FAQ

I decided to add some FAQ to my site to try and help everyone. If the answer to your question is not here please email me and I will post the answers on here.

Please remember though that I offer this advice as 'in my opinion'. This advice should not be taken as fact and if you are in anyway concerned about your hens you should seek immediate professional advice from a qualified VET.


Feeding Poultry

More advice needed?

Health Questions

  1. What wormer should I use on my poultry?

    We use Flubenvet it is the only licensed product on the UK market that has no withdrawal period for eggs. (1 week for meat).

    To use the Flubenvet

    1-Measue out how much your chickens would eat in a week - put into a carrier bag and then weigh on your kitchen scales..

    2 - Add a splash of oil - vegetable / olive / linseed - what ever you have available (culinary!!).

    3- Weigh out the correct amount of wormer for the amount of feed you have weighed - then add to the bag and mix thoroughly.

    4 - Add a couple of handfuls of grit and feed this mixture to your birds for 1 - 2 weeks until all eaten... do not provide unmedicated pellets during this time.

    Another 'wormer' is vermx which is an organic wormer - i prefer to think of it as a repellent - to prevent your birds getting worms in the first place. You need to use it monthly for 3-5 days (check instructions on packet).

    If you have any doubt about whether your birds have worms or not PLEASE use Flubenvet - for 2 weeks to ensure they have had a thorough treatment.

  2. What should i do to prevent or treat mites or lice?

    Prevention is definately better than cure where mites and lice are concerned. We use Barrier Louse Powder on our birds every month - whether thay have mites or not!

    Secondly when I clean out my houses I spray the houses with Smite spray - I do this monthly.

    I also sprinkle Coop Care Powder on the floors of my houses every time I clean them out weekly.

    Then once a month I use Smite Powder around the edges and perches of the houses...

    I do not have any fixed perches in my houses all of them can be removed easily for cleaning. My 'homemade' perches are made in such a way that red mite is easy to spot. (difficult to describe in words but if you visit I am more than happy to show you)

    I also use chopped straw bedding which is pretreated with Manuka oil to help repel lice and mites.

    NEVER USE HAY OR UNTREATED STRAW IN YOUR COOP

    Hopefully with all this prevention I will keep attacks at bay!

  3. One of my hens looks under the weather - what should I do?

    As soon as you notice that a hen is off colour you need to take action... Normally the sooner you act the easier it is to treat.

    1- Remove the affected hen from the pack

    Keep her somewhere warm and quiet with feed (corn) and water. PUT APPLE CIDER VINEGAR IN THE WATER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE as this clears a mulititude of problems.

    Then think about the following -

    2- When was the last time you wormed the flock?

    Birds should be wormed approx every 4 months with Flubenvet. Vermex every month but if you suspect a worm burden then you need to worm with Flubenvet to clear the worms before maintaining with Vermex. Symptoms of worms include - Diahorrhea, lethargy.

    3 - When was the last time you treated the flock for lice or mites?

    Do not presume they have not got lice or mites just because you clean the house out regularly. Birds should be treated with louse powder every 6 weeks.

    4 - Ground Sanitisation.

    If the whole flock is looking poorly and you have done the above you may have a high bacterial count in the ground I would therefore recommend using POULTRY CARE on the ground. This will kill harmful bacteria and refresh the ground for you. Birds need to be kept off the ground for 24 hours whilst it takes effect.

    5 - Are the birds young?

    If they are young I would consider Coccidiosis as the possible problem (presuming they are not too hot or cold and fed and watered). Add COXOID to their drinking water - this needs to be administered quickly for the birds to survive.

    6 - Is the bird wheezing or making a sound when breathing?

    They could have a bacterial infection in which case antiobiotics would be advised - you would need to see you VET or Retford Poultry for this. As a first aid treatment I would recommend Apple Cider Vinegar in the water until the antiobiotics can be obtained.

    Consider sending a throat sample / poo sample to Retford Poultry to access what the problem may be they will then be able to send you Antibiotics that would be able to treat the birds appropriately.

    ,

  4. Why have my hens stopped laying?

    A. Decreasing day length or insufficient day length.

    Hens require 14 hours of day length to sustain egg production. Once day length drops below 12 hours, production will decrease and frequently stop. This happens naturally from October through February.

     

    B. Improper nutrition.

    Layers require a completely balanced ration to sustain maximum egg production over time. Improper nutrition can occasionally cause hens to stop laying.

    The most common problem is failing to provide a constant source of fresh water. 

    Inadequate levels of energy, protein or calcium can also cause a production decrease. This is why it is so important to supply your laying hens with a constant supply of nutritionally balanced layer food balanced at 16% - 18% protein. Feeding whole grains, scratch feeds and table scraps will cause the birds diet to become improperly balanced.

    Feeding oyster shell "free choice" (always available) is also a good idea to help insure strong egg shells.

    C. Disease

    Disease problems can occur under the best of conditions. Often one of the first signs of disease is a drop in egg production. Other symptoms of disease include dull and listless appearance, watery eyes and nostrils, coughing, molting, lameness and mortality in the flock.

    D. Aging Hens

    Production hens can lay efficiently for two laying cycles. However, after two or three years, many hens decline in productivity. This varies greatly from bird to bird. Good layers will lay about 50 to 60 weeks per laying cycle. Between these cycles they will be interrupted by a rest period called a molt. Poorer layers and older hens will molt more often and lay less.

    E. Stress

    Any stress such as moving, handling, changes in environmental conditions or fright can contribute to or be the main cause for egg production declines. Common stresses include:

    Chilling. Chickens do not handle damp, drafty conditions well. .

    Handling or moving. Once the laying flock is in place, limit any unnecessary moving or handling.

    Parasites. If external or internal parasites are present, get proper diagnosis and treatment.

    Fright. Limit the movement of children, dogs, livestock and vehicles around your flock as well as loud noises to prevent frightening the hens.

    Predators also can stress the birds and create a decrease in production.

    F. Other problems to consider when you see a decrease in egg collection:

    Egg-eating by hens in the flock.

    Hens hiding the eggs when able to run free.

  5. My Hen has suddenly started loosing feathers - help!

    Hens usually loose their feather when they are about 1 year old. This is called a 'moult' they usually look pretty rough for about 5-6 weeks and then once their new feather have grown through they look even more beautiful than before. You can increase their protein levels during the moult - perhaps a little grated cheese. We add some poultry spice and perhaps some oil to their normal diet as it just gives them a lift during this stressful time. Whilst they are moulting all the energy is put into new feather growth so you will not get any eggs during this time.

     

  6. I have a Croad and a Garden Hen. My Croad has not been laying for the past 3 months. She looks healthy, she has moulted and we are worried there is something wrong.

    Croad Langshans are much more seasonal layers - like a lot of the pure breeds they tend to lay well in the spring time and then they would ideally like to sit on the eggs and hatch some youngsters. Obviously we prevent this by removing the eggs daily. They are not however going to lay as many eggs as a hybrid. You mention that she has moulted, when a hen goes through the moult she will not be laying as all her reserves go into making new feathers and not eggs. As long as she has been wormed , been treated for lice and is active and well whe will come back into lay in her own time. At this time of year (autumn) the nights are drawing in so you get far less eggs - once the daylight extends again to approx 12 hours a day you will find the birds come back into lay.

     

  7. I think my hen has gone broody - she does not leave the nest box.

    This advice was given to an email received in the winter - hence the comments about the very cold weather....

    Broody hens -

    You need to basically make her uncomfortable and reduce her body temperature...

    I would usually pick her up out of the nest box (wear thick gloves and cover your arms she may peck you)

    Then I would lock her out of the house during the day... this does two things - it gives her nowhere to snuggle up and it also reduces her body temperature which breaks her broodiness.

    The problem you have is it will also lock the other hens out of the house so they need to find somewhere else to lay their eggs... usually under the house or under a bush although at this time of year they may not be laying anyway....

    Also you need to provide somewhere for them all to shelter in this weather and locking them out of their house can be an issue with the snow at the moment.... we tend to have a piece of onduline roofing wedged up against the house and they shelter under there....

    The good news is that if she is locked out in this weather she will get cold very quickly which will break the broodiness - normally within a few days... PLEASE REMEMBER TO LET HER BACK IN AT NIGHT.

    In the summer people recommend dunking the birds in cold water to lower the body temp although I have never tried this...

     Another tip I read was to place an ice block under the hen in the nest box (the type used in cold boxes) aparently someone tried this and it cured the hen instantly.

    If a hen is being very broody then we put them in a wire cage - a dog crate / puppy pen and we cover it over with a tarpaulin on top to stop the hen getting wet.... She then lives in there outside for about a week - works every time. There is nowhere for her to huddle up and she gets cold - they usually get so fed up that they stop being broody for the rest of the summer - if they start again they go back in immediately for another 2 days....

     I would not recommend this though in the snow - I would just lift her off the nest for a few hours each day - she should not stay broody for long and just think next year you may want her to have a little clutch of babies anyway so you will be encouraging broodiness then.

    Don't delay in trying to break the broodiness within your hen. The longer you allow it to continue, the longer you will have to wait before she starts laying eggs again.

    How long will it last?

    Every hen is different some only take 1/2 days to forget about being broody - some hens it can last the entire summer. You just need to stick to your guns - or give in and let her have some chicks - Be warned though that's how I started poultry breeding

  8. One of my hens is being bullied and has been feather pecked

    If bulliying causes the hen to bleed you MUST remove her quickly from the flock and treat her cuts. (we would recommend sudocrem) Serious bites may need VET treatment for stitching. Once she has recovered (normally only a couple of days) she can be reintroduced to the flock...

    Then, if it is one hen that is doing the bullying, we would recommend removing her from the flock and putting her somehwere quiet for a few days. Let the others settle and then try introducing the naughty hen again. Before reintroducing to the flock - treat the whole flock with an Anti-pecking treatment - Scarper is one we recommend - it has a very strong taste and smell and is effective if used early enough.

    Sometimes feather pecking becomes a habit in which case I would recommend the anti-pecking sprays. You can also use anti-pecking beak bits which stop the hen from biting down. I have not used these but have been told of reasonable success - so long as you can keep them attached.

    Always keep similar natured birds with each other - so if you have a dominant breed keep to the dominant breeds... do not mix Crested birds (polands) with any dominant breeds as they will be picked on.

    Make sure you provide the birds with plenty of activities to keep them occcupied.. vegetables hung from above will give the brids something to peck at - cabbages / broccoli / suedes etc

    Good Luck - if you are prepared in the beginning to guard against pecking hopefully it will not become established.

Back to top

General Questions

  1. When will my birds lay their first eggs?

    Birds will tend to lay their first eggs when they are about 6 months old. When you first get your birds many people think they will lay at 16 - 18 weeks of age which is when many birds are sold, classed as Point Of Lay. This term is quite misleading as you think they are on the point of laying but in fact it may be another 2 months before they start to lay. Be patient and remember all birds have a limited number of eggs inside them  - if they take a bit loonger to start laying then they will lay eggs later on in their life - if they lay very young they will run out younger as well!

    As you have finally given up and decided your birds are the only ones n the world that don't lay eggs you will open the house and find some eggs! 

  2. I have just had my first egg and it is tiny?

    Until the birds get into 'full lay' their eggs can be a multitude of sizes and shapes! Initially pullets (young hens) lay small eggs but you will notice that they gradually get bigger over the first couple of months. By the second year of laying  the eggs are often twice the size of the first year.

  3. How much do chickens cost to keep?

    This can be a difficult one to work out.

    Generally speaking a bird will consume about 150 - 250g of food a day.

    If you pay £10 for 20kgs feed then it would cost you 10p a day to feed a hen.

    Of course there is still bedding to pay for at approx 70p a week for the house.

    Worming costs around £2 a year per bird.

    So I think it is fair to say - they cost next to nothing to keep.

    It is the initial outlay of the house, feeders and drinkers that costs (not forgetting the birds). Please buy wisely when you choose your drinkers and feeders.

    I run poultry keeping courses which cover which houses / feeders etc I recommend.... I have made enough mistakes - so you don't have to!

    Bev

     

  4. How do I introduce new hens to my flock?

    When introducing new hens to the group this can affect the heirachy in the existing group. New hens need to be introduced slowly to the flock. Ideally introduce the new hens to a seperate pen next to the estabilished group so that they can get used to each other without being in direct contact. Often this is not possible so we recommend putting the estabilished hens into the garden and letting the new hens settle into the new house and run. At night let the established hens back into the coop. If fighting startsin the morning put the older hens outside in the garden again. Hopefully after a few days of doing this the hens will be settled enough to all be let into the garden.

    We generally find that the more room you give the hens the less problems you have with the pecking order. Quite often it is when you introduce hens to a small run a hen can get cornered and will literally be pecked to death.

    Introducing hens to a large fenced off area normally gives the hens space to run away and not get bullied. . Allow plenty of feeders and drinkers so that the hens do not fight over the feed.

    If bulliying causes the hen to bleed you MUST remove her quickly from the flock and treat her cuts. (we would recommend sudocrem) Serious bites may need VET treatment for stitching.

    If it is one hen that is doing the bullying then we would recommend removing her form the flock and putting her somehwere quiet for a few days. Let the others settle and then try introducing the naughty hen again. If pecking starts again I would recommend using an Anti-pecking treatment - Scarper is one that we recommend - it si very strong tasting and replusive smell!

    Sometimes feather pecking becomes a habit in which case I would recommend the anti-pecking sprays. You can also use anti-pecking beak bits which stop the hen from biting down. I have not used these but have been told of reasonable success - so long as you can keep them attached.

    Always keep similar natured birds with each other - so if you have a dominant breed keep to the dominant breeds... do not mix Crested birds (polands) with any dominant breeds as they will be picked on.

    Make sure you provide the birds with plenty of activities to keep them occcupied.. vegetables hung from above will give the brids something to peck at - cabbages / broccoli / suedes etc

    Good Luck - if you are prepared in the beginning to guard against pecking hopefully it will not become established.

     

  5. I have hatched some Cockerels what should I do with them?

    This is the number one question we get from people when they have had a go at hatching eggs. People often think it is a lovely idea to hatch a batch of eggs and bring the resulting chicks up with the children. Obviously hatching 6 eggs carries the probability of 3 being boys (often we get 4 from 6 as boys!)

    In the ideal world you would be able to give these birds away to people that can home them in a large field - however realistically  how many people are happy with a field full of cockerels costing money to feed without any eggs to show for the feed bill? Realistically the boys will need to be culled if you cannot find a home for them... This is something you need to consider very carefully if you decide to take on hatching eggs.

    We don't take cockerels to be culled as I feel this is the easy way out for people - you need to take the responsibility on yourself. If you aren't prepared to deal with the boys DON'T hatch the eggs. To learn how to cull there are lots of videos showing the process on you tube - have a look before you decide to hatch the chicks and see if you are able to carry out the necessary deed should you have more boys than you want.

     

     

     

  6. I have a lovely rare breed cockerel - do you want him?

    NO - we have enough of our own thankyou.

  7. I have a cockerel that keeps breaking & eating our dark brown eggs but leaves the whtie untouched?

    Eating eggs is a habit that birds can develop... It normally starts becuase the eggshell are weak and therefore crack in the nest box. The birds then eat the broken eggs to clean up the nest box (they are also nice and tasty) the problem then develops that once they have got a taste for the eggs they start breaking open the other eggs as well!

    I would try the following:

    1 - Collect the eggs as regularly as possible so that they don't have the time to break them.

    2 - Make sure the house is nice and dark so that they don't actually see the eggs

    3 - Make sure the nest box has plenty of bedding in it to help cushion the eggs

    4 - To ensure the egg shells are nice and strong - CUT OUT ALL TREATS only feed layers pellets grit (and small amounts of corn as a treat in the afternoon..)

    5- You can add Apple Cider Vinegar to the water (only in plastic containers though as it corrodes the metal)  we use 10ml per litre of water but can add up to 20ml per litre.

    I am not 100% why the cockerel has taken to breaking the dark eggs over the white eggs - I would imagine at some point the dark eggs had possibly weaker shells and maybe cracked once laid - he has then learnt to break them open - ignoring the white eggs? If he continues to break the dark eggs I would try blowing a dark egg empty and then filling with a foul tasting substance - Many people have mixed egg with mustard powder / spices and then syringing back into the eggshell. You can seal the hole with a plaster / tape.. Hopefully if the cockerel tries to break the egg he will be shocked by the taste - you will probably need to do this a few times for him to get the idea but hopefully the hbait will be broken..

    Another option would be to put some rubber or clay eggs in the nest box. the cockerel will try to break these and get no-where again this could break the habit...

    Hope these tips work for you.

     

Back to top

Feeding Poultry

  1. What should I feed my poultry on?

    It all depends on what age the birds are. From hatching to 6 weeks of age I feed Fancy Feed Chick Crumb. From 6 - 20 weeks I feed Fancy Feed Growers and then from 20 weeks I feed Breeders and Show pellets. If you are not breeding or showing form your birds I would feed tham Layers pellets. From about 14 weeks I allow them small amounts of mixed corn as a treat occaisionally in an afternoon. All birds from 8 weeks are on grass so they pick up grubs and worms for extra protein! Grit and water should be made readily available as well.

  2. How much does feed cost?

    Feed has recently gone up (sept 2012)  however to feed your birds per head it is still reasonable when you work it out...

    A bird will consume between 150 - 250 g a day of pellets.

    At approx £10 a 20kgs bag it will work out at 8 - 12 pence a day per bird !!!

Back to top

Housing Poultry

  1. What is the best type of house for my birds?

    It all depends on whether you want your birds free ranging or in a pen and also your budget.

    You can keep hens in a large rabbit hutch and then let them out during the day to free range or run in an enclosed run. Many people prefer to have a specially designed house as they tend to have many features that are ideal for poultry. A droppings board is ideal to make the cleaning of the house easier. A perch is needed as well for night time. A nesting box is nice although not a necessity - often the birds choose to lay elsewhere anyway!

    For complete ease of cleaning and managment you cannot go wrong with an Omlet Eglu Go - especially if you have children or lead a very busy life and want to make keeping poultry very easy!

  2. What is the best bedding?

    DO NOT USE HAY OR STRAW - these both harbour mites and can quickly cause your birds untold problems. I would strongly recommend a good quality shavings or NEDZ bedding. Nedz bedding is made up of chopped straw that has been treated with Manuka Oil which will help repel lice and mites - this is what I use and think it is a fantastic product - dust free - the birds love snuggling up in it as well.

  3. What size house do I need?

    It depends on what birds you are wanting to keep but as a guideline....

    If you work out the square footage of the house ( the sleeping area ) - Large birds like the Croad Langshans should have 2 sq ft, garden hens 1 1/2 sq ft and bantams 1 sq ft.

    So for example a house that is 3 ft x 2 ft = 6 sq ft. Could house 3 Croad Langshans or 4 garden hens or 6 bantams.

    Hope this helps.

  4. I don't have much room in my garden can I still keep hens?

    Yes you really don't need much room at all. If you have a limited space I would suggest you buy a coop with an attached run - If you like wood then THE JAMES COOP is ideal if you prefer plastic then I can recommend the Eco Friendly house with run or the Omlet GO. I would site the house and run on chipped bark and let the birds run in there for a couple of months. Then I would remove the bark - put it on your borders it is perfect mulch - no borders give it to your friends they will be fighting for it! Replace the bark with fresh and your hens will be happy for another couple of months.

    I would add extra greens to the birds diet if they do not have access to grass - perhaps hang up some cabbage / lettuce / brocolli perdiodically - this will give them somthing to peck at and relieve any boredom.

     

  5. Help I have found Redmite!

    Sooner or later most people will get redmite in their houses.

    Don't panic you CAN get rid of redmite.

    The key to redmite removal is to keep on top of them from the beginning. Every time you clean the house out (weekly or fortnightly) I would recommend spraying with SMITE. This will kill any red mite that comes into contact. However if the mite are hiding they will not be sprayed so we recommend once the house is dry to use SMITE POWDER in the corners and perches and this will kill any mites that crawl over the powder.

    EVERYTIME you clean the house out look under the perches as this is where they will be hiding - if you find any then make sure you follow the following treatment and also add even more diatom - along the perches and corners of the house...

    REDMITE HAVE GOT OUT OF CONTROL!

    If you only detect the red mite when they have had a population explosion then more drastic measures need to be taken...

    Firstly - have you got felt roof? If so you HAVE to take the felt off the roof - you will NEVER get redmite under control if you have a felt roof as they hide under there and you cannot treat the roof effectively.

    Once the felt has been removed. Spray the entire house with SMITE LIQUID so that everywhere is soaked. Let it dry off and then liberally apply SMITE Powder.

    4/5 days later repeat the process as the eggs from the mites will be hatching and a new cycle will be starting...

    I would then be tempted to do it again after another few days just to be on the safe side.

    All of this sounds like it takes a long time but if you have a garden spray bottle for the poultry shield it only takes a few minutes.

    Once you are sure there are no more redmite then you could refelt the roof although personally I would replace it with ONDULINE roofing instead as you can remove this in future to treat if it should ever get out of hand again.

    I have kept poultry since 2004 and we have had a small number of attempted attacks by RED MITE fortunately though as we have always checked the perches at every opportunity the redmite have never got out of hand and normally 2 treatments have been enough to knock them out...

  6. Our chickens and coup seem to have a flea problem and I'm struggling to clear it up. Not seen any red mite, just little grey/silver flea like things. Spraying lots with the solution you gave us and puffing the birds and the coup with the puffy stuff.

    Hi  - thankyou for the photos they help me see what the problem is..

    Yes definitley red mite..

    The only way you can sort this out is...

    Empty the house completely every last bit of bedding and spray like a mad man with redmite treatment.

    Once dry put SMITE powder everywhere in all the nooks and crannies.

    5 days later do the same - every bit of bedding out spray like mad and then SMITE...

    Keep repeating this process until there is no more signs...

    The red mite eggs will not be treated by the spray which is why you need to spray 5 days later - once they have hatched to eradicate them.

    The best time to see these mites is at night if you take a torch you will see them running around on the perches and also the birds...

    You will need to remove the perches when you clean out as they will hide under there.

    If you have a felt roof that will need removing to treat as well...

    basically take apart as much of your house as you possibly can because these mites hide everywhere...

    yesterday I did the annual treatment on one of our houses and I was amazed to find some hiding in the roof apex - the part where the two sides of the roof meets - the house is built really strongly so I just took the whole lot apart treated and I know it will be clear now.

    Hope this helps - spraying with red mite treatment each day is not really helping unless you clean the house out as they will just hide in the bedding etc.

    The Dry Powder will sit there - waiting for any mite to crawl out of the woodwork and then it will stick to the mite and kill them.

Back to top

More advice needed?

  1. My question is not listed here what should I do now?

    Send me an email and I will post the answer on here... If you need an urgent reply then please GOOGLE your question for a multitidue of answers.

Back to top
Still have questions? Feel free to Contact Us