Poultry Pages Newsletter April 2012
Hi Chicken Arks
As you may know, my daughter Cara normally writes this newsletter but she’s taking a break. Sadly her chick, Logan Harrison Martin, arrived on the 11th April but due to complications was only with us for three days.
Joy (Joyfull on the forum) has kindly stepped in to write this newsletter. If you have any questions about keeping poultry, feel free to ask on our forum pages where experienced keepers can help you.
John Harrison ——————————————————
For those of you who don’t know me here is a brief introduction to me and my life. My name is Joy and I live in the wilds of Lincolnshire with Jim my long suffering other half, 3 dogs, Charlie. Ollie and Puppy Rosie. We have a feral cat called Puddy who adopted us and 27 chickens. At one stage I did have over 60 chickens and 2 guinea fowl which is why I have decided on covering broodies for this months newsletter.
Several of mine have now gone broody to coincide with the lengthening days and the lovely warm sunshine that we have been having. In the past I have had a cockerel or 2 so some of my girls who all free range have taken themselves off into the fields and hedgerows only to return 3 weeks later with some free ranged hatched chicks. The first time this happened I was so amazed and in awe but when you end up with over 30 little hatched chicks all running around it becomes a bit of a problem. Where to house them, how much chick feed to get in and what to do about the inevitable cockerels? This is all without the planned hatches that I had already got underway.
I have seen over the last couple of days people asking for fertile eggs on our local freecycle and I do wonder if they know what they are letting themselves in for? So if your hens have gone broody ask yourself the following questions before you decide to go ahead with sorting out some hatching eggs.
Do you have a broody coop available? This doesn’t need to be anything expensive but a single level rabbit hutch would do – I used to use an rabbit eglu for mine with a run attached.
If she stops being broody part way through do you have a back up broody hen or an incubator to use? I have been known to race along the A52 with some fertile eggs tucked down my top to Grannie Annies house to place them in her incubator and also sneak some eggs under another broody hen who didn’t have any eggs of her own.
Have you got a chick feeder and drinker sorted out? These can be something simple like shallow dishes but in the water one place some pebbles or marbles in it so they cant drown. This way they will be able to sip the water from the little gaps in between the pebbles.
Feed – chick crumb – medicated or not? I always chose not but many like to choose medicated to help stop their chicks getting coccidiosis which can kill them. I always have on hand an bottle of Coxoid to stop this and have known chicks on medicated feed get coccidiosis anyway. If your chick does get this (bright red blood in its droppings is the main sign) then they have to be taken off medicated feed and put on the un-medicated feed and have the Coxoid treatment administered straight away. The only problem is that when another chick sees the bright red blood they will quickly eat it so you need to keep a close eye on your chicks’ droppings.
And finally the inevitable cockerels. Now with some breeds you can tell within the first few days what sex the chicks are but with others you have to wait until they either crow or lay an egg. On average you get at least 50% of each hatch turning out to be cockerels but you could be even more unlucky and get 100% boys. So what do you do with them?
They can be very difficult to re-home; the poultry pages swap shop is full of adverts for these boys needing new homes. You could cull and eat them but Jim won’t eat anything that he has said hello to, so for us that is not an option unless I cull them when he is out at work and don’t tell him where it came from.
If you have lots of breeding pens and even more unrelated hens you could keep them but you should never allow them to mate with their own sisters as this leads to genetic problems. On just one day I had to cull 15 boys which is not a very nice way to spend a day.
So after all those things have been taken into consideration and you still want to go ahead then good luck and I look forward to seeing some photos of your little broods on the forum.
Thanks for reading
The Poultry Pages, Fron Dirion, Clogwyn Melyn, Penygroes, Gwynedd, LL54 6PT, UK
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