Spring is on the way

March 1st, 2010 .

The last few months have been very wet. The days have been short, so I have had to muck out the chickens at lunch times, and the chicken area has turned into a bit of a swamp. Due to the poor weather, I have been spending as little time in the garden as I can get away with, which is the main reason that I have not been posting anything here.

One thing that happened this month was that the chickens decided to revert to one of their most annoying behaviours: They have once again decided that it is better to scratch their pellets into the ground rather than eat them out of the feeder. This isn’t really a problem when the ground is dry as they will still eat them, but when the weather is this wet they get scratched into the mud and are wasted.

I have come up with a solution to this problem. I had a stone hearth off the fireplace which was here when we moved in, and I have put this underneath the chicken coop where the food is. Although this does get covered in mud, it is a lot drier as you don’t get water coming up out of the ground. As well as this, I have had to wait until they have eaten all of the pellets off of the floor before refilling their feeder, otherwise they will scratch out too many pellets and they will be wasted. This means that occasionally the birds have to go half a day without any food being available, but I don’t really see any other option.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up late on a Saturday, to find that Meg and Victoria were both in the garden. This is only the second time that Meg has managed to escape, and they seemed to be having a lot of fun in the garden so I let Daisy out too and they spent the day free ranging. There was a bit of sun on that day, and it was lovely to watch them sunbathing and dustbathing, instead of wading through the mud.

Today I got home at 5:15 as usual, and it was still really bright outside. I rushed out to the garden and the chickens were still up and about, so I cleaned them out after work. I think this means that spring is on its way! This means that I can change my routine and clean them out every day, and hopefully spend a bit more time in the garden.

Hopefully I should have a bit more to write about over the next few months…


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!).


October 29th, 2009 .

Not a huge amount has happened this month – which is why I haven’t posted for a while. The main things that have happened this month have been to do with the shorter days.

Last time I posted, the girls had ended up sleeping outside on the coop roof. This was easily fixed by adjusting the sensor on the door opener/closer. I think the girls took a while to adjust to the shorter days, and don’t get tired early enough to go to sleep when it is still light.

That was at the start of the month – now we are at the end of October and the chickens all go off to bed before I even get home. This has meant that I have had to change my routine a little bit. I now have to muck out the chickens before I go to work which is always a bit of a rush as I find it hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Even with the new routine I can still manage to get to work withing half an hour of getting up!

Victoria is still her usual naughty self. I have to chase her around the garden most mornings and she seems to leave the enclosure and come back in as she pleases. I have watched her escape twice since I put the weldmesh fence up on the roof. The first time I saw her fly straight from the ground and over the fence, and the second time she flew from the coop roof and curved around the fence. Either way I don’t think there is anyway to stop her with a physical barrier – the only remaining option is to clip her wings. I’m really not keen on the idea so I think I will mull it over for a few more weeks.

One final thing that has started to happen recently which is a little odd – the girls seem to have changed their egg laying habits. Ever since they started laying they have always laid in the same place in a corner of the coop. Due to the fact that the eggs were getting cracked I put a nest box in there for them, and ever since I have found a cluster of eggs in the nest box each day. Then, about a week ago, they decided that actually they don’t like that spot so much any more! I now get eggs all over the place – but at least they always seem to be in one piece!

The chickens have decided they dont like the nest box after all...

The chickens have decided they don't like the nest box after all...

Sleeping Rough

September 30th, 2009 .

At the weekend, me and my girlfriend went out for the day in London. By the time we got back it was dark already, and I needed to change the food and water for the chickens. When I went in the run I found all of them sleeping on the roof! I propped the door open with a stick and put them inside.

The chickens actually looked quite cute huddled together on the roof

The chickens actually looked quite cute huddled together on the roof

The next day I thought I’d better check on the chickens and they were on the roof again. Last night they went in by themselves so I thought they had stopped trying to sleep outside, but tonight I looked out the window and they were all out there again, so that’s 3 nights out of 4 that they haven’t managed to make it back inside.

I propped the door open with a stick, and with a little encouragement they went back inside

I propped the door open with a stick, and with a little encouragement they went back inside

I think that they have not adjusted to the shorter days properly, so I will probably need to adjust the sensor on the door opener/closer. I don’t really mind putting them back in though – it’s all part of the fun of keeping chickens…

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…