Thawing Out

January 11th, 2010 .

The temperatures are getting warmer again now, and the drinker was not frozen over this morning. All of the snow has started to melt and I am hoping that this will be the end of the cold weather.

I haven’t minded dealing with the chickens in the winter, but this last few weeks has been difficult. I don’t mind coming back on my lunch hour to deal with them before it gets dark, and I can cope with the swamp at the bottom of the garden, but the water freezing up has not been pleasant to deal with. Having to defrost their water probably doubles the amount of time it takes to do chicken related chores, and my hands are so cold that they hurt after cleaning them out.

The other day when I came back to clean the chickens Victoria was still in the nest box laying. I cleaned out the coop, and then she was finished just as I was about to go in. I looked inside the nest box and there were 3 eggs – 2 of them were still nice and warm. I walked back to the house with an egg in each hand which was a lovely way to warm my fingers up!


November 9th, 2009 .

Victoria is definitely the most difficult chicken – I think she goes out of her way to make my life difficult!

I have had problems with her escaping from the their area for a while now. She loves to fly over the electric fence and leave a trail of destruction through my garden. It hasn’t been causing me so many issues recently as I am not really growing anything at the moment, but it will start to become an issue in the spring, and I’m getting fed up of her leaving chicken poos all over the garden.

As well as this, I’m pretty sure that it’s her who starts them all off making a racket early in the morning. Again, this isn’t causing me a lot of troubles at the moment because I am getting up as soon as it is light now, but in the summer it is not fun to be awoken by a load of chickens at 5am.

The other problem with Victoria is that she is a bit of a bully. She is a lot bigger than the other chickens, and she is definitely at the top of the pecking order. I haven’t witnessed her bullying very much recently, because I hardly ever see the chickens at the moment, but yesterday was a Sunday and I spent a bit of time watching what the chickens were doing.

Yesterday morning, Meg was looking a bit miserable, and when I went over to look at her I noticed that she was actually bleeding from her comb. Then, when it started to get dark I looked out and saw that Daisy had gone to bed, and Victoria and Meg were still outside. Every time Meg tried to go in the chicken coop, Victoria would chase her out until she retreated underneath the coop. Then I watched for about 5 minutes, and every time Meg tried to come out from underneath the coop Victoria would chase her back in. It actually made me feel really sorry for her.

Poor old Meg doesnt look too happy

Poor old Meg doesn't look too happy. She clearly has blood on her comb...

After watching it for a few minutes I decided to go out and break it up – otherwise the door would end up closing and locking poor Meg outside. When I went over, I noticed that Victoria had blood on her beak which makes me pretty sure that she attacked Meg earlier. I grabbed Victoria and walked around the pen with her for a while – this seemed to calm things down. She hates being picked up and I held her until he got really upset and started flapping. Meg still hadn’t gone inside yet, so I put Victoria down, and chased her away every time she got anywhere near Meg.

I’m not really sure what to do about this – I’m starting to think that Victoria is having a negative effect on the rest of the chickens. The only solution that I can think of for her escaping is to put them back in the old run, but this would obviously mean that they have a lot less space and it doesn’t seem fair on the other chickens. The only other alternative that I can think of would be to clip her wings but I’m not sure if I want to do that either.

I don’t think there is an easy solution for the bullying. If I was choosing my chickens again I would make sure that they were all very similar in size to try and avoid this happening.

Maybe the only thing I could do would be to get rid of her and replace her with a more docile chicken – that would solve all of the problems (but probably create a load more!).

Now Try and Escape!

September 26th, 2009 .

I have had to put Victoria back into the pen a couple of times each day since I got back from Spain. Chasing Victoria around the garden isn’t that bad – sometimes it’s good fun chasing a chicken around the garden, but I think she finds it stressful and I don’t like having to do it when I have woken up late for work and she is being uncooperative. Luckily I have found a solution!

Hopefully this will stop her from escaping...

Hopefully this will stop her from escaping...

I have put a weldmesh fence on the side of the coop that she was jumping off – I don’t think she can clear the fence from the ground but she can easily jump from the coop roof into the garden. I have put the fence on the edge of the coop that she would jump off of – she can still get onto the roof (and crap all over it as usual) but she won’t be able to get out and destroy my garden. Now I just have to wait and see if it actually works…


July 28th, 2009 .

Today my new cleaning products arrived – I ordered Diatom, Poultry Shield, and a spray bottle from Flyte So Fancy. This is a store that I have used a lot of times – they have a great range of poultry related products and delivery is always lightning fast!

Hopefully this will kill them!

Hopefully this will kill them!

Poultry shield is a liquid that I used to spray the inside of the coop and should hopefully get rid of red mite. Apparently it helps to destroy the mites and the eggs, and it was significantly cheaper than the spray I bought (probably cost me less than £1 to spray the whole coop compared to £15), and was also easier to apply.

The other product that I bought is diatom, which is diatomaceous earth and will hopefully prevent the mites from coming back. It works by dehydrating them, and although it won’t kill them instantly, it should help to control their numbers in the future. After I finished spraying the coop I spread a load of diatom all over the inside.

Both of these products were recommended to me on Down the Lane and those guys always seem to know what they are talking about!

Whilst I was cleaning out the coop again, I let the girls out in the garden. I must admit, whilst it has been stressful sorting all of this out, I have enjoyed letting them out in the garden again. They had great fun scratching around under my rose bush, and spreading a heap of grass clipping around the garden!

Chickens love piles of stuff, but they wont be piles once the chickens have finished with them!

Chickens love piles of stuff, but they won't be piles once the chickens have finished with them!

More Mites

July 26th, 2009 .

When I went to clean out the coop this morning I found more mites. These ones were all smaller and bright red (I think that means they are younger than the larger black ones). I took all of the bedding out of the nest box, sprayed the mite spray that I have been using and put down some more newspaper. When I cam back about an hour later there were quite a few dead mites on the newspaper.

I think this is going to be a problem for a long time…