Flock management

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Marigold
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Re: Flock management

Post by Marigold » Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:29 pm

Thank you Rick, I'll return for more advice a few months hence.
Poo picking the coop yesterday and this morning, Days 3-4 of Flubenvet, I noticed that quite a few of the droppings appear to have reddish worms in them, so it seems that it's really worth while treating new pullets as soon as they arrive. So much for their previous alleged 3-days-a-month regime of Vermex! Also easier if it's a totally new, all-out-all-in batch, so no cross-contamination, infection or infestation from older birds, following a thorough clean up. And all is peaceful, everybody eating well, no stress from the presence of dominant older bullies, either for the pullets or for me. All this must help them to settle in and make the most of a month's growing time before they start to lay. I'm hoping these 5 will give us enough eggs for the next 3-4 years, and then I shall think whether to do the same next time.
Margaid
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Re: Flock management

Post by Margaid » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:19 pm

Great to see you posting about your own hens again Marigold; they look a nice bunch.
I know of one poultry keeper who put Apple Cider Vinegar in the chicks water from day one so they were used to it. He grew on his cocks birds and then slaughtered them for meat and always made a careful examination of the gut looking for signs of worms/eggs and never found any signs. Bearing in mind I unfortunately didn't have hens for very long, mine were always happy to drink water with ACV in it going by the level in the drinkers. They probably also drank elsewhere as they free ranged until the mink attack but in any case with 100 metres of electric netting, if my maths is correct their enclosure was nearly 800 sq metres. I used to follow the debates about worming with great interest and would think that where birds are raised free range on a site used extensively/continuously for rearing there would be a greater chance of infestation. The $64,000 question seems to be how long the eggs are viable in the open or in the ground ...
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chrismahon
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Re: Flock management

Post by chrismahon » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:05 am

All this talk of worms has got me wondering if buying hens in is the right way for us, as they may arrive with worms and infect the land. The land hasn't had any livestock on it for at least 20 years and gets incredibly hot in Summer, so nothing should have survived there at the moment, but when we provide shade and soil baths all that may change? We have all the space, equipment and knowledge to hatch or buy-in day olds and if we are going to ultimately slaughter the hens we could do the same with the cockerels for the table?

We've had 4 TNN's truly free ranging, so no physical boundaries, for the last 6 months and they show no signs of a worm burden. They stay within 30 metres of their coop, so cover about 3000m2 but rarely are they further than 10 metres from a dash to cover from aerial predators. They are eating a lot of food now, whereas they didn't when they arrived, which leads me to think that just the four of them have nearly exhausted the natural food supply- although that may change as the weather improves.
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Re: Flock management

Post by Margaid » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:31 am

A lot of food for thought there Chris - oops, sorry about the ghastly pun!

Sounds as though hatching or buying day olds could be the answer.
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Marigold
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Re: Flock management

Post by Marigold » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:04 pm

POLs are likely to arrive with some worms, so I expect you'd probably want to quarantine them, Chris, and during the first week they could be on Flubenvet, like mine, which should sort them out before they go outside. If you're going to have hens free ranging, they're going to get worms from their environment anyway, other species of birds carry them as well as chickens. So it makes sense to reduce the numbers of worm eggs deposited, by shutting them up and dealing with the problem from the start. As you have the expertise, space and equipment, why not get some POLs for eggs this summer, and also hatch or buy in some chicks for rearing on?
If you have difficulty in obtaining Flubenvet in France, you're welcome to pm me with your address and I'll send you some in the post, if this is allowed.
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Re: Flock management

Post by Icemaiden » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:52 am

But Marigold, would you really want to keep them all cooped up, where they can't come running to you the moment you open the back door? And where they can't jump onto the wheely bin to tap on the kitchen window to get your attention? :-)09
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
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Marigold
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Re: Flock management

Post by Marigold » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:54 am

Yes, definitely- I'm just as keen on the garden as I am on the chickens, and if they're let out, they scratch stones on to the lawn, which shatter when it's mowed, dangerous to people as well as the mower. They scratch up the grass and make holes in it. And my terrier would be chasing them all the time, stressful and probably fatal.
My five have a walk-in roofed run 12 metres square, screened to provide shade in summer and protection from wind and rain, with a large dustbath and several perches at different heights, including a long one looking out on to the garden, where they all sit and go to sleep companionably, or watch me gardening. It's predator-proof, and keeps out wild birds and rodents, so their food and water stays uncontaminated and their coop never gets red mite. They're fed a variety of fresh greens every day, and the worm count stays low because they don't eat earthworms. When I go in to the run they all come running (especially Violet!) and it's very pleasant to sit there, talk to them and observe them - especially if the rain is drumming on the roof and there's a cold wind outside. I've never had issues with feather pecking or aggression due to boredom from over-confinement.
I totally agree with you, that confining hens in a very small run without shelter and with nothing to do is asking for problems - it's all down to adequate space and sensible feeding, I believe.
And we keep our bins at the front of the house.
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chrismahon
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Re: Flock management

Post by chrismahon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:41 pm

Having thought it through over a few glasses of wine (€1.40/ litre) we decided that hatching or buying chicks could create more problems than it solves. We could end up with almost all cockerels, which happened with our first Wyandotte hatch (1 pullet from 10), or far too many hens for the area as we got with our second hatch (10 pullets from 12). Flubenvet should be used 3 weeks after treating a severe infestation and that may be due to timing- all the eggs in the ground are dead and the new worms in the birds are too immature to produce eggs perhaps? So the plan is to treat the pullets as if they have a severe infestation. We have plenty of Flubenvet at the moment thanks Marigold -half a big tub of the 2.5% strength which is past its use-by date but is still apparently completely effective.

Quite possible the Egrets are carrying worms but at the moment they keep their distance and don't cover the areas used by the TNN's. However they are going onto the new enclosure area, so perhaps hatching and rearing would be fruitless anyway as controlling worms goes.

Unfortunately our enclosure building is taking rather a long time. The area was covered in weeds and was severely compacted. When I could finally get the rotorvator into it (wettest Winter here since 1933) it came up in clumps and will take some levelling off, by which time the ground will be too dry and hard to get posts into. So perhaps it will be next year?
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Marigold
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Re: Flock management

Post by Marigold » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:36 pm

After having no 'real' eggs since before Christmas, we had a lovely Easter Sunday breakfast, 2each at 42 grams, courtesy of little Lily Leghorn.
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Also final touch for refurbished run, lovely present from granddaughter.
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Was it all worth it, going for 'all out, all in' this time?
I'm still sad about losing Nutmeg, the little CLB I'd had from a chick, and it's a difficult memory, culling her. But it has been good to make a new start, see new pullets settling in, and waiting for the eggs I wouldn't have got with the old flock. I'm hoping these will keep going for maybe 3-4 years before I have to make any more difficult decisions. They're an amazingly friendly and inquisitive bunch, no need to tame them, more a case of escaping the mob!


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bigyetiman
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Re: Flock management

Post by bigyetiman » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:01 am

Love the plaque, what a lovely gift.
It is never easy getting rid of older hens, but unless you have room to keep some old timers, it becomes a necessary evil. Well done to Lily Leghorn on providing the perfect Easter present, and Mrs G arriving to
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