More Snow

January 8th, 2010 .

After the relatively warm temperatures (as in warmer than freezing) the weather has gotten cold again – infact I think it is colder than before! The reason I think this is that the blocks of ice inside the drinker are even thicker now.

After a few more days of going outside each morning to defrost the chicken’s water with the kettle, I decided that I don’t like freezing to death in the mornings and have started bringing the water in at night. This has made such a difference – I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! The water still freezes as the temperatures are below freezing during the day too, but the ice is less thick and it is easier to open the drinker than when it has been in the cold all night. Each morning all I have to do is fill it up and take it out to them which saves me a lot of time in the mad rush before work.

After a few days of frost and freezing temperatures we have had another round of snow – but this time it is nowhere near as bad as it was last time. On the first day of the snow Daisy and Victoria fell asleep outside again, and I only realised because I decided to bring the drinker in – otherwise they would have slept under the stars. I don’t think it would have done them any harm and they seemed perfectly happy, but I put them in just incase.

One weird advantage to the cold snap has been that poo picking inside the nest box has been easier – the poos have been frozen solid and not so sticky which actually made life easier!

Chickens Behaving Badly

September 17th, 2009 .

I got back from my holiday yesterday, and my girlfriend told me that the chickens have been very naughty the whole time!

When I spoke to her on the first day of my holiday, she told me that Victoria had already escaped once and had to be put back inside. That same night, before going to bed she decided to check on the chickens and Daisy was stuck outside the coop and the door was closed. She said that Daisy was pecking at the door, and she had to put her in through the roof. Daisy didn’t really appreciate being picked up and flapped about like mad which made life difficult.

The rest of the week was filled with escape attempts – Victoria managed to escape the run at least once a day and had to be put in. My girlfriend’s brother was also staying at the house and was sleeping on the living room floor. One day he woke up and opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was Victoria tapping on the patio doors! They went outside to put her back in, and it turns out that she has figured out how to get back into the run – she sneaks round the back and jumps straight over the fence and onto the coop roof. I saw her doing this and noticed that she does touch the fence but it doesn’t hurt her because she is not in contact with the ground.

Today I came back home at lunch time and the chickens did the naughtiest thing yet. I bent down to give them some mixed corn and Daisy jumped straight up onto my shoulder. I didn’t really mind until she started trying to climb up onto my head, at which point I decided to try and get her off of me. Trying to get a chicken off of your head is not easy! There was a lot of flapping about and a bit of a struggle, and in the midst of it all Daisy did a big sloppy poo all over my jumper!

Over the Fence

August 6th, 2009 .

When I came home to check on the chickens at lunch time today, Daisy was in the run all by herself. The other two had jumped up onto the roof of the coop and then flew over the fence – I know this because there was chicken poo on the coop roof. I grabbed Meg and put her back over, but it took me about 10 minutes to catch Victoria.

Big Changes

July 25th, 2009 .

When I got up this morning, Meg was fine and was scratching around as much as the other girls which was a relief.

I have recently realised that my setup is not working very well for me. One reason that I think I have got so heavily infested with mites is that the coop is virtually impossible to clean out in it’s current location – in order to get to the nest box I need to squeeze into a small gap between the coop and the fence, and I only have access to the rest of the coop from one side because of the netting at the back of it and the run at the front. Also, because of the nest area that I screwed into the floor of the coop, I can’t slide the floor out to clean it.

The run itself is also causing me problems: Due to the fact that it is so long and only about a meter high, it is virtually impossible for me to clean it. This means that over the past few months, the land underneath the run has turned into a bit of a swamp. As well as the vast quantities of chicken poop that have built up, I have had a problem with one of my feeders. When I moved the feeder into the middle of the run the weather was dry and it caused no problems. The girls like to empty the feeder onto the floor, but then over then following days will eat the pellets up so nothing is wasted. Since the weather has been so wet, all of the pellets on the floor have been turning to mush and being scratched into the floor and creating a disgusting smell. This means that the floor of the run has turned into a mixture of chicken poo and fermenting layers pellets and the smell is awful! They were also getting through twice as much food as usual so I have had to move the feeder back under the coop.

The final thing that I hadn’t really considered in my setup was convenience. Due to the fact that I have to move a load of flower pots, and squeeze under the netting to get to the back of the coop, changing the girls’ food has been a nightmare.

To fix all of these problems I have decided to have a bit of a move around in the garden. I am going to move the coop to the area behind the netting, remove the netting and the run and put up an electric fence. This will allow me to enter the chickens’ area and keep it clean, and will allow access to all sides of the coop for cleaning. This should hopefully solve most of my problems…

Oh No!

July 22nd, 2009 .

Today I was cleaning out the chickens, when I noticed a small pile of black poo in the corner of the nest box that the chickens sleep in. I went to pick it up when I noticed it was moving! At first I thought that ants had somehow got into the coop, but on closer inspection it was a pile of thousands of tiny mites.

At first I thought this was chicken poop...

At first I thought this was chicken poop...

...but chicken poop doesnt move!

...but chicken poop doesn't move!

I’m not 100% sure what these are but I think they might be the dreaded red mite. Even though most of the mites were black, when I wiped them off the dust pan and brush it left streaks of red blood over it so I think they have been feeding on the girls. This might be why they keep making such a racket every morning!

A close up of the parasites

A close up of the parasites

I didn’t have time to completely clean the coop today, but I spent a good hour and a half removing all of the bedding from the floor. Most of the mites were in the nest box, so after I had cleaned it out I spread a lot of stalosan f over the floor (it is a powdered disinfectant) and blocked the nest box off so that the girls can’t sleep in there. I also removed the bedding from the rest of the coop apart from the area where the girls lay (there didn’t seem to be any mites in there).

I think this weekend will be time to give the coop a good clean out – I intend to go to my local pet shop and buy some mite powder. I will then give the coop a good clean out and replace all of the bedding, and give it a good sprinkling of mite powder.

I feel really bad for the girls – there were so many mites and they must have been driving the girls nuts! When the girls went in to sleep tonight I lifted the lid of the coop slightly to see what they would do. When they first went in, they had a good look at the wood blocking off the nest box. Then they went up to it and started pecking at it – trying to find away into the section that they normally sleep in. It was really horrible to watch – they clearly wanted to go sleep in their usual spot but I think it is best to keep them out of there for a few days.