What You Need
To Know About Us

By Mrs Chicken.

 

 

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.*

2. 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,
just keep 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 quality l
ayers mash. 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 little 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 clicking here.

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  Stressless on 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 gives 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 called

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
i
f 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 partitions please!
We also prefer to lay in the dark, so please make the nest box very dark.
* 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 (gizzard).
* 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 their stalks.

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 in the 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 lurking around! *

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
completely bald! 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! *

Please note: This 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
the evening 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, ring SPR Centre on 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 over 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).

And 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 (see section 16. Moulting).
This is also the time when we take a well earned rest from laying eggs for you.

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.

 

Mrs. Chicken.

 

© David C Bland 2010

Author: Poultry for the Garden, Practical Poultry Keeping, Turkeys: A Guide to Management.

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