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Archive for July, 2012

Here is a great blog I just found about the Silver Appenzeller Spitzhauben.  The breed of our back garden chickens.

http://tinyurl.com/bm7uvgs

I think it’s the most information in one place that I have found on the sliver appenzeller chicken.

Here is a quote from the blog:

“From the slopes of the Swiss Alps comes a very hardy little chicken with a rather unique look, the Appenzeller Spitzhauben.  It was bred in the 15th Century to survive the harsh mountainous environments of isolated monasteries whose communities required a breed that could fend for itself quite well – foraging along the rocky slopes; be a fairly productive layer as well as a tasty table bird; and be able to survive the harsh climate without too much difficulty – no large combs or wattles to freeze.  

The Appenzeller Spitzhauben is ideally suited to life in the mountains as they are excellent climbers especially on steep rocky ground and can fly well, often making nests and roosting in trees.  They are even known to have stayed in the trees throughout winter”

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We are pretty sure we have two hens not cockerels, but sometimes I wonder!  this morning was a good example.  I let them out at about 7.30 and went straight back to bed.  I couldn’t get back to sleep as I could hear them when I was in bed, our bedroom is on the front of the house!

Cluck! Cluck! CLUCK!  BUURRK!

They are both so loud, I have visions of the neighbours getting angry and frustrated at the sound.  I don’t want to upset anyone. but it is such an unusual noise to hear in the morning.   The noise of dogs barking, kids playing, hedge trimmers, lawn mowers ect are probably much louder.  I worried as this noise will make people listen, and possibly complain as it is unusual,  is it normal that hens are so noisy in the morning?

They are 14 weeks old on Sunday, they have no spurs on their feet, no comb or a wattle.  I’m sure they are girls, they haven’t even laid an egg yet!

What can I do about the noise in the morning?

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I’ve not had chance to write my Chicken Blog recently, so here is a quick update!

Here is a video of the chickens playing with their toy, they have really got the hang of it.  If you have pet chickens I would highly recommend getting them one, as soon as we let them out of their enclosure they run straight over to it.  If the toy is not out, and you walk to the shed, the smallest chicken Tufty, always runs in the shed after you.  She knows where the toy gets filled up!  She even jumped on the rim of the big bin, where I keep the corn, if she had got in there she would have come out twice as big!!

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I never thought they would have eaten such a huge worm! No word of a lie, it was at least 6inches long! I had just gone out and fed then some stir fried onion, carrot and sweet corn, left overs from our dinner. Accidentally left a bit of chicken in it, Whitey spotted the chicken, swiped it off the spoon and legged it down the path, full speed! The other half went mad at me for leaving chicken on the spoon, ethically its not right is it?! I ran after her, grabbed her and pinched the piece of meat back. The difference in their behaviour is amazing, vegetables or bread they just shake it around on the floor and peck each others bit of food, but meat, there is no way they are sharing it. Apparently letting chickens eat meat will encourage cannibalism, I’ll look into that later and let you know my findings.

Once they had finished all the vegetables, they spotted a massive worm. It was on the gravel path, Peck peck, both having a go. The worm started curling and uncurling, releasing loads of slime as a deterrent, poor worm there was no escape, it kept poking its head in the stones looking for a way put. The other half thought it was a bit mean letting them maim a poor worm when they were never going to eat it. I was sure they would eat it, so I let them peck, he ran in the house to get the camera, it was mental watching them fight over this poor worm. They were taking it in turns running off with it, trailing it on the floor as it was just so long. By the time the camera had arrived, Tufty had gobbled it down whole. So that worm was eaten alive, and is now sat in her crop, wiggling around, I wonder how long it will take to digest it? Tufty has certainly gone to bed on a full tummy!

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I left the other half in charge of the Chickens on Saturday, whilst a friend and I went to the Foodies Show at Tatton Park.  He had not let them out of the enclosure when I called in at about lunch time.  He was worried about losing them.  He would never forgive him self!

I called back a little later on, he was out side trying to find the chickens!  He had let them out in the end and at this point really thought he had lost them, they are quite hard to find when they are hiding under things (We have a lot of shrubs in our garden) They were under the Fatsia Japonica, it is quite a big one, at some point we will dig it up and get rid of it, ive never really liked it.

When I got home at about 4ish he explained that he had found our Chickens in the enclosure with a Pigeon, happily sharing the food out of the hopper!  As soon as he went near the enclosure the Pigeon went mental and flew out.  Our Chickens didn’t seem to mind though.

The Pigeon flying away after having a nice bit of Chicken food!

Later on in the afternoon when it came to putting the Chickens to bed, I walked up the path to find a Pigeon in the enclosure again!  I scared it by accident, it flew up, down, side to side, the mesh has now got big dents in it where the Pigeon flew at it.  I crept in the shrubs at the side of the Chicken enclosure, to see if I could make it fly the right direction through the door.  The other half had gone in to get some bread to tempt it out.  It sat on the floor looking dazed and in shock for ages, then gradually edged towards the door and flew out on its own accord in the end.

So, when our lovely chickens are free range in the garden we need to close the enclosure door.

Which is annoying really as they could come and go as they pleased before the Chicken / Pigeon dinner party!

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It has taken me ages to get a video up loaded on to here so I hope you all like it!

I took this video tonight when I got home, a friend from work had come over to meet our back garden Chicken for the 1st time.  They are so funny when having a bath, pushing each other out of the way, scratching the floor – even if the other Chickens head is in the way!!  Since the ladies only really have a dust bath when we let them in to the garden, I was worried they didn’t like the stones on the floor in the enclosure, so I have filled a celebrations sweet tin with sand, thinking they might bathe in there.  The only thing I have seen them do with the sand is eat it!  They don’t eat the oyster grit, but they will eat sand!

While the Chickens were doing their thing in the garden, I sorted out all the tomato plants in the greenhouse, all the side shoots were growing wildly and desperately needed pinching out.  I also re potted a few in to larger pots.  When I took one plant out of its pot to put it in a larger one, I found a teeming ants nest, eggs included in the soil.

That’s when I discovered just how useful Chickens would be in the garden, I left the tomato plant on the floor, roots exposed, Whitey ate all the ant eggs up, along with most of the ants.  Tufty on the other hand showed no real interest, she had a little taste but obviously didn’t like them.

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I let the chickens out at lunch (They are still out now) and as normal the ran after me, all round the garden!  Once I had gone in the house to make my lunch, I watched them out of the kitchen window.  Whitey was sat on the gravel path, with one wing stretched all the way out, for about 2 minutes she was totally still, then she turned over and did the same with the other wing.  Then sure enough Tufty joined in, sitting as close as she could get to Whitey.  They have been doing it for about 15 minutes now.

Are they doing to sunbathe, maybe to warm up?. Or is it to dry off? It had been raining all day.  They could just be relaxing, having a nice chilled out day!

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