Foxes Spotted Near Farm

This morning my husband and I spotted 2 foxes in the field opposite our farm. It was about 8am when we saw them. The foxes seemed to be following each other. The lead fox didn’t seem to want the other fox to follow. After about 5 minutes the fox that had been following retreated behind a tree in the field and wasn’t seen again.

The other fox made it’s way across the field to the ditch and then weaved in and out of the overgrown weeds and grasses in the ditch verge until it reached the hedgrerow that borders our lane. At that point I left my viewing point and went outside to see if I could see the fox. Armed with camera I found no sign of the fox.

I am sure that the fox was heading straight for the poultry hut. Fortunately I hadn’t got the poultry out and I decided to keep them in their hut for the day. Usually if I have to keep them in due to weather or other commitents that means I wouldn’t be back to put them away safely then I open the outer door to the hut as I have put up an inner door in the Summer so that even when the poultry are kept inside for the day they get some fresh air and natural light. However today I daren’t open the outer door as the inner door is not very strong and a hungry fox would probably be able to get into the hut, especially with the incentive of 7 ducks, 23 guinea fowl and 5 hens in the poultry hut. The  poultry were not impressed that they couldn’t come out and when I opened the door the ducks and hens wanted to come out, but at least they were saved from being a foxes dinner.

I will have to see tomorrow if I can see the foxes in the field, before I make a decision about letting the poultry out or not.

Do you have any stories about foxes threatening your poultry?

If you keep poultry then visit the farmingfriends forum for the latest chat.

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Friend Rescues Cockerel

I received a phone call from my friend Vicky asking me if I would like a cockerel that needed rehousing or it might end up in a pot!

Cockerel

Cockerel

As much as I would have liked to have taken the cockerel in, unfortunately I wasn’t able to as my hut houses my hens, guinea fowl and ducks and there are already male guinea fowl and one drake in there.

Cockerel

Cockerel

I have read that mixing cockerels and male guinea fowl is not a good idea as they will fight, so it was with a little disappointment that I had to say I couldn’t take in the soon to be homeless cockerel.

Cockerel

Cockerel

I did suggest my friend Izzy might take the cockerel as she has just got some hens and is really enjoying keeping them and would like her hens to have chicks next year.

Cockerel

Cockerel

Thankfully Izzy took the cockerel in and he is now on Izzy’s farm enjoying getting to know all the hens.

Hen With Yellow Discharge And Diarrhea

Determining an illness or disease by a hens droppings can be difficult, but the droppings can be a tell tale sign that a hen is not well.

I received an email from one of my readers asking about a hen having yellow discharge and diarrhea.

I have a hen with a yellow discharge and diorrhea. She is quiet, not eating or drinking. Can anyone help me diagnose the problem? Gail

Hi Gail,

I found an excellent site that goes through what the illness may be due to colour of
droppings.
http://happyhenhouse.proboards43.com/index.cgi?board=poop&action=display&thread=6492

It could be coccidiosis http://farmingfriends.com/coccidiosis-in-chickens/ I have read
that cider vinegar and milk can help if it is coccidiosis.
http://farmingfriends.com/does-cider-apple-vinegar-help-prevent-or-cure-coccidiosis/
http://farmingfriends.com/using-milk-to-treat-coccidiosis/

Hope your hen gets better.

Let me know how she gets on.
Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Let me know if you have come across this in hens before and what you did to help make the hen better.

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Double Yolked Eggs

A double yolked egg is an egg that has two yolks.

It is caused by two eggs separating from the ovary at the same time and joining into one egg.

Double yolked eggs can be fairly rare. They are sometimes produced by pullets in their first year of laying.

Double yolked eggs can be produced by any bird but they are more frequently found in laying hens and duck breeds.

How To Stop A Hen Being Broody

A broody hen is a hen that wants to sit on a nest of eggs so that they hatch out.

Broody Hen

Broody Hen

* If you do not want to let a hen sit on a nest, then it is a good idea to remove the hen from the nest as soon as possible (night time is a good time to do this).
* Sometimes it is necessary to put a broody hen in a broody coop.
* A broody coop is a small cage or box which has a wire or slatted bottom to discourage the hen from sitting in the coop as there is no material for nesting.
* A broody coop can be suspended from the ceiling of the poultry hut so that the hen is not removed from the other hens completely.
* Food and water must be provided in the coop.
* After a few days the broody hen can be returned to the rest of the flock.

How do you discourage your hens from being broody?

Broody Hen Bullied Off Nest But Chicks Still Hatched

I received an email about a broody hen that was bullied off her nest of eggs for about 5 hours. I sent a reply and corresponded with Kate and was delighted to hear that the hen managed to get back on the nest and the eggs hatched out. Here is our email correspondence tracking the events.

Not sure if you can help – my broody was bullied off her eggs by another hen she could have been off them for a maximum of 5 hours but hopefully far less – it was after about 10 days – do you think all are lost or do we still have a chance – she is a great mother otherwise! Kate

Hi Kate,

Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your question. I don’t
have much experience of broody hens. I am sorry to hear that your hen
was bullied off her nest. 5 hours doesn’t sound too long and as the
eggs will be warm it would take a while for the temperature to drop.
Hens do get off the nest when sitting so they can feed and drink
although it wouldn’t be for 5 hours.
If your hen is back sitting on her eggs but gets off to feed and drink
then I would be inclined to have a go at candling the eggs to see if
there is embryo and chick development in the eggs. Here is some info
about candling eggs. http://farmingfriends.com/candling-eggs/

I will add your question to the farmingfriends forum
http://farmingfriends.com/forums/ and see if anyone gives a reply that
know about broody hens.

I hope the eggs are ok. Let me know how they get on.

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Dear Sara

Very many thanks for your kind reply.  She is otherwise a very good hen
and indeed tends to come off every other day – she tells me when she is
ready…I have to keep her penned in as it were to stop the bullies!

I have never done candling but may have a go!

Thanks for your advice.

Very best wishes

Kate

Dear Sara – 6 out of 7 have hatched!!  Very sweet as you can imagine-
they have yet to eat or drink but shall encourage them later this
morning – they all came late last night…

Hooray!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Am delighted to hear this. The chicks can go up to 24 hours without
food and water as they have absorbed the yolk sac but obviously the
sooner you train them to go for the feed and water the better.

May I post your story on my website – I will only mention your first
name. I think me readers would be intersted to hear your success story.

Keep me informed as to the progress of the chicks and hope your hen
enjoys being mother hen!

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Sara of course you can – she survived to visits by the fox that
took/killed 8 of my hens in total.  She was also bullied by some new
arrivals and could have remained off her nest for up to 7 hours maximum
although I suspect it was less than this…I am very proud of her!
Thanks for the info – I won’t panic yet – they have just had a little
bit of chick crumb – will give them a break for a bit now!

Thanks

Kate

It was great to hear from Kate and know that the chicks have hatched and are now eating. If you want advice about your hens then why not join the free farmingfriends hen forum where you can chat about your hens and get advice and tips on looking after your hens.

In fact I posted Kate’s initial email on the forum and was delighted to get a response from one of my regular members who said,

“I have asked my friend who has many hens and she is confident that the eggs will be ok at this time of year if it wasn’t a cold snap. She says that if the chicks hatch, they might also get picked on by the bully so suggested that pehaps she could have her own area for a while? Campbell Ridge

I was delighted to receive this email and photo this morning.

Hi Sara – they are indeed in their own space – do see pic attached!

Kate's hen and chicks

Kate's hen and chicks

They are a joy!

Thanks so much for all your advice and support!  And that of your
friend!

Best wishes

Kate

So join the farmingfriends hen forum today.

Hen Missing Overnight

When a hen goes missing overnight, it could be due to a number of reasons;

  • Gone broody and sitting on nest of eggs.
  • Injured or sick and can’t make it back to the hut.
  • Killed by predator.
  • Misjudged the light and didn’t make it back so roosting elsewhere.

Last week one of my elderly hens didn’t come to the hut at teatime and after a good search of the farmyard could still not be found.

There was still no sign of the hen the following morning but by the following teatime I happened by chance to spot my missing hen hiding in an old disused poultry hut.

The hen didn’t look too good when I found her. She was sitting stiffly on one side and her head was moving around and she seemed to be trying to throw her head back and look upwards. I was was thinking the worse and thought that she obviously hadn’;t returned to the hut the other night as she was ill. I quaranteened my hen off from the others, putting her in a pen for the night with plenty of straw and water and food.

The following day the hen still didn’t look 100% but I managed to get her to eat something. I decided to keep her penned in. By teatime when all the other hens were being rounded up, I opened up the poorly hens pen so I could fill up her feeder and whne I returned she had gingerly joined the rest of the flock and was heading for the main hut.

She has been steadily recovering over the last few days. I don’t know what was the matter with the hen. I don’t know if she was ill or if she was just stressed and traumatised from being missing overnight. I am delighted that my hen is on the mend.

If anyone has any experience of how stress manifests itself in hens then I would like to hear from you.

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Snow Stops Play, Poultry Play!

Late this morning it started to snow and the snow began to settle pretty quickly. My poultry were out free ranging and I knew that my guinea fowl would not like snow and would eventually fly up into the trees to roost so that they didn’t have to walk in thick snow. So I dashed out to round up the flocks of guinea fowl, hens and ducks. Half the guinea fowl were sheltering in the heifer barn with alot of the hens and the ducks were in the veg garden hunting for snails! I managed to herd this group to the hut which went well, although once in the hut the ducks wanted out again. Hatty was sitting on the edge of the trough in the heifer barn and she let me lift her off and carry her all the way to the hut. I love it when the animals allow you to get close to them – a wonderful feeling to know that they trust you.

Then I had to do a head count. There were 4 hens and 14 guinea fowl missing. I could hear the guinea fowl and they were in the feeding passage of the fold yard but they didn’t want to step onto the snow so I slowly drove them towards the hut. The hens were in another barn and they were herded up easily with the guinea fowl gang and off we all went to the hut.

I thought that the snow would stop this afternoon but it has continued till early evening. I wonder wether it will snow in the night . The poultry will be hoping that it doesn’t as they won’t want the snow to stop play, poultry play again tomorrow.

Turkey Litter

Does anyone have experience of keeping turkey‘s and know the best litter to keep growing turkeys on, as I recently received a comment on my forum from Lablanc asking about this,

I’m keeping a few Turkeys for christmas again, and every year I have this disagreement with my farther in law about the bedding in there shed. I let them out in the morning and they have a run in a fenced of section of a field where the have their food and water, and they are put in each night with water. Every second day I cover the shed floor with some fresh straw which covers the soiled bedding underneath. Now he says that I should clean out the old bedding rather than adding new straw.Can I have your opinion on this….

My answer was:

“Hi lablanc,
Thanks for your question. I don’t have turkeys and although I have incubated turkey eggs before, unfortunately the turkeys never made it to adult life.
My husband says that in the big commercial sheds they keep adding straw as you are doing and then clean out at the end of the Season.
Hope that helps.
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends”

So if anyone know the best type of litter and how to often to change the litter used to keep growing turkeys on, then I would be pleased to hear from you.

Does Cider Apple Vinegar Help Prevent Or Cure Coccidiosis?

I was recently asked if cider vinegar can help prevent coccidiosis,

Just had my favourite bird die of it and not wanting it to spread among the flock.
I am now using wood shavings instead of straw beding to make it easier to clean out and hopefully stop the litter being wet on the floor.
Have read that vinegar in the water helps prevent it, has anyone any experience with this?
I read to use cider vinegar however people I know swear by ordinary vinegar to de-worm so maybe this would help against coccidiosis also?
Comment by abi

Hi Abi,
I am sorry to hear about your favourite bird. I have also heard that vinegar can help. I have just googled about it and found this site that sells cider apple vinegar for poultry.It seems that lots of people on the web use apple cider vinegar for their poultry and game birds. They put one tablespoon per gallon of water. I have read that you need to use real apple cider vinegar.

Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

If anyone has experience of using cider apple vinegar to help prevent or cure coccidiosis in poultry then I would be pleased to hear from you.