1. POULTRY HOUSE We need a
nice 'airy' house with a window to make it light. That way we can see to
perch in the dark. * Please make sure that our nest box has a cover and is very dark.*
LITTER We would
like wheat straw or wood shavings on the floor and in the nest box. Each
time you clean us out, please liberally scatter
Diatom all over the house to help prevent
us getting covered in lice or mite. This is unless you have a slatted
floor house. If so,
the slats clean, and change
the litter (wood shavings only) in the nest box regularly, adding
Diatom powder on top.
3. INTRODUCTION TO HOME When you
first take us home, please keep us shut in for up to two days, so that we
know where we are supposed to live. Otherwise, we may get lost
if you let us out the same day! If you
put us in with other birds, please make sure there is enough in 'our gang'
to stop us being picked on and pecked (at least 50/50). Put an extra
drinker and feeder in the house until we settle down with the others.
We don't want any bovver!
4. FEEDER POSITION If possible,
we would like our feeder suspended in our house - preferably so the bottom
is level with the tops of our backs, and kept
topped up with a good
We find layers pellets boring and we may peck one another (if we are
given them to eat).
5. MIXED CORN You can give us a
Mixed Corn in the
afternoon if you like, but only after we start to lay and no more than 28g
(1oz) each, spread
over a fresh bit of run, or during the
winter on the floor in the house. * Don't mix this in with our daily feed, or we won't lay very well.*
6. HEN GRIT
To help us digest our food, please keep a very
small pile of special
Hen Grit in the run. 28g (1oz) per month is enough.
It's very cheap to buy!
7. OUR HEALTH If you think
that one of us is a little bit off colour,
please contact the poultry man at
SPR Centre as soon as possible - and don't wait a week or two!
He can be contacted on: 01243 542815
or you could send him an email by clickinghere.
You could also pick us up first, to see if
our body feels OK and look into our eyes and nose. * We love being picked up when we
get use to it!
Or why not
have a bottle of Stresslesson the shelf ? It's the
best chicken pick-me-up available!
8. LOOSE DROPPINGS When we are coming into lay, our
droppings will be very loose.But do not worry about it - no one
us an enema before we start to lay! We will start with very small eggs
that get larger as we mature.
9. HOUSEWORK Please keep
our house clean and tidy, and if possible, spray it with
SPR Poultry Shield from top to bottom
regularly. We also need
to be wormed at least once per year - but
twice is better! *
Please don't wait until there are too many worms in our
gut for us to cope with.*
10. RED MITE
AND LICE Unless
our home is kept clean of these horrible blood sucking creatures we will
suffer terribly, and if not checked, we may even die.
However, even a clean home can still become infested with those horrible
Red Mite, who suck our blood at night as well as other mite and lice. There is now a real solution to the Red Mite problem. It is
Red Stop Solution.
Mix this in our water for ten days,
and then one day a week. This then makes our blood completely unpalatable to
the Red Mite which then die of starvation over a period of time, and
because they can't feed, they can't breed. Still spray our house with
Poultry Shield and also dust our nest
boxes weekly with
Mighty Organic Bedding Powder if you have not noticed it at first, and we have begun to suffer from blood loss and deprivation of sleep,
use the trusty
Stressless in our water and we will recover and start
laying eggs again.
11. COMMENCEMENT OF LAY We will normally start to lay in about 3 to 4 weeks after we have settled
into our new accommodation, although it will also depend
on the time of year as to how quickly this is.
When we start to lay, we will talk to you and each other, a great deal! *
Please collect our eggs as frequently as possible. This will prevent us from laying eggs one after another on the floor.*
12. NEST BOXES We do not
like individual nest boxes as we will all crowd into one section - so no
We also prefer to lay in the dark, so please make the nest box very
If you don't, then one of the other hens may
peck our backsides while we lay our eggs and make us bleed.*
13. NO CUT GRASS OR LAWN MOWINGS! Please do not let us roam on uncollected cut grass, especially when dry.
We cannot break it off like we can with growing grass, it may
make us 'crop bound' for
which there is no cure.
We cannot deal with grass mowings as they bung up our grinding stomach
This is because we cannot grind
it up quickly enough.*
14. SCRAPS? It
is illegal to feed us your kitchen scraps (also salt is very toxic to us). You can feed
us vegetable leaves etc. These are best hung up in a netted bag, or from
15. NO OYSTER SHELL
PLEASE! I don't need, or want to be given Oyster Shell, as this will
unbalance my 'Calcium Phosphorous Ratio' and make my bones as well as my
egg shells weaker. And don't even think of
giving me crushed egg shell. Its my wastage, and could be better used
crushed and sprinkled
garden to help prevent slugs and snails.
16. KEEP US SAFE AT NIGHT Make sure you shut us in the house each night as soon as we go to bed, to
protect us from Master Fox. *
Do not let us out too early in the morning either, as he may still be
17. MOULTING When I
become tired and my ovaries need a much deserved rest, my feathers will
become tatty and broken with possibly a few bald patches on my chest and
bum, and I will
stop laying nice shelled eggs (lack of Calcium Phosphate). Some of us will
grow new feathers between the old ones, they are normally those of
us which lay fewer eggs, whilst I (being the best layer), could be nearly
My skin will look very red and sore but it isn't, that is my natural
pigmentation covering the bald patches.
Although I am resting, you will still need to feed me with the best
quality food, so that I may be able to
recover more quickly - and lay you plenty of nice hard-shelled eggs
during my next period of lay.
Please don't just give me corn, I need a proper balanced ration!
moulting period takes from 10 to 12 weeks, and I will need all this
time to recharge my batteries!
18. BROODY Well, some
of us fancy having a new brood of chicks, so to do this we become
'broody'. We will stop laying and swear at you every time you take us off the nest! If you leave us
there, we will remain broody for a very long time and encourage our
sisters to do the same. (Frequent egg collection does help prevent this
state of mind!) As soon as possible, put the broody in a small box with a wire or slatted
floor (ideally an all wire cat cage).
The nice people at SPR Centre have a
Broody Coop Carrier available if you do
not have one.
This must be off
the floor, by resting the corners of the cage on bricks, for example. Give us water and feed for 5 days and then we will
have forgotten what we were doing in the first place! Put us back
in with the other hens during
and with luck they will not have missed us.
To delay such treatment
only makes the problem worse! Caution: There
may be one or two of us that will swear at you, even when we are laying an
egg. - this is because we hate being disturbed!
If in doubt, ringSPR Centreon 01243 542815.
The humans there
understand our little idiosyncrasies!
19. EX-BATTERY BIRDS There
are now several people selling
Ex-Battery Hens and providing little if
any formal advice to the customer. My sisters when re-housed in their new
alien environment need a little extra treatment and understanding.
Firstly, they need to recover from the shock and stress of being
re-located, and secondly, they will need help to stop laying so they can
rest and recharge their batteries. If this is not done, then a few of them
may pass on to 'Chicken Heaven' or continue to lay very thin shelled eggs
'as and when' they feel they are able to. There is no secret potion or
feed which will help them to grow back their feathers or thicken their egg
shells, and please, for heavens sake don't start giving them oyster shell grit or any other type of calcium. On their
arrival, please put
Stressless in their drinking water for
the first five days, then for two days each week until you think they are
the stress and are looking fine. This will
provide them with the necessary multi-vitamins
and minerals to alleviate the stress caused from
moving from one
environment to another.
Secondly, please encourage them to moult (see section 16. Moulting).
finally, they will need some assistance in adapting their house or night
accommodation. Perches for them to sleep on need to
be much lower to the floor in case
they have difficulty flying up to the normal height. Also make sure that
any litter put in the house (either in the
nest box or on the floor) is short so that it does not bind up in their
crops which will kill them.
20. STREAKERS If you see
some us streaking - bare bums and bare breast, then you know that we are
the very best layers in your flock and our feathers have become brittle
and broken off
from laying so many eggs. These feathers will not be replaced until we
come into a full moult
section 16. Moulting).
This is also the time when we take a well earned rest from laying eggs for
21. CARNIVORES / FISHMEAL We are natural carnivores and unless we are allowed plenty of free range
to roam in, we go short of our necessary meat. All diets these days are now vegetarian due to the
'fuss' caused over
salmonella in eggs. Although proved wrong by leading experts (led by the
late Professor Heather Dick), the government of the day would not expect the findings so we sometimes suffer
from an enforced vegetarian ration. To offset this, a small container placed
in the house containing
Fish Meal will not only improve our
feathering but we will repay you with our natural abundance of eggs.
Fair exchange? A small tin of fish food for
cats will also do as a supplement.