A Tip To Stop Poultry Tipping Up Their Feeders

I have received a chicken feeder tip from Anthony Marriott from Marriotts Smallholding to help stop your poultry from tipping up their feeder.

Anthony says, “We have found that chickens like to scratch their feeders as much as the grass etc.

To solve this problem just get a couple of galvanised tent pegs and push one in the ground each side of the feeder and clip them over the respective edge to stop the chickens from tipping them over and wasting the food, and making a mess.

This method also allows the pegs to be moved with the feeder, of course you can always use a hanging feeder but these are not always a viable option.

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If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Naked Neck Turkens Or Cou Nu Chickens

I had never heard of the naked neck turken or the cou nu chicken until recently when my “farmingfriend” Sandy from the US  sent me a photo of some hens she has.

Naked Neck Turken

The naked neck turken is the hen in the background. As you can see from the photo this bird has a look of a turkey with it’s “naked neck”, but it’s actually a chicken!

I have read that the naked neck turken was bred this way to make it easier for plucking.

Naked Necks are said to be popular in Europe, especially France where they call this bird the cou nu chicken.

If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Worming Chickens Guest Article By Tim At Poultrykeeper

Worming Chickens By Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com

This article shares some of my personal experiences and routines with worming my chickens.

Chickens, waterfowl and other poultry require regular worming to prevent health problems, yet it is surprising how many people don’t do this on a regular basis. If you are keeping chickens on the same piece of ground, they can pick up worm eggs easily whilst scratching around or via an intermediate host such as the humble earthworm that hens love to eat. Chickens soon become infected, shedding thousands more eggs via their droppings into the environment, making the problem worse.

The worm burden

There is often a small background level of worms in every flock and it is a good idea to keep this level to a minimum. Recent tests by Janssen Animal Health showed egg production went up when worming a free range egg laying flock more frequently so I like to think of these measures as putting a few more eggs on my table!

I use Flubenvet Poultry Wormer at least every 6 months – although it may be necessary to worm more often than this if your birds are kept on the same piece of ground. Remember Flubenvet will kill all common worms and their eggs however, the eggs that have been deposited on the ground will re-infect the birds so it is necessary to repeat the treatment before the prepatent period of the worms is reached (that is, before the eggs have hatched and grow into adult worms to lay more eggs). This is around 3 weeks for most of the common worms that effect our birds.

My preventative, routine measures.

They say prevention is better than cure and there are a number of preventative measures that I make part of my routine in between my routine worming with Flubenvet to reduce the worm burden in my flock.

1.      Keeping chickens in a clean environment – I clean housing out weekly and using a leaf rake, clean up runs when the weather permits.

Tim from Poultrykeeper.com raking hen run

Tim from Poultrykeeper.com raking hen run


2.      Keep grass short – I regularly cut the grass short during the summer which allows ultra-violet light from the sun to kill off worm eggs left on the ground. During winter, the frosts should also kill worm eggs.

3.      Grazing rotation – It helps if you can divide a larger run into two and alternate grazing as it stops a build up of worm eggs. If you have a portable house and run, you can easily move them onto fresh grass. It is a good idea to move them immediately after worming as this stops eggs on the ground from being picked up, re-infecting them.

4.      Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)– I use Apple Cider Vinegar as a healthy tonic for my birds which also makes the digestive system slightly acidic making an unpleasant environment for worms.

What about herbal wormers?

I am a great believer in natural products for my birds’ health and I regularly use a couple of cloves of freshly crushed garlic and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in their water to boost their immune system as well as make their digestive system an unpleasant environment for worms BUT I will only use a proven wormer such as Flubenvet when I need to worm my chickens.

My reasons for this is that In the UK any product making veterinary medical claims needs to be licensed and to be licensed, the product has to show both safety and efficacy for the animal involved. Products termed ‘nutritional supplements’ do not require any proof of efficacy and many claims can be made that aren’t backed up with any proof.

Sadly, I have heard of cases where people have believed they are worming regularly by using one of the herbal products but after a trip to the vet and a worm sample, they have found their birds to be suffering with a very heavy worm load.

Further reading.

There is of course more information about Flubenvet for chickens, worming and other articles about keeping chickens on the poultrykeeper website, however I would recommend investing in one book that will cover much more than just worms and much more than just chickens – . Victoria Roberts “Diseases of Free Range Poultry” is written in a clear and easy to understand manner and is worth every penny.

With a little routine care and regular worming, worms should never become a problem!

Please remember the advice given in this article is given in good faith, based on my experiences but please remember it should not replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian who can advise you about worming.

Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com

Freedom Food Chicken Sales On The Up

I received an email yesterday on behalf of the RSPCA to thank me for writing about the Quash the Squash campaign last year (and BBQ Source, and People’s Choice!).

They wanted to let me know that thanks to coverage like mine, and despite the recession, people are choosing to buy more RSPCA Freedom Food labelled indoor chicken than ever before, while sales of ‘standard’ chicken have dropped

Freedom Food chicken sales are on the up as ‘standard’ takes a downturn, new research reveals.

New research reveals people are choosing to buy more Freedom Food labelled indoor chicken than ever before, whilst lower welfare ‘standard’ chicken is taking a downturn.

This news comes despite growing unemployment over the past year, showing that people are not prepared to cut corners when it comes to animal welfare.

The research – carried out by Kantar Worldpanel for RSPCA Freedom Food – reveals growth and spend on Freedom Food indoor reared chicken is far outstripping ‘standard’, with a staggering 55.2 million pound increase in consumer spending on Freedom Food labelled chicken (from 16.4 million to 71.6 million) since March last year.

This compares to a drop of more than 26 million pounds spent on ‘standard’ chicken – proof that animal welfare is still on the shopping list of even the most budget-conscious consumers.

This news comes more than two years after chicken welfare hit the headlines with high profile campaigns by Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Leigh Grant, Freedom Food’s chief executive, said:

“We expected to see an increase in sales of Freedom Food chicken after Jamie and Hugh highlighted the benefits of buying higher welfare back in 2008 – but these latest results far exceed anything we could have predicted. They are absolute proof that chicken welfare is of paramount importance to more people than ever before. And the fact shoppers have stood firm by animal welfare through some of the most difficult economic times only reinforces that it is an issue that is here to stay.”

The research shows that Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of Freedom Food chicken, followed by Tesco and then Morrisons.

The RSPCA want to let everybody know that they are really having an impact on animal welfare when they choose higher welfare chicken, and they want to make it clear that people really do care.  So, they are running a poll asking how you would feel if your supermarket removed your higher welfare chicken option, and what would you do?
You can read more about it and answer the poll here on the RSPCA website.

What Is Your Favourite Chicken Breed?

What is your favourite chicken breed?

Chickens and hens are kept for many reasons:

  • They lay eggs.
  • Provide meat.
  • As pets.
  • For company.
  • Their plummage.
  • Their disposition and character.

My favourite breed is the leghorn as I kept a white leghorn for 5 years. She was called Hatty and she had a brilliant personality. She ruled the roost over the guinea fowl, cats and me! She laid white eggs which were delicious.

I recently asked what is your favourite chicken breed on twitter and I got a good response:

  • White Leghorn
  • Polands
  • Pekins
  • White Sussex
  • Lavender Pekin
  • La Fleche
  • Cream Legbar
  • Welsummer
  • Cochin
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Rocks
  • Sussex
  • Ambers
  • C Blacktails
  • Rangers
  • Frizzle
  • Ameracauna
  • Jersey Giants

Thanks to the following for their responses katygodbeer, mumsmuddyveg, ben short, mollycupcakes, sarah williams, vickymd, henthusiasts , ravilious , Mopsa, lwescott and sarahj26.

If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Which Chicken Breeds For Meat

I was asked today which chicken breeds are kept for meat.

My father-in-law suggested Cobs where the fastest growing chickens for their meat.

The more traditional breeds he suggested included:

  • Light Sussex
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Buff Orpingtons

Chickens are bred for different purposes. Some are breed solely for their meat, others their egg production and some for dual purpose.

Meat Birds

  • Cornish
  • Orpington
  • Cochin
  • Brahma

Dual Purpose Breeds

  • Rhode Island Red
  • New Hampshire
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Wyandotte
  • Orpington
  • Light Sussex
  • Australorp
  • Marans
  • Dominique
  • Houdan
  • Langshan
  • Dorking

Which chicken / hen breeds would you recommend for meat?
If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Keeping Chickens – Guest Article By Tim Daniels @ Poultrykeeper.com

Keeping a few hens in the back yard is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK and it’s no surprise because it is incredibly straightforward.  If you keep hens without a cockerel, they make very little noise and shouldn’t be any trouble with the neighbours. A supply of fresh eggs is always welcome and friends will always appreciate a gift of half a dozen free range eggs.

Chickens In The Garden

Chickens In The Garden

Rules and Regulations

In the UK, there are very few restrictions preventing you from keeping chickens in your garden.  Providing you don’t intend to keep more than 50 chickens, there is no need to register them with Defra, A few houses have restrictions in the covenants and it’s worth checking with your local council, as some do have by-laws that prevent you from keeping any sort of livestock at your property.

Choosing your Hens – Pure Breed or Hybrid?

There are essentially two paths you can take when deciding on your hens. The first is the pure breed. Pure breeds are usually bought from breeders who specialise in a small number of different breeds of chickens. It is always a good idea to check that the birds you are buying are good representations of the breed which you can do buy looking through a good poultry breeds book such as Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds
or on the internet by looking through the chicken breeds photos on poultrykeeper for example. For every pullet (young hen) that a breeder rears, they have also reared a cockerel up to about 8 to 10 weeks of age when the birds can be sexed so expect to pay from £25 upwards per hen. Some rare breeds can cost a considerable amount more than this and only bought as a trio (cockerel and 2 hens).  Pure breeds lay between 50 to 200 eggs per year depending on the variety you chose amongst other things.

Hybrid hens are crosses of pure breeds that have been carefully selected to give specific qualities. Egg numbers or feather colour for example or in a commercial environment a good feed to egg ratio and the ability to identify male chicks at day old by the colour of their down.  Hybrids are usually produced by large hatcheries and day old chicks are bought by the hundred and raised by breeders to point of lay when they are sold on. Hybrids are normally the best chickens to start with since they are usually very hardy, lay anything from 200 to 300 eggs per year and are usually available for about £15 per hen.

House and Run

Chickens  can handle the cold well – however you must ensure their house is well ventilated (but not draughty or damp) it is also a good idea to give them a covered area where they can get out of the wind and rain.  Chickens love free ranging so if you can’t provide them with a large area to roam safe from predators such as foxes, then you can let them out of their run when you are around to have a scratch around the garden.

Feeding

Chickens Enjoying Fresh Greens

Chickens Enjoying Fresh Greens

Hens should be fed a balanced layers mash or pellet ad-lib. Mixed corn should only be fed as a treat in small quantities (a handful per hen each day) since it doesn’t contain enough protein for hens to lay eggs. Chickens will always appreciate greens and other tit bits. Some food can be hung in their run for them to peck at like corn on the cob and spring greens. Chickens of course don’t have teeth, they do have a gizzard though that  grinds food down with grit that they pick up. For this reason, insoluble flint grit should always be available if they want it. Ground up Oyster shell can be provided to provide extra calcium to form good egg shells although most balanced layers feeds contain sufficient levels of calcium for them.

Potential Pitfalls

If your house and run isn’t movable, chickens will soon turn the ground to mud and keeping them on the same piece of ground can cause a build up of worms.

Worming chickens is fairly straight forward but it is also a good idea to cover the floor of the run with wood chippings that can be replaced from time to time. Worming chickens every 6 months routinely is a good idea to help prevent a build up of worms.

During the summer months, Red Mites are fairly common. These are very small mites that live in the cracks and crevices of the chicken house that come out to feed on your birds at night. A small infestation can quickly multiply so it is advisable to check their house from time to time. The easiest way to do this is to run a piece of white kitchen towel along the underside of the perch at night when your birds are roosting. If there are streaks of blood, you’ve got red mite. There are many products available to kill Red Mite some organic, some chemical but whatever method you decide to use will need repeating over the space of a few weeks.

Compost

Don’t forget you can make good use of the chicken’s manure by composting. You shouldn’t use chicken manure directly on the garden without composting it first since it is very high in Nitrogen but it does make fantastic compost that will improve your soil no end.

Further reading.

My favourite beginners book is Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide to Enjoying and Getting the Best from Chickens
that is well worth reading before you get your chickens. Don’t forget further articles and advice can be found in the keeping chickens section of the poultrykeeper.com website too.

Keeping chickens can be a great deal of fun, not to mention the added benefit of a supply of freshly laid eggs.  A final warning though: if you need to get things done in your garden, allow yourself extra time because you will not be able to resist spending some time sat watching your chickens and their funny antics as they go about their daily business.  This is sustainable living at it’s best working in your own back yard!

Tim Daniels. Poultrykeeper.com

Books About Chickens

Farming Friends is delighted to announce that we now have books about chickens in stock. If you are a hen enthusiast, if you keep chickens and hens or are thinking of keeping hens and chickens then Chickens At Home by Michael Roberts or Starting With Chickens by Katie Thear are books that are sure to delight and inform you. Great for those whoare just thinking of starting with chickens or beginners to hen keeping as well as those who have been keeping hens and chickens for some years as they are a good reference. Another useful book for every hen keeper is the book Poultry & Waterfowl Problems by Michael Roberts as this is a great reference book if your hens are not well.

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RSPCA Campaign – Quash The Squash

I received an email on behalf of the RSPCA about raising awareness of an urgent campaign to protect the welfare of UK meat chickens.

Quash The Squash RSPCA Chicken Campaign 2009

Quash The Squash RSPCA Chicken Campaign 2009

Right now, the government is considering new EU legislation that may increase the number of chickens allowed in rearing sheds. Even at current minimum standards, each bird is given less space than a sheet of A4. It’s hard to walk or even flap their wings. But this legislation would allow yet more birds to be squashed in, cutting that space by almost a quarter.

The RSPCA desperately need your help to urge Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister for Animal Welfare, to make the right choice for UK chickens and quash the squash, by sending an email via the RSPCA campaign website. Mr Fitzpatrick’s decision is imminent and the RSPCA want 15,000 letters to be sent before he makes his decision.

For this campaign the RSPCA have also created a short film called Irritating Chicken to highlight the plight of broiler (meat) chickens if EU legislation on living conditions is brought into force in the UK. The purpose of the stunt was to invade people’s personal space and make them feel what is like being squashed into a chicken shed.

Show your support for broiler chickens today.

Coccidiosis In Chickens

What Is Coccidiosis?

  • Coccidiosis is a common parasitic disease of poultry which affects the digestive tract and is primarily found in chickens and turkeys.

Symptoms

  • Ruffled feathers.
  • Unthriftiness.
  • Head drawn back into shoulders.
  • A chilled appearance.
  • Diarrhea which may have blood in it.
  • If not treated can lead to mortality.


Causes

  • Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoan parasite (coccidia).
  • Poultry are exposed to the protozoan parasite via their droppings, dirty drinkers and damp litter in their huts.
  • Coccidia thrives in damp conditions such as damp chicken litter and is found in chicken manure.
  • Coccidia can also be found in water that is not kept clean and free of chicken droppings.

Treatment

  • Separate affected poultry and use medicated feed and water.
  • Use of coccidiostats.

Prevention

  • Keeping poultry on a wire floor where their droppings can fall through.
  • Feeding coccidiostats in the growing diet can help the poultry to build up an immunity to coccidiosis.
  • Vaccinate against coccidiosis.

If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Comments received

  1. Do the chickens recover if it is discovered quickly enough, with proper treatment? This was a sad post….I always thought it would be fun to raise chickens, but now I would wonder if I could handle it.
    Julie

    Comment by Julie – October 25, 2007 @ 12:54 am

  2. Hi Julie,
    Yes the chickens can recover if it is detected quickly enough. I hope that this has not put you off. I have only had two guinea fowl adults die of what I suspect was coccidiosis out of about 60. I just wanted to make chicken keepers aware of this disease. The reasons for keeping chickens and the fun and joy they bring certainly out weigh the sadness. It is sad when one of my poultry dies but then I remember that they have had a good life free ranging on the farm.
    Thanks for your interesting comment and for visiting.
    Sara @ farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara @ Farming Friends – October 25, 2007 @ 1:48 am

  3. Does this mean that your chickens are sick?
    I hope not.
    Good information though.

    Comment by chigiy – October 25, 2007 @ 3:12 am

  4. Hi Chigiy,
    Thanks for your concern. I am pleased to say that all my poultry are doing well. I currently have 39 birds to keep me busy. Although I have been rearing guinea fowl for 3 years now, it is still good to remind yourself of the signs of illness to look out for. I am always checking to make sure Hatty the hen is doing ok and if she looks out of sorts the first thing I do when I get back to the house is grab the poultry manual! Thankfully all are well.
    Thanks for your lovely comment and visit. Sara @ farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara @ Farming Friends – October 25, 2007 @ 5:53 am

  5. I have a hen which died, she had pinkish tint things in her droppings that looked like brain material, a spongy typpe substance, cone appeared bluish, Im treating hens now for coccidosis,but my question,my oldest hen died, now 2nd oldest sick, I am reading coocidiosis mainly effects younger hens, ,thanks debbieComment by debbie – July 12, 2008 @ 7:08 pm
  6. I found a reference that said they used to use milk (cow or goat) to treat coccidiosis (http://www.cornerstone-farm.com/dealing_with_coccidiosis.htm). So I tried it – giving milk to drink and putting it in their food. Within 2 days, our japanese bantam had recovered significantly and has continued improving. This was a relief because if you use the sulphur based medication, you can’t eat the eggs. I hope this helps, Shaun.Comment by Shaun – October 5, 2008 @ 2:40 am
  7. Hi Shaun,
    Thank you so much for this tip about using milk to treat coccidiosis. I will find this very useful as will my readers.
    Just to let you know that I have recently set up a forum which is free to join http://farmingfriends.com/forums/
    with categories about chickens, guinea fowl, ducks and quail which you may find interesting.
    Thanks again.
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara @ Farming Friends – October 5, 2008 @ 10:41 am

  8. why do chickens get coccidiosisComment by danielle – October 23, 2008 @ 10:33 pm
  9. Hi Danielle,
    Chickens get coccidiosis when they ingest the oocysts (a capsule with a thick wall protecting the parasite) that are in the droppings of infected birds. As chickens pick food from the ground they can often pick at the droppings in the litter. Oocysts can also be spread by wild birds, shoes, dust and insects, so it is not just the conditions that the chickens live in that causes the coccidia to be present.
    Coccidiosis usually affects younger birds because older birds build up an immunity to the disease once they have been exposed to it. Older chickens can be affected if they have not been exposed to coccidiosis.
    I have been told that giving milk to birds that have early signs of coccidiosis will help the birds http://www.cornerstone-farm.com/dealing_with_coccidiosis.htm but the birds can be treated with medication from a vet.
    I hope this information helps.
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara @ Farming Friends – October 26, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  10. 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 – November 3, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

  11. 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 apple cider vinegar for poultry http://www.happychicks.co.uk @ £7.99 for 2.5litres.
    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.

    Hope that helps.

    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara @ Farming Friends – November 3, 2008 @ 7:35 pm