Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Annual Moult

As a new poultry keeper it can be quite distressing  to see your chickens looking scruffy and balding and you may worry that there is something more sinister going on when they stop laying, but rest assured, the annual moult is perfectly natural.  

Most chickens shed their feathers in late summer or early autumn, and as this coincides with a time of the year when there is less daylight hours, it can sometimes put the birds under further 'stress' as the production of vitamin D3 is reduced and there is less time to scratch around for high protein grubs.  

Depending on the breed, it can take around 6 to 12 weeks for the moult to complete, during which time you may find only the occasional egg being laid. Replenishing feathers requires protein and so it is perhaps too much to ask that our girls continue to support egg production whilst simultaneously producing feathers.  Like hens, cockerels also moult and are likely to be infertile at this time as they lose body weight and their reproductive physiology is undergoing a resting phase, so they too will benefit from extra protein to help them put on body fat. 

In extreme cases, if a bird is not getting enough protein, it may peck and eat the feathers of other birds, which can cause bad habits that can be hard to break and result in bullying behaviour as a result of feather pecking.  

If you are wondering what to feed your chickens during the moult, then protein is the key and nutrition is especially important during this period.  Here are 3 top ways to help your moulting flock:

FEED A HIGH PROTEIN FEED

It is important to feed your chickens a good, high quality protein rich diet at this time of year. Layers Pellets should contain around 16% protein and we can recommend feeding Garvo Alfamix for Chickens.

SUPPLEMENT YOUR FEED WITH HIGH PROTEIN TREATS

Our chickens always appreciate a treat but not all are created equal. At this time of the year it is worth considering swapping out the windfall apples and pears and cabbage leaves for a superfood treat such as Natures Grub Superfood Poultry Treat.

ADD A TONIC

Our Flyte So Fancy Oreganico Poultry Tonic is a natural solution of Oregano oils to boost your birds' immune system at a time like this and can in fact used as as prophylactic throughout the year. Just a few drops added to the drinking water is all that is needed. A very cost effective tonic which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, offering a natural alternative to antibiotics. 

If you are dealing with chickens that are looking really sorry for themselves, during the annual moult or perhaps if you are re-homing ex-battery hens, try adding the Flyte So Fancy Cal-Boost, a concentrated calcium and mineral supplement containing Vitamin D3.


If you have any questions about how to best care for your hens during the annual moult, why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading.

Phill






Thursday, 22 June 2017

Chickens & Summer Holidays - 5 Things to Think About

It's getting near prime Summer holiday season (the three fans I have pointed at me in the FSF office can attest to that) and with the excitement of a holiday comes a little simple planning on how your chickens are to fair, while you sun yourself in a foreign clime.

Fantasia Hen House

Here are five things to think about while preparing for your holiday.


LETTING THEM IN AND OUT

VSB Automatic Chicken House Door OpenerWhile your away who is going to make sure your hens are locked up safe at night and let out each morning? A willing family friend or neighbour is all well and good but can be a terrible imposition. This is where Automatic Chicken House Door Openers really come into their own. Operating off either a light sensor or a timer option, they open and close your hen house door every morning and evening, keeping your girls safe and saving you having to ask a neighbour to "pop-round" at the break of dawn each day. 

Running off of AA batteries and coming with a manufacturer warranty, both the Chicken Guard and VSB Auto Door Opener Units are a real life saver for long weekends, holidays away and just having a lie in any day of the week.

Gaun Poultry Drinker from Flyte So Fancy
Poultry drinkers come in a range
of shapes and sizes

SUPPLY OF FRESH WATER

A good sized drinker set up in the corner of your run will make sure that your hens always have access to fresh water. Drinkers with legs, like the Gaun Tripod Drinkers, means that the water stays clean and fresh while you're away and you don't have to worry about your hens kicking mud and other muck into their water. A big drinker would do well over a long weekend and the kind asking of a neighbour to top it up on occasion over a week would see your hens hydrated and fresh.

SUPPLY OF FEED

When it comes to feeding your hens the rules are not dissimilar to giving them a supply of fresh water. A hen will eat roughly 200g of Layers Pellets feed a day  (dependent on what other food may be available) and so a feeder should take the number of hens you have to that ratio. A good quality feeder, raised up on legs, or with an anti-waste grid will prevent your hens from spilling or wasting feed. Again a kind person checking that the feeder is topped up, will keep your hens happy and well fed.


CLEANING

If you are going away for over a week you will need to ask someone to clean your hen house to make sure your chickens are living in hygienic conditions. This is important to avoid any infections in your hens from a dirty and mucky coop. With this in mind, you may want to make sure you have supplies for cleaning at the ready. We offer a next day delivery to most areas of the UK.

EGG COLLECTION

Perhaps one that isn't often thought of (but if you are away for a long time should be considered) who is going to collect your eggs. If you have six hens laying six eggs over six days, that is a total of thirty six eggs sitting in the nest box by the time you return. Not removing the eggs could result in them getting crushed leading to egg eating (a habit hard to break), your hens laying eggs all over the place in any clear spot and the possibility of a hen going broody and sitting on this great pile of eggs. As always, arranging a trusty person to come in and collect the eggs from the nestbox is the best thing to do and often a nice reward for checking on your chickens in your absence.

When going away and arranging looking after your hens some things are easy to organise. An Automatic Door and a larger feeder and drinker will take care of any long weekend you may have planned. Longer holidays require a little more planning, to make sure the hen house remains a hygienic place for your hens to live.

If you have any questions about the best way to look after your hens while on holiday, why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading
James

Monday, 12 June 2017

De-Pluming Mite (and how to spot them)

Firstly let me apologise that it has been so long since the Flyte so Fancy Blog has blogged. However, I noticed a trend over the last few months, after the DEFRA Avian Flu conditions were lifted, of people phoning with a problem that sounded like Depluming mite.

Usually very rare among poultry keepers, it isn't a subject that we have covered often before. However, we think that there may be a correlation between everyone having their hens confined over the winter months and the increased cases of possible Depluming mite.

First of all, How do you identify Depluming Mite on your hens:
  1. The mites cause great irritation to the hen's skin and so a bird pulling out their own feathers is a sure sign. 
  2. Depluming mite burrow into the feathers and skin around them so your hen's skin will appear red and sore,and around the base of the feathers scabs can form. 
  3. Feathers that look dishevelled or damaged are a good sign that mite may be attacking them. 
Depluming mite are very similar (and related to) Scaly Leg Mite and work in a similar way. Living on the bird only, they can go from baby to adult in just over two weeks. As the mite spends its whole life living on the bird, it is transferred from bird to bird by physical contact. 
Depluming Mites in Poultry
Ivermectin Drops

Mite powders tend not to have an effect on Depluming mite as they cannot reach the mite within their burrows. The best thing to use (again similar to treating scaly leg mite) is Ivermectin Drops 1%. A spot on anti-parasite treatment for mites, this will deal with the depluming mite on your birds. Applying a few drops to the area between the shoulder blades once a week for three weeks, should take care of the problem. Ivermectin isn't licensed for poultry specifically, but for small domestic pets/birds not intended for food use. There is also likely to be an egg withdrawal period also.

Depluming mite is a particularly nasty little mite that can leave your hens looking very sorry for themselves. If you have any questions regarding depluming mite, or any other mite that may be affecting your hens why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team.


Thanks for Reading
James


Friday, 10 March 2017

The Classic Duck House - A Photo Tour

When it comes to a home in the country, ducks look for decidedly different things than their chickens chums, which is why when purchasing a home for your ducks, it's important to get a home suited for them.

Flyte so Fancy Duck houses are built from our tanalised treated Scandinavian redwood, all the fixtures and fittings are galvanised steel making them robust and long lasting and all have been designed with the needs of ducks in mind

The Classic Duck house is one of our most popular duck houses for first time duck keepers and established flocks alike. Suitable for up to six ducks (Indian-Runner sized), the duck house has all the essential features for keeping your ducks healthy and their home hygienic. 

Timber Duck Houses Made in the UK
Large Access Door on the Classic Duck House
Ducks stand more upright than chickens, as such they need a larger door to get through. The Classic Duck house comes with a large pop-hole opening, and the door to the duck house folds down like a drawbridge, to provide an easy to navigate ramp for your ducks (most ducks don't do climbing or steep slopes). 

Timber Duck Housing
Easily Removable Side Panel for Cleaning
Ducks are messy. They like to make a mess, they don't mind a mess and if they can take a small puddle and turn it into a quagmire they will. As such being able to clean the duck house out properly is important. The Classic Duck house comes with a fully removable side panel, so when it comes to cleaning you can get right inside the duck house to clean every corner

Duck and Goose Houses - Flyte so Fancy
Ventilation in the Roof Apex and Side Window
As mentioned just above, ducks are messy. Due to this their home needs ventilation. Ducks don't perch; they sleep, poo and lay their eggs all inside the house. As such they need plenty of floor space and they need a thick layer of bedding to snuggle down in to. However all this messiness means duck housing requires top ventilation and the Classic Duck House (along with ventilation in the apex of the roof) also has a large ventilation window in the side panel; complete with sliding cover allowing you to open as you please. 

Made in the UK
Small Classic Duck House
The Classic Duck house is the ideal home for a flock of ducks, spacious with plenty of ventilation, to keep ducks in a healthy and hygienic house, with added rustic charm. 

If you have any questions about our Flyte so Fancy Duck Houses leave a comment below or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team; always happy to help. 


Thanks for Reading
James

Friday, 3 March 2017

A Photo Tour of the Maggie's 24 Hen House

One of our most popular hen houses since the workshop first nailed two boards together; the Maggie's Hen House range has everything you need to keep your hens happy and healthy. Coming with external nest boxes for easy egg retrieval, removable dirt trays for easy cleaning and a classic design that makes it easy on the eye, the Maggie's Hen House is ideal for first time poultry keepers and established flocks alike.

It even comes with an option for when your love of hens becomes so much you start to wonder where you are going to keep them all. The Maggie's 24 Hen House. A substantial and robust hen house, for large flocks has everything that hens need to live in spacious luxury. This week's Flyte so Fancy Chicken Blog is a photo tour of the Maggie's 24 Hen House and its many features.

Chicken Coop Perches - Maggie's 24 Hen House
Racked Perches in the Maggie 24 Hen House
Starting inside the hen house, the Maggie's 24 comes with a set of four raked perches providing plenty of room for each and every hen to roost in comfort. The hen house comes with ventilation in the apex of the roof, however there is also additional ventilation from a side window with a sliding cover allowing you to provide extra air during warmer weather and keeping the hen house fresher and more hygienic.

Flyte so Fancy Maggie's 24 Hen House
Maggie's 24 Nestbox
The Maggie's 24 come with a large external nestbox. Dividers in the nest box provide three cosy dark areas for your hens to settle down in. The lift up lid of the nestbox then allows you to collect your eggs with ease.

Removable Dirt Tray for Hen Houses
Removable Dirt Tray
 The removable dirt tray can be accessed from outside the coop via a sliding panel. You can then take the dirt tray directly to your compost heap to get rid of your used bedding; making cleaning that much easier.

Timber Hen Houses Made in the UK
Maggie's 24 Hen House
 The Maggie's 24 Hen House is a large hen house for larger flocks. It's many labour saving features and easy access for cleaning make it a simple and easy to use hen house for poultry keepers. The additional option of adding an automatic door opener, to save you early mornings to let the hens out.

If you have any questions about the Maggie's 24 Hen House why not leave a comment below or contact us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team.


Thanks for Reading
James

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Jobs to Do Before the Avian Flu Restrictions are Relaxed

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where the Avian Flu restrictions are going to be relaxed after the 28th February then you are probably excited to see your chickens out and about once more. However before you let them run free, there are a few jobs you need to take in hand.

Firstly (and most importantly) are you able to let your hens out or are you still within one of the remaining prevention zones? Check the interactive DEFRA map to see if, come February 28th, your hens are allowed out and what remaining restrictions may apply.

Avian Flu Restrictions & DEFRA
Silver Spangled Hamburg
However, there are still jobs to be done around the hen house, especially after all of our hens have been cooped up for just over two months.

  1. Kill Vermin - With all our hens having been contained for so long the chances of rats and mice being attracted to feeders and spilt feed around your run may have increased. The best solution is to get rid of them. Properly positioned lockable bait boxes are the way forward, keeping wild birds, pets and children safe while disposing of rats and mice. Equally tidying up any loose feed and around feeders (where hens can make a mess) will help deter any further vermin problems. 
  2. Treat the Ground - Even in covered runs the ground is possibly beginning to look "fowl sick" after such an intensive couple of months. If letting your hens out into a wider area remove any obvious signs of possible contaminant, then treat the ground with a Ground Sanitising Powder or Virkon-S Disinfectant. This will not only safely guard against Avian Flu, but also aid in more common poultry problems, such as worms. 
  3. Cleaning the Hen House - Similar to treating your poultry run or outside area, your chicken coop will need some maintenance and a thorough deep clean. It is easy when the hens are contained to allow the hen house to get into a bit of a state, but liquid cleaners and Flyte Coop and Run Sanitising Powder should be used to make sure that every nook and cranny of your hen house is clean and hygienic for your hens. 
  4. Feeders & Drinkers - You hens may be heading back outside, however, their feeders and drinkers need to remain covered and out of the way of attracting wild birds. Putting them inside a shelter or under a covered area within a run will help prevent contamination from wild bird faeces or direct contact. 
The last point is to double, triple and quadruple check the interactive map regarding what restrictions may be being lifted, or remaining in place, in your area. Some areas will still have the Avian Flu restrictions in place, so make sure you understand what your hens are allowed to do. The fines for not following the rules remain in place.

If you are and your chickens are still restricted by the regulations then read our previous blog entry, 6 Top Tips for Surviving Bird Flu, to help you and your hens until the restrictions are lifted. 

If you have any questions why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team. 


Thanks for Reading
James

Friday, 10 February 2017

Plans to Relax the UK’s Avian Flu Housing Restrictions

After 28th February keeping your poultry housed will no longer be mandatory and only if your birds are located outside The High Risk Areas.

With the Bird Flu Prevention Zone Measures due to expire on 28th February and the need for clarification regarding the UK’s Free-Range bird status, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have recently issued their proposals to lift the housing order from the end of February in some areas.

Flyte so Fancy Chicken Blog
Stepping out
As poultry keepers ourselves we understand that the welfare of your flock is a priority and this is the news that all of our bored poultry have been waiting to hear! But wait. There are some preparations you need to make.

1.  Search the DEFRA Avian Flu Risk map

To identify the risk of Avian Flu to your flock, DEFRA have created an interactive map which defines the Higher Risk Areas in England See the Interactive Map here to find out if you fall within any restriction zones imposed by DEFRA.

2.  Identify the risk to your flock

The Protection Zone : Controls imposed if you are within a 3km radius exclusion zone around premises affected by confirmed cases of H5N8.
A Surveillance Zone : Restrictions imposed due to being within a10km radius of an affected premises.
Proposed Higher Risk Areas : Generally, these are areas which are near where wild birds (and in particular gulls and wild waterfowl) gather, such as lakes, marshes or estuaries; they include areas where cases of the avian flu H5N8 virus has been found.
Not currently in a Higher Risk Area? : Keep a check on the map as updates may mean that the areas change as new information gets recorded.

3. Choose a housing option most suited to you and your circumstances

Having ascertained which area or zone your flock falls, then all keepers of poultry and captive birds will also need to adopt one of the following three methods of separating their birds from wild birds and in particular from wild waterfowl:

a) Housing: Open to all areas of England / All zones. 
Although it is likely to provide the best protection for your birds from Avian Flu, keeping poultry housed will no longer be mandatory from 28th February. If you continue to keep your birds housed in temporary or permanent accommodation, then bird welfare must be monitored and suitable steps taken to ensure that the environment is suitably enriched –see our earlier blog 6 Top Tips to help your hens survive Bird FluContinued confinement is likely to affect your ‘free-range’ marketing status.

b) Total netting / aviaries / covered runs: Open to all areas of England / All Zones 
Allowing birds outdoors but only into a fenced run which is fully covered. Many of us have favoured this option throughout the Prevention Zone restrictions, keeping our flock separate from wild birds whilst maintaining room to scratch about and avoid boredom. If you have made do with a temporary structure and you are now considering erecting a more permanent solution, see our Poultry Protection Pens for secure and safe poultry runs.

c) Supervised access to enclosed outdoor areas: Only available after 28th February to areas outside the ‘Higher Risk Areas’ after a risk assessment.


There are some restrictions and to take advantage of this option, keepers will need to meet certain conditions. 
  • Areas must be made unattractive to wild birds, for example ponds have been netted, wild bird food sources removed
  • Action must be taken to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, ensure wet/boggy areas are fenced off
  • Assessments must be made of the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them.
  • You will need to make sure that outside areas (ranges) are fully fenced and that birds are not allowed to roam outside this fenced area.  This area must not include ponds or other areas of standing water.
  • Where possible, you should not allow domestic ducks or geese to range alongside other types of poultry.  
To see the full measures, see Annex 4 of DEFRA's Planned controls in England from 28 February 2017 here. Anyone planning to allow their birds outdoors from 28 February should begin to prepare now.  

Flyte so Fancy Electric Fencing for Chickens
Electric Fencing is ideal for separating and containing poultry

4. Maintain bio security measures

Irrespective of the number of birds or how they are kept, keepers of poultry and other captive birds must adopt these bio security measures at all times.
  • Take all reasonable precautions to avoid the transfer of contamination between premises, including cleansing and disinfection of paths, equipment, vehicles and footwear, See our DEFRA approved product range of disinfectants here 
  • Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where poultry or captive birds are kept; 
  • Ensure feed, water and bedding has not been contaminated by or been in contact with wild birds and in particular gulls and waterfowl; 
  • Implement effective vermin control where poultry or captive birds are kept. See our range of baits and bait boxes here
  • Records must be kept of all vehicles and people that enter the part of a premises where poultry are kept. For sites with over 50 birds, foot dips containing a Defra-approved disinfectant should be used on entry and exit to both houses and outdoor areas/range where the birds are kept.
These measures will provisionally remain in place until the end of April 2017. This approach remains under review and is subject to change, with a final decision being confirmed at the end of February 2017.

If you have any questions why not leave a comment below or phone the FSF Team on 01300 345229. For the most up to date information and downloadable PDF copy of DEFRA's Planned controls in England from 28 February 2017 or for or keepers with over 1,000 birds visit website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#planned-controls-in-england-from-28-february-2017


Thanks for Reading
James