Posts Tagged nest box

The cheepsters in bed

Now that our broody hen Mrs Speckledy has died the 5 little chicks have been left to their own devices.  We were hoping they would be warm enough when they go to bed at night now that they don’t have Mrs Speckledy’s wings to snuggle under.  So we found a small box and lined it with straw and put it in the nest box. And sure enough all 5 little cheepsters snuggle down together at night to keep warm.  It is so cute to see them like little sardines in a tin.DSC05646

Luckily also we are experiencing a heatwave in the UK, so it is quite warm at night, which has helped them to survive as we don’t have a heat lamp for them.  They are growing quickly and their little wings are developing.  The little grey chick has furry feet and the multi coloured one already has a top knot!!  It will be fun trying to work out what breeds they are when they are more fully developed.

If you want to see our chicks, now is the time to visit.  We still have some vacancies in July in the bed and breakfast.

look us up at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Mayhem in the hen house

Yesterday evening it was dark by 10 to 7pm.  Neil went down to shut away the hens and came back in a tearing hurry shouting my name. “There’s a dog in the hen house and it’s killed one of our chicks” he cried out to me.  I couldn’t believe it.  How could a dog get into the hen house?

A couple of hours earlier I had seen our neighbour who has 4 dogs, ( a basset hound, 2 beagles and a great dane), and she was worried because she had lost her dogs.  She had let them off the lead in her garden and they had got out and she couldn’t find them straight away.   So over 2 hours had passed when Neil found one of her dogs, the 2 year old great dane, in our hen house.

This dog, although muzzled, had pulled at the wire mesh on the side of the run to the hen house and managed to actually get inside the run.  This was where we were keeping our 3 little chicks that we had hatched from eggs, separate from the rest of the adult hens.  We were thinking they were nice and safe in there, and we had separated them because they were smaller and on different food from the adult hens.

The wire mesh pulled away from the frame of the hen house

Neil had to go down there in the dark after dinner and make some running repairs to the hen run, other wise we would not be able to let the hens out in the morning.

Neil’s running repairs to the hen run

When Neil went down to the hens to shut the doors for the night, he could only see 2 of the 3 little hens and this great dane was still in the hen run and growling at him.  It’s a big dog to encounter in the dark, and he was shocked and surprised to find it there.

I managed to get hold of our neighbour on her mobile phone and she came round, but the dog had headed off leaving our 2 remaining chicks cowering in the nest box.  I was concerned they would die of shock.  The third chick, the little brown one was nowhere to be seen.  Neil searched all round for it, in case it had got out when the dog got in, but then he made a grim discovery.  Bits of chicken were trampled into the mud.  The third chicken had been savagely torn apart by the great dane.  Warning the next picture is a bit grim, but this was about all that was left of the chicken, 2 legs!!

Naturally we were horrified by this attack on a defenceless poor chick, and more so because these were the first chicks we had ever raised from eggs and we had nutured them and looked after them from day one, so to lose one in this way was very upsetting.  Our neighbour was more worried about her dog and said “its only a chicken”, which may well be the case, but it was one of our babies and we hated the thought of it being ripped apart by her dog.

A big dog like that which has not been to any obedience training classes, should not be let loose in a garden unless there is proper fencing to stop it getting out.  Luckily the other 2 babies have survived the shock, and although quiet today, have been eating.  The adult chickens were not harmed as they were behind an electric fence, but we had thought the little chicks were safe in their enclosed run, but we could not have foreseen this dog attack.

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The hens are a funny bunch

The hens are a funny bunch.  We have conditioned them like Pavlov’s Dog, so that when they hear our feet on the gravel outside the back door, they think it means we are coming to see them with food and they rush down the field, wings flapping, running madly and wait at the fence edge nearest to us.

hens waiting for food by the fence
At lunch time we throw them bread and corn and they go mad for it, especially the bread. They pick up one piece and run off with it, so none of the others can have it, eat it , and then come back for another piece. When all the bread is gone they start on the corn.  They  have “layers pellets” on free demand 24/7 in the hen house, so they can get those at any time.

Hens pecking at bread and corn

 
Unfortunately they poop in the nest box too, so we have to clear the poop out everyday, but sometimes the eggs are a bit dirty on the outside.  We get all shades of brown, including pinky brown, and then one white and one blue from our 2 cream legbars.  All these lovely eggs for our B&B guests’ breakfasts.

Eggs in the nest box

 
 
Today we got 12 eggs from them, but the other day it was 14 which is our record from 16 hens.  I love going down to the nest box and peering inside to say what they have laid us.  
14 eggs laid the other day

The other funny thing about the hens is when they to go to sleep. They take themselves up into the hen house at dusk and we have 4 perches in there for them.  But they don’t stand 4 to a perch, they huddle up together and some go in the nest box and about 7 squeeze together on the first perch and the rest behind.  I think they huddle together to keep warm, but they do look funny.

 

The hens all huddled together at night

If you want to come and see our hens for yourself, visit us at

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