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Posted on 23 July 2018 in Chicken Housing and tagged under , ,

You’ll see from our website of which type we’re more fond but this is an important debate in the poultry keeping world so we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of each material.

Fantastic plastic or wonderful wood – the debate between poultry keepers continues on a yearly basis and there are strong supporters on both sides. 

Remember, which ever style of house you choose it’s important to make sure you buy a good quality house that gives your chickens the space, comfort, and security that they need to stay happy and healthy.

Let’s take a look at wooden chicken houses first:

Wooden chicken houses

Wooden houses are obviously more traditional and some poultry keepers would say prettier too. A high quality wooden chicken house will robust, practical, and less likely to blow away in a storm than a plastic coop.

One of the most common complaints about plastic chicken houses is that they aren’t breathable and reports of condensation are frequent. You won’t get this problem with a wooden design as wood is naturally breathable.

If you have specific needs you’ll also find that a wooden house is more flexible as they can be built to order. In fact, our own bespoke order service is very popular with our customers!

Customisation in terms of colour is also easier when you have a wooden house. You can paint them any colour you like and if you change your mind you can sand the paint off and start again, or simply paint over the original colour.

painted chicken house

And now for the plastic chicken houses:

Plastic chicken houses

In recent years plastic houses have become increasingly popular, especially with urban chicken keepers and school or college poultry projects. The bright colours make them popular with children and removable lids make it quick and simple to collect your delicious eggs.

They’re also easy to clean, give a contemporary look to your outdoor space, and can be cheaper to buy and maintain than their wooden counterparts.

Plastic coop fans often tell you that the biggest plus point of having a plastic chicken house is that the risk of pesky red mite is removed.

However, if you think that a plastic hen house will make your flock red mite proof, unfortunately you’re wrong. Red mite can not only live on the bird but it can also live in the cracks of the house, hiding from prying human eyes.

Lurking in the cracks allows the red mite to sneak out at night and feast on your flocks’ blood whilst they sleep so the truth of the matter is that a plastic house isn’t always a red mite free house.

plastic chicken house

Plastic or wooden? We’d love to hear your opinion on which material you prefer for your chicken houses.

Last week Jim gave you 10 things to look for when buying a chicken house. This week he’s giving you 10 more things to look for so you’ll get the perfect home for your flock:

  1. Does your house have a low carbon footprint?

This might not seem important, but do something good for the environment and don’t ship a house in from China. In fact, Jim often delivers houses to local customers which even further cuts down the carbon footprint of the houses.

  1. Is your chicken house made from eco-friendly materials?

See point 1 – this might not seem important but you’ll feel better knowing you haven’t contributed to the loss of a forest. For example, all houses from Jim Vyse Arks are made from Forestry Stewardship Council approved timber, meaning the wood comes from a sustainable source.

  1. Is your chicken house attractive?

Although a more utilitarian design is often more practical than some of the elaborate models on the market, you still want a chicken house that is aesthetically pleasing if it’s going to be in your back garden. Don’t forget, wood stain or paint is an easy way to make your chicken house a pretty edition to your garden.

painted chicken house

  1. Is the door/pop hole big enough?

Last week one of my points was that you should check your chicken house is big enough for the breed of chickens you keep, particularly if you keep large breeds such as Brahmas. The same goes for the door, your birds shouldn’t have to squeeze through a too small door.

  1. Is your chicken house easy to maintain?

A simple design will not only be easy to keep clean but will also be easy to maintain. You don’t want to have to spend your weekends fixing your chicken house, or find that it is cheaper to replace than to keep well maintained. Pressure treated timber and heavy duty metal fittings will extend the working life of your chicken house and keep maintenance to a minimum.

  1. Is the roof made of a suitable material?

Rooves shouldn’t leak or harbour a red mite infestation, so avoid houses with felt rooves. Felt rooves, and those made from similar materials, won’t provide adequate protection from the elements and are tough to remove red mite from.

  1. Are the dimensions right for your space?

Check, check, and check again the dimensions of your outdoor space and of the chicken house you’re going to purchase. Drawing it out on the ground can help you visualise what the house will look like when it arrives.

  1. Do you need a run?

If your chickens aren’t going to free range, is the house you’re purchasing suitable to have an attached run? In light of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, and the outbreaks in recent years, having a run may be something that will protect your birds in the long run.

  1. Is the run big enough?

Chickens need room to do “chicken things” so choose a chicken run that offers them as much space as possible. You might also want to let them free range occasionally if your outdoor space is safe and suitable.

  1. Are there enough nest boxes?

Generally speaking you’ll need one nest box per three hens. Nest boxes need to be off the ground and hens prefer if the nest boxes are in the darkest part of the house, such as at the back.

 

Posted on 12 April 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , ,

Alice had the pleasure of visiting Jim Vyse customer, and poultry breeder, Millie Jarvis at her home in the outskirts of Bristol and meeting her lovely chickens.

Who is Millie?

Millie specialises in breeding Pekin bantams, Silkies, Old English Game, and Modern Game birds. Her future project is to increase the number of Silkies and Porcelain Pekins she breeds.

Millie of Millie's Bantams

Here’s what Millie has to say about her chickens and being a Jim Vyse Arks customer:

Alice: What first attracted you to chicken keeping?

Millie: I started off with a few hybrid chickens. Unfortunately a family crisis meant that I had to give them up but I had the chicken bug and it wasn’t long before I replaced them.

Having a pet that gives something back is just so rewarding!

A: How did chicken keeping turn into chicken breeding?

M: I love cockerels! They’re more flamboyant than hens. I started off with Barry and went from there.

You have to choose your breeds and colours carefully but you start buying trios of birds because you love the colours.

My favourite are my Porcelain Pekins.

Another reason I got into breeding was because of something my Dad said. He told me about my Grandmother breeding Rhode Island Reds during the war. I’m a lot like her, so it’s in the blood!

A: Why did you choose your current breeds?

M: Pekins and Silkies are just so friendly. They’re also easy to handle and come in a variety of pretty colours. They’re brilliant back garden birds because they’re not as destructive as larger breeds of chicken. They make good “broodies” and lay decent sized eggs, so really they’re a great all-rounder.

I started breeding Modern Game and Old English Game because I love the Red colour, especially cockerels. They’re another small, pretty breed of chicken, but they don’t have feathery legs, so they’re a good alternative to Pekins and Silkies.

red pyle game bird

A: I know you’re not meant to have favourites, but if you had to choose, who is the favourite in your flock?

M: If I really had to pick it would be all of the boys. Their colours and personalities are just amazing. Cockerels are great, if you respect them, they’ll respect you.

But I love all of my birds really!

A: What advice would you give to first time chicken keepers?

M: Invest in secure housing and be sure you’re ready for chickens. If you just want eggs and no real commitment, buy eggs from the supermarket.

There is so much involved in chicken keeping you shouldn’t get them on a whim, there’s more to chickens than their eggs! Keeping chickens shouldn’t be a chore, if it becomes that then you know you need to give it up.

Also, make sure you research everything before you buy your birds.

Finally, keep an eye out for parasites and predators. Prevention is better than a cure!

Millie chicken house

A: You’ve mentioned investing in secure poultry housing – what made you choose a Jim Vyse ark?

M: I was unimpressed with other products that I had previously purchased so I started looking for replacement housing. Jim had a decent website and his products were great.

His bespoke order service is great as well. I just emailed him a picture and a few measurements and he produced exactly what I wanted. It’s brilliant!

A: What words do you associate with “Jim Vyse Arks”?

M: Quality, friendly, great service. You get the personal touch and you can put a face to a name. You definitely get what you pay for.

A: Does that mean you’d recommend Jim Vyse to other poultry keepers?

M: If you’re getting chickens, get a Jim Vyse Ark. He’ll even deliver it for you.
Don’t go anywhere else!

A: Finally, how do you like your eggs?

M: Poached on toast with loads of black pepper and butter.

porcelain pekin bantams

 

We want to feature more of our loyal customers on our blog, so whether you’re a breeder or just a hobby poultry keeper, we’d love to hear from you.

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 10 July 2017 in Waterfowl and tagged under , , ,

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.

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.

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

Posted on 3 July 2017 in Waterfowl and tagged under , , ,

Keeping chickens has undoubtedly become extremely popular in recent years but that isn’t the only option if you want some feathered friends to share your garden…have you thought about ducks?

Here are our top reasons why keeping ducks could be the best thing you ever do:

Delicious eggs all year around
As tasty as chicken eggs are, duck eggs are usually richer and creamier, which is why they’re so popular with bakers. Plus, their eggs are bigger, containing even more nutrients and goodness than chicken eggs.

Ducks also lay all year around, unlike chickens that stop in the winter, so you won’t need to buy eggs even in December.

They’re cheap to keep
Once you’ve had the initial outlay of a suitable duck house and other equipment you’ll need, ducks are incredibly cheap to keep.

Depending on how many birds you have, one bag of feed could last you for weeks and they’re experts at finding their own food in the garden.

In fact, if you’re looking for free pest control, then a couple of ducks could be the answer.

Ducks are made of tough stuff
For some reason, and I’m not enough of an expert to know why, ducks are generally less susceptible to disease and infection than chickens. They cope well in extreme weather conditions and if they do become ill, they usually recover fairly quickly with minimal human assistance.

Your neighbours won’t notice you have them!
Although most female ducks do make the classic “quack” noise they only do this when startled or frightened. The majority of the time ducks are silent or make quiet noises.

If you’re worried your neighbours won’t like the cackles and squawking that hens make, then duck might be a better choice.

They don’t need that much water
Many people think you need a lake, or at least a large pond, in order to keep ducks but depending on which breed you keep that isn’t always the case. In fact, Indian Runner ducks are reportedly happy as long as they have enough water to dunk their heads in, although we’d recommend giving them more.

A child’s paddling pool, a sawn in half barrel or an old bath tub can all make suitable “ponds” for backyard ducks. As long as the water is deep enough for them to get their whole head under then your ducks will be happy.

Ducks make friends more quickly
Many poultry keepers can’t resist adding to their flock after a while and this can cause disruptions to the pecking order. However, ducks seem to accept new additions to their group more calmly than chickens so if you think you’re likely to expand your brood, ducks are a more tranquil option.

Ducks have great personalities
If you talk to anyone who keeps ducks, they’ll tell you all about their ducks individual personalities. Different breeds also have different personality traits, so it’s worth doing your research before starting your flock.

They make loyal friends
Dogs might be mans’ best friend but ducks come in at a close second. Sometimes it can take them a while to trust you, but once they’ve imprinted on you and see you as part of the flock, you’ll have a friend for life.

If you’ve been convinced that ducks are a great idea then it’s time to get shopping for the duck house of your dreams!

Photo credit: Ziwani Poultry, Pinterest, Wikipedia

Posted on 26 June 2017 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , ,

The weather has warmed up and that means it’s the perfect time to get outside and give your chicken house a really good scrub. Sunny days make it easy to dry out damp houses and your flock won’t mind being outside in the sunshine whilst you’re giving their coop a spring clean.

Here are our does and don’ts for a chicken house that’s clean as a whistle:

Do get your gloves on

Of course putting your marigolds on before you start cleaning your house will stop your hands getting dirty, but it will also keep you safe from the bacteria in the coop and the chemicals in the disinfectant.

Don’t skimp on the elbow grease

Even though a well ventilated chicken house should help keep the bacteria to a minimum, all chicken houses will still benefit from a good scrub a few times a year. Use a small brush to get the dirt out of the nooks and crannies. Then use disinfectant spray or powder to keep bugs and bacteria at bay.

Do recycle your newspapers

Our houses are designed with an easy clean floor but you can make cleaning even easier by recycling your old newspapers and using them to line the floor before putting bedding on top.

When you need to clean the house simply roll the newspaper up and take all the dirty bedding with it. This method is also good for minimising the mess made when cleaning your chicken house – perfect if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to rake up the mess from your garden.

Do have a quick clean daily

Whilst you might not full time to do a full clean daily it’s worth spending a few minutes removing faeces and any very dirty bedding every day. It will make doing a full clean an easier task and reduce the risk of bacteria build up.

Don’t forget feeders and drinkers

If you’re going to be giving your chicken house a full clean it’s a good idea to also clean and disinfect their feeders and drinkers. Give everything a thorough scrub and soak before refilling with fresh food and water.

Don’t use hay as bedding

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – hay is not a suitable bedding material for chickens. Damp hay releases fungal spores, especially when your hens scratch around in it, and this can cause a respiratory disease called aspergillosis.

Do fix it if it’s broke

Make sure to set some time aside to carry out any maintenance jobs on your chicken house every time you give it a deep clean. Patch any holes, oil squeaky doors, and replace any pecked perches. You could even give it a fresh lick of paint!

Don’t forget outside too

If you keep your flock in a run or enclosure then don’t forget to tidy that up as well. You can hose large concrete runs, rake runs on grass or wood chippings, and if you have a movable run simply rotate it to a new patch of grass.

Do get into a routine

Giving your hen house a weekly or fortnightly deep clean will prolong its working life and make sure your hens stay healthy. Pencil the time into your diary and make yourself a checklist so you don’t forget any important cleaning tasks.

Photo credits: Hen Cam, Read My Chicken Scratch, Etsy

Posted on 3 May 2017 in Jim Vyse News and tagged under , ,

Here’s how it all began – an exclusive interview with Jim of Jim Vyse Arks!

Can you tell us how Jim Vyse Arks began?

I’m originally from a farming background and spent over 30 years being involved with dairy cows and milking equipment. Then, a mid-life crisis encouraged me to change direction!

A friend suggested I put my carpentry skills to good use and before I knew it I was making chicken houses. A few adverts later and my houses were spreading across the UK.

The rest as they say is history!

What makes Jim Vyse Arks stand out from its competitors?

I have always believed that providing our customers with a combination of practical designs and sensible prices is the key to success. When you add in an attractive design that looks great in a garden, orchard, or field you’re on to a winner.

I think that’s why Jim Vyse Arks has carved a niche in the market and been successful for over 10 years.

Where is the most exotic destination a Jim Vyse Arks’ product has been shipped to?

We’ve had our products go all over the world, including Swiss Chalets in Switzerland and Arks in the Orkneys. Personally I think that sending two shipments of Swiss Chalets to the Falkland Islands has been the most exotic location so far.

We also regularly send products to France, Italy, Spain, and the Channel Islands.

Of all the poultry houses you’ve created, which has been your favourite and why?

Since we began I’ve created over 10,000 houses for every species of poultry imaginable, so it’s hard to choose a favourite.

However, if I really had to pick it would be the Standard Duck House, one of our most popular products.

I also really enjoyed designing and building this large bespoke chicken house and run.

Who or what first inspired you to get involved in poultry keeping?

As with most things it all goes back to my childhood. Many years ago I won, what was supposed to be, a table cockerel at a village fete. Readers will be pleased to know he joined our family flocks and never made it to the table, providing much pleasure and amusement to the family for several years.

Do you still keep your own poultry?

Unfortunately I don’t have the time I would like to devote to chickens or ducks at home, but my neighbours keep me up to date with latest trends in poultry keeping and provide me with manure for my garden!

In your opinion, what makes a good chicken house?

A practical design made from durable materials, which combines a high standard of welfare, good ventilation, and is easy to clean and control disease.

What is the top piece of advice you would give to someone shopping for a chicken house?

I think taking our motto of “attractive, robust, and practical” provides a very good guideline for buying a chicken house.

What has been your career highlight since starting Jim Vyse Arks?

Seeing products in the press or on television (our blue and white painted Goose House was featured on the Alan Titchmarsh Show and model Jemma Kidd has a chicken house that was pictured in Elle Decoration) has to be right up there.

However, my favourite part of the job is getting to travel around the UK and meet such wonderful and welcoming customers when I deliver their purchases. I’m privileged to be able to leave the workshop and explore the UK when I get orders for places I haven’t been or don’t know well.

Finally, how do you like your eggs?

The best way to have eggs has to be slightly runny scrambled eggs because you always use more that way!

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