Friday, June 30, 2006

Is there something going on?

On further investigation, we are beginning to wonder if all is as first appears in relation to egg laying. Today's egg was noticably smaller and of a different shape (less pointed) than previous eggs.

Beginning to wonder if perhaps Kiev has layed her first egg and Leia didn't lay one today?....... or maybe Leia has just layed a smaller, 'blunter' egg today?......could do with a chicken monitor to keep eye on chickens between 9am and 12noon to see exactly who is up to what!

First worming complete

When it comes to worming, only 1 teaspoon of Flubenvet (worming powder) is required for 5kg of food, therefore we mixed 5kg with worming powder last Thursday. The chickens have therefore been eating pellets coated in worming powder (we added a little olive oil so the powder would stick to the pellets) for a week now. They have been most obliging and consumed almost exactly 5kg of pellets between them during the course of the week. So that's them wormed (we hope!).

All settling down

Chickens seem to be settled in nicely. Kiev and Molley are not laying yet but Leia has provided 15 eggs for us to date! Molly seems to be showing a bit of interest in Guinness (the cat), today I saw her actively pursuing him across the garden! Leia was taking grapes out of Abi's hand today (Abi is very brave, I don't put my fingers anywhere near Leia's beak!).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Normal service resumed

Phew, normal egg laying service from Leia has resumed. It seemed she was just having a day off (which you can't blame her for!).

Had friend round to visit today and it seems chickens are particularly interested in painted nails (pink) particularly toe nails which are conveniently located for them!

We have been trying food types out as 'treats' for hens. It seems they like:
  • grapes
  • tomatoes
  • melon seeds
  • bread
  • slugs (but not ones that have inadvertently been drying out in the airing cupboard for a week - don't ask!)
  • pork and leek sausage (this was a post BBQ mistake, chickens shouldn't have meat, but they really liked it!)

Contrary to popular advice our hens don't seem to like:

  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • little gems

Friday, June 23, 2006

Egg count to date

To date we have had 8 eggs in total, all (we are pretty sure) from Leia. So she's done 8 days on the trot and then had a day off (or maybe she's given up laying for good!). We will see what happens tomorrow.

No egg!!!!!

I think we must have upset Leia. We didn't get an egg today! Alan thinks the fact that we keep nicking her eggs might be irritating her a bit......fair point!

Started Worming

Collected Flubenvet (wormer) from vets today and have started to worm chickens. It is a powder that you add to their food. This needs to be repeated at least twice a year, will probably do it 4 times a year to be safe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Very serious business!

As you can see, Abi was taking the 'spring clean' very seriously!

Spring clean

We gave the coop a thorough clean out and replaced all the newspaper (lining the floor), dust-free wood shavings and dust-free straw. Aparently the nest boxes should be lined with shavings, but so far, Leia seems to empty all the shavings before she lays an egg. If you are outside the coop at about 10am (laying time) you can hear the 'clunk' as Leia's egg hits the floor of the nest box.

Time to move...

We've had the chickens for just over a week now and decided to move the coop and run. The roof comes off the unit, and there are lifting bars on each end, so this wasn't too much trouble for Alan and I to move (mind you, Alan was on the heavy end!). The grass that the coop/run has been on for a week was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, after taking this photo, we gave it a good raking and it was fine.


Our first home reared eggs for breakfast.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

For goodness sake!

Had a moment of clairty this evening and gave myself a thorough talking to. Realised that chucking out 4 fantasticly fresh eggs (we've had one a day since the first one) because I've seen the poo from one of the chickens and it looks a bit runny, is more than a little irrational considering we have always eaten eggs from chickens with bowel movements we know nothing about! So Father's Day breakfast for 5 comprised full English breakfast complete with our own fresh eggs and they were great! Seeing everyone elses eggs (we fried them), Abi decided she wanted one too. Leia was very obliging with this and laid one at about 10 am (just after Abi decided she wanted one!), Abi brought it, still warm, into the kitchen and we fried it immediately. It must have been all of 15 minutes from chicken to tummy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Grandpa discovers the egg layer

Grandpa was keeping an eye on the hens this morning and solved the mystery of who has been laying the eggs. It turns out the Leia has been living up to her name! I had thought that Kiev was laying the eggs as they are quite small (aparently Orpingtons lay quite small eggs and Rhode Island Reds relatively large ones). However I have since learnt from a former chicken owner that the initial eggs that any hen lays are quite small, they will get bigger.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Many types of poo....

A fantastic lady called Vicky on one of the Chicken Forums (yes there is such a thing!) I'm a member of has very kindly mentioned the following pages on the Omlet (Eglu) website:

this is quite reassuring as it shows a range of disgusting looking poos, all of which are nothing to worry about aparently! I'm going to try and relax about the poo thing......

Trip to vet

Concerned by Molly's retching, I took her to the local vet today. This was a complete waste of time, he didn't know anything about chickens (there's no reason he should really based where he is). He did say she seemed quite thin though, which has set me off worrying again. Ordered some worming stuff from vet which should be available tomorrow.

Had our second egg but am feeling quite down about the whole thing as we can't eat the eggs when there seems to be a health problem with one of the chickens. However, we don't know anything about chickens (but learning fast!) so there may be nothing wrong with them, so how will we ever know when it's safe to eat the eggs?

Alan is being brilliant (as usual) and says they'll settle down and we'll enjoy the eggs all in good time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Retching chicken...

This evening Molly was doing a bit of silent retching. Have no idea what this means but we have put her back in isolation.

Final picture of the our first egg

Egg with scale!

As you can see, the egg is quite small!


Much to our surprise, this evening we found our first Egg in the nest box!

It is rather small (photo with scale to follow) and we haven't a clue who laid it but we are chuffed to bits!

Guinness and the chickens...

People who know us have been asking what Guinness (our 5 year old male cat) makes of the chickens. He seems to be taking them in his stride. He was interested in them as the roamed around the garden this evening but they weren't keen to let him too close. This picture sums it all up really!

Molly seems OK..

Molly seems to be OK, we let her back in the run with the other two today (as the cat box is rather small).

She's still doing the odd runny poo but as you can see from the 'action shot' she enjoyed several dust baths this evening.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Took themselves to bed

By 7.30pm Leia and Kiev had taken themselves off to bed, assuming their regular positions (Leia on the internal perch and Kiev on the floor beneath the ventilation window). Molly was on the external perch and I carried her into her 'cat box' for the night.

Eating from my hand

By the end of the day Leia and Kiev both ate corn from my hand. I wore a very thick rubber gardening glove!

Out of run

The chickens have been with us for five days, so we were able to let them out of their run today. We did this early evening and they seemed to enjoy pecking and scratching around the garden.

Molly happily ate out of Abi's hand (always does) and Alan and I tried with Leia and Kiev. Eventually Leia approached Alan and gave him a sharp peck on the thumb.....three times! This was quite amusing.

Alan suggested that I should try. She gave me a REALLY sharp peck on the thumb! This was not at all amusing. Savage Chicken!

Still runny poo

Sorry for another gross poo photo but as you can see, Molly's poo is still not right, very runny.

Although we let her roam the garden this evening with the others, we have put her back in the cat box in the shed for tonight.

Fingers crossed.

Molly in isolation

We're not sure what's wrong with Molly, so she is currently in isolation. She is in a cat travel basket (sorry Guinness!) with her own food, water and grit etc.

She doesn't seem too bad, she's eating well.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Molly's dodgy pooh cont'd

These pics are not for the faint hearted but I'm hoping that somebody who knows something about chickens might be able to advise.

I have read about chicken diarrhea and have offered a bowl of ground up charcoal for the chickens to eat. Have also read about coccidiosis and sincerely hope it is not this. I don't know whether I'm just paranoid having read about coccidiosis but Molly does seem a bit leghargic, she sits down a lot (and just now was listing to starboard while lying down). Mind you, it's very hot out.

Molly under the weather

In the 4 days that we have had the chickens I have learnt a lot about chicken poo. They do a lot of it! It seems that Molly's poo is not quite right. It is very brown and runny, there is no white in it. Leia and Kiev seem to be doing 'standard' chicken poos (green/brown, quite dry with a bit of white in).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New perch for chooks

Alan and Abi were busy making minor improvements to the coop & run today. They have put roofing felt on the nest boxes and put two new perches into the run.

Leia and Molly have both been using the new perches already and I'm sure they'll appreciate the roof felt in the winter!

Kiev's dust bath

Dust bath

We have put a large plant pot containing dry dirt into the run and today Leia had her first dust bath. This involved climbing into the pot and rolling round flicking dirt everywhere, it was very amusing to watch.

Sadly for Leia, Kiev ("Savage Chicken"!) soon came along and kicked her out of the 'bath' so that she could have one.

Kiev's "Baboon Bum"

Kiev's bottom currently looks like a baboon's bottom.

Leia or Beaker?!

We are starting to think that Leia looks and acts just like Beaker from the Muppets. What do you think?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Chicken's first visitors...

The chickens received their first visitors today, Judy and Devon. Judy made unkind comments about Kiev's Baboon Bottom but we will forgive her for this!

They kindly brought bread for the birds (we'd run out) which they promptly devoured (the birds, not Judy and Devon!).

Abi and Devon spent much of the afternoon in the Chicken run feeding small stones to Molly from a toy trough, everybody seemed perfectly happy.

Kiev the chicken

Name: Kiev
Breed: Buff Orpington
Age: About 1 year
This is Amanda's chicken
First Impressions: Kiev is a gorgous buff orpington, unfortunately she's had a bit of a hard time with a cockerel at her last abode and as a result she has something resembling a baboon's bum, it has been pecked clean of feathers and looks quite hideous. Apart from her bottom however, she's a very handsome bird. Maybe because of her past experiences, she seems to be exerting her power over the other two and in all honesty, seems to be a bit of a bully. This might account for the fact that despite the fact that there is a nest box for each bird, Leia and Molly both squeezed themselves into the same nest box last night.

Molly the chicken

Name: Molly
Breed: Light Sussex
Age: About 3 months
This is Abi's chicken
First Impressions: Molly is the baby of the trio, she is very friendly to people and has been eating out of Abi's hand today. She was the first to venture out of the coop into the run and seems keen to come out of the run and explore further. She's quite happy to be stroked.

Introducing the Chickens....

We have 3 chickens, all different breeds. They are as follows:

Name: Leia (as in Princess!)
Breed: Rhode Island Red
Age: About 1 year
This Alan's chicken
First impressions: Leia is VERY jumpy and nervous, she looks constantly worried and has spent most of the first day in the coop, scratching and pecking, moving shavings from one corner to the other. If you pop your head in the door and she sticks around long enough, she has a very quiet cluck (more like a mutter or mumble) which is very endearing.

This morning we gave the chickens some 'layer pellets' (food) and a little bit more corn.

Abi is keeping constant vigil, either inside the run or just outside.

The chickens are clearly deciding who is boss, there are a few scuffles going on inside with lots of banging, squawking and every now and then a cloud of saw-dust flies out of the ventilation hole!

Ian advised us to leave the chickens in the house until this afternoon, so they become familiar with it and associate it with safety (so they'll go back in there tonight). We keep having sneaky peeks through the door, ventilation window and nest box roof. I think we'd better go out before we 'accidently' let them out!

Although they can come out into the run this afternoon, they shouldn't come out into the garden for five days. Once they are out in the run, will try and get some photos and introduce the chickens.

The Coop

Really pleased with the coop. The house part has three external nest boxes (far right), the roof of which is hinged for accessing eggs easily.

As the picture shows, Abi fits in the run quite nicely! The roof (with roofing felt) lifts off if you need to, there is a large door on front for access and cleaning, 2 perches inside and a ventilation hole in front (good way to peek in on chooks!).


Abi was surprised to find that during the night, the chickens had arrived. She was quick to find a book that mentioned chickens, 'install' herself inside the run on a deck chair and proceed to "read" to the chickens!

They're here!

Ian and helper from Perfect Poultry arrived at 9pm last night. They put the coop and run together very quickly (see pic) and our 3 chickens were put into their new accommodation (with water, corn, dust free saw-dust and dust free straw). They seemed quite happy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

They're on their way!

Three chickens and hen coop with built in run are on their way, should be here by 8 pm tonight! Will attempt not to tell 4 year old daughter Abi, as she will be even more excited than me and we'll never get her to bed. Hopefully it will be a nice surprise for her tomorrow morning. Husband Alan is appropriately underwhelmed ;)

Savage Chickens

Given my blogging activity on worms and chickens, I couldn't resist sticking this in. It is one of a daily cartoon from

Monday, June 05, 2006

Chicken Stuff Shopping Trip

In preparation for impending chickens, have been today to purchase:
  • Feeder
  • Water dispenser
  • Point of Lay chicken pellets (feed)
  • Corn/grain stuff (treat for chickens)
  • Straw
  • Bedding stuff (wood-shavings)
  • Oyster Shells (chickens help themselves to saucer full and it helps make egg shells hard)
  • Grit (chicken help themselves to saucer full, they need it to grind up food in their beaks to eat)
  • Red Mite Powder (like flea powder)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Setting wheels in motion

Chicken accommodation and chickens have been ordered, hopefully they will arrive in the next couple of weeks. Have obtained a metal dustbin (courtesy of Freecycle - see links) in which to keep Chicken Food (aparently this is advisable to avoid problems with rats/mice consuming chicken food).