrids are not to everyone's liking, as many prefer the traditional breeds.

How's about you?

19/04/2012 at 16:29

I started nearly 2 years ago with 5 brown warrens lost one soon after-replaced by 2 then lost another last summer and replaced that with a sussex star and a bovans nera-so up to six now-all hybrids

There have therefore been a few traumas along the way but never,ever regretted it-they are not just hens, but pets as well and we get at the moment between 4 and 6 eggs per day-depending

19/04/2012 at 18:18

My girls are 4 ex-bats who we adopted last August - named after my 4 sisters! I said I'd have chooks when I retired, and I did. They quickly learnt to be proper chickens and grew very feathery. Almost never stopped laying since they came - average 3 eggs a day. Aggie likes to lay al fresco if she can and has secret nests in the ivy.

19/04/2012 at 18:44

We took eight ex-bats in december and they all quickly became part of the family. We lost one to illness, probably shock at seeing grass and sky, but the others have really excelled at being happy hens! They lay between 5 - 7 eggs a day, and, as with FloBear, one lays on shrubbery next to the house. They love boiled rice in addition to their pellets and grain, and really slow my dad's digging speed getting in the holes for worms! They are sadly still rather bald in places so we have extra-insulated our henhouse to keep them cosy. We couldn't imagine the garden without them!

19/04/2012 at 19:30

I started 4 years ago with 2 hybrids, a gingernut ranger and Miss Pepperpot, Ivy and Lux. We recently moved to a bigger garden (the house is secondary!) and added 2 dark Brahmas, Misery and Dolores.  Sadly, Lux had to be put to sleep last week, but we get at least 2 eggs a day. The Brahmas are massive birds but lay teeny eggs! I would never be without hens now, they are so worthy of a place in anyones garden. I will definately stick with Brahmas, I love their size, they are very tame and I love their feathery feet!

19/04/2012 at 20:57

Hello, I only have 2 hens at the moment - a Silkie and a Pekin bantam.  They are 5 years old, hardly give me any eggs, and none at all in the winter, but they are lovely characters, and being small they don't destroy my garden when I let them out. 

I wonder has anyone else ever had eggs with very thin shells?  Yesterday one of them laid an egg with a paper thin shell, although today she laid a perfectly normal egg. Could it be a calcium deficiency?  They have grit available, and get out into the garden most days. 

19/04/2012 at 21:23
tattiebogle wrote (see)

Hello, I only have 2 hens at the moment - a Silkie and a Pekin bantam.  They are 5 years old, hardly give me any eggs, and none at all in the winter, but they are lovely characters, and being small they don't destroy my garden when I let them out. 

I wonder has anyone else ever had eggs with very thin shells?  Yesterday one of them laid an egg with a paper thin shell, although today she laid a perfectly normal egg. Could it be a calcium deficiency?  They have grit available, and get out into the garden most days. 

Hi, tattiebogle (lovin the name)

One of the main causes of thin shells is when whole grains or feeds deficient in minerals and vitamins make up the bulk of the laying hen diet. So a good balanced layers feed is essential and a minimum of treats....in fact I would cut out all treats until the problem is resolved.

To build-up calcium levels you could also add crushed oyster shell to their feed.

Btw, all chickens 'cherry pick' their feed. 

19/04/2012 at 21:36

Thanks for that, David.  They have layers pellets, but also mixed corn, and I probably give them too much corn (wheat, really).  OK, corn to be rationed from now on.  I'll check their grit tomorrow.  I mix coarser stuff with oyster shell, but I suspect they've picked out all the oyster shell and could do with some more. 

19/04/2012 at 21:40

PS you probably know 'tattiebogle' is a Scottish word for scarecrow.  A bogle for tatties (potatoes).  As an exiled Scot living in England and considering the scruffy old clothes I wear when I am on the allotment I thought it was a suitable name!

19/04/2012 at 21:56
tattiebogle wrote (see)

Thanks for that, David.  They have layers pellets, but also mixed corn, and I probably give them too much corn (wheat, really).  OK, corn to be rationed from now on.  I'll check their grit tomorrow.  I mix coarser stuff with oyster shell, but I suspect they've picked out all the oyster shell and could do with some more. 

As a rule of thumb, 1oz of mixed corn per bird per day is ample, this is best fed in late afternoon to sustain them through the night.

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind!

Thanks for the info about the name....I knew 'tatties' (and neeps) but that's all.

19/04/2012 at 21:58

At present I have 3 ex batts, an orpington cross, a speckldy and a white sussex. Might have a leghorn and another ex batt arriving on Sunday!!  Getting about 3 or 4 eggs a day at the moment.  After my last lot went I thought I wouldnt have chickens anymore as I thought I'd concentrate on the garden but that lasted 2 days!!  Found the garden was too quite and missed them rushing to greet me when I went into the garden!!

19/04/2012 at 22:03

I can well understand, ChristyRose.

Given the recent wet weather, my chicken run is a quagmire, despite the fact I put fresh straw in there every day.

19/04/2012 at 22:41

We have 3 hens, a black rock, a northumberland blue and a sussex white. We got them at POL May 2011 and they lay between 2 and 3 eggs per day. They are such characters, great fun and really bring our garden to life. They love 'scratting' around in the garden when we let them out of their run. We don't free range them all of the time as we know there are foxes in the woodland nearby.

I wondered if I could ask a garden/chicken question? Our lawn really needs some attention. I'd like to feed it and also apply some lawn weedkiller but I'm guessing the products will be toxic to chickens? Does anyone know if there are any lawn products which are safe to chickens?

20/04/2012 at 07:55

For what its worth, I have 5 ex bats. Had them for about 3 years now.  Their diet is predominately mixed corn, with some layers pellets thrown in.  They get all their grit from their run, appx. 30 sq. yds. They have boiled potatoe skins and love pasta and porridge. No probs at all, just too many eggs sometimes, ha ha. No soft shells though.

They are the greatest characters and come out with me into the garden. We surround ourselves with wire netting and they have a great time following the fork.There are always exceptions to every rule.

20/04/2012 at 09:58
pologirl wrote (see)

We have 3 hens, a black rock, a northumberland blue and a sussex white. We got them at POL May 2011 and they lay between 2 and 3 eggs per day. They are such characters, great fun and really bring our garden to life. They love 'scratting' around in the garden when we let them out of their run. We don't free range them all of the time as we know there are foxes in the woodland nearby.

I wondered if I could ask a garden/chicken question? Our lawn really needs some attention. I'd like to feed it and also apply some lawn weedkiller but I'm guessing the products will be toxic to chickens? Does anyone know if there are any lawn products which are safe to chickens?

I don't think there is anything really-last year around weed/feed time I confined them to the run for weeks.

According to the instructions it is more lethal to rabbits and grazing animals-but better safe than sorry.

Unless others know different?

21/04/2012 at 13:21

I'm surprised, polegirl, that you have any grass left to weedkill! Mine has all gone. I'm thinking I will have to plant a variety of woody shrubs to stop the area looking like the Somme or the Sahara depending on the season.

Does anyone have any handy hints for what to plant in the 'free-range' part of the garden (which is the part nearest the house) so the chooks can have their fun but the humans have something nice to look at?

Thank-you

FloBear

No eggs today - what's going on?

21/04/2012 at 14:13
FloBear wrote (see)

I'm surprised, polegirl, that you have any grass left to weedkill! Mine has all gone. I'm thinking I will have to plant a variety of woody shrubs to stop the area looking like the Somme or the Sahara depending on the season.

Does anyone have any handy hints for what to plant in the 'free-range' part of the garden (which is the part nearest the house) so the chooks can have their fun but the humans have something nice to look at?

Thank-you

FloBear

No eggs today - what's going on?

I think it must be the weather -we can blame that-we have not had six eggs in one day for months-just the way it is.I can emphasise about the Somme-I put bark chippings down in the run which just gets scratched away,the straw I put down on Thursday is just a soggy mess and they now have trench foot-(made up the last bit)

21/04/2012 at 14:28

Oh Geoff! This does sound so similar to my own situation. I'm just back from the farm, having picked-up another bale of straw. I only have 3 hens, but their pen (although quite roomy) is just a quagmire..and they don't like it.

Over the past week I've been giving serious consideration to covering their enclosure, though it would be quite expensive.

Still they lay 3 eggs a day, for the most part.

21/04/2012 at 14:35

Mrs Geoff has had this idea of putting a tarpaulin or groundsheet over the top or even a gazebo-they have a covered pen inside the run and the bottom of the coop is like dust bath so there are dry areas.

The cover bit would be tricky too keep in place so going to hold off for now-the trouble is that there is no chance of it drying out sometime soon.

I can see someone going over like Margot from the Good Life

21/04/2012 at 17:52

this book is great fpr ideas of chicken and people friendly gardens: "Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard" by Kate Baldwin.  On the quagmire subject, I have a run, but also a Cube with attached run with a clear plastic cover, so they have a nice dry area in the rain - my Brahmas need it with their feathered feet!

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