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Posts Tagged ‘raising chickens’

I’m getting concerned that our new chickens might be cockerels, they turned out to be much larger than I expected.  The Silver Campine chicken (Silvie) had a real growth spurt on her comb and wattles, her tail feathers are also getting longer!  Following a poke around on line it seems that cockerels will start crowing before they are 4 months old, our Silver Campine is 22 weeks old on sat so hopefully she is a she!!

Silver Campine Chicken picture

I would hate to have to get rid of her.  I don’t think the neighbours would like even more noise from our backyard chicken flock!

Silver Campine Chicken image

Yesterday however, Goldie the Vorwerk chicken squatted for the 1st time, so I’m pretty sure that the Vorwerk is a hen!  Hopefully we will have eggs from her soon.  She will also be approx. 22 weeks old on Saturday.  I wonder if her eggs will be distinguishable from the Silver Spangled Appenzeller eggs?  How exciting!!!!

Here is a video of Goldie the Vorwerk and Silvie the Silver Campine eating out of my hand, I put the Silver Appenzeller mafia in the other section of the run and closed the door to keep them out, poor Silvie is the bottom of the pecking order and is still so timid.  This way she gets some treats without getting bullied!  The Appenzellers, Tufty and Whitey were not happy at all, pacing back and forth along the mesh!

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We have 2 Silver Spangled Appenzeller chickens, I wanted to share my experience, what I know about this breed, and tell you about the personality of Tufty and Whitey:

  • They are very attractive, they are white with little black speckles almost like spots.  They are like the Dalmatian of the chicken world!
  • Both are very vocal, particularly in the morning, even before you let them out of the coop, and throughout the day, I think Whitey is the noisiest, even though Tufty is the boss (Tufty wares a foot ring, it is sometimes hard to tell them apart  they are almost identical when stood together!)
  • They are Definitely intelligent, and very confident, if they know you have food they will jump on the table and beg for some, chatting to you like they think you speak chicken!
  • Loves to be free range
  • Don’t like to be enclosed in the chicken run – if they have had a taste of freedom!
  • Very good flyers, I clip one wing on each bird to be on the safe side.  I don’t clip both just in case they need to get away from a predator.  They can still fly with one wing clipped, they just are not as good at it!
  • They are apparently flighty, but ours only fly when threatened, or when they are deciding who is boss, or when they race down the garden to get treats from me!  I have never found them in the trees.  Only on the top of the coop, or on the bench.  I’m sure they could clear the 6 foot fences if they wanted to but I don’t think they have.
  • Very good foragers, when they are free ranging in the garden they eat hardly any pellets, they eat anything! (foods my chickens love)
  • Ours started to lay after 36 weeks
  • Lays white medium eggs, they are big for the size of bird.  Yolks are the same size as supermarket eggs, but there is slightly less egg white
  • Should lay between 150-220 eggs a year, everyone seems to have different figures, once they have laid for a year I will know how many we got!  We do normally get 2 a day though
  • Ours lay in the coop, sometimes in the nesting box, or just under the perch, I have never found eggs in the garden.
  • They squat about 2 weeks before they start to lay, every time you get close to them they squat!  Ours have carried on doing this as long as they are laying, but when they stop they also stop squatting!!
  • Once they start to squat, very easy to handle, if they are not squatting you would be lucky to catch one!!  We have tried to handle ours as much as possible, they are easier to pick up in the afternoon
  • They dont seem to get any more vocal after they have laid an egg
  • Ours have not gone broody
  • They are aggressive towards new flock members, but this did settle down after a week or 2 (for more information on introducing new chickens to a flock)
  • Average weight – Male 1.60 – 2.00kg (3.5 – 4.5 lb), Female 1.35 – 1.60kg (3 – 3.5 lb)  I will weigh mine and up date you
  • Classification – Light, Soft Feather
  • V-shaped, horn type comb with two small rounded spires and the unique “mohawk” crest points forward like the bonnets on the traditional costume bonnets worn by the ladies in the Appenzellerland region – Spitzhauben means pointed bonnet
  • Powerfull beak, bluish in colour, large deep cavernous nostrils and a fleshy knob at the front of the beak
  • Eyes dark brown
  • Comb and wattles bright red
  • Ear-lobes bluish-white
  • Shanks / Legs and feet blue
  • 4 toes
  • Hardy in winter

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It was the 13th day of Introducing new chickens to our flock when the new chickens went in the coop for the 1st time without assistance, we have made progress!! I felt like a proud parent!

I’ve been worried since we got the new chickens, the question was “why wont my chickens go in the coop at night?” I went home fully expecting to have to pick them up of the floor of the chicken enclosure and put them in the coop as normal, but I couldn’t find them. Lifting the lid of the coop I saw them nestled underneath the perch, snuggled together on the floor. The other two chickens were roosting as normal on their perch. I was so pleased!

As beginner chicken keeper, keeping chickens at home in the back garden, I’ve had to rely on books and the internet for advice, we are learning as we go along. When we got our 1st 2 chickens they learnt to go in the coop and roost very fast, so we never had any concerns about how to get our chickens in at night. We thought it would be the same this time. We were wrong!

The next question is “How long will it take our chickens to learn to perch?”

I have also started a strict routine to try and tame / train the new chickens. I let the chickens out of the coop in the morning but keep them in the enclosure, rather than letting them free range all day. This is also helping the garden recover! Every lunch time I go home at about 12.30, let the Appenzeller chickens out in to the garden, give them some treats, strokes and pick them up if I can!

I then go in the enclosure and do the same with the Silver Campine and the Vorwerk chickens. Silvie was still very timid however Goldy was always very tame. I wanted to see if I could make progress with Silvie. I go in, say “ladies” in a soft voice, and then crouch down and open my hand, showing them the corn. I constantly talk to them, and say ladies every time they go in for some treats. Silvie now has less of an issue eating out of my hand and she also lets me stroke her back very occasionally! I have tried to slip my hand underneath her the last few days to pick her up, but she flaps away instantly, She does come back straight away though. Goldie just let you pick her up, and carries on pecking the corn!

However, Over the last week or so, we have had more of an issue getting the chickens in the coop. Strange, as they now all know what to do! Take last night for instance, I went out to lock them away and Whitey, Goldie, and Silvie were all roosting the lip of the coop roof. Tufty without fail was perching. I don’t think she would ever give up the best perch! I suppose it is better them be on the roof than on the cold floor. I picked them all up and pushed them through the door.

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My chickens started off sitting right next to the little window in the coop, so right next to the draft.  As it has got colder and colder they sit further and further away from the little window.

I will make the window smaller so the draft is reduced, but should I insulate the coop?  I was thinking some bubble wrap on the outside of the coop.

I have read a lot of conflicting advice about this can anyone give me any advice?

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Last Thursday when I popped home after work, just to pick up some trainers – I was going dog walking with a friend.  I just happened to look out of the kitchen window to see the Chickens on the path, the time was 6ish, the chickens have normally put themselves to bed by the time I get home, so I went outside to investigate.  The coop door had blown closed, with the chickens in the garden, so they were wandering around slightly agitated trying to find somewhere to roost.  Looking up at everything higher than them, weighing it up quizzically, their little heads tilting from one side to the other “would that make a good perch?!”

I just happened to glance into enclosure, to my surprise I saw a BIG white and ginger cat looking very unhappy locked inside!!  Maybe the chickens are secretly very clever and had imprisoned the cat!  I could just imagine it, my 2 beautiful black and white back garden chickens walking up and down the fence, strutting their stuff, taunting the trapped cat!

My panic was rising, how was I going to get the cat out of there?  As soon as it saw me, it ran around the side of the shed (the chicken enclosure is in a corner of the garden, a 6ft garden fence on 1 side, and a shed makes up another side, there is a gap around the shed that the chickens can run down, however I have meshed the shed to the fence so nothing can get in and nothing can get out!) The cat ran round the shed and straight up the fence and got stuck in the chicken mesh.  It just hung there growling.  It was not a happy cat.

The Chickens were interested in what was going on, and they were ready for bed so they were actively hanging around the coop entrance.  To make life easier I put the Chickens in the Greenhouse and closed the door (my poor seedlings took a bit of a hammering!)

I went next door to see if my lovely neighbours could help get the cat out of our Chicken enclosure from their side.  They had canes, I had canes, there we were cat herding, poking canes through the mesh from 2 sides of the chicken enclosure trying to get a naughty cat out of the chickens little home.  What a sight!  It took ages to get the cat out.  Eventually, he shot out past the chicken coop, straight out the door of the Chicken enclosure, round the greenhouse and was over the fence in a heartbeat.

Hopefully he won’t come back!

I wonder if the cat would kill my chickens?  Who would come of worse – Chicken or Cat?  I’m sure the chickens would peck, and they are very good at flying so I’d like to think they would get away.

I let our back garden Chickens out in the garden all day every day now.  I used to only just let them out in the evening, but now the chickens are going to bed earlier and earlier as the light goes much sooner in the day now, it seems cruel to leave them in the enclosure all day.  Now we have an interested cat I’m not sure what to do for the best?

I never thought Chicken Keeping would be so interesting, and full of such dilemmas!

The other thought I have had is the cat maybe more interested in the mouse rather than the chickens.  We’ve had a little resident mouse living in our garden since we moved in.

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The two guest chickens have gone home, our friend and her son came to collect them on Saturday night.  I don’t think she thought I was going to give them back!  I didn’t want to!

We waited for the chickens to go in to the coop to roost, and painlessly picked them up of the perch, and put them in the cat box.

I wonder what our chickens thought about being on their own again?  Will they miss their new friends?  I wonder if they remembered the other Chickens were their sisters?   Who knows!

When we had the 4 chickens we discovered that they LOVE nectarines!  I cut one up in the kitchen to eat, half was ripe but the other side was a bit hard, I didn’t fancy it so I just put it on the lawn, all 4 chickens devoured everything but the stone in about 5 minutes flat!  I’ve added this to the list of things our chickens like to eat page.

I really liked having 4 chickens rather than just 2, so with that in mind, on Saturday morning I’m going to look at some chickens to give me some ideas what to get next.

I have found a great place that sells a range of Chickens and it is local to in Congleton, Cheshire, and they offer chicken boarding in Cheshire!  Its called Bevs Rare Breed Poultry.   This will certainly help with holidays in the future!   Looking at the chickens they have for sale I think I want at least one Sablepoot, and maybe something else beautiful.  Any suggestions?

How beautiful are these Sablepoots?!

How gorgeous are these Sablepoot (Booted Bantam) Chickens?!

My friend has just got 2, they are really tame and just let you pick them up with no fuss at all!  Her little girl is 18 months old and just wanders in to the chicken run, they are not bothered or scared!  They were quite expensive but they were recommended as a good breed for young children to handle.

Does anyone have any experience of owning a Sablepoot (Booted Bantam) Chickens? Id love to hear your thoughts?!

We are going on holiday for a week in September, our neighbor is going to be the Chicken sitter and look after them.  She has never done it before so I have written instructions out for her.

I bet our kind neighbours will get the 1st eggs!  Our 2 Silver Appenzeller Chickens are 20 weeks old this Sunday so still a few weeks to go before egg production starts!

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