Posts Tagged hens

Rat attack

Our hen house has recently been under attack from rats.  We think they can sense the food that is kept in there, although our reserves are kept in the lobby in the house, so it is safe from rats there.

At first they gnawed the side of the door to the hen house, so Neil put a piece of thicker wood across the bottom where they had gnawed through. Two days later they had gnawed above that too.

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So Neil had to add some extra wood up the side of the door, over the gnawed bit.

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As the inside frame had been gnawed too, he then added another piece of wood on the inside.

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We are hoping this will keep the rats at bay, together with the rat poison that we have put by the side of the hen house.  We have put it under some plastic boxes so that no other animal will come across it.  Lets hope this does the trick.

The B&B is now closed for 2 months whilst we have some renovations done, but we are accepting bookings from March onwards.www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Chasing cockerels

Two lovely Rhode Island Red chickens that we got from a local poultry farm have grown up into handsome cockerels. We bought them on the understanding that we could take them back if they turned out to be males, so earlier this week we arranged just that, but of course first we had to catch them.

We have bought ourselves a landing net from a fishing shop.  It is large enough to capture a whole chicken, but of course when they run they are fast, and they definitely know when you are after them and they dodge here and there.  So we had a plan.  We would both get up at 6.45 am and go down to the hen house to let the chickens out as it got light.  But we would do it in a controlled manner and as each of the Rhode Island Reds came down the ramp we would catch them in the net and transfer them to a travelling box.  So I controlled the door and Neil held the net.  This method worked remarkably well and we succeeding in catching both cockerels without having to chase them round the enclosure.

This was somewhat different to the last time we did this when we had to take back a really beautiful French Copper Maran crossed with a Speckled Sussex.

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Here’s Neil with this handsome chappie.  Him we had to chase round and round the enclosure. There are trees in the hen run so of course when you are chasing them they dash from behind one tree to the next and you are always going the other way, so it is quite difficult.

Altogether we have had to take back 5 cockerels.  We also hatched 4, two of which have now gone to new homes and we are left with 2, “Boots” who is a Brahma and has feathered legs and when he runs he looks like he has his hands in his pockets, and “Ted” who is an Appenzeller who has a teddy boy top knot hence his name.  These 2 with the 21 hens we have are having a great time and we have a happy flock of well socialised chickens.  We got 16 eggs today so they are really laying well at the moment, no complaints.

Lots of eggs for our B&B guests.  On Tuesday morning I asked our guests “What colour egg would you like for your breakfast?”  One person chose the blue one and one chose the olive one, and I sold them 6 eggs to take away, so our eggs are popular.

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An “egg”traordinary number of eggs

In the storms we have had recently,  one section of roof off the old hen house blew off.  We know that we need to dismantle the old hen house and move it out of the hen enclosure, but the weather has been bad and we haven’t got round to that yet.  Anyway today Neil was feeding the hens and he noticed one come out of the old hen house through the broken roof.  So he had a look inside and lo and behold some of the hens had been laying their eggs in there and this is what he found – 21 eggs!!

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Some of the eggs were still warm, so quite fresh today, but others were stone cold so we aren’t sure how old those eggs are and if they are still edible or not.

The hens have taken to perching on the old hen house, the broken roof is on the other side of the roof in this picture.

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So now we are going to have to check the nest box of the old hen house every day until we take it down. Funny lot these hens!!

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New chickens join the flock

Yesterday we took delivery of 6 new Brown Warren hens who are 19 weeks old.  They came from a poultry farm where that is all they do, raise chicks from eggs and bring them on to point of lay.  We have had chickens from there before and they have been absolutely fine, without disease or any problems.  Brown Warrens are really good layers, nothing special to look at but very reliable birds.  Firstly we put them inside the hen house. They took a couple of hours before they ventured down the ramp to have a peck about, but they didn’t go far. They stayed very close to the hen house.

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Neil had to help them up the ramp last night as they hadn’t got the idea of going to bed when it got dark.  Today they were again reluctant to leave the safety of the hen house and stayed mostly underneath.

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I’m sure it will take a few days for them to acclimatise into their new surroundings and then the new pecking order has to be established with the older hens.  It is possible it will be 4 or 5 weeks before they start laying.

The baby chicks were playing up today.  We have given them a new feeder and they have decided it is something to fear as they wouldn’t come down the ramp into the run today but stayed up top in their hen house (a different one to the other hens) and were churning up the straw good and proper today.  They have grown so much, being nearly 7 weeks now.

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We still have some vacancies in the B&B in August and September so contact us for more details.

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A good Mother Hen

This is Mrs Speckledy in the nest box.  She has sat on the eggs now for nearly 3 weeks.  She leaves only briefly daily to eat drink and relieve herself.  She really is dedicated to the job of keeping the eggs warm and them eventually hatching.

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The eggs are due to hatch on Tuesday 18th June, which just happens to be our wedding anniversary.  What a lovely present to have little chicks hatch on that day, can’t wait!!

Mrs Speckledy is in the old hen house on her own, where she can stay undisturbed when the chicks hatch.  The other hens have been moved to a new run as there wasn’t a blade of grass left where they were.  They are now happy spuddling about in the long grass.

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Big chook becomes a rooster

When we hatched our chicks last July we had no idea if they were hens or cockerels.  I thought we would find out pretty soon on, both developed along the same lines and in spite of looking up how to sex baby chicks on the interenet I could not tell.

Then gradually one chick started to grow larger than the other and I thought maybe this one will become a rooster, but there were no tell tail signs.  When they were large enough we integrated them into the existing flock and both got picked on and chased away from the food.  So we started sprinkling the food in 3 or 4 places around the run so that the new 2 had a chance of some.  Over the weeks this problem resolved itself and now they all eat peacefully together.

Big chook won’t roost like the others at night, he always stays in the nest box.  He certainly grew and grew and is now one and a half times bigger than the other hens.  Then he started to grow lovely feathers and curly tail feathers but didn’t crow and showed no interest in the hens.  I thought perhaps I had a gay cockerel!!

Then after 9 months he started to jump on the hens and 2 weeks ago he did his first “cock a doodle do”. So we know he is very definitely a rooster.

What a handsome chap he is too. He is half Welsummer and half Black Rock.

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Last week him and the girls were dustbathing in the churned up earth in the sunshine.

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Since then we have had rain and yesterday more snow, so no chance of a dustbath today.  We need to move the hens enclosure as soon as possible as they have churned up all the ground and there is no more grass where they are.  Still they are back laying well.  Most days we have 8 to 10 eggs from 13 pullets and one day we had 11, so they can’t be too unhappy, but we will move them soon. We have lovely fresh eggs for our B&B guests.

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Snow, snow and more snow

We woke up this morning to a blanket of white.  It had been forecast so we were forewarned and had stocked up on groceries.

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The UK never copes well with snow.  Schools and airports are shut; workers have not gone in today; roads are in chaos.  I’m jolly glad we didn’t have to go out in the car today.  I think the UK just doesn’t have enough snow ploughs or snowblowers, so every time we get snow the country grinds to a halt.

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The hens were not at all happy, never having seen snow before they didn’t want to venture out.  We tried to tempt them with food but only a couple came down the ramp.

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The Fruit cage has collapsed.  The weight of the snow on the nets has pulled it down.  That’s going to be a big job to mend that.

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We donned our hats, scarves, coats and boots and went for a walk, crunching through the newly laid snow.  It was not so nice with the snow blowing onto our faces, but envirgorating to be outside.

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I love making footprints in the snow……

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Not much traffic had been down our lane.

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We must have had at least 4 inches of snow, more in some places.  It’s beautiful the way it sits on gates and hedges.

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Walking back up the lane towards home, we got a view of our house in the snow, a welcome sight, knowing how warm it is inside.

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Luckily we don’t have any B&B guests booked in at the moment, as I think they would struggle to get here today.

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