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Posted on 27 February 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , ,

If you’re still on the fence about keeping chickens, or you know someone who is, there might be hidden benefits of poultry keeping that you haven’t considered.

Here are our top seven benefits of keeping chickens:

You’ll have a better diet
Chickens that are allowed to free range and eat a wide variety of plants and bugs produce healthier eggs – fact. Your hen’s eggs will contains higher amounts of vitamins A, D, and E, they’ll have less saturated fat and cholesterol, and more Omega-3 fats.

You’ll be doing chicken welfare a favour
If you have your own eggs at home you won’t need to buy eggs, therefore you won’t be financially supporting chicken factory farms. Of course, buying free range eggs are a solution, but the definition of “free range” isn’t always what it seems.

You’ll be doing your bit for the environment
Chickens love to eat weeds and protein packed bugs so you won’t need to use chemical bug sprays or weed killer. Their waste also makes great fertiliser so your plants will look wonderful without any chemical intervention.

They’ll improve your soil
If you’re a keen gardener having chickens scratching over tired looking flower beds will improve your soil no end. Put a layer of compost on your beds and they’ll be more than happy to mix it in with the soil for you!

You’ll get outside more
Fitting exercise into a busy working week can be hard but keeping chickens means you’ll have to spend a certain amount of time each week in the garden. Cleaning out the chicken house, plus moving feed sacks and bales of bedding is also a good cardiovascular workout.

Chickens are a natural antidepressant
When you stroke a pet a stress reducing chemical called Oxytocin in released leaving you feeling calmer, and more contented. The calming effect of chickens on a persons’ mental state can be so strong they have even been used as therapy animals.

You could prevent extinction of heritage breeds
The commercial farming of chickens has meant that many breeds are no longer kept and are now facing extinction. Getting involved in keeping rare, heritage chicken breeds means that their genes are preserved and valuable genetic material isn’t lost.

Posted on 21 February 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , ,

Did you know there are well over 100 breeds of chicken being bred in the UK? Each breed has its’ own characteristics, attributes, purpose, and personality. The question is, how do you choose a breed that suits your lifestyle and needs?

Chicken breeds break down into three categories – chickens for meat, chickens for eggs, and chickens that are dual purpose. The majority of beginners want chickens that will produce eggs and are easy to look after.

Here are the top things to look for in any breed of chicken:

Is your chosen breed friendly and easy to tame?
Is this breed easy to care for?
Is this breed quite common? You’ll find it easier to get help and advice if your breed is well known.
If you want to keep chickens for eggs – is this breed known for high egg production?
If you want to keep chickens for meat – is this breed known as a good table bird?
If you want to keep chickens as pets – is this breed known for being docile and having a good personality?

Our top chicken breeds for beginners

Wyandotte

This breed ticks all the boxes as they’re pretty, practical, and produce great eggs. Not only are they incredibly friendly and placid but they’re also great layers so you won’t be short of eggs.

If you’re looking for a chicken breed to enhance your outdoor space then you’ll be pleased to hear that the Wyandotte comes in 14 different possible plumage variations in the UK.

Orpington

Whether you choose the large fowl or the bantam Orpington you’ll find you’ve got a great pet – especially for children. They’re not always great layers so if you’re looking for high egg production then this breed isn’t for you.

You’ll also need to make sure that your chicken house pop hole is big enough for the large fowl variety and consider keeping them separately if you have mixed breeds as the Orpington can be subject to bullying.

Warren

This is the most common hybrid breed of chicken and people will recognise Warrens as a classic brown hen – seen here in the popular Mercedes-Benz advert.

They’re friendly, docile, and love human interaction making them the perfect pets for adults and children alike. Originally bred for battery egg production they really are laying machines so you’ll never need to buy eggs again!

Silkie

If you’re not worried about egg production and you want a pretty pet then this breed is ideal. Silkies are small, incredibly tame, and have great personalities. They also have some unique features with black skin and bones and five toes rather than four.

They’re great mothers so if you’re looking to start breeding and want a broody hen to sit on eggs then get yourself a few Silkies.

Brahma

If the Orpington isn’t quite big enough then the Brahma is even bigger! They might not lay a lot of eggs but they are one of the friendliest breeds of chicken. They’re great if you have children but standing at up to 30 inches tall they might be a bit big to sit on your lap!

As with the Orpington, you’ll need to make sure your chicken house can accommodate these gentle giants – you might even want to consider a bespoke design.

Posted on 13 February 2018 in Egg Recipes and tagged under , , , ,

How could we let Pancake Day go by without giving you a delicious pancake recipe?

This simple recipe is foolproof and should ensure you get perfect pancakes every time.

Ingredients

100g plain flour
2 eggs (your own or free range)
300ml milk
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
Lemon wedges and caster sugar to serve (this is our favourite way but you can put whatever you like on your pancakes)

Method

1. Put the flour, eggs, milk, and oil into a large bowl
2. Season with a pinch of salt
3. Whisk until you have a smooth batter
4. Set aside for 30 minutes or more for every better results
5. Wipe a frying pan with oiled kitchen paper and set over a medium heat
6. Cook your pancakes for a minute on each side. Use a spatula or fish slice to turn them – or flip if you dare!
7. Serve with lemon wedges and sugar. We also enjoy chocolate spread and strawberries for an even more decadent treat.

Posted on 7 February 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , ,

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and if you know you’re further down the pecking line than your significant other’s feathered friends then maybe a chicken themed gift will keep you on the right side of the coop.

Here are our top Valentine’s Day gifts for the chicken lover in your life:

Chicken Love Mug

They can be reminded of you (and their love of chickens) every time they have a cup of tea with this gorgeous Chicken Love Mug from thanksalatteshop on Etsy. £10.99.

Sitting Hen Statue

This pretty, hand-painted hen from Wayfair will look gorgeous in any kitchen or on the mantle piece. £21.99

Personalised Chicken Family Print

A gorgeous gift that will really show that special someone how much you love them and your family. Seedlings Cards and Gifts at Not on the High Street. £17

Rose Gold Hen Necklace

If a rose gold hen necklace doesn’t say “I love you” then I don’t know what else will. Alex Monroe at Cotswold Trading. £132.

Chicken Print Scarf

A lovely chicken print scarf which will brighten up any outfit. Amazon. £7.99

Crystal Rooster

The ultimate gift for a chicken fan and one that’s sure to get you extra brownie points – who wouldn’t want a crystal rooster? Swarovski. £109.

A Chicken House

Who says a present can’t be a practical one? They say that home is where the chickens are, so how about treating them to a new home this Valentine’s Day? We also offer gift vouchers if you’re not sure which style they’d like best.

Posted on 31 January 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , , ,

There are chickens on almost every continent and each country seems to have at least one breed of chicken to be proud of, some have many more.

There are small chickens, big chickens, chickens which are excellent egg layers and other chickens which lay only a few eggs, but have many other qualities that make them well worth keeping.

So, let’s go around the world in eight chickens!

#1 UK – Sussex

We’ll start in our home country with a chicken that has many fans across the country – the Sussex.

This large, heavy breed of chicken is a dual purpose bird (meaning it’s good to eat and lays plenty of eggs) and also makes a lovely pet. The breed was developed around the time of the Romans and is now available in eight colours and as a bantam variety.

They’re known for their excellent temperaments and lay around 4-6 large brown eggs per week.

#2 USA – Jersey Giant

Now we’re off across the pond to the United States of America and looking at the Jersey Giant – the largest breed of chicken in the world (so you’ll need a big chicken house) and named after the state of New Jersey where the breed was developed.

They are calm, docile, and make good back garden pets. They’re also good egg layers – roughly 3-5 very large brown eggs per week – and are known to continue throughout the winter.

They’re not a particularly common breed but their fans will tell you how fantastic they are to keep.

#3 Switzerland – Appenzeller Spitzhauben

It’s over to Europe and snowy Switzerland to look at the Appenzeller Spitzhauben – a striking breed with a feathered crest in both hens and cockerels.

They’re largely an ornamental breed, although they were originally bred as a farm bird, so they lay a decent number of eggs (3-5 per week).

The Appenzeller is a recognised breed in the UK and there is now a movement to get the breed recognised by the American Poultry Association and improve the breed’s popularity in the USA.

#4 Poland – Poland/Polish

This is another breed with a distinctive look, and one of our personal favourites. The dome shaped crest of the Polish chicken makes them instantly recognisable and increasingly popular both as a pet and as an exhibition bird.

They’re a bright, friendly breed that suits being kept both in enclosures and free range. Their small size also makes them a brilliant family pet, although their feathered crest can require some additional care.

They lay small, cream coloured eggs – around 2-4 per week and rarely go broody.

#5 Belgium – Antwerp Belgian Bantam

Another breed that is named after its country of origin – the small, very pretty Belgian bantam is an incredibly popular show bird and is also known as the Quail bantam.

It is a true bantam, meaning that there is no large counterpart, and one of the oldest bantam breeds in the world.

In Belgium there are an amazing 29 colour variations recognised and a beard of feathers that covers the earlobes. They’re not brilliant egg layers, producing 2-4 per week, but are friendly and don’t mind not being able to free range as long as they have a big enough enclosure.

#6 China – Cochin

It’s time to go over to Asia and look at another large breed of chicken – the Cochin.

The chicken was exported to the UK and the USA in the mid-19th Century and created a craze amongst chicken keepers because of the Cochins’ size and beautiful plumage.

They’re calm, friendly, and quiet making them ideal for the back garden, especially if you have children.

#7 Japan – Japanese bantam

From large to small it’s time for the pint sized, but perfect, Japanese bantam. This breed is available in many colours, as well as frizzle and silkie varieties.

These birds have extremely short legs and have been known to live for up to 13 years with proper care and attention.

Their good looks make them the ideal ornamental breed and they only lay around 1-3 eggs per week, so if you just want an attractive chicken, this might be the breed for you.

#8 Turkey – Sultan

Finally, to Turkey to look at the Sultan, another small, ornamental breed known in the original Turkish language as “Serai-Tavuk” – or “fowls of the Sultan”.

They are an incredibly decorative breed with long tails, large crests, beards, and foot feathering. There are three colour varieties – Blue, Black, and White – although White is the most well-known colour.

The Sultan lay around 1-3 eggs per week and can be better suited to being kept in covered enclosures to protect their plumage from the elements.

Posted on 19 January 2018 in Chicken Chat, Other Poultry, Waterfowl and tagged under , , , , ,

The latest situation on the Avian Flu outbreak in the UK is that DEFRA have announced a UK wide Prevention Zone from January 18th 2018 for anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds.

This means that:

If you keep poultry you must, by law, follow specific disease prevention measures. These apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size, or if your birds are pets. These are designed to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

If you keep birds then you can continue to allow your birds outdoors into fenced areas, but only if these areas meet certain conditions including:

you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them

If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

DEFRA gives the following biosecurity advice to all poultry keepers in order to reduce the risk of the disease spreading and contaminating UK flocks:

minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures

clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Defra approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry

keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
humanely control rats and mice

place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly

keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet

Whether you keep just a few birds as pets or have a much larger flock, good biosecurity is essential for maintaining their health and happiness.

You can register with DEFRA in order to be kept up to date on the Avian Flu situation. If you have 50 or more birds, you should register with DEFRA within one month of their arrival. More information can be found here.

This handy poster gives simple advice for all poultry keepers. It may be worth printing a few copies and giving them to other local poultry keeping friends and family.

Posted on 27 November 2017 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , ,

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.”

“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!”

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.

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)

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:

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)

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.

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).

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.

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:

Lay out the net in roughly in the position you want the net to be.

Put the first/start post in to the ground.

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.

Position your hot gate if you have one – connect by using the metal clips on the netting.

Your netting doesn’t have be in a circle… it can be in a straight line if required.

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.

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.

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

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