A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Hampshire / Surrey smallholding, chicken expert Suzie Baldwin from Hollywater Hens offers her advice and October tips for keeping chickens:
As the days are becoming shorter, I've cheered my self up by buying a lovely Trio of Brahmas They're beautiful. All my other birds fill the air with raucous clucks and cock-a-doodle-dos as they welcome the new arrivals. The turkey can't quite make them out. Meanwhile, Doris, a lovely speckled hybrid, is in trouble as she has tucked into a packet of custard creams left unattended on my desk in the stable-cum-office. They say chickens are stupid but she knows where the biscuit barrel is. Too much sugar on a regular basis can be harmful for poultry, but as an occasional treat it isn't a problem.
Halloween is on the way and if, like me, you carve a pumpkin for your porch, don't waste the seeds. They have been used for hundreds of years as a natural wormer for animals including chickens, which greatly to enjoy them. I whizz them in a blender and add a small amount of natural yogurt to make a smoothie. You could also feed them as they are, using a scooped-out pumpkin half as a bowl (they love the flesh, too). My children dot glowing lanterns around the field to scare foxes. It's worth a try and looks very pretty. At other times, I use natural wormer Verm-X, the fennel, peppermint and cinnamon helps keep chickens’ digestive system healthy.