Why Won’t My Hens Perch?

We recently received an email from one of our customers asking if we had any advice for her as her hens were no longer using the perches in their hen house.

We turned to you, our fantastically knowledgeable Facebook and Twitter followers, to see if you had any advice on encouraging chickens to use their perch. Here’s what you said:

 

“Are they ex-bat hens? If so, they probably won’t perch but will snuggle up in the nest boxes. None of our ex-bats have ever perched!”
“Mine don’t perch, they are ex bats. They did perch in their old house but the perches were only a couple of inches off the floor. They seem perfectly happy on the floor/ in the nest boxes so no worries here.”
chickens perch
“The hen might not know about perching, so pick up the hen, hover her over the perch then let her feet go on it and slowly take your hands away and let her settle? Just an idea.”
“Borrow a hen from a friend that does perch.”
“Block the nest box till morning, nest boxes are for laying not for sleeping!”
chicks perch
We thought your advice was great and our customer decided to try a lower perch, so we shipped one off immediately. Thank you to every one who took the time to reply and make suggestions to solve the perching problem.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Electric Poultry Netting System

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

Your battery electric netting kit has arrived, you have never seen an electric fence before, and have no idea how to put it up… here are some pointers and useful tips.

Battery Operated Kit Contains:

  • Electric netting including posts
  • Guys and pegs (for bottom line) and netting repair kit
  • Battery Powered Energiser and Earth Stake (the energiser spec depends on the number of nets)
  • Electric Fence Warning Sign
  • 12v Battery (Leisure/Agri battery preferably as will hold power longer)

battery operated electric fence

Preparing the Area:

  • Clear the area of any debris – i.e. sticks and large stones and ensure there are no branches or plants that could touch the netting and short it.
  • Mow or lay dpc or spray the grass where the netting is going to stand.

Setting Up Your Battery Operated Kit:

  1. Locate the Energiser close to the net (this can be at the end or middle of a net) and push its stand and earth into the ground. Please keep the energiser off the ground to prevent it getting damp. (For Solar Units ensure the solar panel is facing south and out of shade so it receives the maximum amount of sunshine)
  2. Link the earth cable on the Energiser to the supplied earth stake using the green crocodile clip. For a multiple earth system, locate earths 1m away from each other and link via lead out cable.
  3. Link the live cable on the energiser to the metal clip on the net or the top line of the netting with the red crocodile clip. DO NOT attach the crocodile clip to a vertical line in the net (as these are not electrified).
  4. Link up the two battery leads, (black EARTH first, then red LIVE). When switching the energiser on you will see the Energiser flashing indicating it is sending pulses. To disconnect the Energiser from the battery, switch off, take red LIVE off first then black EARTH.
  5. Solar Assist: attach the solar panels clips on to the appropriate battery terminal and then attach energiser clips on to battery terminals.

 

To Set Up The Netting:

  1. Lay out the net in roughly in the position you want the net to be.
  2. Put the first/start post in to the ground.
  3. Go around the netting putting the posts into the ground – use your foot to pull the bottom of the post to ensure tension in the netting.
  4. Position your hot gate if you have one – connect by using the metal clips on the netting
  5. Your netting doesn’t have be in a circle… it can be in a straight line if required.
  6. Once your netting is up tweak its position and use your guy ropes (half way up the post) to put tension in corners or on long straight sections. Use netting clips to lift any sagging sections or reposition the posts with your foot to get better tension.  Wooden corner posts can be used to give extra tension to netting but the netting must NOT touch the wooden post or it will short.  Peg down the bottom line – it is not electrified.

electric fence 

Testing:

Once all is connected you should ideally test your net with an Electric Fence Tester. It must be greater than 3000v to be effective.

If below 3000v you have:

  • You have too much earthing (listen for a clicking sound) reposition net posts so that live lines do not touch the ground, slightly leaning the posts outwards sometimes helps, otherwise add netting clips or more posts.
  • Poor connection between the Energiser and net (you may even see it sparking at night).
  • Poor connection between Energiser and earth stake.
  • Battery needs re-charging (take live line off the net and test voltage output of wire).
  • An equipment failure.

Further Notes:

  • The Nets: Keep vegetation away from the net (i.e. by mowing or if in a semi-permanent position by spraying or lay down a strip of heavy material e.g. damp course under the net).
  • Additional nets: are linked by slotting the end clips together and then tie together with the green cord provided.
  • Gates: Hotgate is an easy way to access an enclosure. It has an insulated handle and a foot plate for the moving post to slot into.
  • Set Up Tips: Do not try to pull the net too taught during set up. Once the net is up, re-position individual posts until the net stands up right. If you have undulating land or are very exposed you may need more posts and/or net tensioners, which will minimize sag. (To insert follow instructions for adding the ‘Gate Post’) Setting the posts at a slight angle outwards can also help improve tension.
  • 12v Battery: For best results use a ‘Deep Cycle’ battery (e.g. a fencing/agri battery) with a minimum output of 30 amp hours for the smaller Energisers, or a minimum of 60amp hours for larger Energisers. These should last approx. 4-12 weeks between charges. Car batteries are not recommended, they are not designed to be discharged and will let you down.

electric netting

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Setting Up Your MAINS Electric Poultry Netting System – Part 3

In part three of our guide to electric poultry netting, Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, gives you detailed instructions to your mains powered electric poultry netting kit.

You can read part two and part one here.

Your mains electric netting kit has arrived…so how do you set it up?

 Of course there are instructions, but here are some pointers you might want to think about and some concise instructions too.

Mains Operated Kit Contains:

  • Electric netting including posts
  • Guys and pegs (for bottom line) and netting repair kit
  • Mains powered and earth stake (the energiser spec depends on the number of nets)
  • Electric fence warning sign

Please note: Lead out cable (10m, 25m, 50m or 100m) is required and must be added to the kit

electric poultry netting

Preparing the Area:

  1. Clear the area of any debris – ie sticks and large stones and ensure there are no branches or plants that could touch the netting and short it
  2. Mow or lay dpc or spray the grass where the netting is going to stand
  3. Check distances from mains socket to fence to ensure you have enough lead out cable

 

Setting Up Your Mains Operated Kit:

  1. Locate the adapter plug of the energiser in a waterproof location (i.e. inside next to a plug socket or protected from the elements outside). The energiser is waterproof BUT the adaptor is not.
  2. Position the earth stake close to the building containing the Energiser. Insert the earth stake into the ground until 6” or so is showing (note: the earth stake must beat least 8 mtrs away from a house earth and away from tree roots and foundations).
  3. Link to Earth: Cut a length of cable to fit the distance from Energiser to Earth. Bare the cable back at either end to show the metal core and connect one end to the green Earth terminal on the Energiser and the other to the earth screw onto or connect to the earth rod. (Locate additional 1m away from each other and link either via lead out cable or wire if required).
  4. Connect to Net (via outdoor switch):- With re remaining lead out cable bare both ends of the cable to attach it to firstly the live terminal on the energiser and secondly the other end to the net (insert cable into piping if going underground). Insert bare end of lead out cable into crocodile clips and clip to net.
  5. If you would like to use a cut out switch to enable you to turn off the fence at the fence… then here’s how. Connect the bared back lead out cable coming from the energiser to the cut out switch, attach cut out switch to a wooden post, attach a further section of lead out cable to switch and connect this last section with a crocodile clip to the fence.
  6. To put lead out cable into crocodile clips…. Bare off ½ ” (1 cm) of cable and push into the ‘spade’. Crimp tight (with pliers). The ‘spade’ pushes into flat metal clip positioned inside the crocodile clip. Connect the crocodile clip to the metal net clamp; or another solution is to bare 1” of cable and wrap around the metal net clamp. DO NOT attach the lead out cable to a vertical line in the net (as these are not electrified), or to just one of the horizontal lines as this will not electrify the net efficiently, it will only electrify that one individual line.
  7. Switch on: the Energiser will flash indicating it is sending pulses.
  8. Test with your fence tester to check the amount of power coming through the net and to make sure there are no shorts.

poultry netting

To Set Up The Poultry Netting:

  1. Lay out the net in roughly in the position you want the net to be.
  2. Put the first/start post in to the ground.
  3. Go around the netting putting the posts into the ground – use your foot to pull the bottom of the post to ensure tension in the netting.
  4. Position your hot gate if you have one – connect by using the metal clips on the netting
  5. Your netting doesn’t have be in a circle… it can be in a straight line if required.
  6. Once your netting is up tweak its position and use your guy ropes (half way up the post) to tension in corners or on long straight sections. Use netting clips to lift any sagging sections or reposition the posts with your foot to get better tension.  Wooden corner posts can be used to give extra tension to netting but the poultry netting must NOT touch the wooden post or it will short.  Peg down the bottom line too.

 

Further Notes:

The Nets: Keep vegetation away from the poultry netting (i.e. by mowing or if in a semi-permanent position by spraying or lay down a strip of heavy material e.g. damp course under the net).

Additional nets: are linked by slotting the end clips together and then tie together with the green cord provided.

Gates: Hotgate is an easy way to access an enclosure.  It has an insulated handle and a foot plate for the moving post to slot into.

Set Up Tips: Do not try to pull the net too taught during set up. Once the net is up, re-position individual posts until the net stands up right. If you have undulating land or are very exposed you may need more posts and/or net tensioners, which will minimize sag. (To insert follow instructions for adding the ‘Gate Post’) Setting the posts at a slight angel outwards can also help improve tension.

mains powered poultry netting

We are always on hand to help with any poultry netting set up enquiries… so if you have any questions just get in touch at info@electricfencing.co.uk or 01620 860058 or visit  www.electricfencing.co.uk

Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 2

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us again on the blog and continues her guide to electric poultry netting kits. 

poultry netting

Last week the guide covered:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here.

This week we’re going to look at:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

 

Access to the Netting Enclosure

For many years electric netting simply had an extra fence post placed at one end of the netting and this was used as a swivel gate – i.e. the netting swivelled around on this post as you moved the end post to access the enclosure.  Last year, Hotline Electric Fencing developed a ‘hot gate‘.  The hot gate comes in two heights – 1.1m and 1.2m.  It can easily be added on to the end of a net and the power transfer is completed by connecting the two metal clips.

The main advantages of the ‘hot gate’ are two-fold: 1) the gate can be opened with-out having to turn the power off as the gate has an insulated handle 2) the movable gate post has no spike and so is slotted into a foot plate – meaning that in wet weather this post will not make a mess of the grass as you go in and out of the enclosure as it is not being pulled in and out of the ground all the time.  There are also netting gates which constitute a couple of posts and a section of netting – nothing fancy but will do the job.

  1. Accessories for Electric Netting

Sometimes if your ground is very windy or exposed it is advised that you should add extra posts to your kit to help prevent sagging and to create good tension in the netting.  The extra strong corner posts come in two sizes 1.1m and 1.2m.  They are actually slightly taller than the netting and so can tension the net too.  These extra strong corner posts and any extra post can easily be fitted into the netting.  The netting will come to you as it left the factory… the posts are set in specific positions… but if this doesn’t work for your set up … move the posts.  They are easy to undo and replace.

The bottom line of an electric fence is not electrified and should be pegged down.

Guy ropes should be used – these come with yellow pegs.  Guy ropes should be attached to posts in the corners and should be attached half way up the post and then tensioned out the way.  Putting up an electric net without its guy ropes is similar to putting up a tent without guy ropes!

Fence testers – I guess you could use your finger… but it is not all that pleasant!  Use your tester regularly to check for shorting (i.e. foliage growing up around the bottom of the fence) and to see if your battery needs charged.

  1. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

Perhaps you already have a permanent enclosure in place and would like to make it doubly secure?  Why not add a couple of lines of electric fencing around the enclosure?

permanent electric fencing

…Last but not least here are a few set up tips:

  • Ensure you use a tester to check that you are getting enough zap around your fence – should be at least 3000v.
  • The bottom line is not electrified but the next horizontal line up is. Use guy ropes and extra posts to help lift the net and prevent sagging.  If the second line up touches the ground it will cause shorting.  It is possible to cut the second horizontal line at both ends to prevent it touching the ground and therefore shorting.
  • If you have not got enough power going through your netting (less than 3000v) please check that the netting is not touching any of the metal prongs. Please make sure you have not attached the netting to any wooden posts.

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Components of a Poultry Netting Kit Explained – Part 1

Meriel Younger, from Electric Fencing Direct, joins us on the blog this week and explains what components are required when looking for an electric poultry netting kit. 

electric poultry netting

Whether you have an egg producing business, or you simply have a few hens in your back garden, you may be confused as to which electric fence system would suit your hens’ needs best and most importantly keep Mr Fox out!

This week, we will look at the following:

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery/Solar – which power is best for you?
  2. Which Energiser – which energiser is best for you?
  3. Earth Stakes – are these essential?
  4. Netting – which one is best for your hens?

Next week, we’ll cover:

  1. Access to the Netting Enclosure – how do you get into your netting enclosure?
  2. Accessories for Electric Netting
  3. Electric Fencing for a Permanent Enclosure

 

  1. Mains, Battery or Battery & Solar?

Mains – is the easiest power source to use.  It can be left running or put on a timer to come on at certain times of day.  Make sure your mains energiser is kept in dry conditions – a lead out cable will run power from your energiser to your fence.

Battery – if your fencing is too far away from the mains then battery is the way forward.  Make sure you use a leisure battery rather than a car battery.  Leisure batteries cost more but last longer between charges as they are slow release.  Keep testing your fence to see how much power is going through the fence – as soon as this drops, charge your battery.

Battery/Solar – if you want to run a solar energiser you will still need a source of power i.e. a battery.  The energy from the sun is used to trickle feed the battery.  So you don’t have to charge it so often.  Be sure to test your fence regularly and keep an eye on the power levels when there have been a few dull days in a row.

  1. Which Energiser?

Always consider powering up when setting up an electric netting system.  Netting takes more energy and a higher powered energiser to make it an effective barrier.  Think ahead… are you going to extend your enclosure?  How many nets could you end up joining together?  Power up and choose an energiser that is going to push plenty of zap through the netting.

  1. Earth Stakes

Who would have thought that a piece of metal could be so important!  The earth stake or earth spike is a crucial part of any electric fencing system.  How dry is the ground where the netting is going to be set up?  Is it very stony?  Are there lots of tree roots?  There are different types of earth stake – the heavy duty T Section earth stakes have a larger surface area and so ensure a better zap.

 

  1. Netting

Measuring up is very important… a 50m net can take up more space than you think.  It is possible however to roll the netting up at one end (always put some heavy duty plastic under the rolled up section to prevent grass growing up through the netting).

Here is a basic guide to each of our nets …

  1. Standard Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 1m netting – close mesh
  • single pronged thin posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  1. Premium Poultry Nets (25 or 50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged medium weight posts throughout
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)
  1. Professional Poultry Nets (50m)
  • 22m high netting – close mesh
  • double pronged strong posts throughout
  • double pronged heavy duty corner posts
  • netting comes with posts, pegs, guy ropes, warning sign
  • can be clipped together to extend enclosure
  • a 1.2m netting hot gate can be added (but is not included)

Tune in next week for part two of the guide to electric poultry netting kits!

We love talking electric fencing… so if you need to contact us: call 01620 860058 or email info@electricfencing.co.uk

www.electricfencing.co.uk

Top 5 Duck Breeds to Keep as Pets

There are so many different breeds of duck it can be difficult to know which breed would be best for you, especially if you’re new to the world of duck keeping. Ducks come in all different sizes, shapes, and weights and they all have a different purpose.

For example, the Pekin breed is a popular choice for meat production as well as making good pets. On the other hand, Indian Runners are prolific egg layers and make great pets, but don’t expect to get much meat from them!

Ducks are also grouped into different weight categories – Heavy, Medium, Light, and Bantam.

Examples of the weight categories would be:

  • Heavy – Pekin
  • Medium – Cayuga
  • Light – Indian Runner
  • Bantam – Call

Of course, you can keep any breed of duck as a pet, but some are easier to care for than others. Here’s a look at our choice of top duck breeds to keep as pets:

Call Ducks

Call Ducks

This tiny bantam breed is a popular choice if you’d like to have ducks but don’t have a lot of space. The breed originates from the Mallard duck and is thought to have come from The Netherlands.

Call Ducks are lively, friendly, and can be very noisy so if you live in a urban area they might not be right for you.

You can expect to your ducks to lay around 100 small eggs per year. Call Ducks are available in a wide range of colours including: White, Mallard, Yellow belly, Chocolate, Magpie, Bibbed, Apricot, and Khaki.

Pekin Ducks

Pekin Ducks

95% of duck meat consumed in America comes from this breed but they also make fantastic pets and are good layers. Often confused with the Aylesbury breed because of their similar “Jemima Puddle-duck” looks the Pekin is fantastic if you have a larger garden.

They are a Heavy breed of duck and originated in China before spreading around the world. They’ll give you between 80 – 140 large white eggs every year and their calm, friendly nature makes them a great option if you have children.

Pekins like to be active, so they’ll appreciate having a bigger area to explore and their orange bills and legs make them an attractive addition to any outdoor space.

Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga Ducks

This striking breed is unmistakable thanks to its iridescent green/black plumage and they are quiet, hardy, and easy to tame. They’ll produce 100 – 150 eggs per year that start with black shells at the beginning of the season and gradually lighten to a light grey/white.

The Cayuga Duck was developed in New York in 1809 after a pair of wild black ducks were caught and bred for their colour. These days they are a rare conservation breed and can be hard to find, but they make worthwhile pets if you’re prepared to search for them.

Indian Runner Ducks

Indian Runner Ducks

As well as being prolific egg layers, up to 200 per year, the Indian Runner is probably one of the most popular breeds of pet ducks in the world.

Originally from the East Indies (Malaya, Java, and Lombok) rather than India these ducks were first known as “Penguin Ducks” because of their upright stance. As they are taller you’ll need to consider a duck house with a higher roof if you want to include Indian Runners in your flock.

They don’t fly, choosing to run instead, and they love foraging and swimming. They are available in around two dozen colours including: White, Fawn, Apricot, Black, Mallard, and Silver.

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy Ducks

This is a Heavy breed of duck and the Drakes are usually twice the size of females. Muscovy Ducks produce 60-140 eggs per year and are well known for going “broody” so if you’re looking to breed ducks this could be a good option for you.

They are unique in that they are the only breed of duck not to originate from the wild Mallard. In fact, they are closely related to a sub group of perching ducks which is why they have sharp claws that allow them to perch comfortably.

Muscovy Ducks, or ‘Scovies as they are known by their fans, are available in nine different colours all of which have a red crest (called caruncles) around their eyes.

 

 

Photo credits: Pets4Homes, Purely Poultry, Pinterest, YouTube

Happy Homes for Happy Turkey

Keeping turkey as pets (or for Christmas) is becoming increasingly popular, and if you’ve ever spent any time with these magnificent birds then you won’t struggle to see why.

Bronze Turkey Stag

They can be noisy, especially adult male birds (stags), which is something to consider if you live in close proximity to neighbours who wouldn’t be as enamoured with your new pets as you are.

These impressive birds are very majestic looking, particularly stags in full summer plumage, and hens have surprisingly pretty heads for big birds.

Although turkey eggs are not commonly found in the shops, they make a wonderful alternative to chicken or duck eggs and can easily be swapped in when cooking. Personally, scrambled turkey eggs are our favourite way of eating them!

Original old breeds of turkey, not commercial hybrids, are fairly hardy birds. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need shelter from the elements, and of course you’ll need to offer them protection from predators overnight.

If you’re considering buying your first turkeys then there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind when thinking about their housing.

The great outdoors

Turkeys, unlike some other breeds of poultry, prefer to spend as much of their time as possible living outside. This means that a secure, good sized poultry pen, is a must have for any turkey keeper.

Turkeys also like to spend a considerable amount of time grazing, grass makes up around 50% of their diet, so the pen is best located on pasture. They’ll need a covered roosting area and it is best to purchase housing designed specifically for turkey keeping, rather than modifying chicken housing.

Electric fence around the perimeter of the house, pen and pasture will help to deter predators.

Royal Palm Turkey

Home sweet home

For a trio of turkeys, usually a stag and two hens, housing of 8ft x 6ft should be plenty big enough.

If you’re thinking of keeping a few more, up to six, then a 12ft x 8ft house will give them ample room overnight.

Of course, the more space the better, and you may prefer a walk-in shed style design for easy cleaning, egg collection, and increased ventilation.

Your turkeys will be able to live outside during the day from around 8-12 weeks of age. If you already keep chickens then a single turkey should happily live with them. However, turkeys are always happiest when they have companions of the same species.

Ideally any turkey housing should be moveable, skids or wheels make moving housing easy, to prevent a build-up of manure and allow for thorough cleaning.

The roosts/perches ought to be built all at the same height to prevent your turkeys fighting over the top spot. Lightweight metal or fibreglass roof panels will provide protection from the elements.

For young birds (under 5-6 months) a bale of straw will provide hours of entertainment and a suitable night-time resting place until a purpose built perch is added into the house.

As we said above, turkeys love to graze, so they’ll need access to pasture outside of their pen. Remember that turkeys can, and will fly, meaning that fencing will need to be at least 4ft high.

You might also want to consider netting over your fence to provide extra protection and prevent your turkeys roosting in neighbouring trees!

Turkey Poults

 

Photo credits: Poultry Pages, Amy Martin Pachay, Heritage Turkeys

Going on Holiday? What To Do with Your Hens

It’s the time of year when you’re starting to think about your summer holiday and where you’d like to go for some much needed R&R.

chicken in a holiday suitcase

Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun or you prefer to find some summer snow there are plenty of options for the adventurous traveller.

However, if you have chickens you’ll also need to consider who’s going to care for them whilst you’re away. Luckily there are a variety of options and your hens will probably enjoy their summer holiday as much as you enjoy yours.

Here are some ideas that will make sure your hens are looked after and your holiday can go without a hitch.

Helpful Neighbours, Friends and Family

You’ll usually find that neighbours, friends, and family are willing to help look after hens – particularly with the promise of free eggs!

Remember to leave them with enough food and clear instructions about what’s expected of them. It might also be a good idea to give them a number of a chicken friendly vet or fellow chicken keeper in case they’re worried about one of the flock.

Automated Equipment

This can be a good option if you’re only going away for an evening or weekend and your hens have a secure enclosure. This option might also work for you if you can only arrange for someone to visit once per day.

You can purchase automatic pop holes and feeders that will make sure your chickens are secure and fed. A large water drinker should be adequate for a day until your chicken sitter can visit and top it up.

Other chicken Keepers

It’s always good to get friendly with other chicken keepers as you can share chicken sitting duties between you. if you’re going away for more than a week try organising a rota between your other chicken keeping friends so you’re not leaving one person with the responsibility of keeping your hens happy.

Holidays for Hens

If you’re going away, why shouldn’t your hens? There are companies all across the UK which offer 5* accommodation for your feathered companions so they can live in luxury whilst you’re away.

chickens with holiday suitcases

Here are just some, with a few words about what they can offer your flock:

Animal Aunts Ltd.

“We arrange for Aunts to live in our client’s home when they go away, to look after everything they hold dear. Their home is kept clean and tidy, plants watered and garden kept ticking over. Meanwhile all animals large and small will be looked after to their normal routine.

Chickens will be let out early morning and locked safely away in the evenings (unless they have automatic door closers and electric fences which is how we have ours here at HQ). All animals will be fed and watered, loved and tended as if they were our own, dogs will be walked, horses exercised if necessary, Animal Aunts have looked after any property, any animal, anywhere for 30 years.”

www.animalaunts.co.uk

The Hen Hotel

“I am Hilary, a retired teacher with many years experience of poultry as a hobby and I have been potty about chickens for many years. I’ve kept them as pets both in France and in the UK. I have a great deal of knowledge about caring for the birds.  I know how important it is to keep them disease free and the steps to take at the first sign of problems.  I hold regular courses on chicken care.

I constantly protect all our friends from red mite, I keep their feathers glossy by good food and care – I give them treats every day and of course, cuddles for the poultry guests that want them.”

www.the-hen-hotel.co.u 

The Chicken Hotel

“A new and exciting hotel in Helston (Cornwall) exclusively for our feathered friends!

Want chickens but don’t know what you’d do if you went away for a weekend or on holiday? Well you can let your chickens have a short holiday break in The Chicken Hotel!

We offer an economical chicken boarding service similar to a cattery or kennels. We now offer accommodation to ducks on an equal opportunities basis.”

www.thechickenhotel.co.uk

 

  

N.B – Jim Vyse Arks does not endorse any of these hen sitting companies – although we’re sure they’re all very lovely!

 

Photo credits: Backyard Chickens, Countryside Network

Summer Treats for Your Hot Chicks!

We all love a treat from time to time and your chickens are no exception to this rule. Occasional treats are a great way to bond with your birds and they can be useful if you’re trying to help them beat the heat this summer.

chickens in the grass

As a general rule you shouldn’t give chickens treats when it’s hot as digestion promotes increased internal body temperature. However, frozen and cooling foods can be particularly welcome when the weather hots up.

Here’s a quick list of frozen treats that will help them keep cool:

  • Frozen mint ice cubes – it’s long been known that mint has cooling properties both for humans and animals. Freezing chopped up mint leaves in an ice cube tray and giving them to your hens will give them something to do and help them cool down. You can also add extras such as peas and diced strawberry to the ice cubes for an additional treat.
  • Frozen berries – try throwing a handful of frozen berries into a bucket of cool water and watch your hens go mad for them!
  • Frozen fruit smoothie – if a frozen fruit smoothie sounds delicious to you then it probably will to your hens as well. Including a bit of natural yoghurt can also help your hens’ digestion.
  • Frozen watermelon – you can cube it, slice it, or cut it into quarters, then put it in the freeze until frozen and give to your flock as a fruity frozen snack.
  • Frozen veg – vegetables such as sweetcorn makes a great frozen treat. Freeze it in a muffin tin and put a few portions out in the morning to keep your hens occupied throughout the day.

frozen sweetcorn

Remember, treats alone won’t keep your hens cool so you’ll need to take other measures to ensure your hens are happy and healthy in the heat. Here’s a little reminder of some of the tips we gave you a few weeks ago:

  • Provide as much clean, fresh water as you possibly can, especially in shady spots where your hens will hide in the hottest part of the day.
  • Increase ventilation in the coop by opening all doors and windows. You may also want to leave the chicken house windows open overnight if it’s safe to do so.
  • Create some shade using tarpaulin, patio umbrellas, wind breaks, and ornamental plants in pots.
  • Keep bedding in the chicken house to minimum – save the deep littering for the winter!
  • Give your hens a shallow paddling pool so they can cool their feet and avoid the hot earth.
  • Make sure your chickens have a shaded area to dust bathe in. Not only do they do this to keep clean, but it also helps them to keep cool.

chickens drinking

Have you got any tips for helping hens to stay cool in the summer? We’d love to hear from you if you do!

 

Photo credits: Pets4Homes and Pinterest 

How to Choose a Duck House

When it comes to choosing housing for ducks the same basic principles to choosing a chicken house apply. However, there are a few differences between chickens and ducks that mean you’ll need to buy a house specifically designed for ducks.

You’ll get what you pay for

First things first, buy a quality house. We all like a bargain but when you realise you’re replacing your cheap house every few years you’ll wish you’d spent a little bit more money.

Generally speaking you can expect to pay around £150 – £300 for a high quality duck house. Obviously you might find yourself shopping during sale periods and get a cheaper house, but be prepared to increase your budget for a better house.

duck house

Appearance isn’t everything

Your ducks won’t care what their house looks like so you can have a duck house that is as simple or as elaborate as you like. As a bare minimum the house needs to provide your ducks with adequate shelter from the elements and as much protection from predators as possible.

When choosing a duck house, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the house easily moveable?
  • Does it provide good ventilation?
  • It is quick to clean and simple to maintain?
  • Does it provide a high standard of welfare? Consider space per duck, nest boxes, doorways etc.
  • Is it made of top quality materials?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions then you should have a house that is practical, safe, and that will have a long working life.

The exits are here, here, and here

Ducks have a tendency to rush out of the house as a group in the mornings and they aren’t very good at forming an orderly queue! This means that you’ll need to choose a house with a wide enough door to prevent injuries when entering or exiting the house.

You’ll also need to provide your ducks with a ramp if the house isn’t at floor level. They can’t negotiate steps or ladders like chickens can so giving them a ramp into their house ensures they can get in and out safely.

Runs and enclosures

If you don’t have the space, or you don’t want to let your ducks have access to your whole garden, you’ll also have to think about the run or enclosure they’ll be in.

How big the run is depends entirely on how much space you have but the bigger the better. They’ll need room to waddle around, forage for food, stretch their wings, and of course, room for their pond.

You could choose a single unit run and house, like this bantam duck ark designed especially for small breeds, or you could opt for a large enclosure that contains their house. As long as the house is safe, and as predator proof as possible, your ducks will be happy.

duck ark

If you’re struggling to find a duck house that suits your needs you could also look into bespoke options.