A very early start today. On the 1st of every month I red-mite, worm and give all of my girls a good hands on health check. Handling your girls is very important to keep them in tip top condition. It is difficult to visually see weight loss with all their feathers in the way. Mites are very tiny so regular checks and dusting will save you a lot of time in the long run – prevention is always better than cure. Adding a clove of peeled garlic (slightly crushed) to their water will help to boost their immunity, it is also thought that mites do not like the taste of the girls when they are taking garlic in so it helps keep them at bay! Don’t forget some diatomaceous earth dusted into the coop – it helps make the girls’ environment uninhabitable for the mites. With about 300 girls to do here its going to take me a while !
A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300 strong flock on her Surrey / Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and May tips for keeping chickens:
There’s an abundance of bugs for the girls to chase and eat this month – and plenty of sunshine to laze in. As a result, I am spending too long watching their antics. Elsewhere, my daughter Clara has become a surrogate mother to three Pekin chicks – the hen hatched most of her eggs but then left the last few to become very cold. Clara warmed them inside her clothing where they hatched soon after. Honker the goose is being rather protective of his wife at the moment and the turkeys are keeping everybody amused with their courtship dance.
It’s a good idea to spring-clean your chicken house now – I like to paint mine and give them a makeover. Use an animal-friendly product such as Cuprinol’s Garden Shades range, and air it for a few days after decorating, before allowing the hens back in; put them in a box or dog cage in a garage or shed overnight, and place them in the run during the day. Adding bunting can make predators wary, as it flaps in the wind, while solar-powered lights (on stakes in the ground), when lit, change the appearance of the house so, if moved about regularly, can cause foxes to become cautious.
Here are our new adorable piglets. We have a boy and girl to keep our chickens and other birds company.
Pinky and Perky
Crackling and Apple Sauce
Trev and Suzie
We'll be having some new lambs soon too. Photos and naming opportunities will come with them too.
One month to go to the publication of chicken expert Suzie Baldwin's new book "The Smallholder's Handbook: Keeping & caring for poultry & livestock on a small scale" on 14th May 2015.
You can pre-order from Amazon now.
The Smallholder's Handbook is a detailed manual to start, plan and manage your own smallholding. Suzie explains the level of work involved, how much space you need and how to prepare your land. There are chapters on keeping poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese), as well as pigs, goats and sheep, cows and bees. She also explains why having a variety of animals makes the best use of your resources and how many of each type to keep. Comprehensive advice includes choosing breeds, transporting, feeding, housing, daily care and wellbeing, as well as international legislation that applies to livestock.
A hen keeper for more than 20 years with a 300-strong flock on her Surrey/Hampshire smallholding, Suzie Baldwin offers her advice and April tips for keeping chickens.
Two of my pekins Fluff and Ethel are the proud Mothers of 18 chicks; they call them with a short, low cluck, which gets quicker and louder if their young fail to respond. They remind me of myself and my brood. Every morning, I calmly ask the children to make their beds and get ready for school and, as time ticks on and jobs aren’t being done, I raise my voice in a similar fashion. More chicks have hatched in the incubators so the nursery is very full and noisy. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, the March chicks, weather-permitting, will be out in the field with the sun on their feathers and the lush grass in their crops, giving them the best start in life.
April is a popular month for people to start keeping chickens. It’s important to take time to do research, especially when it comes to finding a well-designed coop with adequate ventilation, good perches and nest boxes, and strong bolts to secure it at night, plus a run that’s partly under cover for sheltering in bad weather. The house is the most costly part of hen keeping but a quality one is worth the investment. The good news is that other essential equipment such as feeders, drinkers, food and straw (for bedding), plus wormers (try Verm-X) and red-mite control products (I use Diatom), are relatively inexpensive.