Monday, 12 August 2013

9 extra chickens

Last night we had a phone call from a friend in the Suffolk Smallholders Society, I would put a link here but the website is rubbish so I won't bother! He was looking for a home for his 9 remaining chickens. A few days ago he had 20, but everyday a family of foxes would appear and kill two or three, so he had decided to give up as they are moving soon anyway.
We said yes, of course, working on the theory that you never turn down anything as you don't get asked a second time! ( More about this tomorrow)
Now there are people out there who like foxes, people who feed them in their gardens, an animal protection Society that catches urban foxes,tends them if the are injured and then lets the B....... things loose in the countryside. If you are one of these people then you are NUTS! They kill for fun not always for food,they have no natural predators and then twats in the government supported by people in cities banned fox hunting.( Ooops Simple Suffolk Smallholder upsets all city dwellers and causes  offence again - nothing new there then!)
Every day, all over the countryside there are people who go out to tend their chickens to find a fox has attacked and all that's left is some carcases and feathers.They might be rare breed hens or a source of income for the family but the fox doesn't care.
We have, so far, TOUCH WOOD been very lucky and haven't lost any. When we first came here a gamekeeper who raised pheasants and looked after the shooting in the local woods would tell us when he had seen a fox and then get rid of it. Now there is no local shoot so we use electric netting run by a car battery. This pulses a current which foxes can hear and tend to stay away from. The chickens are shut up as soon as they go to bed at dusk and the sheds are secure and fox proof. We also do strange witch type things like sprinkling our cut hair in the gaps at the top of the field where a fox could walk in. Him Outside will pee up there too - foxes don't like that! When we had a dog we would walk her around the whole field every day leaving nice doggy scents behind.
The men working for a tree cutting company have recently removed all the undergrowth and trees that were growing under the pylons, leaving an open space - nowhere for fox to hide, hopefully that will also help us.
We had to quickly sort out what to do with 9 extra chickens. The best time to introduce a group of chickens into another group( Adding one or two chickens into an established group can cause drastic problems - like them killing each other) is during the night, this wasn't an option. Had we have put the new hens straight outside with the others they wouldn't have known where to go to bed tonight. So we sectioned off part of the shed and put the nine in the small bit leaving the pop-holes open for the others to go in and out as usual in the rest of the shed. Hopefully we will let them all out tomorrow morning and they will sort themselves out.
Before we did that we had to clean out the shed ( and we also did the other bigger chicken shed out on the field), dust all crevices with red mite powder and Him Outside used some waste oil on the underside of the perches to discourage the red mite from hiding there. Red Mite are a real problem in summer. If you suddenly find your chickens going off lay or refusing to go up on their perches at night then you could have red mite lurking, ready to come out at night and feast on the chickens blood - YUCK. We also found a big clump of them on a couple of bricks that were being used under the feeder to  raise it up off the shed floor.
Our next chicken related job will be moving 5 big round straw bales that are in half of our hay shed and preparing that area to take 24 young hens which we will get at point of lay. When they are laying well we will take our very old batch of layers to a friend who will use them for ferret food! Then we will move the new hens outside. Buying point-of-lay hens in the autumn will ensure they carry on laying right through the winter, whereas some of the older ones may slow down a bit as the days get shorter.
It's been a very productive day today lots of jobs done outside, several phone calls for campsite bookings and loads of vegetables out and sold on the stall. No housework done at all!

Are all our eggs in one basket- No this is only half of them!

PS welcome to another new follower today.


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