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!).

New Equipment

June 4th, 2009 .

A couple of days ago I decided that I no longer want to wake up at 6:45am on a weekend and sent off for an automatic door opener for my coop. Whilst I was at it I also ordered a new feeder and some powdered disinfectant. My order arrived at my work today so I brought it home at lunch time (apart from the disinfectant – it was way to heavy to carry on foot).

When I got home I set up the feeder and filled it with food. I put it in the coop and straight away Daisy decided that the food would be better on the floor. I sat and watched her for about 10 minutes methodically scraping all of the pellets out onto the run floor.

Daisy making a mess

Daisy making a mess

I am impressed with the quality of the feeder. It was quite expensive but it is a lot better than my other one: You can adjust the size of the gap at the bottom where the pellets fall out and it has an attached rain cover meaning that I can keep it out in the open instead of underneath the coop. The main reason I decided to get a new feeder was that the pellets used to get jammed in the bottom of the other one. Once this had happened the girls used to kick it over and the rest of the pellets would end up on the floor.

While I was watching the girls investigate their new feeder I noticed that Meg was getting picked on a bit. Daisy went straight over the the feeder, and a few minutes later Victoria followed. Every time Meg got anywhere close to it Victoria would chase her away. It was actually pretty horrible to watch

The girls had fun with thier new feeder

The girls had fun with thier new feeder

When I got in from work this is what I saw – as you can see, the fact that they could get to the pellets didn’t stop them from knocking the feeder over!

The next thing I did was to remove the old door and replace it with the new aluminium door and automatic opener. The door and opener cost me over £100 but hopefully it will mean that I can have a lay in on the weekends. It took me about an hour to get it fitted correctly – the main bit that was difficult was tying the knot in the bit of string that attaches the opener to the door.

The main thing that I was worried about is that the girls would get trapped outside, but they went into the house at about 9:00pm and the door shut on its own at about 9:30pm.

The new door isnt pretty but it works

The new door isn't pretty but it works

The door opener is mounted above the door and raises it with a draw string

The door opener is mounted above the door and raises it with a draw string

The only problem with the door opener is that I have had to mount it over some of the ventilation holes in the top of the coop. I think I am going to have to drill a few more holes tomorrow…

Day Two

April 9th, 2009 .

This morning was my first morning with the chickens and I managed to get up at 7:05 – pretty good considering I normally only manage to get out of bed at 7:42 (this is the latest I can get up to get into work at 8:00).  I went down and let the birds out straight away and watched them for a bit before going to work.  I didn’t really want to leave them!

Originally my plan was to go to Tesco at lunch time and pick up some beers for the weekend, but in the end I decided I had to go and see my chickens!  I came back for an hour and watched them – they seem like they are settling in a lot better today.  Yesterday I saw them pecking at the grass a bit but they didn’t look too comfortable and get pretty scared whenever I came near.  Today they were like different birds – they were scratching in the grass and moving around a bit more.

This is the only one that will stand still for a photo!

This is the only one that will stand still for a photo!

One thing I did notice is that they were pecking each other a bit at lunch time.  I gave them some sweetcorn which seemed to cause a few arguments.  As far as I can tell the grey on is at the top of the pecking order, followed by the white one with the ginger one at the bottom.

While I was at home I decided to have a quick go at cleaning out the coop and that was pretty easy – I just slid the tray at the bottom out and picked up the poos (with rubber gloves).  It took about 5 minutes to clean it.

In the evening I had pasta for dinner so I cooked a little bit extra for the birds and put it in their run.  It was pretty fun to watch them eating the pasta shells – even though there were plenty of them to go round they all seemed to want to go for the same one, which meant all three of them were chasing the same pasta shell around the coop.  By the time one of them actually got it, it was completely covered in grass which would end up stuck all over the girls beaks.  Then they would be wiping their beaks on the grass to try and remove the sticky grass.

One thing that I have really noticed today is how tame the white one is – she would eat pasta out of my hand and even let me touch her.  The grey one is still a bit nervous around me and the ginger one stays well away from me.

When it started to get dark (around 7:30) the white one kept going in and out of the coop again.  I think she wants to go in but won’t do it on her own so she tries to get the others to follow.  When all of the rest of them finally did get in she came out again for one last look around before heading in for the night.

This one keeps going in and out of the coop once it starts to get dark

This one keeps going in and out of the coop once it starts to get dark

When the chickens were in the coop I moved the run out of the way and raked the grass that was inside it.  I was amazed the amount of loose grass that was laying around in the run!  I also used a bit of kitchen roll and cleaned all of the poo off of the ramp (it looked like they kept pecking at it earlier which was disgusting so I thought I needed to get rid of it).